Tag: home

I’m Still Here…

Not that you would know half the time. I keep meaning to post but never seem to do it. Apathy applies? Oh most definitely. I have things to say, but sometimes I am just not in the mood to put fingers to keys, and after a long week working, then I just cannot be arsed with anything. I know, how rude? I know people read my posts, so I know I have an audience, but I seem to be losing my “voice”. Now, I know that I could post all the time as there is always something going on or a project on my needles, and years ago I used to blog/post many times a day, but these days I think I am in old age mode and happy to sit in front of the telebox and vegetate after work.

The long winter is a bind that has not given me any inspiration to do anything, not that I have been lazy. I have replaced the floors in both bedrooms on the top floor. We have three bedrooms, one on the main floor and two upstairs in the attic. Now, the floors had not been touched since 1973 according to a newspaper I found under the boards in the main room, and 1980 for the smaller room. My home was built in the 1800s and some things have not been touched or replaced from this era. Whilst walking about it sounds like an old ship with all the creaking. In the main room, the floor had failed due to the window in the roof leaking for some time, this was leaking long before we moved in. We discovered the leak one night in bed during a rainstorm, when we were wakened to dripping on the bed, needless to say, I had to do something about it, but unknown to be at that point it had caused the floor to slowly rot. Due to M’s disability, we moved to the downstairs bedroom, so over the years the floor had slowly failed, and one day, M was upstairs and called me to say that the floor seemed spongy, I thought nothing too much about it, and years later it finally started giving away, so I had to fix it. This was one of the major hobs that I had to do this year. I am not a carpenter by any means, but I did manage to do a good job of it. well, I thought so, and M approved, so that was all I needed to know. Once the main room was done, I had the job of doing the second room, although we have no idea why that floor was failing at the time. I lifted up the carpet which I have never replaced as I treat this room as a junk room. I discovered that it had failed due to a previous owner of many years back installing a small hatch that I can only think of was for inspecting electrics that are now redundant. The opening was so shoddily done that it had fallen through, thus causing the rest of the floor to break. It was like biscuits so needed doing. However, once I had lifted the carpet up I did not feel like doing it, so left it for over a week, then one day felt I had the gumption to do the job, and within 3 hours it was complete. The only problem with the second floor was that think I managed to knock my pliers into the void and not noticed and had screwed the two 1m x 2m sheets of interlocking wood down in many places. I have had them for over 20 years, so maybe time for a new pair.

Main Room, 64 square feet of flooring replaced in the end.
Room 2 after lifting the floor. The sad blue carpet you see is part of the floor that lifts up which is a “dead man’s drop” that is used to lower coffins down the main floor (as you cannot get them down the spiral staircase). This is also used to take furniture upstairs too.

I have also been doing the kitchen up. The kitchen I think was modelled on that featured in Noah’s Ark. We have many cupboards which were brown wood originally and not great looking. I had painted them in the past a few times but never been happy with the end result. However, this time I am happy with it all as I also changed the tiles and the worktops. We had a new boiler fitted as ours was over 30 years old and although it worked, it was not economical, and we have only had a tepid home for many years rather than a warm home, needless to say, it can be like a hothouse in a very short time which is rather nice. One part of the kitchen is a small alcove where a fireplace used to be and where we had a small drinks fridge, however, I decided that the fridge needed to go and I got an imitation log burner (electric) fire, built a platform for it, and added an unfinished sleeper (only carved flat two sides) as the front edge to the fireplace. I still have bits to finished off as well as do the tiling there, but all in all, I am happy with the look. I am sure you will agree that the before and after are quite different, although the before is when we first moved in back in 2003 and had not even taken a breath, never mind thought about decoration/renovation.

So, forgive my absence as I have been working hard.

Temp Repair

After yesterdays debacle I have now made a temporary repair using 30a cable connectors and a 40a box to surround the connection block. Looks ugly, but it is only a temporary repair. I had to remove more plaster in order to be able to strip the wires for the connection block, and now understand why Bob the nob had not buried it properly. As the house was built in the late 1800’s there are supporting walls and the remaining walls are “lath and plaster”, so no modern day stud walls just Victorian engineering.

Not my walls, but this is what it looks like.

I did find some conduit that the cables are in, but it is just plastic, and only covers part of the cable. I think I may have to re-wire from the upstairs sockets to the kitchen ones in order to keep it clean and ensure it is done correctly, however, I do not relish having to replaster the whole wall, so fingers crossed Phil will have a solution that is a little easier on both my pocket and my time. Getting quite fed up with having to rebuild things. The only thing I can be positive about is that I have the ability to do nearly all the repairs etc. myself.

Holy Explosions Batman…

As mentioned in a past post, I have been decorating the kitchen, which is taking forever. We bought a lovely new grey blackout blind, soft fabric, and very touchable. Today I decided I would install it. The old blind that I removed is the same size, but, and there is always a but, the screw holes were not in the same place, and needed to be moved about 10mm. Easy! I got out my drill, put in a small masonry bit and made the first hole, moved down the required 25mm and did the second. I then swapped the drill bits to a slightly larger one and widened the first hole.

