Once upon a time I used to arise about two o’clock in the morning and go for a run before my working day which at that time began at five o’clock. Quite often I worked well into the afternoon too. That’s like fourteen hours or more of activity and I was no youngster either, in fact I was in my late fifties and early sixties and working full-time. I was used to the lifestyle so it was never a problem, in fact I looked forward to the early morning exercise and the work which followed. Now I am in my early seventies I still find it uplifting to go for early morning walks followed by some work at home. I spend some time on the gym equipment too a few times each week. So getting up early doesn’t bother me except that I have to adjust to different meal times. Lately I have been getting up at two o’clock, partly because I go to bed early and don’t sleep long and partly because I want to go for a walk and do some work, especially as it is much cooler at that time of day. Of course it is usually after four or four-thirty before I venture outside for my walk. As for the work, well some of it gets done earlier than that and some later. I have been cementing in the gaps in the gym floor in readiness for painting as there is no noise made when doing that kind of work. Who wants to use a hammer, a saw or a drill in the early hours unless they are far away from sleeping people? When there is no background noise every other noise seems amplified. The old saying ‘it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop’ is true indeed. I live in an old Victorian house that has creaking floorboards in one or two places. Going to the toilet in the middle of the night is difficult to do without making some noise. What little noise the boards make sounds much louder than it really is because it otherwise so quiet. I will be able to do the work in the cellar as early as I wish in the knowledge that I won’t be disturbing anyone. If I choose to paint the floor I will need the outside door open to ventilate the room. Even though I will be wearing the special filtering mask it is better the room is ventilated too but having a light on will only attract moths and other insects into the room. I will probably therefore leave the painting until after dawn. So far I have completed about a third of the floor (see picture above) which I hope to paint before moving to the next area. It is the area beyond the kneeling mat.
Traditionally E and I have never gone away from home whenever it is a national holiday such as the recent one we had two weeks ago. For many a year the weather has proven to be poor especially on the Spring bank holidays and many folk will take a break in a foreign country for that reason. This year the Spring bank holiday weather was exceptionally warm and sunny over the three-day period so staying at home was fine and there was no need to go chasing after the sun elsewhere. I took advantage of the fine weather to get a little gardening done, setting in five new shrubs, weeding and watering and such but it wasn’t all work as I spent some time relaxing too. One thing I didn’t do was to work indoors though it might have been a possibility had the safety mask been delivered for that was holding up finishing off the little project I had been doing over the previous weeks, the cellar storage room. I needed the mask in order to paint the floor because the floor paint gives off noxious fumes when it is wet. It would have taken less than an hour to complete and I could have done it and still have had plenty of time to relax. As I write this on May 7th I am still waiting on the delivery of the mask. Everything in the cellar room is therefore on hold until the floor is painted but I have not been bored. I am hoping that I will receive the mask tomorrow so I can write off that job. There is always work to do in the gardens of course and while the weather is fine I can get on with them. I have it in mind to carry out repairs to the driveway to the garage E uses and want to get that out-of-the-way too. It looks like I won’t be able to spruce up the gym floor just yet as I thought I might. We are still awaiting delivery of the exercise bike too so I will probably need to install another power outlet for that before I can even think about the floor. It is almost impossible therefore to get bored in this house as long as I wish to do any work.
I have been working rather hard these past few days, often putting in eight hours or more each day. I sometimes think I am doing more now than before I retired! When I purchased the Elliptical Trainer earlier in the year I had no idea it would lead me to be doing all the work I have been doing at the moment. Most of the ceilings in the cellar are 7 feet (2.13 m) high except for the boiler/gym room which is 8 feet (2.44 m) from the floor. All the doors are at the standard height which is 6 feet and 6 inches (1.98 m) so walking about isn’t a problem. However we discovered that although the gym ceiling is that extra bit higher it gave very little spare head-room when using the trainer. Consequently we decided to lower the floor by about 7 inches (17.8 cm) where the trainer was to be used. That in itself was time-consuming and hard work but having decorated the area round about it led us to decide a full room decoration was required. Having made that decision it led us to do a lot of preparatory and necessary work like filling in large holes in the ceiling and walls, re-routing cables and generally tidying things up. On top of that we had to replace the pipe insulation too which led us to do the same for other rooms in the cellar. The above pictures show only parts of the installation. Over the last three days (it is Friday 9 as I write) I have been starting work between the hours of 05.30 and 06.30 in order to replace the insulation before the heating switches on in the morning. Thankfully that work is almost completed with just some minor parts requiring attention. This is why the main work of decorating is taking so long. Today for instance I did very little in the way of painting. One of the other things which prevented my decorating was clearing out an area in the garage in order to store the garden furniture from the gym.
As you can see the area left of the window is now free of the furniture (see previous post) though there are a few other things still there to be found new homes. On the extreme left is the cupboard which requires some internal work before it too can be decorated. It all takes time and I have plenty of that on my hands. I must however take a break now and then.
