Can you see it?

I went to the job I had arranged to go to on Monday but foul weather had prevented me from doing it then because the work was all outside. Tuesday was a much better day though there was some drizzle. I had been busy installing replacement floodlights using ladders so I had no choice but to put the work off until it was dryer. The work itself wasn’t completely problem-free but that is often the case, The original wiring was connected directly into the existing lights but the new fittings came with an attached flex which meant installing connector boxes as well as the light units. The work kept me employed almost until noon and when I returned home I prepared lunch and ate it. Meanwhile E, who had spent a couple of hours up at the top of the house in her workshop remained up there and didn’t come downstairs until I had finished eating. I wanted to do some work in the garden and that is why I ate lunch early though breakfast had been early too. The lamp-post had been delivered on Monday morning which meant I could then see how to secure it to the ground. It also meant that the cable I had installed the previous week could now be measured and cut to length and the gland fitted, which is what I did. I also secured it to the concrete base I had made a few weeks age with the now shortened cable pointing upward where the lamp-post base would cover it. I then decided to get the mixer out and prepare some more concrete to pour over the existing concrete and cover the cable. I made some makeshift shutters to use at the front and side to contain the concrete whilst it set. The other two sides of course were brick walls, ready-made shuttering! The afternoon was gloriously sunny but the weatherman had forecast the possibility of a slight shower in certain areas. I wasn’t going to take a chance on it not raining so I covered the area, can you see it? I will take a close-up picture when the area is uncoveredlamp-post-base-2

If you click on the picture a couple of times it will magnify. Look  near to the top dead centre where the two walls meet. I took the picture from the kitchen window which is one floor above the garden. The patio greenery looks nice. It is now a far better view from the window than it was this time last year before I had built the flowerbeds on the patio. Whilst I was mixing the concrete someone called me about an electrical job. It seems that whenever I mix mortar of concrete people want to speak to me about electrical work. The same thing happened a few days ago if my readers will remember. Just before I went out into the garden I received another call asking for my electrical services. I would be doing those jobs on Wednesday and Thursday which allowed the concrete ro pretty much set and be ready for me to erect the lamp-post if I wanted to. I would also have some time to work on the other end of the cable connecting into the patio circuits. The weather forecast looked favourable for a few days which is good for the time of year.

Shirley Anne


Along came Tuesday

Most of the week prior to the one just finishing was taken up with my patio flowerbed project and on Monday of this past week I was busy doing an electrical job in the morning. I wanted to make a start constructing the two smaller flowerbeds but not wanting to start in the afternoon I was hoping the weather would be nice on Tuesday so I might begin the work then. Well the weather was fine and sunny and I took the opportunity to start the work late in the morning. The first task was to drill holes through the existing patio walls in order to fit small lengths of plastic tube to act as drains similar to what I had done in the large flowerbed. I then laid out some bricks to check the size I was happy with, mixed some mortar and set them in place. I then mixed some concrete and laid that around the inside to seal the area. I will be putting more concrete in later when the walls have been built. Here are the results….

Patio Flowerbed 14Patio Flowerbed 15








I will be laying five more single courses to complete each of the two beds and then hopefully topping them with stone as with the other walls. As I write this on Tuesday evening I have a small electrical job to do in the morning but because the weather forecast is good for the next couple of days I might press on and finish the work whilst I can. I won’t be able to work on Friday as I have the first of my dental appointments late in the morning and visitors at other times. If I don’t complete the work before then I should be able to finish it on Saturday. We’ll have to see what develops.

