Tuesday 30 Sep 2008 8:38 AM

Arthur has turned his hand to re-pointing and bricklaying over the past few days.

He had some walls rebuilt in his front garden 10 years or so ago when he was redoing his driveway. Unfortunately the bricklayer (and/or his assisstant) were complete moinkeys when it came to mixing bricklaying mortar and generally made it far too weak and in some batches, clearly didn`t mix it very well, because Arthur`s walls are beginning to fll down already (his 75 year old house on the other hand is still doing perfectly well). Arthur can see where the morater has been washed away and some cricks have become loose. In some places Athur could even scrape the mortar out with his finger was it was just pockets of sand where it hadn`t been mixed proeperly. Thus Arthuyr has set about tidying things up before the whole lot falls down.

He started with some repointing. He used chisels, a grout scraper and an angle grinder to clear out the old mortar (although some places there was enough washed away to simply put the new stuff on, it is always best to ensure it is possible to put as much new mortar in as possible, hence why some of it was ground out). This was a pretty quicky, if rather dusty process. The repointing however was painfuly slow. The horizontal bits were easy but the verticals were a nightmare, not helped by the fact all the bricks were very low to the ground, making getting the trowel in at the correct anbgle somewhat tricky. In fact Arthur generally ended up rolling up little sausages of cement and putting them in by hand! He had rather sore, dehydrated hands afterwards though.

Arthur also had some bricklaying to do where some bricks had come off on his front wall. It was only a single layer of half bricks along the top of the wall - a stretch no longer than 1.5m - yet Arthur was very much surprised by just how much mortar he had to mix up to lay them, He started with 1/3 to 1/2 a bucket thinking it would be plenty, but ran out very quickly and ended up making neatly another entire bucket full to lay the rest. Altough not the nestest job in the world, it loked reasonable once it was done; rustic would be a good description! He also had 3 bricks near his front door where a previous occupant had buoilt a sort of plater thing attached to to the front doorstep. The bricks from this plantet were differnet, much less porous, and the morter set much slower meaning Arthur had to wait for ages before he could finish the pointing. He also had to cover it all with a bin liner as it was due top rain and he didn`t like the idea of his hard work being washed away because it hadn`t set!

Only time will tell if Arthur`s work is significantly stronger and longer lasting than the previous so called "professionals" attempt.