One thing or another

Quite a busy day was Monday. I took my early morning walk in the cool morning air, so cool I had to wear warm clothing but at five-thirty it was always going to be cool. The eighth day of April and the day looked very promising. After breakfast I spent a little time online before putting on my work wear to paint the garage door. With it being a gloss paint it would take hours to dry so the earlier I did it the better. When the door is fully closed it doesn’t make contact with the brick wall because I fitted spacers behind the door frame when installing it. There were however two bricks which were protruding very slightly which I had to dress with a chisel. I chose the mahogany colour as I said I would…

I also painted the concrete beam as I said I might do. The inside face of the door was left unpainted as I explained in yesterday’s post it didn’t need painting. When the door is fully opened I now have the complete width between the bricks to get the mower out with plenty of space either side. My next task was to get out of my overalls and drive off to the garden centre for I wanted to purchase some heather plants. I bought fourteen of them but on reflection I think I should have bought a couple more. I could always go again if necessary. On Saturday I was pottering about the garden later in the day and I removed the large overgrown and unkempt lavender shrub we had in the west wall border. When it was first planted it was small and compact but I didn’t realise it would grow much bigger though I should have pruned it back. I wanted to remove it anyway and replace it with heather which is why I planted them today, that is the same Monday as I write. They are small but will grow to around a half-metre in height and width. Hopefully they will fill the spaces in the border more effectively.

You may not be able to see them all but there are nine of them in this flowerbed. One is hidden behind the green foliage bottom left and two are further along out of sight. Another is in The Mound facing them on the right of the path and out of sight whilst the remaining four are also in The Mound out of sight. I will probably take pictures later when they all fill out. Once I had all fourteen bedded with bone meal and watered I gave the whole garden a good soaking too. It was a lovely sunny day throughout and I took advantage of it by relaxing on the patio for an hour or so but by then it was already three o’clock.

Earlier in the day I had received a letter from HM Revenue and Customs. It was a (short form) tax return for 2018/2019. As I have been retired for two years and my final return was 2016/2017 I should not have received it but with everything the tax office sends it has to be processed one way or another in case of incurred penalties. The form does say on it that if you don’t need to fill out a return then contact them. First of all I went online to make sure I was not required to fill in a return. That went well and confirmed what I had thought but how to tell them that? Option one do it online, option two telephone them, option three write them a letter. Well I tried option one and got nowhere. In frustration I opted to phone them. A complete waste of time. They have an automated response which uses AI (artificial intelligence). It is essentially voice recognition and you are asked to tell the machine what you are attempting to do. It just didn’t work though I tried several times. In the end the machine disconnected! So now it was old faithful, snail mail. I wrote them a letter ensuring all my details and concerns were listed. Sometimes the old ways are best.

Shirley Anne

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Flexibility

Anyone undertaking DIY has to be flexible, be able to turn their hands to any task, study problems, come up with solutions and most of all give things a try! That ideology has been part of my approach throughout my working life and remains so now I am retired. After a nice early morning walk and breakfast I was ready to do more work in the garage. Following yesterday’s post my first job was to come up with a solution that would replace the plastic discs in which the door knobs sat. It was either that or buy new ones which meant buying the knobs too. In my electrical work I sometimes used plastic conduit and accessory ‘boxes’ which had plastic lids. The boxes were circular which meant the lids were also. I have quite a number of those lids still in my possession (remember I don’t like throwing stuff away) and they were just the right size. The old plastic discs were in fact recessed to allow the knob to sit in it and not move side to side when turned. Using three plastic lids I drilled holes in their centre, the first was just big enough to allow the knob spindle or bar to pass through but for the next two I drilled larger holes to allow the base of the knob to sit in them. As the lids also had pre-drilled holes all I had to do was align them before screwing them to the door. See picture below.

There are three discs there I assure you but you can see the knob is sitting inside them, the two outer ones that is. When the picture was taken I hadn’t yet purchased the keyhole plates so they will be fitted when I do. One of my next jobs was to fit a sill along the bottom edge of the door but of course it couldn’t fit the whole width else the door wouldn’t close in this case. You can just see the end of it (white in colour) in the next picture that also shows the concrete screed I laid which would fit beneath the sill when the door is closed.