Shirley Anne

It nearly didn’t happen

Over the last week or so I have been making plans to construct a flowerbed on the patio together with two smaller beds to spruce it up. There is plenty of space to do that for we had the foresight to build the patio as large as it is. As we have a couple of large plants and two smaller ones occupying basically the four corners of the space we would only be losing an extra space that would have accommodated a chair. Space isn’t a problem but before I could do any building work I first had to move the power outlet box that would have ended up partly under the soil level of the new flowerbed. I planned to do that on Monday morning. Monday was a UK Bank Holiday therefore I would be at home and be available should I want to do the work. I could have done it on Saturday but chose to make Saturday and Sunday rest days instead. However, I got called to a job on Saturday afternoon anyway. It had rained overnight and in fact was still raining slightly when I arose. The day needed to be dry for me to do the work. I concentrated on breakfast after which I spent some time reading emails and writing one to a friend in reply to the one she had sent me late the previous evening. By now it was approaching ten o’clock and I was keen to get on with the work. It had stopped raining and  everywhere was almost dry.6972 I wasted no time and collected the tools I would need and set about removing the power box after switching off the supply of course and finally I had the cable together with the fitted gland separated from the box. I then removed the light which was on the other side of the wall and which had been supplied from the same box on a different circuit. The cables I installed when the patio was under construction have enough cores within them to accommodate two separate circuits as power and lighting require different levels of protection for those who may be wondering. I wasn’t going to refit the light after the power box had been refitted. I may be exchanging the other two lights for ones of a different style sometime later and I can fit a replacement unit of the same type then if I decide I want one. The supply for it is inside the re-positioned power box ready for use. One of the other two lights can be seen on the high wall in the background in the lower picture. The light I removed was positioned just to the right and above where I have re-positioned the power outlet box next to the garden bench.71 Before I could fit that box on the opposite side of the wall I had to drill a hole large enough to be able to pass the steel wire armoured cable together with its fitted gland through it. Finally it was done and the power outlet box was ready for use. All I had left to do was to cement the holes and tidy up. By now it was twelve-thirty and lunch time. I was going to drill the holes that the drainage pipes will pass through but I decided to do them another day.

Shirley Anne

It can still be a little breezy

English: Cherry laurel (Prunus laurocerasus) a...50

When we decided to have a patio built in the rear garden we gave great consideration to its location, selecting the sunniest spot that we could use and one that was sheltered from the prevailing wind, which around these parts is from the west. We had therefore to locate the patio behind the wall on the west side of the garden and reasonably close to the house, The spot we chose gets sunshine from the east in the morning in  Spring, Summer and Autumn but then goes into the shade for a couple of hours as the sun makes its way across the sky. After twelve o’clock the sun begins to shine again on the patio until the whole area is bathed in sunlight until early evening, quite a few hours of direct sunshine. So despite the rear garden being on the north side of the house there are still many hours of sunshine falling there during the year. However the wind can be quite strong at times and even when it is slightly windy it can be felt when sitting out on the patio. Naturally we don’t sit there if it is too windy as we wouldn’t no matter where the patio was situated. The patio is located about five or six metres behind the garage on that side of the house and the wind can blow between ours and our neighbour’s houses over the garage and on toward the patio area. Now the patio is surrounded by a wall but it isn’t high, a mere metre or so within the patio and maybe another half metre on the outside. What was needed was a wind breaker of some sort but we didn’t think we would need one and for most of the time we don’t. I planted some gooseberry bushes along the wall which faces the garage a couple of years ago (see picture above taken before the patio was completed) but I had left quite a bit of space behind them to allow the planting of  hedge of some sort. With that in mind I decided on Monday afternoon to purchase eight Cherry Laurel shrubs and plant them behind the gooseberry bushes. I went to the garden centre whilst E was out shopping with her mum. We had discussed my plan beforehand of course. The shrubs took about thirty minutes to plant and though the gooseberry bushes were awkward to work behind it wasn’t too difficult but they did scratch my right arm in a few places! My gloves don’t reach my elbows! The plant themselves are still a few centimetres below the wall but eventually will grow above it and hopefully will form an evergreen hedge high enough to form a bit of a wind break as well as making that side of the patio more attractive to look at. Presently all that can be seen is the rear of the garage and the rather untidy vegetable patch. We really must get around to tidying up that area soon.

Shirley Anne


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Why are we up there?

