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.
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.
That is giving the whole room, the walls and ceiling its first coat of white emulsion. Bright isn’t it? I think so. The room had been in an awful state very much as the other rooms I had refurbished during the year. By the time you are reading this at the end of January hopefully the work in the cellar will have been completed. It wasn’t the only thing I did that day for I spent a little time in the rear garden cleaning and hosing down the area in the Plot where we keep the composting bin. It had been looking a little neglected when I went to tip more compost in the bin.
Moss loves the area and leaves get trapped too. In all I spent around five hours working before I decided I’d had enough.
After the short break was over it was time to start work again. Alright it was only one day off but it did make a difference. So now it was Wednesday morning and I was up before one o’clock! I’d had enough sleep by then having retired to bed at seven-thirty. Time for a walk and at two thirty in the morning I never expect to see anyone about, that is near to my home for in town it is a different matter. Not that I walk through the town centre often at such an hour but if I do there is always somebody about. I walked down the road called Rotten Row which is usually deserted but this morning there were road works being carried out and as I passed I saw two guys from the local energy supply working on some underground cables. I had noticed a power outage along that road several days earlier. They were the only people I came across throughout my walk though there had been a few vehicles about. When I returned home and after breakfast it was time to put on the kit, overalls, gloves and mask. I was going to paint the small store room floor in the cellar….
The left-hand picture might be slightly blurred as I had to take it from outside the room by reaching around the wall. The right-hand picture was taken from the same position just outside the room. In that picture you can see a dark triangular patch in the top right of the floor. When we cleared out the room we discovered an old cut-off lead water pipe and we think it was either a water supply to a tap (faucet) for use in that room or a supply pipe for what used to be an outhouse where there was a washroom and lavatory. I remember cutting off the lead pipe whilst digging out the Plot at the side of the house when constructing the raised flowerbed there a couple of years ago. When I cemented the gaps in the floor a week or so earlier it took a long time to dry. We are not sure at the time of writing whether this triangle of cement now covering the remains of the pipe has fully dried out or if it has water in it (seeping in from the soil in which it is buried) which is keeping it damp. If it doesn’t appear to be drying out I shall have to dig outside to locate and cut it off. Until then that corner will remain unpainted. I wasn’t able to do any more work in the cellar until the fumes had disappeared.
I may have been feeling a little under the weather yesterday (20 th Dec) but today is another day and once again I’ve bounced back! Up very early I went out for my morning walk arriving back home by four-thirty and ate breakfast. Soon after that I was wearing my overalls and doing some work in the cellar. I have been concentrating my efforts in the cellar hallway trying to tidy up the mess of cables and holes above two of the doors downs there. I began by making a wooden cover to hide the cables and water pipe. If you could see the water pipe you would understand how difficult it was to cover it but now that it is you’ll have to take my word for it. In yesterday’s post I wrote about my computer tablet becoming faulty. It meant I couldn’t take a picture and although I could have use my phone I forgot! Anyway suffice to say there will be pictures later no doubt. Once that was done it was time to mix some plaster and begin filling in holes, lots of them but I had to stop after a while as I wanted to go and purchase a bag of granite dust or ‘granno’ as it is called in the building trade. I would need it when it came to filling in the gaps and holes in the floor. I had used the last of it when doing the small store room floor. I use a ratio of three parts of sand, two parts of granno and one part of cement for the mixture adding water as usual. The floor is then dampened and the wet mixture is brushed in. After a while the floor is swept to clear away the excess and again later to sweep up the dust. When it is dry I paint it. It all takes time but I am glad I made the effort to tidy up the cellar rooms, the ones that could be done at least.
Getting near to the Winter Solstice after which the days begin to get lighter for longer once again. Yes I know it is now January 21 st as you read this but I am 35 days ahead in my posts at the moment which makes it a week before Christmas as I write. I could stop writing for a month of course to allow you to catch up! Anyway my day began early for I was going walking and after breakfast on my return I started working in the cellar hallway. The door frames to the gym and the store rooms which are adjacent to one another needed some attention. The top section of architrave on both was missing and again there were cables clipped above the doors. There were several large holes in both the walls and the ceiling above the doors too. As it happened I had the two pieces of architrave stored beneath the workshop bench but how they got there is a mystery though I fancy they were off the doorway I had bricked-up a couple of years ago. That doorway led indirectly into the garden from the utility room. My first task was to fit the architraves and then attempt to patch up the plaster work. I decided to cover the cables with timber then plaster elsewhere. As I write this that work is only half done. I had to go and purchase more plaster and on my return did some plastering. That took me to lunchtime and I decided I would take the rest of the day off but after lunch I changed my mind and ended up in the cellar again. This time it was to clear the hallway of all that had been stored there and also dump some other things which had been stored in the main store room. Not only did I do that work but I lifted the carpet and underlay in the hallway too. This time E offered a helping hand and she cleaned the floor whilst I loaded the van with the now cut and rolled carpet and underlay. There was even a large area of floor covered in vinyl beneath the carpet! That was removed too. The following morning I would take it all to the dump.
On Friday one week before the Winter Solstice it was bitterly cold as I set out on my early morning walk. It was just as well I was dressed for it and at least it was dry. Clear skies had been forecast for part of the night and as it happened it was mostly clear while I was out. As I walked along the seafront I saw in my peripheral vision two meteors though not at the same time. At the time I reasoned they were part of the Gemini shower for they appeared to have emanated from that constellation. I discovered later on checking the shower calendar that I had been correct. There was a comet visible with the naked eye in or near to the constellation of Taurus but I hadn’t been aware of that having not been actively doing my star-gazing bit for some time. I have been interested in astronomy from an early age. This comet would be visible for a number of days throughout December. When I returned home I watched some tv and didn’t start work until after eight-thirty. I concentrated on completing the boxing-in I had been engaged with over the last couple of days.
