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Posts Tagged ‘Work’

Do it for nothing

Posted by Shirley Anne on October 6, 2014

Lost Weekend (EP)

Lost Weekend (EP) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As an electrician I get many calls from people who want me to do a small job for them. Now I generally charge a minimum amount for any work that I do partly to pay for my time and running costs and partly to dissuade people from asking me to change a plug or some other very small thing that they could probably do themselves, especially if they live some distance from me. Oh yes, I get calls to do such things from people who live fifteen miles away or further yet they expect me to charge very little for the privilege. I have basic costs I have to cover and part of those is my time travelling to and from places. I warn people that I operate a minimum charge so they know beforehand and are not taken by surprise. I try to be fair though and if I can will always err on the lowest price I can do any work depending on the person’s situation, age and ability to pay. Some people are taken aback when I quote my charges thinking that they wouldn’t be paying so much. They seem to think I can do the work for next to nothing. I don’t know what is going on in their minds and how they assume anyone can earn a living by under-charging just to suit their needs. Often, after I tell them over the phone what they will be paying and no more for if I give them a price I stick to it, they say something along the lines of ‘I’ll speak with my husband’ or ‘I’ll see when I can get time off work for you to come’ but they never call back. They want the job doing for nothing! Speaking about getting time off, many will ask if I would do their job at the weekend. This is because they are unprepared to take time out from their own work. That to me is very cheeky for if they aren’t prepared to make a sacrifice why should I sacrifice my weekend off to accommodate them? One such woman asked that of me recently and I politely asked her if she would work a weekend after working all week. She said no. Enough said. She then asked if I worked evenings! I sometimes think I am supposed to accommodate any request in order to make it easier for them. I take exception to such attitudes but I will and sometimes do make exceptions in some circumstances. For instance if the customer is working a shift pattern such as they do if they are nurses or if they are teachers who simply cannot take time off during term times. There are other incidences whereby I will make exceptions to for instance in emergency situations but other than these I am afraid I am not available in my own spare time. Occasionally I get calls from people who, when I answer the call, start talking about their problems and how soon I can get there? I had such a call a couple of weeks ago whilst travelling into Liverpool on the train! I even get the same calls whilst dining out. Obviously I will take down the details but I am not about to drop everything in order to fit the work into someone else’s inflexible schedule. Am I supposed to be available at everyone’s beck and call? I think not and I am certainly not available to those not prepared to pay for my services.

Shirley Anne

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Things are picking up again

Posted by Shirley Anne on September 16, 2014


Workload (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My workload took a bit of a dive at the beginning of the month though I did get requests for my services. However many of the requests turned out to be too great for me to take on-board. I limit my workload these days and my advertisement indicates that I take on small jobs but it seems some people take no notice and offer me large contracts! Nice to be wanted for sure but come on I am fast approaching 69 years of age and although I could take on the work it would probably take too much of a toll on my well-being! Besides that the job would probably take me too long anyway, I cannot work as fast as I once could. I am not that slow though as many folk have told me recently. It is all relative though isn’t it? Anyhow work is now coming in bit by bit and at a pace which suits me fine. Not having much to do at home with my latest project of converting a room in the cellar into a toilet because I am waiting upon the services of a builder I am more available for any electrical jobs that might come my way. It is just as well in any case as I need to rebuild my bank account savings! I am seriously thinking of refurbishing one of the four bedrooms located on the first floor which will cost around £2000 and am eager to do that but again I am biding my time for the moment. The house has seven bedrooms, the other three are located on the second floor but only one of them looks anything like a bedroom at the moment as one of the other two is filled with my eldest son’s furniture and the third is full of cardboard boxes with things in them mainly belonging to E. Even the one that is usable as a bedroom has many other things stored in there too. At the moment I have other things on my mind so it may be a while before I get to grips with it all. In the meantime I am content to simply plod on with my electrical work, as long as it keeps coming in!

Shirley Anne

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Retire? Mwah retire?

Posted by Shirley Anne on August 7, 2014


Contactor (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I keep getting asked if and when I plan to retire by those employing me once they discover my age (39 of course…..LOL) but I answer with this, ‘I’ll probably die on the job!’ My intentions of late are to just keep plodding along, continuing to work as long as I am able but only on a part-time basis, that is a couple of hours a day presuming the work is coming in. I had a job to do on Monday morning which entailed removing four power outlets in a bedroom and making good the circuit. I was to install a new outlet in the same room on another wall. That was part one of the task. The second part was to install three new outlets in another room and to replace an existing one in the same room. The job took almost four hours after which I was asked to ‘look at another small problem’. A contactor ( a four-pole automatic switch for those who are not electricians or engineers) controlling the supply to a large water heating system had burned out and required replacing. I carried out a temporary repair to allow the continued use and supply of hot water as I knew the replacement would probably need ordering. Later, when I was finally able to get to the supplier, I found that it would indeed be a week or so before the part could be collected. It didn’t matter and I will return to the house once it arrives. In the meantime I had a call to go to the next town to fit a couple of wall (mounted) lights. By now it was well after one o’clock and as I was doing that job another call came in from someone in yet another town asking if I could sort out a problem the person had found himself presented with after attempting to replace a ceiling light himself. I wish people who don’t know anything about electrical circuitry would leave it to the professionals. Anyway I drove across and sorted out the problem. By now it was around three-thirty and I had yet to visit the supplier to order the new contactor and purchase some materials for my van stock. It took me twenty minutes to get back to my own town and twenty minutes to drive down one of the small streets in town which is only 150 metres in length! The traffic was heavy, probably because it was such a sunny day and being summer the town was packed with people. It didn’t help being behind some dilatory drivers who failed to get across the junction before the lights turned against them. The lights changed several times on my approach to the junction but finally I got through and soon arrived at the suppliers. By the time I had left there it was way past four o’clock. One more thing to do was to bank the cheque for £30 I had received from the National Grid. It was recompense for being without a gas supply longer than twenty-four hours whilst they were replacing the gas mains in the street and houses. I arrived home about four forty-five and I had still not eaten since breakfast at seven. I could have postponed the two extra jobs but as I was far from home it was better to do them the same day. Sometimes it is best to just go with the flow. Retire? I wouldn’t have as much fun! LOL.

