It might have been a sunny day but it was windy with it. I had to dismantle and remove a ceiling fan and light combination from a conservatory ceiling at nine o’clock for an old lady living just the other side of the town centre. I was at her house last in February to replace her old fuse boards for up to date versions fitted with circuit breakers and RCD units. I may have mentioned it in a post around about that time. It didn’t take long to do and we sat down for a chat over a coffee when I had finished. On my previous visit we had talked about her smoking habit and also about my faith. This time she was keen to tell me she had given up cigarettes. However she was now using those electronic-cigarettes instead which to me are not much better as she still is left craving the nicotine. I doubt she is ready to give them up just now. As far as her moving forward with a belief in God is concerned she asks questions but so far she remains skeptical. Maybe on my next visit she will have had a change of heart who knows? Obviously I never try to persuade but simply witness. I was home again by ten-thirty having had to go to the bank first to deposit the cheque she had given me saying she hadn’t the cash to hand. It is such a pain having to visit the bank to deposit a cheque when I usually save the cash until it mounts up to a reasonable amount and go just the once every week or so. Anyway I wasn’t at home long when I got another call for help. This time the lady explained that she had lost power to her lighting circuits. Off I went and sorted out the problem and was back home again within the hour. This time I was paid in cash and was given more than I had asked. I was also asked to return at a later date to repair several recessed ceiling lights in her kitchen as most of them were not working. I was glad that I had the opportunity to earn something from these two jobs as I’d had only one other during the week which although paid well wasn’t by itself enough to cover my expenses and give me a wage for the week too. I am happy if I get two or three jobs on average each week for then it makes it worthwhile continuing to work. Not having too much electrical work allows me the opportunity to work at home or do other things though, which is nice. It was a sunny Thursday so I spent some time out on the patio enjoying it, out of the wind of course!
My best laid plans often do go astray because of weather, other problems, other commitments, other people, many reasons though never because I am lazy. I therefore sometimes get frustrated when I cannot get on with my plans. Such was the case on Tuesday. I was to get the stone slabs cut and then fit them on top of the two small flowerbeds I had finished constructing and filling the day before. The first problem was having to wait for the guys to cut the stone, after all they were doing me a favour so I couldn’t press them. As it turned out I collected them around one o’clock but decided not to do the work then as I wanted to take E out for a meal. Wednesday morning would do just fine. In my previous post my readers will know what happened on Tuesday afternoon with the flagpole so even had I wanted to do the work the time was taken up fixing that problem. I put on my overalls and set about cutting two of the now narrow stone slabs to the right length with my own little grinding machine. I had thought I would have to make four such cuts but I discovered it wasn’t necessary. I placed them on the walls to see where each piece would fit best. I then mixed the mortar by hand and laid them all in place. I put some things over the joints as a temporary measure in case it rained. Rain was forecast throughout the afternoon. E was keen to put in the tree bark chippings but left it until Thursday morning to allow the capping stones to set firmly in place. Here are the results………..
Now I can say the patio flowerbed project is finally complete..Now for the next little project…..
