Skills Like This (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I have been on the go for most of my life, always looking for something to do but it has to be something I like doing. My electrical career has been a fascinating experience, never a dull moment and often the work was varied, no two jobs the same. Not only that but I became conversant and experienced in many electrical disciplines as well as in other closely related fields. To put it simply it was enjoyable and held my interest, it still does though I have far less involvement now. This means I have to find other things to occupy my time and again they have to be something I like doing. Over the years I have developed skills in building work and other skills such as plumbing, joinery and so on. This has proven to be beneficial for most of the work around the house I can do myself and save vast amounts of cash in the process by not having to employ someone else. So it helps that I like working with my hands and it gives me great satisfaction whenever I complete a project or small task that needs doing. I have (so far) this summer been enjoying more time to myself and have found the freedom to do what I like when it pleases me very liberating. However I am always thing of things to do so that I never get bored and have recently decided on starting a couple of outdoor projects to that end. Once I get an idea it plays upon my mind until at last I get the ball rolling. I needed more sand and cement and also gate furniture for when I make the gate I have in mind to construct later. First though I have to build a column constructed of bricks, hence the reason for acquiring some. E’s nephew, a builder, has graciously allowed us to take whatever bricks we wanted from his stock. We took 45 and he asked if we wanted more as he wanted to get rid of them. We said we would accept 50 more and he delivered them on Monday morning last week. That was the motivation I needed to go and purchase the sand, cement and the rest. Now, as I write this, I have no excuses to prevent me beginning some of the work………..it just depends upon the weather. I would like to try to make the work last as long as I can but I have a feeling that will never happen!
Master of Styles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It has to be said…I am feeling the urge……aha but what urge? Since declaring I am retired, officially that is, I have been enjoying much free time for myself. However as many of my readers will know and all those who know me will know that I need to find things to do else get very bored. A few days ago E asked her nephew, a builder, if he had any second-hand bricks we could have for a project at home. I mentioned what happened in an earlier post but since then we have decided we will require more than the forty-five we took at that time. He told us that we could have as many as we wished because he wanted to get rid of them. He told us that he would deliver them within a day or two. Perhaps when you read this he will have done so or I might have done so. I am in the ‘building with bricks’ mood and feel the urge to get my hands dirty again. I have a couple of small projects which I am eager to start, all depending upon the weather of course. If it gets too warm I will probably leave off beginning the work until it gets cooler though at the time of writing this on Sunday it is fairly cool at 16 deg C. This is the UK however and it can get hot or cold, wet and windy in hours! Hopefully I will be able to do the work soon and pictures will follow. There is always the garden to work in of course but at the moment the only work there is in removing weeds and mowing the lawn. Speaking of lawns, I have been on my hands and knees manually digging out weeds from the lawn recently, an ongoing problem which will take time to complete. Ideally the lawn should have some chemical treatment but it isn’t that bad or bad enough to warrant that just now. I don’t like to use chemical treatments if at all possible but in certain cases it is necessary or have a lawn of weeds instead of grass! For me though it is all about occupying my time. I suppose that when you feel the urge you’ve got to do something about it!
As I write this on a dull Sunday afternoon the party is over and I for one could not be happier. What party you may well ask? The Open golf championship event here at Royal Birkdale. Don’t misunderstand me here, many people love the game of golf but I am just not one of them.
The picture above was taken through the window in a lounge at home at around five o’clock on the last day of the golf event. Up until then the day had been mostly sunny. On Saturday there had been much rain but the previous days had been fine and sunny. I am not sure how that affected the play though I have a feeling it made little difference. For the last few days the whole town of Southport but especially Birkdale had been geared up for the event with many local restrictions having been imposed upon us all. It is something we all have had to put up with whether we like the sport or not. I can live with that. I steered well clear of the course which is very close to where I live and spent my time away from the house in the opposite direction! However during the time I was at home we had to put up with a light aircraft circling above every two to three minutes for hours on end which really was annoying. When I say circling it was doing just that, flying in a circle around the course and our house was under the flight path. On Sunday morning I went for a walk and on my return I emptied out most of the things in my van. E and I were to go and collect some bricks from her nephew which were stored at a place less than a mile from home. He had graciously allowed us to take what we wanted which was around fifty bricks. They had been dumped with other rubbish and needed to be separated but it didn’t take long to do that and we were soon back home for lunch. I stored them behind one of the garages and under cover to keep them dry until I wanted to use them.
