Shirley Anne



English: Fluorescent lamp
Fluorescent lamp (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What a day! Over the years I have come across many different problems in my line of work and I often say to myself that it never ceases to amaze me when some new problem arises. It isn’t the problems themselves but more the fact that some of them wouldn’t be problems if manufacturers and designers of equipment realised they were building them into their goods. Often no feedback mechanism exists to help in eliminating problems and to improve designs. I had two small jobs to do on Thursday morning and I expected to have them both completed within two hours but unfortunately I was away from home for more than six! A lady had bought a new light fitting and I was to install it. The existing lighting, recessed downlights did not give enough light though they were halogen lamps. The reason for that was most of them had been changed to LED lamps but of a far lower equivalent rating to be bright enough. The easy answer would have been to put higher capacity lamps in but she and her husband had decided to purchase what they thought was a twin-tube LED fitting instead. Actually they had bought a modern fluorescent lamp fitting and two LED tube lamps to fit in it. Now I have seen fittings of this type before, they look like an ordinary fluorescent fitting but are different. I gave it no thought and proceeded to install it but first I had to locate the supply to the existing recessed lights and divert it to the new fitting. That was a job in itself for the supply could have been anywhere in the false ceiling but I located it quicker than I had thought I would. It took some time to install the new light fitting and when I had finally succeeded I discovered it wouldn’t work. I checked the supply and all was well so the problem lay in the light itself but there was nothing evidently wrong. We contacted the supplier from where she had purchased it and I explained the problem. They allowed me to bring back the internal part of the fitting and have it replaced rather than having to remove the whole unit from the ceiling. I drove there with the lady as my passenger and the salesman was unable to reason why we were having problems. The manager came to the desk and we discussed things. It turns out that they had sold the lady a fluorescent fitting with LED lamps in error. It could only work with fluorescent lamps and not LED lamps. That explained a lot for I had been under the impression that its internal components were LED ‘drivers’ but in fact they were choke units, the devices normally found in a fluorescent fitting. Ironically the fitting could have been modified to use LED lamps but that would have meant cutting the internal wiring and partly rewiring it, something you wouldn’t do with a new fitting. The supplier admitted their error and offered the lady a larger fitting for the same price and she accepted it. It was an LED lighting unit that had the LEDs built into it, no separate lamps to install. It actually looks much the same as the fluorescent fitting in the picture above. We drove back to her house and I installed it. However, although the light worked first time with no problems when it came to fixing the diffuser it was a nightmare! It had been manufactured to hold the diffuser in place with 16 or so metal clips which were almost impossible to fit into place and even when I had managed to do that it was extremely difficult to clamp the diffuser in place using them. In the above picture you can see two of the four clamps of a similar nature holding the diffuser in place. A much simpler way of fixing the diffuser would have saved so much time and frustration if it had been designed that way. I took the rest of the first fitting back to the supplier as I’d promised and by chance I spoke with the manager again who confessed that he had installed the same LED fitting at home and had exactly the same problems in fixing the diffuser. The second job I had been to replace a small lamp holder and it took me a mere ten minutes by comparison! I didn’t get back home until mid-afternoon. Some days you wished you’d never gotten out of bed.

Shirley Anne

Almost finished

I had a little bit of a lie-in on Wednesday morning and was in the process of getting out of bed to get dressed when I heard the front door bell ring. There was no way I would be going downstairs to see who was there, not before I had washed and put on my make-up at least. As it was E also had only just gotten out of bed so she wouldn’t open the door either. We hadn’t been expecting any visitors or workmen to arrive to finish off the front steps as the weather wouldn’t allow it but in fact it was one of the crew who had been working on the steps. It took me about fifteen minutes to make myself presentable and then I went downstairs to open the garage door and move my van on to the driveway to allow the garage to be cleared out. He had come to do that work and to tidy up the site so that E’s nephew (the builder) could come and collect it all. I went indoors to have breakfast. It was a little after nine o’clock. When E’s nephew had arrived with his van they loaded it up with their materials and the bags of rubbish and then he finished laying the last couple of bricks on the rear garden wall which had been partly rebuiltRear wall rebuild


