I took a longer route on my morning walk on Saturday for two reasons, I wanted to avoid walking along the promenade and secondly I wanted to walk just that bit further. For weeks I had been taking roughly the same route and it was becoming a little mundane and dare I say a little too comfortable. I wanted to extend the exercise but didn’t want to extend it too much just then. I had work to do on my return home. I spent a couple of hours finishing off the plywood panelling and began to fill in the gaps in readiness for painting. The inspection hatch on the first section of the boxing-in was left undone for the time being. That won’t take long to do when I make the effort. I was keen to get the bulk of the boxing-in work completed to allow me to get on with the rest of the project and that I did. I stopped the work after two hours and sat with E whist we had something to eat. I wanted to drive to the shops and purchase a few items for the project so that on the following Monday I could carry on with the work. After eating E went to get washed and dressed then came with me to the shops but just for the ride. We visited three places but she sat in the van throughout. I purchased a couple of electrical items which I would need to alter the existing power outlet circuitry to the utility room. I purchased a large drum of white vinyl-silk emulsion paint for the walls and ceiling and two sets of hinges, one for the room’s door and the other, a cabinet set for the inspection hatch. All other materials I would need I already had in stock. Hopefully the work would all be downhill from that point on but as with most projects it’s the small things that sometimes take the longest time to do.
I mentioned the other day that I had two small projects in mind to do aside from the large one we have left alone for a couple of days. The last day we worked on the mound was Saturday and there is still quite a bit to do on it yet but Sunday is my day of rest so I did nothing and E was out at the NEC all day too. Monday saw me working away from home on an electrical job so I didn’t bother working more once I returned home. Tuesday morning I was out-of-town again on another job and E and I dined out in the afternoon. Wednesday morning we decided not to resume working on the mound but instead do one of the other two small projects whilst the weather permitted. It meant getting the cement mixer out of storage and dusting off the cobwebs. Just as I was about to start I received a call from someone wanting my electrical services. The job was to move wiring that had been installed by others in the wrong positions. As the house was only a half-mile away I went to do it. I was back home about and hour or so later and was ready to start work with the mixer. Whilst I was away E set about painting the rear door to the garage that we had repaired a day or two back. The little project we were going to do was to dig out a large hole in the front garden, line it with plywood and fill it with concrete. Digging the hole was a dream compared to what we’ve been faced with in the rear garden over the last few weeks. I came across not one stone for a change. Now I suppose you’ll be wondering what the hole was for and why we were filling it with concrete. Well for many years I have wanted a flagpole in the front garden but never seemed to get around to getting one so last week I bought one over the Internet together with a George Cross flag. I have since decided to buy a Union flag too. The price for the aluminium pole and one flag was £224 delivered. Not too expensive I thought though other places sell them for less, of course the quality isn’t as good. We had some left-over materials from work we did last year laying concrete steps though unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough but we used it up before going to buy some more. By late afternoon it was done. The sleeve into which the pole sits was set into the concrete of course and had to be held fast whilst the concrete was poured in. Naturally it was fixed rigidly and set up vertically using a spirit level. I write this on Wednesday evening and by the morning the concrete should be set. Well the concrete is set…………………………….. The other small job we have planned requires that we purchase the materials first but we have yet to do that.
8 All things are wearisome, more than one can say. The eye never has enough of seeing, nor the ear its fill of hearing. 9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there anything of which one can say, ‘Look! This is something new’? It was here already, long ago; it was here before our time.
How many times have you heard it said that it’s happened before or it’s nothing new? Well here’s the truth of the matter, there’s nothing new under the sun. What’s been will be again, maybe in a different guise but nevertheless it will surely come again. Some even claim that modern technology is nothing new. They talk about ancient batteries and computers that have been discovered in archaeological digs. Whether these things are true is very much debatable but events, attitudes and behaviour certainly don’t change on the whole. People remain as they have always been, some loving, kind, courteous, humble and others hateful, brash, uncaring , selfish just the same. The eye never has enough of seeing. Isn’t that just so true? We never seem satisfied with our lot, always striving for more yet having received it are still not satisfied. Look at those who acquire great monetary wealth. Most will say that it hasn’t necessarily brought them happiness. Wealth isn’t about the money you have in the bank but the store you have in Heaven. With mankind nothing really changes.
In times gone by as times today
We fought and died and lost our way
And in those days all was the same
Just as it is, we’ve nothing gained.