Later E received a text message from her nephew who was asking where we were and why we hadn’t called to collect the bricks! E had thought he meant for us to collect the ones we had but it appeared he meant those stored at his own house a few hundred metres away. Those bricks had already been sorted and separated whereas the ones we took we had to glean from a general pile of other material. Although the ones we took were not stored at his house they still belonged to him. The reason he has so many bricks is that he is a builder. He asked if we wanted more as he was trying to rid himself of some of them. We accepted his offer and he said he would drop them off later. Now I won’t have to worry about buying bricks for the projects I have in mind to do. The first one is to put a gate at the end of this passage where it meets the main part of the garden.
That is at the end of the side wall of the house on the right. Now I am not planning to begin that work during the summer though anything is possible with me.
Tuesday was another hot and humid day with wall to wall sunshine until seven in the evening when clouds began to appear. Evidently we were to have thunderstorms during Wednesday with some much-needed rain. I deliberately rose early knowing the day would be hot so that I could go for a long walk. I managed to leave the house at seven o’clock having forgone eating breakfast. I had a little water and nothing else. I carry water with me anyway should I get thirsty. Even at that early hour the warm sunshine could be felt. I arrived back home over two hours later but still not hungry. E had wanted to buy a couple of items of clothing, a lightweight summer top and matching loose-fitting pants and she suggested we go shopping for them whilst reminding me that I had wanted some walking boots and a waterproof coat. She obviously wanted me to purchase her items too but I was always going to do that anyway as she has little in the way of spare funds. By the time she had gotten ready it was eleven o’clock when we drove off to town. Just prior to leaving I received a call to do a small electrical job at an apartment close to home. I told the caller I would do it but it would have to be later in the afternoon as I was about to go shopping. I seldom go shopping with E because she is hard to please and my suggestions are not always appreciated. It takes a very long time to get around the shops because of her disability which over the previous two days had been aggravated by her left foot becoming swollen too. That put her on crutches until it would heal. Normally she has to use a walking stick to get around but this added problem had slowed her down considerably. She insisted we visit the store to buy the boots and the coat and I purchased both in minutes…
I got them both at half-price for a total of £95. We moved on to the next store to purchase her items but unfortunately only one was available, the top. Although we searched and asked staff the pants were not in stock. She looked for a substitute but gave up on the idea of finding something she liked. In the meantime I found a lovely ankle-length summer dress which I purchased for £50…
E’s top cost £32. She’d had enough of shopping so wanted to go home but I suggested we go for a meal instead. We went to a pub/restaurant we have come to like just out-of-town and it was lovely. Finally we returned home where I tried on the dress to check the fit but E reminded me of the job I had promised to do so I had to quickly change back into my day-wear clothes. I drove to the apartment and soon had the work done before returning home again to join E on the patio. Most of the time on the patio I spent in the shade. I’d had enough of the sun for one day.
The last couple of days proved to be a complete change from the warm even hot days preceding and in fact have been quite cool. The cooling effect was due mainly to the high winds though the temperature had dropped dramatically too. Not ideal for relaxing in the garden or even working in the garden. I had been feeling drained with a lack of enthusiasm for any activity. I didn’t even take a walk because of the wind and the rain too, yes we finally got the rain we were hoping for. Anyway it was mainly the wind which kept me indoors. That was Friday and Saturday and it looked as if Sunday was going to follow suit. The day started dull and windy though any rain that fell was very slight indeed, so much so it was barely there. The forecast was promising as far as it promised to be sunny later in the day. It was only about 14 deg C throughout the morning with a little wind so I went out for a walk wearing a lightweight jacket, this one which I had purchased a couple of weeks ago
It looks like a raincoat but it isn’t designed for wet weather, it is more just a coat for use in the cool evenings of the warmer months of the year. It is very lightweight and comfortable to wear and it keeps the wind at bay if it isn’t too windy. I walked into the town centre and on the way saw an electrician acquaintance of mine working in an empty shop. Naturally I stopped for a chat with him before moving on. There is an open space named Princess Diana Gardens which is in front of the local civic buildings and theatre/arts centre and there was an army brass band playing there. Many folk were sitting on the benches listening and I found a seat and stayed listening too.
