Tag Archives: Domestic Projects

Carpentry and stuff

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I have always enjoyed working with wood, it is one of those materials which is easy to work with though it is unforgiving, make a mistake and it isn’t easily undone. I have made a few mistakes in the past when working with wood as I am sure many have but it is a rewarding experience making things in wood. My latest little project is manufacturing a wooden gate and installing it at the side of the house. My readers will by now have seen my progress with the brickwork if they’ve followed my recent posts. On Thursday (10 th) I began working with the wood and my first task was to cut and fit the two wooden posts for each side of the gate opening…..

The one on the right has to support the gate itself so I used large ‘Rawlbolts’  to secure it to the brick wall. Here is a picture of a rawlbolt for anyone who doesn’t know what they are,,,

As the bolt is tightened it draws the nut (on the right-hand end) into the body which expands inside the hole in which it is fitted. The bolt obviously passes through the timber first! The post on the left has no weight to carry and therefore I used long screws instead. I must remember to clean off the dried mortar on the wall on the right where I had been filling in some holes after installing the posts.The posts themselves do not stand directly on the ground so that they will resist rotting  when it rains. Wood standing on the ground will soak up water and eventually get wet rot. The timber was purchased pre-treated against the weather but I have given it more coats of weather resisting treatment too. After lunch I began work on constructing the gate itself and got this far with it before stopping for the day at five o’clock….

I have it standing in the garage as I write this. There is more work to do on it yet before I hang it in position though. Hopefully I can finish the work soon, it all depends upon other things, not least of all the weather.

Shirley Anne

The day after…

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The Reluctant Dragon (film)

The Reluctant Dragon (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was Tuesday morning and I had just awoken. I felt a little reluctant to go for a walk but thought I would do anyway knowing full well that I would enjoy it. However before I was even dressed I received a call from a lady asking if I could check a power outlet for her. As it was reasonably close by and a simple job I agreed to do it, though after getting dressed and having my breakfast. An hour later I was at the house and soon had the job done. On my return home I left the van on the driveway for I had decided to take a trip to the timber and builder’s merchant to purchase timber for the gate I am constructing. I found that the timber I had at home was unsuitable and of insufficient quantity anyway. Starting from scratch with pre-treated (against the weather) timber was a better option though I intended to purchase some coloured wood preserver to give it an extra coat when the work is finished. First of all though I had to take measurements so went into the house and then into the garden to do so. Off I went to the depot a mile down the road and found a young man in the yard where the timber is stored. Having selected what I needed he cut some of the timber into two pieces so that I could transport it home on the roof rack of the van. The money I had just earned more than covered the cost of the materials and my purse was more or less left intact! I have noticed that happening quite often lately since my ‘official’ retirement. It was approaching lunchtime on my return home. I removed the timber from the van and stored it ready for use on another day. I wasn’t going to make a start so near lunch time and afterward I probably wouldn’t be in the mood anyway. E had been informed that her mom had been discharged from the hospital as I mentioned in yesterday’s post. E was telling me how reluctant she had been to go and how much of a struggle the paramedics had getting her in the ambulance the previous day as she had fought tooth and nail resisting their efforts. Obviously they had persuaded her to go and be checked out. She confesses to not liking hospitals for fear of the possibility of dying there one day. I suppose many old folk think that way because they would prefer to pass away quietly at home. E drove off to see her later in the afternoon but I stayed at home watching the rain pouring down as promised.

Shirley Anne

Blind man

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You must have heard the expression but if not….’A blind man on a galloping horse, won’t notice’……well that can’t be anything else but true, if you could have blind men riding horses at such a pace! It’s an expression used when excuses for something we have done is not appearing quite right. I didn’t go for a walk on Friday because I wanted to press on with building the column for the proposed gate I want to make. I didn’t wish to be tired from walking whilst knowing I had the work to do during a dry spell in the weather. I began the work at ten o’clock and was finished as far as I could go before twelve-thirty. I completed the column but have yet to fit a capstone. The capstone you see in the pictures is twisted and isn’t cemented to the column. I have never seen a piece of twisted capstone before but yes this piece is definitely twisted. It is also too long. I shall have to purchase another…

Anyway E came to inspect the finished work but before she could say anything I quipped ‘A blind man on a galloping horse won’t notice’. Well it looks alright but it isn’t perfect, just near enough! I could have said it is perfect as long as you don’t look at it or anyone living in Australia can’t see it. Actually it isn’t that bad at all. My next task, apart from buying a capstone is to begin manufacturing a gate, hopefully from timber I have in stock. It may be a while before that job is done but there’s no hurry. After lunch E and I sat out in the sunshine though it was still quite windy. Later I took a few minutes to mow the lawn whilst I had the chance, we were expecting some rain. I did however water the garden just in case it didn’t rain.