Shirley Anne

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A little bit better

Posted by Shirley Anne on July 31, 2014


SMEG Refrigerator - Pastel Green

SMEG Refrigerator – Pastel Green (Photo credits: West Elm)

The start of the week began a little cooler and would have been very welcome had I been working outdoors. I found myself struggling to get to sleep on Sunday night lying restlessly in bed until about three o’clock. I knew it was that time having seen my mobile phone light up as it sometimes does when receiving a text or email message. The next time I opened my eyes it was five minutes before seven o’clock, the time at which I had set the alarm. I had to be up reasonably early to receive delivery of the new fridge/freezer which had been scheduled for some time between the hours of nine-thirty and one-thirty. As I usually cannot return to sleep once I am awake I got up. I hadn’t any electrical work to do, in fact I had no work scheduled for the whole week, however no sooner had I finished my breakfast I received phone call after phone call requesting my services. That remained the pattern throughout the day. I accepted some of the work but had to reject the rest, mostly because they were too large to take on board but also I hadn’t the time to do some of them when the person wanted me too. I went to do one of those jobs just before ten o’clock after E had returned downstairs from getting dressed. She usually has her breakfast first whilst I like to shower and dress before I come down for breakfast. I had received the call just after eight but explained that I couldn’t get to the house before ten in case the fridge/freezer was delivered and E was still getting dressed. I had almost reached the job when the delivery man called me to let me know they were minutes away from our house. It didn’t matter E was by then ready to open the door. I got on with the job and whilst there talked myself into another job which needed doing. That I did the following day. The other work will keep me occupied on each of the remaining days of the week. I am writing this on Monday evening by the way. Despite the work I do now being generally small jobs there are usually enough of them to make it financially worthwhile. They pay for things like new fridges! I am hoping to do a little work in the garden this weekend if the weather cools down a bit as it seems to be doing. Some folk like it hot but I don’t, it just drains my energy but this week it is getting a little bit cooler and therefore much better for me.

Shirley Anne


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One of those jobs

Posted by Shirley Anne on July 10, 2014

Chrysotile in Slate Roof Tile

Monday was another gloriously warm and sunny day though it didn’t start that way. There were many clouds in the sky first thing but as the morning progressed it got better. I was asked to rewire or re-instate the wiring inside a very long garage that had its roof replaced after the wind ripped off parts of the old one. I don’t remember it being that windy for a few months so perhaps the damage was historical. The old roof had been made of corrugated white asbestos (Chrysotile), a somewhat dangerous material when particles are airborne. I remember visiting the house a couple of years ago to install a protective garage electrical distribution board to replace an old and dangerous one that offered very little protection from electric shock should a fault occur. I remember too having left the lighting circuit disconnected inside the new board because the lighting circuit wasn’t as safe as it should have been and doing that because the occupier wasn’t prepared to pay for it to be repaired at that time. Perhaps they had it in mind to have it done after a new roof had been fitted. At that time the roof was pretty much intact except for one or two holes and I suppose they knew then that a totally new roof would need to be fitted. Well it seems the weather eventually forced them to get it done. My job this time was to rewire and refit and part rewire four power outlets and rewire or part rewire the four lights. A new steel roof had been fitted with timber supports mounted on and around the existing old steel framework so routing the cables was made easier. However the garage wall were made of concrete slabs bolted to concrete pillars with special clamps. Drilling the concrete was nigh impossible as it was extremely hard. I managed to drill two holes though not very deep in order to fix one of the power outlets and gave up that idea for fixing the others as I had completely worn out two new masonry drills! I had to find another way of fixing the remaining outlets. I was able to release the clamps and slide pieces of wood beneath them the screw the clamps back in position. I was then able to fix the power outlets to the wood. One thing about my work, and it has always been the case, is that I have to be very inventive at times. There are special bonding pastes these days which will securely fix almost anything to almost anything and in minutes be set hard ready for use but I didn’t have any of that with me. I don’t usually carry it on my van as it is fairly expensive and the need for it is rare but it would have made this particular task easier. Having said that I had to keep the costs down knowing that the occupier wouldn’t wish to pay too much for my services. Nonetheless I was paid £115 for the three hours with only £13 of that expenses. I don’t come cheap but am worth it! LOL. Just as I had finished I got a call from a woman I have known for some years who was checking to see if I was at home so she could visit. I have done work at her house several times in the past and I knew her when she worked for a company I had a maintenance contract with. We’d often chat about our homes but she had never seen mine so one day a couple of weeks ago E and I called into the outlet where she now works to buy some paint and we invited her to call in on her way home from work one day. She asked if it was alright to visit about 1.15 and as I was just about to drive home I told her it would be fine. She has the same name as E so when they were together it became a little confusing talking with them. Anyway she came and had a mini tour of the house and gardens and she was very impressed at what we’ve achieved over the years. One thing I have to say about this woman is she can be a little ‘dizzy’ and she can speak for Britain as we say. She actually had her vehicle parked at the entrance to our road and couldn’t figure out where our house was even though I had told her and she knew it was number one! As for talking, nice as she is she doesn’t know when to stop. LOL She left after an hour and we were then able to eat lunch, a late lunch with her voice still ringing in our ear holes!

Did I say ‘one of those jobs’? Late in the evening around nine o’clock I received a call from a lady who had lost all the power in the house. I explained as much as I could to her on how to reset her power circuits but after trying what I suggested she found the problem still existed. She had also just restocked her freezer and didn’t want it to defrost. I decided to go and assist. After some investigating I had to split the offending circuit and disconnect the fault bearing section as a temporary measure thereby allowing half of it to work. Fortunately the ‘good’ half was able to supply the freezer. A friend of mine will continue with finding the exact source of the fault in due course as I am unable to accommodate because I have other commitments. As it happens my friend had been finding it difficult to find work this week. I was paid for my call-out and temporary repairs and I arrived back home near to 10.30

Shirley Anne

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Go, go, go.

Posted by Shirley Anne on July 3, 2014

English: Electric hot water storage tank in a ...

Electric hot water storage tank in a UK property.