I had an amazingly good night’s sleep on Monday and woke up very refreshed for a change. If my readers remember I’d had a very restless Sunday night and didn’t get much sleep at all. No electrical work again so the day was mine but I had to take the stone slabs to the guys working on somebody’s driveway close to home. They had offered to cut them for us when we asked them on Saturday. After breakfast I took them round together with their preferred payment, some German beer but they couldn’t cut them immediately so we arranged that I should collect them between one and two o’clock. I left the stone with them and returned home. It was a nice day and I decided to sit out on the patio playing my guitar for a while. E was having a late shower. She had offered to take our neighbour to her doctor’s surgery in order to have her annual ‘flu jab. She does drive but the injection has too strong an effect upon her to drive safely for a couple of hours. Usually her son takes her but he was at work. I wondered why she doesn’t use the same surgery as we do which is only a half-mile distant. Her doctor’s surgery is about a mile and a half away. It was around noon when E drove off and I put on my overalls and mixed some cement screed to level out the patio floor adjacent to the large new flowerbed where is was prone to leaving a puddle of water after rain. The puddle was much larger before I built the flowerbed over most of it. The floor should have been laid perfectly flat when it was originally laid but that is another story. Anyway it didn’t take me long and when I had finished E was back home having returned a minute or two earlier. I asked her if she would like to dine out. She changed her clothes and we went out in my van for we had to collect the stone beforehand. We arrived to find them about to cut it so we had to wait a few minutes then we drove off to the pub. After an hour or so we returned home to find the flag, though not the one shown in this picture but a union flag which had dropped to the ground leaving the rope stuck at the top of the flagpole. Unfortunately the rope doesn’t have enough weight to allow it to drop down the pole by itself. The weight we had fitted together with the flag had separated from the rope. The flag was the problem, its rope eyelet had worn through! The only way to get the rope down was to erect some scaffolding either to the top of the pole or at least half-way up where the two sections of pole slide together. I erected the aluminium scaffold past the half-way point and found it was easier than I thought it would be to lift off the top section and lower it to the ground. It was easy then to pull out the rope and it was also convenient to have the top of the pole at ground level to find out why the top had ceased to rotate to allow it to follow the wind direction. So I was able to resolve both problems. The hardest thing was in erecting the scaffolding and dismantling it afterwards! While I was doing all of this E was busy repairing the flag by sewing two new loops of rope to act as eyelets to attach it to the rope and weight. Now when I erected the flagpole last year I wondered why there was no weight to attach to the bottom of the flag so I made one but when I was pulling out the rope from the lowered section of pole out came a plastic-sleeved chain. It was the weight supplied with the flagpole kit and had been stuffed inside the pipe. Why it didn’t drop out when we were erecting the pole initially is a mystery. E finished her sewing and I was able to attach the flag and hoist it aloft. It now follows the direction of the wind as it should. I went into the rear garden and checked on my cement screed which had hardened during the afternoon. The laying of the stone capping would have to be done the next day. That scaffolding has proven to be worth purchasing. We bought it last year specifically to do the drain pipe work for the bathroom refurbishment and it was useful when we had to clean out a gutter a month later too.
I had a very restless night on Sunday, kept waking up about every two hours but even my sleep periods were quite shallow. I had things on my mind and I guess I wasn’t tired enough having done little over the weekend. It follows that unless I work hard enough I don’t sleep well. I arose feeling almost as tired as when I went to bed, probably more so after all that tossing and turning. I had an appointment to keep at nine o’clock, an electrical job and had plenty of time to get there as it was local. On Saturday E and I were out buying things for the garden project and we had ordered another ton of soil which was to be delivered on Monday morning. I was about to leave the house just after eight o’clock because I had to make a visit to the electrical supplier before going to the job and the guy delivering the soil turned up. He was about to dump the bag in the wrong place so I dashed outside and stopped him. He had placed the previous load of soil in a specific spot to one side and behind the gate as I had requested only a few days before so he ought to have remembered to place the new delivery in the same spot. Had I not caught him before he dropped the load I would have had great difficulty in getting out of the gate with my van. I drove off to work but was back home by ten o’clock. There was no way I would be moving any soil for a couple of hours as I was feeling quite drained. After an hour and a cup of coffee though I was feeling fit again and ready to go but I decided to eat lunch first. At noon E went out with her sister who wanted her support while she arranged a new contract for her mobile phone service. As soon as she left the house I donned my overalls and set about moving the soil barrow by barrow into the new patio flowerbeds and planting the two Phoenix Canariensis plants in them leaving plenty of surrounding space for E to bed her new flowering plants as we did with the main flowerbed. I had other work to do, empty and refill the compost barrel, a large container which reduces garden waste to form a rich compost. I also made a start in digging out some weeds in one of the front garden flowerbeds which has been sadly neglected for too long. I was able to dump some of the new soil there but there is more work to do there yet which I will probably do while I have the opportunity. E returned home before four o’clock and put the plants in the flowerbeds. I moved the two plant pots that originally housed the two larger Phoenix Canariensis plants that are now in the main flowerbed, in front of the patio and filled them so that E could plant some bulbs in them. I also moved the two redundant pots which held the smaller Phoenix plants I had just put in the two small flowerbeds onto the steps and E put bulbs in them too. At last most of the work on and around the patio was done but at the time of writing this far I have yet to fit the stone capping on the walls and lay some tree bark chippings in and around the plants in the small flowerbeds. I didn’t get to place the stone capping until Wednesday morning.