Shirley Anne

Felt like twice

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Up early on a wet and windy August Thursday morning ready to venture out for a walk. One banana later I was outside in the weather. Though it was wet and windy it was warm, though when in the wind it felt that much cooler. I ate breakfast on my return home because it was still early enough to do that. On some occasions I skip breakfast if I am late getting back home and have an early lunch instead. E was still sitting at the breakfast table when I returned. She seldom asks how far I walked but I usually tell her anyway. It had been a short walk of just over four miles but it felt as if I had walked twice the distance because of the wind. On the outward journey I had taken a more sheltered route in the built-up areas through the town but on my return leg I walked along the promenade which is totally exposed to the west. The wind was blowing from the south-west and therefore directly in my face. I could have taken the coastal road instead as it would have made little difference. Between the promenade and the coastal road a quarter-mile away there is almost nothing of height, lake and gardens is all. I shudder to think what it would have been like for anyone out running but there weren’t any runners to be seen. Fair weather runners? I think not for I never used to deliberately run in the wind in exposed places either. I had work to do in the afternoon and the weather was to change by then, that is it would stop raining. I have been building the column for the gate at the side of the house in the rear garden and the weather has been fine whilst doing it. This is how far I got with it the day before…(centre in both pictures)

I gave up on the idea of working on the column in the afternoon for two reasons, one I was feeling tired and two it was still very windy though the rain had stopped. At the side of the house where the work is being carried out it was very windy indeed with gusts of around 35 mph, far too uncomfortable to be working in especially as there is no hurry to finish the job. Hopefully though by the time you read this it will be completed.

Shirley Anne

Getting further

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English: Bricks in a wall.

: Bricks in a wall. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was up and out reasonably early on Tuesday (1st) for my walk. The previous day saw me taking a backward route before continuing in my usual direction. It has the effect of adding an extra half-mile to any distance I might travel on my walk. Southport is an easy place to plan a long walk especially if you like walking along the coastal roads. However, Southport can be a windy place too and for that reason. For myself it is ideal as I like the refreshing and invigorating breeze when out walking. When I am not out walking I detest the wind! Is that strange do you think? Maybe not. Sitting on the patio is spoiled when the wind is too high. Anyway my walk ended up longer than I had imagined it would and it gets easier each time I go out but I know this from my experiences when running. Any exercise gets easier the more it is done. When I arrived back home it was almost noon and as I had little to eat before the walk I was hungry. After lunch E had to take her mom into town to do some shopping and I took the opportunity to lay a few bricks. ‘Few’ being the operative word as I didn’t wish to rush into it. I am building the column for the gate I plan to fit later. I decided to mix the mortar by hand in a large plastic bucket rather than use the mixer as getting out the mixer for such a small amount wasn’t worth the effort. In fact I have decided not to use the mixer at all as I build. The mixer has been a boon during the time we have had it because the projects I had undertaken required a lot of mortar. This column will use far less each time I add a course of bricks and will serve to slow the process down. There is no urgency to get the work done quickly as I have all the time in the world and can take things slowly. Normally a job like this would take me two days, not because I couldn’t lay the amount of bricks in a day to complete the column but because only a few courses can be laid each time. Too many courses being laid will result in the mortar being squeezed out between the lower courses and the structure may not hold its shape whilst the mortar sets. Sounds like a good excuse but in fact is true.

