spot the little blue thing

I know I said I’d only write one retirement blog a week but this one was asking to be posted. So I have. I have heard that there are women (there may even be men) out there who wait for their partners to retire so that they may present them with a long list of jobs that need doing ‘around the house’. These jobs may have been waiting for the retirement stage of life for a number of years. For those of us who are desperate for our retirement lives to have meaning this is of course a God send. For those of us who have grown, at best indifferent, and at worst, positively hostile to what we laughingly call, DIY, it’s a nightmare. Guess which group I fall into. I thought I’d write a retirement blog about it.

I have been reminded of this misery because, for the last two weeks, I have been engaged in a task that would take the average handy person probably a couple of hours at most and one hour and thirty minutes of that would be finding the right tools. The job in question is removing the mouldy sealant from around the shower tray and replacing it with sealant that does just that – seals rather than lets the water leak into the hallway.

The shower in question has become ‘mine’ because Mrs Summerhouse refuses to use it and uses the one in the downstairs bathroom. That’s a long way away (for me) whereas the one I use is off of our bedroom. In a classier joint it would be called ensuite. Given that I converted it back in the days when lack of money and higher levels of fitness meant there were no jobs I wouldn’t have a go at even if that meant the risk of electrocution, of drowning or poisoning, were greatly increased, it’s called the room that used to be the upstairs kitchen (the house was two flats when we bought it, hence the upstairs kitchen). Phew, that was a long sentence, Google isn’t going to like that at all.

Where was I? Oh yes, ensuite and trying to motivate myself to revitalise the shower tray. I’d put it off for as long as I could, until it did start leaking into the hallway beneath. We could tell it was leaking because the wallpaper was hanging down. Not that we had noticed until we were standing in the hall (as opposed to passing through it) saying a lengthy goodbye to some guests, can’t remember who, we have so many. But I looked up and what I saw wasn’t encouraging. I hoped our guests didn’t notice.

Hmm, I thought, I had better stop using my shower. It’s mine by virtue of me being the only person happy to use it. There are only two of us these days, not counting the dogs, who don’t shower. When there were four, or maybe more of us, having my own bathroom was a definite asset. It meant I didn’t have to meet the children first thing in the morning when I was at my most fragile. Those days are gone, (unless of course they return, not at all beyond the bounds of possibility), but the habit persists.

It being mine the responsibility for repair clearly lay with me and I couldn’t really get a little man in to do a pathetic job like removing old sealant and replacing it with new stuff. How hard could it be? True there is something of a skill squeezing the new sealant out of its tube and into a nice neat line around the join of the tray and the walls but, I reasoned, I would worry about that when the time came. And as it turned out that wasn’t for quite a while.

Removing the old stuff that had not only turned mouldy but had also set solid was in fact very hard but my cunning plan was to remove a bit at a time. I could play the arthritic card and say that using the removal tool hurt my hands so making piano playing that bit more difficult and it is already difficult enough, but I won’t do that, I’m just putting it out there. So a bit at a time.

What I needed was a specialist tool one like the pros use. Which in turn justified a trip to my favourite shop – Machine Mart. Off I popped. Disaster, they didn’t have such a tool, they didn’t even sell the sealant. I’ve already got the gun thing that you put the tube into to squeeze out the sealant. In fact I’ve also got a full tube of the sealant from previous DIY jobs, yes, ones that I’d never got round to. Could have been a happy moment not having to pay for another tube but of course it was set solid. So a new tube required and still the little tool thing. And now you understand, assuming you’re still reading, the little blue thing in the photo at the beginning of this blog. Yes, it does seem an awful long time since I started it, the blog that is. I’m exhausted so I don’t know how you’re feeling.

I went to the plumber’s merchants to buy it (and the sealant also in photo). I described what I wanted, ah yes, he said, I’ve got just what you need. Oh happy days, that is until he came back with this blue thing. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. Even the salesman admitted it wasn’t impressive. I thought if that does the job then I’m a plumber’s mate. I’m not and it didn’t.

I had asked my chum in the park what I should use to remove the sealant, he usually knows about these things. First he said a razor blade, blimey what century are you living I asked (he is quite old)? People don’t shave with those any more. Well a Stanley knife then. No, that’s no good, the angle would be wrong. Take the blade out, no no, I might cut myself. All this is true by the way in case you think I’m making it up. As good fortune would have it another friend came round a couple of days later, and you’re right, nothing had happened in the intervening two days, so you begin to get an idea why the whole operation was so protracted.

As I was saying, a pal came round (he’s  the project guy  I’ve written about) and he’s good with this kind of stuff so I asked him what tool I should use, knowing him he’d have an electrified little tool that would be just the job. A Stanley knife he said. Ok that’s it, I give up asking people what to do, I will use a chisel and hope I don’t scratch the shower tray.

That’s a thousand words for this retirement blog, so the rest of it is – used chisel (see photo), sealant took days to remove at 10 minutes a time (that’s how long it was before my boredom threshold was crossed). Mrs Summerhouse cleaned up, put masking tape round the tray. The new sealant went on a treat. The seal looks great, neat and white. Job done, only problem is now the grouting looks even more disgusting than it did before. Wonder how much longer into my retirement adventure before I get round to cleaning it. You’ll be relieved to know if we meet I am now taking showers again. Yes, I’m retired but I still have standards, not many but some.

PS. My Youtube ‘box’ is now full of how to do DIY replacing Jazz and trains. Hmm.


Comments are closed.

  1. Ieva 1 month ago

    I still find it hard to believe there are men who do DIY – despite evidence to the contrary and living with 4 adult men. My best DIY helper (as in would sort the problem out for me) was my Mum for as long as I’ve known her but now she’s 92 I feel I shouldn’t ask for her help anymore.
    As for showers leaking, two holes in kitchen ceiling are testaments to not only my incompetence at trying to patch up sealant failures but also that of the firm that installed our bathroom for a packet several years ago.

    • Author
      summerhouse 1 month ago

      It gladdens my heart to know there is a whole community of incompetents out there

  2. Doug 4 weeks ago

    This is a coincidence as I have been having some bathroom DIY retirement blues myself as you can see. Enjoyed reading all about your adventures!

    • Author
      summerhouse 4 weeks ago

      Hi Doug enjoyed your blog it looks good and thanks for your comment, keep in touch

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