It hardly ever snows around these parts…..until it does!
This was the scene which greeted me when I arose on Tuesday (27th). By lunchtime much of it had disappeared at least on the pathways and roads where the sun was shining. The sun shone throughout the day and we had blue skies. It took Siberian weather to give us snow and very cold winds though on Tuesday the wind had subsided somewhat. I had placed windbreaks around some of the exposed plants in the rear garden for although the plants could withstand low temperatures the cold wind could do more damage. For other plants I wrapped some of the more exposed ones with bubble wrap to protect their cores. Again it was for protection from the wind. Later in the week we were to expect the wind to finally veer more from the south and therefore less cold. I wasn’t venturing outdoors, at least during the morning as I had work to do, this time though only light work, painting the wall behind the new pit. It was about time for the room to be redecorated anyway but a start on that particular wall was necessary in order to allow us to move the trainer into the pit. Before that happens I will paint the ceiling above the pit and that part of the room will be finished. Of course I didn’t paint elsewhere for I didn’t wish to work all day. I did however fill in some holes with plaster before stopping for the day even though it was only eleven o’clock.
I have been writing a little about concrete in my latest posts and that will continue in the next post at least. Since my retirement ten months ago I have kept to a routine and have kept myself busy doing things at home, projects and maintenance. It is good to keep one’s self occupied, especially when retired from full-time work. I set myself routines and kept to them for the most part, everything set in concrete but along the way I have learned it is best not to be too regimental with schedules. I found myself breaking my own rules, usually because I was tired or simply wanted a change. Working on my latest project made me realise that I have to take a break now and then. In fact I have been forced into doing so, that is my body tells me it wants to rest! This morning (I write this on Sat 10th) I slept in. I had a bit of a restless night again and found it difficult to get to sleep even though I was really tired after the day’s work. My thoughts were all over the place, an over-active brain has always been a problem for me. I simply cannot stop thinking about things when lying there in bed. My body says sleep but my mind won’t let me! It didn’t matter that I had a lie-in, I needed it. My project has kept me from a ritualistic exercising regime and it has proved to be of more benefit to me. I realise my schedules don’t have to be set in stone (concrete) for I can and do exercise at will more so now than I have ever done.
Yesterday after a hard day at the office so to speak I found myself taking exercise on the Elliptical trainer for a while. At the time it wasn’t a problem because I find that it is only when I stop working or exercising that I feel tired or feel the effects of the day’s workout. I suppose that is the same for everyone. In any case I should have fallen asleep within minutes but I didn’t. I guess I am more relaxed about flexible workouts than I am in thinking about them. Things play on my mind as if they are supposed to but they are not, especially when I am tired. So now my life is taking a turn or rather my habits are, work, play and exercise are now to be followed in a more relaxed way and concrete will be kept solely for the work department.
Although I don’t mind it being Winter and the fact that it is cold far more than it gets warm there is a lethargic atmosphere deep in my brain telling me to refrain from attacking the jobs I want to do. This applies both to outdoor tasks and indoor tasks alike, I have to force myself to do some of them. It’s all about self-discipline of course for once I am engaged in a task nothing really matters, I just get on with it. I suppose if it were warmer and the sun was shining it would be a different story but no, perhaps it wouldn’t. You see if it is warm and sunny I like to relax in it! Again, it is about discipline and motivation. It is the middle of January as I write. The sun was out throughout the morning but decided to go hide for the rest of the day. The day suddenly feels the temperature it is and to add to that a slight breeze is blowing now. Suddenly I don’t wish to be outside in it but the waste doesn’t find its way to the bins all by itself and the leaves don’t get swept into the wheelie bin either. Neither of those tasks need to be done immediately but there is a nagging urgency for me to tackle at least one of them. I’ll let you guess which one. We love our creature comforts don’t we? The bedclothes are cozy, the heating is on, there is shelter from the elements and a nice warm cup of coffee invites us to remain indoors. Nothing will get done unless we decide not to be lazy and just get on with it. It’s battle fought by many a dedicated couch potato and won but I am not a couch potato so I’ve no defence. I put on my armour and throw myself at the enemy. I am beginning to once again set my mind on the things I want to get done and even those I don’t but have to else they will niggle at my grey matter. Who wants to be outside working in Winter? I have to confess I do for some of the time but sometimes it is nice to stay put on the sofa. I have been doing things of course I have and with each day passing I am slowly getting more of them done.