Shirley Anne

Didn’t take me long

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Skills Like This

Skills Like This (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been on the go for most of my life, always looking for something to do but it has to be something I like doing. My electrical career has been a fascinating experience, never a dull moment and often the work was varied, no two jobs the same. Not only that but I became conversant and experienced in many electrical disciplines as well as in other closely related fields. To put it simply it was enjoyable and held my interest, it still does though I have far less involvement now. This means I have to find other things to occupy my time and again they have to be something I like doing. Over the years I have developed skills in building work and other skills such as plumbing, joinery and so on. This has proven to be beneficial for most of the work around the house I can do myself and save vast amounts of cash in the process by not having to employ someone else. So it helps that I like working with my hands and it gives me great satisfaction whenever I complete a project or small task that needs doing. I have (so far) this summer been enjoying more time to myself and have found the freedom to do what I like when it pleases me very liberating. However I am always thing of things to do so that I never get bored and have recently decided on starting a couple of outdoor projects to that end. Once I get an idea it plays upon my mind until at last I get the ball rolling. I needed more sand and cement and also gate furniture for when I make the gate I have in mind to construct later. First though I have to build a column constructed of bricks, hence the reason for acquiring some. E’s nephew, a builder, has graciously allowed us to take whatever bricks we wanted from his stock. We took 45 and he asked if we wanted more as he wanted to get rid of them. We said we would accept 50 more and he delivered them on Monday morning last week. That was the motivation I needed to go and purchase the sand, cement and the rest. Now, as I write this, I have no excuses to prevent me beginning some of the work………..it just depends upon the weather. I would like to try to make the work last as long as I can but I have a feeling that will never happen!

Shirley Anne

I feel the urge

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Master of Styles

Master of Styles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It has to be said…I am feeling the urge……aha but what urge? Since declaring I am retired, officially that is, I have been enjoying much free time for myself. However as many of my readers will know and all those who know me will know that I need to find things to do else get very bored. A few days ago E asked her nephew, a builder, if he had any second-hand bricks we could have for a project at home. I mentioned what happened in an earlier post but since then we have decided we will require more than the forty-five we took at that time. He told us that we could have as many as we wished because he wanted to get rid of them. He told us that he would deliver them within a day or two. Perhaps when you read this he will have done so or I might have done so. I am in the ‘building with bricks’ mood and feel the urge to get my hands dirty again. I have a couple of small projects which I am eager to start, all depending upon the weather of course. If it gets too warm I will probably leave off beginning the work until it gets cooler though at the time of writing this on Sunday it is fairly cool at 16 deg C. This is the UK however and it can get hot or cold, wet and windy in hours! Hopefully I will be able to do the work soon and pictures will follow. There is always the garden to work in of course but at the moment the only work there is in removing weeds and mowing the lawn. Speaking of lawns, I have been on my hands and knees manually digging out weeds from the lawn recently, an ongoing problem which will take time to complete. Ideally the lawn should have some chemical treatment but it isn’t that bad or bad enough to warrant that just now. I don’t like to use chemical treatments if at all possible but in certain cases it is necessary or have a lawn of weeds instead of grass! For me though it is all about occupying my time. I suppose that when you feel the urge you’ve got to do something about it!

Shirley Anne

The Party’s over

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As I write this on a dull Sunday afternoon the party is over and I for one could not be happier. What party you may well ask? The Open golf championship event here at Royal Birkdale. Don’t misunderstand me here, many people love the game of golf but I am just not one of them.

The picture above was taken through the window in a lounge at home at around five o’clock on the last day of the golf event. Up until then the day had been mostly sunny. On Saturday there had been much rain but the previous days had been fine and sunny. I am not sure how that affected the play though I have a feeling it made little difference. For the last few days the whole town of Southport but especially Birkdale had been geared up for the event with many local restrictions having been imposed upon us all. It is something we all have had to put up with whether we like the sport or not. I can live with that. I steered well clear of the course which is very close to where I live and spent my time away from the house in the opposite direction! However during the time I was at home we had to put up with a light aircraft circling above every two to three minutes for hours on end which really was annoying. When I say circling it was doing just that, flying in a circle around the course and our house was under the flight path. On Sunday morning I went for a walk and on my return I emptied out most of the things in my van. E and I were to go and collect some bricks from her nephew which were stored at a place less than a mile from home. He had graciously allowed us to take what we wanted which was around fifty bricks. They had been dumped with other rubbish and needed to be separated but it didn’t take long to do that and we were soon back home for lunch. I stored them behind one of the garages and under cover to keep them dry until I wanted to use them.

