First time in a while

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.

Shirley Anne 


Mixing it up

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. 

Shirley Anne

Not always

I could say, if I were vain and egoistic which hopefully I am not, that everything I do is perfect and never goes wrong. Then however I would be wrong for it is never true. I will say that much of what I do lasts the course but not always though I would add that sometimes it really isn’t my fault. We have to take things on trust else we wouldn’t get anywhere in life. As my readers will know I have been doing a lot of work in and around the house these last few years and actually ever since we moved in over thirty years ago! I’ve taken on board many projects and have successfully completed them to my best ability. Things did go wrong occasionally but that is as they say part of the course, it comes with the territory. Sometimes it has been my own fault and sometimes the materials I have had to work with. I will never say that when things go wrong it is the fault of the tools, only poor workmen/women blame their tools. Many a time I have purchased an item and discovered when installing or fitting it just how badly it had been designed which often made working with it more difficult than it should have been. Sometimes it would be the simplest of things which needed changing at the design stage for example a slightly longer screw instead of the ones supplied or ones with a pointed end to make inserting in a hole easier. This was often the case with lighting units. One hand would be needed to hold the item being fitted, one hand would hold the screwdriver whilst at the same time trying to manipulate a tiny flat-ended screw into a tiny hole and often it would be up on the ceiling. ‘It does what it says on the tin’ is an expression often used in advertising a particular product but does it always do what it is intended to do? Well no, not always. During work on my latest project I noticed a small amount of water dripping from the wet room’s drain located in the ceiling space of the room I was working in. I had constructed the wet room with E’s help a few years ago and at that time had much difficulty in securing a watertight floor seal around the drain.

Part of the reason was the design of the drain itself which I overcame by fitting a small part inside. The other reason was the tile cement and grout which although designed for the use we were putting it to nevertheless leaked twice! Now I had to effect another repair but this time I was going to use silicon rubber around the grid where the leak was coming from. The tile cement will remain beneath but above it will be around six millimetres of rubber. On Monday morning (3 Nov) after returning from a walk I got on my knees to inspect the floor in the wet room. Using a magnifying glass, as I had done before, I saw two small cracks in the otherwise seemingly sound filling around the grid. It took some time but I managed to dig out the grout/cement around the square stainless steel grid ready for filling later. Hopefully when that is done everything will be alright.

Shirley Anne

Another one

Wednesday was my walk day and it started off well. It was the end of November (28), more than two-thirds of the way through Autumn and the weather had become noticeably much colder during the preceding week. This morning was no different but at least it was dry but not for long! It had rained the previous evening and into the night but had stopped until twenty minutes into my walk. It wasn’t the rain which bothered me but the wind driving it. Although I enjoyed the walk I was very glad to be back home. I hadn’t taken the route back along the seafront because of the driving wind knowing there would be no shelter from it. I walked home through the back streets instead. As I approached the top end of our road a fox ran across my path and over a wall to my right where there is a large plot of land filled with trees and undergrowth, an ideal place for foxes to live. It is unlikely to be built upon because of its location, the age of the trees and because it stands in the grounds of an apartment block. I carried on homeward to the warmth and breakfast. After some catch-up tv I decided to put on my overalls and get ready to resume working in the cellar. I wasn’t able to do much at first in case I disturbed E from her sleep for I had much sawing to do. I was going to begin cutting and fitting the plywood panels for there was no plasterboard left to finish off the ceiling and I couldn’t leave the house to purchase any. I was expecting the delivery of the pebbles and E had to go out too. As it happened the pebbles were delivered around ten-thirty but the guy had a lot of trouble trying to manoeuvre the pallet truck to get the pallet out of the wagon. Eventually he mustered the help of another delivery driver who just happened to to be making a delivery further up the road. Up until that point I had done very little work but then I continued and got this far..

The far left hand panel with the white cup washers will be readily removable should access to the gate valves ever be necessary. It was whilst working down there that E took a shower in the wet room and I saw the leak from the drain above. It appears that the floor seal around the grid in the wet room had cracked. What an absolute pain! Something else for me to do. In the picture below you can just about see two black streaks running top to bottom on the grey drain housing. The picture below that one shows the frame surround beneath the drain which will have a removable inspection cover too. Just as well it seems!

Later in the afternoon it got very windy indeed and I was fearful that the tunnel on the patio would either be damaged, get blown off or both so I spent a little time out there securing it with more rope. On reflection I don’t think the idea of using the tunnel was a good one and I may simply dismantle it and erect another two tee-pees as I had done with one of the plants in the border close-by.