We grow in peace, we grow in war
But all remains as was before
A lesson learned is soon forgot
It seems as if we’ve lost the plot.
We cleverly invent new things
And revel in the joy they bring
But sadly at the end of day
We have to give them all away.
Our lives are centred in this world
Which doesn’t last, or so we’ve heard
We live our lives just for the day
But never take the time to pray.
When we depart from out this place
Do we expect a saving grace?
By then it all will be too late
If to our hearts we close the gate!
I love Tuesdays because we dine out a lot on that day. Sometimes I will be out working in the morning but usual try to defer jobs to another day if possible. Last Tuesday I had nothing planned at all and decided to take the whole day off, not even working at home. As it happened we needed to purchase a little more grout for the bathroom as there are one or two small tiling jobs still outstanding but because the grout colour wasn’t plain white we couldn’t purchase it from an outlet nearer to home. The local store didn’t stock the colour we had used which is called ‘gunmetal’, a light fawn colour. That meant a trip of some 40 miles or so to purchase it from the place we had bought everything else for the bathroom, ‘Better Bathrooms’. It would be a nice drive and we could take our time and have a meal on the way back home. Whilst in the showroom we saw a towel rail we liked, one that could sit on the wall adjacent to the vanity unit so I purchased that at the same time too. Both items cost me almost £50. We journeyed on from there to where our youngest son is currently living whilst waiting to move into the house he and his partner are purchasing. We wanted to deliver some mail by hand so that he didn’t need to wait until the weekend to collect it himself. He often comes home to collect his mail. It isn’t worth having his mail redirected and when he moves into the house he can arrange his mail to be delivered there. So we ended up even further from home and by now it was after 1.30. We turned to come back home and found a great restaurant when we were still 20 miles or more away. It was almost 3 o’clock by the time we had finished our meal but it was certainly worth it. That cost me £28 with a tip for the lovely waitress included. We’d each had two courses but only water to drink, something we tend to do these days. Now E’s car is getting a little past its best at twelve years old and I would dearly like to purchase a new one for her but for the moment I’m biding my time. She has been complaining that the wipers need replacing and the adapter she uses for the satnav and the dashboard camera I purchased for her doesn’t work. So after our meal we drove back home and when back in Southport I asked her to call into a shop that sells stuff for cars and had the wipers replaced and a new adapter bought which will even allow her to plug-in her mobile phone too at the same time. Another £17. We drove onward to purchase some milk as we had only a small amount in the house. Well, we like to have our Cappuccinos! The milk only cost me £1.80….LOL. We did forget to visit the plumber’s merchant to purchase a 22mm stopcock but will have to do soon if I am to do the plumbing for the bath water supplies.
I had a dental appointment for cosmetic repairs again on Monday (today as I write) at 11.45 which meant my day was effectively cut into two! I couldn’t do any work at home during the morning as I had slept in until 9.15. Maybe it was the night out on Sunday and staying up until one in the morning writing a little about it that kept me in bed but I must have been tired enough to do it! After my appointment, which was the final one this time around, I had to go shopping both for electrical materials and personal things and consequently didn’t arrive back home until after one o’clock. I had missed breakfast as I didn’t wish to eat before visiting the dentist, though there was enough time if I had wished, so I was feeling quite hungry on my return. I was dressed in what I call my ‘no intention gear’, that is clothes not suitable for working in. I therefore had it in mind to dine out instead of getting changed and having lunch at home as by that time there would be little time left to do more work in the bathroom. My heart was simply not in it. There would always be another day. So I invited E out and we drove out-of-town a few miles to a restaurant we know and had a hearty two-course meal and a soft drink (soda water)for the princely sum of £20.36! Now Tuesdays are usually kept for dining out but that is not written in stone. We may go out again on Tuesday or not as we feel but if we do it might well mean that it will be a few days before we can resume work at home for on Wednesday and Thursday mornings I will be working away from home and on Wednesday afternoon we are having a visit from the team who installed our cavity wall insulation. It appears that they hadn’t filled in certain parts of the building’s cavities after a recent inspection. When I was replacing the drain pipe a few days ago I discovered a missing brick in the interior wall beneath the floor which I subsequently repaired. Whilst doing that I noticed that there was no evidence of insulation having been pumped into the bathroom floor as would normally be expected with a hole in the inside wall. It meant that part of the wall hadn’t been filled. That isn’t the reason for having the contractor return but I will certainly point out the error when they do. The walls which have been omitted are those around the cellar rooms at the rear of the house. Perhaps their hearts weren’t in doing the job right the first time! I wasn’t having a cavity filling at the dentist but hope that if I ever did he would fill it all the first time!