Monday morning started the day off well. I went to do a small electrical job which didn’t take long and soon I was off back home. On route I decided to make a detour to purchase an immersion heater for the hot water storage tank at home which sits inside the airing cupboard in the new bathroom. Whilst I was working on the bathroom project I took the opportunity to rewire the immersion heater circuit but hadn’t connected the heater itself as it was faulty. I planned to replace it later and now that time had come. There was no immediate hurry to do the job but we have been informed that new plastic gas-pipes are being laid in the street and to each household at the same time during the next few weeks. This will mean we will have no means of heating the storage tank unless the electric heater is working. We may not need hot water during the day as the storage tank holds a large volume of water which retains its heat for many hours if not used much. With the immersion heater connected it won’t matter, so that is the second reason to get it installed. When I arrived back home I began to remove the old heater and fit a wall switch. I got most of the work done and stopped for lunch but was interrupted by a call from an elderly gentleman seeking my services. His light switch was faulty or so he told me. After lunch I collected my tools and went off to do his job thinking that it was a simple change of a single switch but when I arrived I discovered that it was what we call a three-gang switch, that is three switches all on the same plate. Furthermore there were two switch plates both hanging from their cables. I found that some of the wires had become detached  from the switches and that is why his lights weren’t working. However it wasn’t a simple thing to reconnect them and screw the switch plates back on the walls because the boxes they are fixed to were far back inside the walls necessitating the use of very long screws to fix them. The boxes should be near to the surface for a couple of reasons, not least to make fixing the switches easier! The old guy had removed the switches in order to fit finger-plates behind them then found he couldn’t get them back. The long screws were no longer long enough. I had to go and purchase a couple of extension pieces so that the screws would fit. It still took me an inordinate amount of time to refit the switches even with the extension pieces but finally I succeeded. In the process he asked me to check why it was that the two-way circuit controlling the hall lighting wasn’t working as it should but after quite some time checking the circuit I discovered that it hadn’t been working properly because it hadn’t been wired properly in the first place and had never worked. The old guy pretended to be ignorant of that fact until I told him it could never work the way it had been wired. Unfortunately it had to remain that way as altering it would entail rewiring part of the circuit, something he wasn’t prepared to have done. So the bit about the faulty switch was just a ruse  to get me to sort out his mistakes and to get a circuit working the way he wanted it to because he thought it was simply a matter of swapping around a couple of wires in the switch box.  Whilst I was there I received yet another call to connect an immersion heater for someone I had worked for recently. I called in on the way home but found the existing heater to be faulty. I told him that I could replace it for him but as he had a plumber working in the house the following day doing other work he would get him to do it so I fitted the flexible cable to the wall switch ready for the plumber to connect to the heater once he’d fitted it. Then I returned home to finish installing  our own heater. By the time I had finished it was approaching 7 o’clock!

Shirley Anne

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Rain, rain go away

Posted by Shirley Anne on June 10, 2014

Saturday splash

Saturday splash (Photo credit: Vida Dimovska)

The month of June hasn’t so far been very favourable as far as the weather is concerned which is making it difficult for E and I to get on with the garden work though there have been one or two good days. Saturday wasn’t one of them though I have to say it wasn’t as bad as the forecast would have us believe. I suppose the reason for that is we live on the coast so although it might be bad inland it is often less so where we live. A lady asked me on Friday if I could do a small job for her friend and I told her that I would do it on Saturday morning. The weather was excellent on Friday and I wanted to get on with the garden knowing that the good weather wasn’t going to last. As it was forecast rain for Saturday it made sense to do her job then. E was going to Leeds for the day with her friend and would not be back until early evening. Earlier in the week I had been on a sort of wild goose chase to a house some miles away, The lady there wanted work doing but when she discovered how much it would cost decided not to have it done which rather annoyed me as she had wasted my time. I was paid something for the inconvenience but it was still annoying. When I arrived at the job on Saturday I was greeted by an elderly lady who, shall we say, wasn’t totally with us. Her friend hadn’t known what the job entailed and I was told that all she wanted was for me to replace a light fitting with a new one. I discovered that the wiring to the light I was supposed to replace didn’t exist as didn’t the light! Evidently the previous owner of the house had removed it from the ceiling and plastered over the hole. The switch on the wall had also been disconnected. The lady now in residence had lived there for 23 years and had only just decided to have the light replaced! I set about assessing what needed to be done and found the room above completely filled with heavy furniture standing on the carpet which would need to be rolled back to gain access to the floorboards. In her innocence she told me that I could move the furniture into another room across the landing. I smiled and told her that as a 68 year-old woman I wasn’t prepared to move any furniture except any that might just need shifting a little from where it stood. In fact I have never moved furniture out of a room to enable me to do any job. That is the responsibility of the person for whom I am working. In fact most people either move the furniture themselves or get someone else to do it for them. I explained this to her and she understood. She will arrange for the furniture to be moved and call me back. So it was a bit of a waste of time again for me though she did pay me for that time. I returned home and got on with one or two things indoors that needed attention. The rain began to ease and later in the afternoon I was able to go outside, segregate and bag most of the builders rubble that had accumulated as we dug out the mound, things like small pieces of brick, concrete, natural stone, tarmacadam, pottery, wall and roof tiles, slate, plastic bags, soft drink containers (coke cans), glass and miscellaneous pieces of metal. People will throw away their waste anywhere! I even found two tiny glass bottles that may have been used as containers for oil paint (as in artists paint) or perfume. Neither had tops but one must have had a cork stopper whilst the other must have had a screw-on lid as that one has an open thread moulded in the glass. There was little else I could do outside so I went indoors. I spent some time with my guitar then had a visit from our youngest son and his girlfriend. It appears she can’t find her passport so they came to look amongst the belongings they have temporarily stored in our house. They left without finding it. By early evening the weather had turned dry and partly sunny but it was too late to do any work outside.

