Thought I should make an effort and get a blog up. It may be a few months before I have time. On the 2nd January 2016 we pack the house up and will live for several weeks on a building site. I am slowly bringing our house into the 21st century, as best I can. Don't take a step back, we do have electric, mains water, operational bathrooms, tarmac road to it but its 300 years old and until 15 years ago it's main purpose was a holiday cottage. Earlier blogs give an idea of what I have been doing but basically apart from converting and merging two attached barns we have been modernising it as and when time and money allows. Now my seasonal work has ended until next April, this winters project is to complete the insulation of the house. As my seasonal work was late ending this year, literally the last day of November, mostly due to the very heavy rain in northern England, I have opted to wait until 2nd January 2016. Then 4 rooms in the house plus stairwell and bathroom will have the plaster taken off the outside walls. Revealing the stone, treated laths on pvc damp proofing will be placed with space age technology insulation applied to the top. With another lath on top, this will be covered with plaster board with an additional insulation behind. This will in effect reduce the heat loss of the house from 1, no insulation, to 0.2. The problem is catering for existing windows and doors and on one wall electrical sockets. Ceilings will come down in the bathroom and stairwell so that the rafters can be extended and the placing of 100 mm compressed insulation retaining an air gap above. At this stage all the upstairs down lights will be replaced with flush mounted ceiling lights. It also means that the bathroom needs dismantling! Being 25 years old and fair wear and tear showing it's another job that does need doing. I'll have a window of 12 weeks including establishing the bathroom with everything being in the wrong place for existing plumbing. Time for blog writing might just get delayed again.
Many who do not really know me often question what I actually do with regards DIY when I bring it up or they hear from others. It doesn't surprise me because I do not meet to often what I call serious DIYers. Yes the painters, decorators, put up the odd shelf here and there but most tend to get professionals in. I often hear some say they do DIY work on big projects but their involvement is project managing but not many ordinary individuals actually will replace a professional in most aspects of big DIY jobs. I'm also not surprised because most humans prejudge others on their own personal abilities and beliefs. I actually do most of our DIY. Plumbing, heating, stonework, brick work, internal doors, new door and window openings, complete kitchen and bathroom alterations etc. I put in our own multi fuel central heating system 15 years ago, with automated pump when hot water is drained from the gravity feed hot water tank. I only need professionals in for plastering, electric on the meter side of the consumer board or where by law you need to have a professional installer for example a gas/oil boiler installed and be CORGI registered in the UK. I have hand built internal oak ledge and brace doors including frames but I stop at external doors as you need specific equipment and work area for these doors as well as more regular activity in the making of this type of door. I can do roofs, gutters, waste pipes, SVP pipes, tiling of walls and floors etc. I've worked along side Building Control on my projects and since 2005 have drawn my own plans and submitted my own building extension planning applications. In fact I have over several years due to time and finance availability done two barn conversions attached to our house from start to almost finish. The only outside help was plastering and where the job required two physical people to be involved due to weight, height and logistics and that was tackling a stone roof that weighed approximately 10 ton per side in a 15 metre distance, new stone heads on windows and putting in a concrete first floor. First floor, not ground floor! Access did not allow cranes so it was myself and a local builder who is happy to work along side me. I just need to plumb two En-Suites and a Shower Room in the barn conversions but these were put on hold while we pursue air source heating, hence the insulation work. Last winter I tried to get the air source in but the new kitchen and other jobs made this not possible, so air source is planned for March 2016. Air source is one of those jobs by law I need to have an approved plumber in but the company I'm using are quite happy to work along side me. They are fitting the air source unit, tank and modifying the house plumbing to connect and associated electrics but they are happy for me to put in the new radiators and pipework. They have specified radiator wattage output and the rest is down to me. The barn conversions have been the main activity on our site for a few years whilst allowing time for my seasonal work and a social life. I'm not a slave to it! Now the house is being brought up to speed. Believe me or not, it's down to you. There are a few photos on earlier blogs on this blog spot including this particular article but I have many others on my own web site in the gallery. This is by a man who wears a skirt! Shock, horror, the simpleton, queer, faggot and such other descriptive terms I have heard to me and of other men who wear skirts via Twitter and no doubt behind my back in the real world. I'm self taught, by talking and showing interest when I encounter other professionals. I read, show interesting and learn but most importantly I try and will have a go. I take what ever time is required getting quicker as I become more familiar. I am told a professional block layer with a labourer will lay 140 blocks a day. All walls in the barn conversion, upstairs and downstairs are block, including where I had to dry line and tank where the wall is built into the hill side. At my peak I reached 64 a day and on my own, that included mixing, cutting and planning ahead! I will not be as fast now, as I have not blocked in a big way for a few years now. Do I enjoy it, yes I do but I wouldn't as a job. I prefer certain days for certain jobs. I'm no good on roofs and ladders in windy weather. I also like to have variety in my life and doing serious DIY along side seasonal outside work certainly gives me variety. No day is the same, not even comparing every Monday, Tuesday... I have had many compliments from local professionals who know me and have seen my work.
During this last gap of absense I have been active elsewhere. On my Twitter account and since early November, 2015 reactivating my blogs on my web site www.theskirtedman.eu. This site in early November on wet days, has been slightly reorganised. My blog section now has a specific home page. I do intend writing articles away from the main area of current writing which so far have tended to be based upon society and gender. One are my thoughts upon Climate. I'm not against the theory of climate change but I do not have the hard line stance of it is simply being down to humans, we merely contribute to it. I have for years had an interest in this subject and being a balanced and open minded person like to take into account all that I have heard not just selected items. It will also go into some of the changes that are to come our way here in the UK and some that will not be changed. This will appear as and when along side other 'controversial' topics. I have put direct links on separate blog pages on this blogspot site below this article. There are 12 of them! I'll post a link on this blogspot site from now on and my general banter of the exploits of a skirted man will appear in between.
