Making it work

Sunday let us know that summer was on the wane, on its last legs, struggling to stay warm and dry but nothing could be done about that. The day was damp and rain fell frequently, it was a day to stay indoors though had I wanted to go for a walk I would have. By coincidence I actually wanted to stay indoors to relax and this I did. Monday would soon be upon me and there was work to be done. Lately I have been involved in keeping active by undertaking various little projects at home, mostly in the garden. Monday however I had set aside for preparing for the new garage door installation which means installing a power outlet, a board on which the control unit will sit, re-positioning existing wiring and switches and to remove other items which I will reinstall sometime after the door is installed. To install a power point will require that I alter the existing circuit and supply it from the main distribution panel in order to isolate it from house circuits. It is at times like this I appreciate my electrical experience for it makes the work simple, straightforward and not least of all free. Well free from labour charges! I could say the same for all the other work I do around the house. There is a lot to say in favour of DIY. As the year gets colder I find that working outside is much more pleasant than it is during the warmer months. I suppose the cold encourages me to keep active anyway. Is it possible that I to do too much work? I can only say that if I didn’t enjoy it I wouldn’t be doing it! Could I move to an apartment where there would be almost nothing to do? I doubt it but not because I would have more time to indulge in personal pleasures, I would be bored stiff! My motto is more work and less play though not all work and no play! It works for me anyway.

Shirley Anne

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Household chores

A distraction from chores
A distraction from chores (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I couldn’t get to sleep on Friday night until way after two o’clock despite my nodding off in front of the television before I set off to bed. Maybe the ‘cat naps’ had been enough to keep me awake but I did eventually fall asleep. That meant I ended up sleeping in until nine-thirty and missing breakfast. When I finally got downstairs and carrying laundry I put it into the washing machine then went for a walk. I wasn’t hungry so I didn’t miss not having breakfast. It was another pleasant day, still cloudy but reasonably warm with no wind whatsoever. Soon I was on my way back home to do some household chores, taking out the waste, cleaning the bins, hanging up the washing, vacuuming the carpets, you know, all the mundane stuff in life that has to be done. Once upon a time I didn’t much like doing household chores but in more recent times I find I actually enjoy it! Am I crazy or what? Not really, after all it is work and something therefore I enjoy. When I was very young I was the only one among my siblings who like helping out at home. I would prepare meals, wash and scrub the floors and other things most children shy away from. I won’t say that my brothers and sisters didn’t help out but from what I can remember I was the one who encouraged them to help. That was probably because I was the eldest. They remember me as ‘bossy boots’ and I probably was but I got hings done. So was my Saturday all chores and no rest? No, I am not that crazy! I get restless though and soon find myself looking for things to do but the problem with household chores is that they never seem to end, by the time you think you’ve done everything you have come full circle and have to begin again. When I finally retire from my electrical work (perhaps) I know there will be plenty of work to do around and inside the house to keep me occupied………………but that is life isn’t it?

Shirley Anne

Wintry weather

I was going through one of my phases of not being bothered or interested in anything and it led me to lie in bed for hours on Saturday morning. I simply didn’t want to get out of bed. I wasn’t tired, I’d had a good night’s sleep and had actually woken by eight. It was almost twelve-thirty by the time I arrived downstairs. So that was breakfast missed. I didn’t much feel like eating anything but I had to eat something. I decided to prepare a chicken and vegetable stew, one of my favourite meals as it is very healthy and tasty too. When I make it I do it in quantity and can get three meals out of it, four if I have a smaller portion but it is the kind of meal I call ‘moreish’, a small portion just doesn’t cut it. As I was preparing the food I couldn’t help but notice the sound of hail on the windows and for a while everywhere began to turn white…first-sign first-sign-2-jpgIt didn’t stay that way as the hail turned to rain after a short time. I wondered if this was the first sign of a colder winter ahead. I was thankful to be indoors in the warmth but I needed something to occupy myself. First of all I had some of the stew for my meal. It was by now two-thirty. E had gone to her monthly meeting and would be away for hours. I have been checking for any air in the radiators on a regular basis now that the heating is switched on. E’s workshop is at the top of the house so any air in the system naturally migrates up there which means the radiator in the room doesn’t get warm if I don’t bleed out the air. It needed bleeding which took minutes to do. The radiator in the bedroom we refurbished early in the year had been left valved-off as the room isn’t in use but I usually allow a little water to pass through just to keep the chill out of the room though it doesn’t get too cold because of its southerly aspect. I discovered it wasn’t warm in the least even after I had checked for trapped air. I opened the valves fully and still the radiator remained cold. I will need to address that problem when I get the opportunity though I think that may be next year if it is more than simply an air-lock in the pipes. I went downstairs and decided to do some baking, one of my other favourite ‘hobbies’. This time it was a fruit cake.Rich Fruit Cake Whilst it was baking I prepared a scone mix and baked the scones an hour later when the cake was done. E returned home after five o’clock and knew instantly that I had been baking. I love the smell of baking in a house, it makes it feel more homely. Just nice when it is cold and wintry outside.

