Tag Archives: Domestic repairs

Goal achieved

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I can relax a little now that all the major projects I had set myself to do this year have been accomplished. I will not remain idle though for even now I can think of things I can do to keep me occupied. On Wednesday morning after breakfast I undertook to finish the small project I had started the previous day which involved alterations to floodlights at the rear and one side of the house. Basically all I had left myself to do was to fix a new floodlight and a connection box then terminate the wiring after which I painted the remaining section of the main cable I had been unable to do the day before. rear-floodlights-4-and-5

The light which used to be where the black connection box is just around the corner (top-middle) has now been re-positioned where you see it on the right of the kitchen window. A cable now runs from the connection box to a new position beneath the other kitchen window here in this picture …side-wall-floodlightIt now shines directly upon the Plot when activated and will better illuminate the area and especially the passageway beneath it. The faulty floodlight will be partly dismantled and tested and if it is only the sensor that is faulty and not the LED lamp I will keep hold of it and use it elsewhere. It didn’t take long to dismantle the tower and store it away until it is needed again. It was almost lunchtime but I waited an hour before indulging. After lunch I had set myself a little plumbing job to do. If any of my readers will remember, I drained down the central heating system radiators and pipework a couple of months ago while it was still Summer in order to fit new radiator valves where I could get at them, though not all of them needed replacing. That meant air in the system when I refilled it of course, most of which I vented off manually. However, the bathroom towel rail heater remained air locked even though I had made alterations to the pipes in the airing cupboard to enable me to release any trapped air. I needed to get to grips with the situation but what with all the other work I had been doing I never really had the time. I attached a previously made length of hose pipe with a connecting pipe and fitting to the valve I had installed when the system was empty of water and allowed the water to gush out and into the bathtub. Surprisingly there was no air but just a little sludge, enough to stem the flow of water when in use. Thankfully the towel rail heated up and I was able to pack everything away.

Shirley Anne

Busy doing nothing

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Another funny day on Thursday but for different reasons. Nothing really was planned and I was to be house-bound for the afternoon. I had to wait at home for an engineer to check our faulty fridge/freezer under guarantee. It had been looked at some weeks ago but that engineer I discovered hadn’t checked it properly even though I was charged a lot of money for him to check it out. Modern fridges cannot always be repaired easily as many components are moulded into the fabric of the framework. The compressor and pipework are accessible though and can be worked upon. In our unit it turned out to be a heater fault . The heater is used to defrost the system automatically but unfortunately it cannot be accessed as it is hidden in the insulation. A stupid idea if you ask me for it means defrosting will now have to take place manually! I digress. A four-hour slot had been allocated for him to call which meant I couldn’t do anything or go anywhere until he had called. Wouldn’t you know it? He arrived at the end of the four hours! So what was I to do in the morning? There was a small amount of filling in with concrete on the Plot but I decided not to do that until another day. Instead, I drove to the garden centre to browse for more plants and returned home with three to put in the Plot, two in the ground and one in the raised flowerbedplot-35

The small conifer in the left corner of the flowerbed and the two shrubs just right of the new steps are those which I bought and planted. I did no other work during the morning. E went out shopping as usual and I had to wait until almost five o’clock before I could return to the apartment I had worked in the day before and get paid by the old lady I had worked for. We ended up chatting and I didn’t leave until long after six o’clock by which time E had returned and was eating her evening meal! As far as the fridge/freezer is concerned I might just decide to buy another but of a different make, it will depend upon how frustrated we get having to manually defrost it every so often.

