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Posts Tagged ‘Work’

Too much

Posted by Shirley Anne on December 16, 2014

Nine Days to Christmas

Nine Days to Christmas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There comes a time when it all becomes too much. I work best under a bit of pressure and find I get more done too. On the approach to Christmas I expect and get a lot of work. It seems everyone wants electrical work done in the few weeks preceding the holiday. These past two or three weeks have been an exceptionally busy time for me but it is the same every year. It’s not as if the type of work I am doing has to be done right now, most of the work could be done at other times in the year. I sometimes get the feeling that people just want to spend more at Christmas. The season itself it seems is a time for redecoration of lounges, new light fittings, perhaps an extra power point to accommodate some new piece of electrical apparatus and even a power source outside for a lit-up Christmas tree. Unusually this year no-one has asked for an outside power point. Most of the work I have been doing lately is to do with lighting, changing them or wiring for new ones but I have done many other things too. Whilst the work is good to receive it can be overwhelming at times and I have to reject offers else burn myself out. I will try to accommodate where I am able but I cannot do everything for everyone. One lady asked me the other day to disconnect a cooker and remove a ceiling light both of which were to be taken to her new address a couple of days later. She told me that no-one seemed to want the work and she was desperate to get it done as soon as it was possible. I accordingly offered to squeeze her job into my schedule and she was relieved that at last she had found someone to do it for her. A couple of days later she left a message on the house phone saying, ‘It’s Mrs…from  such and such a place….I don’t need you to come, someone else has offered to do the job as a favour (not getting paid)’ and put the phone down. It didn’t matter to me that I’d lost the work for in the next couple of minutes I received more requests but what annoyed me more was that she had practically pleaded with me to find the time to do her job and I accommodated her. Now she didn’t even thank me or apologise that she had cancelled at the last-minute. It really is too much. Earlier in the morning whilst driving to a job a man called me asking if I could help with a problem, a loss of power to some circuits but at that time there was no way I could do anything for him as my appointments prevented me. Normally in the past I would have tried to do something about it but these days more often I have to draw the line and refuse. I am not a machine, I need time out.

Shirley Anne

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By the time it’s Christmas

Posted by Shirley Anne on December 4, 2014


English: Main distribution board in old apartm...

Main distribution board in old apartment building, build in 1949. Lot of metal conductive parts are not insulated, so it is danger to work there without rubber (dielectric) gloves. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


My week started much as it had last week, with plenty of work to do. I had one job scheduled for Monday morning and it did last the whole morning too, well from ten ’til one! I was replacing a power distribution board in someone’s house though actually all the work was carried out in their garage where the old board was situated. I suppose I could have done nothing else for the rest of the week after that one job. I was paid well enough to have done so, however I did have more work scheduled for later in the week. I received a call soon after I’d finished the job to do another! The second job was small and was in an apartment block a mile and a half from home. I had it done within an hour. I was still back home by three o’clock. Whilst sorting out my paperwork I checked the house phone for messages and found one asking me to do a small job when I could find the time. Had the person called me on my mobile phone I could have done the work that afternoon but by now it was three-thirty so I arranged to do it on Tuesday morning. I had no plans to work on Tuesday but I had planned to do other things in the morning meaning I would have to go out anyway. I could do both and still have plenty of time to dine out with E, which is exactly what I did. My next job on Wednesday was to take me quite a few hours, maybe four or six, though it would be in a nice warm apartment. The phones never stop ringing at this time of year and by the time it is Christmas I will be ready for a well-earned break. To that end I called the advertising department of the newspaper which runs my advertisement to tell them not to publish on 24th and the 31st. That will give me two weeks free from work………maybe……..knowing me I will probably respond to any requests I might get or find something to do at home and there’s certainly plenty of that to be had.