Shirley Anne

Autumn eh?

English: Door furniture, old and new The hinge...
Door furniture, old and new The hinge and lock say craftsman, the padlock, B&Q. Detail on the old door in a church outbuilding. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What a lovely day Sunday was, warm, dry and sunny practically all day long. There was only the slightest of a breeze, more a zephyr  most of the time. I spent quite a few hours outside enjoying it. The only part of the garden that was damp was the grass and that only because of dew. The artificial grass on the patio was naturally also damp too. Almost two weeks ago saw the Equinox marking the beginning of  Autumn but Autumn proper seemed far off on Sunday. It felt more like Summer. The week ahead looked promising too but I knew at this time of year it can suddenly turned wet, windy and cold. I still had some work to do outdoors if the weather could remain dry for me to do it. I had three small areas around the paving slabs I had laid on the Plot which needed filling in with a fine concrete mix and perhaps do some cosmetic work around the base of the new lamp-post using natural stones. There was also one other job I might be able to do sometime during the week but that would need the tower erecting at the front of the building. I had hinted at the possibility of doing this unusual job many months ago but didn’t get around to doing it. On Friday I had paid a visit to a local establishment which services and sells lawnmowers. It is noted for the lawnmower museum they have  there ( http://www.lawnmowerworld.co.uk/gallery.php?location=0 ) but apart from their lawnmower business they are also master locksmiths. Part of their shop is dedicated to that trade and they sell all kinds of things to do with locks and door furniture. They also program vehicle keys and lock systems which is why I was there. Recently I’d had a replacement control unit fitted around the steering column of my van and later it was discovered that the key no longer controlled the automatic door locking system though it still works manually. Neither the auto electrician nor the locksmith could resolve the problem which still exists. I can live with operating it manually and I will leave it that way unless I come across a solution. Anyway whilst at the store waiting to see if the locksmith could set things right I noticed that they also sold natural stone (slate) plaques with signage. I made inquiries regarding cost to have one made to size for my needs. It would cost £150 I was told so I agreed to have one made. They told me it would be ready to collect a couple of days hence, perhaps Monday. Now I know you will be wondering what the plaque was for and what was to be written on it. It will read…’Hassle Castle…..1877′ and it is to be fixed to the wall at the front of the house at high level. The house was built in 1877. I mentioned the purchase to my neighbour who thinks the idea highly amusing but liked it. I think the same. I may be able to attach a picture before this is scheduled to be posted but if not I will post one later.

Shirley Anne

Wet and dry

Raining Pleasure (EP)
Raining Pleasure (EP) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Well it didn’t know what to do on Saturday, one minute it was raining and the next the sun was shining. These are the kind of days I like the least, I want to know if it is going to be wet or dry, not wet and dry! If I’ve to do any work outdoors it is essential it remains dry unless if wet it doesn’t affect what I am doing. At the moment I need some dry days so that I can get on with my project and it does matter if it is fine weather or not. On Saturday I was employed doing electrical work for someone else and except for installing a replacement outdoor light fitting all the work was indoors. I took the opportunity to do the outside work while it was dry. It didn’t stay dry for long though but long enough for installing the light. I seldom do electrical work at the weekend and will only work on Sunday if I consider it to be an emergency so it was unusual to find me working on a Saturday. The house was full of young women and even the dog was female and they had only moved in a week or so before from an adjacent street and wanted some replacement lights installing. Evidently their former home wasn’t as good as the one they had moved into and the mother told me that they had bought it at a knock-down price because the previous owner had many cats living there. It sounds a ridiculous reason for selling a house at a lower price I think but the buyer wasn’t complaining! I had the work all done by noon and soon found myself back home. I prepared my lunch as E left the house to drive to her once-a-month meeting of her group of hobbyists, in fact the members’ main occupation is entering competitions. I get abandoned and left to my own devices at such times….LOL. The afternoon turned out very bright and sunny, a tempting time to do some outdoor work maybe? Not a chance, I was too tired and it could still rain.