Shirley Anne

A little brighter

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The sun may be cracking the flags just now but the change only started on Saturday morning after a few days of dull, overcast and occasional rain. I think the main culprit was the position of the so-called Jet Stream which by all accounts has now shifted a little in our favour. I had made arrangements for the engineer to check out the fridge/freezer and had prepaid the sum of £114 for the privilege. It took some time to eventually get the appointment due to the poor access to the manufacturer. Their telephone service was one of the worst I have ever encountered, menu-driven and often I was misdirected or cut off. I needed to speak with someone but eventually gave up. Their online presence was just as poor but I did get connected to their repair agency otherwise the work would never have been done. I had checked out the system myself as did a local engineer but neither of us could find a fault. stock-photo-young-plumber-writing-on-clipboard-in-front-of-refrigerator-appliance-in-kitchen-room-The engineer who came on Saturday had it sorted in fifteen minutes. It appeared that a sensor (thermistor, a resistive device which changes values with temperature) had become loose! Naturally I was going to claim a partial refund, £114 for fifteen minutes is a little over the top, that’s a whopping £456 per hour! I believe that a lower charge is levied (£45) if the fault, or lack of one as in this case, was minimal. Rather than attempt to contact the company by phone (almost impossible) or on-line I chose to write them a letter of which I made a copy indicating my concerns regarding the price and the poor connectivity to their services. I thanked them for the prompt and efficient service provided by their engineer however who by the way gave me a receipt showing the total amount of time he had spent at my house…..15 minutes. I will have to wait and see what their response will be. Anyway I took the walk to the post box and posted the letter. It was warm and beginning to get sunny. In yesterday’s post I wrote about my escapades installing the new towel rail.radiator in the wet room and the visit from the joiner who will replace the door I had mentioned. I didn’t mention however that I had struggled a little trying to remove the door and it’s hinges and the having to take it down more than three flights of stairs before hauling it out to the garage until I decide what to do with it. Gosh it was heavy, they certainly don’t make them like that these days, not for general use anyway. It must have been one of the original doors fitted back in 1877. Actually all the doors in the house are the original ones fitted. So I had Saturday off except that I mowed the lawn, vacuumed  the carpet on the stairs and landings whilst ‘Robbie’ (our robotic vacuum cleaner) did my bedroom, nailed down any loose floorboards in the top room in readiness for the carpet to be laid and I did some cooking and washing too! I find it hard just sitting on my bottom and doing nothing. Sunday though would  not be the same, it would be a day of rest. Monday, well this is what happened on Monday…the carpet fitter arrived mid-morning and finished the job before noon.

Top room carpet 2

Top room carpet 1

Top room carpet 3

The door has not yet been replaced as you can see in the last picture taken through the doorway from the landing. You can also see that E has quite a number of machines and boxes of materials for her crafting hobby. I suspect she will turn it into a small business considering the specialist equipment she has purchased.

Shirley Anne

Not the same

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Not the same, not as good, not made to last, they don’t make things like they once did, everything is designed to be thrown away after a short time. We’ve all heard those sayings especially those of us who are members of the older generations. We can all remember the days when things were made to last but today it seems that robustness no longer exists for many manufactured things. At home we have three large chest freezers, one small freezer and two small fridges down in our cellar rooms and upstairs in the kitchen we have two fridge/freezers. The largest of the chest freezers was purchased at a church auction as I recall in the mid-eighties around about 1985 so shall we say 30 years ago? At that time the freezer was already 20 years old, maybe older. That is around 50 years and it is still working! They certainly don’t make them like that anymore. FridgeFreezersOne of the two fridge/freezers we have began to have problems some time ago. It was producing too much cold air and ice began to form inside the freezer compartment when it should not have done. That could have been caused by a couple of things, defrost heater fault, blocked drain, faulty control panel, faulty sensors/thermostats. I had tried all the obvious things to no avail so I thought I would call in a specialist to check it out. It’s not that I haven’t worked on refrigerators (or freezers), I have, in fact the machines I have worked on ranged from the small air conditioning units to units as large a double-decked bus! I have not worked on domestic fridges so much, in fact very little and that was around 45 years ago when they were built differently. The same principles apply to fridges/freezers/heat pumps no matter their size. It is the method of control and the components which differ. Whilst I was waiting for the guy to show I decided to strip down the unit and check out what I could. I found a huge block of ice on the evaporator which should not have been there. A blocked drain could allow the build-up of ice so I cleared out the drain pipe though nothing much was stuck in there. I checked the circulation fan (a newer development not found on very old units) and saw that it was working. I put everything back together but still the compressor didn’t start. The compressor is the main component in any recycling refrigeration system no matter what its size, basically a motor which compresses the refrigerant and pumps it around the system. I left the unit switched off for a time and restarted it later. By now it was seven-thirty in the evening and I didn’t expect the guy (and his father) to call at that hour but they did! They wanted to see what was wrong with the unit for themselves and having checked it over couldn’t find a problem either. The guy suggested that I had already cured the problem myself and to leave it switched on for a couple of hours to see if everything returned to normal. He phoned back an hour or so later to ask if it was operating. I hadn’t yet checked it but went straight to the kitchen and discovered that it was getting colder inside. I thought the problem had now been sorted. It wasn’t, three hours later it was still struggling to lower the temperature, only reaching down to +10 deg C. I switched it off and the following morning trawled the Internet to find a local engineer. The first guy admitted that if the system required recharging with refrigerant he couldn’t do it and I suspected that could have been the problem. I would have to wait and see. I arranged for the repairs to be done on Friday for a fixed price. So much for modern standards of manufacture, an appliance which goes faulty within two years doesn’t bode well does it?

