I had spent the best part of Christmas day alone in the house. I had been working in the cellar throughout the morning and although E was at home she was getting ready to visit her mom and I only saw her for five minutes. Our youngest son was staying over for the holiday but he also went out. I thought I would be ready for sleep when I went to bed in the evening but sleep didn’t come and I had planned getting up early the next day for a walk. When the time came for me to get up at two o’clock I still hadn’t slept a wink! Though I was tired I found taking the four plus mile walk very refreshing and easy. When I got home at four-thirty I ate breakfast and remained tired from that point until bedtime. Had I taken a nap I knew I would find it difficult to sleep later so I fought it off. For an hour or so I spent the time filling in some more holes and removing some surplus furniture from two doors followed by painting three of the six doors in the cellar hallway with their first of two coats of white emulsion. Two of the doors are shown below with their signage removed to make painting easier.
There was no need to paint the doors in a gloss paint, vinyl silk emulsion is good enough especially down in the cellar rooms. E prepared a coffee for me and I stopped work for the rest of the day as I was by then really tired. I prepared an early lunch and E went to see her mom again for the best part of that day too. She would see different members of the family this time and that was the reason for her going again.
This day it was a case of in for a half-penny. Friday 23 rd November and I was up extra specially early though that wasn’t intended. I had six hours sleep and woke just after one in the morning and couldn’t lay there any longer. I had been tired the night before after the work I had done and I was now awake and refreshed. I was going for a walk anyway so getting up early didn’t make much difference. This time I chose a completely different route for the first half of the walk. Leaving the house I walked inland for a couple of miles before heading toward the coast and ending up further north than I had normally done over the past few months. The streets were completely devoid of pedestrians and only a handful of vehicles passed my way. I expected the side streets to be quiet but it is amazing just how quiet the main routes were too. It was only after breakfast that I felt a little tired and I sat and watched tv for a while until finally putting on my overalls to do some work. I was concentrating on emptying the small storage area behind the cellar steps and it took quite a lot of time.
The picture only shows a small percentage of what had been dumped there a couple of years ago. I had to sort out the various pieces of timber and put them in the tea chests in the workshop. While I was in the workshop I had to tidy up the area around the far end of the workbench then take out the rubbish and dump that in the wheelie bins. Despite all the work it didn’t seem that I’d done much but my body told me otherwise. Now I really was feeling tired and I returned upstairs for something to eat just as E had come downstairs. We had talked about buying new curtains for the breakfast room the previous day so after eating we drove to the store and bought two sets of two curtains for the two windows. We were back home in half an hour and had them fitted within minutes! From that point onward I did no more work, I was too tired. Only a h’penny worth out of me that day.
I pride myself on being reasonably fit for my age. Fitness alone however isn’t a measure of how much physical work we can do, age can impose limitations. Having said that I think I achieve quite a lot considering I am no ‘spring chicken’. I do get tired of course and have to rest up and give myself a break. I have been trying to limit how much work I do in any one day and so far I think I have succeeded. The various projects I have undertaken over the last couple of years have involved much work but I have avoided working too many hours at a time. Lately I have not worked more than three hours in any day. Some work is more taxing than others like sawing through heavy-duty plywood by hand for instance! This was the case for me on Tuesday (8 th) morning. Tuesday was the day for my walk which didn’t help but neither did not getting enough sleep! I did sleep but not long enough it seems. I had breakfast after returning from the walk and soon after I began working on the latest project. The first task was to level the cabinet by adjusting the five supporting legs before I could secure it to the wall. Needless to say the floor isn’t level where the cabinet stands. I had to secure timber to the wall beforehand so that I could secure the cabinet to it. The rear of the cabinet does not fit directly against the wall for it is constructed in such a way to leave a space of around 100 mm. I could have used the small brackets provided but that would have been more difficult. The next task was to cut out the centre of the sheet of plywood to enable the sink and drainer to fit inside which is were the saw came in. I should have used a jig-saw but guess what? I don’t have one! The one I once had finally gave up the ghost and I didn’t replace it as I thought it unnecessary at the time. I just wouldn’t get the use to make it worthwhile. There have been a number of occasions however when I regretted that decision, one being Tuesday morning! I was worn out by the time I had cut out the hole. Tiredness had caught up with me and I stopped work. I had spent a couple of hours down there anyway. I returned later accompanied by E as we discussed the projects problems and how to overcome them. We further discussed what we planned doing elsewhere in the room too. More work to get tired doing. I’m happy with that.