I gave the wood its first coat of paint after lunch. The next job will be to fill in all the gaps now easy to see having painted it. I also painted the ceiling around the new light position so that I could clip the light into place and not have to paint close to it later.
It was Thursday 13 th and I had been out doing the weekly shopping and as I go there quite early to the supermarket it leaves the rest of the day free to do other things. On my return however I was feeling a little hungry so made a sandwich. I wanted to get on with the work in the cellar but didn’t start until ten o’clock. The small storeroom was on hold because part of the floor was still damp and accordingly couldn’t be painted. I mentioned it might take days for it to dry out and I didn’t mind that as long as it did dry out! So I concentrated on the second project which was the refurbishment of the hallway and specifically the boxing-in of the section of pipework I wanted to get done. I spent a couple of hours doing that and after lunch continued with it. Before that work started however I replaced the light unit with a long LED unit exactly the same type as others I had installed in other rooms in the house.
As you can see it hadn’t been clipped into its fixing brackets because prior to installing it I filled in some holes with plaster. When the plaster was dry I would paint the ceiling where the light would be before clipping it into its brackets. I also fitted the inspection cover over the access hole on the ceiling in the small storeroom beneath the wet room drain. That repair to the leak had been successful. I didn’t finish the boxing in on the day but got much done as you can see in the pictures.
The other work to be done in the hallway would consist of filling in holes in the ceiling and walls before removing the carpet and items stored there. Following that it would be painting the walls, repairing the floor as necessary and then painting that too. That would keep me out of mischief for a while!
At the end of yesterday’s post I mentioned how much I didn’t feel like doing any more work after sorting out the frost protection in the garden. That work only took a mere thirty minutes I think but it had been enough for me, I just didn’t want to spend the next few hours working in the cellar, I was on strike so to speak and E told me to take a break and rest. That was an order I had to obey but only for the day for on Tuesday the story was completely different. I didn’t arise early as there was no point, I wasn’t going for a walk and I had the day at my disposal if I wished to do any work on my project. After breakfast therefore I began by filling numerous holes in the walls of the small store room. Now that it had received its first coat of white paint the holes were much easier to see. I soon had that done and then I set about doing the same on the floor as I had done in the other rooms in the cellar prior to painting them. Of course that meant mixing a little cement. It didn’t take long because the cement is simply brushed onto the previously dampened floor. After an hour or so I swept up the excess and later again did the same thing…
E had come downstairs to eat breakfast and then we were going out to purchase more emulsion paint for the cellar rooms and to spend a little time in Dobbies. She had some business at the bank in town so that was done too. Her mom had been taken poorly earlier in the morning and E arranged for her doctor to visit. Her mom has ongoing health problems so it was just a routine matter. Nevertheless she was taken to hospital for examination. She was returned home later in the afternoon and by all accounts was back to normal. E had an appointment of her own during the afternoon, another routine visit for her too. Whilst she was out I set about work on the next project in the cellar, the hallway. I hadn’t been able to continue in the small store room because the work I had done earlier was still wet. Well what did I do in the hallway? There was a section of pipework which needed boxing in, the only section in the hallway which needed doing so I began that work by fixing some battens to the wall and ceiling. It would be continued with once I had finished the other room.
The wall itself backs on to the utility room and many of the service’s pipework and wiring pass through into that room from the hallway as you can probably see. There would be just enough materials in my stock to finish the job. The rest of the work in the hallway would involve filling large holes in the walls and ceiling, painting the walls and ceiling and finally lifting the old carpet and getting the floor in order as with the other rooms I have been working in.
It isn’t often I have an extra lie-in but I don’t usually need one. However I had decided to stay up just that little bit longer on Friday evening in order to watch a couple of tv programs so waking up later was inevitable. Even so I should have arisen by four o’clock for by that time I would have had easily enough sleep. I arose just after five. Through Friday evening and into Saturday morning the weather had been foul with extremely high winds blowing and it lasted into the afternoon. I wasn’t going anywhere so it didn’t matter so much. Down in the cellar it would be much quieter and that is where I spent a couple of hours carrying on with the small store project. Years ago when we first moved into the house there was a downstairs bedroom, two in fact, though the second had been a bit of a makeshift affair. It had curtain separating it from what was then the kitchen and occupied the room in which the kitchen is now located. The other bedroom occupied what is now the rear lounge though it was always a rear lounge having been built that way. The previous owner had turned the house into a bed-sit so that he could earn money by letting out the rooms. When we moved in one of the first things we did was to turn it back into a normal home. A floor-to-ceiling wardrobe had been constructed in the bedroom but it wasn’t one of the first things to go, the sinks and associated plumbing to several of the rooms went first. The wardrobe stayed for a couple of years as we allowed E’s brother to use the room having been made homeless by his estranged girlfriend. I digress. The point is this, when I finally dismantled the huge wardrobe unit I kept the wood framework and the panelled wooden doors down in the cellar (along with many other things). Now, about twenty-something years later some of that timber came in very handy. Over the years some of it had been used elsewhere in the house but now I was using it to block off the rear end of the space beneath the stone steps in the small store room. This is what I did on the Saturday morning (8 th Dec)…
You may be able to see the panel framework. Before inserting it into the space I had to fit timber to the rear where there was no frame to support the plywood (top and right-hand-side). I fitted battens on the side walls and floor in order to secure the panel in position and then filled in the edges with filler. It was slowly getting there.