I almost had a day off yesterday, that is Thursday but nevertheless you could say I had a rest from work considering that what I had done was very little. I knew I wouldn’t be working the next day but I did have to call to a house to assess a small job. I got up around eight o’clock after a really good night’s sleep and was in no hurry to do anything. I had a dental appointment at eleven-thirty and as I didn’t intend to work I dressed in finer clothes for I had it in mind to take E out for another meal after my visit to the dentist and my call at the house to look at that job. Everything went according to plan but I did get calls asking for my electrical services later in the afternoon, they would be accommodated the following week. I was glad to learn that the dentist had carried out the necessary treatment in my two latest sessions and I don’t need to pay him a visit now until next April for a routine examination. On my first visit two weeks ago he had suggested the work might have taken longer. I was happy for the extra day free from work but by the end of the day I was looking forward to Saturday morning when I could do some work at home, the lawn needed probably its final cut for the year and I wanted to remove the last couple of courses of bricks from the perimeter wall we had started to demolish on Wednesday. According to the weather forecast it would be wet and windy within a day or two so these little jobs needed to be done whilst I had the chance.
I don’t know if my readers have noticed but the last few post titles have all begun with the letter ‘A’. There is no reason on my part for that, I put it down to coincidence but maybe there is an explanation somewhere. I’ll try to make my next post begin with another letter.
For quite some time now E and I have been considering a re-build of part of the long perimeter brick wall which over the years had become unstable. Part of the problem was the mound of soil, stone, bricks and builder’s rubble that had been buried beneath it. The top of that mound reached almost halfway up the wall from our side and over the years had pushed the wall from the vertical by a few centimetres and forcing a gap between the wall and the wall it was joined to. Many of the top bricks could be moved and removed by hand and there were plants growing through it, in fact there were a couple of large roots from a bramble coming from deep inside. Something had to be done especially after seeing the extent of the damage when we levelled the area last year and constructed a pathway and new mound away from the wall. Over the last couple of weeks I have been involved in the construction of the flowerbeds on the patio as my readers will know. The floor of the patio was never completely level and puddles of water would remain on the surface in some areas. The main area for this happening was where I built the large flowerbed and that was automatically resolved when the bed was constructed as it stood over the area but not all of the area was covered. Added to that problem was that fact that part of the floor surface had become rough through erosion. I have been skimming the affected areas during the past week or so and on Wednesday I finished that work first thing in the morning and sealing the surface the following day. I spent an hour laying some stone at the end of the pathway around the mound where it joins the concrete path. It should have been done months ago but it wasn’t urgent and I had been busy doing other things. Just as I was finishing that work E joined me and together we set about dismantling the rear brick wall, cleaning the bricks and storing them. E’s nephew or one of his crew will be rebuilding the wall hopefully within the next few weeks. E’s nephew is a bricklayer/builder so we know the work will be done professionally. Anyway by the time we had finished for the day it was six o’clock. I had started work at nine-thirty and was now very tired. At the time of writing this on Thursday morning there are still a few courses of bricks left to remove but today, Thursday we are taking the day off. Here are the pictures
In the last picture you can see the jungle that is part of our neighbour’s garden. It shows only a very small part but in this mess are brambles (blackberry bushes), ivy (it is everywhere) and worse of all Japanese Knotweed. Having told our neighbour last year about the necessity of removing the Knotweed they have done almost nothing about it. Knotweed is a very invasive and destructive plant and has to be removed by specialists. It is a notifiable problem and as such E has been in contact with our local authority who will pursue the matter. There is a large plot of land about two miles from our house which stands close-by the regional hospital and where a new housing estate was to be built. It has been cordoned off because Knotweed has been discovered there. No-one knows as yet what the authorities have planned to do about clearing the area. We hope our neighbour will see sense and do something about their garden as it could prove financially crippling for them otherwise. He might be forced to take action if he doesn’t respond.
