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31 - Up around 7:15am . PCd surfing microwaves and bulbs and this and that . . washed a particularly dreadfuly stained carpet tile (I may yet do more) and left it in the garden to dry . . sanded and fixed the little piece of skirting to the wall by the back door. . around 10:30am or soon after, the postman delivered my brass eyeball spot lights. I'm not sure you could notice, but they ARE just 'slightly' different to the ones I had from Focus for the living room (for which I have a spare), and are definitely a little cheaper in feel - but not much! They'll do. . so, that was the whole rest of the day - moving furniture and lifting bedroom floorboards (again), cutting holes in the ceiling, and eventually getting them successfully wired in via a junction box under the bedroom floor - to come on at the same time as the fireplace light. As a temporary measure I fitted the old spare 50w bulbs I've had laying around since I put in lower wattage energy-saver ones in the living-room spots. Once I've made an assessment of how much they are too bright, I guess I'll have to take a chance and order a bunch of new-fangled LED ones. Never having had any of those before, I really have no idea what to order or expect! They aren't cheap, so it's gonna be a real gamble.
Somewhere during the work I abruptly fired up the computer and ordered a dining table and four chairs from Argos, which I'd long ago decided on getting, 'sooner or later'!!! I just can't bear to delay it any more. A 'Winslow Walnut Table and 4 Chocolate Leather Effect Chairs' for £166.24, plus £8.95 for delivery (although that is liable to be upto a month away apparantly!! :o( ) Jeeze - all this money I'm burning - just imagine the big new TV I could (should?) have bought with it instead!!! :o(
.. put all the bedroom floorboards back down, put the furniture back in and finished up for the day well after 7pm . . Oh dear - those spotlights sure magnify all the roughness and patching of the walls! Even the firebreast looks atrocious with them on - and I really thought I'd cracked that! That's really bad news. I WILL need to experiment with where they are pointing, but quite simply I think they are far too bright for the effect I'm after. I've got 35w equivalent (allegedly) energy savers in the living room spots, and once they've warmed up (!!) that's MUCH more suitable. . PCd this (and rejigged the last couple of photos. I MUST be running out of webspace by now, surely!). .
touched base briefly with Mum . .
ate Mum donated pizza and a little chocolate . . touched base
with BB . . TVd until bed around midnight.
30 - Up around 7:30am . .PCd a bit of this . . washed another (same disappointing innefectual results) and put the couple of damp carpet tiles in the sun in the garden to dry . . tidied up the mess in the diner and eventually put all the scraps of carpet tile back down. Vacuumed. Cut some carpet tile scraps to fit in the bottom of the fireplace - because it was easy. Until I decide what should go in there as a base, I reckon a bit of carpet will do. In fact, if it was trimmed with a bit of gold carpet edge to kinda match all the brass stuff, maybe that is all I 'should' put in there? Put the Buddha in its new home (actually now I have, I'm not sure I'm keen. Maybe it should be a plant or something else in there? I haven't, but it 'should' be possible to put a power socket on one side for something, without 'too' much work if I so chose - just by 'punching through' with a long drill through the back of one of those I've put in on the sides of the firebreast?) and pretty much called it quits on the fireplace, and in fact, apart from 'dinging' all the imperfections in the walls with some filler and 'just decorating', that's pretty much 'it' for that whole side of the room. Just need to get those spotlights (already on their way, apparantly) into the ceiling, to go along with the background/'mood' lighting from the fireplace. It's all gradually coming together - and I seem less able to find the energy, and more inclined to do less and less each day as it does so! (The apparantly bendy lines on the photo I've included here, IS a trick of the camera! Believe me - I know!) . . PCd this and just sat around doing nothing for ages . . . pottered in the garden just a little, filling the nut feeder and washing the bird bath. . put in a bit of time cutting up a small bit of skirting board, and eventually knocked up a small 'L' shaped corner piece to fit on the kitchen side of the wall next to the back door. Just big enough to fill the gap and disappear behind the kitchen unit, to make it look as though there is a full compliment of skirting behind there. Roughly butt jointed, nailed and glued the two pieces and left them setting in the sun while I sat in the garden drinking a glass of wine . . ate three ham and lettuce rolls, crisps and chocolate . . napped until the alarm at 7:15pm . . used the disc cutter and sandpaper to carve the edge of the skirting into the correct curved profile, drilled the recessed holes and the wall and got the plugs in all ready to fit it. Applied a few dabs of filler in the old screw holes and here and there, and then just came to a grinding halt and left it for tomorrow. . guitarred/TVd . .touched base briefly with Mum. . ate a spam roll, crisps, banana, half a battenburg cake and chocolate . . to bed around 2am. ds
29 - Up around 7:50am . .sanded down the inside walls of the fireplace and then somehow spent most of the day (how sad am I!) trying to make it look as though it had that 'round edge detailing' around the face of it, that is found throughout the house (and up either side of the firebreast nearby), . Measured and drew the lines and then meticulously quite literally carved and scraped away at the plaster with a stanley knife, sandpaper and occasional use of a hacksaw blade, trying to reasonably accurately duplicate the look of all the original timber edges elswhere! Utterly absurd amount of time to spend on such a small overlooked detail, but it WAS what I'd had in mind for the finished look, it DID look a bit plain without it, and of course once I'd started having a go at it, I HAD to carry on and make it work, or face the prospect of having to try and re-plaster over it all!! Suffice it to say, at the end of the day, I was pretty happy with how it turned out. It just makes it look more 'original'. Funnily enough, during these long hours of kneeling, wearing my glasses and carefully 'carving'the wall - I suddenly realised that the same sort of detail was completely missing from the plasterboarded/plastered-over reveals all around the back door (one of those walls I'd even re-plastered to create a straighter edge to the corner!!) How on earth did I overlook that when I was working on it all?! Now I've spotted it, it's gonna bug me, but I have absolutely NO intention of spending THAT many hours again trying to carve one around it! (Anyway, at some distant point in the future, that awful (broken) double glazed back door, designed WITHOUT a handle on the outside (so you can't actually go OUT that way!!!?) IS going to have to be replaced, so any such attention can wait until then - if ever.) . . ate a couple of mini pork pies and crisps. . sanded down all the skirtings around the firebreast up to the back door and got an undercoat on them all. Considering how bad they WERE, they don't look bad at all. :o) . . kept the windows open and the fan running much of the day, pointing into the fireplace helping dry stuff out. Noticeably very much cooler today. . retrieved my stone Buddha from up the garden where it's been sat for the last few years, and gave it a good scrub down and a wash, attempting to get all the muck and green algae off it, prior to it eventually coming back into the house. . TVd/PCd a bit . . well after 9pm I eventually sanded down a few bits of filler and got a first coat of emulsion paint on everything up inside the fireplace. Wow - I need a lower wattage bulb up in there now. With the paint on, it's absolutely blinding! Maybe I should just put a pillow in there and lay on the dining room floor with my head in there for half an hour every day, and use it as my own 'seasonal affective disorder lightbox'? lolol . kept the fan running to speed up the drying and ate three spam rolls, crisps and a mini cheesecake . . got another coat of paint on later . . had a bit of an experimental go at washing one of the carpet tiles. They were all worn and disgustingly blackened and needing replacement when I moved in here. The recent building work has also taken its toll, although to be honest, not 'that' much in comparison to the filth they came with. Bizarrely and suprisingly, despite scrubbing away at one with a scrubbing brush in hot detergent, the original dark filth wouldn't budge!?? What on earth did the previous occupants get up to in here, to get them all covered like that?! Sadly, that does mean I'm gonna just have to put up with them as they are for the forseeable future. Blowing scarce money on replacing carpets is the absolute LAST thing I would ever do! . eventually to bed around 1am.
28 - Poor night of broken sleep and then up around 9am . . put the fan on in the diner again before PCing this for a bit . .did laundry . . mowed the lawns . .pottered around tidying up all the junk in the conservatory just a little. That fan really does seem to be doing the trick - much of that plaster is drying out pretty quick . . Mum called in with the paper and food donations for chats etc . . cooked and ate ham ring, half a tin of beans, four eggs and mushrooms followed by some chocolate . . napped until the alarm at 7:15pm. . .TVd/guitarred/TVd the evening away . . ate Mum donated mini pork pies with packs of mini cheddars and chocolate. . to bed around 1am. s
27 - Up around 7:30am . . PCd and somehow casually ordered a couple of spots for the dining room on e-bay. '2 x GU10 Brass Eyeball Downlight Spot Lights' for £4.29 including postage. Getting a couple of those fitted in the ceiling, really is the last awkward thing I have to do in my 'master plan'. I'd rather have 'seen' what I was buying, but I imagine they're all about the same. The local Focus store sells them (where I bought the ones for the living room) but they only sell them in packs of three (!?) and they are pretty expensive, and I didn't want to end up with another one spare and bought for nothing. . .intending to head out to the DIY store near the council tip, I tackled the depressing pile of junk I've had just dumped outside the back door for ages (bricks, rubble, radiators, pipes, fire and back boiler). Dismantled as much of the back boiler as I reasonably could and made it possible to 'just' about carry it all up to load into the back of the car. Dumped the heavy long radiators up alongside the garage for the foreseeable future. Not quite sure how I'm gonna be able to get rid of those! . . drove to the tip. They've altered the tip and moved everything around since I was last there. All the junk appears to now have to be loaded by the public directly into the huge metal containers that go straight onto the back of a lorry. Trouble with that is - you have to carry everything up a big flight of stairs to be able to throw it in - and you have to throw it because the stairs aren't RIGHT next to the bin!!! That is not good, especially when you are struggling with the heavy cast-iron innards of an old back boiler! Health and safety out to lunch - and plenty of the population down here probably couldn't even manage the stairs!! . . drove to the Focus DIY store to buy a small bag of plaster (and maybe a curtain track and a couple of other things). Every single thing I'd wanted to look at or get, they were out of stock! I DO HATE that store. Always seems to have such issues and it's SO aggravating to struggle through all the heavy holiday traffic all that way for nothing so often. . popped into a nearby builders merchant on the offchance, and succeeded in at least getting a small bag of one-coat plaster, to enable me to push on and finish off the inside of the fireplace. . . stopped at Sainsburys on the return for a few supplies and tobacco . .cooked and at a ham ring, baked beans, four fried eggs, mushrooms and four buttered bread rolls! BIG food. . inevitably had to go lay down to nap soon after. .woken soon after 5:30pm by the sound of aircraft noise. (I think I had been kinda expecting it and half listening out in my sleep). Sat in the chair in the bedroom bay window and watched the Red Arrows displaying in the distance over the Dartmouth regatta. Blue skies and big fluffy clouds. Their first 'full display' in days, because of the bad weather apparantly (the Torquay one WAS completely cancelled the other day). Moving and impressive as ever..sat around for ages just feeling blah - and actually strangely kinda 'swollen in my hands'? . not wanting to completely waste the day not having done anything on the diner, I eventually succeeded in forcing myself to have a go at hand-sanding down the new rough plaster on the back wall inside the fireplace. As ever with that marvellous one-coat plaster, with a bit of sanding, my awful plastering started to look ok. The new plaster/cement in that fireplace has/is taking an age to dry out, now there is no ventilation in there - although of course the recent atmosphere has been so full of water, that hasn't helped. Despite all the recent HEAVY rain, there was no hint of ANY damp from that, so as I'd thought, when it eventually dries, it WILL remain so. Mixed up a couple of loads more plaster and eventually succesfully plastered the two side walls and the base, slightly 'trueing' everything up as I did so, by using the spirit level as an edge to plaster to. Went pretty well. Cleared up and vacuumed by around 11pm. . brought the big old oscillating table fan I have, down from a cupboard and set it up in the middle of the diner, pointing in the direction of the fireplace, and put it on for half an hour or so. Should help a bit with stirring the air in there and getting things drying a bit better without overdoing it (like I think it would be if I put the fan-heater on it like Mum had suggested lol). . . guitarred briefly watching plaster dry. . eventually ended up PCing on e-bay, looking at led bulbs for spotlights and all manner of stuff I don't have any need for, before eventually to bed in the early hours. Someone had donated me £10 via the site. Coooel - and thank you. :o) Guess I should write their name on the spotlights? lol :o)