BANG!

WTF?!

All the electric sockets were off. I was at a loss as there should be no reason that the electrics were tripped. I went to the trip box and turned them back on, and inspected the hole, all of 2-3mm wide. There was a little charring and I was now wondering what the hell or indeed WTF I had managed to drill in to. Now, this is only 40mm away from the window, so again, there is no reason at all as to why any electrical wiring should be close to it. As far as British Regulations are concerned, all electrical cables in walls should be at a depth of 50mm, and if this is not possible then it should have a metal capping in order to protect them and stop anything hitting them, i.e. nails, screws and of course drills.

I decided to poke the hole with a small bore wooden dowl in order to see if there were another reaction and BANG! Electric sockets all off. I then decided to turn the electric back on and see if it tripped without being touched, and thinking about what the hell I am to do next. I kept touching the wall to make sure there wasn’t a fire in there, oh, and checking all the fire alarms. After some time I decided to take the dogs for a walk and came back to find the electric off. That was it for me, I would call Phil the electrician I know and keep an eye on it.

The next few hours passed without any concern. I made dinner, put the dishwasher on, the washing machine completed its load and all was well. Then whilst I was walking out of the kitchen there was a massive bang, almost like a small explosion. With this, I decided that I had to investigate what was going on as I could not risk waiting for Monday to speak to Phil. Grabbing a chisel and hammer I cut out a square in the plaster only to find that I had indeed drilled right through the centre of a mains cable and through the earth wire and scarred the neutral cable with the drill. Holy Shit! I was so lucky that I had not been electrocuted. I millimetre over to the right and I would have hit the live cable and been thrown across the kitchen, or worse killed.

The cable was only just under the plaster, about 2mm deep against all regulations and extremely dangerous. But the big question what why was it there. I decided to cut the cable, strip back the main covering to show the wires. Their plastic shielding was, of course, charred, so I cleaned them up and insulated them so nothing and no one could touch them until I could buy a junction box to make a repair tomorrow. So where did it go? Turns out that this cable feeds the sockets 5 foot below and to the left. I only know this as now I have temporarily isolated them that group of sockets no longer work, and the bedroom ones above the kitchen do work. I have no idea why the feed comes from the top of the house to the bottom, as this is no way to set wiring. So tomorrow I am heading to the electrical wholesalers and getting what I need to make a temporary repair until Phil can have a look and decide the best way to deal with it, and of course, I will now have to channel the walls to the correct depth and install new cable and joy of joy, concrete the gap and then plaster, wallpaper and paint the area.

As can be seen, the cable runs down the edge of the window and just below the surface of the plaster. You can see the scorching on the back of the wallpaper that I cut away as an access flap. The walls are so dry the plaster is crumbling.

I should not be surprised as this is not the first time we have found problems with the electrics. I once found that the earth wires were not connected to any of the lounge sockets, and in the upstairs hall the wall lighting was connected to the mains cable with sellotape, and behind this large light fitting was a massive hole that had live wires suspended and not connected to anything at all. That time I went to the electrical wholesalers and sorted the problems with termination blocks and cable connectors, concreted the hole up, plastered, painted and fitted new lighting. The guy who used to own the house (Bob) needs to be shot, as he was a contractor, and should know better.

Well, onwards and upwards, at least no one was hurt, and I will be able to repair it, and it is safe for now until I make the temporary repair tomorrow.

Flower Arrangements With The Dalai Lama…

Well, not quite.

The paint rollers were out again.  This time to do the bedroom.  As I mentioned when M was away I did the feature wall, which is really nice, but it has changed the dynamic of the room, so much so that I wanted to do the rest of the room.  Not only to clean it up but to go with the flow and change the room completely.  We decided to go with a colour called Egyptian Cotton.  It is a very subtle colour and has a tinge of wheat in it.  Again, this has changed the room.  

One of the problems with doing work on the house is that I have to repair the floors too.  The house was built in 1890, and most of it has not really been changed, especially the floorboards.  As I am not going to pay out for new flooring, I have just repaired what needs to be done, and then seal it so that there are no gaps or gusts of wind coming up through it before the new carpet was fitted.  I did have the house insulated a few years back, but there is quite a cavity below the floor to the ceilings below, and wouldn’t you know, quite an air flow through it.  A lot less since the cavity insulation, but all the same, it is cold air that I wanted rid of.

Once done, we needed to buy new drapes.  Sounds easy, but we have two windows in the room, one really large, the other only a few feet wide, but getting drapes to match really did feel impossible.  We have looked over the 15 years living here, and apart from very plain ones we never managed to get a matching pair.  We have vertical blinds throughout too, but a room is not complete without drapes.  We did manage to get really nice ones in the end from a department store.  However, we got carried away and bought new poles for both windows, then decided to get new drapes and poles for the hall windows, both upstairs and down.