This is my God. Not a God of war but of peace. Not a God who hates but one who loves. Not a God who encourages killing in His name but a God who encourages reaching out to those who hate us. My God is the epitome of love and all that is love. He demonstrated His love for us in this, that whilst we were still sinners Christ died for us! This is my God, the One and only God for there is no other.
At the onset of Autumn we had the last Sunday of Summer a few days ago. Ir was noticeably cooler but the air was still. I was up and about very early. I had showered, dressed, eaten breakfast, changed my bed linen and put it in the washing machine and taken down the now dried washing that was hanging in the cellar boiler room all before eight o’clock. I had hung E’s washing up the day before but I would need the line space for my bed linen once it was washed so I had to take the other washing down. I couldn’t hang the washing outside for there was still dampness in the air and dew on the grass. It would be a while before the sun would have any effect, by which time my bed linen would be almost dry! I made myself a cup of coffee and sat out on the patio for a few minutes taking in the cool morning air and watching the antics of one or two birds having breakfast on the lawn. It was nearly nine o’clock and I went indoors. I could hear E moving about upstairs but she didn’t actually come downstairs until it was passed nine o’clock. She likes her lie-in. I potted about until eleven playing guitar or reading emails then decided to prepare the vegetables for dinner. It had been quite some time since I had a roast dinner on a Sunday so it would be something of a novelty. E and I went into the garden for a browse and whist out there began to talk about what we should do in the more neglected corners of it. One area in particular needs some attention and that is the spot in the corner next to the large greenhouse which frankly needs to be landscaped and planted. Click on image on left to magnify. The picture was taken four years ago I think when the patio was still under construction because the brick archway is missing in the foreground. We talked about other things we will need to do in the forthcoming weeks one of which is the fitting of a small retaining edge to the flowerbed next to the patio. Presently the soil levels out as it meets the path but often encroaches on it. We will be clearing away the weeds that are growing there, applying a layer of tree bark chippings and rearranging some of the plants whilst adding some new ones. The small retaining wall will be a necessity. There are a couple of plants growing there which we have decided to remove also. After a short while we returned indoors to cook the meal whilst listening to and watching some of the aerial acrobatics of the aircraft taking part in the now annual Southport Air Show held on the last Saturday and Sunday in September. I have been down to the beach a couple of times in the past to see the displays but don’t do that now. Much of the displays can be seen from our house anyway. On Saturday I saw the last flight of the Vulcan aircraft. It was accompanied by the Red Arrows team flying in a ‘V’ and surrounding it. It’s size dwarfed the much smaller Hawk aircraft of the Red Arrow team. We cannot help but notice the presence of the airplanes. Even though we hear aircraft every day where we live jet engines are far noisier! So the day rambled on as it usually does on a Sunday and I made the most of the opportunity to relax whilst I had the chance.