26 - Up late somewhere around 9am . . slow 'coming to' before eventually heading to the garage to measure up one of the spare kitchen units I'd removed from the diner alcove. A thin base cupboard complete with a shelf and door. Ooooh yes - with a few adjustments and bits cut out, I could put that between the washing machine and the new fridge, rather than the ugly bit of narrow open boxing that has always been there. Oooh, oooh. . Measured up the huge old microwave and went on-line to look at possible replacements, starting off of course by looking at the cheapest. . oh wow - for lots less than a hundred pounds I could get a new replacement, even WITH a grill!! Not only that, but if I was lucky it would fit straight into the tall 'oven' kitchen unit, where there is currently a 'hinged/lift-up drawer front' type compartment above the oven. A bit high for hot liquids - but I could manage - I'm pretty tall. I'd probably just remove the hinged door/drawer front bit and have it just sat there, but I have a feeling although it'd be a bit tight to get it in, most would actually fit INSIDE that space behind the existing door! Oh wow. That'd be SUCH a neat use of all the available space. It IS all evolving into a bit of a strange squeeze by 'normal' standards, but boy would it work SO well! I've already lost some storage with putting the freezer where I have - and would lose yet more if I did this with the microwave, and yet I have almost entire cupboards in that kitchen full of never-used tupperwares, oven cookware, spare pots and pans and the like. If I got serious with sorting out and getting rid of all the junk, I really would be no worse off at all than I've already been living - in fact, much better off! . . Mum called in to see the new fridge and freezer, for a cuppa and chats etc. She really does seem to be excited by all the changes I'm making. lolol Dare I say, I guess I am too - kinda. Everything really has been the most extraordinary amount of work - but the end result (tantalizingly now very much in sight) is potentially gonna be VERY cool. That whole 'open plan' type space has TOTALLY transformed the feel of the house. It makes ME feel different too (even my 'twiddling' seems to have improved and become more elaborate at times as a result! lol) Far more content - ish (except for wanting to do SO much more to the place!) I'm VERY glad I had the balls to do it. My savings have taken a hell of a battering, but there's enough left to do a lot more before I'm proper broke. On an evening is when I like it most - when watching TV, with all the doors closed, with the bats circling just outside the bay window (often with the rising moon and some drifting chinese lanterns as a backdrop), with the owl in the tree opposite to-wit to-wooing, - and just getting up and 'popping through' to make a coffee. And now with the kitchen also starting to take shape and be what and where it should be (within financial constraints and given what I have to work with), I like it a bunch. I've hardly been out of the house (except for 'building supplies') for weeks - but right now, with it starting to feel like this, that is VERY ok by me. :o) . . as soon as Mum had left (around 2pm!!) I dragged the fridge out and swapped the door around so it now hinges on the left. Didn't go so well. I didn't like the look of the way the seal sat once I'd changed it. Nothing I did wrong. Just the way it HAD to be as it was. The slots for the screws in the adjustable hinge bracket, didn't allow the required amount of adjustment to have the seal do its job near the hinge (I could get a cigarette paper freely into the gap - AND the empty hinge position plug on the other side of the top of the door, fouled the lid trim!). Just what you get with a cheap (Chinese) fridge I guess. I dared to file the slots a little longer and remedied the problem. . dared to drag the old 'came with the house, and due to break at any moment' washing machine out of its position for the first time since I've lived here and set about having a go at removing the junk boxing between it and the fridge and installing the spare unit in its place. (The complication there is the bit of stub wall that protrudes out supporting a structural lintel inside the arch above - the cupboard had to be cut to fit around it - and of course the floor isn't level - and the work surface is lower than the one the unit WAS under, so I had to trim it all off - etc, etc, etc..)It took ALL day until around 7pm, but I eventually succeeded - and also had the opportunity to ditch the temporary surface mounted sockets that have been screwed to the side of the boxing since I did the alterations to the wall and wiring in the nearby corner ready for central heating etc. Glad to finally see the back of that! . with the spare cupboard and door in position, the fridge/kitchen looks even better and like it was meant to be - and it means I've actually clawed back some useable cupboard space, rather than the boxing which was used as a dumping ground for my trays, and which had a bizarre, old fashioned, broken extendable, totally unuseable towel rail thing in it!! In fact that worked out SO well, I am seriously tempted to have a go at totally dismantling the 'stack' where I've got my freezer and oven, in order to modify the cabinet so there is no base to it, so the freezer would sit on the floor like it should and look less 'stuffed in a spare slot' like I think it rather does (because it IS). That would mean dismantling half of the kitchen though! lol there's no end to it!!!!!! NOT now I think!. . PCd this . .TVd . . ate corned beef and mayo sandwiches, two packs of mini cheddars, a banana, half a battenburg cake and some chocolate. . to bed around 1am. s
25 - Up at 5am woken by some noise or other. . ooops. Just as well I was up before light. Spotted light coming up through the cracks in the floor! I'd left the lights in the underfloor area turned on all night! . . went on-line and checked my four hour delivery slot for the new fridge and freezer. Between 2 and 6pm. The weather forecast is for torrential rain about then - and pretty much the same for the next several days! It was supposed to be the Torquay Red Arrows display today around 6pm I think. That seems unlikely. . PCd this. . did laundry and dish washing chores and some general cleaning and de-dusting of much of the kitchen. Eventually moved stuff around, dismantled a part of one of the cabinets, cut and layed a couple of carpet tiles, vacuumed and generally made preparations for where the new fridge and freezer will go. . Big rain all day, including some absolutely torrential stuff at times. Not seen this much rain for quite a while! . . ate a microwaved chicken curry, four bread rolls and then a tub of muller rice. . just after 2:15pm I turned the fridge freezer off, dutifully defrosted it, and transferred everything into the bath in Mums coolbag and wrapped it all in multiple duvets and an old sleeping bag . . TVd, uptight, feeling unable to get on and do anything else other than just wait for the delivery. Actually fell asleep in the chair for half an hour or so at one point, only to then wake feeling absolutely awful! . around 5:30pm Mum called to say the delivery guys had just called her. (So I HAD put her number in by mistake when I did the order, as I'd suspected and warned her! Why didn't she just give them my number?!!) They'd allegedly broken down somewhere so they wouldn't be here until 'later - but it would be today'! FFS! :o( So what do I do? Put the old freezer back on, unwrap everything from its cocoon in the bath and move everything back into it? I decided to just wait it out for a while longer - but I just BET they call again later to say it won't be today. We'll see. All that food is gonna end up ruined. Ruined or not, there's too much invested in it to be thrown away, so it WILL all be re-frozen and eaten eventually, likely food poisioning or not! FFS! :o( . . at 8:15pm I called mum and asked for the mobile number of the delivery guy who'd called her earlier. It just rang and rang and there was no answer. The store helpline had closed at 8pm. I plugged the fridge back in and waited for it to get cold before intending to start putting all the surely ruined food back in it! Just for once - just for f***in' once it would be nice not to be f***ed around and treated like this whenever I'm reluctantly forced to 'engage with the world'!! . .PC'd this. dug out all the food from the 'duvet bath nest' and loaded it all back into the freezer. Amazingly much of it was still frozen - everything in Mums coolbag in particular. That's cool. :o) Literally minutes after I'd finished doing that, Mum called to say they'd just called and would be here within 5 minutes!! WOULD YOU F****N'well believe it!. BB called only to hear me rant and rave and soon be dismissed! . . the poor delivery guys finally turned up around 9:15pm. Been working since early this morning - broke down driving through a flood on their way to Dartmouth - plenty of deliveries STILL to do!!! They very quickly brought in what one said was the freezer. Plugged it straight in temporarily on one of my new firebreast sockets to get it cooling right away. The delivery guys eventually succcessfully manoeuvred the old beast of a fridge freezer out and away to their (rental?/plain) van, blocking the road somewhere down below in the picth black. (I SO need do a path light down there - like next door!) Those poor guys. The old fridge freezer had absolutely covered one of them in white plaster/filler/cement dust - from a distinct horizontal line just below his waist, all the way down - and now fixing in nicely with some rain!!!! Sadly it had also dumped a load of water onto a bunch of dusty carpet tiles as it left (recent evidence suggests, that now makes a permanent stain!) Ouch - that's just like when Sally left for the last time too! :o| . . quickly stripped off the few bits of sticky tape and the sheet of cellophane just over the top, which was suprisingly the ONLY packing they wore, checked there was no exterior damage and quickly tried to get them both into the positions I'd planned. Yayyy - they both fit ok and appear to be working (although I WILL need to turn the door around on the fridge). Oh my god - aren't new ones just SO quiet! What joy after what I've been enduring! The freezer does without doubt look a bit silly where I've put it, but I can more than live with THAT to have it all within arms reach and free up the diner! More of an issue is the huge old microwave, now filling a good half of the useable counter top. I DEFINITELY have to get a smaller new microwave as I'd planned! The fridge I AM a little worried about because it doesn't seem to feel very cold. Having said that, I really can't tell how cold it 'should' feel anymore because I've been living with a fridge that would freeze a lettuce in the salad drawer! Actually took the living-room thermometer off its hook and put it in the fridge to make sure it was the right temperature according to the manual. . Immediately crammed all the mass of frozen food I've accumulated, into the freezer. Only just fits! I need to start eating some of it!! . . touched base with Mum and then sat down and read through the brief manuals. Finally - FINALLY calmed down and felt a bit happier about how it all worked out in the end. I guess I got a bit um - 'ragged' today! (Hysterical more like!!!!!) I'm SO not good at having to wait around on stuff like that. :o| . . . needed to sit around and recover from my day long uptightness. TVd/Pcd/touched base with BB until early. . ate spam sandwiches, a pack of mini cheddars and a whole packet of Mum donated mini chocolate logs around 3am before eventually to bed soon after! s
24 - Woke earlier, then up just before 6am . . sanded here and there before getting some paint on the firebreast walls, concentrating on the areas around the new socket boxes, intending to hopefully wire them up later. . wearing goggles and working on my back again, eventually succeeded in getting a decent coat of plaster all over my 'flue plug' in the fireplace - and all over my face and goggles of course! I think that's worked out quite nicely in the end. . had just mixed a load of plaster, and was starting to attempt to plaster the awkward back wall IN the fireplace when Mum called in! Poor Mum - I made her sit quietly until I was done! Actually made a bit of a hash of that bit of plastering. SUCH an awkward place to try to plaster. The bad news about intending to put a light up there is that when it's on, it will greatly magnify any uneveness and imperfections in those very rough interior walls. :o( I have yet to have a go at the two side walls and level off the base. It's such a small part of all that I've done, and yet it is irritatingly liable to end up being the most time consuming and fiddly! I AM gonna have to go buy more plaster. :o( . Mum had come down to let me borrow a small insulated 'cool bag' she had laying around, for when I defrost my fridge tomorrow and have all that food thawing out. . . suddenly occurred to me that Mum being here could be really useful when I attempt to alter the ring main under the floor to wire up the three new power sockets in the sides of the firebreast (the other one of the four is currently blanked - my master plan being it 'could' be useful as a phone socket some time). Despite it likely taking a while, she willingly agreed. . gathered up necessary tools and my spool of mains cable, cut the power and headed off squirming deep under the floor by torchlight. Measured up and cut the existing ring main cable in half before eventualy feeding one of the ends across the rafters and spaces under the floor and up through my conduit into one of the new sockets on the side of the firebreast. Mum helped by grabbing the wire as it emerged and making sure it didn't slip back down. Pushed up a short loop to the next socket, with Mum helping getting it through by 'jiggling' the wire, a run down to the socket on the other side of the firebreast, and then finally pushed up the other end of the cut off ring. Who'd have imagined Mum at her age would be helping re-wire a house? lololol With all the cables succesfully in place, it was now just a matter of the time consuming careful wiring up of the socket face plates. Mum left me to it. Took me about an hour before I had them all wired up and the power back on. (A dodgy faceplate screw thread on one of those new socket boxes!! After all that work! Grrrr. I've learned from painful experience that I SHOULD ALWAYS check those before fitting them but I always forget!. . Damn - making use of Mum and rushing things, I forgot to drill the wall and put the retaining screws through the back of the socket boxes! Oh well - never mind - they're secure enough the way I do them.) As ever with hooking up new power sockets - 'instant gratifiction'. VERY satisfying. . . with a spare one laying around, and suffering a bit of 'tunnel vision' as a result, I'd very nearly gone ahead and fitted a whole 'bulkhead' light up inside the fireplace. With it all now taking pretty good shape, that suddenly seemed like completely unecessary overkill. All it needed was a simple old fashioned 'surface mount' bulb-holder on the wall in there - but I didn't have one. I really didn't want to have to waste hours going around in the car trying to find somewhere that would sell such a thing. In a eurika moment, I recalled that I 'maybe' had a couple of those providing the seldom-used light in the attic. . dug out the loft ladder, climbed into the attic and yayyy - sure enough, there were two up there. Cut the power again and working by torchlight, successfully removed one, and swiftly managed to replace it with the old strip light from the bathroom, which has been sat rusting unused in the garage since I removed it. Good to 're-cycle' that old light and not have it still cluttering up the garage in danger of being smashed. That worked out nicely. :o) . . pushed on with the bit of drilling/wiring work up inside the fireplace and eventually had the lamp holder all neatly mounted to the inside face of the firebreast just above the lintel, all nicely out of sight and ready to go with an energy saver low wattge bulb in it. . . moved all the furniture and pulled up the floorboards in the spare bedroom and after cutting the power YET again for quite a long time, I eventually had the fireplace light all hooked up to the ring (via a spare ceiling 'rose' left loose under the floorboards adjacent to where the main diner light rose is fixed to the ceiling below) and connected to my spare switch on the new four gang diner switchplate. At the same time, I replaced the main diner ceiling rose with the new 'polished brass effect' one I'd recently impulse bought at the DIY store, because it was 'half price', reduced to just £3.04. That's NOT the sort of thing I would normally contemplate having, but at that price and with that ornate glass and brass diner lampshade, (and ultimately intending to also put a couple of brass spotlights in the ceiling by the alcoves) I figured it would be maybe a 'matching touch'. (I HAD hoped to have just screwed on the new brass effect cover to the existing rose, but infuriatingly after having wasted my time taking down the lampshade and pendant and trying it the other day, it'd turned out to be a 'slightly' different sized thread, so I HAD to go to all the hassle of disconnecting all the wires and swapping out the WHOLE rose!) . eventually had it all done, had the power back on and everything was working fine. Wow - hadn't expected to have got all THAT done today. That's pretty much everything in place and working and all the diner wiring done-with now (until I finally buy some spotlights and hook them up to come on with the fireplace light). EXCELLENT! :o) . Screwed all the floorboards back down and put all the furniture back in the bedroom. . cleared up some of the mess, vacuumed, and even finally returned some of my tools to the garage for the first time in weeks, and called a halt for the day around 9pm! . raced straight up the store for some sugar. I'd run out completely. . ate a microwaved beef curry with two rolls and four pieces of bread and butter, a couple of bananas and some chocolate. .TVd . . very exhausted! I got a lot done today. Literally went through the house from top to toe, from under the floor to the attic! Things are really taking shape AT LAST! :o) . to bed at 11pm.