Shirley Anne


Posted in Electrical, Work | Tagged: , , , | 4 Comments »

In one hand and out the other

Posted by Shirley Anne on November 16, 2014

Today, Thursday, I went to a house in another town nearby to sort out a problem they had with half the lights not working. The problem I felt lay in the rear of one of the kitchen fittings from where I thought the supply to the upstairs lights which were not working, was taken. I was right and soon traced the fault and had it repaired in minutes. I was back on my way home but called into a filling station for diesel. My tank was down to about one-third full and I usually don’t let it drop below that. If you let the fuel drop too far there is the risk of sucking any debris that might be in the bottom of the tank into the engine, in a diesel, the injection nozzles and in some cars the carburettor. The worse case scenario for a diesel would be allowing the pipes to run dry and then having to prime the whole circuit. Anyway I pulled into the filling station and spent most of the cash I had just earned. To save the mathematicians from trying to work out the spend, it was £44. I had been paid £50.

All it meant was that I didn’t have to take the cash from my current account at the bank. Despite the knowledge that I had earned the money it felt as though I had been out for an hour for £6. I am old enough to remember being paid that amount for a week’s work! How times have changed. I like to have the cash in my hand but know that is impractical, at least for large amounts. Having cash to hand is beneficial in an emergency so I try to keep a couple of hundred pounds all of the time in my purse or somewhere I can get at it easily. Over the months this year I have been spending rather a lot of my home projects and it wasn’t worth putting any cash I’d earned  in the bank knowing that I would need it to buy materials. Usually though my cash flow is literal, in one hand and out of the other. Steadily as time goes by I am spending less on the house and more on me!

Shirley Anne

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I tried to get home

Posted by Shirley Anne on November 13, 2014


Find Your Own Way Home

Find Your Own Way Home (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


On Sunday afternoon I was asked if I could visit a house where I had worked in back in March. I first went there to install two new light fittings and that led to more work a few days later when I returned to install a new electrical distribution board with circuit breakers and RCD (trip switch) protection to replace the old fuseboard. I was told by the client that they had lost part of their power supply but that all the circuit breakers and the RCD unit were still switched on. I called there fifteen minutes later and I found a disconnected wire behind one of the power sockets. Now that would have been the end of the matter but whilst testing I discovered that the RCD test button wasn’t working which meant the RCD might not trip the power in the event of a leakage current. That leakage current might be someone being electrocuted! It had to be replaced and on Monday morning I purchased a new one and went to the house to fit it. I was paid for the two visits and then I returned home but before I could remove my coat and have a little time for myself I received a call from another client I had worked for earlier in the year who wanted to know if I could fit three time switches to control the three towel radiators which were in her bathrooms, yes, she had three of those too! I went along to her house to see what was required and then I drove to the local supplier to purchase what was necessary but I took her along with me so she could get some cash from an ATM. The job itself was electrically simple but the first switch was located inside a fitted wardrobe which had obviously been put there long after the switch had. It took me easily two hours to do that one time switch. The second was a little easier taking only forty minutes and the third was easier still, taking a mere twenty-five minutes. During my stay there my phone rang several times with people looking for my services. It even rang whilst we were driving to the supplier. Good thing I have a hands-free system in the van. It is nice to feel wanted but by the time I’d finished that job I was getting tired of it. I left there at three o’clock but had to call to another house on the way home. A fluorescent light fitting not working. I had to wait a half-hour for someone to turn up. I had it fixed in ten minutes and at last could go home. I was feeling somewhat hungry as I had missed lunch again! I don’t mind missing lunch whilst I am working. E had things to show me when I got home. Recently she won a Blu-Ray player/recorder which she is giving to our eldest son to go with the 40″ television she won and gave to him some months ago. However that wasn’t the main thing she wanted me to see. She had just won an iRobot vacuum cleaner (supposedly worth £350 – £450) that can be left to its own devices to clean the floor. It travels about the room avoiding obstacles and steps and when it is finished it returns to its docking station wherever that may be placed. A little like me returning home from work!


