Tag Archives: Work

Lean times

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Strawberry ice cream in a cone.

Strawberry ice cream in a cone. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I sat out on the patio after lunch on Wednesday I was beginning to think my working week would be a complete non entity. I was enjoying an ice cream cone when my phone rang. It was a woman for whom I had worked about eight years ago who had at that time cut out my advertisement in case she needed my services again. Why she had done that I am not sure for I usually hand out a business card anyway. I had installed a replacement shower unit for her at that time which evidently was still in working order but this time she simply wanted a light replacing with a more modern one. I have a minimum charge I levy which covers my travelling time, fuel and actually doing the work but even then some people think it is too much, They want it doing for next to nothing, like the guy who called me on Monday wanting me to work late in the day and on a weekend too for it was inconvenient to have me to do the work during the normal working week and who also moaned about the price! I refused the work. So off I went to replace the light for this lady who lives twelve miles distant from my house. As the job was extremely easy I charged her £5 less than I would normally have done. I was happy, she was happy. As I write this on Wednesday evening I am not sure if I will get any more work for the remainder of the week but at least that one job has covered the cost of my weekly advertisement. (By the way I did get more work before the end of the week).  I was going to go to the pub again for my lunch but decided against the idea and rustled up a meal at home. In any case I like cooking so it isn’t an inconvenience for me except if I have been working hard, then I sometimes don’t wish to start cooking and I eat out instead. Had I done that on Wednesday I might have missed the call, especially if I had been inside the pub where the phone signal is so weak due to the roof being totally covered in lead! Connecting to the Internet whilst in the pub isn’t a problem for as with most places these days they have a router installed. It is just the phone signal which is impeded though not all system providers are affected. I just happen to be using one that is!

Shirley Anne

Wot went wong?

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Weather with You

Weather with You (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We waited patiently for the onset of Spring and it looked at last as if  the days could only get warmer but this is the UK and our weather patterns are never always reliable. On Wednesday at least the country was more or less split in half regarding the weather. Those in the south were enjoying temperatures and sunshine more typical for the month of June or even July whereas those up north had to put up with cloudy skies and low temperatures and even rain in some places too. Temperatures in the south were in the low twenties and even as high as twenty-five degrees Celsius in places but in the north it was more like eleven degrees with a slight wind. As far as conditions are concerned the weather in the north was more typical for the season whereas in the south conditions were more unseasonal. The day was a one-off though for the main problem was the passing of a cold front making its way slowly southward. For such a small country there can be quite a difference in weather patterns between the most northerly point to the most southerly at almost any time of the year. On a more personal note, the weather was just fine for me. I was half expecting to get more job requests for the day but had just the one and that one a very small one indeed, to connect a cooker to its isolating switch. I was happy about that for it meant I would have most of the day to myself but I couldn’t do it until the cooker had been delivered at eleven o’clock. It was almost lunch time as I drove home but I decided to go for another pub/restaurant meal beforehand as I had only fruit for my breakfast some hours earlier. Just as I had put the van in the garage, for I had no intentions of  taking anymore work for the day, my phone rang, but it wasn’t a job request this time. I advertise in a local free newspaper, one of two operating in the area. The call was from the other newspaper group trying to secure my business! They had been trawling their competitor’s newspaper looking for more business. I wondered if the group I advertise with do the same. I explained that as I only work part-time (more or less) and as I am also 69 years of age to boot, I didn’t want the volume of work and was quite happy with my current newspaper running my advert. I locked the garage and went indoors.