23 - Up at 5:15am !! . . despite all that painful scrubbing at myself in the shower with a scrubbing brush, I've STILL ended up with a soot coloured pilowcase! :o( Evil stuff - you just can't seem to get it off! . . PCd this for hours . . back in the fireplace, the 'plaster over it' idea DOES appear to be viable, although it's gonna be awkward and may have to be built up in successive time consuming layers to make it strong enough. If I'd known I was gonna be using so much plaster all of a sudden, I WOULD have gone and bought a full bag rather than that small one! I've a horrible feeling I'm gonna have to go buy another! . . mixed up a couple of loads of cement and at length with MUCH difficulty, working on my back with my head in the fireplace, managed to point, firm up and render over all the loose bricks around the mouth of the chimney flue. . . with the damp atmosphere and everything noticeably taking much longer to dry out, and all the remaining things that need sorting being held up as a result, I ended up spening the WHOLE rest of the day messing around with replacing skirting boards around the firebreast and up to the back door! The few lengths of useable skirting I have left are in a hell of a state, and it was a real battle to remove all the old nails and sand them all down and find pieces long enough that weren't all split or rotten. What I hadn't realised until it was too late and they were fixed to the walls, was that they weren't even straight or a regular depth along their lengths!! Ended up with them touching the floor in places, and a big gap elsewhere (actually just like everywhere else around the house - so I guess at least it looks 'original'. lolol) . Oh well - I guess a decent carpet would hide all that anyway. . quickly ate a pastry slice and some crisps around 4pm . .Doing (so many) proper mitred joints on all the outside corners of those skirtings was way beyond my appalling carpentry skills, so I actually just 'butt jointed' the oversized lengths, before using the grinder and a sanding block to then carve away the small overlap into the appropriate multiple curved profile - which after a touch of filler and some paint, 'should' end up looking like it was done properly. . meticulously filled all the gaps to the uneven walls, over the heads of the recessed fixing screws, all the old nail holes, etc, etc with a strong PVA/filler mix applied with my favourite old bent butter knife. They are in SUCH poor shape, they are all gonna need lots of sanding down and more filler before I can go anywhere near painting them - but that's just kinda 'decorating' work, which IS a good sign of progress I think. lol. I've never had decent skirtings, and it hasn't bothered me, so I'm not 'too' fussed about spending too much time on them. Too much old chipped paint on them to try to make them look like new. At least they won't be the noticeably botched patchwork of uneven and missing pieces, that were there (or not) before I started!(Both sides of the walls around the new opening between the rooms still don't have skirtings, but I can't replace those until I either fit doors or decide not to, so they will remain without for the forseeable future. I WILL have to buy some plain timber and attempt to make up some matching new lengths for those walls when I do them!!) . . briefly trimmed the handful of carpet tiles to fit up to the new skirtings before calling it quits around 8:30pm . . With all the work I've been doing for the last couple of months mixing up loads of cement and plaster, using power tools, vacuum etc, and with showering and getting clean afterwards, there IS definitely going to be a noticeable 'spike' in both my water and electric bills!! :o( . . TVd . ate a pizza and Mum donated sponge chunk . .TVd until to bed around 11:30pm.
22 - Woke earlier, snoozed on then up at 6:15am . . PCd this . . spent the whole morning and into the afternoon JUST roughing in the two single socket boxes on the side of the diner firebreast. Very awkward because of the obstructing floor joists beneath the floor where the conduit had to drop down. Didn't go smoothly at all, with MUCH horrendous drilling noise for the poor neighbours, but got there in the end and had them rough plastered in place. . . returned to the new access hole under the diner floor and manged to drill through and hack out the few remaining obstructing bricks. It 'could' do with some tidying up and a little more cementing, but there's no real need, and that can certainly wait for some other time if at all. That whole newly opened up underfloor space is full of rubble that could do with clearing out, and there's no light in that part etc etc, so I could do a bunch more work down there to make it 'decent' and match the rest - but the way I'm feeling, I may never bother! . . so - the NEXT piece of the puzzle - it's now all about the fireplace!!!!! Ugggh. :o( . . spent ages just laying down on my back on the floor of the diner, with my head in the fireplace looking up at the inside of the flue with a torch, trying to figure out what to do with it. Plenty of the brickwork is loose and requires a bit of cementing to beef it up, and the big metal liner packed all around the outside up the flue with old soot covered fibreglass insulation, protrudes into the fireplace. I'd always imagined those liners were like a big consertina and that I'd be able to just shove it back up a bit. No way! The damn thing really was quite stiff and solid, and any attempt at pushing it back up at all, resulted in huge amounts of debris and soot falling down on me and it not moving hardly at all! . searched through my tools in the garage and eventually found the old rubber diving mask I'd once found on a beach somewhere, which I'd kept for JUST such an occasion. There was no escaping it - I WAS going to have to work face-up in the fireplace, with all the soot and debris falling down directly onto my head and face! . . measured up as best I could in the diner before returning to the bedroom above with the drill. I'd deliberately not replaced one of the floorboards the other day, because I knew I was going to have a go at this pretty soon. It may sound easy, but I'd had a huge amount of trouble figuring out in my mind where the flue from the downstairs fireplace actually went up the wall in the bedroom. The bedroom firebreast (presumably long ago bricked up by someone else) was tiny in comparison to the one below. I just couldn't work out how there was enough room in its width to take the old fireplace that must have once been there, AND have the flue from the one beneath pass up alongside! . Carefully drilled through beneath the floor into the bedroom firebreast, in the soft dusty grout between a couple of bricks - and drilled and drilled and - nothing! Damn - that must have been the hearth bricks for the old bedroom fireplace. Moved the drill over to the next most likely soft spot and had another go. Without hardly even neeeding to turn the drill on, the drill bit pretty soon pushed through into a void. Had a good look through the small hole with a torch, and gently prodded with a very long drill bit, and YAYYYyyy! I could hear, and see the metal flue-liner from the fireplace beneath. Found a suitable length of two core cable (strimmer extension lead?) in the garage and fed it through the hole into the flue. . wearing my diving mask and dust mask, I 'faced up' to the challenge of pulling down all the fibre glass packing and soot and rubble, and eventually successfully had the cable down into the fireplace. YAYYYYyyyyyyyy! :o) There we go then - in principal, fitting a light in there IS gonna be a go'er. Excellent. :o) . . the forecast heavy rain moved in and poured down for the next several hours. . spent a LOT more time just trying to figure out what to do. Not wanting to burn any bridges, and wanting to ensure that at some point in the future it 'could' be possible to 'relatively' easily open that fireplace back up for actual use with a fire again (like SO much of what I've done - not so much for me, but with some other future owner of the house in mind?) I eventually decided to trim off just a few inches of the metal liner (I REALLY didn't want to but had no choice), so that I could just jam its end against a protruding brick and leave it more or less untouched, in-situ in the mouth of the flue. Used a long piece of wood to replace all the old fibreglass up the flue around the liner as it had been, and added lots more to pack everything in tight, and make a 'level' face with the jammed end of the liner. . Totally unorthodox, but it suddenly became apparant, that if I was able to just skim over the tightly packed fibreglass and around the slightly protruding metal liner onto the surrounding brickwork with some plaster, that would likely be more than sufficient to actually have the thing 'blocked', and yet visibly a potentially viable, already lined, working fireplace, with the 'block' easily removed with a good punch if desired! (Not interested in draughty air vents. Everything was fully dry - there is a dog leg in the flue at attic level so no damp can get down any further than that, and the metal flu liner is capped with a cowl at the chimney anyway). Mixed up a small amount of plaster and got some on as an experiment to see if it would work. Ended up with my face covered in the stuff, mixed in with all the soot and fibreglass! I really got in a hell of a mess! IF that plastering idea works, that's gonna make cementing and 'tidying up' the inside of the fireplace, and then getting a light up there, a whole lot less work. Fingers very crossed. . called it quits around 8pm and vacuumed some of the soot from around the place! . . showered - much - with a scrubbing brush! . . TVd . .just a freakish concidence due to the heavy rain I'm sure, but it was VERY unnerving to suddenly hear a small amount of mortar/debris fall down the flue behind the fireplace in the FRONT froom!!! That whole chimney stack needs work! :o( . . ate microwaved curry with four bread and butter rolls and some chocolate . . TVd until to bed at 11pm.
21 - Up at 7:45am . . slow getting going before eventually jumping in the car and driving to the builders yard for a short lintel, two bags of sand and a couple of single switched sockets (£12.66). The next piece of my 'thousand piece puzzle' really has to be open up an access hole to that last bit of area underneath the floor, and get a lintel in over the hole. Knowing me, I'd probably be itching to give that a go tomorrow (when the builders yard is closed), so figured I'd best get the lintel and sand to hand, for whenever I want to do it. . . pottered around before doing a bit of hand sanding here and there and then got some paint on the walls, including a coat on that last, firebreast side wall. I could (should?) have put more work into that one and maybe plastered some more, but I came to the conclusion it was all banana like and not straight before I started, and since it is in that narrow back alcove and can hardly ever be seen, it just wasn't worth any more time. It DOESN'T leap out at you to 'offend the eye', so I guess it's more than ok. . SO - that's the bulk of the actual 'construction' work on all the walls in the diner pretty much done with (with the exception of the two sockets on the other firebreast wall, once I can get in under the floor - and all the skirting boards yet to renovate and replace - and of course lots of dusty awkward work yet to do up inside the fireplace/chimney! I'm really not looking forward to THAT!!!). It does actually look quite acceptable as it is, but there ARE plenty of areas of roughness I missed, and a handful of areas that DO draw the eye, so I will, over time, be wandering around putting more filler on all over the place, and hand-sanding those little areas down to improve things prior to a proper bit of mere painting/decorating. Just 'dinging' I call that. And as for that 'yellow staining' thing I'm plagued with here and there , I HAVE figured out how to deal with it. Experiments over the last couple of days have proved that attempting to seal it in and stop it with a sealing coat of PVA does NOT work. What DOES work is to put on a coat of oil based 'undercoat' just over the stain, and when that is dry, cover over with the final coats of emulsion - so plenty of little areas that will have to come in for that treatment. . .ate a couple of sausage rolls with spring onions . . Mum called in for chats with the paper and some cakes and chocolate etc. PCd a bit with her and showed her the Argos dining table and chairs I think I may soon end up going for. She seemed to be approving of my choice. Given she just pops in once a week and sees the latest progress, she seems more able to appreciate how things have changed than I am, and actually seems really quite excited by it! Doing it all and living in it, trying to fit the pieces of the puzzle together in the right order, and just having a mental picture of all the things that STILL need to be done, it's hard for me to step back and see how far I've come. It seems as though it's taken a lifetime, and yet if I read my own journal back a couple of days, it's hard to believe I've reached this point already. . . the minute Mum had left I couldn't resist getting back into my dust covered work clothes intending to start work under the floor!! . BB called to touch base . . worked under the floor at drilling out bricks (that 'grouting' cement slurry thing I did on the walls down there prior to painting them white, is suprisingly firm and hard to drill through! Snapped a drill bit!) and FINALLY managed to make a hole through the bit of wall under the diner floor and gain access to the last bit of underfloor space I've yet to explore. The slope of the ground under there means the access hole is going to be smallest yet! Only about four brick courses high! The new opened up area through the hole includes the base of the firebreast and is a really tight squeeze to get round. Huge amounts of rubble and debris in there, trails of dusty cobwebs hanging down everywhere, together with the seemingly obligatory long-dead, mummified rat carcass! It's an incredibly confined space, and overheating in thick overalls (necessary padding/protection from laying on the painful rubble/concrete floor) and gasping for breath inside my dust mask, I DID actually have a bit of a bout of claustraphobia/panic at one point, but managed to overcome it. No point in getting all panicky - cause there was no getting out quick! I managed to wriggle flat on my stomach into the back alcove corner to have a look with the torch to see what the problem was and why the floor in that corner of the diner was moving so much. Actually with some surprise and relief, it turned out that I couldn't really see any problem with anything!? I think maybe just a bit of slate and re-grouting around the end of the one last joist where it enters the wall is all that is needed to firm it all up. That's good news for a change. . There was no turning around in SUCH a confined space - I had to squirm and wriggle and back myself out around the corners of the firebreast base!! REALLY unpleasant and actually a bit scary! . .eventually managed to do the work to cement the lintel in place over the half finished new opening. Used the car jack and some pieces of wood to jack the lintel up solid against the floor rafters above (with a bit of plastic damp proof course in between) before bricking up to it, to make things about as firm and solid as they could possibly be. (Impossible to trowel in such a confined space - used Mum-donated extra-strong 'Marigold' gloves to push, smear and hand-feed the cement into place!) A couple of protruding bricks still need to be cut off to open that hole up proper once it's all gone solid, so I'll have to return to it with the disc cutter and drill at some point, but that's the hardest part done. YET another 'I'm SO glad to have finally got THAT sorted' piece of the puzzle! . called it quits, exhausted (even found myself laying on the rough concrete under the floor with my eyes closed for a bit!) around 7:45pm and got clean . . drank a glass of red wine and guitarred/TVd . . ate a defrosted pizza and piece of Mum donated sponge cake . . to bed at midnight. d