That work is now completed. The front door steps had finished being constructed or rather extended on Monday but the small side retaining wall had not received its cement render. At the time of writing this on Wednesday evening it has still not been done but that is entirely due to the inclement weather. Here are a couple of photos of the new steps (the three nearest the front door). If you look back to a post I wrote a few days ago (24th) you will see the photo of the same steps as they were when they were built a few years ago.Front steps rebuild 2

Front steps rebuild

E has been busy today painting in the bedroom we are refurbishing and I have been involved in doing some minor repairs and general cleaning up in the garage. I feel that now we more or less have the house to ourselves work in the bedroom will move along at pace. There is still the problem with the roof leaks to be sorted out so I have to remind the guy doing the work in case he has forgotten for he didn’t call me as he said he would.

Shirley Anne

Back to work Monday

Monday, Monday
Monday, Monday (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sunday had been a well-earned day of rest but then along came Monday, a fresh week and of course more work! My day began in a little township about ten miles south of home where I was to investigate the reasons for a circuit-breaker often tripping out. On the side of the house there had been built an extension the full length of the house which was being used as a utility and workshop and inside of which was a total of fourteen power outlets! Nothing wrong in that except that they were all connected to the single and only cable that had been fed from an outlet in the lounge! As that outlet was already the maximum permissible to be wired as a spur on the ring circuit no other outlets should have been connected to it. It wasn’t so much that the circuitry was wrong but more what was plugged into it, a washing machine, a tumble drier, a freezer, hundreds (literally) of fairy lights (don’t ask) and some workshop equipment. As they were connected to the house ring circuit there would be more appliances plugged in around the house too. They were simply trying to draw too much current from the circuit and hence the breaker kept tripping out. The breaker is rated at 32 amperes. The washing machine and tumble drier would be drawing around 24 amperes at full capacity let alone any other appliances. Part of the extension wiring had been done in 13 ampere rated flexible cable too which I changed to 20 ampere for safety’s sake. The only real solution in the interim is to ensure only one or two appliances are used at any one time but the circuit really should be changed to meet regulations. I can only advise whilst making it as safe as possible where it is required. I suggested the circuit be wired in such a way as to become part of the ring circuit which can be done but better still a separate supply should be installed for the extension. That however would not be easy to do as it is remote from the circuit board. Either way it means spending a lot of money to put things right. They were reluctant to have the work done and the circuit remains as it was though a lot safer. Maybe I will get a call in the near future to put things right. I drove home to find a lone builder finishing off the front steps. They are now completed but the little containing wall needs rendering, a couple of hours work which will get done on Tuesday as I write, that is if the weather is dry. We expect on Tuesday to receive the remnants of the storm which left the east coast of the US in deep snow and blizzard conditions. It has been unseasonably warm over the last few days with temperatures reaching 15 deg. Celsius in places, hereabouts around 13-14. We still have two more months of Winter to look forward too but somehow I don’t think it will get too cold the way things are going, we’ll have to wait and see.

Shirley Anne

Are you being called?

Embed from Getty Images
Isaiah the prophet reaching up to heaven

John 12
37 Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfil the word of Isaiah the prophet:

‘Lord, who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ (Isaiah 53:1)

39 For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere:

‘He has blinded their eyes
and hardened their hearts,
so they can neither see with their eyes,
nor understand with their hearts,
nor turn – and I would heal them.’

41 Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.

Remember, Isaiah lived hundreds of years before Christ’s birth and foretold of these things and of Christ’s birth and the manner of his death. So who told him? Don’t you yet see that prophetic messages come from God? Yet you still refuse to believe? If you feel that God is calling out to you, if you feel in your hearts that there is something more than this life and that there is a heaven to be gained and a hell to be shunned then believe your heart. Reach out to God and He will reach out to you. Seek Him whilst he may be found, before it is too late. Remember it is never too late whilst you have the breath of life in you but once you die it will be. Come to Jesus and be saved for all eternity.

Shirley Anne

Where did it go?