Jet Stream Over Sligo
Jet Stream

After a rather busy day at home on Monday I found myself sitting out on the patio for an hour just thinking and enjoying the garden. I am the sort of person who is always looking at what we have done in and around the house and garden and thinking of ideas on how we might improve things or add to what we already have. When we had the patio built a couple of years ago we thought there would be nothing else much to do in the rear garden but we have found plenty to do, especially in the area behind the garage, one of the garages I should say and this is the work we are currently engaged in completing. I had initially gone into the garden to check on how the concrete was setting that we had laid a few hours earlier but I ended up sitting in the patio. The day had started fairly cool and overcast but as the day wore on it became brighter and sunny, in fact the afternoon was almost total sunshine with few clouds. The weather forecast for the following day was rain so we planned to get as much done before then. Tuesdays have turned out to be our unofficial dining out day but that isn’t set in stone, it just seems that way of late. Last week we dined out on Tuesday and Friday! Anyway, there I was sitting down admiring the scenery when I noticed an aeroplane together with its jet stream high up in the blue evening sky. I watched it gradually move across the sky and as I did another plane came into view doing exactly the same thing. Nothing unusual in that but again as I watched the jet streams began to widen and eventually disperse leaving a very broad white trail. I thought about all that pollution spreading itself over the sky and then I thought about how many planes do the same thing each and every day around the world. It’s a wonder the sky remains blue and it’s a wonder we have any clean air to breathe. There must be thousands upon thousands of planes flying about in any one day and this has been going on for many years. When we travel by air to foreign places we forget all about the pollution we are causing to the Planet. The air above us is extremely thin compared to the size of the Earth and we all need it to exist. Mankind has a habit of doing things which are detrimental to the environment and then tries to figure out how to clean it all up later. I often wonder why we are up in the sky in the first place or even on the ground driving around in pollution producing vehicles. Everything is done in the name of progress they say but where will it all end? I have no need to worry about such things but my children and grandchildren do!

Shirley Anne

Not quite!

Brick wall
Image via Wikipedia

So Tuesday was going to be harder than Monday, it had to be, I did almost nothing on Monday! When I went to work I had a rough idea of what was entailed but not an exact knowledge. I was prepared for work, I was feeling much, much better and I knew I would be alright. Did I tell you that E likes to run over walls with her car? If you look at one of my earlier posts, a few weeks ago, I posted a picture showing the older garage at the right of the house. To the left of the garage is a wall which slopes down to ground level over the last few feet. My van is parked in that garage overnight so I had to pass the wall to get to it. The first thing I noticed was the bottom two bricks had been dislodged and moved about a foot from the wall. Now E has always parked her car in front of the shrubbery to the left of that wall. She drives into the driveway and heads for the garage then reverses back around the wall to park ready to drive off by turning right, out of the driveway. She must have driven over the bottom two bricks and loosened them. When I got back home at 2.00 after my job, I mentioned that she must have dislodged the bricks. She looked a bit perplexed, she hadn’t noticed that she had done that. It is a simple matter to reset the bricks and we do have a small amount of ready-mixed mortar so it isn’t a problem. Many times in the past I have suggested she not park quite so close to the shrubbery as there is plenty of room to do so. She might also have less spiders and cobwebs on her vehicle and possibly less scratches (from the shrubbery when the wind is high). The funniest thing is she didn’t know she’d run over the wall! Strangely enough, a couple of months ago we had various pieces of concrete and stone standing alongside the perimeter wall which is the wall on the right-hand-side of the garage. There was space in front of them (along the wall) to park a vehicle. Now at that time my van was parked in the garage as usual and as work was going on around the front of the house E decided to park her car in this space to keep it out-of-the-way although she could have parked it in front of the garage or even in it (that would have meant moving some stuff but the garage is built for two cars after all). I was behind her car whilst she parked it, ready to stop her from hitting the pile of concrete standing there. This I did but she wanted to manoeuvre the car more precisely. I was shouting stop, stop and banging on the back of the car for her to cease letting it creep any further backwards. Too late! She backed into the concrete and dented the skirt beneath the rear bumper. Fortunately it is a plastic skirt and it was easy to pop back into shape. she does crazy stuff like that sometimes! That’s probably one of the reasons I love her. Incidentally, I park my van in the garage by reversing it all the way from the street so that I can simply drive out in the morning, or any other time. I have yet to hit a brick wall though…LOL!
I got to my electrical job and the lady and I discussed her needs. All the work was in her bedroom, fitting extra power points but the job itself wasn’t all that easy to actually do. I spent four hours there and was quite tired when I’d finished. whilst the lady had gone to get some cash to pay me I walked up the road to where her mom lives, a mere 50 metres or so. I had done some work for her mom last year when she had employed this guy to do all sorts of general joinery and plumbing jobs. She had also asked him to do some alterations to the electrics upstairs but he made a mess of it (well he wasn’t an electrician and shouldn’t really have been doing it). My job had been to correct those mistakes. Later she told me that she had been stupid to allow him to fiddle with the electrics (what can I say?). Anyhow this time she was asking about installing a supply to a water feature in her front garden. I told her what she might expect depending on what materials and fittings came with the water feature and to buy what she wanted (from the reputable supplier she had chosen) and I would make a better assessment having seen what was involved. Personally I don’t think it will be difficult or expensive, quite the opposite and she will be happy about that!
At home, after a quick snack I fixed myself a drink, took my guitar onto the patio and sat playing random songs for an hour. I simply let the songs come into my head, a mixture of pop melodies, Christian songs and some of my own stuff. E had gone to her moms for an hour or two so I was left undisturbed. So the day wasn’t quite exactly as planned. I didn’t do any more work in the other garage (I was too tired!), the electrical job put paid to that. Now today?
Just a point of interest, that is of course if you are interested, many are not! Tuesday or to be precise 12th July (actual date is 11th July and in the old calendar 1st July) marks the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne here in the UK (see ) and in Southport (as in a few towns and cities) there are marching bands dressed in their orange regalia who visit the town from places like Liverpool just down the coast. I remember every year walking into Liverpool where I lived as a youngster, to see them. Some feel these events are an excuse for drunkenness and violence and indeed that is often the result during the day so they are against them being held. It is also an excuse for religious hatred and bigotry between Catholics and Protestants. If you read the short history you will understand why this is so. One would think that to continue to celebrate an event that happened 321 years ago should now cease but in fact it seems to get stronger year by year! It appears that another brick has been put in the wall between Catholics and Protestants.
Shirley Anne