My best laid plans often do go astray because of weather, other problems, other commitments, other people, many reasons though never because I am lazy. I therefore sometimes get frustrated when I cannot get on with my plans. Such was the case on Tuesday. I was to get the stone slabs cut and then fit them on top of the two small flowerbeds I had finished constructing and filling the day before. The first problem was having to wait for the guys to cut the stone, after all they were doing me a favour so I couldn’t press them. As it turned out I collected them around one o’clock but decided not to do the work then as I wanted to take E out for a meal. Wednesday morning would do just fine. In my previous post my readers will know what happened on Tuesday afternoon with the flagpole so even had I wanted to do the work the time was taken up fixing that problem. I put on my overalls and set about cutting two of the now narrow stone slabs to the right length with my own little grinding machine. I had thought I would have to make four such cuts but I discovered it wasn’t necessary. I placed them on the walls to see where each piece would fit best. I then mixed the mortar by hand and laid them all in place. I put some things over the joints as a temporary measure in case it rained. Rain was forecast throughout the afternoon. E was keen to put in the tree bark chippings but left it until Thursday morning to allow the capping stones to set firmly in place. Here are the results………..
Now I can say the patio flowerbed project is finally complete..Now for the next little project…..
I had an amazingly good night’s sleep on Monday and woke up very refreshed for a change. If my readers remember I’d had a very restless Sunday night and didn’t get much sleep at all. No electrical work again so the day was mine but I had to take the stone slabs to the guys working on somebody’s driveway close to home. They had offered to cut them for us when we asked them on Saturday. After breakfast I took them round together with their preferred payment, some German beer but they couldn’t cut them immediately so we arranged that I should collect them between one and two o’clock. I left the stone with them and returned home. It was a nice day and I decided to sit out on the patio playing my guitar for a while. E was having a late shower. She had offered to take our neighbour to her doctor’s surgery in order to have her annual ‘flu jab. She does drive but the injection has too strong an effect upon her to drive safely for a couple of hours. Usually her son takes her but he was at work. I wondered why she doesn’t use the same surgery as we do which is only a half-mile distant. Her doctor’s surgery is about a mile and a half away. It was around noon when E drove off and I put on my overalls and mixed some cement screed to level out the patio floor adjacent to the large new flowerbed where is was prone to leaving a puddle of water after rain. The puddle was much larger before I built the flowerbed over most of it. The floor should have been laid perfectly flat when it was originally laid but that is another story. Anyway it didn’t take me long and when I had finished E was back home having returned a minute or two earlier. I asked her if she would like to dine out. She changed her clothes and we went out in my van for we had to collect the stone beforehand. We arrived to find them about to cut it so we had to wait a few minutes then we drove off to the pub. After an hour or so we returned home to find the flag, though not the one shown in this picture but a union flag which had dropped to the ground leaving the rope stuck at the top of the flagpole. Unfortunately the rope doesn’t have enough weight to allow it to drop down the pole by itself. The weight we had fitted together with the flag had separated from the rope. The flag was the problem, its rope eyelet had worn through! The only way to get the rope down was to erect some scaffolding either to the top of the pole or at least half-way up where the two sections of pole slide together. I erected the aluminium scaffold past the half-way point and found it was easier than I thought it would be to lift off the top section and lower it to the ground. It was easy then to pull out the rope and it was also convenient to have the top of the pole at ground level to find out why the top had ceased to rotate to allow it to follow the wind direction. So I was able to resolve both problems. The hardest thing was in erecting the scaffolding and dismantling it afterwards! While I was doing all of this E was busy repairing the flag by sewing two new loops of rope to act as eyelets to attach it to the rope and weight. Now when I erected the flagpole last year I wondered why there was no weight to attach to the bottom of the flag so I made one but when I was pulling out the rope from the lowered section of pole out came a plastic-sleeved chain. It was the weight supplied with the flagpole kit and had been stuffed inside the pipe. Why it didn’t drop out when we were erecting the pole initially is a mystery. E finished her sewing and I was able to attach the flag and hoist it aloft. It now follows the direction of the wind as it should. I went into the rear garden and checked on my cement screed which had hardened during the afternoon. The laying of the stone capping would have to be done the next day. That scaffolding has proven to be worth purchasing. We bought it last year specifically to do the drain pipe work for the bathroom refurbishment and it was useful when we had to clean out a gutter a month later too.