Shirley Anne

Beads of perspiration

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Beads From a Petal

Beads From a Petal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

…and on to Wednesday, a much warmer and sunny day. Although it had been sunny on Tuesday it had remained on the cool side but not Wednesday, Wednesday was much warmer. I had but the one job to do in another town and I arrived there, as I usually do, right on time. Replacing two ceiling light fittings and repositioning a power outlet all got done within two hours even though there was much chatting and drinking coffee in the meantime. It turned out that the couple, an elderly retired plumber aged 84 and his wife who never revealed her age but must have been in her mid-seventies, were both born in Liverpool and had lived there for some years. We chatted about living in Liverpool and I was asked many things regarding where I had lived there. I have come across and worked for quite a number of ex-pat. Liverpudlians during my travels. They are a very sociable and welcoming people. I say that because they are and I am one of them! Anyway the work was completed quickly and they were well pleased with what I had done. I noticed that beads of perspiration were forming on my forehead as I worked on replacing the lights, not because the work was hard, it wasn’t but it was quite warm up at ceiling level. It can only get warmer as the months go by. I found myself driving back to my home town at 11 o’clock. I wanted to dine out again but it was too early for lunch. However, the traffic was a little heavier than I had anticipated and as I approached the outskirts of town I found I was in diverted traffic from one of the main roads in the area that was undergoing some major works. Coupled with that on the main route I was on there had been temporary traffic controls put into place because of road works there too and those things slowed the traffic to a crawl. By the time I got into town it was nearly 12 o’clock so I diverted toward the pub arriving there five minutes before opening time. I was in no hurry of course  but there were already people sitting on the benches outside waiting to get inside. I sat in my van and watched their antics which I found rather amusing. Most all of them were elderly folk which have become the mainstay of the business since its last reformation a couple of years ago when it was basically a pub that served food. Now it is more a restaurant that has a bar! It has become more popular as a result. I sat and watched one very elderly couple approach the side door, the one most people use as it leads out to the outdoor seating area and the car park. They each in turn tried the handle on the door but it was obviously closed and would remain so until the staff opened it from the inside. I watched as they tried again and again to open the door whilst others simply sat there and waited patiently. I was surprised at the couple’s impatience thinking to myself that they should know better at their age. They were acting like two senile delinquents. Finally the door was opened a couple of minutes after noon and a great cheer resounded from the small group that had gathered. I followed them inside after a minute or so and was served immediately, that is my order was taken as soon as I entered. The elderly folk were still sorting out where to sit! I had to laugh.

Shirley Anne

 

Busy Tuesday

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Gardener Gardening

Gardener Gardening (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was about 4 o’clock in the afternoon before I was able to eat anything substantial. I had eaten a half of a small melon for breakfast knowing that I intended to eat out later. Usually I would have eaten porridge with fruit and a fruit drink but sometimes porridge weighs heavily in my tummy and causes reflux whenever I am doing anything strenuous or working hard afterwards. If I miss eating porridge in the morning I might have some later in the day if I’ve a mind to do so. My first job of the day was to install a waterproof power outlet outdoors at an address quite close to home. The lady of the house, a widow, got on very well with me and during my work she was talking about her garden and asking me about mine. I am not a gardener but I do like to take an interest in plants. I asked the lady if she would like to see my garden as my house was not much more than a half-mile away. She liked the idea so when I had finished the job I drove her there and back home later. I had an hour to spare before I could go to my next job for the day anyway. I gave her a mini-tour of the gardens and lower floors of the house so that she could see the things we had been talking about earlier. She knew much about the plants we have as gardening is somewhat of a hobby of hers. I also showed her our wet room and main bathroom as I had told her that we had built the wet room entirely by ourselves and had done most of the work in the bathroom ourselves too. She didn’t want to leave the bathroom, saying it was such a lovely room. I took her back home after a half-hour and then drove back home for a short while before going to my next job. Our eldest son had called to the house with someone from the church and they were offloading two pews for storage in our cellar. He told me he wanted them for future use when he buys a house. I can’t imagine why but hadn’t the time to ask. I left them to it. When I returned home late in the afternoon I had to move them for he had stored them in such a way that they were obstructing access to our electrical and gas supplies and preventing use of the workbench we have down there. Though they were very heavy I managed to move them to one side and out-of-the-way. I don’t think they had thought about access problems when they dumped them there. I was already tired after my day at work. My second job involved repairs to bathroom lights and a switch replacement but I could only assess the work when I first went there. I needed to purchase a switch to match the faulty one but had to go to my third job beforehand. That job was some miles out-of-town and involved installing wiring to an extract wall fan. I returned to the second job to complete the work there. Now it was 3.40 in the afternoon and I was hungry and a little tired. I drove to my local pub and had a meal there but it didn’t arrive at my table until 4.20. I didn’t linger there once I had eaten but drove home for a well-earned rest, after I had moved the pews of course! My next job would take me to another town the following day. Tuesday started cool and very misty but late in the morning the sun broke out and it remained warm and sunny all day long. We are promised the same for a few more days before it gets wetter and cooler once more. I love England!