Although not to everyone’s liking, we have many Tribal Masks from all around the world.  Some are really scary, others amusing but all originals and they have always been a focal in the bedroom along with quite a few African paintings, again all originals.  Sitting in the lounge writing this, and I look around to see 6 more African artefacts, so maybe it is more of an obsession with us.  Our main hall has African masks in it along with other paintings and artefacts.  But we have toned it down in the bedroom, and only have 8 in there now, and moved 11 to the hallway.  The paintings we did not rehang as I thought less is better in the bedroom, and I like the clean edges to everything.

I mounted the TV and sound system on the wall too.  I felt that it made the room feel smaller by sitting on the double chest of draws.  When you came into the room that was the first thing you saw, this bloody great big TV, but now it is on the wall it is as though it is not even there.  Also watching TV in bed is very relaxing now. I also have led backlighting on it, so a soft warm glow emits from the back when the TV is on.  I put a couple of dove grey floating shelves in the alcove on my side of the bed, may as well use the space for my books LOL.

So, now it is finished, it is a very relaxing place to be, warm and very inviting too.  

West facing
Harper relaxing in her bed
Some of my masks
Masks
50" TV looks so small now.
That’s Entertainment!
My corner
My Teddy is called Fred and he is 52 years old now.

Breakfast In The Regency Period…

It is just after midnight Tuesday, so, technically, its now Wednesday.  Yesterday (Monday) was a busy one.  Up early as the girls insisted I began my list of “Things to do whilst M is away”.  Apart from several walks for the dogs I never stopped.  First was a deep clean of the kitchen.  I knew it needed doing but as our kitchen is so busy as can be seen in the photo (I like busy, but please note, the walls are a light green, not yellow, the photo was taken whilst the sun was out) you tend to miss things.  But with all deep cleaning in a kitchen, all the appliances need to be done, the dishwasher and washing machine are easy, add the product and they do it themselves.  Apart from the detergent draw in the washing machine, which never gets used as the liquid goes in the drum, so I had to do that by hand, and it was disgusting I am ashamed to say.  The cooker I removed all the parts and cleaned each one, and stripped the ovens (two) of everything and cleaned them thoroughly, and having a “Stoves” cooker all the doors have removable glass, so easier to clean.  Every object on shelves and units were removed and cleaned and put back, then the rest of the room was dusted within an inch of its life.

Next, was to shampoo all the carpets.  Luckily I had bought a new carpet cleaner, which is excellent, and one by one each room was done.  The living room carpet, the newest of them had that new carpet smell again, which is quite the sensory drug.

Bathroom next, which was not all that hard as we tend to clean the shower after each use, and always swill the basin out, and the toilet is always clean, so it is an easy room to do.  The biggest thing was polishing the giant mirror, but even that wasn’t hard as again I tend to keep polishing it, as I hate mucky mirrors.

Next job was to tackle the ivy growing around the house, mainly cutting it back from the windows, and trimming around the security lights so no shadows were cast.  As I was in the garden I planted new flowers for the baskets, the summer ones looked worse for wear and being summer plants and flowers do not do well in autumn, now we have cyclamen in them, and I will be doing some troughs to go outside the front gate when more come into season.

Final job of the day was to install a new electrical socket in the hall by the front door so the repeater can connect to the garden gate camera.  I have fitted so many sockets and changed so many from two to three ports over the years I thought I would have finished with this, but no, there is always somewhere else we need another.

Today, Tuesday, Mazikeen had a vet appointment, she goes every month to get weighed and get her worming tablets and a check over.  She is just over a year old and has never had a season, but the nurse said today that she was a little swelled up in various areas, so it looks like she will finally have her first, that is if this is not a phantom season, which can happen.  After that and a long walk with the dogs, I painted the master bedroom, only the first coat, but it was a start.  I was doing the edging and discovered the brushes I had were shit, that’s really the only way I can put it.  Off to the DIY centre to get a good sharp one, and whilst I was there, some magnetic catches for the cupboards and a new electrical socket with USB ports.  Apart from putting up some frames and making myself a curry from scratch, I decided I had had enough, and my lower back, right-hand side, was spasming, which told me to stop.

Tomorrow, Wednesday (which is now today as it is 00:38) I will be finishing off the painting, then starting my knitting again, which is The Great American Aran Afghan.  I had started it the other day, but it is in American English, which is an oxymoron in itself, translating it into correct English is a bit of a bind, to say the least.  For example, it states three ridges, which means knit six rows, so, why not just say knit six rows.  If you were next to me when I sussed out what this meant, you would have heard my eyes rolling never mind seen them with the added slow shake of my head.  I do hate that in English there is so bastardised, and do not get me started on spelling.  Anyway, I digress slightly.  I had started it, but due to this quirk in language the pattern reads wrong, and with wrong the WS rows are not mentioned, so you have to work that one out yourself, which my test showed that you have to to the WS as a reverse of the RS.

That’s the plan anyway, but as with the best-laid plans of mice and men, one can never be sure if it will change.

If you were wondering, yes, it is raining again, battering against the windows in fact.

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