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.
During the day on Friday (7 th Dec.) the wind gradually grew stronger with every passing minute. The tail end of another hurricane was on its way to our shores once more. It doesn’t last long but much damage can be done in its passing. We were to expect gusts up to 80 mph in certain parts of the country and this time where we live was right in the firing line. Time to take down the flag for the first time in many months. I had been for an early morning walk and it rained throughout but it was only light rain. The wind was weak too and stayed that way for a few more hours until mid to late morning when it grew strong. By that time the skies were partly blue and the sun came out. It wasn’t cold either at 13 degrees though the wind made it feel that way. Soon after breakfast I lowered the flag then returning indoors set about doing some painting in the cellar small store room. The room itself lies partly underneath the stone steps which lead into the cellar and it has a door which is usually kept closed. That means it stays pretty cool if not cold in there though at one time the heating pipes would give off a little heat as the lagging was poor. At the beginning of last year I sorted out that problem and put new lagging around all the pipes in the cellar. Now the little room will be colder still especially as most of the pipes in there have also been boxed-in. I guess it would be an ideal place to store wine and would be even colder than the room we converted into a larder early last year. In the rooms which have no other source of heating it stays on the cold side. Only two rooms get warm and only one of those stays warm throughout the day and night. The boiler room (also called the gym) naturally gets a little warm when the heating is on during the daytime, though not all day. The new utility room gets warm because of the freezers in there and gets no heat from the pipes which are mostly all now hidden as well as being lagged. That room stays warm all day long and through the night because we keep the door closed. That means the cellar hallway stays on the cool side. The coldest rooms in the cellar are the small store just mentioned, the large store room and the workshop though none of them gets any cooler than around ten degrees. E has found the utility room to be very useful for some aspects of her crafting work as there is water and a sink on hand, a worktop and most importantly (for her) it is warm! So far I have only been working in the main area of the small store and have as yet to work in the area beneath the steps. That will mostly involve blanking off part of the room beneath the furthest steps and then painting it all. Today as I write I have still to paint the main area with its final coat and of course paint the whole floor when the room is finished. Today I also tested the wet room floor repair above the room and it had been successful.
My day on Tuesday was filled with different things all of which amounted to work, rest, shop, and play with meals thrown in here and there. I was up at three but though I had been awake since two I was in no rush to start the day. I finished breakfast at four and got on my knees again to finish off the seal around the grid in the wet room. The previous day I had gouged out the floor seal around the grid and half-filled it again with a special rubberised sealant similar to silicon rubber but more paste-like. In all other respects it was the same as silicon rubber and cleans off using acetic acid (vinegar). Now I was filling the gap to floor level.
Having done that I checked my emails before carrying on with the work in the small storeroom in the cellar. I did as much as I could without having to cut timber as doing that could have disturbed E from her sleep. That meant cutting and fitting plasterboard and one or two pieces of wood which I cut outside in the garden. Once she was up and about I was able to cut the rest of the timber and finish off all the work at ceiling height. Of course by that I mean the construction part as there is some filling-in to do between the plasterboard panels prior to decoration.
The boxes of screws I had purchased whilst working on the utility room project were now empty so I needed to go out and buy some more. E had an appointment with the DHSS (Dept. of Health and Social Security) and wanted me to tag along for company. The appointment was for 12.20 so off we went at noon. We weren’t in there long and soon we were off to buy the screws followed by some free minced pies and coffee courtesy of Dobbies. They are only free to members of course and being a member I take full advantage of their free offers. We then drove to the village so that E could attend some business at the Post Office whilst I walked across to the chemist (drugstore) to purchase some feminine hygiene products. It was two-thirty when we arrived back home and time for lunch. At last I could relax in front of the tv and watch some missed programs before writing this.