Again I was tired when I went to bed yet found it difficult to nod off to sleep. Finally I did of course but ended up only getting five hours. That in itself was never a problem before as I had been very used to having only four and a half hours of sleep for a number of years. However on Friday morning when the alarm woke me at two I lay in bed for another hour! Now that was unusual for I normally get up straight away. I still felt tired and was about to go for my early morning walk. Despite it being an hour behind my normal routine I left the house only a half-hour later than I usually do. It was quite warm outside as I left the house and I could feel no wind at all. It was only as I reached the seafront later that I could feel a welcome breeze for by that time I was feeling too warm having walked briskly the whole way. By the time I had reached home I had cut around ten minutes off my usual time for that particular route.
My tiredness had disappeared and I now felt great. How long would that last I wondered? When working at something I never feel tired until I stop and then I sleep well but if I have nothing to do I get tired yet can’t get to sleep. At the moment I am doing very little work at home except routine stuff. My latest project cannot be completed until I receive the pebbles I ordered which will be weeks away. I will need to find something to do in the meantime but the weather is warm and I don’t feel like it.
I think the change in the weather had gotten to me. Although I prefer the cooler days I think I need to get used to them again after such a long period of hot weather. The problem is that here where I live it can go from very warm to very cool in a matter of hours sometimes. The sudden switch can catch you out. I was out on a walk on Thursday (23 rd) at four in the morning, which has been about normal for me over the last few weeks and it was quite cool. It was one of those days where figuring out what to wear for the best wasn’t easy. It was cool but not too cool and a pleasant breeze was blowing though that could only be felt in the more exposed parts of the walk. Was I to put on an extra under garment beneath my jacket and be too warm or chance it and then be uncomfortably cold? I chose to wear something extra beneath the jacket which was just as well for it seemed a little colder once I had ventured out a few hundred metres. I was comfortable though as I walked through the town centre, just perfect. However when I reached the seafront I was exposed to the breeze which although was pleasant enough and seemingly warm enough it must have had an effect upon me. It wasn’t until I had returned home when I felt my weariness. Yes I was dog-tired…
Perhaps it was my body telling me I needed more rest and less activity or even more sleep though I had been getting enough of both. I fixed myself a hot drink and wrote back to my friend in the US in reply to her email and started to feel much better. Afterwards it was time to go and fetch the weekly shopping and off I went. When I returned home I wasn’t feeling so good once again. I had symptoms similar to those we get when contracting a cold and was so weary I didn’t want to get out of the armchair. Eventually I did however and as they say ‘muddled’ through the remainder of the day. I felt perfectly okay by bedtime.
Gosh I was tired on Wednesday night but it didn’t help me get much sleep. I did get to sleep however but it lasted only three hours and I was awake again. When I awoke around four o’clock my mind was in overload thinking about everything and nothing. I found myself trying to solve problems as I lay there tossing and turning until finally getting out of bed around six o’clock. From that time on until about nine-thirty I walked about with heavy eyelids and wanting to return to bed though I knew I couldn’t. Once again it was down to me to do the weekly shopping as E was still incapacitated. It’s funny how one perks up when there is something to be done, something necessary that is. It was a slightly easier chore this time as I had a better idea of where to find things. Even so I found it strange that some items were not where I had expected them to be and even E says the same.
As an example one would expect all canned food to be in the same area but at this store that wasn’t the case. E told me later that a certain manager had arranged it that way and saying HE didn’t have a clue. How could a guy get it so wrong she says with tongue in cheek? When I returned home it was almost time for lunch so I prepared it. There was no way I would be doing any work on my project and who was I to argue with E? She told me I needed to rest from it and I knew it myself though there wasn’t much left to do on it. Later, at five o’clock, I had to drive E to the hospital for her appointment. She was having a scan on her shoulder, yet another of her bodily ailments. We stopped by the supermarket on the way back home to purchase an item I had forgotten to buy earlier. Getting back home and it was now time for our evening meal. I was ready for bed by then but of course I had to wait till a more appropriate time……………..
I didn’t feel like doing anything on Friday when I arose from sleep. Oh there were plenty of things to do but I simply felt I hadn’t the energy to do them so they were left. I want to install or rather reinstall the switch together with the photo detector which will allow the garage light to come on automatically when it is dark and the garage door is opened. I had the same arrangement on the old door and now the new door installation is finally complete I am free to do the work. Another small job I want to do is to paint over the underside of the galvanised steel beam which spans the garage opening. I may install an extra light in the garage too.