Shirley Anne


Posted in Home | Tagged: , | 7 Comments »

Scream and scream again

Posted by Shirley Anne on November 4, 2014

Distillery District, Toronto

Distillery District, Toronto (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What a day! On Thursday morning directly after breakfast I went down into the cellar to see what extra materials I would need in order to continue with constructing the steps in the boiler room. E had just returned upstairs to have a shower and wash her hair. She generally has breakfast before getting dressed. I on the other hand am washed and dressed before breakfast. I went into the garage and unloaded a few items from my van so that I could buy some sand and granite chippings and have it placed in the van rather than have it delivered. It was such a small quantity it wasn’t worth having it delivered, besides which they would charge me £10 for doing so and I wouldn’t get it delivered until the following day. Unless I am buying large quantities I tend to fetch it myself. Anyway I got the two bags of sand and the one bag of what I thought was chippings out of the van and onto the garage floor. The bag I thought was chippings was in fact grit and the bag had partially opened because the guys had thrown the bags into the van whilst I was at the counter paying for it. I had deliberately left a clear space for the bags to lie flat but they threw them over an extension lead drum and cable I had stored in there instead. I immediately returned to the builders yard with the grit and complained to the guy at the desk who apologised on behalf of  the other two guys and replaced the grit with a bag of chippings laying it flat in the space I had made. Finally I was back home for the second time and made myself ready to do some work. E was still in the bathroom and didn’t appear until much later. I was a little annoyed with her for not even asking if I wanted any help with the work. She can only do a limited amount but even that much is of great benefit and assistance to me. She usually does help whenever she can. It meant I had to do everything, get the mixer out and position it on its stand, empty out the wheelbarrow so I could pour the mixed screed into it and thereafter shovel it into a bucket to carry it into the cellar. Of course I had to move the bags of materials outside and shovel the necessary amounts into the mixer and mix them, adding water until it was ready for use. That was the easy part, I had to tip it onto the step I was constructing and level it all out. I had to fill the mixer twice and then had to shovel it all into a bucket several times to relay it indoors to the job. Whilst I was levelling the mix to form the final screed coat of the new step I had to ensure the mixer was filled with water and left rotating, the wheelbarrow was filled with water and any cement covered tools were left in water until I could clean them all. E would normally have done the cleaning using the hose pipe and attended on the minor things that needed to be done allowing myself to concentrate on actually doing the job. Afterwards of course I had to return everything back into storage and whist doing so received an invitation to do an electrical job. I made arrangements to do it the following day. It had been a warm and humid day and I was feeling it whilst working. The job was indoors in the boiler room so it was warm in there and I was wearing overalls too! I had to wash my feet before I could return into the house via the front door as I couldn’t return via the cellar. Before I left the boiler room and after everything had been cleared away I filled in the new step by the outside door in the room with some hard-core material ready for it to be concreted over as with the step I had just completed across the room. I will probably do that on Saturday and at the same time remove the temporary support from around the new step. After a late lunch E went out to do the shopping with her mum and I wrestled with my computer. I have been experiencing a problem with the Firefox browser during the last twenty-four hours in that it keeps stopping whenever I am on this site (Minkyweasel) but is ok otherwise. I have had to resort to using Chrome to write this in the meantime. Maybe it is an issue with WordPress. Whilst writing I got a call from an old lady living some miles away who wanted her kitchen fluorescent lights replacing but insisted on telling me the whole story about her escapades in trying to get replacement tubes which didn’t fit and about her local stockist and what they had told her. She didn’t stop there either and she began nattering on about things totally unrelated to her electrical problems. I could not get a word in edgewise for she just wouldn’t stop talking. I asked a few simply questions to ascertain what I would need if I went there to do the job and it took me about ten minutes to get a reply. I was glad I wasn’t paying for the call. Eventually she decided she would call me next week as it was her birthday and she didn’t know what her daughter had planned for her. What that had to do with the job I have no idea. I don’t expect she will ring again, especially after I had told her how much it would cost. I think she thinks we are still living in the 1960’s. About ten minutes later someone asked if I could wire his three-phase walk-in fridge for him. I straight away asked him if it was a commercial premises and knowing he would say yes he duly said so. I told him that I only take on small domestic jobs these days. My advertisement reads, DOMESTIC  ELECTRICAL SERVICES, small job specialist! Are they blind? A few years ago I would have taken on the work but no more, I am after all working part-time and I am semi-retired. In any case I do not have the necessary equipment I might need for such work as it may involve installing steel conduits and fittings. I have never owned such things even though I have worked in industrial situations many time in the past. I worked for companies who supplied the tools so didn’t need to have my own. Had I been free-lance from the beginning it would have been a different story, I would have had to purchase these things. Almost immediately after that call someone else called asking if I would wire his new boiler. It wasn’t however a simply case of connecting it to the mains but he wanted me to wire and connect pumps, zone valves, thermostats and controllers too. No thank you. Too involved, too time consuming and all for little remuneration. I can pick and choose so I do. The previous evening a lady called me to ask if I would work at the weekend for her and when she told me she worked full-time all week I replied, ‘So do I, that’s why I don’t work the weekends’. Aside from the fact she lived way outside my catchment area, I could tell by the Liverpool telephone number, I think she had a cheek asking. Why couldn’t she take time off to have work done?  The phone continued to ring all Thursday afternoon. Some of them were ‘cold’ calls and I was getting a little annoyed with being pestered by the telephone all the time. I just wanted to escape, I’d had enough for one day!

