I write on Dec 29 in the afternoon just having eaten lunch. I had been working in the cellar hallway for a couple of hours earlier and it was all woodwork. There was only two working days left before the end of the year and I had it in mind to give everything a second and final coat of paint but there were still some minor issues to sort out first. Not a great deal of attention had been given to the doors and door frames down there when they were installed as most of them showed gaps or had been installed incorrectly. A couple of the doors were slightly warped, namely the one for the larder and the one for the utility room. I have taken steps toward reducing the warp on each. I have fitted thresholds beneath those doors which previously had none and fitted extra timbers either to the tops of the doors or the frames to eliminate the gaps. Those timbers have yet to be painted as I write. So this morning I concentrated on completing all those fiddly extras. It was around one o’clock when I stopped work for lunch but didn’t actually get to eat anything for a hour. E and I watched a movie during lunch and once it was over I didn’t much want to return to work so left the painting until Monday. Even when that was done there would still remain the floor. That requires the same cement treatment the other rooms had before it can be painted over therefore it will be early January before I can sort it out. The final stage of the hallway refurbishment involves doing the stairway and in fact the stairwell will probably get a coat of paint and repairs to the stone steps before the main floor is started upon.
Although it looks newly painted it isn’t. The second step up from the bottom needs a cement job on the right-hand-side behind the black post. There is some minor work to be done at the top of the steps too. Incidentally the window at the top of the steps is the double-glazed unit we made when we built the wet room a few years ago which is obviously behind the wall.
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.
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.
….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.
People might say that I am an impetuous person, I do things on the spur of the moment. Though that may be true and I must confess to acting that way many times, I do usually give plenty of thought before taking any action. In a recent post I was writing about our problems with fridge/freezers and the fact that one unit not much older than five years had become faulty for the second time thus rendering it not cost-effective for a third repair. I had in fact carried out the last repair which kept it in service for over a year. It would be better to cut losses and simply buy a replacement. However I had decided not to make an immediate purchase and also not to purchase a similar unit but instead purchase a larder fridge. The logic behind that decision I explained in the other post. The main reason was to separate fridge from freezer, to have independent units rather than combined. We don’t really need extra freezers as we have some in the cellar rooms. We do however need the extra fridge capacity so that is why I intended to purchase a stand-alone tall fridge as a replacement. When and if the other fridge/freezer we have in the kitchen requires replacing we would purchase a stand-alone freezer to replace it. So instead of having two combined fridge/freezer units we would have two individual ones, a fridge and a freezer. I had decided to wait awhile before purchasing the fridge as I said but changed my mind and ordered one a couple of days ago. It had only been a matter of a few days but we were struggling with the lack of fridge space the other fridge/freezer has and couldn’t wait any longer. It is Thursday (30 th) as I write and we expect the delivery within a couple of days. Yesterday I received the new flag and weight and don’t have any excuses not to work on the flag pole and fit them.
If you remember I need to remove the top half of the two-piece pole in order to re-insert the rope and carry out a repair to the finial at the top which doesn’t move freely as it should. It may need replacing too which will delay completing the work. Fortunately we are in for a couple of days of fine weather.
So it was that on Wednesday morning I was up again bright and early ready to finish what little work there was left in the gym. I say bright and early but although it was very early it wasn’t very bright! Over the last few days it has been rather dull and overcast for a change. As it had been raining it hadn’t been necessary to water the garden as I had been doing first thing. Soon after breakfast I first of all watched some catch-up television in order to see those programs I had missed through going to bed early. It gave me a chance to rest before working, something I hadn’t been doing for days. Usually I am keen to get on with things rather than sitting around knowing I must get on at some point. It was a case of getting the white emulsion paint out and getting on with touching up where I had splashed with the red paint. Actually there wasn’t that much of it to do. After sweeping up and cleaning out the pit in which the cross trainer stands then wiping down the exercise equipment I moved that equipment to where it was before the work began…
For some weeks now we have been enjoying dry and warm weather and I have been able to go for walks wearing the lightest of clothing. This morning (13 th) I was up and out of the house at seven doing just that. I arrived back home two hours later and was able to sit at the table with E for breakfast. She had only just gotten up as I entered the front door. Anyway I sat out on the patio after breakfast relaxing with a cup of coffee for a short time but I knew I had things to do so that didn’t last. The first thing I wanted to do was to erect some sort of temporary barrier to block a gap in the Laurel bushes to stem the wind so that the space could fill naturally with new leaf growth. New growth is already there but shielding it from the wind will encourage it to grow quicker….
I used some of the fire-clay floor tiles which I had removed from the gym room when I dug the pit a couple of months ago and propped them up with bricks though they were capable of standing unsupported. That little job didn’t take long and I went on to do the next which took far longer. The rear door frame of the garage in which I keep my van had become rotten on one side at the bottom. We suspected a mouse had recently been trying to gnaw its way though the rotting timber of the frame because there were a lot of .wood chippings around. I had to remove the door, which is very heavy, in order to saw off the rotted timber. I made the cut at an angle and manufactured a replacement section to match. This was to prevent the ingress of rain. A level cut would have allowed water to seep between the joint. This is the finished work before it was painted the following day. I had treated the timbers with preserver before fitting it.