Shirley Anne

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All I wanted

Posted by Shirley Anne on June 8, 2014

On Thursday morning it was raining again but it didn’t matter to me  for I was driving out-of-town to go and do some work for someone else. I really wanted to work in the garden but the weather would have put paid to that had I been available. I drove off and was greeted by a lady a couple of years my junior, actually I found out later that she was 65. She had just moved into the area which is close by a small river called The Douglas which is a tributary river to a larger one called The Ribble which flows out into the Irish Sea. It is a pleasant place to stroll around in the summer as there is a large boat house and jetty there full of yachts of all sizes. It was the place I set off from a few years ago with a couple of friends as we sailed out into the Irish Sea heading northward along the coast. I have not been there since. I digress. Getting back to the thread, I discovered that the jobs she wanted doing were not big jobs but when I explained what I would have to do to implement them she began to realise that it was going to cost her more than I thought she had expected. I could tell that she was reluctant to have the work done and she duly begged my forgiveness for calling me out. I disconnected an outside floodlight for her which was wired in a dangerous manner but she wasn’t prepared to have it wired correctly and when she asked about having an outside power supply socket she was put off by the work it would entail. So in the end I did almost nothing. I had to charge her to cover my expenses but I was a little disappointed having wasted my time. I drove back home but on the way I stopped off in town and purchased some much-needed toiletries and make-up. By the time I got home it was 11 o’clock and I couldn’t even work in the garden because of the poor weather. I was beginning to think the day a complete waste of time but soon after lunch things brightened up, the sun came out and the wind, though still blustery had died down a little.  I decided to get outside and do some more digging. All I wanted was something to do. E wasn’t in a position to help as she went out in the afternoon to do the weekly shopping. The main aim was to finally get that second shrub root out but as usual on this project there was much rubble, concrete slabs and house bricks to dig out too! Then at last success! The root became loose enough after digging around it and I was able to get the axe in and chop away at the side roots and hey presto!………….The Mound 017

There it was…..gone! I moved it out of the area along with the bricks and concrete to a spot behind the garage…The Mound 016


One of the slabs of concrete is under the old bin we use to burn scrap wood and tree cuttings. So the day wasn’t a complete waste of time after all







Shirley Anne



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Flat batteries

Posted by Shirley Anne on June 7, 2014

Various batteries: two 9-volt, two "AAA&q...

Various batteries: two 9-volt, two “AAA”, two “AA”, and one each of “C”, “D”, a cordless phone battery, a camcorder battery, a 2-meter handheld ham radio battery, and a button battery. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Does anyone remember the old flat batteries that delivered something like 4.5 volts to power torches (flashlights)? They had two strips of brass sticking out at the top, one shorter than the other to enable it to connect to the bulb. I don’t think they make them like that anymore but I know where I can find one, metaphorically speaking. Inside me! My batteries are something like that, flat! I had a small job to do on Wednesday morning for a woman I knew some years ago who worked for an establishment in which I used to provide a maintenance service. The job wasn’t much and took me about a half-hour to complete but we spent another hour chatting and catching up on things. As the weather forecast for the day wasn’t very promising because rain was predicted I wasn’t in too much of a hurry to return home, E had taken our granddaughter and daughter-in-law off to a children’s birthday party celebration for the morning so neither of us had planned on doing any work in the garden. However the promised rain didn’t materialise and I thought about spending a little time out in the garden but it was fast approaching lunchtime so I deferred doing that until later. After a small lunch I went out and did some more work digging away at the mound. Now it appears that the further I go into the mound the more builders rubble I am digging out. I removed three large concrete slabs and a few large blocks of concrete, some more house bricks, plastic bags, rotten timber and countless small stones in the space of the hour I was out there. That is aside of the soil and roots I dug out too! I have to admit I was feeling too tired to do anymore so I decided to call it a day and return indoors. I was scheduled to do some electrical work the following day, Thursday, and I didn’t want to overdo things. Just as I was about to go inside E returned and came into the garden directly from the rear door of the garage in which she parks her car. Normally she wouldn’t do that but use the front door to the house, after all I could have still been out. She must have assumed I was at home because the gates to the path leading to the other garage in which I park my van were closed as they normally are when I am not out driving. I guess she must also have assumed that I would be in the garden though I could have been out on foot somewhere. I sometimes think I get taken for granted. As she approached seemingly ready to join in with the work I told her that I’d had enough of working and was about to go indoors. As it happened it didn’t rain at all even though I’d seen the forecast only a couple of hours previously stating that it would! I couldn’t do much more anyhow, my batteries were flat! When we got indoors I was treated to a large cappuccino from E.

Shirley Anne

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A little progress

Posted by Shirley Anne on May 30, 2014

Well E and I finally got the chance to work on The Mound again on Monday, most of the day in fact. The weather was forecast to be wet for Tuesday and Wednesday at least so by the time you read this we may have made little further progress. It is all manual work and quite taxing so I suppose it is just as well we aren’t able to work each day on it, after all we don’t want to overdo things. I took a couple of pictures of what we have achieved so farThe Mound 008The Mound 010











The Mound 011The second of the three large slabs next to the tree in the first picture must weigh a quarter of a tonne or more and is probably just about the heaviest of all the slabs we have dug out of the ground. It doesn’t look that large in the picture but it measures something like one metre in length, a half metre in width and about 200 millimetres in thickness. Needless to say we haven’t moved it far from its original position. The other slabs to the left and on to the right of the picture were all stacked like a layer cake on or around that large slab. The third picture shows the same slabs from the rear together with others we dug out a few days ago, in fact over a week ago to be precise. The second picture shows a few more of the slabs we have dug out over the last two weeks. The brick wall on the right of this picture needs to be rebuilt from about the damp coloured lower part (the original soil level of the mound at that point) to the top as far as is shown in the picture, about a metre in height. The top three or four courses are loose in places and if you click on the picture to magnify you will notice that it has also separated a couple of centimetres from the adjoining wall. I may have to do that myself. As you can see there is a lot to do in this corner of the garden but what makes it worse is the ground is filled with rubble in places and quite a few large tree roots intermingled. There are definitely more large slabs still waiting to be dug out too and remember all the others we had to stack near the house! They can be seen in a recent post.

Shirley Anne





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Weird things asked of me

Posted by Shirley Anne on May 25, 2014

Gun Barrel Proof House, Banbury Street, Digbet...