Shirley Anne

Tiding me over

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I have always had a steady flow of work since becoming self-employed back in September 1997. Prior to that time I worked for others and in my last job doing that the workload had become minimal and the routine checks I had to make on equipment became tedious and boring. My colleague and I were well on top of things and little needed to be done to maintain things. I left that employment at just the right time it seems. What actually happened was my employer was streamlining the industry (asset stripping) and encouraging those who were of suitable age and thereby could retire voluntarily to do so. I was of suitable age and because the terms were so favourable I chose to take early voluntary retirement on a full pension with the added bonus of a ‘golden handshake‘, a tidy lump sum. That lump sum and the fact that I was ensured a monthly income from my pension with immediate effect meant that I could continue working as a self-employed person. I have never looked back since that day and in fact my fortunes took a turn for the better. Over the years since then my workload has been steady and often too much at times for me to handle. Gradually I have wound things down and no longer take on projects I consider too much for me to do at my age.

The strange thing is there still is plenty of work I am able to do, small jobs that no-one else seems to be able to fit into their schedule or perhaps are not interested in doing. I did one such job on Thursday morning. I had to disconnect and remove a hard-wired bell circuit and replace it with a wireless type. Next, I had to replace a light unit on an outside wall and finally replace the base box (called a pattress) beneath a power outlet in the garage as it had been broken. Simple little jobs yes but nevertheless financially rewarding. I also discovered that a plug-in type of RCD unit they had been using whenever they used their electric lawnmower was faulty. They told me that they had used it for years and I asked if they ever tested it before use. It appears they hadn’t even though printed on the unit are instructions to do so. The test simply involves pushing the device’s test button! I thought to myself why have a safety device and never test it to see if it is working? As for the work I do, the way I look at it is this, if I am continuing to work I might as well get paid for it! Whilst at the house I received phone calls asking for my services. So despite there being no work on some days there is enough to keep me going, to tide me over as it were.

 

Shirley Anne

 

A bit like last week

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Loft (2005 film)

Loft (2005 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This past week has been very similar to the week before in that the work I have done has been concentrated at the latter end of the week leaving me nothing to do for the first few days. It isn’t often you will see me crawling about in someone’s loft but on Wednesday I did exactly that. Naturally I put on a pair of overalls (coveralls) before doing so in order to keep my clothes clean and to protect them from damage. Some lofts are surprisingly reasonably clean but whilst that is so most are not. Most loft areas now are fitted with layers of insulation material which hides the timber construct of the ceilings below and so there is always the danger of accidentally stepping on the fragile ceiling and putting a foot through it. In all my years as an electrician I have never had that misfortune. Other hazards in loft spaces include the roof beams and rafters and the many cardboard boxes or other stored items people have put up there. Having peeled back the insulation I was able to gain access to the lighting cables on this occasion for my task was to reposition and at the same time replace a ceiling light and remove another together with the pull-cord switch controlling it. Having done what was necessary in the loft I was soon able to close the hatch and continue the work in the bedroom below. Another problem I was faced with was the huge bed beneath where the new light (a chandelier) would be fitted and which couldn’t be moved. Have you ever tried balancing on a wobbly bed whilst trying to fit a heavy light above it? With a little help from the lady of the house who supported the light whilst I connected and fitted it I soon had it done. Of course the bed had been covered with a sheet to collect any dust and always there is! The lady asked me all sorts of questions regarding why I decided to become an electrician and how long I have been working as such. She was very much impressed when I gave her a brief description of the things I have done over the (almost) 53 years I have been in the business. She then asked if I enjoyed my work! I could only reply with a ‘yes’ for how could anyone stick at a job so long and not enjoy it unless they were completely bonkers? Maybe I am a little bonkers but I do enjoy my work.

Shirley Anne

Finally

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Finally!