Shirley Anne

Not quite

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Central Heating 2

Central Heating 2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Having had no electrical work this past week I have been able to get on with a few things at home. Yesterday, that is Thursday as I write this, I was able to make a start on the central heating work, replacing the valves on seven radiators and altering some pipework. If my readers will remember I managed to do six of the radiators and as I had begun the work late in the day I stopped after three hours being as it was then time for my evening meal. After breakfast on Friday I completed the replacing of the radiator valves, a total of fourteen. There are actually thirteen radiators in total plus at the moment one tall towel rail. I replaced the valves on but seven of them for some were inaccessible and some didn’t require replacing anyway. I also installed two gate valves in the cellar room below the wet room so that I can connect a towel radiator/rail later without having to drain the system again. The heating pipes cover four floors and I know from memory that a plate manifold exists beneath E’s bedroom floor on the first floor. The reason I mention that is because when I began to refill the system it took an inordinately long time to fill. I have a feeling that air is still trapped in some of the pipes and probably in that manifold too. Slowly the radiators on the ground floor filled up but it took some time.The first floor radiators took much longer to fill, in fact twice as long. The bathroom towel rail is a problem and even now as I write this on Friday evening air is still trapped in the pipes despite my fitting a gate valve to manually vent it. Two of the five radiators on the first floor  don’t appear to be totally free of air as yet also. There are three radiators on the top floor but two are not in use and were valved-off. The third hasn’t filled up as yet either. That radiator is in the room we recently redecorated and which is still waiting to have a new carpet laid when I get around to ordering one. Once the first two floors were just about free of air I switched on the pump for a time to encourage the air to escape. I’d had enough of going up and down the stairs venting radiators trying to find out why the system was taking so long to fill up so after five hours I packed it in and left it for another day. Things may have settled down in a day or two and the trapped air may have escaped but if not I shall have to investigate further. I may have to ‘force fill’ the pipes in order to expel any trapped air that isn’t caught in a radiator where it can be vented off easily. Incidentally our system is an open type one pipe system which means it isn’t pressurised and it is served by a header tank where it can expand and/or overflow if anything goes wrong. Don’t you just love plumbing? Don’t you remember from all my earlier posts about my plumbing escapades? I hate plumbing! Ha ha.

Shirley Anne

Got started

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English: Radiator of a central heating system ...

Radiator of a central heating system . Transparent background & converted to SVG by Rugby471. Original picture is here (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was talking about the possibility of starting the task of replacing many of the valves on the radiators on our heating system. Not every one needed to be changed and some couldn’t be reached anyway because of the things stored in the rooms they are in. Those rooms are currently not in use of course except for the storage of furniture, the furniture belonging to my sons. Should it be necessary to replace the valves in those rooms at a later date it won’t be too difficult but it will necessitate draining down the system again. So it was that in the afternoon on Thursday whilst E was out doing the weekly shopping I set about making a start in replacing the valves. First point of call, the top of the house into one of the two small loft areas in which the water storage tank for the heating system is located in order to isolate the water supply to the tank. It was then possible to drain the water out of the radiators without it being automatically replaced by the storage tank! Second point of call, the lowest part of the house, the cellar, where the boiler is located. I attached a hose pipe to the drain cock and led it out of the door into the garden then opened the valve. It was a case then of waiting a half-hour for the water to completely drain out of the system. I returned to the top of the house and opened the air bleed screws on each of the radiators in turn to test whether the radiators were empty. As soon as the first one was empty I began to replace its valves. I continued with each of the radiators in turn until I reached those on the ground floor. Of the five down there one didn’t need its valves replacing and one couldn’t be reached because of the furniture stored in the room. I managed to replace the valves on two of the three remaining radiators before E returned home with the shopping. At that time I stopped the work. It had taken me a little less than three hours. At the time of writing this on Thursday evening one radiator remains to be done. I have also to alter some pipework in the cupboard in the main bathroom in order to fit an air release valve there and then I have to fit a couple of ‘gate’ valves in the cellar beneath the wet room floor in readiness for the installation of a towel rail at a later date. The only form of heating in the wet room at this moment is from a fan heater at high level which is fine if wanting to heat the room whilst having a shower but not to have switched on all day long (in the colder months). Having a heated towel rail will keep the room reasonably warm whilst at the same time keeping the towels dry.