No, nothing to do with money. We have enjoyed quite a number of warm and sunny days these last couple of weeks and it has allowed me the opportunity to work on my patio projects. I completed the first phase last week and as my post showed, the flowerbed is now filled with plants. I wanted another few dry days in order to begin phase two, the construction of two smaller flowerbeds. As my latest posts show I have made good progress. On Wednesday I had almost completely built both beds leaving only the top course of bricks to lay and also to apply a concrete render to the inside of the newly built walls. On Thursday I was able to complete that work. I worked from ten in the morning until one in the afternoon when I got a call from somebody wanting a small electrical problem sorting out. I cleared the site, had a quick bite to eat and went off to do the job. All that remains to be done with the two flowerbeds is to fill them with soil and plants and then fit a stone capping as with the other walls. At this point in time as I write I have no idea when I will be able to do that but it will probably be on Saturday. On Friday we have people coming to the house to repair a couple of faulty windows under the guarantee or assess that work and arrange a date to repair them. E’s nephew, who is a builder/bricklayer is also calling to give us an estimate to rebuild a large section of the garden wall. When we levelled the area we called the ‘mound’ and redesigned it last summer we removed tons of soil and stone slabs. Over the years the sheer weight of that material had gradually pushed the wall away from the vertical so once we had removed it we realised the extent of the damage it had caused. The wall is safe as it stands but it looks unsightly and it can only become worse unless something is done about it. Dismantling the wall will also give us the opportunity to cut back the undergrowth on the other side. Our neighbour is lazy when it comes to keeping their side of the wall in order. As it stands at the moment they have brambles, ivy and Japanese knot weed as well as many other garden ‘nasties’ but they have let it get out of hand. As for the knot weed, they were informed about this more than a year ago but have done little about it. The knot weed plants need to be removed by professionals. Our main concern is that it doesn’t begin to show itself on our side of the wall. Fortunately the wall is deep, however that is no assurance. Also on Friday I have a dental appointment in the middle of the day so I am unlikely to be doing any work. I was glad therefore that I got so much done on Thursday.
Things seem to be going my way for a change lately. I get electrical work and offers of work that I turn down too. I am making a concerted effort to be more selective in what I take on board but still earn enough to make me happy. So it was that I had one small job to do on Wednesday morning and was back at home at ten-thirty. I didn’t go in the house but took some things out of my van and drove off to the builder’s merchant to purchase more sand and cement. On my return home I took the cement mixer out of the garage and together with my tools and materials set everything up near to the patio. I had decided to get on with the construction of the two small flowerbeds but it was near lunch time by now so I put off starting until I’d eaten. It was a lovely day on Wednesday, wall to wall sunshine but not too warm to work in. I had to work alone as E wasn’t feeling well so it took longer to do what I had planned. She is a great help when it comes to filling the cement mixer and cleaning it out later. She renders assistance in other ways now and then while I get on with the laying of bricks but I had to do it all myself which slows things down. Anyway I managed to build both beds leaving just one row of bricks to do the next day or when I could do them. Here’s what I have achieved so far….
After laying the last row of bricks I will be skimming the inside of the walls with a cement render and fitting some stone capping as before. Then we can bed the plants.
Most of the week prior to the one just finishing was taken up with my patio flowerbed project and on Monday of this past week I was busy doing an electrical job in the morning. I wanted to make a start constructing the two smaller flowerbeds but not wanting to start in the afternoon I was hoping the weather would be nice on Tuesday so I might begin the work then. Well the weather was fine and sunny and I took the opportunity to start the work late in the morning. The first task was to drill holes through the existing patio walls in order to fit small lengths of plastic tube to act as drains similar to what I had done in the large flowerbed. I then laid out some bricks to check the size I was happy with, mixed some mortar and set them in place. I then mixed some concrete and laid that around the inside to seal the area. I will be putting more concrete in later when the walls have been built. Here are the results….
I will be laying five more single courses to complete each of the two beds and then hopefully topping them with stone as with the other walls. As I write this on Tuesday evening I have a small electrical job to do in the morning but because the weather forecast is good for the next couple of days I might press on and finish the work whilst I can. I won’t be able to work on Friday as I have the first of my dental appointments late in the morning and visitors at other times. If I don’t complete the work before then I should be able to finish it on Saturday. We’ll have to see what develops.