I went to do a small electrical job on Wednesday morning last week. It was simply to fit and connect two ‘Victorian‘ type wall lanterns which I did with no fuss. A third lantern existed on the third wall where they had been mounted, that is three walls each with a lantern. I was informed that there was nothing wrong with this third lantern so there was no need to check it out. Well that was what the guy had told me. Indeed the light appeared to be working just fine. Each of the three lights had an extra wireconnected which were supplied by a wall switch inside the house. When this switch was turned on all three lights would come on irrespective of whether their own individual built-in motion detectors had them switched on or not. In other words it acted as an override switch in case they wanted the lights to remain on for any length of time. As all three were linked by these extra wires they would all light up if any one of them was activated. That is the way the circuit was designed to operate. When I left the house everything seemed to be working as they should but late on Thursday evening I received a call from the lady of the house who told me that all three lanterns had switched on automatically in the evening but had remained on. Now either the override switch had been left on inadvertently or one or more of the lantern’s motion detectors were at fault. I couldn’t call to the house on Friday as I had been too busy but I told her that I would be there on Saturday morning to check things out. I disconnected the linking wires and discovered the two new lanterns I had fitted were working perfectly but the third lantern wasn’t. This was the one I was assured was not faulty. Yes, it worked when the supply came through the extra wire, the one linking it to the other two and the override switch but its own sensor didn’t appear to be working. The guy kept telling me that there was nothing wrong with it and he couldn’t understand why I said it wasn’t working properly. He also told me that the original lantern that was fitted at high level had only one wire connected to it when he had removed it and he wondered why the replacement was working with just the one wire. Actually it couldn’t, actually there were four wires, one live, one neutral, one earthing wire and the fourth was the linking wire to the other two lanterns. I was told by his wife when I was there on Wednesday and again on Saturday that the guy was suffering with Alzheimer disease and although he seemed to know what he was talking about he didn’t realise that he wasn’t. There was no way I could tell him, no way I could explain the circuitry even though he kept asking. It just wouldn’t register. Such a shame for the poor guy. Needless to say I levied no charge for my visit. The lady said that they would purchase a new lantern to replace the seemingly faulty one and that her husband would fit it, something he is capable of doing so I was informed. It is only a simple matter of connecting each of the four conductors into its respective terminal once the base plate has been screwed to the wall. I might add here that he had in fact fitted the two base plates for the two lanterns I had connected, though upside down, yet he didn’t want to connect them. I am waiting for another call for help now as I write this on Saturday late in the afternoon whilst waiting for the guy to call to check my window and door. I have a feeling he isn’t going to show for the second time but I might be wrong, there is time left still.
Friday was one of those days filled with intentions and trying to make the most of the time that was left from that put to one side for others. I arose early for two reasons or maybe three. The first was to put out the waste collection bins though I often don’t know why I bother putting them out so early as they invariably empty them sometime after lunch! The second reason was to be available for the representative of the window installation company who was supposed to call sometime between eight-thirty and nine o’clock to check on a couple of faults we have but didn’t turn up! The last reason I suppose was the fact that I usually get up early anyway. Such is life. There was little I could do early on whilst I waited so I sat and played some songs on my guitar. I didn’t call the window company immediately, in fact I didn’t call them at all. E said she would call them whilst I was at the dentist’s surgery and did in fact do so. They arranged to call on Saturday afternoon. I left the house sometime around ten thirty-five to arrive around eleven for my appointment at eleven-fifteen. Of course appointment times at the dentist’s surgery are never kept are they? I was in the chair around eleven-thirty and left around noon. E and I had made plans to go shopping for more materials and extra plants to populate the two new flowerbeds I had finished building on Thursday. I say finished but the stone for capping the walls hadn’t been laid because that was one of the things we planned to purchase. I paid £51 for my dental treatment but need to return on October 2nd for more treatment. E and I had a quick snack for lunch then off we went shopping but before we could do that I had to empty out half of the things I have in my van to accommodate whatever we purchased. We drove to the new garden centre where a week or so previously I had purchased wood bark chippings, some stone chippings and the stone capping for the large flowerbed wall. I purchased more stone capping but it needs cutting in half lengthwise. We also bought some topsoil in bags and ten potted flowering plants. I don’t know what we were thinking but the amount of soil we bought was far below that which we needed. On the way home we stopped alongside a guy working at the kerb side. He was there with another guy and a youngster around fourteen or fifteen years of age. They were in the process of laying a cobbled forecourt of a house on a street less than a half-mile from our house. I asked him if he could do a small job for me and naturally I would pay him if he could. He called his mate over and asked him if he could cut the stones that I had asked to be cut. Now I have a ‘whizzer’ at home, that is a small hand-held grinding tool but it is only suitable for small jobs. These guys had access to a larger professional water assisted cutter or ‘whizzer’ as they say so he said he would do them, there are three, on the following Tuesday. All he said he wanted in payment was some German beer! E and I drove on home and emptied the van. We made a start on filling the beds but soon discovered that we hadn’t enough soil, even with that which was left over from filling the large bed. I wasn’t prepared to buy some more small bags so off we went again to the builder’s merchant to arrange delivery of another ton of it to be delivered the following Tuesday also. Whilst we were out we decided to visit the B&Q store to purchase four large bags of wood bark chippings and two more potted plants. From there we went to another store and bought some beer and cola for guess who? Finally we returned home and stayed there! Some of the bark we spread out between the plants in the large flowerbed then tidied up and went indoors around five o’clock. I took stock of my purchases and it all came to £150. Total outlay for the day £200 and nothing much got done. Until the arrival of the soil my work in the garden would be on hold for the weekend.