I re-hung the door but left off the automatic closer to prevent the door closing by itself as it once did. Sometimes ‘auto-closers’ can be a nuisance. It was twelve-thirty and E made me a cup of coffee which I again sat and drank on the patio before returning indoors within the hour for lunch. The afternoon was mine to do as I pleased, which was almost nothing! I did take a walk around the garden though and took some photos as I went. In front of the large greenhouse…
Things once again didn’t go to plan on Tuesday. Following on from yesterday’s post I had plans to do certain things on Tuesday but nothing went the way I had planned. Yes, work was done but it could have been better in its execution. The main problems started when I arose rather later than I had expected. I had been rather tired when I went to bed just after midnight. I don’t usually retire at such a later hour but I had been watching a particular and interesting program which didn’t end until midnight. Often as not when I stay up too long I get ‘doll’s disease’ a condition in which my eyes automatically close shut if I recline too far on the sofa! Do you remember dolls which did the same? Joking apart it all meant that what I had planned happened later than I had expected. It was raining heavily for a time but I had to take the walk to the surgery to hand in my blood pressure results as I had promised the doctor I would do so. Once that was done I walked to the chemist to collect my prescription medications before returning home. As I hadn’t eaten breakfast beforehand I ate a little something and then with E’s well-needed assistance tackled the fitting of the replacement shower glass panel. It didn’t go well because we were attempting to install it the wrong way! Eventually E saw the problem and we started over, doing it right this time. Finally we got it in place but by now it was way past lunchtime. After lunch we sat and watched some catch-up tv together until four o’clock. I did do some preparatory work on the wall in the cellar storage room so that I could get started on rendering the wall the next day.
I coated the end wall with a silicone sealant and then screwed four battens to it. These will make it easier to apply the cement render and also make it reasonably level!
In our house there is no loft/attic as such but there are three spaces or areas alongside the three ordinary rooms at the top of the house. One of those spaces can be entered simply by walking in though only for a metre for the floor joists beyond are only part of the ceiling in a room below. Larger joists would need to be installed to make use of the approximately ten square metre area. It does house a cold water storage tank and a hot water cylinder which supply the en-suite bathroom below which I installed years ago. There is a one square metre access hole from inside the area into the second area which is above the main bedroom on the floor below. It is simply an access area and cannot be used for anything else as again the timbers are only those supporting the ceiling below. The third area is accessed through another one square metre removable wooden panel located in one of the three ordinary rooms and is again simply for access to the central heating cold water storage tank, some pipes and electrical wiring. The aerial amplifier and power supply together with the several aerial cables feeding rooms in the house are all located in there. Part of the floor in there has been fitted with boards to enable any work that needs to be carried out to be done safely. There are some heating pipes in there too. As they run through the area they need to be well insulated to prevent heat loss to the unused space. That insulation I replaced on Thursday morning after I had been reminded that it needed doing and that came about like this…….. I was sitting at my computer the previous day and I heard a tremendous crashing sound outside the room. I jumped up to investigate and even went outside to see if there had been an accident. I shouted to E to see if she knew what it was but she was as much at a loss as I was. She thought the sound had come from the top of the house so we went up there and found the wooden access panel to the area I have just mentioned was lying on the floor. I switched on the light (the access areas are lit) to see what I could find but nothing was wrong. Sometimes if it is windy outside the panel will drop to the floor if not secured. It was then that I noticed the pipes needed new insulation. However we still didn’t know what had caused the loud noise. It would soon be time for our evening meal and we returned downstairs for the rest of the evening. Around ten o’clock I decided to retire to bed but beforehand take a shower. I entered the main bathroom, the one we refurbished a few years ago and I couldn’t believe my eyes by what I saw. I called E to come and have a look. The floor was covered with broken glass, the end panel of the shower tray had completely disintegrated!
You may I hope be able to see the panel in the top picture has disappeared in the lower picture. It was located alongside the toilet unit. It took us both an hour and a half to clear up the mess and wash the floor to ensure there was no residue glass. Here is the glass in these containers ready to be taken to the dump.
I did get my shower though much belated. We are now considering whether to replace the glass panel or erect a small tiled wall in its place. The panel isn’t technically needed as water splashes from the shower don’t actually reach that far.
So Saturday (24) came along and I was up early once again. During the last few days we had discovered that the dampness in the bottom of the cupboard in the gym we have been decorating wasn’t drying up. It had to be caused by an ingress of water from outside the building. I had given it a few days to dry but it stayed wet. Two things are at work here. Firstly, the house walls were not constructed with a damp-proof course or membrane and secondly, the boiler room floor is below the ground level outside. I have no real idea why when it was laid the builders made it so. The house was built in 1877 but a quarter of the boiler room being part of an extension built we think at the turn of the century, that is 1900, was added to the already low floor. It is the only room below ground level at the rear of the house though at the front the rooms there are below ground only because earth was piled-up in front of the house…
There are vestiges of former windows below the soil level which have been bricked in. I suppose the thinking was because the ground the house stands upon is sandy there was enough drainage as not to become a problem. Anyhow on Friday I got to thinking about what I could do about the ingress of water and from where it was coming. When I took measurements I discovered that the floor inside the cupboard was nine bricks down from the window in the room but outside only seven courses are visible above the path and eight just where the wall ends at the grid. Now the grid is below the path so it puts it at the same level as where the dampness appears inside. On checking the brickwork I found gaps in the mortar at ground level and especially around the grid. I decided to mix some fine cement and use it to seal off the gaps both along the base of the wall and around the grid earthenware.
I used a small amount of what was left to patch up the plinth beneath the boiler
and then I set about painting the shelves and insides of the doors of the cupboard which now will only need touching up here and there,
Saturday and Sunday were forecast as dry and sunny and as I write this on Saturday lunchtime it is indeed sunny. It needed to be dry at least so the cement can set.