Finally! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Things have been sluggish for me lately but I think I am beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel. Exactly one week after my last electrical job I received a request to do a small job on Thursday in another town twelve miles away. Having quoted my minimum price, which was accepted, I went along to do the job the following day as asked. That one job is just enough to pay the cost of my advertisement for the one week. At least I am not running at a loss! In reality my previous weeks of  profitable gain would in any case allow me to take a few weeks off before I would start to make a loss. It meant though that I had a week free to myself. I am happy to see that work is once again beginning to trickle in if only to relieve the boredom. There is work to do in and around the house but at this moment in time I am reluctant to do anything at home until E changes her attitude. It has been difficult to take an interest in anything at home lately so I have been getting away from the house more and more. I have spent therefore more time dining out and going for walks or shopping but what I really want to do is what I enjoy the most and that is my work at home or in my electrical job. The weather hasn’t been too good for getting out and about but it is finally but slowly improving. My bank accounts are healthy once more, not that they were anything otherwise but it has at last been possible to save more now my main annual expenditure has ceased and with the prospect of more electrical work that should continue to improve. Hopefully with the coming of Spring there will be improvements all round on the home front. If nothing else the sunshine will produce a sense of well-being! I am looking forward to it. I know in that in the coming weeks I will be dusting off the lawnmower for use again and soon after then maybe I can begin to wear lighter clothing again just like the girl in the picture!

Update: that single job changed into three at different locations! You wait ages for a bus to come along then three arrive all at once!

Shirley Anne

 

How different

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See You Next Tuesday (album)

See You Next Tuesday (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How different this week has been to last week. I talked about this in yesterday’s post and since Tuesday I have received more requests for work. I returned on Wednesday morning to the house I had been working in on Tuesday to replace the second of the electrical panels. I didn’t expect the second one to be as awkward as the first one was but even so it wasn’t as straightforward as I had hoped. I soldiered on of course and had it completed in a couple of hours. However, there were a couple of things I had to check out before I could finish but was unable to do so until the lady of the house had returned home from her shopping trip. I needed access to a locked area in which the boiler was situated outside and I also needed to inspect the garage installation to ensure it had been wired from the panel or board I had fitted which had the RCD unit. As it happened it had been wired to the board I had replaced with the RCD unit fitted. There had been no markings on the original fuse board. Alas inside the area in which the boiler had been installed was a separate power outlet that had been supplied from the other fuse board. I hadn’t replaced that board with one fitted with an RCD as it wasn’t deemed necessary. The power outlet was faulty in any case and wasn’t in use so I disconnected it. Now I was finished. As I was driving home, for I had no other work, I got more calls for work but turned them down. They were too remote and out of my catchment area. Once home I got more calls and these I put on my schedule, one of which I am doing next Tuesday morning. I seem to get a lot of work on a Tuesday!

With the amount of work I am offered it is difficult to think about retirement and it isn’t hard work, that is strenuous, so as long as I can do it I carry on. I try not to do too much though. I am the type of person who simply finds it difficult to sit down too long. I often think I am going to wear myself out but it doesn’t seem to happen. People ask me how I manage to continue and I tell them that I am afraid I will seize-up if I stop! There’s a lot of truth in that you know, I have heard many people tell me their experiences once they stopped work and how much it affected them. I cannot go on forever I know but I will always remain active one way or another if I can.

Shirley Anne

All week off?

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(Plain) Flour and (lite) milk.