I am hoping there will be no leaks when the water is turned back on after the work is complete because that might necessitate a drain-down of the system again in order to fix it!

Shirley Anne

Stuck inside

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Although it was nice having warm and sunny weather it was refreshing when the temperatures returned to normal for the time of year on Tuesday. I don’t like it too hot and felt uncomfortable in the 24 C heat on Sunday and Monday when I had some electrical work to do in the morning. Thankfully the work wasn’t strenuous but it still took me four hours to complete. E and I dined out mid-afternoon and spent an hour or two out on the patio when we returned home. We had set our hearts on buying new furniture for the patio and had seen what we wanted in the ‘Homebase’ store so on Tuesday morning we drove to the store ordered and paid for it and now wait for its delivery as I write this on Tuesday afternoon. We could have bought it over the Internet but for something so large I would rather see it first. This is a drawback with using the Internet because you can never tell what things look and feel like close-up. Eventually we drove back home after making a detour and had our lunch. By now it was raining and we were more or less confined indoors so I suggested we use the time to carry on with the repairs to the ceiling and wall in one of the top rooms of the house. In earlier posts I talked about the damage that had resulted up there because of the leaking roof which was repaired a few weeks ago. The wall needed papering over and the ceiling needed a coat of textured paint……Top room damage

 

Top room repair

 

Top room repair 2

More textured paint will have to be purchased as there was only just enough to cover the patch on the ceiling. We papered the wall with some embossed paper we had stored in the cellar. It will be painted over later. The main problem with this room is that it is filled with cardboard boxes which will have to be sorted if we are to redecorate the room. It needs redecorating and a new carpet laid once the work is done.

Shirley Anne

Finished?

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Well I suppose we can now say yes to the small bedroom project. We had been waiting for the carpet fitter to lay the carpet on Monday morning so that we could bring back the furniture into the room. The guy came on time as planned and less than an hour later it was finished. Whilst he was here I asked him if he would be interested in laying the artificial turf when it arrives and he said he would. I showed him the patio so that he could see the surface where the turf would be laid. We talked about the adhesive that would be needed and he told me he would source that at a cheaper price than we would otherwise have had to pay if we bought it ourselves. When the turf arrives I have arranged to call him so he can see it and then set a date to lay it. In the meantime E and I cleaned the new carpet and brought the furniture back into the room. Small bedroom 16

Small bedroom 17

Small bedroom 18

The bed needed re-assembling as did the wardrobe. We needed to carry out some minor repairs to the wardrobe and level it so it would stand erect, we also had to adjust the door catches as they had always been a problem in the past. The reason the bed is empty is that we are waiting for the delivery of a new mattress on Friday. E went out after lunch and I was at a bit of a loose end until I remembered a job that needed doing at the top of the house. If my readers will remember we had two roof leaks repaired recently and the ceiling in one of the top rooms had been damaged because of the ingress of rain. Six years ago we had roof repairs and a lot of other works going on around the house but the roof leak hadn’t been discovered though we thought it had. The ceiling was not repaired at that time as there was no time to do it. However it got left and almost forgotten about, shelved for another day which never arrived! It was fortunate in a way that repairs weren’t done as the recent leak would have necessitated it being done again. I had a tub of ready-mixed plaster in the house so I used it all to patch up the area. Naturally that was only to be the base and a top coat of plaster would be applied later. Both the ceiling and part of the adjoining wall had been damaged.Top room damage

Six years are a long time to leave before doing a job but in this case it saved doing the job twice!

Shirley Anne

What now?