20 - Up at 5:15am . . still got dust in my eye!!!!!! :o( All that involunatry rubbing of my eye with rough hands has made my eyelid and surrounding area all sore as hell. With such rough hands, it's like I've had part of my face sandpapered!!! That's another thing about having failing eyesight and needing glasses to see close up like I now suddenly do. How the hell do you have a close look in a magnifying bathroom mirror into your own eye????!! No longer possible! :o( . . PCd this at length. . rain and drizzle for most of the day. The damp climate has a very noticeable effect on how quick everything is drying out - or not! The plaster on the side wall of the firebreast was still quite damp in places, so there was no chance of being able to get on with any of that last remaining bit of wall. Ended up just pottering around doing some filler, a bit of sanding, some painting etc etc and just 'playing' with little bits and pieces and pretty much more or less having a a'day off'. . . VERY carefully and accurately measured up spaces and units in the kitchen (and measured again!) and drew plans of the spaces on a bit of paper, and then went on-line getting serious about replacing my horrendous old, 'came with the house' faulty fridge freezer, with two seperates to be actually sited within the galley-kitchen area. With that horrendous great huge, noisy monstrosity currently sat in the middle of the dining room, it being gone is now absolutely fundamental to actually being able to use the diner AS a diner. . pretty quickly came to the conclusion that I really didn't care too much what I replaced it with, as long as they did the job. Far more critical to me was that they fitted in the (weird) spaces I have in mind, to make everything more compact and hopefully work so much better. The fridge under the counter top below where I envisage one day having a central heating boiler on the wall (with the door hinge on the left, and enough gap behind to eventually get the central heating pipes down the wall unobstructed) - the freezer sat IN the 'modified' unit beneath the oven !! (with the door hinge on the right)! Those critical dimensions immediately limited my choice (no bad thing). With almost no shopping around at all, I eventually ended up on the Currys website and ordered an ESSENTIALS - CUL50W10 Undercounter Fridge - White for £ 119.99 and an ESSENTIALS - CUF50W10 Undercounter Freezer - White for £ 119.99. A total of £239.98 which includes delivery AND removal of the old appliance. (Considering the distance to the road and all the steps etc etc - removal of that old monster must be worth at least £50 to me in itself!) Unless something goes wrong, should happen on Wednesday apparantly. Trouble I've got with this plan is the fact that my freezer is currently full to bursting with frozen stuff that could feed me for weeks. The old appliance has to be defrosted before it's picked up, and I gather that on the day, you get a 4 hour delivery slot. In effect - I'm gonna have a huge pile of frozen stuff all defrosting somewhere (in the bath covered in duvets?) while I wait for them to arrive and before I can get the new freezer plugged in and working! Also - the new freezer will be a bit smaller than the old, so it's all probably not going to fit back in anyway. So - after the last few weeks of a very meagre diet, over the next few days, I need to suddenly start eating LOTS out of the freezer!!! lolol . . ate a couple of de-frosted meat and pastry slices . . touched base with Mum and told her about developments and asked her NOT to bring any food donations with her when she visits on Saturday. She told me about an advert in the local free paper (which I only ever seem to get intermitantly) for a dog needing re-homing. I DID try calling the number, but only got a mobile ansaphone and no call back. I imagine someone snapped that one up pretty quick, based on the 'enticing' wording of the advert. Just as well at the moment. I've still a lot of work I need to do around the place, and it really would be difficult with a dog around. All this work I've been doing and the mess I've gotten into - it's no concidence I DIDN'T do it all when Sally was around. . lay down for an hour or so but didn't actually get to sleep . . finally cut power, pushed the kitchen light cables back down the conduit and connected up the new four gang (one as yet unused) switch plate in the diner (although not screwed back to the wall yet because I want to get another coat of paint on). Replaced the landing floorboard etc. . cleaned and vacuumed a little . . TVd/guitarred the evening away. . ate a microwave curry with four pieces of bread and butter, chocolate and biscuits . . my 'gritty' eye does NOT appear to be rectifying itself! That's BAD news. I hate to admit it (I can't believe I've done it to myself - again!) but if it doesn't get any better soon, I may have to consider seeking 'professional assistance' with it! Really bad news. Aside from anything else - down here, I have no idea who to go to or where! . .eventually to bed around 12:30am. s
19 - Back up at 6:15am . . PCd and sat around in the mess for hours before finally managing to get going again. Stuck the dust sheet back up and sanded down the plaster patches on the alcove wall and the wall around the back door again. It suddenly didn't appear to look 'too' bad, and perhaps prematurely because I'm just running out of steam, I went straight ahead and slapped a 'undercoat' of emulsion on them to force a halt and actually be able to see how much more work they need. Apart from ironing out all the painted over problems on them all, that just leaves me the wall up the side of the firebreast to do. I'm getting there - very slowly. . . a million and one things still to do all over the place, I couldn't quite decide what I had the energy to do next and just sat around for ages. Given all the dusty mess I was already in and with the dust sheet already stuck up (and with the remote possibility the worst of my dust making is now behind me), I figured there really was no choice but to tackle having a go at extracting the existing light switch socket box and try to replace it with a double one, together with another run of conduit down in the wall! . . lifted the floorboard upstairs, cut power and dragged all the cables up through the existing conduit out of the way. Actually just left them loose on the opened up floor of the landing, with the switchplate put back on, sat in a plastic tupperware to be able to put the power back on! Hardly agreeable but temporarily 'safe' enough. .carefully cut around the single socket box with the disc cutter and the drill and eventually succeeded in prising it out of the wall without in any way dislodging or damaging the existing conduit. As far as I can recall, it IS the first time I've ever had to 're-visit' one of my socket/conduit installations. The way I do them is just something I've kinda figured out, and despite it always appearing to end up looking ok, I've never really known how well it may hold together, 'over time'. Despite always meticulously 'roughing' the outside of the plastic conduit with sandpaper before I plaster them in, I've always had a sneaking suspicion that the plaster could 'separate' from the plastic in the wall (with different expansion rates, etc) over time. Well - that light switch has been in the wall for at least three years now I guess, and if it is anything to go by, then I have no need to worry. Because of the shallow depth of the wall there, and the deep (35mm) socket boxes I always use to give plenty of internal space for the cables, I hadn't even screwed that socket box to the wall - and yet it was VERY firmly embedded in the plaster and took quite a bit of getting out, even after having cut out all around it! The conduit was equally firmly attached and happily forming part of the wall now. All very gratifying to see that what I've been doing, all works so well. :o) (Just for the record - here is how I put in all my sockets in a solid brick wall:- use the drill and small chisels to cut out a recess in the brickwork to take the box (a hardened steel, old screwdriver blade is particularly useful for 'precision' chiseling in the awkwardly small space, which avoids the likelihood of damaging the surrounding wall or plaster!). Making the hole slightly too large and deep is preferable, to allow for adjustment. Knock out whichever blank in the socket box has been chosen to take the circular plastic conduit (preferably NOT the one immediately adjacent to the earth post/screw) and then with the box successfully fitting loosely in the excavated recess, mark the wall where the conduit will enter the box. THIS is the dusty bit where I bet no-one but me would contemplate doing it inside a house - but I then use the disc-cutter/angle grinder (abused-drill and chisels) to cut out the channel for the conduit all up/down the wall to beneath the floor or above the ceiling as appropriate, making sure to get it deep enough so the conduit will lie beneath the plaster and line up with the entry into the box. Cut the conduit to the required length so that it 'just' overlaps into the entry hole of the socket box. Use a drill grinding-stone attachment to slightly 'ream out' both ends of the conduit, to remove/round off the inner edge of the conduit wall, to ultimately make poking cables down them easier and less likely to 'catch' on the sharp edge. Rough-up the entire outer face of the conduit with some sandpaper along all its length, to act as a key for the plaster. The next bit can get messy and requires that you work quick. Mix an appropriate amount of (wet) 'one coat' plaster and trowel the plaster all along the conduit groove and into the box recess. With the plaster still wet, push the socket box and conduit into the plaster and into position, allowing the wet plaster to 'splurge out' all around (so there are no hidden voids/gaps). Make sure you don't get any plaster down INSIDE the conduit! Plug the ends with protruding, easily pulled back out twirls of kitchen roll, if necessary! If the plaster consistancy is about right, the box and conduit is immediately held in position, but still enables movement for final adjustments to ensure the socket box is straight and level and flush with the face of the wall etc. Double check alignment of the box with a spirit level across the face plate screw holes etc. When happy all is near perfect, fill in any gaps and all along the conduit channel over the conduit with more plaster, and smooth over everything. Carefully clear out and remove all the excess plaster that 'squirted into' the socket box through the screw holes - particularly making sure the earthpost/screw is clear. THAT is pretty much job done. Let the plaster dry out. In practice I've found the plaster/wall around the job, does benefit from some sanding and filling and final sanding to get a near perfect seamless finish capable of just being painted over. The VERY last thing I do once everything has hardened up, is use a small drill to drill through the screw holes in the back of the box into the wall, push in a couple of wall plugs and put two securing screws in (although not at all necessary since the plaster and protruding conduit is more than capable of holding it all VERY firm). It's a lot of hassle (and dust!) - but once all that is done, wiring up the box or making future alterations/additions/re-wiring is so, SO easy thanks to being able to simply push/pull the cables up/down through the conduit. You CAN cram a LOT of cables down through a single conduit (lubricate with washing up liquid if it gets tight). It's just a lot more work if you put in more than one run of conduit. (I HAVE put in boxes with THREE different conduits - up, down AND sideways to an adajacent box!!) Anyway - right or wrong - thats how I've learned to do it. It works. :o) ) . happily managed to get the new double box to fit into the newly cut larger recess onto the existing conduit, so it was 'just' (!!) then a case of cutting the channel with the disc cutter and running another conduit up the wall to beneath the floor upstairs. Big dusty mess but it all went ok. Ok that is apart from getting some dust in my eye (AGAIN!!! I don't believe it! And that, despite me dilligently wearing dust mask, ear protectors AND glasses! :o( ) . . Eventually, at length, had the new double box and conduit all plastered in place and drying out. Always very satisfying to reach that point. Left the loose cables in the tupperware up on the landing until at least tomorrow, to enable me to sand and finish off around that box unobstructed once its dried out, before eventually reconnecting everything back up. So - that's THAT small piece of the puzzle done. First time I've ever put in a double box for a light switch! That one double box and double conduit should now EASILY accomodate ALL the lighting options I can possibly envisage in those rooms, AND still give me spare capacity for unforseen future expansion. :o) . . that pretty much wore me out and I only just had the energy left to make a start clearing up some of the horrendous dusty mess I was in! . .vacuumed much . . caved in and called it quits for the day around 6pm . . defrosted a huge lump of 'dog food' pork and ate pork and chips, a banana, chocolate and biscuits . . TVd struggling to stay awake (and having trouble with my gritty eye!) before giving up and going to bed by 10pm!