(Plain) Flour and (lite) milk. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I write this on Thursday afternoon I have had no electrical job offers that I am willing to take on-board since last Thursday and no work therefore since last Friday. Swings and roundabouts of course and I may yet get requests before this week is out. One good thing to come out of this, or maybe two good things would be the nice long break and a chance to really rest from my labours and to know what it would be like to be fully retired. I am not interested in the latter as such and I know that whilst I am fit and healthy I shan’t be idle once I do decide to retire from my formal occupation. For someone who doesn’t much care for travel and going places just because they are there or spending my whole later life roaming about like a hedonistic modern-day gypsy, I need to be doing something else instead. As I like working with my hands I know there will always be something for me to do, as long as I am fit and able. Besides I am more or less done with roaming for the sake of it except for taking the occasional break should I feel the need. Thankfully now the weather is slowly improving, the sun has been shining a lot over the past week raising my mood as it does. Funny how sunshine promotes activity, of any kind. More opportunities for outdoor pursuits or work, whichever of those I choose to do will keep me occupied. I have been offered work though but they have either been not cost-effective to do or they have been too far afield or too large for someone of my age. I tire of life sometimes, not the living of it but the things we all are expected to do living in a modern society. Jumping off the merry-go-round, the treadmill or getting out of the rat race would suit me fine but alas I am stuck with it. Once in the system, always in the system. The less of that system’s effect on my life the better as far as I’m concerned. For the time being I am expecting to get through this week work free…………….maybe. So what else did I do on Thursday afternoon? I cleaned the windows at the front of the house from the outside. They can be cleaned from the inside as they open inwards but reaching the fixed windows above, at least downstairs, are best done from the outside. They needed a hose pipe and a squeegee for they were heavily soiled and the higher ones had to be reached from a ladder. The sun was drying them as fast as I could wet them! Soon I was back indoors and baking some more scones having to use baking powder in the mix having discovered we had no self-raising flour but only plain flour. Adding a little baking powder to a self-raising flour mix makes them rise even more. E had been out shopping with her mum and can always tell when I have been baking in her absence, the house is filled with a lovely aroma.

Shirley Anne

No wind today

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St George's Cross - the flag of England.

St George’s Cross – the flag of England. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Funny how things go sometimes. I was talking about flying the flag or rather not flying the flag a few days ago because of the very high winds we had been experiencing. I had to lower the flag and remove it for a few days until the wind subsided. The recommended upper speed limit of the wind when flying the flag is 35 mph and it has been far windier than that lately. A couple of days ago I resumed flying the flag, well the one we have that isn’t damaged for we had to take down the Union flag because it was showing signs of wear. It had been of lesser quality than we had expected and not as good as the other flag which is the cross of St George but not like the one shown in this picture! Anyway to cut a long story short I decided to purchase a new and better quality Union flag which should have arrived by the time this is posted. It cost a little under £65 inclusive of tax and postage. Having decided to fly the flag again the weather has now turned quite mild with little wind, just typical. Not only has there been little in the way of wind there has been no snow either. Some parts of the country have been less fortunate though to see the smiles upon the children’s faces they are happy about it. I don’t like snow or wind myself. I’ve not been too busy lately and I am in grave danger of getting used to that. I hope my electrical work picks up a bit as I am not receiving many requests just at the moment. Nature of the beast, sometimes I am swamped with work and at other times barely get any. It’s a bit like the wind, it comes and it goes and at the moment neither is in abundance.

Shirley Anne

Since writing yesterday’s post

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Disposable Income (album)

Disposable Income (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It was a few days ago I wrote yesterday’s post and the work has been coming in little by little since then. The weather has been all over the place this week and it has been difficult to get a day where all is settled, in fact we’ve not been that lucky. I tell myself it can only improve as the weeks pass. E and I haven’t been dining out lately, not because we don’t wish to but at this moment in time I am trying not to spend my disposable income. I am trying to save it instead as there are one or two domestic maintenance jobs to be paid for. Of course when I retire our dining out escapades will be paid for out of my pensions but whilst I am working I prefer to use the income from my jobs. We don’t much do the dining out thing over the Christmas and New Year period anyway so we’ve not really missed it. Last week I had four electrical jobs whilst so far this week (Tuesday) I have had three. At least my overheads are covered with a little over. E went out with her mum on Tuesday afternoon whilst I was out working and she didn’t come home until well after six o’clock. I was preparing an evening meal when she came into the kitchen to tell me that she had dined out with her mum! Evidently her mum had treated her whilst they were out shopping but E didn’t let me know. I’d have thought she could have at least phoned me. It meant I had to dine alone and put the left-overs in the fridge. What can I say? She did tell me that the automated lighting circuit in the garage she uses had failed to operate properly. I wired the existing fluorescent light to switch on if the garage door was open and if it was dark outside. This means the light would only come on automatically if those two conditions were met. It also means I have another small electrical job to sort out! I used to dread coming home after work sometimes. E would tell me that there was something I needed to look at, which usually meant something had either stopped working or had broken in some way. Nowadays I half-expect her to say something! Half the time I find problems myself too.

Shirley Anne

Taking stock

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English: Stock Taking... Stock taking a close ...