No, nothing to do with money. We have enjoyed quite a number of warm and sunny days these last couple of weeks and it has allowed me the opportunity to work on my patio projects. I completed the first phase last week and as my post showed, the flowerbed is now filled with plants. I wanted another few dry days in order to begin phase two, the construction of two smaller flowerbeds. As my latest posts show I have made good progress. On Wednesday I had almost completely built both beds leaving only the top course of bricks to lay and also to apply a concrete render to the inside of the newly built walls. On Thursday I was able to complete that work. I worked from ten in the morning until one in the afternoon when I got a call from somebody wanting a small electrical problem sorting out. I cleared the site, had a quick bite to eat and went off to do the job. All that remains to be done with the two flowerbeds is to fill them with soil and plants and then fit a stone capping as with the other walls. At this point in time as I write I have no idea when I will be able to do that but it will probably be on Saturday. On Friday we have people coming to the house to repair a couple of faulty windows under the guarantee or assess that work and arrange a date to repair them. E’s nephew, who is a builder/bricklayer is also calling to give us an estimate to rebuild a large section of the garden wall. When we levelled the area we called the ‘mound’ and redesigned it last summer we removed tons of soil and stone slabs. Over the years the sheer weight of that material had gradually pushed the wall away from the vertical so once we had removed it we realised the extent of the damage it had caused. The wall is safe as it stands but it looks unsightly and it can only become worse unless something is done about it. Dismantling the wall will also give us the opportunity to cut back the undergrowth on the other side. Our neighbour is lazy when it comes to keeping their side of the wall in order. As it stands at the moment they have brambles, ivy and Japanese knot weed as well as many other garden ‘nasties’ but they have let it get out of hand. As for the knot weed, they were informed about this more than a year ago but have done little about it. The knot weed plants need to be removed by professionals. Our main concern is that it doesn’t begin to show itself on our side of the wall. Fortunately the wall is deep, however that is no assurance. Also on Friday I have a dental appointment in the middle of the day so I am unlikely to be doing any work. I was glad therefore that I got so much done on Thursday.
Things seem to be going my way for a change lately. I get electrical work and offers of work that I turn down too. I am making a concerted effort to be more selective in what I take on board but still earn enough to make me happy. So it was that I had one small job to do on Wednesday morning and was back at home at ten-thirty. I didn’t go in the house but took some things out of my van and drove off to the builder’s merchant to purchase more sand and cement. On my return home I took the cement mixer out of the garage and together with my tools and materials set everything up near to the patio. I had decided to get on with the construction of the two small flowerbeds but it was near lunch time by now so I put off starting until I’d eaten. It was a lovely day on Wednesday, wall to wall sunshine but not too warm to work in. I had to work alone as E wasn’t feeling well so it took longer to do what I had planned. She is a great help when it comes to filling the cement mixer and cleaning it out later. She renders assistance in other ways now and then while I get on with the laying of bricks but I had to do it all myself which slows things down. Anyway I managed to build both beds leaving just one row of bricks to do the next day or when I could do them. Here’s what I have achieved so far….
After laying the last row of bricks I will be skimming the inside of the walls with a cement render and fitting some stone capping as before. Then we can bed the plants.