Gun Barrel Proof House, Banbury Street, Digbeth – These Premises are Burglar Alarmed (Photo credit: ell brown)

On Thursday morning when I arose I expected to see a torrential downpour of the rain we had been promised by the forecasters but it was completely dry though overcast. I arose early  because I had a small job to do in the next town. I would rather have spent more time in bed after the work I had done the previous day which was really taxing but I’d made the appointment a few days ago. Now I see all kinds of weird things in my job and this particular one was no exception. I’d been asked to call in to an elderly gentleman’s house by his son who incidentally was no spring chicken either and he’d asked me to remove a time clock (Aren’t all clocks time pieces? But that is what they are called.) and replace it with a manual switch. I wondered what the time clock was controlling and discovered the large device screwed to the wall where one might expect a light switch to be fitted and indeed it had been installed some time in the past to control the large fluorescent light in their kitchen! The old guy had been using the time piece to switch on the light when he was not at home in order to deter would-be burglars but had used the override switch on it whenever he was at home and needed the light on. That had inevitably worn out the mechanical switch mechanism. My job was to remove it and fit an ordinary light switch, a simple job which I had finished in minutes. The son was quite impressed that a woman was an electrician and asked how long I had been doing it. When I told him he didn’t believe me, most don’t. He told me that I don’t look my age in the slightest. I hear that often. Anyway he carried my toolbox to the van. It is heavy and many are quite surprised that I should be able to lift it at all but it’s not that heavy! Our next-door neighbour had called me earlier asking if I could check out her alarm system. The previous day she had called at the house to see if E and I could change the batteries in the two remote control units that we were under the impression were for her automatic garage door. We were able to open the units but she hadn’t the correct sized batteries to replace those inside. She went into town later and had them changed but they still didn’t work. I called in to see her and discovered that it was her house alarm system to which she was referring and not her garage door. I explained that I no longer work on such systems and haven’t done for years though I did change our old alarm unit for a new one a couple of years ago. The problem is that her system is wireless and her alarm ‘bell’ box appears to double as the control unit as well and is high up on the wall of her house. It can only be reached using a ladder or scaffolding. I do not work at such height anymore unless I am using a scaffold and I am not prepared to erect my scaffolding to trace faults on a system that I know I probably wouldn’t be able to repair anyway. The system had been purchased from a high street store by her husband a couple of years ago and isn’t of a type that a professional installer would use. It is probably unrepairable and therefore not worth pursuing. The weird thing is she wanted to pay me for my time even if I couldn’t fix it. Why not just get in a specialist in the first place and only have to pay once by having a proper system installed? I have to say no to many of her requests as she thinks I have all the time in the world to do her jobs as well as my own and she forgets that I am semi-retired and no longer want the hassle. Well I am 68! Had I been twenty years the younger I would have gladly taken on the work. A few days ago another lady phoned me to ask if I would put up her curtain rail and drill a hole in her kitchen worktop. No mention of any electrical work. I pointed her to my advertisement and what it said, electrical services. She realised her error but then asked if I could do a small electrical job also. As she was an elderly lady I offered to do all the jobs for her for the minimum price I charge to do any work. She was very thankful as she told me that she couldn’t get anyone to do the work for her. Later she called again and cancelled the work. I asked why and she told me that the cost was too great! Crikey, I was doing it all for next to nothing!

Shirley Anne

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A little job

Posted by Shirley Anne on May 3, 2014

treeI mentioned that my electrical work had begun to pick up again after a small dry spell, not that I get that much work during any one week. Over the Easter holiday though I was grateful not to receive any requests for my services because it enabled me to get on with the work at home. The bathroom project as far as I am involved has finished and any painting that needs to be done is in E’s hands though by the time you read this it most probably has been. I am already thinking about our next project and what can be done to get things underway. I want a short break before I make any moves in that direction but in the meantime I am doing the occasional electrical work. I was busy doing that during the first three days of this week but by the time this post is published that may well have changed to include the rest of the week. I keep telling myself that I work part-time as an electrician at no more than a couple of hours a day and for most of the time I do but once in a while I find myself working a full day as I did on Wednesday. I really don’t much like working all day these days at my electrical jobs. I knew beforehand that I was being asked to do three or four things at this address but I nevertheless thought I might still be back home for lunch. No chance of that as I didn’t return home until after five o’clock and without a break for lunch, though it was offered. Electrically speaking the work was very easy but the implementation of it wasn’t! Almost none of it was straightforward. It was a pleasant place to work in though as the people living there were very easy-going and more importantly, they paid me well for what I had done! I have to say though that I was feeling rather tired when I got home. The little job turned out to be larger than I’d thought. No sooner had I stepped indoors when the phone rang………….LOL  (The picture is just something nice to look at!)

Shirley Anne

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Time found, well for some things.

Posted by Shirley Anne on March 27, 2014

This image is from Vaseline company archives o...

This image is from Vaseline company archives of various published materials. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The weather was brilliant on Monday, sunshine most of the day and the wind had dropped dramatically. I hadn’t any electrical work to do, my first job was to be Tuesday morning so I had the day to myself, almost. I had to take advantage of the fine weather and get the soil-pipe connected to the stack. I hadn’t noticed that the elbow connection I had purchased together with the length of pipe had a small crack in it which meant a trip to the plumber’s merchant to have it replaced. I had to go there anyway as the guy doing the tiles asked if I would buy some sealant. However in the meantime I accidentally dropped the elbow and it broke along the crack causing a large piece to break away. I wasn’t sure if the plumber’s merchant would now accept the fact that I hadn’t broken it myself. It would be difficult to do that as these fittings are quite substantial. A flaw in it, in this case a crack, made it possible. I need not have worried, the guy understood and replaced it free of charge without argument. I did have to purchase the sealant of course! I returned home and set about cutting and fitting the pipe, having to use ‘Vaseline‘ to get the parts to slide together past the neoprene seals and even then it was difficult. I had it all done in an hour and fixed with a bracket. I mixed some mortar and filled in around the pipe at the same time. I could have dismantled the scaffolding tower at this point but decided not to as I will be using it again at the rear of the house in order to clean out the gutter and clear the small roof beneath my bedroom window of the accumulated moss there. I will move the tower round there when I propose to do that job which may be a few days away. For the moment it can remain where it is. It would be at least an hour before it was lunchtime so I busied myself doing minor tasks around the house. E had made Mick our tiler some sandwiches and had some filling left over so she asked if I would like a sandwich too. We all sat down together and ate our food. Almost immediately I’d finished my mobile phone rang and it was someone asking me to do a small job for her 92 year-old mother. I had been there once before last year. When I arrived the old lady was confused even though her daughter had phoned to say I would be there within the hour. I did not know what the task was and getting the information out of the old lady was a real challenge. My ten minute job took me an hour though during that time I had to visit a local supplier for materials. When it came to payment she found it extremely difficult to understand what the fee was going to be. I had written an invoice/receipt but had to read it out for her. I then had to count out her money in her presence and show her what I was taking. When I placed the remaining cash back into her purse she wondered what I was doing and I had to explain everything to her once more. I decided to phone her daughter and explain to her what I had done and how much I had taken but she didn’t answer her phone. A couple of minutes later her husband called me so I explained everything to him. The old lady asked me who was on the phone and when I told her it was her son-in-law she reacted at first as if she didn’t know what I was talking about then piped up ‘George’? In some ways I feel sorry for the lady but she seems to very happy and contented. 92 and totally independent, I wonder if I could claim the same thing if I were to reach her age? When I again returned home E and I had plenty to do cleaning and removing rubbish before we could finally relax after our evening meal. It was at that time I finally found it possible to do some sewing. I had a garment that needed a ‘stitch in time’ and that was the only time I had free to do it.