The plywood board was there to keep rain off whilst the concrete was setting though the wind had changed direction and rain wouldn’t be a problem. In fact the door only ever gets wet when the wind is from the north and that is quite rare. I might decide to fit a canopy if I’ve a mind to. I have also decided to paint the door at least on the outside. The whole door and frame has had a couple of coats of preserver. Here are two more pictures one from the inside and one from the outside. Those of you who are awake will notice that the outside of the door is shown before it was painted (see yesterday’s picture)

You can also see that the old door frame has been removed. I did that immediately I had finished working on the knobs. The frame had to be cut before I could lever it off using the large crowbar (jemmy) I have. A very useful tool but I also had to use a lump hammer and piles of elbow grease! My word that frame was hard to remove. I will have to fill in holes in the brickwork and beneath the concrete beam above the doorway and also fit more timber along the top edge on the underside of the opening. All small stuff which shouldn’t take long.

Shirley Anne

Best part

Well the best part of any project is the end of it I guess but I like the fact all the hardest part is over and only the small things are left. I like doing everything in a project but get more satisfaction doing the little things at the end. That is probably because I am getting tired of it! Not really, it all keeps me active one way or another. It is Saturday 6 th April and finally we have warmer weather, weak winds and no rain but of course that can all change so easily. The sun is out, well dodging the few clouds that dot the sky and the birds are chirping away. Must be Spring. This morning immediately after breakfast I drove to the retail park to purchase a small can of grey undercoat paint and a couple of escutcheons for the keyholes. Yes I discovered, well I actually knew but had forgotten they were called by that name. The store that sells the paint sells all sorts of materials for DIY enthusiasts, even locks and other door furniture. However they seemed not to have any escutcheons on the shelves. On the way back home I stopped off at a locksmith’s store and it was there I was reminded of the name ‘escutcheon’. The guy gave me two free of charge! He explained that he had loads of them. I thanked him and left the shop for home. On my arrival back home I put on my overalls and gave the outside of the new door a coat of the undercoat paint. It would take four hours at the most to dry. I didn’t fit the escutcheons but left them for another day.

Following the painting I fitted a piece of timber to the top of the frame to block off the gap there and to finish off the appearance. I couldn’t paint it because I had just coated it with wood preserver. Once that was done I mixed some mortar with which to fill in the holes in the brickwork and the gap in the centre of the overhead concrete beam.

I may paint that beam if I’ve a mind to. Now for the top coat of gloss paint I have two choices, white or mahogany but I think I will choose the mahogany. I am not electing to paint the inside pointing face of the door as it isn’t necessary but the door has had a couple of coats of preserver and may get another. The preserver is oak-coloured so looks good by itself. I will continue the work on Monday hopefully.

Shirley Anne

Saturday again

The day after we were supposed to leave the EU but our wonderful politicians have made such a mess of things it is going to be delayed. So much for promises and democracy! I will leave that aside as I don’t want to end up venting my anger on here. Although I did some work on the garage door yesterday I posted nothing about it. I didn’t mention either that I had my second drive around the garden……..on the new lawnmower! The grass needed cutting again but I also wanted to see how much the ramp alteration made a difference to getting it out of the garage and on to the path. I actually drove it out despite the narrowness of the doorway. That as you know is in the process of redesign. So yesterday (29 Mar) I got this far with the door..

The plywood partly covers the square hole at the top so that when the glass is inserted it acts as a stop. In the next pictures you can see what I did today (Saturday).

The frame on the outside of the hole, that is on the outward face of the door adds to that stop. When the glass is fitted later there will be a frame of wood fixed on the inside edge so that the glass cannot be pushed in from the outside. The plywood has been both screwed and nailed in place. The next stage will involve applying a wood preserver followed perhaps with and undercoat and top coat of paint, though I haven’t as yet decided on the paint or even its colour. I spent about three hours each of the two days before stopping work. At least the heavy work is now completed,

Shirley Anne

Coming along…….

