With the mild weather we were having I was eager to finally get into the garden and do some work. There was much to do but I didn’t do everything just enough to fill three hours. I was up early on this the last Saturday in February and soon after breakfast I put on my overalls as I usually do if I am working in the garden and know I am likely to get dirty. I wore gloves too because I had to handle things that certainly would put dirt under my fingernails! My first job was to take the barrow, a hoe and a brush and shovel to the compost bin and dig some of the contents out onto the flagstones. This was what the hoe was for. It was the ideal implement for digging into the compacted compost. It was so compact that despite digging the bottom layer out the remainder stayed where it was, suspended with no support.
Here is the bin standing between the water butt on the left and the flowerbed on the right. Access to the composted material is done by removing the panel at the base. The lid comes off to fill it with new material to be composted but you already know this I’m sure. I used the hoe later to push down the remaining compost once the panel had been replaced. I wheeled the compost in the barrow the short distance to the patio and put it into the two small flowerbeds up there. E and I had removed the chrysanthemums that had been in them beneath the palms. Once that was done I returned to the garage with the barrow to fill it with some of the pebbles we had stored in there making two journeys before there was enough to fill both beds.
My next job was to clean the artificial grass on the patio floor which had accumulated a lot of debris over the winter and through our working there. I tried to use the leaf blower which can also be used as a vacuum but it was too large and cumbersome and wasn’t as suitable as I had thought it would be. I dug out the old ‘Aquavac’ vacuum cleaner from the garage and used that instead. It took a fair amount of time because I couldn’t locate the head to fit on the end of the tube or we don’t have one! It did the job though. After putting the equipment away and hosing down the beds I decided I would give the lawn a mow but I couldn’t get the mower started. I didn’t want to spend more time trying to get it going and would make the attempt during the week ahead. I fancy we need a new one anyway so I thought I would consider the possibility of purchasing a new one too. The final job i had set myself was to dis-assemble the wooden crate which had been used to deliver the cobbles last year. It had been designed not to fall apart so easily and it took me a long time to dismantle it.
You can see the mower next to the dismantled crate in the picture above. It was fast approaching lunch time when I finally returned indoors.
E wants to retouch the remaining three of the white painted doors in the cellar hallway but for myself I consider the job done…
Slightly different from what it looked like a couple of months ago don’t you think?
Despite the job dragging on so long I enjoyed doing it most of the time. Some of the work as with the other rooms I had tackled in the cellar last year was mundane and boring and it often felt like I was getting nowhere. A lot of paint was spread over a lot of repairs and alterations in all of the rooms but for some reason the hallway repairs took longer than the rest. Perhaps I was simply feeling my age and just got tired of it all but then, like most jobs, everything just falls into place and in the blink of an eye it is done. If I could clear out the two remaining rooms of all the stuff in them I would find the time to refurbish them too. So now at last I can do some of the work that needs to be done in the gardens, especially the rear garden. Today is Friday 11th January and I have completed the work two weeks ahead of the date I thought it would. I am also very tired but not just from this morning’s work, I went for a five and a half mile walk beforehand. It went something like this……Went to bed at seven and dropped off to sleep. Woke up at ten-fifty and couldn’t get back to sleep. Finally arose at one-ten and went for my walk at two, an hour earlier than usual and when out decided to extend the walk. After breakfast and a little catch-up tv I finished the work at eight-fifteen. I lead a very strange life…
Gosh it was cold on Wednesday morning (Jan 2) as I started off on my morning walk. As I expected there weren’t many people about, partly because it was just after the new year and maybe because it was cold. One thing I did notice was the night club near the route I sometimes take wasn’t open and blasting rock music into the local district for a change. All was pretty much quiet save for the occasional car driving by. I was glad to get back home for once though I do enjoy it whilst I am walking. I hadn’t slept long getting only five hours. I was awake long before the alarm was set to go off and in fact I disarmed it. I paid the price for the lack of sleep later on in the day. So after breakfast I was ready to do a little work. Let me tell you about breakfast or rather where I eat it. Usually it is either a granola or muesli else it is porridge. I have it all with fruit and a fruit drink too. The ‘breakfast room’ keeps quite warm throughout the night even though the heating isn’t on. A fridge and a fridge/freezer keep the temperature topped-up. The curtains (drapes) are kept closed even though there are double-glazed windows. It is surprising how that reduces heat loss from a room. The doors are kept closed so there’s nowhere for the heat to escape, result…the room stays warm. Below that room is the utility room in the cellar which stays even warmer because of the freezers in there. My work though was in the cellar hallway which isn’t heated though it gets warm enough if the utility room door is left open or the boiler room door is likewise left open if the heating is on. I digress. Anyway I wanted to begin painting the door frames with red-coloured gloss paint but only had enough for just a little more than one frame..