On the Monday of last week we had our green wheelie bins emptied, that is they were supposed to empty them. However, when I looked inside them neither had been emptied properly, one being half full and the other a third full. E had contacted the local authority to ask why the bins hadn’t been emptied properly and they made a note of it. By Friday nothing had been done so I gave them another call and was basically fobbed-off with excuses. I explained that whilst we were paying for the bins to be emptied (through our rates) we expected them to be emptied. Why pay for a service which is not carried out? I was informed that nothing could be done. That meant we would have to wait until the next visit for the bins to be emptied. I was a little annoyed at their attitude and was tempted to write and complain but I changed my mind. I brought the bins back in from the road and emptied their contents of leaves onto the drive. I left Nature to do the rest! It can get quite windy around here and they may end up back in the road. That will mean the local authority can sweep them up if they’ve a mind to. The problem with the local council employees who empty the waste bins is that they are not very conscientious at times. Despite my feeling listless and not wanting to do much I decided to go for a long walk before lunch and felt much the better for it.
I had been very busy almost every day during the week but come Thursday I felt so tired and weary and struggled to do anything. However I did work but at a more leisurely pace. I started a little later too but only a half-hour or so. The filling in between the paving slabs, the ones I had laid so far, had been done the day before but there remained a small area next to the new steps that I had left because I wanted to plan what I was going to do there. I had decided to add another course of bricks to those already there first so that I could maintain the thickness of the screed to match the paving slabs. It meant that on the paving slab side half of the height of the bricks would be covered leaving a few centimetres showing to enable me to fit some natural stone capping on top. On the other side of the steps I needed to build up the groundwork to enable a couple of extra bricks to be laid there for the same reason. First though I had to see if I could dig out some usable bricks, sixteen to be precise, from the heap of second-hand bricks we have lying about by the small greenhouse. Most of them were still covered with mortar or cement so I had to chisel that off. After some time I managed to get the sixteen bricks I needed. I broke up a few more and used them as rubble where I had to lay some concrete to allow the extra bricks on the right-hand side of the steps to be laid later. I chose to mix all the concrete I needed in the wheelbarrow because that much would be enough. I didn’t want to use the mixer and then have to clean it out just for the one mix. So I fixed some shuttering where it was needed and then laid the concrete, covering it up to protect it from the rain which was forecast overnight. I would be able to lay all the bricks and perhaps finish the laying of concrete that had been left undone. The following day, Friday, I had the time to continues with the work. Friday was a much welcomed cooler day. It had been raining in the early hours of the day but at nine o’clock when I started the work it was fine and sunny. I wanted to lay the extra course of bricks on both sides of the steps and then finish laying the concrete on the left of the steps. I managed to do that but just as I was smoothing out the concrete it began to rain. It was a light shower but it got heavier after a few minutes so I had to scramble and look for something to cover the area while I finished the work. I got drenched in the process but I was able to finish the work as best I could. Considering the situation I think I did well. Later and after lunch I returned outside and re-arranged the covering that I had hastened to set up as it was and as you see in this picture. I would leave it that way until Saturday morning just in case it rained again. So now the two walls alongside the steps are one brick higher and apart from a couple of small finishing off cementing jobs on the left of the flowerbed that side is complete. The next phase will be to level the ground on the right-hand side of the flowerbed and lay the four paving slabs which remain. It was around noon on Thursday by the time I had finished what I had to do on that day and to be honest I was glad I could rest for a while from the work at least. Before lunch I drove off to the place where I had purchased the natural stone slabs for capping the flowerbed. Some of my readers may remember that I had purchased three more than I had needed for that job although it was the guy at the depot who had made the wrong calculation but I intended to use them elsewhere and kept them. I will be using them to cap the bricks around the new steps and also on top of the small wall behind which I recently poured concrete to strengthen it. However I needed one extra slab at 600 mm in length and three others at 300 mm in length. I would then have four long slabs and three half the length to do the work. I bought an extra bag of cement at the same time to save another visit to the builders merchant. I needed fuel for the van so I made the detour to the filling station before driving home but on the way to the filling station I received a call for my electrical services from an old couple living in the next town. I got the fuel then dropped the materials off home before driving to the job. I was there less than an hour but it covered the cost of the fuel and the building materials I had just purchased with a little over too.