  Shirley Anne

Still Monday

After my walk and then breakfast yesterday (I write on 26 th Nov) I began working in the small store in the cellar doing what I have always enjoyed which is working with wood. So alright the work I was doing wasn’t glamorous and quality carpentry but simply constructing the framework in readiness to box some of the pipes in the room. The problem in the room is that the ceiling is part-covered in plasterboard and the framework had to be constructed to allow the new pieces of plasterboard I would be installing to fit evenly with the existing board. I spent a few hours down there that morning and managed to construct almost all of it. 

In the lower picture you can see one of the two gate valves (red handle) which isolate the towel radiator in the wet room above. There are valves in the wet room too. When I come to cover everything with plywood I will make the panels easy to remove should there be the need to close the valves. The sloping piece of wood on the frame above the window in the top picture is only there to strengthen the structure. The plywood panel which will be beneath it and only over the window and to the right will be at the same angle.  Not all of the pipework will be boxed-in, only those parts you see in the pictures. I stopped work for the day just before one o’clock.

Shirley Anne

In for a penny…..

….in for a pound. Now that the utility room had been refurbished I was in the market for a break but you know me, it couldn’t last! A few months ago my eldest son asked if I was going to paint the cellar hallway floor as I had done in the gym and larder rooms. It was more of a suggestion than an enquiry but it stayed in my thoughts as a possible maybe for I had other plans at that time. My thoughts were aimed at the room we have now called the utility room and as you know I ended up completely revamping it. A few days ago (that is around the middle of November as I write) my thoughts turned to the cellar hallway which needs a small section of the pipe work boxing-in, a few small repair jobs and the floor painting as suggested. Here is a part-view showing the entrance to the utility room on the right…

At the far end of the hallway and beneath the stone steps is a small storage area which has never been decorated since we moved in and has been used as a temporary dump for timber and other paraphernalia. It stands beneath the wet room and indeed the plasterboard ceiling had been partly removed when I installed the wet room drain.

As you can see it needs a lot of work doing to it and it would be better done before any work is considered in the hallway. To that end I have already begun (22nd Nov) clearing out the timber and rubbish. There are large mirrors (middle picture above) and panes of glass stored beneath the steps and some more just outside in the hallway. The ceiling will need repairs and a removable panel fitted beneath the wet room floor drain for access to it. I plan to block off the area beneath the lowest of the steps too. No doubt ideas will develop when I start the work in earnest. 

Shirley Anne 

And finally

The utility room project as of today (21 st Nov. my birthday as it happens) is all but finished. All that needs to be done is to give the internal face of the room’s door a top coat of white paint and the internal face of a small piece of timber above it a coat of red paint. As I had sawn off a centimetre or so from the top of the door to allow it to open beneath the woodwork I had fitted (explained in yesterday’s post), I had to fix a length of timber to effectively lower the top of the door frame on the outside.

I seem to have a knack when it comes to hanging doors, they all hang properly whenever I work on them. I shouldn’t complain should I? This door however still has a warp on it. The bottom right as you look at the picture doesn’t sit against the frame. Since hanging it the door sits better than it did but to remove the warp will take time. It is an historical thing and should have been corrected years ago. To straighten out the warp I will have to fit packing to the top right of the frame and keep the door locked in the closed position when the room isn’t in use. Over time this will straighten the right hand edge but it will probably take months. It is either this way or dismantle the door and start over and I am not prepared to do that. In yesterday’s post I mentioned I would like to sort out the workshop. After tidying much of it up this morning it looks a lot better though it is far from being the way I’d like it to be.

As you can see it is rather full! My next indoor project will be to give the cellar hallway a make-over. That work is much more basic that the previous cellar room projects so it shouldn’t take long to do when I decide to start it that is.