My garden season was busy this year but we did manage to get two 4 day breaks. The first was mentioned in my last blog, the second neither of us really enjoyed so I'll leave it at that. The area was disappointing for us but the National Trust properties we saw were very good. Yes I was skirted as I usually am when not at my self employment or DIY at home. This location gave me the most persistent and intense negativity towards a man in a skirt than I have ever before and since experienced. This was in August and with one or two other separate negative areas within my life one in September and one in early October and none since August due to my skirt wearing, I entered a period of low mood which slowed down some of my activities. I went to my counsellor for the first time in nearly 3 years to get 'reset' which has bounced me back and refreshed my mind on how to tackle society's persistent negative overtones in many aspects of life.
In June this year my wife and I joined a walking club. We have always walked and when we enter the married phase of life, club walking stopped and we undertook this past time with friends and allowing more time in life to cater for other activities that develop as you progress through life. Since 2010 we found our walking had eased off a lot. Partly due to ourselves allowing life to give us both a period of hard time where we both went to counsellors for two differing reasons but also for one reason or another the friends who did go walking stopped. we did go walking ourselves, been to the Lake District at least 5 times this year but joining a club seems to give you more of an incentive. I generally do not do fell/countryside walks in a skirt, for practical reasons but have over the last couple of years done one or two from home when I know the weather, also what the route entails but in August this year it was a particular very warm and calm day so I did a fell walk in the Lakes in a skirt as can be seen here. It can quite often, in fact nearly all the time be windy up on the tops of high hills and mountains but this day clearly was not to be. I did have a pair of trousers in my rucksack just in case but they were not required. We passed many people that day out walking and only two sets of walkers made negative overtones. The rest passed by as usual and also quite a few stopped to talk and not one ever queried what I had on. Joining the club has made us go out more often but it also makes us walk in areas we would not have chosen. I have lead a walk for the group and there is another planned for early next year. Do they know I wear skirts, I do not know. I haven't told them, why should I. Do others or do they talk to me about what they wear!
We have been out and about socially with friends, pub meals, concerts, theatre performances and yes in a skirt. A skirt and clothing as depicted on my site is an everyday item within my everyday life except for fell walking, self employment and most aspects of my DIY. Apart from my work and walking clothes, trousers are in a draw under the bed. Everything else is in the wardrobe. I do have the attitude, take it or leave it. I am me, you are you and if you do not like it, that's your affair, stay out of my life. This was seriously tested Aug/Sept 2015 but the counsellor got me to see things more clearly.
I have not had many direct compliments recently but likewise I have not, except for the 4 day spell down in south England in August had much obvious negativity. As always to date no direct physical abuse but every now and again the odd negative body language and that they are talking about me but not to me. They are the very small minority. Just as many talk to me in impromptu situations as they do when I'm in trousers. Society behaves no differently within its selfish attitude that is apparent in this modern era to others for varying reasons. Society will always criticise others for varying reasons, you only have to be different in one of many ways for another to think you are odd. I recall one negative reference towards me were a family of immigrants from Eastern Europe. How do I know they were immigrants, when I moved towards them they were speaking in very fluent non-English language. They clearly were not tourists and would this have made any difference if they were? Another situation involved a man with his partner. Men do not usually make negative overtones it is usually 99.9% women if they want to look towards me negatively. This bloke obviously could not cope with me but his partner told him, I was within ear shot at this point, "to ignore and move on. People can wear what ever they want, what harm does it do".
Our life is very busy with work, personal interest and hobbies and friends that we have so it may seem a bit strange that I could entered low mood. Depression, which I have suffered for over 30 years is a funny thing and I wrote an article about it and its effects in November 2015. You can find it on my web site on the blogs page. On the whole since 2012 I have been and felt the best since my late teens but it's like an alcoholic, once you have it or are prone to be affected by it, periods of negativity can bring it on, just like an alcoholic having that one or two drinks. It can and quite often does, affect you. I do these days try to keep myself in a positive frame of mind at all times but this last September I need that outside help once again. Quite often I'll start to recognise that the low mood is starting to grab me again so I immediately do something that I know will only give me positive sentiment then go back to what I was doing. Its strategies.
DIY on the house this summer was fairly quite. I did start a project at the back of the house but I knew it would not be finished. To complete it I have to move the SVP pipe and this can only be done once the bathroom is physically altered in side and connected to the new pipe to the septic tank which is already in place and has been as I did the barn conversions in previous years. The ground floor of the house was built into the hillside but many years ago it was dug out and a retaining wall put up. This splits our back which is only 6m wide at this point to half at ground level, half nearly 2m higher. I am putting two steel beams along the back of the house supported on one end of the retaining wall as it turns back towards the house. The back wall of the former barns were not dug out and the old barn walls were very dry before I started putting modern requirements inside. This I'm pleased about as it did provide space for me to put up a large outside shed some 8m by 11m. The back area behind the house makes it basically useless as it is. The two steel beams will be supported by a pillar in the middle, already put up this year and the second beam supported by a new wall I'll build where the house and retaining wall ends. Topped with block and beam floor and the necessary water proofing top this will make the back usable. This will technically make the back like a single storey house and even on the shortest day of the year, sun reaches this back area. The plan is to build raised borders for vegetable growing on the section that is on 'hard land' and use the 'bridged' section as the walk way.
Being practical and handy is useful and over the years we have been able to do and achieve many things which getting others in to do would not have been cost effective. The remarkable thing is this is also done by a man in a skirt as well!