So Saturday came along and although I didn’t really feel like working both E and I decided to finish the electrical alterations in the bedroom we are refurbishing. We now have all the wiring in place in readiness to convert the existing one-way switching circuit for the main ceiling light when the bedside units are fitted as well as the power circuits for the outlets which will be either side of the bed. One power outlet had been fitted last week but two more were to be installed above where the low-level units will be fitted together with the television antenna socket. Those are now installed and working. I had to remove the last power outlet which had been part of the original installation in order to re-arrange the circuits and connect the new outlets. The main part of the work we are doing ourselves is the painting and decorating and E has made great progress in that direction having applied an undercoat to most of the woodwork in the room. The ceiling needs a little repair in places and then it can be painted and those areas of the walls which will be covered by the new furniture will be painted too because they will remain on view inside the units when they are built.index The rest of the walls will be painted after the furniture has been installed as will the fitting of a new picture rail by myself. Aside from the break we took for lunch we worked pretty much all day until it was time for our evening meal. The guys doing the steps outside the front door didn’t turn up for work as it was Saturday and I didn’t expect them to. They will resume on Monday morning and I will be at my electrical work on Monday too. My only rest time will have been Sunday as I refuse to do any work on a Sunday and the way I am feeling right now as I write this on Saturday evening I couldn’t work even if I wanted to! Chiselling out brick walls to install the metal back-boxes for the power outlets really takes its toll on the muscles but a good soak in a hot tub for a while will ease the aches and pains which is what I shall be doing before bedtime.

Shirley Anne

Bad day

English: Atlanta Life Insurance Company est. 1...
English: Atlanta Life Insurance Company est. 1910-20 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the Christmas period we discovered we had a leaking roof having seen the signs in the room below. We arranged for the insurance company to  inspect it and hopefully sanction the repairs. Scaffolding was erected to a height of forty-foot (13 metres) in order to reach the roof as the house is that tall. We heard nothing for a couple of weeks until recently when someone came and took photos to submit to the insurance company. On Friday as I was driving off to do a job I saw the scaffolding company’s vehicle draw up. I phoned E to let her know and it turns out that they had come to dismantle and remove the scaffolding, but the repairs had not been done yet! After they had contacted the insurers to find out what was going on they told E that the works had not been sanctioned and we would not be able to claim for the repairs. I was at work when E informed me. I phoned the guy we use for our roof repairs and he will check the roof and what needs to be done next week. Now then the job I had been to was to install the circuitry for a cooker hood and fit the hood too. First of all I had difficulty in getting a good fixing to the wall but what really annoyed me was the design of the hood itself, the top fixing holes had been placed in such an awkward position as to be almost impossible to get at, just like the one I had fitted at home a few weeks ago. Why do manufacturers make their products so hard to fit? Finally it was in place and I had to channel out the wall for the electrical cable and the control unit. I remembered that there was a gas pipe buried in the wall near to where I had repositioned a power outlet on my previous visit two weeks ago. It had originally been located above the cooker and had to be moved sideways. That is when I discovered the pipe, so I had to be careful when fixing the hood in order to avoid it. I managed to do that but unfortunately forgot the pipe when cutting the channel! I pierced it! I had to dig out the wall and effect a repair using my gas torch and solder which fortunately I carry in my van. I hasten to add that I am not in the habit of piercing gas pipes! So I finished the work, got paid and drove home but I stopped along the way to buy a replacement gas canister for my torch and a special-sized metal box for the fitting of power outlets, switches or other items as I wanted one for installing a twin power outlet and a television outlet on the same box rather than fitting two separate boxes. Electricians will know what I mean. Whilst waiting in the plumbers merchant store for ten minutes I was told they didn’t stock the particular gas canister that I wanted. Why couldn’t he tell me that when I first walked in as I had the torch standing on the counter and it was obvious to anyone with an ounce of sense that I wanted a replacement? That’s the way it goes sometimes. The guys had turned up to continue with the front steps and had started to build up a small retaining wall alongside the new steps but it looked horrible and out-of-place. I had to tell them to take it down and leave it at a lower height and they admitted it looked better but they had been instructed to build it high by E’s nephew, their boss. He should have asked us what we wanted in the first place. I spent a little time with E upstairs in the bedroom as she wanted to finish off the painting of the skirting boards with undercoat. She had been busy doing the work whilst I had been away from home. I don’t know what it is about builders but they leave everywhere so messy. The garage in which I park my van is full of their materials, tools, sheets and wheelbarrows. I shall be glad when all the work is complete and we can have our house back.

