It never ends!

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.

Shirley Anne

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Darned thing

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.

Shirley Anne

12 ahead

I have been writing a lot about my projects at home and the current one, the gym decoration being no exception. This post is twelve ahead  from that which you were reading on the day I wrote it, 7th March. This project is taking a lot of time to do because it doesn’t involve just painting but other things too for instance replacing pipe insulation. There has been much wiring to secure and many holes to be filled both on the ceiling and the walls and much of the ceiling has required more than just the one coat of paint. In fact one part of the ceiling has never received a coat of paint the whole time we’ve lived here! On Wednesday (7th) I spent four hours in the room and was determined not to spend any longer in there after Tuesday’s eight-hour stint. I concentrated my efforts painting more of the ceiling and walls and had to paint the areas a couple of times before it was as white as the previously painted areas. When I was clearing out the room and moving equipment to enable access to the work I discovered the old floor tiles had dropped in a couple of places by the walls so after I had finished painting for the day I decided to mix some concrete screed and fill them in. The largest ones are shown in the pictures above, the top one is situated alongside the treadmill (when it is lowered to the floor) and the lower  is alongside the steps leading out to the garden. It won’t be long before I will need to move this lot either…..….before I can decorate that area, which will be the final area to decorate. Most of it is garden furniture. After lunch I spent a little time in the garden sitting on the patio in the warm sunshine. However that didn’t last too long for the clouds rolled-in, though it did get brighter later. I discovered some more bluebells and spent twenty minutes digging them out before relaxing for the rest of the day.

Shirley Anne

A fine end

Sunday, the last day of the year turned out to be bright and sunny, The temperature hovered around 9 deg C all day though a stiff breeze made it feel colder. Still, it was nice to be outdoors when sheltered from that wind. I had deliberately arisen early so that I could drive to the beach to collect some more stones. I left the house around seven-thirty and by the time I had parked the van in the car park near to the beach it was beginning to enter the twilight zone. Twilight for me is the best part of any day and I am glad I live in a place where we have a period of twilight twice a day. Anyway, the wind felt stronger down on the sand but I persevered and collected quite a few stones while it was still quite dark. I made three short trips to and from the van to collect the stones in a plastic bag to then place them in a large bucket I had stored in the van. I should have taken a couple of more trips at that time but I was beginning to feel tired and cold. I could always return later. Before returning indoors on my arrival back home at eight-thirty I decided to make an attempt at sliding the hard neoprene strip back into the guide on the garage door. If my readers will remember it had slid out a couple of weeks ago and I informed the installer to have it repaired. At the time of writing this on the last day of the year there has been no follow-up from them. I will have to inform them it has been repaired. After doing that small job I took a parcel we had received on behalf of our neighbour across the road to give it to her who at the time it arrived wasn’t at home, then I went indoors for my breakfast. E came into the kitchen just as I had finished eating. After breakfast I donned my overalls and went into the garden to empty out the stones and to dig out a couple of montbretia plants.

Still not enough stones to cover the soil so I would have to do some more collecting. With that in mind E and I drove down to the beach in the afternoon and whilst I went to collect more stones she sat inside the van admiring the sea view. From her vantage point however I was invisible because of the intervening sea wall. I collected a small bucket full of stones which I placed in the empty space when we returned home…..

It looks full now but in fact there is space for a few more. I plan to put some other plants in the area later so some of the stones will move to create a space for them. It should then look fuller. (Click on pics to magnify)

Shirley Anne

Ready but not

It had taken longer than I had thought for the delivery of a new halyard rope for the flag pole but when it arrived on Tuesday it was too late in the day for me to install it or to make the attempt. I seldom like beginning a task late in the day so anything arriving late gets put off till the next day. I had spent time on the treadmill before breakfast whilst E ate hers during my exercise. We were expecting the delivery of a new dishwasher and at that time I hadn’t switched on the computer to track its progress. For some reason I developed a cramp in my right calf muscles whilst running, something I never had problems with years ago. I persevered and finished my exercise but I was left with an aching leg for a few hours thereafter. After breakfast I switched on the computer and checked the expected delivery time for the dishwasher and found they had scheduled delivery between the hours of two and four o’clock. E was pleased about that as she had to go shopping and did so in the morning. I of course was free to do other things so I decided to install the new rope for the flag pole. I was a little concerned that I might have difficulties in using the old rope to pull in the new one but my concerns were unfounded, it went in easily. I had however stitched them together with a needle and thread to ensure they would pass through the finial at the top of the pole. The flag was re-attached and ready for the wind which didn’t arrive at all during the day. Oh well. I returned indoors to recheck the delivery time for the dishwasher and it had been revised. It would now be delivered between one and two o’clock. E returned home before noon and I told her the new delivery time but checking once more I found it had been revised to arrive between one-twenty and one fifty. It arrived half-way between. It was ready for installation but by this time it was time for lunch. It took about fifteen minutes to unpack it and connect it up. That was it, all outstanding jobs done……..well…er…..not quite. I still have the garage light project as and when I can do it……..when I am ready.