18 - Up around 7:15am . . PCd this for ages . . plaster was still drying so I couldn't get on with what I wanted. Ended up driving to the out of town DIY store for a small bag of plaster, some single socket boxes and a few other bits and pieces (£28.05). One of the things I 'impulse' bought because it was on clearance/special-offer, was a large lightswitch plate. A four switch plate that actually fits on a double socket box. That thing about wanting to get another conduit to the lightswitch in the kitchen/diner I hadn't fully thought through. It's a single socket box. There IS a physical limit to the number of switches it can have on it - and I think the limit IS three! That's gonna complicate things greatly if I want more. . successfully roughed-in two single socket boxes and conduits on the side wall of the firebreast. (Rare for me to go to all that bother of double the work for single socket boxes, but I can envisage a possible future benefit in that location for singles, and the flexibility of maybe NOT having them both as power sockets). I had intended to return to and do the same on the other firebreast side-wall to match, but the position of an obstructing floorjoist under the floor meant I couldn't do it until I have full access under that bit of floor to be able to get under and drill out a couple of awkward 'notches', so it'll have to wait for some other time. . tended to lots of little things for hours, making very little progress but working pretty much non stop nonetheless! . sanded down the newly replaced coving in the corner and then got a bit of a skim of plaster over the blocked up hole in the ceiling, and did my very best with some very wet plaster and an old paint brush, to attempt to disguise the scar and match up the existing swirled stippled ceiling effect. . exchanged a few words with the neighbour in the garden at one point (during my many many long walks up to the garage for tools etc) and he offered me some 'surplus' (?) eggs. Ended up being given a tray of fifteen. . with so little progress made, although it was around 6pm, with yesterdays plaster more or less dried out, I couldn't resist pushing on and cellotaping a dust sheet back up between the two rooms and starting to sand down the rough walls. Hugely disappointing to find some areas of that newly applied plaster had reacted with something on the wall and turned to dust again!!! What on earth IS it that is causing that??!!!!! After all those hours meticulously scraping those walls and trying to make absolutely sure everything was off them before I plastered! :o( On top of all that - the dust sheet did NOT hold back the dust (and even eventually partially fell down during the sanding) and the whole place got covered in a layer of thick dust again. It's SO soul destroying to be constantly in such a mess and cleaning all the same stuff over and over again. . plastered up the side of the firebreast and re-did a few patches here and there before eventually calling it quits around 8:30pm and just leaving all the dust and mess everywhere . . TVd sat in the dust . . ate a four egg cheese and spring onion omlette with four pieces of bread and butter, a banana and some chocolate . . TVd until to bed at 11:30pm. . woke back up at 12:55am!! Seemed to be feeling quite a bit of pain and from my right arm in particular , and ended up popping an annadin tablet before getting back to sleep. :o(
17 - Poor nights sleep, gave up and got up around 5:15am!! . . annadin tablet, coffee and cigarettes for breakfast while PCing this for hours. Ummm - what day is it? Funny how I had to go buy a new watch recently (which I'm still VERY pleased with). What day or month it is, really has become largely irrelevant to me at the moment with doing all this renovating work on the house. I seem to be TOTALLY consumed by it and single pointedly focused on reaching a 'certain point' to the exclusion of ALL else. Having said that, I HAVE had enough of it to last a lifetime now, and am really longing for a damn good break from it! I've done nothing else for - um - months now is it? I figure if I can keep up the pace, one more week of work should see the diner pretty much coming together - at which point, once the dust has settled (quite literally!) I may well start a bit of a spending spree and go in search of table and chairs/fridge/freezer. Having said that, the more the space is evolving, the more I can envisage the need to sadly re-visit something I've already done! The lightswitch. Moving the kitchen/diner lightswitch was I think, one of the first things I did when I moved in here (because the original switch was awkwardly/absurdly positioned behind a door!). I only put in a single conduit to the switch, because I thought at the time it would be more than adequate. With the changes I've made, that single conduit is already crammed with three seperate switch cables - one for the kitchen, one for the diner, and one (thick) for the hallway light two-way. I can now envisage having another set of ceiling spot lights in the diner (broadly in each alcove - identical to how I put them in the living room), to give a subdued lighting option in there (and I haven't given up on the idea YET, of maybe trying to get a light up inside the fireplace). I think I'm going to have to re-excavate the switch (some time in the future - absolutely NOT now!) and try to get a second conduit embedded down in the wall to it! Ugggh - more dusty 'disc-cutter in the house' work! :o( . . it has occurred to me much of late - (considering my eternal feelings of guilt and unworthiness) yes, I AM very lucky to be in the situation I am, and I AM lucky to have this place and all that - BUT - if I eventually end up living in a pretty neat place (and it really IS 'starting' to get to be that), it WON'T be about just being 'lucky'. In my own way, I've gone without a lot and worked hard for what I've got. Always have. I've worked DAMN hard of late!!!!! . . . funny - having typed how hard I've been working, today I just couldn't seem to get going to the same degree at all. I just didn't want to be doing it - again! :o( . scraped paint off the diner walls for hours. . fixed a temporary straight edge piece of timber to the wall next to the back door and eventually got some plaster on it and some more on the alcove wall. The firebreast wall I did NOT plaster, because with my atrocious plastering skills, there is just no way I'd be able to plaster two adjacent walls into a corner at the same time, and get a decent straight corner finish! It's also touch and go whether or not I've enough plaster left to do the job, and I really don't want to have to go buy another full bag of plaster at the stage where most of it will probably be hanging around unused for months 'going off'. . cut and glued a patchwork of pieces of board into the gap in the ceiling where the pipes came down. (Everywhere I've put in sockets in the stud walls upstairs, I've saved the small pieces of original timber board, because I knew they'd come in useful elsewhere. Used up a few pieces of that to patch the ceiling hole.) Good to get that hole filled up and the dust in the kitchen sealed off from the bedroom above! . .used the disc cutter out in the garden to clean up the old bits of coving from that corner, getting them ready for being stuck back up. . caved in early around 5:30pm and ended up PCing a bit and just sitting around feeling a bit miserable and fed up. I don't go on about it here, but I missed Sally a lot today. :o( I simply try not to think about her most of the time, but every now and then I can't help it, and I have to fight off the 'tidal wave' of emotion that threatens to sweep in upon me. It's a real physical 'lurch' in the stomach! When I removed that weird vent in the floor for the back boiler, inside the grid of the cover was a piece of her complete dry food. When I moved the fridge freezer, there was also a piece under that. When I have to go round cleaning the dust off everything, when I move the box containing her ashes, I find my mind using the word 'precious', as though I am some sort of 'Gollum' character! I can still easily break into tears if I allow it (like almost now typing this). I wish I could share the experience of the new open-plan living area with her. I miss my friend. :o( . . quickly fixed the two small pieces of coving back to the ceiling and walls in the corner of the alcove at around 9:30pm. They went back into the corner surpisingly well, considering they had been on top of the removed boxing in around the pipes. . . ate a banana, pizza with extra cheese and piece of iced sponge cake . . TVd until bed at 11:30pm.
16 - Up around 8am . . back to work in the diner and started off by bricking up the large hole in the alcove side of the firebreast, where all the central heating pipes had been taken through to the back boiler. Actually used the disc cutter out in the garden to carve up one of the concrete blocks I've had sat around waiting to be broken up to fill potholes in the lane, and fashioned an awkwardly shaped piece to fill much of the hole in one go, with the remainder filled with any old bits of brick and cement. . I HAD hoped to maybe get some plaster on the wall corner near the back door today, but while removing a bit of skirting starting to prepare things with that in mind, I got distracted by the bit of uneven floor by the back door. It's always been strangely uneven immediately up to the door, but all covered by the floor tiles, I've just put up with it. After having removed the carpet tiles, I discovered the most amazing botch of a job on the section of floor that goes over the main outside wall of the house (once the actual double glazed back door to outside, but now opening into my conservatory). A couple of long pieces of timber had been put down at right angles to the rest of the floorboards to fill the gap. They weren't at all level. They were in fact put in SO 'unlevel' that at one end the timber was more or less flush with the floorboards, while at the other end it was pretty much sat on TOP of the floorboards!!!! Some 'just-bodge-it' joker in the distant past (the carpet tile fitters?) had made a 'ramp' up to that protruding timber with filler, and had just stuck carpet tiles over it all!!!!! Who in their right mind would have done such a bodge - and what owner of this house would have let them!? Foor goodness sake! Outrageous. There was no leaving it to some other time as I'd intended - I ended up prising the timbers up out of the floor in the hope of being able to quickly re lay them more appropriately. Oh dear - that revealed a whole new can of worms to suddenly have to detour and sort out! I'd assumed that if the worst came to the worst, I'd be able to just pour in a new slab of concrete instead of those uneven timbers. That turned out to be not so easy. Beneath the (rotten) timbers lay not only the rubble filled cavity wall, but also a whole section of large gap, into the void beneath the floor. To pour a slab would have meant having to construct some awkward elaborate timber casing/shuttering to take it across that gap and up to the floorboards!! Arrrrggggghhhh!!!!!!!! What to do? Thinking 'outside the box' in grand 'DIY/what have I got laying around' tradition, I quickly measured up the depth of the gap from the top of the floorboards to the top of the cavity wall bricks, and then raced up the garden to measure one of the big old spare concrete paving slabs I've had laying up there for ages. Would you believe it! 'Almost' perfect! Like it was 'meant to be' again. lol :o) . so, to cut a long story short, I used the disc cutter to cut the slab into pieces to fill the gap, and eventually layed it in ontop of the cavity wall on a skim of PVA/cement (and even partially NOT, in places, because it was such a close fit to getting it level with the floorboards at the 'high' end)!! Actually - prior to cementing in the slabs, I spent a huge amount of time reaching into the wall cavity with my bare hands and removing as much of the loose rubble and debris as I reasonably could! Pretty much filled a sack!! Not sure if it'll make any difference to anything, but it seemed like the best thing to do given the once in a lifetime chance. Left much of the skin on my nuckles in there in exchange! . because of the tiny amount of cement beneath one of those sections of slab in particular, I put in a crazy amount of time in driving in a strong cement mix into the narrow gaps around all the slab sections, in the hope of making it all as firm and non moving as it could ever hope to be (although those bits of slab are SO heavy, there can surely be little chance of their moving at all anyway). It isn't perfect - maybe protrudes above the floorboard level by a millimeter or so at one end - but overall, I was very, VERY , VERY pleased with the end result. :o) Yet another thing sorted. :o) . . .with most of the 'working day' spent sorting all that out, I felt like I was WAY behind my planned schedule for the day. Very tired but felt obliged to push on, so mixed up various loads of cement and eventually managed to render up the whole side of the ftrebreast where the pipes had come down, patch a bit of another section of wall and finally block up the remaining pipe holes on the INSIDE of the fireplace (good to have that draughty cavity all sealed back up)!! . . called it quits shortly after 7pm . . drank a glass of red wine and TVd while cooking a mum donated pizza . . ate pizza and chocolate . TVd until to bed around 10:30pm. d
15 - Up around 9:30am . . I REALLY need a break, but with only that one last alcove and the sections of wall up to and around the back door in the diner, still covered in that disgusting heavily embossed wallpaper, I just HAVE to push on don't I! :o( . . popped up to the garage for some tool or other and found the back gates all open and blowing in the breeze!!!??? Feared the worst for a bit before eventually concluding it was just a case of all the timber and screwed fitments having started to all fall apart, and one of the bolts had just slipped out of position. Tightened screws and left more serious remedial work for some other time. I have more than enough on my plate as it is! . . defrosted the fridge freezer and for the first time since living here, finally got round to moving it out of it's absurd alcove. Temporarily stuck it kindof in the middle of the room, where it will have to remain - probably until I finally soon replace and get rid of it! (Not soon enough! Horrendous noisy beast of a thing!!! I absolutely HATE it!) . wow - there's something seriously wrong with the floor in that alcove where they had the fridge freezer! It very noticably 'sags' when you walk on it! I'm suprised it could take the weight of the fridge freezer in that state! Sadly (or actually perhaps thankfully, given all the work I already have on my plate) there's nothing I can do to remedy that until I finally open up that last walled-in area of the underfloor space. As soon as I have though - looking at beefing up the floor joists in that corner in particular will have to be a priority! . . stripped wallpaper and eventually after some diffciulty, managed to remove the coving and boxing-in timbers that dropped down the length of the alcove/firebreast wall around all the old central heating pipes. . lifted part of the bedroom floor and eventually at length, managed to cut off all the pipes and remove the lengths that dropped down into the diner (all dumped in the garden with the remains of the back boiler as scrap). . cut the power and eventually managed to remove the old spur of wire which connected the socket in that alcove and the power to the central heating controller. SO good to finally get rid of that old bit of the original wiring. Half way along its length under the floor, I'd long ago discovered it had been joined using a connector block, all covered over with insulation tape! (With no current access to that area of the underfloor space, I'd not been able to replace it). . removed all the old sockets and wires and the central heating controller as carefully as I could. I have it in mind (when I finally learn how!) that maybe I could sell that controller on e-bay and get a bit of money back. . the section of wall all up the firebreast where the pipes had been, is going to require a substantial amount of rebuilding/ rendering/ plastering! :o( Also, the section of wall immediately adjacent to the back door opening isn't at all level. It curves dramatically upto the corner, so that whole awkward corner is going to have to be built up with more plastering! It's never ending!!!!! . removing one of the old broken sections of skirting by the back door, I discovered a coin behind it. Turned out to be a 1911, King George, 'States Of Jersey' , 'One Twenty-Fourth Of A Shilling'. (What's that - I can't remember - a ha'penny?) That's a weird thing to find there (particularly considering it's a 1930s house)??? . . eventually called it quits for the day leaving everything in a bit of a mess and PCd just a bit of this . .ate salami, mayo and lettuce rolls with crisps, some muller rice and chocolate . . TVd . . to bed around midnight.