Later E received a text message from her nephew who was asking where we were and why we hadn’t called to collect the bricks! E had thought he meant for us to collect the ones we had but it appeared he meant those stored at his own house a few hundred metres away. Those bricks had already been sorted and separated whereas the ones we took we had to glean from a general pile of other material. Although the ones we took were not stored at his house they still belonged to him. The reason he has so many bricks is that he is a builder. He asked if we wanted more as he was  trying to rid himself of some of them. We accepted his offer and he said he would drop them off later. Now I won’t have to worry about buying bricks for the projects I have in mind to do. The first one is to put a gate at the end of this passage where it meets the main part of the garden.

That is at the end of the side wall of the house on the right. Now I am not planning to begin that work during the summer though anything is possible with me.

Shirley Anne

Sumfing to do

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Or in proper English ‘Something to do’. Since completing my last domestic project I have had an uneasy time trying to find things to do. Being in the garden helps a lot for there is plenty to do there throughout the year but I don’t want to be doing gardening all of the time. The good weather has allowed me to be outdoors for much of the time and I have taken many a short walk around and about where I live. When stuck at home I get restless and there is only so much television I can take. I don’t do much reading, in fact hardly any at all unless it is something factual. I never read fiction as it bores me to tears. I am therefore a person who likes to be actively doing something. A few months ago we had one of the LED floodlights at the rear of the house go faulty and I removed the one just around the corner from it to replace it. I extended the wiring from the removed light fitting connection box to a new position further along the wall on the same side then fitted a new but smaller LED unit there.

A smaller unit at the new position is all that is required to illuminate the area in front of it. None of that is directly relevant to this post save for the fact that I didn’t discard the faulty unit at the time as I wanted to see if anything could be salvaged from it. I didn’t get the time to do it but on Friday afternoon I decided to check it out. There are only three components in these units that can turn faulty, the LED lamp, the LED driver unit and the motion detector. Usually on standard floodlights using halogen lamps it is the motion detector which fails if it isn’t the lamp itself. I wanted to see if I could use the unit as a standby plug-in portable floodlight which meant disconnecting and removing the motion detector. After much messing about I had the unit rewired as a portable floodlight but it wouldn’t work. It turned out that the original fault was the LED driver unit and not the motion detector. The floodlight couldn’t be used either with or without the motion detector unless the driver was replaced. The floodlight was returned to the storeroom until and if I decide to purchase a driver unit. An exercise in futility if ever there was one. I may decide to forget the whole idea and go for a walk now that the rain has stopped falling…………LOL

Shirley Anne.

All things new?

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I woke up on Saturday morning fully refreshed after a good night’s sleep. I wanted to give the new pillar stand a coat of gloss paint but first I had to move it into the boiler room where it is always warm. The room it was in whilst under construction is a far cooler room and the paint had been taking a longer time than normal to dry. I am talking about the primer/undercoat which is supposed only to take thirty minutes to be touch dry under normal temperatures. The workshop along with the room beneath the small lounge are always cool because the ground outside at the front of the house is raised above ground level. See behind the flowerbed the raised portion. 

I moved my ‘workmate’ bench into the boiler room too so that I could place the stand on it whilst painting. It didn’t take long to paint it but it will need another coat later. That done I decided to clean up the cellar hallway carpet and the floor in the workshop where I had been working. It was covered in sawdust. That took some time but soon I was finished. I waited until E had gone out after her lunch to her monthly meeting and then I retrieved the tall ladder from the garage where I had put it after completing the lounge project and moved it into the rear lounge. I wanted to fit the curtain rail in there and hang the curtains which I had removed from the small lounge a few weeks ago. First though, I had to strengthen the centre support by placing a metal tube through the support for the poles to be inserted and skim the ends of the poles so they would fit. It didn’t me take long to complete the whole job, about an hour…

I had skipped lunch as I wasn’t hungry at the time but made a sandwich when I had finished working and whilst I was making a vegetable and chicken stew for my evening meal. It was so late when I ate the sandwich that I left the stew for the following day.

The pan is larger than it looks for there is enough stew in it for three meals and it is only half filled. Anyone for stew? That done I went into the rear garden to water some of the plants, those which are under a canopy of leaves in the warmer months. It had been raining earlier but there was little or no wind which would normally blow the rain beneath the trees so occasionally I have to water those plants myself.