Apathy. The day started well enough considering it was Monday, back to work day and the fact that I’d a restless night’s sleep. I had one electrical job to do at nine o’clock but I left the house much earlier in order to pay a visit to the builder’s merchant. I needed more materials. In my last post I mentioned I might have most of it delivered whilst carrying some of it home in the van but as I was going to work the van was full of my electrical gear so I arranged for all of it to be delivered the next morning, Tuesday. I did have some materials left over at home. When I arrived at the house where I was to work and assessed the customers requirements I decided against doing it explaining to them that it was too much work for me to do because of my age. I had gotten the impression over the phone that the work was much simpler but like so often people get you to their homes and then begin to expand and add work to the original request. Much of the work involved lifting floorboards and chiselling out walls and the house was carpeted and furnished. I knew I wouldn’t get much help from the customer in moving stuff around which made the prospect even more daunting. I seldom carry out installation work these days unless I know it will be easy. I was feeling a little tired too and weary of it all. Apathy had set in. I needed a break or at least a good night’s sleep but the day was young and I couldn’t simply sit around doing nothing. I telephoned a younger female electrician friend and offered her the work and she arranged a visit that morning. I drove home and put the van away. I wanted to strengthen the small wall of the Plot at the pathway as part of the general work I have been doing there so I decided that was to be my work for the morning.
However, I couldn’t complete it as I didn’t have enough materials. Nevertheless I made a start by digging out the rear of the wall and putting some shuttering in before mixing the concrete and pouring it in the space. I used some scrap plasterboard as a sacrificial shutter for I wouldn’t be removing it later, it would be pointless. Had it been timber then I would have removed it once the concrete had set. I started at the point nearest the patio where the last Laurel bush stands for I knew there would be roots to contend with and sure enough there were. Part of the wall nearest the new steps has already been partially concreted , done when I was working around the steps earlier. Had this wall been left as a single brick structure it may have been subject to being slowly pushed down because of the Laurel. I will take the concrete to the height of the existing bricks and top the wall with natural stone later. At the time of writing there remains more concrete work to do behind this wall but it will be easier to do away from the main roots of the Laurel. After lunch I was beginning to feel better so I got my drill and screwdriver out and installed the steel-wire-armoured cable for the lamp post, when it arrives! I called the supplier regarding the delivery date but they were unable to tell me at that time. Anyway here are two pictures of the cable which runs from the patio to the corner of the garden where the lamp post will stand.
The cable runs down the wall behind the washing line pole to a spot on the other side of the patio wall in the foreground. The electrical connection box and sensor will be fitted there as it is the north (almost) side of the wall. The cable is hardly noticeable even close-up as you can see because it is under the lip of the capping stones.
I woke up well enough but as the day wore on I became more and more listless and tired. It was Thursday and as I had nothing scheduled except for one job and that was to simply install a replacement oven for someone. I had to wait for the call to let me know the oven had been delivered so I thought I could simply rest at home for a while. I got the call late morning and was back home for lunch. E in the meantime had gone out shopping. Later in the afternoon I got another call and went to do that work. By the time I had returned home I was feeling really tired indeed but it wasn’t the work, it was I thought a cold judging by the way I was feeling. I needed rejuvenating!
(The Rejuvenation Cure, 1525, (1949). A print from 1525 showing the oven which transformed women into beautiful young girls. From A Smile Among Friends. [Alb. Cammermeyers Forlag, Norway, 1949] Artist: Unknown)
The weather hadn’t helped for it had been wet and dull most of the day and it was cold. The calls kept coming in the evening though most of them I rejected. It meant though that I had work on Friday morning and I was hoping I would be feeling better by then. I had to arise early anyway as we were expecting the delivery of a new mattress for the small bedroom any time after seven o’clock (it arrived at ten) and Friday is the day for waste collection so the bins had to be taken out. We don’t leave the bins out all night because of others disposing their rubbish in them. That I don’t mind but when they put the wrong waste in them, that I don’t like. There has been a spate of fly tipping over the last couple of months at the top end of our road and our local council don’t appear to have made an effort to catch the people responsible. We have had indiscriminate waste disposal in our own bins once or twice. I don’t mind getting up early to put the bins out and some weeks we don’t put any bins out because there is little in them. Anyway the weekend beckoned and I was hoping things would get better. It did.