More plumbing

           The front of the house at our new address is still in need of a lot of work. We’ve replaced “The Door” and done a bit of damage control, but there is still so much more needing to be done. Our handyman did a pretty good job of repairing the brick wall, it’s no longer in any danger of falling on passes by, and the bin men no longer need to wear steel toe-cap boots to empty the wheelies, but after the last installment of the “Plumbing Saga” the steps up to the front door now look a bit like a patchwork blanket.

           The drain which is supposed to take away the water from the downpipe attached to the guttering has always been slow to empty. But since the leak under the front steps, the flow has been pretty much non-existent, add to that the flash flood we had in our street at the beginning of 2020 and the recipe doesn’t bode too well for the future so I looked into trying to get it fixed.

           The investigation of the problem and the finding of the right workmen to fit within the budget would have been difficult in normal times, but add to that a global pandemic full of social distancing and lockdowns as well as the end of year seasonal official office holidays and getting it sorted has been an achievement in itself.

           The day before the drain men arrived I spent an hour or two shovelling stones (well actually scooping stones into a small container and moving them a bit at a time) away from one side of the front garden to to the other. In theory this would save the top layer of stones from dissapearng into the hole which had to be dug … I don’t like to share my house with workmen. They’re not all bad but very few live up to my expected level of perfection. After I’d moved the stones I set about the broken bits of wall with my camera to be able to compare before and after pictures … and then I waited …

           As workmen go, the two who turned up weren’t too bad. Covid protocol meant I was to keep my distance, but they weren’t expecting to have access to the house … and I had a pretty good view fron behind the net curtains in the bay window. I greeted them at the front door and explained that I’d moved the stones for them, they seemed quite pleased at not having to do that part. I was a little disappointed to find that they were only here to put in a new drain and pipe, and not to fix the wall where the water had been coming out.

           They got to work digging a trench along the route of the old drain while I took to the telephone to find out what would happen about the wall. It would appear that we need to have a report from the drain men who were fixing the cause of the damage to the wall before the wall can be fixed.

          While I was peering through the net curtains, Hubby pointed out that I would have a better view from upstairs. There was a better view, and since there was also a bigger distance, I leaned out of the window to check on how things were going.

            Covid protocol apparently allowed the drain men to accept a cup of coffee each, but I put the cups down on the path for them to pick up when I’d stepped back. (What a strange world we live in) . The new pipe was fitted and a new drain installed with set up which prevents any stones finding their way into the pipe. The drain men spread my stones back out evenly across the front garden and left everything looking neat and tidy. This time next year I plan to be watching out for daffodils pushing their way up through the stones.

           As for the repairs on the wall … tune in next time for the next thrilling installment of the “Plumbing Saga”.

           More “Fixings and finishings” on the new house.

Chester jigsaw

         Chester… In 1500 pieces …

         I’ve had this jigsaw in the cupboard for a while, waiting for the opportunity to do it. It’s the biggest jigsaw I’ve done as an adult, I quite possibly helped with one this size when I was younger because I sort of remember either my Mum or Dad (or both) having a jigsaw set up often on the kitchen table, and anyone who was passing just picked up a piece or two and put them in.

         I bought this one in a hospital visitors shop, I’d been “invited” to attend one of those hospital appointments offered to women above a certain age… Another milestone I had been avoiding since we moved, but they finally caught up with me and invited me to attend, in Bournemouth, so Hubby and I made a day of it. I believe this time we went by car because although we’ve been from Weymouth to Bournemouth and back again on the train before (and a very scenic train ride it is too) I don’t recall carrying a jigsaw home. On the way into the hospital we passed the hospital shop and I just glanced at the jigsaws, I didn’t have the mental clarity at that particular to take a look. When we arrived at our waiting area there was a partly done jigsaw on one of the tables, a great idea from someone, as it completely calmed any anxiety and when I was called, I put the box of pieces down to hand over to the next lady. Of course small gestures like this are a thing of the past now and sadly I suspect will not return, as we’re never expecting an “after covid” time to arrive.

         On our way out I stopped at the hospital shop and picked out this jigsaw, I recognised the picture as Chester straight away, and the age of the picture made it even more appealing. Not to mention the size… 1500 pieces… I realised then why I had chosen such a large table for the kitchen.

         I almost always start a jigsaw by finding the edges and putting together the rectangle frame to work within. This time if turned out to be more than a challenge than others I’ve done. It seems the edge of the jigsaw is bigger than the edge of the picture on the box so I could see what the second row of pieces would be, but not the outside row. I managed most of the edge ok, but without the exact picture I had a couple of bits which looked right, but weren’t, meaning the edges didn’t join up properly and it had gaps. Being a second hand jigsaw, I began to doubt it was as complete as the previous owner has written on the box, however, I moved one or two pieces around, swapped a couple of very similar pieces and everything carried on fine.

         I was reminded of the job I used to do in my supermarket overnight before we moved. My official job title was “visual merchandiser”. You know when you go to the supermarket and something you usually buy has been moved and you have to look for it ? Well, guilty as charged, that was me.

         To be fair, it wasn’t my idea to move things, just my job to do the moves. But during a stint of “Day walking” I compared my job to a jigsaw from a jumble sale or charity shop, sometimes I was given a simple plan of the shelves and only needed to move a couple of items, other times I would be given a huge plan with lots of moves. Often half of the stock I was supposed to have was cancelled or not available, and I had to fit other items in instead. These were the moves which really resembled the charity shop jigsaw, one which had been dropped on the floor with another, and then the wrong pieces put back in the box. These were the puzzles I enjoyed, and as with most things, if you enjoy doing them you are good at it. (even if I do say so myself) I was good at it.

         After many years of working at my supermarket, moving through many different positions in store, I finally found a part of the job I liked… Then I gave it all up to move into the unknown. I moved from life in the twilight zone working nights at a huge store to working part time days in a little corner shop… I stepped into Semi-retirement by my seaside… The result ? … Now I can quite comfortably spend time putting 1500 pieces of a real jigsaw together on the kitchen table.

         I’m starting to build up a collection of favourite jigsaws. Some I’ve already done more than once, and left myself a message written on the inside of the lid… Ready to start again next time.

          More from before: Remembering “Chester” and visiting in September 2020. 

Abbey gallery

         York has its Minster, Chester has its Cathedral… But for me, Whitby’s Abbey blew them both out of the water.

          More from before: Wanderings in “Whitby” in September 2020.