The plants affected are all in the long flowerbed (shown above) though in this picture taken in late Winter there were no leaves to form a canopy. That was it, finished for the day and time to relax.

Shirley Anne

Manufacturing mode

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So there I was on Friday morning again with no electrical work and the whole day to myself. In yesterday’s post I mentioned I was going to build a stand for one of the new table lamps I had purchased. Soon after I had written the post I found myself in the rooms at the top of the house looking for something and discovered two suitable candidates for a table lamp to sit upon. Both would have needed painting white and the furniture on them would have needed changing to match what is already in the small lounge. Ah but alas they belonged to one or both of my two sons and though I doubt either of them were actually wanted by my sons there was no way I was going to take one or even ask. No, I had made up my mind to manufacture one myself so after breakfast I began the work. The first task was to find enough material from the stock of left-over bits and pieces from jobs we have had done in the past. I have always kept the scrap lengths of timber or sheets of board that were left after a job we’d had done as long as they were large enough to warrant keeping them. As we have cellar rooms there is plenty of storage space to allow that. After finding enough material I began by cutting four pieces of board to size which I would use for the side panels. Next I found some lengths of square sectioned wood to use for fixing the sides together to form a hollow square tube. I cut another piece of board to form a base and fixed that to the tube. Finally I found a slightly larger piece of board with which to form the top. Here is the almost completed pillar…..

I placed it in the cellar hallway in order to take the photograph. The work was done in the room we call the workshop to the bottom and right of this shot. It is called the workshop for a very good reason….it is one! Many a job has been carried out in that room over the years. The picture doesn’t show the fact that when it was taken the top had yet to be fixed. I did that next and then gave the whole thing a coat of priming paint. Once that was dry, about two hours later, I filled in all the gaps. It will need sanding down before another coat of paint is applied.

Shirley Anne

Everything has slowed down…….

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……even me! I have not done any electrical work for quite some time now which in itself isn’t a great problem, it’s just that I have to look for other things to do. I have mentioned that I am thinking about redecorating the stairwell and hallways and replacing the carpet up to and including the first floor. The decor can be the same throughout as long as it matches the carpets. I would really like to paint all the wood work white in colour and have a dark grey carpet and perhaps a very pale shade of grey on the walls. The problem is that there is a lot of wood to paint and carpets would have to be lifted until it was done. Of course I can concentrate on one floor at a time but even so it will be a long time in completing. With that in mind and the cost to do it I have decided to delay starting the work for a while. In the meantime I have been busy doing smaller but necessary jobs which financially have cost me nothing. I am also going to take the time to build a stand for a table lamp for the small lounge as I have been unable to find one ready-made or one and of the right size which I can paint myself. As I write this on Thursday evening I am proposing to start on that tomorrow morning as I have all the materials in the cellar and don’t have to buy anything. I did very little during the morning except to dig out some weeds and a few Montbretia shoots in the rear garden. The season is just right for the Montbretia to start growing and what few I had been unable to dig out along with the Bluebells last year and earlier this year are beginning to show themselves. Montbretia, at least those in my garden, have been quite easy to remove so they aren’t really a problem. I did spend a little time relaxing on the patio before lunch and afterwards I went out shopping for the two new table lamps.

Before I could use them I replaced the supplied 13 amp plugs with 5 amp ones so that they can be switched on at the door together with the floor-standing lamp. Each of these lamps incidentally has its own switch in case I don’t wish to use them. The first picture shows the lamp I have been trying to purchase a cabinet/table for but am now making myself. The second is in its intended place alongside the computer on which I am writing this. My other computer I keep upstairs in the guest bedroom. The one you see is the larger and runs Windows 7, my preferred platform whilst the other runs Windows 10 which I don’t much like and only use if I have to. I do run it frequently though to keep it updated, especially the security programs. If you’ve got really good eyesight you may be able to read the first half of this post on the screen in the second picture! I am now able to leave the computer on top of the cabinet and sit on the stool to use it now that I have made the stand for it. It is designed to spread the load and prevent the legs of the stool from digging into the carpet. I like making things that work!