I would need to purchase more and did so later in the morning. I downed tools and watch some catch-up tv by which time E was downstairs having breakfast. She had shown me a problem with one of the worktops in the workshop she has at the top of the house. I refurbished the room a couple of years ago but with the weight of all the paper she had stacked upon it she thought it was damaged. It wasn’t but rather than take the risk that it may buckle later on I decided to install an extra support beneath it. However, that had to be made and painted before it could be fitted. I took measurements and made it then gave it a coat of gloss paint but it would need another coat the next day after which it would be ready to install. We then drove off to purchase the paint and some more paint brushes. I didn’t do any more work that day. See, I am keeping to my word by not doing as much work each day and relaxing more.
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 woke up this morning (24 th) feeling great and not feeling any pain from yesterday’s accident. Instead of taking a shower I chose to take a bath before going to bed. I think it was the first bath I had taken this year! The tub takes ages to fill, around thirty minutes but it is well worth the wait. I lay there for about thirty minutes letting the heat soothe the aches and pains I had and also opening the pores for a deeper cleansing, something a shower doesn’t really give. I always sleep better after a shower but even more so after a soak in the tub. I went out for my usual walk feeling no ill effects whatsoever. On my return and after eating breakfast I chose not to do any work for I knew E wanted me to take her to the doctor’s surgery then on to collect her medications. Whilst we were out we decided to go for a coffee and a cream bun and when we finally got home it was noon. I went down into the cellar and installed the mini-plastic trunking for the extra cables I will need to install to split the existing power circuit to the utility room. The circuit in there needs to be separated from the circuit it is now connected to. I also installed the trunking to cover three existing cables on the utility room ceiling.
The trunking comes in three metre lengths and has an adhesive backing to enable it to fix directly to any dry and dust-free surface. However I had to also screw one of them to the ceiling where the surface wasn’t so good. Once I had done that I returned upstairs for lunch. I had other chores to do in the afternoon which prevented any more work on the project. An easier day for a change.
During the last months of the year I have no excuses for being idle as there is much to do. The truth is though that I have been pretty much busy throughout the year! As at the time of writing this Oct 21 st (Trafalgar day here in the UK) I am engaged with the utility room project and waiting for the pebbles to finish the lawn project. In the pipeline of things to do are the removal of some of the fruit trees and the pruning back of others in The Mound and setting up the frost protection for some of the plants. I also have in mind the uprooting and replanting of a few plants and other general garden duties in both front and rear gardens. This year though I will not be sweeping up the fallen leaves in the front garden except to keep them away from the garage doors and drains. Last year the council did not empty out the two wheelie bins properly leaving them both still half-filled on the last collection day. I emptied them out onto the driveway and let nature do the rest. They disappeared after a day or two just as they would do in the wild!
No doubt if I run out of things to do I will find something, it’s in my nature. As long as I can take a break occasionally I will be happy doing whatever comes my way. It is funny to think that once upon a time I wouldn’t consider doing some of the things I do now but being retired from formal work gives me more time on my hands and it must be filled somehow. I treat my projects as hobbies rather than chores and indeed they are more as a hobby to me.