It’s tiring.

My tank runneth over
Image by jemasmith via Flickr

We are experiencing some really fine weather lately and it looks good for a few more days yet. We expect good weather at this time of year but we don’t always get it that’s for sure. However, with the warm weather and sometimes with raised humidity levels it becomes very tiring and exhausting getting through the day. With no work yesterday I was in no hurry to get out of bed again but did so reasonably early. That did not mean getting downstairs early though as I took my time getting dressed, made-up and doing other sundry things that one finds to do in the bedroom but often put off for another time. So I arrived downstairs around ten o’clock and was keen to do something around the house or garden. As the weather was gloriously sunny the garden option won the day but what was I going to do? We had prepared a corner of the vegetable plot next to the rear wall of the garage some weeks ago for the building of a small platform on which we were going to sit a water-butt or rainwater container. We had laid a small concrete foundation on which we could build a brick platform covered by a concrete paving slab in order to raise the container above ground level. So with the weather being good it was a golden opportunity to build that brick platform knowing that we would not be affected by rain showers. I prepared and collected all that I would need and made ready to start after lunch. I had it built in a very short time and cleared up the area. The preparation and clearing up took far longer than the job itself! I didn’t do any more work and spent the rest of the afternoon playing guitar then sitting out on the patio reading and relaxing in the sun. After my evening meal I was feeling rather drained but it wasn’t due to work. It is simply the weather, we are not used to the weather being so warm. I have always found that I work best when it is cooler and can last the course but if it gets too warm I suffer. There is no rush to do things these days which I find is a blessing. My whole life has become a slower affair, not that I am slowing down when I work but I am not doing as much work as I used to do. It is nice to be able to choose whether I will do something or not. I do have goals of course and will make every effort to reach them but one step at a time.