Shirley Anne

Just got on with it

I spent a little more time in bed on Tuesday morning as I wasn’t going for a walk and neither had I any intentions of doing any work. The main reason for not working was that I didn’t wish to disturb E so early knowing I would have some timber to saw and holes to drill. Although her bedroom is two floors above the cellar workshop where I would be working I am still fearful I might awaken her if I work there. When I had to make a noise in the utility room on occasion it was rare that the noise would be loud enough to be a problem and at that time I could close the door. So it was around nine-fifteen that I was able to do the work I wanted to do which was to saw the timber and construct the five  side kick boards. After that I painted them but didn’t fit them until later when the paint had dried and only then did I fit two of them. The bracket on the rear (same for all five) is to allow it to slide over the rear legs of each of the cabinets whilst the front edge would be held by a plastic corner piece. (See second picture)

The front boards are held by the clips provided. Soon after I had fitted the two side boards to the unit shown above E and I went out for an hour or so for a coffee and to conduct some business. On our return home I installed the old utility room wall cabinet over the bench in the workshop and then set about working on the utility room door. I cut a small amount from the top edge to allow a little space below the woodwork I had installed above the entrance. I removed the two old and broken hinges and fitted three in their place before giving the door a priming coat of paint.

I would love to sort that workshop out but there is little time for that and too much junk in there at the moment.

Shirley Anne


Less but more

The title seems to be a contradiction but this is what I mean, I did less of working on the utility room project and more on securing the plastic tunnel in the garden after high winds had loosened everything. When I arose at two it was still dark of course and I didn’t pay any attention or give any thought that the wind might have been a problem. It was the 13 th, a wet, windy and miserable day but it didn’t stop me going for a walk. I bore in mind that the wind was blowing from the south-west with intermittent heavy rain showers so I set off in the opposite direction. When I reached the place where I would normally turn toward the seafront I chose to walk inland instead for I didn’t wish to walk back into the wind and showers. Choosing to walk through the town’s streets offered shelter from the wind but I chose to walk home through an indirect route for the extra distance. On my return home I wasn’t in any hurry to begin work but when I did the first thing I did was to clear the room of tools. Next, I moved the two freezers away from the centre of the room to their permanent resting places so that I could fill in the gaps on the floor with cement. 

The picture was taken hours later when the cement had almost completely dried. I wasn’t going to paint the floor that morning for I wanted to paint the worktops with their final coat of paint. Before I could do that I went into the garden to use the left-over cement to patch up an area in the stone pathway behind the Mound by the lamp post. As I was returning into the house I noticed the tunnel needed some attention but first I painted the worktops, (both pictures).

Finally I was able to undo the wind damage but it took quite some time for the wind was still blowing strong. When E and I assembled the steel frame we fixed the two side bars to the outside of the structure and didn’t realise they should have been fixed on the inside so as not to interfere with the plastic covering. The wind had caused chafing of the cover by the two ends of the bars so my first job was to re-fix the bars on the inside. Not easy in the windy conditions with the cover in place but I didn’t take long doing it. I then set about securing the structure and fitting some bubble-wrap sheeting to the inside of the plastic cover and generally securing it as best I could, I also weighed down the structure with ropes and concrete slabs, Hopefully that would keep everything in place until Spring. Time will tell. I had just about enough of work so I suggest to E that we dine out for a change. By mid-morning the weather had changed dramatically , it was now blue skies and sunshine though still a little windy. We drove about four miles to a canal-side pub called The Saracens Head in a small hamlet and enjoyed one of the best meals we’d had in a long time. Well worth the trip.

Shirley Anne     

Ah the smell of paint!

Or to be more accurate the smell of chlorinated rubber paint! Monday the twelfth (what a peculiar word twelfth is) of November and my favourite time of year because it is Autumn and cool. I wasn’t so cool earlier this morning as the sweat poured from my face and threatened to fog up my mask. Remember my mask? Here’s a reminder…

Yes it was time to paint the utility room floor, those parts I could reach of course until the freezers are moved from the middle of the floor but first I had something else to do. After breakfast at three I donned my overalls and gave the front of the easel a coat of paint now that the reverse had dried.

Then it was on to the cabinet tops in the utility room where I fitted the back edge timbers to the wall on top of the cabinets.

When they were finished I set about giving the floor its first coat of paint so on went the mask and down onto my knees I went spending around an hour to cover the exposed floor areas.

I couldn’t wait to get outdoors for a while and take off the mask. After a minute or so I returned indoors, removed my overalls made a cup of coffee and returned outdoors to drink it. That was the end of my working day, at least in the cellar. I takes hours for the fumes to dissipate even with doors and windows open. The floor will need another coat of paint before the freezers can be placed against the walls, then I can finish off the floor in the middle of the room. Two further tasks I need to undertake before the room is completed, installing the kick boards and making the inspection trap under the boxing-in structure near the window.

Shirley Anne