The seat cover, though not purposely a matching colour just happened to be right. It is one of two stools we have had for many years.

Shirley Anne

Ticking over

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Now that I have completed the redecoration and refurbishment of the small lounge at home I am beginning to consider redecorating the main hallway, the first floor hallway, the top floor hallway and the staircases in between them. I am considering hanging new, embossed wall paper and painting over it with white emulsion. I may decide to over-paint the stained wood work with white gloss but if I do it will take much time. Following that I would like to replace the carpets up to and including the first floor in a different colour from what it is now. 

The carpet looks its age and is well-worn and a little discoloured. If it isn’t possible to obtain the exact replacement I am thinking to replace it with one of a different colour, possibly a crimson or dark green colour. If I do replace with a new colour I would only replace the ground and first floors together with the intervening staircase as the carpet above the second floor is very much unworn and in good condition. It is at the moment just at the thinking stage as far as the carpet replacement goes though as far as the decoration goes it may happen far sooner. I have other things to consider in the meantime. Today, that is Tuesday 16th as I write this I actually filled-in my tax return form, took a walk into the village and posted it. I had all the collation work done weeks ago but as usual I wanted the time to recheck figures. The small lounge project prevented me from doing that but on Tuesday morning I finally had the time. This time next year I may be returning an empty form, that is one devoid of any profitable declarations as I may have fully retired by then, who knows? In the afternoon I went on the hunt for a small cabinet and to purchase some scatter cushions for the new suite in the small lounge. 

As you can see I found the cushions (£5 each) but no luck with the small cabinet as yet. I will keep looking though. Following that I went to the pub for an hour, just for drinks and to chat with people for I had eaten earlier.

Shirley Anne

Another Monday morning

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It would be another Monday morning spent at home. No electrical work for quite some time now and I am beginning to think that maybe it is time to quit. Actually I hadn’t published my advert for this week so that might explain things though I have turned down quite a number of offers these past few weeks. I am not desperate for the money the work brings me, I can manage without it. So what was I to do for the day? Well during the replacement of the faulty radiator in the small lounge a few days earlier I had to drain down the whole system and as is usual in doing that air gets trapped in the radiators and pipes. I had vented off all the trapped air in the radiators but found the towel rail in the bathroom still problematical. The picture below was taken a couple of years ago soon before the bathroom project would be finished. It shows only the lower section of the tall radiator.

It turned out that I hadn’t vented the radiator completely so that was one of the first jobs for the day. While I was in the bathroom I took the opportunity to clean out the dead flies and moths that had found their way inside the ceiling lights. Before I had made a start on venting out the air in the radiator I gave the base I had made for the stool in the small lounge to stand on another coat of paint. I placed it on top of the boiler in the cellar to dry more quickly, actually anywhere in the boiler room is warm enough as we often hang our washing in there for it to dry.

Next job was to refit the two wall lights in the small lounge after I had cleaned them up. I decided after all not to replace them with new fittings as they match with the ceiling light.

And here are the switches which control the ceiling light, the wall lights and the free-standing lights I might plug into the dedicated outlets, one of which is the new floor standing light.

The switch plate is difficult to see because it blends in with the new decor but if you click on the picture it will be easier to see. Click on all the images to magnify them.

All that and a few other things not listed before lunch at one o’clock. Now what was I to do in the afternoon?

Shirley Anne

 

Just about complete

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I have yet to refit the two wall lights but as far as the room being completed is concerned it is finished. I am looking for a small unit to place against the wall opposite and facing the windows on which I will place one of the two table lamps I propose to purchase in the near future. It will stand near to where the guitar is in the next to bottom picture. As I write this on Saturday evening the furniture arrived earlier today and at last I am able to actually sit in the room again! Here are the pictures…

In the two top pictures you may be able to just see the red covered top of a four-legged stool standing between the sofa and the cabinet. I am in the process of painting a base unit I made yesterday for the stool to stand on. It has four recessed holes for the legs to sit in and it will spread the load when anyone sits on the stool to prevent the legs digging into the carpet under the weight. The stool is only there if I wish to use the computer while it is on top of the cabinet instead of on my lap. Now that the work is mainly complete I am already thinking about another project I can start in the weeks ahead. Maybe I’ll just shelve the idea for a while.

Shirley Anne