Shirley Anne

Up on the roof (and everywhere else lately)

Yesterday was a much better day for me than the previous one were I felt as sick as a dog all day. I managed to go shopping with E in the afternoon but my body was resisting all the same. As promised the guys came and began laying the paving in the front. They had finished the rear garden the day before when I wasn’t well.
Meanwhile I began to remove the plastic sheets we had placed over the paving in the rear garden for it had been raining overnight and we needed to protect the new mortar. I cleaned the area then set about filling in the edges of the paving with grass lifted from elsewhere. I used a spade to dig up the grass (it was growing where it shouldn’t have been) and a large kitchen knife with a serrated edge to slice the sods into strips that would fill in the narrow space between the lawn and the paving edge. After tamping it all down and watering it you can hardly tell that I had done it. I did several small jobs around the garden in between making and serving coffee to the guys. E was busying herself stripping wallpaper in the downstairs toilet/cloakroom, the one we are converting into a ‘wet room’. After a quick-lunch I was off again but this time onto the garage roof. Probably the hardest part here was getting the ladder down from its perch! Anyway I proceeded to fit some ‘Flashband’ tape over a couple of sections of fascia board where it was exposed and then I painted the boards in their top coat of gloss paint. In the photo below you can only see a small section on the top left above the passageway that had been painted, the other board runs down the whole right-hand-side from front to back. The area over and around the windows are to be clad in pvc (part of that is already done beneath the gutter). 
After cleaning brushes and myself (LOL) the next task was to mow the lawn. Much easier to do now as it is completely surrounded by paving! That task usually takes about 50 minutes in total then out to the front to sweep up everywhere. Several other small jobs later I returned indoors and cooked E a roast dinner while she did some weeding and bringing in the washing from the clothesline. I was somewhat exhausted when I sat down to eat but felt much better after my meal. I retired to the rear lounge and sat playing my guitar for a while. At this moment I am writing this post, something I do most days but I schedule the posting to early the following day. Well you didn’t really think I sat around at 6 o’clock in the morning doing it did you?
A couple more pictures for you……..If you click on them they will appear larger and you can see the open edges around the paving that I have now filled with grass.

I always feel better after a hard days work don’t you?

Shirley Anne

The next challenge is on the way

Teak garden furniture and wooden decking

On Wednesday E and I went to do some shopping after I returned home from a job. We bought furniture oil for our outdoor furniture (seems logical) and some more brick sealant (we ran out of the stuff when we treated the patio brickwork last time). That will keep me occupied for a day or two I am sure! Whilst we were out E paid a visit to the store where we bought the materials and furniture for converting our toilet/cloakroom into a shower/wet room and cloakroom. Coats will only be left there temporarily by visitors, our own coats are stored in our bedrooms. It is the only room downstairs that can be used as a temporary cloakroom. I digress. She went into the store whilst I sat in the car. We were wondering why it was taking them so long to deliver our goods, E was told that it would all be delivered the same day, a matter of two hours later! They were true to their word and it was delivered as promised. This means when it is raining I have a job to do indoors and when it isn’t I have plenty yet to do outside! There is no escape. All this depends of course on my availability, I do work as an electrician too!
Next weekend we hope, weather permitting, to have our first barbecue of the year (we did have a small one a week or so ago, just the two of us) where we will invite family, friends and neighbours. This will make good use of the patio too, well that was one of the reasons for building it! If the weather is not fine we simply eat indoors but that means cooking indoors too which takes more time I find, especially when it comes to cleaning up! As long as it isn’t raining or it isn’t too windy we should be alright. I like having people around for drinks, food and fun. We usually have music, games or a quiz to help things along. As long as my guests are happy, I am happy.

Shirley Anne

The patio revisted

We finally got E’s nephew to start the laying of the paving slabs in the rear garden, those that we had planned after the patio was to be finished. Yesterday saw all of the paving slabs cut and some of them laid into place ready for ‘pointing’ up later. I took a picture of what has been done so far. If you click on the picture for a larger image you can see some of the paving laid in front of the patio wall (one of the slabs is missing because they broke it and it needs replacing). The others are arranged in a fan shape and they will fit into the space cut out for them as you can see.
When these have been laid that will complete the main works in the rear garden.

E and I have been preparing the area under the front bay window ready for paving slabs to be laid there. That meant rebuilding part of the dry stone walling and levelling out the ground . We had hoped that E’s nephew would have been able to lay the paving this week once he had finished in the rear garden but as things look at the moment I don’t think that is on the cards. At least the groundwork is done and the area doesn’t look too bad, as it did some weeks ago! I have placed a couple of pictures here so you can see what I mean.

In the first picture you can also see the retaining brick wall we had built two weeks ago and the garage with much work still to do on it!
One day…………

Shirley Anne