‘Mick’ had finished the tiling but promised to return at our request to help us bed-in the shower tray and apply sealant around its edges and elsewhere. I can then begin to fit the furniture and do the plumbing for the bath tap.

Shirley Anne

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I don’t know how but I did it.

Posted by Shirley Anne on February 21, 2014

Never on Tuesday

Never on Tuesday (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tuesday afternoons are generally reserved for dining out with E. I try therefore not to accept work that will prevent me from doing that but it doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes people can only be available on Tuesdays so if I take on the work I try to keep at least the afternoon free. I had a lady call me last week to ask if I could do some work for her on Tuesday as it was the only day she had free. As the job was possible to do in a couple of hours I agreed to do it for her. Later I received another call from someone living in the same town close to where the lady lives and they asked a similar question. Their request was for an even smaller job which would only take thirty minutes to do so I agreed to do it in order to prevent me having to journey the ten miles again the following day just to do the small job. Yet again I received a call to do another small job in the next township a couple of miles further away. It seemed stupid to refuse and have to journey the thirteen miles on another day just to do that job too so I included that request with the other two and I did all three on the same day. I had no idea how long the three would take to do but guessed that I might just be able to get them all done before lunch. I would phone E and let her know if I wasn’t able to get home in time for us to dine out so that she could have something at home instead. As is usual in my profession there is no guarantee as to how long a job will take to do but experience allows a good guess. Naturally therefore I had a couple of problems at the first address which threatened to gobble up the time but somehow I managed to overcome them and found I had completed the work within the two hours I had expected it to take. I then drove off to the next address and had that work finished in the half-hour I had thought it would take. Now I was cooking with gas as they say and had just the one job to do, the one in the next township. A simple job it should have been but in fact it was more of a problem than the first two combined! Time was being eaten away and I knew I wouldn’t complete it as quickly as I had thought I would. Finally I was done and I packed everything away into the van for the thirteen mile journey back home. I glanced at the clock on the dashboard and noticed that it was only twelve-fifteen! I would be home well before one o’clock and in time to get changed and drive somewhere to eat. E was working at her computer but had been doing some painting in the bathroom during the morning. I was soon ready and then I waited for her to finish what she was doing before the pair of us drove off at one forty-five, the time we usually leave the house to dine out on a Tuesday afternoon.

Shirley Anne

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No time to work for myself

Posted by Shirley Anne on February 6, 2014

One of the advantages of working at home is th...

One of the advantages of working at home is that you get to make real sandwiches for lunch. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As I write this on Monday afternoon I face the prospect of not having much time for working at home this week. I went to a job this morning where the lady of the house wanted me to remove a couple of power points together with a telephone outlet and television aerial socket then to reposition the television aerial socket and install a new power point alongside it high up on another wall where she wanted to relocate the television. The work took all morning to do and just as I was leaving she asked if I could do more work for her on Friday. Whilst I was working I received more requests from other people and as a result I will be working most of the day Thursday too. I already have one job scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday but the afternoon will be free for us to dine out as usual. At the moment Wednesday is also fee but no doubt that will change, which leaves only Saturday free for working at home! Well I have to pay for the bathroom project somehow! It gets so bad sometimes that I have to refuse work in order to get anything done at home. I should worry eh? I normally don’t work full days from home but I don’t like coming home after working hard elsewhere to start working at home too. I like work but not that much! If the work at home is minor then I might do it otherwise it waits until I get a whole day free. Fixing tiles to a wall would be something I might do as I wouldn’t have to spend hours doing it and simply do a little area at a time. We have reached a stage with the bathroom project where there is little major work left to do so I could do almost anything without having to exert myself. I get the feeling that some of my readers think I am at it all day and every day but that is far from the case. I like my free time too where I can relax and do next to nothing or play my guitar for instance. My, or should I say ‘our’ household projects can take as long as we want them to, there is no absolute deadline to meet though we don’t want them to drag on unnecessarily either. A little here and a little there and before we know it, it is done.

Shirley Anne

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Ain’t no stopping me now!