…..though slowly. I resumed the construction of the frame for the door today (26 Mar) but it took quite some time. I don’t rush things these days, let’s face it I am no spring chicken! I spent two hours sawing timber before lunch and then another hour and a half after lunch doing the same thing but also assembling the sections.

You can see the short timber has been cut at each end to form a cross-halving joint. All the sections were cut this way to give the frame strength. In the second picture you can see the frame at that time fully assembled but as yet unfinished.

All the sections were screwed together. There will be more pieces added as I go along. In the top space I have to insert the glass panel I purchased for the door. More strengthening sections will also be added. Once I am satisfied with the frame I will then fit the plywood panelling either side to complete the construction. So it is coming along slowly but surely.

Shirley Anne.

Solid as a rock

A lie in on Sunday meant getting up at six o’clock! I had a really good night’s sleep but didn’t get to sleep until twelve-thirty. Five and a half hours was all I could manage but then five and a half hours has been quite normal for me over the last few years. I wanted to see how my concrete screed had turned out but first I had to dress and then have breakfast. When I did go and look I found it as I expected….as hard as a rock! I wouldn’t be using the ramp until Monday or possibly Tuesday for I knew that new concrete (in this case a concrete screed) needs two to three days to settle before allowing traffic on it. During those three days it is considered still green and liable to be easily damaged. It had set nevertheless so I could rest easy. It had been an awkward shape to work at because the slope had to be gradual and to one side due to the position of the door. There hadn’t been a step other than that formed naturally because of the height of the garage floor compared to the level of the path outside. To make matters worse there is a grid close to the doorway making it impossible to have simply incorporated a natural slope in the path itself directly to the door when it was laid. That can be seen in the picture to the right of the doorway.

Anyway somehow I managed to make a sloping ramp which will now make it easier to move stuff in and out of the garage doorway. Sunday started off sunny but it was cold in the westerly wind. Monday promised to be warmer. I would now be able to begin my woodworking project which would take place inside the garage and away from the windy weather if it stayed that way. I did make the attempt at sitting in the sunshine once more but ended up doing a spot of weeding instead. It got too windy and cold and I gave up after a short while. Now as I am writing this it at two in the afternoon it has clouded over and the wind is still strong. Reluctantly I am remaining indoors and will exercise on the gym equipment for a time. No walks today but first thing in the morning before breakfast will set me up for the day.

Shirley Anne

Settled? Unsettled?

Foul weather

We have crazy weather patterns here in the UK and even from county to county there can be huge differences in our weather patterns. For such a small island, and we are a small island compared to many others, we have such weird weather at times. Yesterday I was writing about mowing the lawn whilst the weather was favourable, and it had been so it was fortunate that I did because today it has been raining continuously and apparently will do throughout Sunday too. Monday through to Wednesday looks like we’ll be having a dry spell once again. That being the case I hope to be able to pour more concrete and finish the base layer of the ramp alteration project. You will remember that initially it would happen in two or maybe three stages but since saying that the goalposts have been moved and it will take a few more stages to complete. The reason for that is because I am extending the ramp further than I originally intended. Even with what has been accomplished so far we are finding the mower can now be pushed in and out of the garage with relative ease and that will only improve when the work is finished. I have been waiting for the weather to settle down for a few days to give me time to make more progress. Some things can get done despite the weather but certain tasks are simply impossible to work at if the weather is foul. One good thing about not being able to work for me is that I get the time to exercise more on our gym equipment and that is something I have been doing more of lately. I am keen nevertheless to carry on with the work in hand so roll on Monday!

Shirley Anne

A nothing day

Do you ever get nothing days in your life? Days in which nothing out of the ordinary happens or nothing gets done happen all of the time but hopefully not every day for everyone! My Wednesday was such a day for me. It was the 13 th day of March but it could have been a nothing day on any day both before and after. The weather hereabouts had been really miserable with very high winds blowing and the occasional showering of rain didn’t help matters much. There were things I wanted to be getting on with outside but they were never going to happen until the weather improved. One was finishing the work on the ramp behind the garage and to start work on constructing and installing a new door and frame for the same garage. The latter project was to widen the access into and out of the garage especially for the new mower.