Stock Taking… Stock taking a close look. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Having passed my sixty-ninth birthday almost two months ago I have been thinking a lot about my work, how much of it I want and for how much longer. I have spent almost fifty-three years in the electrical business in one form or another and I suppose I have worked in most areas of the profession. There is very little anyone can tell me about my work now that I’ve a lifetime’s experience. However I have been taking stock of my situation lately insofar as I don’t wish to be swamped with work but only wish to spend a few hours each week doing it. It is a fine balance at the moment for on the one hand it is costing me to advertise and yet if I don’t advertise the work will drop off almost completely. I need to work a minimum amount of hours just to pay for the advertisement and the other overheads associated with a business of this type. At the moment my workload is very low and actually insufficient to maintain my business if it were to last. If it doesn’t pick up I shall most certainly go into retirement but I don’t see that happening, the workload picking up I mean. Of course I am not getting any younger and will want to retire eventually I suppose. It may happen sooner than I think, who knows? I was discussing these things with E a while ago for at that time I told her that I was as bored as hell with nothing to do. I wasn’t referring to my electrical work though for at the time I didn’t have any, I was referring to a lack of opportunity to work in the garden doing those things I knew wanted doing. It was all down to the weather being so appalling but we sis speak about what I might find to do if I were to retire from my electrical work. The thing is I do get bored very easily if I have nothing to do whereas many others might find that doing nothing is fine. Some may find travelling is what they want to do or indulging in the high life or a hobby of some kind. I am less inclined to do those things too often if at all. I prefer to be working at something so I am hoping my work picks up before I am incapable of doing it!

Shirley Anne

Crazy

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People Are Crazy

People Are Crazy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Since Christmas Day I have received a couple of offers for work both of which I turned down. Despite my advertisement not being published until January 7 and having last been published a week before Christmas I still get the calls. The latest request was indeed quite a simple one and tempting as it was in my own town. A fluorescent light fitting was overheating and indeed had failed. I explained to the gentleman calling that I wasn’t available for work until the second week in January for I was determined to take at least the two-week break I had promised myself. I worked very hard during the weeks preceding Christmas accommodating almost everyone who had a request. Now all I wanted to do was rest from that work. Yes I could take on the work but why should I? I am not a machine. What I think is happening here is people have found my advertisement in an older publication and have made note of the details without checking to see if my advertisement is currently being published. Common sense would indicate that if I am not advertising for work I am not available for one reason or another. One of my recent calls was from a previous customer who perhaps thought I would waive my intentions to stay rested for a while and go and do their job. I appreciate their calls and to have chosen me to do the work but I have to draw the line and turn work down else burn myself out. A girl can only do so much, especially if she is my age! I do propose to be working a little in the next week or so but only at home. I am afraid everyone else will have to wait.

Shirley Anne

I’ve got the bug now

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Pruned bushes 2No, not coming down with something. That’s probably not possible just now as I have been pretty much isolated from my fellow human beings lately. No, I’ve got the work bug. After spending a little time out in the garden on Christmas Day (well I had to do something!) I am now itching to do some more if only to remove the boredom and of course to get some exercise. I am glad I moved the gooseberry plants. Their roots were beginning to spread after the couple of years they have been there but even so I had to cut some of them back before I could get them out of the ground. I simply replanted them a short distance away and now they will be far easier to maintain and to gather the fruit. It will be a couple on months yet before they will spring back into life. You can see the cut-down gooseberry shrubs beneath the laurels which have been moved along the same line but close to the (now removed) small slabs on the left in the picture. The laurel shrubs will now have no nearby competition to stem their growth, not that they were being held back. They have grown quite a few centimetres since they were planted early in the year. Hopefully in the next few months we shall see them beginning to have the effect for which they were planted, to provide a colourful wind-break whilst enhancing the view from the patio. If the weather holds fine I hope to finish laying and positioning the few remaining stones around and near the ‘mound’ (see summer posts). It will be a couple of weeks before I am available for electrical work so I need to make the most of the free time I have now. There is work to be done inside the house too but I fancy I shall be leaving that to one side for a while as much of it requires funding. I will however do as much as I can and am able to do without spending out on the major things which can wait.

Shirley Anne