Shirley Anne

Time slot

Following on from yesterday’s post it turned out that the weather was favourable on Saturday after all. I am referring to recovering the top of the garage wall with a concrete mix. When discussing the work with E’s nephew the builder he assured me that the seal between the fibreglass and the brick walls would not let in water. Well he would have been right in that assumption had the joint been against a smooth and flat surface but brickwork as you might guess is far from that, especially if the wall is aged and the mortar has given way in places! I checked inside the garage for any leaks the following day and sure enough there were four of them, though one was not associated with the new roof alteration work. They were all but one very minor and that which was worse wasn’t too bad, just bad enough to do something about it! Any leaks are undesirable, especially after new work has been done. Part of the problem was due to the top layer of bricks not keeping out the water because the mortar had cracked and some weeds had found a home in them. I had suggested all the bricks have new mortar or be repaired but nothing was taken on board. Any builder worth his salt would have ensured the wall he would be securing something to was solid enough to take it. Seems our builder didn’t think it was necessary. At the end of the day it didn’t matter because I could carry out the repairs to the brickwork myself. All I needed was a time slot in which to do it. The weather forecast hadn’t been promising and rain was said to be on its way to stay for a few days. There was just the one slight opportunity after lunch on Saturday when it would remain dry for about the next sixteen hours. It was raining when I arose and it didn’t stop until about ten-thirty. We knew that marked the beginning of the short dry spell so I took the opportunity and began the work. Here is the result…

The topping is a fine concrete mix, that is sand, grit and cement rather than just sand and cement in order to give it durability and strength. The same mix is used when laying a footpath and at the rear of our house there is a footpath constructed using the same mix. It has been there for 28 years and is as good as the day it was laid. Not only have I put a layer on the top (where it was needed) I have put some on the sides too as that was where water was getting in mostly. That should have been done by the builder before the new roof seal was applied so that the fibreglass could be placed over it. That can still be done should there be any more problems but I have a feeling it won’t be necessary. The rain held off until well after the concrete had set. Timed to perfection. The work had taken about thirty minutes to do.

Shirley Anne

Hooray a quiet day!

What a nice and quiet day Monday was, well almost. Early rise then breakfast, a little later I was placing one foot in front of the other as I walked to the north of town along the seafront. It started bright and sunny but soon after I began the walk it turned cloudy and somewhat cool, which I didn’t mind. The wind had changed and was now blowing from the north-west, hence the coolness. It was way too early for lunch by the time I got back home so I sat out on the patio with E with a coffee for the sunshine had returned. Because it was around noon the shadow of the house had now covered most of the patio but E was able to sit in the sunny part. An hour later and the patio was in full sunshine again and would be for the next three and a half hours if it didn’t turn cloudy again. It didn’t turn cloudy during the remainder of the day. We returned indoors for lunch by which time it was hot and humid outside. Now I could have done some work, which I was wanting to do but because of the weather conditions I decided against that idea. I spent the afternoon in the garden either on the patio or pottering about around the garden itself removing weeds and debris, nothing strenuous of course. Around five o’clock I got the hose and watered the plants before finally going back indoors to do some domestic chores. E had gone out, taking her mom they spent a couple of hours in town doing some business and window-shopping. When I was outside I had left my phone indoors. I sometimes do that so I am not disturbed but I check to see if anyone has called. Our next-door neighbour had called me three times on the mobile and twice on the house phone. E had just returned and before she came inside I told her about the calls thinking a parcel had been left with our neighbour which sometime happens. When E came back she told me our neighbour was having problems with her electric shower! Although it was now approaching meal time I told E I was going next door to see if I could help with the shower and she then told me that I should take note that our neighbour’s gates were stiff to open. Sure enough the gates were sticking together at the bottom. All had been quiet until our neighbour put a spanner in the works, lol. I knocked on the door and was invited inside. I went upstairs along with her son and checked the operation of the shower. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it just as it was when I checked it a few weeks earlier. The problem was they didn’t know how to use the controls to get the best from the shower. I explained how the shower works and the link between water flow and pressure to the heat of the water. The heat settings only switch on the elements either high or low. Water control does the rest. Finally the penny dropped and they could now see what they were doing wrong. I asked if they had an adjustable spanner (wrench) and the son fetched one. I took them both to the gates and showed them what the problem was with them sticking. I had the adjustments made in twenty seconds and all was fine. Maybe next time (though there shouldn’t be a next time after my adjustment) they could do it themselves, or rather the son could. It would be a first.

Shirley Anne

Goal achieved

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

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

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