Shirley Anne

Everything stops

Thursday morning and up until early afternoon the weather had been really cold but it felt even colder because of the wind. Finer weather was promised for Friday and the weekend but first there would be rain. Two guys turned up in the morning to continue with the front steps, mainly measuring and cutting the stone slabs which form the steps themselves. About five and a half years ago at a time when we were having extensive repairs and alterations to the house and grounds we had the original steps taken up and natural stone slabs laid instead but since then we have decided to have those steps nearest the front door altered for easier access. The steps in question are those three immediately outside the front doors in this picture taken shortly after their construction. pics 1026This is the work now being carried out along with the rebuilding of part of the rear garden wall. Well the wall is almost complete as of today, Thursday, there being only a couple of things left to do with it. The steps would have been almost completed too except that this afternoon the weather stopped progress, the rains came as we knew they would and it has slowly begun to get warmer. However, there is now nobody here to carry on with the work because the rain prevents it. I am hoping to see their return in the morning but I am not sure if they will. I will be away from home on an electrical job, at least for the morning. We cannot use the front entrance until the work is completed and that means we have to go through the garage to enter through a rear door, not the most convenient way I admit but we have to put up with it for now. Late in the morning we had a visit from the bedroom furniture installers, actually someone to take precise measurements and to schedule the work. We have elected to have the room furniture delivered during the last week in February and sometime during the following week to have it installed. The work we have been told will take three to four days to complete. We now have a month to carry out other work like the electrics and some of the decorating. We are leaving off painting the walls as advised until the furniture is fitted. Now I know more about the furniture’s measurements I can install the new power outlets without fear of putting them in the wrong places. The old ceiling light has been removed and the ubiquitous holder on a flex fitted as a temporary unit until we purchase a more suitable light fitting.

Shirley Anne

Breakneck speed?

Bricklayer in Paoua, Central African Republic
Bricklayer in Paoua, Central African Republic (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I don’t think so. I refer to the building work that has been going on at my house. E’s nephew runs a building and construction business and has guys working for him, some of whom are apprentices or what you might call ‘newbies’. The work they have been doing is rebuilding that part of the garden wall E and I dismantled last October as it was in danger of falling down by itself. The problem was caused by its age, the aggressive plant growth on the neighbour’s side of the wall and of course the weather. The house was built in 1877 and we assume the wall to be of similar age. The work they have done is good but they have taken a lot of time to do it. I know it could have taken less time as I have done quite a lot of bricklaying over the years and I am not a qualified bricklayer. As I write this on Wednesday evening there still remains two or three bricks to be laid at the junction with the adjoining wall which could have been done today but they pressed on and began to reconstruct the steps at the approach to the front door. We thought the existing three final steps too awkward to negotiate and neither do they provide much space on which a caller could stand. I had it in mind to do the work myself last summer but never had the time. So for a day or so E and I will have to enter the house through one of the garages instead. Last night, that is Tuesday as I write this, the two guys who had been working here on that day, were about to leave when I noticed that the grid beneath the kitchen window was blocked and there was a huge puddle of muddy water on the path. They had been flushing the dregs of mortar out of the mixer onto the path and into the grid. I insisted it to be cleared of mortar which meant reaching down the grid and taking it out by hand. Sometime during the summer months I clear out this particular grid in the same manner myself for grease and fats from the kitchen sink can block the drain if it isn’t kept in check. We try our best to prevent grease from entering the drains but there is always some nevertheless. All appeared well and they left but soon after the grid filled up again and another pool of water lay on the path. We called E’s nephew who responded immediately and came around to unblock the drain. It took about thirty minutes before we could say the problem had been sorted out. This morning, Wednesday, two different members of his crew turned up instead! Even so at the end of this day I discovered the grid cover blocked by the remnants of mortar. There is little possibility of further problems now as the mixer is being used at the front of the house away from all drains. I hadn’t any electrical work scheduled for both Wednesday and Thursday but I did have an electrical job out in the garden. On Tuesday evening I discovered that one of the three wall lights by the greenhouses wasn’t working and I gave it a quick check but realised the whole unit needed replacing so I purchased one on Wednesday morning and spent a little time fitting it. The rest of the day was spent catering to the needs of the bricklayers and just pottering about. E made a start on painting the bedroom woodwork with an undercoat ready for overpainting later with a gloss paint.

Shirley Anne