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As I write this on Thursday afternoon the guys who were fixing the roof problems and the chimney stack, well one of the chimney stacks as there are three of them, have informed me that they have finished. I phoned the scaffolding company to let them know and the boss told me they would call tomorrow, Friday, to dismantle it and take it off site. At last I thought, I would have my house back but as I was putting the van in the garage I noticed one corner of the roof had been letting in water and the wooden roof is beginning to rot. The supporting joists don’t seem to be affected but part of the roof sheeting will have to be replaced and then the whole roof in that area will need resurfacing with bitumen. I think the real problem is where that bitumen sheeting meets the brick wall. Aside from that it also needs to come over the brick because at the moment it lies on top of it and out of sight from the driveway. Water has seeped beneath it and it has lifted the bitumen under the two stone blocks I placed there to hold it down some time ago. You can see them on the right-hand-side on top of the brick parapet in this picture taken recently.The leak is in the corner on the inside of the garage above and in front of the van.

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Anyway that part isn’t the main problem as far as I can tell. I think the main leak is just on the other side of that parapet where it joins the side wall. It means I will need the services of Es nephew once again if he’ll do it. When will it all end? At least this work is at low-level and scaffolding won’t be needed. I could probably do the woodwork repair but I would still require a professional to do the bitumen sheet. Maybe I will need to employ both. Anyway as I write this I am expecting E’s nephew to call around to see it.

Shirley Anne

 

Dragging on

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So Friday morning I had expected the guys doing the roof and front step to arrive early as they did the day before. I was up very early so as not to be caught out asleep as I had been on Thursday but I also had to put out the wheelie waste bin as I do every Friday morning and Monday morning if it is ‘green waste day’. Most folk put out their bins the evening before but we have experienced others using our bins to dispose of their waste. That I do not mind but when they put the wrong type of waste and unsorted waste into the bin it is a bit of a liberty especially as we diligently sort our waste before putting it in the bin. Our collection is usually later in the day or morning so there isn’t the need to put the bin out the evening before. This week it was plastic and cardboard waste and the bin was full to overflowing as usual but alongside I had placed a small mountain of cardboard we were left with that came with the bedroom furniture and other items over the past two weeks. Most of the waste we dispose of these days is either plastic, cardboard or paper and all are recyclable. I ate breakfast and waited for the arrival of the guys but they didn’t turn up. As I write this at noon they have still not arrived. Accordingly our repairs are dragging on unnecessarily. The whole work if done at once would probably only take a little over a day but try holding down a builder even if he is E’s nephew! I am not sure at this point whether the repairs on the west end of the roof have been completed. I climbed to the top of the scaffolding on Thursday afternoon to see what progress had been made but I think there is more to do yet. Once that end is completed they have to move to the east end of the roof to carry out a repair there and to generally check the other chimney stack to ensure everything is alright. Then of course the wall alongside the front steps needs to be finished off. We did very little work at home ourselves on Friday morning though as I write that may change, in fact E has just come into the room to tell me she is going to gloss paint the picture rail I had sanded down an hour ago. That will mean I can get on with painting the walls on Saturday if I’ve a mind to do so.

Shirley Anne

On the go

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I woke up rather late on Thursday, I must have needed the sleep is all I can say. I knew the guys were coming early but I wasn’t dressed and ready to come downstairs. Fortunately E had risen earlier than I but even she had to answer the door at ten minutes after eight in order to give the guys access to the rear garden. I actually didn’t get downstairs until almost nine-thirty. I ate a very light breakfast, mostly fruit and after a short while drove off to buy the LED light bulbs for the new fitting. If you remember yesterday I mentioned E had been given six tungsten bulbs but I was never going to use them. Anyway I drove to the retail park to see what they were charging for the bulbs and then phoned my electrical supplier to ask them how much they charge. They were even less than half the price at the electrical supplier. I drove there and bought them for less than £19 for six. When I returned home E had just finished vacuuming the carpet on the stairs. I went upstairs and installed the new light fitting…Bedroom light

It didn’t take long to install though even using the high ladder it was still a bit of a stretch to reach the ceiling. I have been able to get things done at home as my electrical work has been slack in coming in this week. E went out in the afternoon to do the shopping and I decided I would climb the ladders to the top of the scaffolding were the guys had been repairing the roof to see what they had done. The guys had left for the day. One of the tasks they were to do was to re-point some of the brickwork but like most builders I have come across they are no too fussy about the mess they create. One of the five floodlights we have on the walls at the rear of the house was literally covered in red mortar. I descended to fetch a brush and clean it off before it set hard. A plastic bag to cover the light whilst they were working would have prevented my having to clean it. I am capable of climbing ladders but many women, probably most women my age are not and would therefore not be able to check things over. I set high standards when I work, especially if it is for others so I expect those working for me to be just as conscientious. It looks as though the front steps will be finished off soon as one guy was preparing the small wall for skimming with cementFront steps 3

Everything is on the go but I will be happy when all the building repairs and alterations are completed and the scaffolding removed. We can then concentrate on our own work.