14 - Up around 7:45am . . a bit of drizzle. God knows I could use some rain - the doors and windows of the conservatory and the whole of the back garden near the house look as though it's been snowing, where I've been shaking out my dust sheets and emptying the vacuum into a container, etc, etc!!! . . put another coat of watery paint on the firebreast wall again. Plenty of areas that will require further filling/smoothing attention (and that brown staining thing to sort out), but overall, there is every indication that I have more or less acheived my goal and made it look 'mostly' flat and smoothish. It'll do. :o) . . did dish washing chores and made an attempt at de-dusting some of the cupboards!! Quite literally everything everwhere is covered in dust. Everything INSIDE every drawer and cupboard - and even some of it got into the fridge somehow!! Ended up washing every single piece of cutlery I own and much of the crockery before caving in and leaving everything else to some other time! I need a 'day off'. . .Mum called in with the paper and food donations for a cuppa and chats etc. Gave her a chance to see one or two of 'The Beautiful Word' youtube videos. Not really her cup of tea I think. . . ate Mum donated sardines in tomato sauce with choped spring onions in bread rolls with crisps and chocolate . .BB called . . napped until the alarm at 7:15pm . . TVd briefly before turning it off and just guitarring for a few hours . . TVd . . ate sausage rolls, crisps, chocolate and co co pops . . PCd surfing dining tables and chairs etc, trying to formulate a plan in my mind of what style may eventually suit my new 'diner' area. Sprisingly, I think I'm leaning in the direction of a 'dark wood' type set. Oooh, oooh - amazingly Argos do a dark stain, cheap pine set complete with four chairs for only around £100!! That (or one of their others slightly more expensive) is VERY tempting! Imagine - ME with a 'proper' dining area, table and chairs! I wouldn't know myself! I like the idea. :o) . PCd until gone 4:30am before bed! s
13 - Up around 7am . . PCd a bit of this . . cellotaped the dust sheet back up (further marking the coving!) before sanding over the new plaster and the whole firebreast wall again - and of course covering everything in layers of dust - AGAIN! :o( . with hindsight perhaps I SHOULD have invested the money and effort and pushed on and fitted the doors to the opening between the rooms, for no other reason than to help me contain all the dust I've been making working in the diner!! . all of a sudden the firebreast wall seemed to be looking 'not so bad' and the possibility of getting some paint on it today seemed acheivable. Covered all the cracks, dings and plaster seams and joins with a final skim of filler. . drove to buy petrol (26.33ltrs @ £30) before carrying on out to the DIY store for supplies of 10ltrs emulsion paint and a small tin of undercoat (£17.98). Actually felt rather strange to 'be out'!!. . returned home feeling all exhausted by the effort and could very easily have gone straight to sleep, but more coffees and cigarettes saw me resist! . .sanded down the filler by hand using various grades of wet and dry paper, before vacuuming around a bit (yet again!!!) and then getting an 'undercoat' of emulsion all over the wall. That paint appears to be pretty cheap and watery, so I think I'm gonna have to put on another coat before I know how successful my attempts at making that wall flat have been and how much more work on it I'm gonna still have to do before I may be satisfied. VERY disappointed to have two areas of that wall spontaneously develop that awful brown staining thing again, where something on the wall reacted with the water in the paint! :o( I still haven't really got to the bottom of how to hide that once it happens!!?? :o( . . dug out three of my spare floor tiles and cut them to fit the gap over the hearth and up to the wall - for psychological reasons, as a 'morale booster' as much as anything else. . more vacuuming and clearing up before eventually collapsing in front the TV after 8pm . . ate a whole pack of corned beef in sandwiches with lettuce and mayo together with most of a large pack of crisps, a banana and some chocolate . . guitarred/TVd . . TVd eating biscuits . . to bed around midnight. s
12 - Woke around 6am, snoozed on then up around 6:45am . . PCd this . . dug out a small jewelers screwdriver and successfully removed three links from my new watch strap by undoing the long screw-in pins. Seems like a pretty good quality strap. I really am SO impressed with what I've got for the money. . back to work on the diner firebreast. Sanded down all the plaster I put on yesterday. . Oh no - something on the wall above the old picture-rail line had reacted with the plaster I put on yesterday!!!!!!???? Wherever traces of the mystery substance remained unseen on the wall, the plaster had been somehow sort of turned to dust, which just brushed back off the wall!!!??? I've never encountered anything like this before. What on earth could cause such an effect?????? Nightmare. Ended up having to remove all the plaster I put on yesterday and start from scratch. VERY depressing - and I don't think I can even see what caused it. . spent ages scraping every last bit of paint I could find off the wall, and even scrubbed and washed it all down! Re-plastered it, and put some more on other bits of the wall around the fireplace opening. Parts of that wall are going to need several layers of plaster and much sanding down to build it all back up and get it anywhere near smooth looking. I'm really sick of it and the constant dusty mess I'm having to live in. :o( . . pulled up a carpet tile and finally removed the ugly plastic air vent protruding up from the floor near the fireplace. Ventilation for the back boiler apparantly (even mentioned in passing on the survey I had done when I bought the place). I'd always assumed it was something clever, in some way linked into the back boiler, so I'd always just steered well clear of it and left it alone. As it turns out, it was actually nothing more than an air vent, not in any way actually connected to anything!! Just a square plastic cover containing a bit of mesh, covering a hole through the floorboards straight into the draughty underfloor space! Good grief - no wonder it's been so cold in this house. That's kinda like having an open window in there all the time!! . spent the next hour or more using the timber from an old pine corner shelf, to cut out a four and a half inch diameter round plug to fill the hole in the floorboards. Used the disc cutter to do the final touches of grinding-off, to get it to wedge snugly in the hole before gluing it in place. VERY glad to see that ugly vent finally gone. . prised-up and discarded all the broken green glazed tiles from the hearth. That revealed an uneven big slab of concrete beneath, which was slightly higher than the bottoms of the floorboards on either side, so that prevented any possibility of just covering it all over with some new floorboard. Oh well - that saves me some expense then. Cleared and vacuumed up a little before, with really little other choice, I finally mixed up a large load of cement and poured it onto the hearth slab and tamped and smoothed it off to be level with the floor on either side. Hardly attractive, but more than adequate for carpetting over nice and smooth - which will be a vast improvement on what WAS there beneath the uneven carpet tiles!. . it doesn't sound like it, and it's hard to imagine how things take so long, but that's YET another day of almost non-stop work (apart from much stops for coffee and cigarettes) until well after 7pm! . . showered and then drank a glass of wine while cooking. Defrosted a huge lump of beef from the freezer, chopped it up and added it to a cheap tin of beef curry. Cooked rice and eventually ate an absolutely massive meal - easily enough for two (or even more!). . TVd. . BB called to touch base only to find me almost incapabable of speaking I was so tired and full of food! . . managed to muster the energy to go stand in the dark up the back garden for a bit, watching for the perseid meteor shower show. Saw a few . . ate biscuits with coffee before eventually to bed around midnight. d
11 - Woke earlier then up around 7:15am . . PCd this . . soon back to work on the diner firebreast, trying to scrape off more paint and having a go at chiseling off some of the unevenness. . the postman delivered both my recent e-bay orders - the watch and the three cutting discs. Had a quick look at the watch and was actually really quite impressed. That's a lot of watch and stainless steel strap for THAT money! Unfortunately the strap is rather long and didn't include instructions about how to make it shorter, so I won't be wearing it until I've sorted that out. I like a watch to be tight on my wrist so it doesn't 'slop about'. . . I so SO didn't want to, but it eventually became apparant that the only chance I had of getting the firebreast in any way appearing near flat, was going to be by using the disc cutter (now I have some new discs) to quite literally grind away a whole section of the face of the wall!! I so SO didn't want to and it took ages of just sitting looking at it before I could muster up the energy to do it. Eventually cellotaped token dust sheets between the two rooms and went for it. No one in their right mind should EVER contemplate doing such a thing, but I couldn't see any reasonable alternative and was absolutely determined not to still end up with that irritating eyesore, dusty bump, half way up the wall that I've lived with since moving in here. The process created SO much dust, I had to stop on a handful of occasions and go and sit in the garden waiting for it to settle, because it was simply not possible to see through it to continue working!!!!!!!! No one would believe some of the stuff I do and the state I get into doing it!! Sat in the back garden with the door and window open, it looked as though the house was on fire as the dust billowed out on the breeze like thick smoke! Of course everything everywhere (including inside all the kitchen cupboards) is absolutely covered - again! :o( . eventually called it quits, did a little cementing and plastering and then cleared up just a little, before ending up feeling all burned out and thoroughly sick and tired of it all. :o( . . collapsed in front the TV and couldn't muster the energy to start cooking and eventually simply ended up eating a couple of bags of crisps, a chicken and mushroom pastry slice, half a buttered golden syrup cake and some chocolate - NOT enough! . . TVd until bed around 11pm.
10 - Up around 8:45am after quite a long sleep . . drizzly. . measured up the diner fireplace and then got in the car and drove to the builders yard. Sadly, as I'd suspected, they didn't stock anything like that old round-edge timber detailing that's been used throughout the house as edge bead. Bought a 900mm reinforced concrete lintel, a bag of sand and another of cement (£13.39). . started work on the fireplace. Stripped off some of the paper and then used the drill to excavate footings in the wall for the new lintel ends, before very carefuly managing to drill out the cement above the existing short metal lintel. Managed to remove it, open the hole up to its full old extent, and get the new one cemented in without everything collapsing. . A bit more cementing to the rough base inside the opening. As a result of all the pipework for the old back boiler having been put roughly through the side wall, the inside of that fireplace is going to require quite a lot of re-building - and a bit actually UP the flue too!!! That ain't gonna be easy! . . stripped off the rest of the paper to reveal the full horrors of the firebreast. Lots of old cracks and the roughly patched up scars of at least two different fireplace surrounds - including what must have been the original one going very high up the wall with evidence of a shelf detail near the top! Bet that was impressive in its day. Trouble with all that is, all those old blocked up holes and cementing and plastering over has created a really uneven, badly undulating wall!! Concave in one large area, convex in another - nothing straight or level in ANY direction! I'm really a bit stumped as to what to do about it. It's simply going to be impossible to get that wall looking smooth and flat as a result. One of the bricked-up undulations had been done SO badly, that even with the heavily embossed wallpaper covering it, it was always plainly visible, and SO pronounced and sticking out SO much, it actually collected dust onto the paper making it an even more noticeable eyesore. Why oh why oh why do builders who block up old fireplaces ALWAYS seem to completely ignore any attempt at getting it flat and disguised? I don't think I've ever encountered a blocked up fireplace where you don't end up seeing that uneven ridge half way down the face of the wall! Drives me mad - and it sadly looks as though I'm gonna be stuck with it! :o( . . scraped off just some of the flakey paint for a couple of hours before eventually calling it quits around 8pm . . TVd . . cooked and ate a Mum donated pizza with extra (pretty much gone-off) cheese followed by a little chocolate . .TVd until bed around midnight.