Posted by Shirley Anne on February 1, 2014

wednesday's giftI go through phases in my work habit. I call it a work habit because I habitually do it! Once I get started doing something I don’t like to stop but know I must. I was out doing an electrical job on Wednesday morning which kept me busy for a couple of hours and as soon as I had arrived back home I got stuck into working in the bathroom specifically to split the lighting circuits I had temporarily linked together on the existing pull-cord  switch and fit the two new pull switches to control them but first I had to fit a piece of wood along the edge of the lower part of the ceiling where it meets the main part of the room that rises to the high ceiling level. One of the switches was to be located there at the entrance to that part of the room which will house the shower, bath and toilet. The other switch was to remain in the same location as the original switch it was replacing. The work was interrupted a couple of times as we had the team back to finish filling the downstairs cavity wall and part of the wall at the side of the bathroom where we had discovered a hole in the inside wall whilst replacing a drain pipe. There should have been insulation material under the floor had it been blown into the wall but there wasn’t. I had to explain that fact to the team else it would never get done. Anyway both E and I got stuck into several other small jobs to fill the afternoon before stopping for our evening meal. We sat and watched some television but I was restless and returned upstairs to paint some of the high level ceiling with its first coat of paint. I got half of it done before finally stopping for the day. I simply want to get on with the work and find I get bored when I stop. I think I’d go mad if all I had to do each day was to lounge about on a beach somewhere! I write this down on Wednesday evening. I know there won’t be much chance of working in the bathroom tomorrow (Thursday) as I have a couple of electrical jobs lined up but knowing me I will probably try! Work for me is addictive, once I get started I can’t stop!

Shirley Anne

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Insomnia and hard work

Posted by Shirley Anne on January 22, 2014


UKShaverSocket (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Insomnia smiley

Insomnia smiley (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the last few days I have been suffering with insomnia as well as having difficulty in getting to sleep too though eventually doing so, that was until Saturday night. Although I had been working hard during the week it made no difference to my difficulty in trying to sleep or getting any sleep at all. On Friday, and Saturday in particular, I worked hard all day long at home. E was not assisting me. She had avoided me all day Friday and was out all day on Saturday anyway. I explained why in a recent post. I just got on with the work. On Saturday I wanted first of all to skim with plaster the small area of ceiling which  I had begun to do late on Friday. It wasn’t easy and to be honest the finish was not very professional as the surface wasn’t left smooth by any means though that didn’t matter, I just wanted to get the rough artexed surface covered. Eventually I managed to do that and now, as I write this on Sunday afternoon, the surface is now ready for me to smooth out with a thin mixture of plaster. Hopefully I will get that done this week if I haven’t already done so by the time this is posted. Following on from that I began to install the wiring for the shaver unit and other wiring that needed to be done. I had already installed the cables for the shower but they both needed to be brought out from beneath the floor outside the bathroom out on the half-landing of the stairway. The floorboards near to the door in the bathroom are not yet secured to the joists so access there is easy but I had to peel back the carpet and underlay out on the landing in order to lift the boards out there. That half-landing by the way is directly above the wet room we fitted out recently. I needed to locate a source for connecting the fused-spur unit which will supply the shaver but access to the nearest available circuit to tap into was actually at the top of the steps in the cellar! Under the landing boards lies the original ceiling to the wet room and beneath it the ‘false’ ceiling which is the new ceiling for that room. There was a way through directly from the landing straight into the area at the top of the steps to the cellar. At the same time as installing the cable for the spur unit I took the opportunity to rewire the part of the immersion heater circuit that had been wired in rubber insulated cable when I rewired the house many years ago but could not get access to without doing unnecessary damage. Even now that rubber cable was still usable but it had to be replaced. The switch for the immersion heater is located alongside the switch supplying the wet room lights outside of that room at the top of the cellar steps so it was just as easy to install both cables at the same time. When constructing the wet room ceiling I had included another four-core cable and left it beneath the landing floor ready to be taken into the airing cupboard in the bathroom with the new immersion heater cable when the bathroom project was underway. This cable is for future use when I plan to fit a new thermostat to the hot water storage tank. The immersion heater is in the same tank but is at the time of writing faulty and will be replaced when I have the time. So now we have four cables sticking out of the floor against the wall on the landing, the two supply cables for the shower and shaver and the two cables going on to feed them. The switches that I will fit there will be inside of a small cupboard I will construct later. We also have two new circuit cables inside the airing cupboard which had to be ‘fished in’ under the floor’ as it is impossible to lift floorboards inside the airing cupboard beneath the storage tank! All of that work took me some time to do of course. It is the type of work better suited to two people doing it but as I was working alone I had to run up and down the stairs and do it myself. Although I am very much used to it, it is still hard work. When I had finished installing those cables I fitted the box inside the studded wall that will house the shaver unit then I cut and fitted some extra studding ready for fixing the plywood surface to complete the wall’s structure. By the time I had refitted the floorboards and carpet and tidied up it was after six o’clock. I felt tired after all that work and hoped I would find no difficulty in getting to sleep later. I need not have worried, it didn’t take me long to nod off but I have to say having a late-night shower before bedtime helps a lot. I am looking forward to getting the bathroom up and running, especially the bath, I love a long soak in the bath after a hard day’s work.

Shirley Anne

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Couldn’t even stand up

Posted by Shirley Anne on January 9, 2014

English: A pair of high heeled shoe with 12cm ...

English: A pair of high heeled shoe with 12cm stiletto heels. Category:Shoes (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Late on Saturday I was just leaving the wet room after visiting the toilet and suddenly found it difficult to stand on my feet! The muscles in my upper legs at the rear would not uphold my weight and I found myself in agony when attempting to move. The pain eased off a little and I found it much better later but after I’d had a late-night shower I again found it extremely difficult getting into bed. I still had problems the following morning but not quite as bad. I found it easier to slip on a pair of low-heeled shoes (3in –  7.5cm) and walk about in them rather than wearing slippers or flat shoes. I had a theory about this. For quite a long time I have worn very high heels exactly like the ones shown (5in – 12.5cm) for short periods on occasion when at home and I thought that perhaps this may have been the reason for my ailment but I now think otherwise, at least in this case. I had been lifting and carrying heavy things during the day and that resulted in my feeling aches and pains in the lower part of my back which subsequently moved down both legs affecting the muscles at the back of each leg between my bottom and my knees. E suggested it might have been a trapped nerve in the base of my spine and on reflection I think she was right. Thankfully I do no work on Sundays so I was able to sit and relax but I would have done that anyway whilst being this way. Things improved during the day so I was able to get about. E has been suffering with her condition for many months now and she has to use a walking stick to aid her. She therefore has limited mobility and now I know first-hand what she has to go through every day. I am fortunate in that I am in good health and suffer little apart from the occasional, usually self-inflicted, aches and pains through working too hard! That I do not mind but when it comes down to mobility not being able to walk about is a definite disadvantage.