So what did happen on Monday evening, did I get to sleep? As I wrote in my previous post I hadn’t slept through Sunday to Monday morning. I had to take the day off from work of any kind because I was so tired but I finally did get a good night’s sleep and woke up refreshed on Tuesday. I had arranged for the delivery of building materials to arrive during the morning but expected they would arrive late. Fortunately I had set the alarm to wake me in case I overslept but in fact arose before it went off. I went downstairs just before nine o’clock and saw the delivery wagon pulling up outside. I went out and opened the garage door for the guy to drop it off inside. Ten minutes later I went back indoors for my breakfast. To my surprise E was sitting at the table having just finished her breakfast. I hadn’t noticed she was there. She wasn’t dressed as she never gets dressed before breakfast at home and I wondered how she might have coped with the delivery had I not been there. She was wearing a dressing gown however and knowing E I couldn’t see her going outside wearing only that! So I was taken by surprise by the early delivery but thankful that it came sooner rather than later as it meant I could concentrate on doing some work after breakfast which is what I did. I applied a thin layer of plaster over that which I had applied to the small area of ceiling in the bathroom a couple of days previously. I am not a plasterer of course but I will attempt small areas. A professional plasterer would have done the job in one short visit but it took me somewhat longer. I am pleased with the result even though there will be a little patching up here and there! At least most of the plaster actually stuck to the ceiling rather than ending up on the floor or me! I have done plastering jobs in the past and if I say so myself my techniques have improved vastly since the first attempt but like anything else – practice makes perfect. Being as it was a Tuesday I wanted to take E out for lunch but I first had to go and do a small electrical job some three miles away. I was back home 45 minutes later and changed my clothes before driving to our chosen venue.
On Monday we were awaiting the delivery of the timber and plasterboard that we had purchased on Saturday. We had asked for a morning delivery so that we could continue the job but as it happened we didn’t need any of the new materials to do what we were able to do. We needed them for Tuesday. The delivery man arrived around eleven and either we were the only delivery or we were the last one, for the morning at least, as the vehicle was empty except for our order. It was raining and I asked the man if he would put everything in the garage and he told me he was only allowed to drop materials on the driveway. I asked him how I was going to move it all by myself and at that point E came outside. Although the plasterboard was covered with plastic wrapping that needed to be removed to enable one or two boards to be moved at a time and of course taking off the wrapping meant it was going to get wet. Once plasterboard gets wet it is useless. The man relented and said he would move it all to the garage, which he did in a couple of minutes. Once upon a time the delivery man would even take things indoors for you but times have changed and they are reluctant to do anything more than they have to and blame it on the insurance liability cover. The timber was wet of course. Once he had departed I moved the sheets of plasterboard and the timber one by one into the cellar rooms where it is warm and dry. Our youngest son has been staying over for the past week or so and he had just returned from the gym. I asked if he could help me get the plasterboard up the two flights of stairs to the spare bedroom on the first floor. We took one board up together and he told me to let him take the others as he could manage them easily. He had them upstairs in no time at all. The timber isn’t a problem as it can be moved one length at a time. As I write this on Monday evening the timber is drying off in the cellar but tomorrow, Tuesday, I plan to start constructing the new ceiling so it won’t be there long. As we are not lifting the entire ceiling to the same height we needed to build a small frame at the point where it will be raised and that is what I did on Monday afternoon. The small area above the entrance cannot be raised as the cold water storage tank is seated above it and it would take too much time and effort to move it. Our son left for home shortly after lunch to spend the next few days at his apartment with his girlfriend who had also been staying in town visiting her mum. Later in the afternoon just as we had finished working for the day we got a visit from our eldest son whom I’d not seen during the Christmas break but it was only a flying visit. He and his wife seldom visit and when they do it isn’t for long. Children eh?