Shirley Anne

Posted in DIY, Domestic Projects, Electrical, People, Work | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

End of a very busy working week

Posted by Shirley Anne on October 28, 2014

Now Get Busy

Now Get Busy (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had three jobs to do on Friday in two separate houses. One was reasonably close to home whilst the other was around ten miles away. The easier single job was the furthest from home. I have to say that by the time I returned home at 1 o’clock I was completely whacked! All I wanted to do was sit down and have lunch but soon afterward I was rearing to go again! I decided to empty some hard-core material into the brick surrounded ‘well’ I had constructed in the cellar the day before. I wrote about this yesterday. We need an extra step into (or out of, of course) the boiler room as the existing step is too high. The bricks had set hard  in place overnight (see picture posted yesterday) for as they are in the boiler room the conditions there are nice and dry. We have plenty of hard-core material in plastic bags which we had dug out of the ‘mound’ during the summer along with all those bricks and natural stone slabs. Nothing gets wasted around here! Soon I had the ‘well’ filled and ready for the concrete ‘topping’ I planned to lay on Saturday. Once that is done and set I will be able to apply a final screed to complete the step. Again no doubt that will have been done by the time you read this. I have been kept busy all week with electrical work and whilst at home I wasted no time and got on with work there too. Before I went along to my first job I had to call in to my electrical supplier to purchase some materials and when I arrived the place was full of people doing the same and I knew most of them. Many asked me how I was doing and if all was well with me. That was nice. They’re all good lads. One guy in particular was actually my apprentice for a while in our younger days working for the electrical supply company. I am about four years his senior so at the time I had been qualified four years when he came on the scene. We got along fine but he did have his moments as they say. He was quite a cheeky young rascal at first but steadily grew out of that. On seeing me in the store, he often sees me there, he remarked, ‘Bet you didn’t think all those years ago that we’d still be doing this work at our present age’. I had to agree with him but when we are younger we seldom give these things a thought do we? He has aged a lot since those days too and looks far older than his years. I suppose he’s had a hard life. We talked about other guys we had known from those times and wondered if they were still around too. It must be a sign of age when we reminisce like this!

This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labour under the sun during the few days of life God has given them – for this is their lot. (Ecclesiastes 5:18)

And I do!

Shirley Anne

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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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