Having written this on Saturday I thought an update appropriate. I am feeling much better as I write this on Wednesday night. It appears my problem was indeed caused by a trapped nerve in my neck! Some time ago if my readers remember I had a problem with restricted movement in my right arm in that I couldn’t raise my arm above my head or reach behind my back with that arm. I discovered then my problem stemmed from a trapped nerve in my neck. With that in mind I carried out some neck exercises and found my current ailment suddenly easing. I continued the exercises and the problem has almost vanished. Lesson? Do the exercises as a precaution as often as I remember. My heels? They are not a problem.

Shirley Anne

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Post number 2000!

Posted by Shirley Anne on November 13, 2013

Water drop

Water drop (Photo credit: @Doug88888)

This evidently is my 2000th post according to Word Press. When I started to post on 14 January 2009 I never imagined I would stick to writing at all but here I am still plodding along.

I went to do a small electrical job on Monday morning and whilst there the guy showed me some other work he wanted me to do. Now at one time I would have taken on the work as long as I had the time but I still get annoyed when people get me to their house to do a specific job then begin to pile on the extra work expecting me to do it there and then. I politely told him that I would do it at some other time and left it at that. If he really wants the job doing he will call me again. I try my best to limit what I do in my electrical work for a couple of reasons, my age, my other commitments and I simply don’t need a great volume of work.

E and I are currently involved with renovating and refurbishing the bathroom upstairs in our house but we are only at the preparation stage at the moment. In the afternoon we set about dismantling the woodwork in part of the floor that had been constructed by someone else. The original floor level was seven inches (about 155 mm) below the present level and was seemingly raised for easier access because previously one had to step down into the room. It had been done professionally but for some reason part of the floor had been reconstructed more recently perhaps after water damage just prior to us buying the house but as you can see from the video I posted two days ago it was a botched-up job. We have measured up for new joists and floorboards and in the next few days we will purchase them. In the meantime we stripped out some old skirting board, cut off an old lead gas pipe and a section of lead and copper pipe that used to supply an upstairs kitchen sink with hot water. We stripped out that kitchen together with the many other sink units that were dotted about the upstairs rooms when we first moved in some 25 years ago. We removed a few more floorboards so we could see the layout of the existing pipework under the floor. Whilst taking some of the stripped-out timber downstairs to where we are storing it in the cellar I noticed some of the wood was damp. Fearing the worse I thought the wet room floor was leaking for it is directly above this room. I set the shower to cold water flow and switched it on whilst E watched for leaks. Sure enough there was a slight leak around the hole in the wooden floor around the drain assembly! I took the removable part of the grid out so I could to assess the problem. The drain was full of water as you might expect as it effectively a water trap but that water level is well below where the leak was found so it had to be the grid. Now the outer square of that grid is well sealed to the floor tiles so the leak had to be around the removable circular centre. I spent a few minutes applying some grout on the underside and around the top and hopefully that will cure the problem. So the shower is out of use for 48 hours from the time of writing this on Monday evening. When we first used the shower a few days ago we saw no leaks at all.

Someone telephoned me on my mobile phone asking me why my house phone wasn’t working. I tried to call home from my mobile phone and true enough it wasn’t working. E did the same but she took the phone out of the room and dialed 1471 (which is the number we use to find out the identity of the last caller here in the UK). The phone sprang back to life! Meanwhile my mobile phone started playing up. It does this occasionally for no apparent reason but I think it is because it is essentially a computer and the software is the problem. Anyway, switching it off completely then re-booting it solves the problem. If it isn’t one thing it’s another!

Shirley Anne

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Terrible day, except for later

Posted by Shirley Anne on November 6, 2013


Porridge (Photo credit: qousqous)

Monday started off well, insofar as I’d had a good night’s sleep and felt ready for work after a good breakfast of porridge and fruit juice. I find that porridge keeps me going for hours and it is great for aiding the lowering of cholesterol too. I have porridge most days, even during the summer months. My first job was in another town some 12 miles away and I was converting 10 downlights to LED versions by modifying the existing fittings. As usual I arrive at my work at 9 o’clock and I set off in plenty of time to get there at that time. Isn’t it always the way that things seem to stand in the way of that happening? Slow drivers, drivers pulling out in front of you then dawdling along as if they were the only drivers on the road. I was stopped at a certain set of traffic lights waiting to turn right but there was an endless stream of oncoming traffic preventing me doing so for what felt like many minutes though it was probably only one. I got stuck behind a small builder’s pick-up for a number of miles as we drove down the country lanes with no possibility of overtaking. The speed limit was 50 mph but this driver was intent on only doing 30! So frustrating and all the time the clock was ticking. My journey was much the same for the most part and it being the first day back at school after the mid-term break for many children the traffic at that time in the morning was much heavier. It is just as well that I allow plenty of time else I’d never get to my jobs on time. I arrived with a couple of minutes to spare. The job itself didn’t go smoothly either with about four independent little problems endeavouring to make a fairly straight-forward task much more difficult. I don’t let these things get to me and in fact I relish solving them though sometimes I could do without them. I spent three hours at that house and drove 14 miles to my next appointment, which fortunately was a much easier task and I had it done within a few minutes. My last call was 6 miles away and one of the jobs there was to connect an oven. There were no proper instructions or markings on the terminal box to indicate which cable connected to which terminal and guesswork was out of the question of course! I had to remove a large panel to look at the internal wiring to see which was the live and which was the neutral. The markings on the box was a simple 1 2 3 which turned out as I had thought it would as earth (1), neutral (2) and live (3). Why it wasn’t marked on the box as such beggars belief! It’s these little things which are so annoying. I was glad to get home at 2.30 but before I could get into the house I had to sort out a problem with the automatic garage door. One of the wheels had jumped out of the track and was preventing the door from closing smoothly. E wanted to talk about the wet room but all I wanted to do was get a bite to eat and be able to sit down for a few minutes putting all thoughts of work out of my head. Anyway after my very late lunch I solved the problem E had with the shower when she tried to use it earlier for the first time whilst I was out at work. She hadn’t realised that I had the water supply turned off! I then set about drilling the walls to fit the mirror and the towel rail. The wet room is now complete and can at last be used.

Shirley Anne

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