The picture was taken a couple of years ago but shows the rear door of the garage which I intend to replace. I could have started the work on the door had there been materials on hand but there wasn’t. I would have to order them along with other materials but because the weather was so bad I shelved the idea for a few days. Earlier I had partly drained down the heating system in order to remove a leaking valve and on filling it up again discovered the bathroom towel rail heater refused to heat up. That was caused by trapped air in the system which I attempted to remove but at first couldn’t. It happens every time I drain the system for one reason or another. Over a couple of days I eventually did manage to get the air out but still the towel rail wasn’t getting hot enough. I decided to leave it alone for one more day to see if it would eventually work and it did just as it usually did. I went for a walk early in the morning even though the wind was still very strong (around 55 to 60 mph) and tried to stay sheltered from it as best I could. The wind finally eased off later in the evening and hopefully Thursday would be a better day where I might get something done if I felt inclined. It would probably be to order timber for making a start on the door and frame. The concrete laying for the ramp alterations would still have to wait for an improvement in the weather.

Shirley Anne

Nice way to start

It was the morning of the first day of the year (according to the calendar of course) and I had slept for over seven hours in one go! I had retired to bed around nine-thirty but didn’t nod off until after ten. E asked me if I had been disturbed by the fireworks being set off by neighbours celebrating the new year. Well I hadn’t as I was fast asleep. It must be around forty years or more since E and I paid any attention to the passing of the old year into the new. We are of the opinion that it is just another excuse for getting drunk. Be that as it may I never arise from my bed with a hangover these days having given up on alcohol some years ago and certainly never on new year. After breakfast I had made up my mind to finish off the painting in the cellar, that is wherever it needed a coat of white emulsion. To that end I stayed down there for three hours and had it almost completed. There only remained a small area not reachable with the small set of steps I was using and I didn’t wish to get the taller steps from the garage just for that. I would tackle that the next day instead as I would still have to retouch some of the white paint anyway. I include these two pictures which don’t look too much different from those I posted a day or so back though in fact the stairwell had just been completely painted with its final coat.

All the doors in the hallway now had their signage returned and each had been retouched with white paint where necessary. The small storeroom to the right of the steps which had been my previous project had its door completely repainted again for the third and final time. All this was done that morning. The next day I would hopefully paint the then presently blue door frames in red.

Shirley Anne

Two days left

I write on Dec 29 in the afternoon just having eaten lunch. I had been working in the cellar hallway for a couple of hours earlier and it was all woodwork. There was only two working days left before the end of the year and I had it in mind to give everything a second and final coat of paint but there were still some minor issues to sort out first. Not a great deal of attention had been given to the doors and door frames down there when they were installed as most of them showed gaps or had been installed incorrectly. A couple of the doors were slightly warped, namely the one for the larder and the one for the utility room. I have taken steps toward reducing the warp on each. I have fitted thresholds beneath those doors which previously had none and fitted extra timbers either to the tops of the doors or the frames to eliminate the gaps. Those timbers have yet to be painted as I write. So this morning I concentrated on completing all those fiddly extras. It was around one o’clock when I stopped work for lunch but didn’t actually get to eat anything for a hour. E and I watched a movie during lunch and once it was over I didn’t much want to return to work so left the painting until Monday. Even when that was done there would still remain the floor. That requires the same cement treatment the other rooms had before it can be painted over therefore it will be early January before I can sort it out. The final stage of the hallway refurbishment involves doing the stairway and in fact the stairwell will probably get a coat of paint and repairs to the stone steps before the main floor is started upon.

Although it looks newly painted it isn’t. The second step up from the bottom needs a cement job on the right-hand-side behind the black post. There is some minor work to be done at the top of the steps too. Incidentally the window at the top of the steps is the double-glazed unit we made when we built the wet room a few years ago which is obviously behind the wall.

Shirley Anne