Shirley Anne

Taken by surprise

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English: Walk-behind lawn mower

Walk-behind lawn mower (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Wednesday morning E and I drove off to the retail park to buy emulsion paint and see if we could purchase a door handle that would match or near enough match the metal fittings in the room, the curtain rail, the (at that time not received) light fitting and of course the furniture hardware. The paint would have to be mixed in store as it was a colour only produced by the store’s computer controlled mixing equipment. Whilst E was having the paint mixed I went to collect the door handle. Why is it that door handles are only sold in pairs? Why would it be necessary to have the same handle on both sides of a door unless one wanted them all to be the same? It means that we now have a spare handle, paid for but not needed. It is the same with light bulbs which seldom are sold singly. We are forced to buy things we don’t really need. Okay, maybe the bulbs would get used at some point but a spare handle would likely not be used if it didn’t match the decor. I digress. As it was late in the morning when we drove to the retail park it was lunch time by the time we had returned home. After lunch I decided to sit out on the patio in the sunshine for a while but then returned indoors to get the key for the rear door of the garage where we keep the lawn mower. Yes, I was going to mow the lawn for the first time this year. A couple of my neighbours had already mowed their lawns but I hadn’t the time until Wednesday. It took some effort to get the mower running but finally it did and I got stuck into mowing the grass. It doesn’t take long to mow the lawn using the petrol mower, about twenty minutes but as I was walking along I saw someone moving about beneath the scaffolding. It was E’s nephew and his mate, they had arrived to begin the work of repairing the roof at that end of the house. The scaffolding had been erected two and a half weeks ago! At last the repairs were underway. I finished mowing and put the mower away. I had a little job to do in the bedroom, nothing much and had nothing else to do. Around four-thirty we received a message letting us know that the light fitting we had ordered was now in stock and ready for collection. E drove off to collect it whilst I stayed at home in case the guys might want to discuss any problems concerning the roof repairs.By the time E had returned they were about to leave for the day. I spent a short time assembling the new chandelier ready for fixing it to the ceiling the next day. The man in the shop had given E six tungsten lamps for the light but I was going to use led lamps instead.

Shirley Anne

Going nowhere fast

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Physical bullying at school, as depicted in th...

Physical bullying at school, as depicted in the film Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What a restless night I had on Wednesday-Thursday! I had gone to bed around 10.30 and woke at 1.30 and again at 4.00 for toilet visits. On the second visit I was so restless I ended up washing clothes! I had been dreaming about a bully doing what bullies do and this one had been taunting and annoying me: I was a youngster in the dream. In real life I was bullied quite a lot (in my pages above) but in this dream I’d had enough and I challenged the bully. He was always trying to goad me into fighting with him but this time I turned, grabbed one of his hands which was clenched and twisted it with all my might until he had to give up in submission. He didn’t bother me again, at least in the dream! I returned to bed and fell asleep, not wakening until just before 8 o’clock. I had no work scheduled and nothing to do at home that could be done. After breakfast I played guitar and went for a walk but on my treadmill as I wanted to be available should anyone want my services. Nobody did. Just before lunch E’s nephew called and he climbed the scaffolding tower to inspect the roof. He climbed the other scaffolding tower to inspect the other end of the roof too and talked about what needed to be done. ‘At last’, I thought but progress is slow and going nowhere fast. I shouldn’t complain, I know it will all get sorted in the end. Earlier in the day I received a call from the company who will be installing the bedroom furniture. They will deliver the materials on Friday (two days ago) but will not now be able to begin the work until this coming Thursday instead of Tuesday. Two steps forward and one step back. E went out to do the shopping and I decided to spend the time baking a rich fruit cake. Rich Fruit Cake 3 Mar 16I should have known there would be a setback as nothing seems to be simply going forward. I had the mixture ready to receive the eggs but guess what? I only had one egg! I was not using the recommended number of eggs which would be eight of the standard size but I intended to use only four though of a large size. I called my neighbour to see if she had any eggs but alas she hadn’t any either. I put everything aside until E returned later knowing she would have bought eggs. I invited my neighbour round for a coffee and a chat. E didn’t return until almost six o’clock at which time I finished the cake mixture and hurriedly put the cake in the oven. It would take four and a half hours to bake as it required a fairly low oven temperature (300 F or 155 C) but as the oven is fan assisted the temperature was set even lower at 140 C. It would be almost eleven o’clock before the cake was baked. You cannot hurry the process, a bit like the work around the house at the moment!