The majority of my latest posts have been about my patio and the construction of a flowerbed upon it. There are two more smaller beds to construct but for the meantime the work has finally come to an end but watch this space! On Saturday I spent the whole day at rest except for one small task. E had gone out for a couple of hours before lunch, her lunch that is for I couldn’t wait for her return to eat my own lunch not knowing when she would return. She returned sometime after two o’clock and after a snack drove me out of town to a garden centre in order to purchase some plants. She has a discount card for use in this particular centre so whatever we bought would be at a discount. As events turned out we managed to buy nineteen plants for around £53. There are other garden centres closer to home but I suppose the plants would have been more expensive. We weren’t away from home very long and on our return we immediately put them in the new flowerbed and here they are…….
As the plants are perennial we expect to see them flowering for some time. The taller plants, those with long pointing leaves flower earlier in the year and have pink flowers when they do.
It was only just a little more than a week prior that the area looked as shown in the last picture. Those with keen eyesight may notice the plant pots in which the Phoenix Canariensis were growing are now standing on the left in front of the smaller greenhouse as seen in the middle picture. They were originally open at both ends and a couple of years ago I placed them on a sheet of plywood, placed a piece of plastic tube in the centre then filled to 3cms with concrete. Result….two earthenware plant pots with drain holes in them! They are still usable of course but we have so many plant pots now we could open a shop selling them!
I can only claim success in reaching the end of stage one of my latest project though the next stage will be far easier to do. I am of course referring to the subject of many posts lately, the patio flowerbeds. I actually finished the work on Wednesday as yesterday’s post shows but I still had to lay the capstone. Again it was a bright and sunny day on Thursday so I got on with laying the capstone early in the morning but just as I was about to lay the first stone slab I received a call asking if I could do a small electrical job. The strange thing is that up until then I had not done any electrical work in the week though I had one scheduled for Friday. It was a simple job and I went to the house immediately I had finished laying all of the capstone, less than an hour later. The two pictures show the finished flowerbed.
Interestingly the first picture also shows the main project we had last summer, the one that took several weeks to complete, ‘The Mound‘. Perhaps my readers will remember the project and the amount of work we had to do to get it in order, (see June and July entries 2014). Thankfully this latest project will have taken far less time to do, not that I mind the work but when it drags on for a long time before completion I wonder if we will ever get there. On my return home from the job I did a little tidying up and then it was noon so I asked E if she would like to go for a meal. She does the shopping on Thursday but doesn’t go out until after two o’clock, plenty of time to go for a meal so that’s what we did. E even had some time after returning home to sit out on the patio with me for a half hour before collecting her mom to go shopping. Whilst she was out I mowed the lawn and watered the garden. Rain was expected by late Friday evening but the plants needed water. Part two of my project will have to wait until there is another dry spell for a day or so. That might be sooner than I think.
I have almost completed the patio flowerbed project, that is the large flowerbed for there are two much smaller ones to do in the near future providing the weather holds. We are promised rain at the weekend. The pictures show the flowerbed as of Wednesday evening and on Thursday morning I hope to be able to fit the stone capping to the new wall. I went out on Wednesday morning to purchase topsoil, some bark chippings and the stone. I had to visit two local traders if I wanted them the same day, which I did. I was able to transport the stone and the chippings back home in my van but the soil had to be delivered in a huge bag, actually two bags one inside the other and it weighed a tonne. It was dropped on my driveway at 2.45 and by 4.15 I had transported the soil to the patio using many wheelbarrow trips and had the flowerbed filled. I had to construct a temporary ramp to get the wheelbarrow high enough to be able to tip the contents into the bed. Fortunately I have sturdy pieces of timber and plywood stored in the garage so it was no problem. It made filling the bed far easier than having to shovel it in by hand. It was bad enough having to shovel it into the wheelbarrow without having to take it out the same way! E came out later to lend a hand. She had to remain in the house for a couple of deliveries but then she helped by distributing the soil from where I was dumping it. After a little time we were able to dig the holes and bed the two palms. One came out of it’s container very easily, in fact it had been pushing its way out over the last week or so. The other had to be persuaded but it came out with a little effort. The soil had been delivered warm and damp, ideal for planting and less of a shock for the plants.