9 - Back up around 9:15am feeling really rather awful and wobbly . . sat around/ate chocolate biscuits and a banana/TVd . . two new recycling bins were delivered! . . cooked mashed potato, chopped onion and peas - early. Just about serving it up when PJ called to touch base (!?) and commiserate over Sally etc. . just sitting down to eat (my burned potato as a result of the delay!) with some slices of Mum donated ham when Mum called to tell that one of the people at Uncle TJs funeral recently (and video I did), had also just unexpectedly up and died!!!!! :o| . . napped the afternoon away until around 4:15pm . . TVd/sat around/did a little paperwork/PCd a little (had a bit of a look at dogs) and finally got round to having a look at a couple of the youtube videos by a band called 'The Beautiful Word'. (Coz1's son is the bass guitarist!) Good stuff. VERY impressed! . . TVd/guitarred . . ate a couple of ham rolls, crisps, mini cheesecake and chocolate. . BB called to touch base . . TVd and ate bowls of co-co pops until bed around 1:30am. s
8 - Up around 8:45am again . . did dusty laundry - lots. . sat around a lot doing nothing, enjoying the new feel of the place. Did at least pretty much come to a decision about what I'm gonna do with the diner fireplace I think. The way the house is evolving, I really don't think getting clever with brick arches and the like is the right thing to do. Not in keeping with the character of the place. I think it's gonna simply end up being a rectangular recess in the plain firebreast wall, with a bit of that round-edge detailing around it, like I've found and revealed on the corners of the walls everywhere else. Only problem I can see with that (apart from having to go buy a new short lintel and doing all the considerable work) is I'm not sure you can actually buy that round-edge-detail timber these days. If I end up having to try and make some up, or even just try to 'mould the plaster', it'll turn into a long drawn out pain in the ass! . . mowed the back lawn and trimmed one of the grossly overgrown hedges with the hedge trimmer just a little, just enough to be able to walk up the path again . . guitarred in the garden . . drank a glass of red wine . .ate salami lettuce and mayo rolls with crisps and chocolate . . napped . . TVd until early. Alternated through the evening between feeling ravenously hungry and then horribly nauseaus! . . ended up PCing for hours looking at all manner of nonsense on e-bay and the like (including such fascinating stuff as curtain tracks and 'blackout' curtain linings! lol) . eventually ordered a triple pack of '4 1/2" DIAMOND CUTTING DISCS BLADES ANGLE GRINDER' for £4.95 including postage, and even threw away some money on a cheap watch!! Mine really has started to be more hassle than its worth. It'll now stop if it gets cold AND/OR if it is taken off my wrist at all! It's become SO unreliable, I've actually taken to not wearing it some of the time, because being unreliable is worse than not knowing! Ordered a 'Radio Controlled Watch Analogue/LCD Black Face with SS Strap' for £13.49 including postage. I'm under no illusions - I'm sure it'll very quickly turn out to be a complete waste of money at that price, but I couldn't resist giving it a go. I'm a fan of the dual display thing (traditional plain hands and face - small inset LCD screen for the day, date, other functions etc) - and very much like the idea of the radio controlled thing for accuracy (although it does seem to cane the battery life compared to ordinary ones!). Anyway - for that price I thought it'd be - um - 'fun' to try it. Time will tell? lol . . somehow ended up not getting off the PC to bed until well after 5am!!! d
7 - Up around 8:45am . . PCd this at length and tried to take photos of the diner. Impossible to 'get it' with the camera. . .Mum called in with a paper, food donations etc . . ate a pack of Mum donated pork pies with crisps and a little chocolate . . cut my hair and beard. Haven't done that for far too long. Was starting to look like a wild-man! . . napped until the alarm at 7:15pm . . briefly popped up the store for milk. . sat quietly/guitarred/TVd/PCd the night away. (Actually put in quite a bit of time on the PC, using one of the photos (below) I'd taken of the new opening, to 'mock up' what it would look like if I put the glass panel doors on it as I'd planned, because the more I get used to it open, the more I'm wondering if it's worth the bother and considerable expense. After MUCH reflection, I still think I should - eventually - but I'm in no hurry.) . . ate salami and lettuce rolls, a mini cheesecake, banana and much chocolate. Eventually to bed somewhere around 2am. s
6 - Back up by 9:30am or earlier! . . there's one more thing I want to get sorted before I have a break for a bit. Part of my master plan for eventually getting doors on that opening between the rooms which can open flat against the diner wall, was to change the opening of the existing kitchen/hallway door so that it wouldn't interfere with any of that. . Quite literally somehow ended up spending almost the entire day just changing that one door so that it now opens outwards into the hallway. Why does everything seem to take SO long, when you'd imagine it'd just be a couple of hours??? To be honest, it DID end up being pretty much like fitting a whole new door by the time I'd finished. One of the existing hinges had been put on the door in an absurd position so I had to move that and cut out the new rebate etc. Then there was the handle/catch mechanism which appeared to have been put on there for use by a midget - and the catch mechanism hadn't been rebated and protruded from the side of the door! I had to move that and cut in a whole new rebate for the catch. Also turned out that the catch mechanism was actually broken. Luckily had a spare in my junk collection in the garage, so I fitted that one - eventually! Rebating catch mechanisms and hinges on doors and door frames is NOT something I've ever mastered. I think it's just a case of lack of practice. It's not the sort of thing you have to do very often. I have however I think, realised the secret of successfully acheiving it - HAVE SHARP CHISELS! As simple as that! Sadly, all my old chisels are abused and no longer straight or sharpenable, so things didn't go 'too' well and ended up not being perfect. . . stripped off the old (original) door jam timbers and found one length of it had been broken when it was originaly put in place, so I ended up having to glue that bit all back together. Left it setting clamped in the garage. . cut the new rebates for the hinges in the frame and got the door hung. Incredibly it actually worked out about right first time, and there was no need for any planing off! (It DID actually eventually turn out to be fouling a metal carpet join-strip below, but since the carpet tiles in the hallway and diner are the same, it seemed easiest to just do away the strip and cut some old tiles to make a continuous flow through.) . anyway - blah blah blah - eventually had it all working, hinged on the left, now opening out into the hallway - out of the way, flat against the wall at the end of the hallway when fully open. It 'may' be unconventional having a door opening in that direction - but I reckon it is a far better arrangement - should have done it when I first moved in! Sadly the door is now of course full of the holes and scars of where handles/hinges have been moved, so ultimately it'll either be replaced or more likely just filled and painted over. It sometimes seems a shame the two original 1930s, 'one panel over three' doors from the downstairs rooms have been replaced with cheap newer plain wood ones. I HAVE dabbled with the idea of attempting to get a couple of original doors to reinstate the set, but it seems like a lot of hassle, and they 'can' be quite expensive even on e-bay. . after all that work, the door handle/mechanism was still disappointingly somehow not 'quite' right in its operation. Couldn't figure out how that was possible (given all I'd done and the fact that it was a completely different mechanism!?) until I eventually concluded it WAS down to the cheap brass handles on both those downstairs doors! There appears to be a 'stop' actually built into the handle mechanism, so you can only push the lever down to a certain point on them. Stupid stupid stupid - because that stop prevents the actual catch mechanism from being FULLY withdrawn into its body. What that means is that when the handle is FULLY depressed, the catch still protrudes from the side of the door and is inevitably likely to foul the latch plate, even when everything is perfectly lined up and nicely rebated etc, etc. Only way around it would be to recess the keep plate DEEP into the door frame - which would look wrong and ugly! THAT explains why both those downstairs doors have been a 'bit wrong' and 'catchy' ever since I moved in here! So - different handles in the future some time then! . with the broken bit of door jam still setting in the garage, I couldn't finish the job, so put in some time filling some of the scars in the original frame with a filler/pva mix, carefully trying to match the existing doorframe moulding, covering old hinge positions etc, etc. . cleaned up a bit before digging out a bunch of old spare carpet tiles (the ones I removed from my PC room - VERY useful having so many spares) and set about trying to work out a way of making the floor look as though none of the recent building works had taken place. I HAVE actually become quite a fan of carpet tiles since living here. The whole of the hallway and kitchen diner has been covered in them, with just a spray of glue to the floorboards beneath, and although all old and dirty and needing replacement, they really have been incredibly forgiving of the abuse I've given them, and are SO easy to alter and patch. Having said that, my 'spares' are now a VERY different colour to all the permanently dust-covered rest, and there was no escaping an obvious 'patchwork' effect. Nevertheless, I eventually managed to sort out a way of cutting some pieces to fill most of the gaps (no skirtings on those walls as yet, until I know where the under-lintel frame will end up etc), and even used a couple of old carpet strips just to make a neat join with the old (different) living room carpet - which now completely hides the new bit of floor where I took the wall out. . I actually STILL have some old carpet-fitter glue in a spray can in the garage, and used just a touch of that here and there to make sure everything stayed flat and fairly seemless looking. Incredible that stuff is still fully useable! I bought it many MANY years ago, to glue some foam to a bike seat base!!! . . big de-dusting vacuuming session - again! . . eventually had the place looking pretty habitable, and collapsed in front the TV for a bit. Tried but just couldn't relax with just the door jam and a little bit of floor-tile patching still to do, so ended up around 9:30pm retrieving the glued doorjam from the garage, nailing it in place and then laying the last bit of floor tile around it etc. . so, there we go. Lots and lots still to do - all of it in rough 'pre-decorating' type shape, but that's pretty much all the 'building' type work on that new opening between the rooms, done - and the place in pretty good liveable shape. I like it - a lot. :o) I SO need a 'proper' rectangular table and four chairs now (not sure what style) , rather than that awkward huge garden furniture! lol Far too 'trailer trash' for me now! lololol. . The 'firebreast/hearth/fireplace project' and working my way around the remaining third of the diner walls (and the fridge-freezer in that corner issue) can wait for a bit. I need to rest - MUCH!!! . . too tired to move or cook and just sat in front the TV and guitarred for a bit. . finally ate a lump of defrosted meat from the freezer with four pieces of bread and butter, some muller rice, biscuits and a little chocolate . . to bed at 1:11am. s
5 - Up around 9:15am . . slow getting going but eventually back to 'work'. Used the remnants of a worn out disc in the disc cutter out in the garden, to cut off all the old adhesive from the back of the three pieces of broken coving I'd removed from the diner wall when I started all this - determined to somehow salvage it and stick it back up. To cut a LONG story short, I managed it and got all three pieces back in place using a PVA/filler mix to stick and patch them together, and some long joist timbers to prop them in position while the filler set. Took a long long time to acheive that - but very satisfying. It's one of those little details which put back in place to match all the rest, makes the whole thing look as though it has always been that way. A significant little step towards making it look right. I can still see the joins if I seek them out (but then again - I can see ALL the joins all around the house if I look for them), but it ain't bad, and can easily be improved with a touch of filler and careful sanding some time. Mum called to touch base in the middle of things. Called her back as soon as I was done. .drank around three quarters of a glass of wine and cooked and ate fish, peas and chips with four pieces of bread and butter followed by a square of chocolate around 4pm . . napped for a couple of hours until around 6:30pm . . slow 'coming to' but then straight back to work on the diner building site! Sanded down all the filler and my dodgy plaster on the walls around the lintel and covered the whole house in dust yet again, despite keeping all the windows and doors shut and even cellotaping a big plastic dust sheet over the new opening to the living room! It's just pointless even trying to 'contain' it - wherever there is air, there is dust! :o( Despite wearing a dust mask, I still ended up throwing up in the garden at one point!!! Those walls aren't in very good shape and would very much have benefited from yet more filling and sanding, but I really have had enough of all this, and just couldn't face doing any more - day after day! Ignored all the (considerable) imperfections and used up more or less the last of my emulsion paint, and got a first 'undercoat' on them. It'll all just have to do for the time being. I really am feeling pretty burned out with it all. I think I need to try to force myself to take a break. :o( . . cleared up just a little and then ended up messing around cuttting away some of the rubbishy protruding lino which is under the diner carpet tiles, so that I could put some of the tiles back down nice and flat. . called it quits at getting on for midnight and showered before briefly PCing this . . touched base with BB around 2am . . VERY tired and eventually to bed, only to then be unable to sleep!?? Tossed and turned for ages before eventually getting back up an eating a couple of bowls of muesli and some muller rice before finally back to bed at getting on for 5am!
4 - Up around 7:30am . . I think I HAVE noticeably lost a little bit of weight recently, with all the work I've been doing and with not finding the time to stop to eat as much as I should. Dunno how accurate they are, but my bathroom scales say around ten and a half stone at the moment . . sat around a bit looking at the building site, before ending up PCing a bit of this. I'm just puttting it off really - today I am going to try to plaster the wall in the kitchen-diner!!! . . oooer - this morning turned into one of those hocus pocusy type moments. I'd JUST finished typing this for yesterday (and the comment about having to get a gas man in before I could do the diner fireplace, etc) and went downstairs and looked out of the window and there was a gas-safe registered heating engineer's van parked just down the road. Oooh, oooh, oooh - how cool it would be if I could catch them returning to their van from whichever house they were in and persuade them to do me the five minute job of capping off the supply to that fire, more conveniently under the floor somewhere. Ummd and ahhd for a couple of minutes at the window before eventually grabbing a pencil and piece of paper and walking down to the gate, to jot down the phone number on the van. Just as I was going back inside I heard voices and two guys were returning to their van from the bungalow opposite (the one with the seagull chicks). Dashed out and 'propositioned' them - and sure enough, they were game! They put their tester on the gas meter and checked the existing supply wasn't leaking, and then one of them followed me through the narrow hatch in the floor under the stairs to the underfloor. He cut the pipe where I wanted, capped it - and even reassured me about the old lead pipe I was scared to touch, and actually sawed it in half just to prove to me it WAS safely disconnected and fit for removal. £25 for cash - a quick handshake, much thanks on my part, and they were gone. Just like that!Literally five minutes. EXCELLENT! :o) So - I can now take out that damned fire and back boiler, and ultimately remove all the associated spiders web of pipes at my leisure. That's VERY cool. Like it was 'meant to be'? lol :o) . . mixed up plaster in the miniature plastic dustbin I use to hold my recyclables in the kitchen, and then successfully plastered the kitchen wall. It isn't 'good' (nowhere near smooth or flat) but I think it'll eventually do ok. I WILL happily admit - I'm no good at plastering, and surely never will be! . . cleared up a bit and managed to reorganise the 'FULL of junk' garage, to be able to put the redundant kitchen units in it and out of the way. . unscrewed awkward pipes, undid a couple of screws and nuts and bolts, seperated one wire connector and hey presto, the old fire and unbelievably heavy back-boiler (SO heavy I could only JUST carry it!) was discarded in a heap in the garden next to the conservatory. The uneven weird old pad of brown tiles in front of it, emerging up out of the carpet, also came out (in one piece, pryed up with a wallpaper scraper!) and revealed