On Tuesday 16 th (as I write) we were expecting the delivery of the pebbles we had ordered online a week or two earlier for the lawn feature. At that time we were informed of a possible eight to nine weeks waiting period before they became available. I have to say that companies who advertise goods on sale should make them more readily available or remove the advertisement. We had already experienced poor service, actually no service as it turned out, when we didn’t receive the fridge we had ordered. Since then of course we obtained a better one from a UK supplier. On Monday (15 th) we received a call from the company who were to supply the pebbles asking if we would like to purchase the pebbles that were delivered to themselves but of a different kind. We were asked to go online to check them out which we did. I had already viewed all of their advertised stock when placing my order and had selected my choice because of their colour and form. None of the others compare and can be purchased locally at almost any builders merchants. So we were being asked to accept something that they said was sent to them in error. They must have known we wouldn’t. I was expecting to finish the work on the project this week but now it seems it will be a few more weeks yet before that can happen. I had prepared a space within the garage where the pallet could be dropped which seemed a bit of a waste of time after I had received the call. No matter it will remain as it is for when the pebbles do arrive. I worked on the utility room project on Monday and again on Tuesday though on Tuesday I didn’t do as much. I cut out another large portion of the carpet that lies on the floor so that the washing machine could be moved. Eventually of course it will all be lifted. E and I assembled one of the new cabinets so that I could check the floor level and cut out the side panels to accommodate the drain pipe on the wall.
The worktop would continue from the first cabinet and had to be accordingly level with it. We discovered there was at least a centimetre drop in the floor across the width of the room at that side. That will mean packing beneath the new cabinet legs to make it level. Nothing is ever straightforward is it?
It is Sunday 14 th and I am writing this at six in the morning. I arose three hours ago, an hour later than my now most usual time though I was awake then. I had a really good night’s sleep and am feeling totally refreshed, completely different from yesterday’s experience. With every new day there is hope for better things in our lives though we may never take advantage of that. Things look different from the previous night in the cold light of day as the saying goes. We may look back at what we did the day before and now find it wasn’t as bad as we thought or maybe it is worse! Yesterday I felt pretty much tired the whole day which was probably why I slept so well. I hadn’t done much work partly due to my feeling tired and partly due to there not being much to do on my project. Actually there was more I could have done, there always is but I wanted the rest. So I kept the work to a minimum and spent the rest of the day relaxing. E went to her nephews’ birthday party in the evening held at a venue in the village a half mile away. I wasn’t invited, I never am but I don’t think I would have been able to stay awake to enjoy it anyway!
The work I did involved fitting the shelf and the doors but not the handles as we hadn’t purchased any. We first thought we would only purchase the one cabinet so we were going to use the handles on the old unit to save buying new ones. However the plan now is to install at least one more cabinet and probably two in which case we will need three sets of matching door handles. They will be purchased when we buy the cabinets. The other work I did was to cut and fit the timber with which to fill the space at the right of the new cabinet, shown not yet painted in the picture. Other work I could have done involved fixing a single row of wall tiles around the top of the unit. The sink is now in use. There is a lot more work to be done in the room and slowly but surely it will be done. Today I rest, tomorrow is another 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.
Today (26 th) I got up early and went for my usual walk this time leaving the house at three-fifteen. It was a reasonably warm morning with a gentle breeze from the south-west. Unless rain bearing clouds and high winds come from that direction we can almost guarantee fine warm weather. The only activity I saw at that hour were one or two taxis dashing about at breakneck speed as if the drivers had only minutes to live! They get away with it because there are few police patrols and they know all the short-cuts. Why do people feel the need for speed? Perhaps I am getting too old, well I know I am but with age comes wisdom (for most of us). Don’t misunderstand me, I once drove like an idiot too occasionally! When I returned home I was feeling neither too warm nor too cold, just about perfect conditions for me. Later at sunrise I began to work on the lawn project once more. During the day I spent a total of six hours on and off doing the work but there was still a lot more left to do when I decided to stop for the day.
Notice the change in the picture colour. I can only put that down to the time of day and the conditions The first one was taken when it was cloudy and the second when the sky was blue. Anyway I began the work at six-fifty and was pestered by mosquitoes for the first two hours. I think it was the lack of wind allowing them to hover about me. Later the breeze picked up and I had no further problems with them. I don’t think the English variety bite but they are still a pest. I am not sure but I think they are attracted by the carbon dioxide we exhale and perhaps the smell of newly dug soil doesn’t help. Perhaps I should wear a net over my head! Once the grass is taken away the shrubs can be planted followed later by the membrane and the finishing touches.