As long as it didn’t rain on Saturday (23) I intended to spend some more time in the garden again. It would be the last day in the year for doing any work for me but alas it didn’t happen. I had gotten up early and went for a long walk down the coastal road to Ainsdale. I chose that route as it was still dark at the time I went, 7.30. I wanted to take the route through the sand dunes but that could have proved very difficult in the dark. However, by the time I decided to return home it was light so I walked back through the dunes. When on the beach the sky was clear toward the south but northward it was dark and heavy. To the south I could see the mountains of North Wales, easily seen when the skies are clear. The oil rig westward out to sea was still fully lit against the dark sky. This time the tide had receded before I arrived but it had left an enormous amount of seaweed behind! I walked northward again along the beach to the point in the dunes where I would turn into them and off the beach. I was back home before 10.00 and had breakfast whilst E was busy doing something associated with her crafting hobby. As I mentioned I wanted to do a little gardening but events got in the way during the rest of the morning. After lunch I just didn’t feel like doing anything. It has been quite a busy twelve months with all the projects that I have been involved with both inside and outside the house. It helped not having to do electrical work for others, at least for the last nine months anyway. My time became my own and I could concentrate on my little domestic projects, and there were many! Just the way I like it, better for my health and well-being to have things to do to wile away the time. When I look back on the year I am amazed just how much was done, all of them written about in my posts, and there was still plenty of time to relax too. Saturday afternoon being one of them. There was always Sunday for a potter around the garden!
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.
Monday (28th) here in the UK was one of those days we call a Bank Holiday, traditionally a day when bank employees took a break from, well banking. Banks closed for the day and therefore it limited trading activities. Nowadays banking takes place on-line for the most part but the holiday remains in place for everyone to enjoy or not as they wish. Today the holiday is referred to as the August Bank Holiday, there are others. Anyway it never made much difference to me when I became self-employed back in 1997. I would work if the opportunity presented itself, and it often did. The day still makes little difference to me now that I am retired, well retired from electrical work in a full or part-time capacity. I find work to do at home which pretty much keeps me active. I am not alone in being one that works over the holiday, I know many people do the same and if you go down any high street it is business as usual for many. As I said, banking is carried out over The Internet and much commerce follows suit. The Country can’t close down for the day can it? We were expecting someone to visit the house at my request to assess some work I want carrying out. I have decided to replace the garage doors on the garage I use to park my van. This one…
From the picture it looks fine and indeed the door itself is fine even though it is around twenty-eight years old. That is because it is made of fibreglass and aluminium. However it had always been opened and closed manually until a couple of years ago when I had it converted to electrical operation.Now again, there is nothing wrong with that set-up either but what is a problem are the mechanical components that had to remain after the conversion. They comprise the two side tracks in which the door runs, the wheels which run inside the tracks, the two large heavy-duty springs one each side which assist in the raising of the door, the pulleys and the steel wires either side which form part of the spring mechanism. All of these, especially the steel wires which need replacing regularly, require constant maintenance and of course that involves cost! It was high-time I replaced the door with a roller-shutter variety similar to what we had installed in the other garage though more streamlined.
That roller door is more like an industrial type than a domestic one though it doesn’t appear anything like that to look at it. It is a very efficient door and very robust. So the guy came along to measure the opening and requirements as did E’s nephew, a builder who was at hand to discuss any alterations that might have to be undertaken before the installation takes place. I agreed on a price for the work (£2250) which hopefully will take place in around a month’s time. As it is a bespoke unit it will take time to manufacture. Unfortunately as the opening is non-standard a door from their stock cannot be used. I paid the £600 requested up-front now all I have to do is raise the balance and carry out some electrical alterations for the installation.
Usually there is always something to do on a weekend for me but I make the attempt at ensuring I get the rest I need. Sunday is the day when I do no work other than perhaps mow the lawn occasionally. Other things I might do are only normal domestic chores of a very minor nature, washing dishes or cooking and things like that. Saturdays however are days when anything goes and I will work on whatever comes my way. There are days when I don’t want to be doing anything at all but those days are few. On Saturday last week I had it in mind to do little or no work but I wasn’t completely successful. Before getting ready for an early morning walk I stripped off the bed linen and put it in the washing machine. By the time I had showered and dressed the linen had been washed so I hung it in the cellar boiler room then set off on my walk in the cool, dry but quite windy weather. I returned home quite exhausted because of the wind. I hadn’t taken a coat but wore a cardigan instead as it hadn’t felt that cold. That was a mistake because it took some time before the sun began to raise the temperature and I was glad I took the return path through the built-up areas to home. By the time I got home I was in full sunshine and warm. It is difficult knowing what to wear when going for a walk. Too many clothes and I get too warm but too few or the wrong outer garment and I feel cold. It was never a problem when going for a run, I would get warm in minutes, even in the depths of Winter! I decided then to just take the day off and do little. just prior to lunchtime I received a call from an old customer who was having problems with her electrical installation. Although I am officially retired I accepted the work for a couple of reasons, one, the house was close by and two, it was an old lady of 90 who had nobody there to help. I was there for an hour or so before returning home. After lunch I spent the afternoon out on the patio with E just relaxing for once. It would be Monday before I would even think about doing any work or so I thought. Our next-door neighbour called and asked if I could sort out a problem she was having with a ceiling fitting. As she had more than one light in the room I told her I would look at it on Monday morning. They say there is no rest for the wicked but I hope I am not that.