a big section of the original green, glazed tiles beneath! Sadly, many around the edges were broken, so nothing really worth salvaging there. Hmmmm. I think it's another one of those pause and take stock moments. The flue is properly lined, so if I wanted, I COULD put a new fire of some sort in there (wood burner even?). Trouble is, being the diner, it really doesn't lend itself to actually having a fire there. NOT having a fire actually gives me, way inexcess of a foot of extra useable space, which is highly desireable if I am going to put a proper table and chairs out there, like I eventually intend to. I think it's going to have to end up as a just a 'feature' hole in the wall type unused fireplace - maybe with a light up it, and maybe for sitting my Buddha in, like I did in Bristol? I need to figure out what sort of a hole/design to construct. An arch I think - but 'plain' or otherwise, I'm undecided. Whatever - it's gonna be a bit of a job in itself, opening up the hole to it's fullest reasonable extent, and slightly raising the height of the existing 'lintel' arrangement, etc, etc, etc. Oh dear - there's no end to all this work - but it IS starting to all come together at last. It really IS a different house now. VERY much more functional - and kinda 'honest' - in respect of the painted walls, with nothing papered over and hidden, etc. Perhaps, unlike Bristol, THIS house IS worth all the effort I've been putting in?! Much of what I've been doing HAS been a 'once in a lifetime' thing (for the house, that is) and will never again need such attention. Can't imagine ANY owner of this place in the future EVER having enough time to scrape all that paint of the walls etc, etc. . ate three cheese, onion, mayo, lettuce and corned beef roles with crisps . .napped for an hour or so . . touched base with Mum . . TVd . . guitarred for hours, until my fingers were very sore (some of the time sat in the diner watching plaster dry - and with my empty fireplace, trying to picture alternatives). . . PCd until deep into early, actually looking at 1930s fireplace pictures (all yucky) and then fridges and freezers. My fridge freezer is SO, SO in need of dumping - and the other day I had a brainwave about the kitchen. I figure if I can get a seperate small fridge and freezer (about the sort of dimensions of an undercounter type), if I replace my HUGE OLD (came with the house) microwave with a small modern one and put it on top of a counter somewhere suitable (in the corner by the hob), I should be able to re-jig the actual kitchen to get the fridge in beneath the oven (if that isn't unwise/unsafe??) and get the freezer in where the drier used to be (with hopefully enough room behind to get the central heating pipes down there in the future). If - and it IS a bit of a risk in various ways - but IF I could pull that off, that would ABSOLUTELY solve the nonsense I've been living with, of having that horrendous old fridge freezer on completely the opposite side of the diner, away from all the rest of the kitchen. (That corner also needs to be gutted/rebuilt/decorated to remove all the central heating pipes/controller etc, so I'll HAVE to move it soon anyway.) The kitchen bizarrely appears absolutely tiny ('galley' style?) and yet it seems to have more than ample storage in all the corner cupboards etc, and for a single person to cook and work in, I can't imagine how it could be bettered - apart from this fridge thing. Although it'd all be a little smaller than what I currently have, for round £300 or so I could solve all my fridge problems in one go - AND clear that opposite corner of the diner - and actually make the kitchen work (for me) SO perfectly - AND a lot of the deals these days include removal of your old appliance for recycling (quite an issue for me in itself, given the size and weight of that old fridge, all the steps and distance to the street etc) ! I think it's gonna have to happen - sooner or later! . . PCd this until around 3:30am before eventually to bed even later!! s
3 - Up around 6:30am . . my hands are really aching! All that desperate gripping of trowel handles yesterday. . emptied all the junk out of them and then dismantled and removed from position, the kitchen cabinets in the alcove next to the lintel and new opening in the diner. Those cabinets have always bugged me since I moved in here. It was as though when they had the kitchen fitted, they had some left over, so they just stuck them in that corner, on the complete opposite side of the room nowhere near the rest of the kitchen. It made absolutely no sense and made the whole room seem ill thought out and utterly wrong. I just ended up using them as a 'dumping ground' for lots of junk I need to sort through. Temporarily dumped them out in the conservatory. Useful spares I suppose, and maybe somewhere down the line if I can keep them in good nick, it is remotely possible one of the narrow wall cabintes 'could' maybe be somehow squeezed into the kitchen at some point. (In the back of my mind, I may at some point have a go at painting all the kitchen furniture white - so some of those pieces will be a good test to see if it would work, and if a viable finish could be acheived.) . stripped off all the remaining wallpaper (they'd papered around the cabinets) and found the paint on the walls in that area in terrible flakey shape. On the plus side, in comparison to all the other walls I've 'de-painted', the stuff came off 'relatively' easily. Still took me around five hours of hard-graft scraping though!!! . eventually had all the paint off the three sections of wall around the entire alcove and up to the outside edge-detail of the firebreast in the kitchen-diner - which is as far as I intend to go for the time being. I'm itching to take the disgusting paper off that firebreast and have it all nice and smooth, and tear out the remnants of the fire and old back boiler and associated pipework and see if I can make some sort of attractive feature out of the empty fireplace, but until I have a gas-man in to cut off the gas pipe well away from it all (currently capped off IN the fireplace behind the case of the old fire, left on the wall to hide the mess behind), I can't really touch it. . cemented a couple of patches of wall where the skirtings were missing and in poor shape . .removed all the old wall plugs and then applied a little plaster to various areas, and as usual, all along the rough uneven scars of where the old picture rails used to be in an attempt to once and for all eradicate all sign of them . ran out of steam rather and just sat around and PCd for quite a bit, without even clearing up any of the big mess I'm now in again. . eventually cooked and ate fish and chips with four pieces of bread and butter, some Mum donated muller rice and a little chocolate . .TVd until bed around midnight.
2 - Up around 6:45am . . PCd this and just sat around for hours, I guess actually just having a bit of a much needed rest. The kitchen side of the work I have to do, is actually going to be even more difficult than the living room! I had to remove the loose render from one entire side of that opening, and it's going to be a bit difficult building that wall back up so that it is exactly the right thickness and in-line with the opposite side etc etc. Not looking forward to it. :o( . observations on the new opening/current open-plan type arrangement:- First things first - it WAS the right thing to do. I do NOT regret it - despite having already devoted SO much of my life to acheiving it! I CAN see how maybe a full-on, permanent open-plan arrangement WOULD have been ok - but I think I prefer still aiming to get doors on that opening to give the choice. It's irritating trying to watch TV in the living room with the washing machine going in the kitchen - and my in-DIRE-need-of-replacing, fridge-freezer is SO noisy, it's unpleasant having to endure it all the time. Having said that, it is SO cool being able to just get up and pop through to the kitchen for coffee and such. I never have before (largely so that Sally could come and go to her food and water as she pleased) but I now mostly exist in that opened up space, with both doors to the hallway closed. With the new bay windows open, and the back doors open, depending on which way the wind is going, it is possible to get a real blow of air right through the place, which is VERY cool on a really hot day, and not something I have EVER experienced before. (This 'blow through' business is a real consideration when doing building work and creating the huge amounts of dust that I do. When I did the disc cutter grinding work when opening that hole in the wall up, the wind was blowing through from the back, out to the front - hence all that brick dust blowing straight into the living room and onto the new windows, furniture, carpet, TV equipment, etc! A day or so later it was the opposite way round, so it all blew back through the kitchen into the conservatory etc, just to make sure absolutely everything everywhere was completely covered! lolol) . . Mum called to touch base and tell of her friends husband with alzeimers who'd fallen down the stairs and crashed into the wall at the bottom and who was now in hospital!!!! Her new door lock mechanism isn't right and she's gonna have to call the guy back in! :o( . . ummd and ahhd about having the day off. Even before midday I felt SO tired, I was pretty much ready for bed again - but - I SO didn't want to waste the time. The next task for me to do on this door project thing is the really REALLY unpleasant hard graft, of rendering the walls around the new opening in the kitchen! Rendering over the lintel was a nightmare in the living room - it's gonna be worse in the kitchen, with at least three times the wall-area to do, and anywhere up to an inch of thickness to build back up in places!! Until that's done, there's little progress to be made - and even when it is done, it's gonna take a while to 'go off' and dry out before I can carry on. Oh I'm SO tired - but it needs to be done! . jumped in the car and popped round the post office to withdraw some money (bought milk and a couple of supplies) and then drove to the builders yard for two bags of sand and YET another box of filler! (£7.74). . wedged-in my straight-edge piece of timber beneath the lintel and then cut a piece of the old front door capping timber to fit beneath it, to act as a guide/straight(ish) edge for the width of the wall. Drilled the wall and screwed that one in place. . mixed up a whole three bags of sand with around two thirds of a bag of cement, by hand with a shovel out in the garden around 2pm. Hard hot, hellish work! (I'm gettin' old! I think about 'Bristol' quite a lot of the time - and very much on occasions like now. How easy this all would have been if I hadn't had to leave my cement mixer behind when I fled! :o( ) . . rendered the wall. It did NOT go well!!!! Same hassle as in the living room - trouble getting the damn stuff to actually stick to the wall. I've no idea what I'm doing wrong. Aside from being an incompetant DIYer, I at least in part blame the sand! The sand I'm getting down here seems to be SO gritty, it's like trying to render the wall with concrete rather than cement! It also appears to look mostly black when done! Back in Bristol, bags of 'ballast' were more like this sort of stuff. The sand was finer and MUCH easier to work with. . I'm not sure how long you are 'supposed' to be able to work wet cement - but I didn't finish battling with those walls (working in just shorts with sweat absolutely pouring off me!) until well past 6pm!!!!!!!!! (Despite the nightmare of applying it - once it had hardened, the end result in the living room was actually perfectly acceptable to be plastered over, so I'm hoping it'll be a similar story with those kitchen walls.) . . threw away a good bucket full of cement . . cleaned up, showered and all done by around 8pm. I am SO pleased to have gotten that out of the way. Hard, HARD work!! The rest of what I have to do should be 'a doddle' in comparison. EVEN the plastering - which I ALWAYS find difficult and daunting. . PCd a bit of this until 9pm. I'm hurting quite a bit here! . . ate Mum donated pizza, banana, two pots of muller rice, piece of sponge and some chocolate. . to bed around midnight. s
1 - Up at 6am . .sat around and then PCd a bit, just wasting time until it was late enough to start making noise sanding. . around 9am covered as much of the furniture as I reasonably could with sheets etc, before getting serious with the electric sander and filling the place with a new layer of dust - MUCH!!!! :o( The wall around the new opening isn't at all perfect but turned out to be not 'that' bad in terms of straightness and evenness (fairly vital since it'll show all the more once a straight edged timber frame is put in under it), and was somewhat improved by sanding some of the new plaster away by hand using a sanding block. My long spirit level placed against the wall from different places shows all the imperfections and unevenness, but it looks ok, which is I suppose more important really, especially when ALL the walls throughout the house can be shown to be uneven if you use a spirit level like that. Eventually figured enough was enough and I quickly moved to putting an initial coat of emulsion on the two alcove walls and the walls around the new opening - by hand using a wide paste brush! With the amount of making good of these walls I have to do, and the huge quantities of filler that ends up on them, I've found that I eventually reach a point where I can no longer actually see the mass of imperfections that require more filling and sanding, until AFTER I've got that first coat of emulsion on them. (Actually I also have some weird sort of a mental block when it comes to doing alterations like this. I can't actually 'see' what progress I may or may not have made, until everything is the same colour!!!???? I made the mistake of mentioning this to one of the guys behind the counter in the builders yard the other day when buying the bag of white, one coat plaster. He looked at me as though I was nuts! lol) . . spent the next several hours having a serious go at de-dusting the place as best I could. Suprisingly the upright vacuum held out and did really well considering, so perhaps I'd written it off a bit prematurely. It's all fully clogged with dust again already, and would benefit from ANOTHER dismantling and cleaning!! . . with the room starting to take shape and be really pretty habitable once again, I was able to perhaps see things a little more objectively. The firebreast and the long wall opposite I STILL haven't touched, and have left the old dirty heavily embossed wallpaper on them for the time being. The firebreast is a whole little project in itself, because of the gas fire etc, so I'm happy for that to wait until some suitable time in the future. It's quite acceptable(ish) as it is for the time being. The long wall opposite, with the door to the hallway, I'm also currently leaving (but AM itching to do) because I haven't yet fully decided just exactly what I intend to do with it. Getting furniture and any sort of seating plan going in that room is VERY difficult, and until I've lived with it as it is for a bit, I'm undecided as to whether or not its good enough as it is, or if it would benefit from having the door to the hallway moved along the wall. That would require moving the light switch - and then there is the issue of maybe putting in a whole new bunch of power sockets, etc, etc. Now is not the time for that. I've enough on my plate as it is! (the warped panoramic photo I've included here makes the new opening look really small?? It really isn't THAT small! It IS two doors wide. Also - the fact that the end of the green sofa fits perfectly up to the opening, is just by chance. Where that opening starts is actually dictated-to by what is going on, on the other side of the wall in the kitchen.) . . Once that first 'undercoat' of emulsion had dried, things suddenly started to look really rather ok. Even though the paint is blotchy with plenty of brush marks, and the walls on close examination are FULL of imperfections requiring LOTS more filling and sanding, even in this state, it did NOT leap out at you as requiring immediate attention! Even the nightmarish mess of that front alcove had somehow receded back to not being 'such' an issue (even with some new 'bubbles' where the filler had raised off the wall when it got made wet by the paint. Oh and it also shows signs of that weird yellow staining coming through in some areas!!) All in all, it suddenly appeared to be fairly acceptable as it was for the time being. The new opening just looks unfinished as though it requires a wood frame added, and the rest just looks like a 'poor decorating job' which could easily be improved 'piecemeal' over time, when in the mood. Even in this state, it is such a VAST improvement on what WAS there on those walls, I think it is reasonable to leave it and push on with the more serious rendering/plastering of the kitchen side of that wall. If I can manage to get the kitchen side in similar shape, I'll be in a pretty good position (despite having already identified that the lintel is probably a good inch or more two high for when (if?) I put the doors in as I'd ultimately intended, and will require some awkward upside-down rendering, filling-in etc! :o( In fact - the more I think about it and rehearse it in my mind, actually fitting two doors and a frame to the inside of that opening is going to be a REAL bugger of a job, to get it right!). . . showered and did laundry . . drank a glass of wine while cooking chips. Ate a chicken and mushroom pastry slice with chips, followed by a couple of tubs of Mum donated 'muller rice'. . guitarred/TVd the evening away, feeling generally 'satisfied' with progress. . ate a banana, chocolate, and then a whole small tin of spam (on its own!). . struggled to stay awake until to bed before 11pm. ds