Shirley Anne

All done at last

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pics 1164I am only referring to the building of the scaffolding and not the actual work it gives access to. At the time of writing that work hasn’t started of course but maybe as you read this it is well under way. To be quite honest I am tired of the upheaval and all I want is some respite. The work is essential though for the weather is best kept outside of the house rather than inside it! Fixing holes in the roof where the rain gets in quite literally. It is mid-afternoon on Friday and I am waiting for the guys to tell me that their job is completed. E has just gone out to see her mom and together they will go into town if her mom is up to it. She is in her late eighties and hasn’t been enjoying the best of health lately. This morning before the men arrived at eight-thirty I went into the garage to move a lighting cable out of harm’s way so that supports could be placed under the wooden joists as the scaffolding would be built on top of it. The previous day I had mentioned that we had two ‘Accro’ adjustable steel supports in the other garage which they could use if required. One of the guys collected them and it was then we saw that in fact we had three of them. However none of them were in perfect condition, though all they needed was to be lubricated and two of them have bolts fitted. They chose to return to base to collect theirs but while they were gone I carried out the maintenance on the supports making them as good as new! I think they were rather surprised at that.pics 1163 Anyway throughout the afternoon all I could hear was the constant banging and clashing together of steel as the scaffolding was being erected but there was no escape. I had insisted they not place under-roof supports where I park my van overnight as they otherwise would have. The van’s insurance cover would be invalidated in the event the van was broken into or stolen because it wasn’t in my garage overnight. Sometimes I wonder why contractors assume they can please themselves in some of the decisions they make. The two pictures are of the same section of scaffolding, one being taken at the front of the house at that side and the other at the rear.

Shirley Anne

Something is happening at last

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Pitcher plant

Pitcher plant (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The 'Dentate' cultivar of the venus fly trap i...

The ‘Dentate’ cultivar of the venus fly trap in cultivation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was kind of feeling sorry for myself on Wednesday morning, nothing to do, well nothing substantial to keep me occupied and I began wondering what the day might bring. Just after lunch I made the decision to do some baking but alas even that idea was thwarted at the starting gate, I was short of some of the ingredients. E would be going shopping the next day so I resigned myself to baking another day. In recent weeks E has obtained two small exotic plants neither of which are native to this country and one is doing fine but the other was suffering somewhat. The first is a pitcher plant which traps insects and digests them as they slip down inside the trumpet-shaped stems with no possibility of escape. The second plant is a Venus fly trap, its function is obvious from its name but alas that one was the one which was struggling. I searched the Internet for information and discovered we hadn’t first of all placed the plant in a favourable position and secondly were watering it with the wrong type of water. The plant needs lime-free water and rain water is ideal. We have two large water butts filled with rain water so that problem was solved. The plant doesn’t mind cool weather and in fact prefers a period of colder temperatures each year. We had the plant indoors where it is warm so we moved it into one of the greenhouses where the temperature at the moment is cooler. The plant also likes its roots in water as it gets its nutrients that way as well as by digesting flies! So we placed it on a flat slab of stone standing in a container filled with rain water which will only require refilling occasionally. All it needs now is for some small flies to find themselves inside the greenhouse. Hopefully the plant will survive and continue to grow. We were about to return indoors and I suggested we begin moving the pile of bricks, stones and rubble that we had stored on the large concrete base which is actually the continuation of the garage floor which projects beyond the rear wall and was never built upon. It is a convenient place to store things, too convenient in fact. We had to move it all so that scaffolding can be erected there. After fifteen minutes or so and only a quarter of the pile moved, the scaffolding company arrived and began to move the scaffolding on-site. They were to return the next day with more scaffolding and erect it all at both ends of the house so that we can arrange for the roof work to be done. The day wasn’t a wasted day after all and it looks as if things are beginning to happen at last.

Shirley Anne