Shirley Anne

No work but work

Paint and Paint
Paint and Paint (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

After my Sunday rest day I thought I would be rearing to start work on Monday but I had slept in as I had felt so tired on Sunday evening. It was around ten in the morning by the time I got downstairs. I missed breakfast but ate a banana and had a fruit drink instead. Despite this I joined with E and went upstairs to do some more work in the top room. I hadn’t any electrical work which seems to be the norm lately for the start of the week but that didn’t mean I wouldn’t be doing something at home. We spent about three and a half hours painting and carrying out alterations to the electrical power circuit. I managed to paint the lower half of the ceiling whilst E did more filling in of holes. We had to stop for something to eat but by the time we did it was already approaching one-thirty. I was feeling rather weak as I’d only eaten a banana for my late breakfast. We didn’t return upstairs until after three o’clock. I finished painting the remainder of the ceiling whilst E applied an undercoat to the underside of half the worktop. We had to remove the curtain rod and the timber it was attached to because it wasn’t secure. The wall behind required some repairs to the plaster so I got on with that too. It was six o’clock before we stopped work for the day but later after my evening meal I decided to paint some of the lower wall with the emulsion paint we had bought. It is the colour of lilac, E’s choice not mine but I admit it looks good. Monday had been a cool and dull day, ideal for working at home indoors. Tuesday however was forecast to be warm and sunny but even so I would most probably be working indoors for most of the time.

Shirley Anne

Very near

Friday was a great day and full of expectation. The scaffolding which had been erected in two places around the house was to be finally dismantled and the new carpet for the refurbished bedroom was to be laid down during the afternoon. It was a cold day, overcast and threatening rain. The guys arrived early and got stuck straight into removing the scaffolding over the garage at the side of the house whilst I made them each a drink of coffee. They seem to run on coffee! I had a few minor things to attend to in the meantime. It took them about three hours to dismantle most of the scaffolding then left to go for lunch. They returned shortly after lunch to finish the job but again they had to stop so that they could empty the now filled wagon. There was a small amount of scaffolding left standing in the garden which they said they would collect the next day, that is Saturday because there was little time left to do it then. Soon after one o’clock I received a call from the carpet fitters alerting me to their imminent arrival. I left them to get on with the job and soon enough they were done. I took ‘Robbie’ the robot vacuum cleaner and let him make a start in cleaning off the carpet debris whilst I used the mains-connected vacuum cleaner. I had to empty both their containers a few times before the carpet was thoroughly cleaned. Bedroom 23

Bedroom 24

Bedroom 25Bedroom 26You might think the carpet fitters would do that before signing the work off but I have never known any of them to do that. E came up later to have a look and to help hang the curtains (drapes). The curtains had been removed weeks ago before the refurbishment began and had then been dry cleaned but one of them required a little stitching before it could be hung. E began to do that but it was getting too late in the day and she left off finishing it until the next day. Now we are waiting for the new bed to arrive this coming Thursday. When the guys had left the site with the scaffolding I got up onto the garage roof to sweep it up  and collected a bucket of debris. I had discovered two places inside the garage where rain has been seeping in so I sealed one small hole with flashband  which will cure that problem  but the other leak was larger and will require more drastic work to be done. In the interim I have covered the area with a heavy-duty plastic sheet to allow it to dry out and when the weather is warmer it will be repaired properly. It never ends does it? I was just thinking how bored I would be if there were no problems to sort out.

Shirley Anne.

Last day

Apart from changing the radiator valves and some minor touching up of paint work E and I have no more to do in the bedroom as far as decorating is concerned. As I had no electrical work scheduled on Thursday I took the opportunity to finish what little work that was left to do and especially in the afternoon whilst E was out at the shops. The room could have been completed  much sooner but as there was no reason to get it done quickly and as I hold down an electrical service business I haven’t always been available. Added to that we have had building repairs going on too and have had to cater to the guys doing that work. By Wednesday evening most of the work was completed but there remains for some leadwork repairs to be done as I write this on Thursday evening. It may get done on Friday but knowing E’s nephew it isn’t likely, we’ll see. All the ridge tiles have been removed and re-bedded with new mortar and that took some time to do for the tiles are massive. They are Y-shaped and are fitted upside down. I am guessing they weigh at least 5 or 6 kilograms apiece, maybe more and there are a lot of them up there. Anyway nobody arrived on Thursday because of the intermittent rain.

Here are some more pictures of the bedroom……  Bedroom 20Radiator

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bedroom 18

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the last picture you can see where I have painted the coving in the same colour as the lower part of the walls. All we need now is the carpet and bed and the room will be ready for use.