So what happened on Friday? The first thing we had to do was to re-route that pipe I was talking about. I had thought it was simply an expansion pipe for the indirect heating coil within the hot water cylinder which in fact it was but it is indirectly connected to the central heating system through the boiler. I had therefore to partly drain the central heating system down before I could alter the pipe. I got wet finding out the system wasn’t as simple as I had first thought! I couldn’t raise the ceiling until this one pipe was moved out-of-the-way. Once the system was drained I set about bending pipes and fitting new pieces until I had it finally out-of-the-way then I re-instated the central heating. After a quick-lunch I was back in the bathroom. E had to do the weekly shopping with her mum. She left off doing it on Boxing day even though Thursday is the day she usually does the shopping. I spent the afternoon dismantling the ceiling timbers and rigging three of the existing four lights to a higher position temporarily whilst the work continues. They were mounted on the now removed ceiling. I will be installing new recessed LED units as I did in the wet room. Once I have purchased new timber and plasterboard I can rebuild the ceiling 400-500mm higher. That won’t happen until the coming week of course when the builders merchants can deliver the materials. In the meantime I have other work to be carrying on with.
On Thursday morning whilst making a Cappuccino with our new machine we noticed water dripping from the inside when we used the steamer. Of course we couldn’t take it apart to see what was wrong as it was under guarantee so we packed it in its original packaging and drove to ‘Curry’s’ where we had purchased it only a few days before and had it replaced. So far the replacement has been working fine. I wonder just how many units turn out to be faulty in some way or is it just my bad luck to get the one in a few thousand that turn out that way? I am getting quite the expert at making Cappuccino now. Over the years E and I have bought a few coffee percolators but never really got into the habit of using them and they have been consigned to the cupboard.The coffee machine is not likely to end up the same way!
Only one thing is going to hold me up with the bathroom project and that is being able to drain the central heating system. Before I can begin to construct the raised platform on which the bath will stand I need to connect the two pipes for the radiator as I explained in a previous post. The boiler itself is fitted with a drain cock but it is only a small one and far too small if I wish to drain the system reasonably quickly. I suppose one way of doing it would be to let the system drain overnight. Whichever way it gets done we will be without heating for the duration, though we do have a couple of electric heaters but only one working gas fire. We could manage for some time without the central heating if we had to. No, the problem is that there needs to be a quicker way of draining the system but nothing has been fitted by the original installer. I have been weighing up the situation and may have come up with a solution but it means I have to install some large pipework and a lock shield valve down in the cellar to an existing ‘tee’ connection that has one leg not in use. This connection has a lock shield valve either side of it so it can be isolated. Once the draining pipe is connected through its own isolating valve and the other two valves opened the system would drain down quite quickly but it involves a fair bit of work and the right tools to do that. I think I might have the tools in fact, the main one being a large pair of Stillsons or pipe wrenches. I have smaller wrenches for general use but a large wrench is needed for this job. Initially I thought of using a plumber to do this for me but the prices they charge are ridiculous so if I can do it myself I will do, well I will certainly have a go! In the meantime I have been busy purchasing the plastic pipes and fittings that will be needed for the drains and as they will be concealed under the floor they have to be welded together rather than being installed with push-on fittings to avoid any possibility of leaking which meant I had to buy pipes and fittings that can be welded as some cannot. Maybe I should have trained as a plumber as well as an electrician! I have much experience with plumbing, both domestic and industrial installations when I worked as a maintenance engineer. There is much I don’t know too of course but then I am not a plumber per se. I prefer cake decorating but that won’t get my bathroom refurbished will it?
Although I resumed my work on Monday I wasn’t feeling at my best. I had but the one job some four miles from home and completed it within the hour. I just happened to be one of those jobs where nothing seemed to go according to plan, a simple task of fitting an extra power outlet in an adjacent bedroom from the one I had to take a supply. The walls were hollow, that is studded but the building, a prefabricated unit consisted of individual sections all bolted together. This meant that the wall through which I had to install the wiring had multiple separated layers! Nothing straightforward at all. Other niggling problems I could have done without served to make the task harder. Still, I had it done in the hour and soon was returning home. E had just finished her breakfast and was about to bake some more ‘Appel strudel‘ when I got a call to do more work the following day, Tuesday. I had to go and purchase some materials for that job and by the time I had returned for the second time she was about to cook it. Now I wonder what gave her the idea to bake some more strudel? I think she is trying to improve her cooking skills after our recent trip to Vienna, not that she needs to do that for she is quite an accomplished pastry chef! I have to admit I was feeling a little tired after my lunch so I thought I might sit and rest but after an hour or so I simply had to get up and do something. I decided to lay a few more floor tiles in the wet room with a little help from E. I had thought that laying floor tiles was easier than fitting them to a wall but that is far from the case, it is more difficult. The strudel was nice by the way!