Shirley Anne

Little by little

A Safeway advertisement from the 1950s.
A Safeway advertisement from the 1950s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Although I dislike advertisements in any shape or form that are pushed under our noses it is almost impossible to avoid them altogether. That does not mean I am persuaded in any way to buy into services or goods that are offered through any of them because I am not. There are one or two advertisements which mention the word ‘little’ and sometimes I am thinking I wish the advertisements themselves would follow suit! UK readers will know the phrase ‘every little helps‘ from a well-know supermarket chain‘s advertisement and by the way I don’t shop there, but the phrase itself and the meaning behind it do make sense. I was in the kitchen making myself a coffee and reflecting on all that I have personally done in the house in the almost twenty-eight years we have lived here. When I recall all the hard work and the various projects I had set myself to do over those years I am frankly amazed. I then think to myself what would the house look like now had I not done all that work? It is the sort of thing we would never think of doing all at once unless we had the money but even then we would most probably have given the work to others to do. Doing small jobs here and there, mini-projects and minor alterations and little by little much gets done. We look back and see that it was all worthwhile. Of course many tasks have been performed by others but usually because I hadn’t the time or maybe the expertise or the work was too much for one person to undertake. However where it has been possible and where I have not felt intimidated by the work I have taken it on board. Again little by little I have learnt to do all sorts of things I haven’t been specifically trained to do but practice makes perfect. It starts with a task or a project, the willingness to have a go, an ability that can be built upon. Every journey begins with the first step as the saying goes. In this house my journey has taken twenty-eight years, a long road with many steps but one that has been achieved little by little and costing much less than if I’d paid someone else to do everything.

Shirley Anne

Silly slang and other things

Butter and a butter knife
Butter and a butter knife (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No work Monday seems to be the norm for me lately but it doesn’t stay that way too long either. I did get a call from a guy who had been struggling to repair a light and I went to his house to fix it for him. I was back home before you could say ‘Jackanory‘. Now there is a strange saying but of course it is only an allegory. E suggested we remove unwanted materials and tools from the bedroom in readiness for the furniture build. Hopefully the materials for building the furniture will arrive here within a few days. Then she suggested we, that is I, should call and arrange for the scaffolding to be erected in order for the problems we have with the roof to be resolved because the guy doing the repairs was taking far too long to get the work underway. He was supposed to be making all the arrangements but we need the work doing sooner rather than later. A little after lunch the owner of the scaffolding company called at the house to assess our requirements. We used this guy’s company when we had major work going on at the house in 2010 because we, that is I, liked him. His rates are very reasonable and this time he offered me a small discount from his estimated price. The scaffolding needs to be erected in two separate places but when he and I were talking I asked if we could have that scaffolding which was to be erected over the garage where I park my van to be extended across the full depth of the house so that we may have the rear chimney stack checked too. That stack isn’t in use and is unlikely to be in the future so we may decide to cap it off if it isn’t already done. So things are moving along as they should be. He stepped into the house whilst he made the calculations and E popped into the room to say hello. He asked how she was and after her reply I jumped in with ‘She’s having problems with rising damp in her wooden leg’ which brought laughter all round but he replied ‘Creosote is great for preventing rising damp’ which brought even more laughter. We like to laugh and joke around here. He told us that he aims to have the scaffolding erected on Wednesday or Thursday which will be yesterday or today as you read this. The price? £1000, and that is before any work starts! Should have bought a Bungalow! Now that isn’t a joke is it but hey, that’s the way it goes. After he left E sat and had her lunch and I sat with her although I had already eaten. I had wanted to be sure that one of us would be available when our caller arrived for I knew he would be calling around lunchtime.

English: Hot cross buns are a quintessentially...
Hot cross buns are a quintessentially British tradition at Easter.They can be eaten warm or split, toasted with butter for breakfast, tea or a snack. No one knows for certain when the tradition began, but in 16th century England, bakers were limited by law to occasions when these special doughs could be made. Good Friday was one; ‘cross buns’ marked this holy day towards the end of the Lenten fast. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As we were talking she asked why I had no butter on my hot-cross bun but she had said ‘You’ve put no butter on your bun’. I immediately thought how strange our use of language is and especially slang. The thing is, how could I have put ‘no’ butter on anything? Perhaps if worded this way you will see my point, ‘You’ve not put butter on your bun’. We use slang every day and we all know what is meant by what is spoken, that is as long as we are familiar with local colloquialisms. Anyway I enjoyed the dry, that is un-buttered bun I’d eaten supplementary to my lunch.

Shirley Anne