Believe it or not the band were standing in the circular area above the fountains you see in the picture. Of course the fountains were not switched on! Unfortunately I had missed much of the music but was still able to hear the last twenty minutes of the performance. The weekend had been dedicated to the armed forces with celebrations in Liverpool as well as Southport. Once the music was over I continued with my walk, returning home after two hours. After one o’clock the day brightened up but it wasn’t until three-thirty that E and I managed to squeeze in some relaxation on the patio in the now bright sunshine. It was still a little breezy though and the temperature hadn’t risen much.
Or in proper English ‘Something to do’. Since completing my last domestic project I have had an uneasy time trying to find things to do. Being in the garden helps a lot for there is plenty to do there throughout the year but I don’t want to be doing gardening all of the time. The good weather has allowed me to be outdoors for much of the time and I have taken many a short walk around and about where I live. When stuck at home I get restless and there is only so much television I can take. I don’t do much reading, in fact hardly any at all unless it is something factual. I never read fiction as it bores me to tears. I am therefore a person who likes to be actively doing something. A few months ago we had one of the LED floodlights at the rear of the house go faulty and I removed the one just around the corner from it to replace it. I extended the wiring from the removed light fitting connection box to a new position further along the wall on the same side then fitted a new but smaller LED unit there.
A smaller unit at the new position is all that is required to illuminate the area in front of it. None of that is directly relevant to this post save for the fact that I didn’t discard the faulty unit at the time as I wanted to see if anything could be salvaged from it. I didn’t get the time to do it but on Friday afternoon I decided to check it out. There are only three components in these units that can turn faulty, the LED lamp, the LED driver unit and the motion detector. Usually on standard floodlights using halogen lamps it is the motion detector which fails if it isn’t the lamp itself. I wanted to see if I could use the unit as a standby plug-in portable floodlight which meant disconnecting and removing the motion detector. After much messing about I had the unit rewired as a portable floodlight but it wouldn’t work. It turned out that the original fault was the LED driver unit and not the motion detector. The floodlight couldn’t be used either with or without the motion detector unless the driver was replaced. The floodlight was returned to the storeroom until and if I decide to purchase a driver unit. An exercise in futility if ever there was one. I may decide to forget the whole idea and go for a walk now that the rain has stopped falling…………LOL
It Was High Time to Escape (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We have had some very unusual weather for this time of year over the past couple of days (Tue-Wed) that you could be forgiven for thinking it was Autumn already. I had been kind of house-bound yesterday (Tuesday) because it was so bad, not just because of the very high winds but the rain that accompanied it too. Leaves have been blown off the trees and today I have been around the garden collecting them and putting them in the wheelie bin just as I have to do in Autumn. At least I have been able to escape the confines of the house, I even went out this morning to do an electrical job with the prospect of another in the near future. It was great to be able to get away from the house for a while. Believe it or not it has been sunny all day so far with hardly a cloud in the sky but unfortunately the wind is still high at around 20 mph. Yesterday it had been peaking at around 50 mph! Either speed isn’t really pleasant to be out in as far as I am concerned. I hate the wind once it passes about 10 mph. Our road was taken over in late January by builders’ vehicles and even right now as I write this the situation remains the same, every day we have a dozen or more vans are parked up and down the road. It is all due to the refurbishment of a property two doors away. I have to say in fairness that the house has been gutted completely and rebuilt from the inside though. A new roof, a new garage, new windows, outhouses in the rear refurbished too but that is only the decor and structural work, new kitchen and bathrooms, built-in bedroom furniture, new electrics and plumbing too all take time to complete. There will be carpets to lay too no doubt. The work started in Winter but the way things are going it could be Autumn before the new owners can settle in. At this moment not much has been done in the surrounding plot and if the weather doesn’t behave itself things might slow to a stop. There always seems to be work being done on one house or another around here. It would be great if we could all have the work done at the same time but then it would be impossible to drive up the street!
Fresh-Up Freddie. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It had to happen and I was thankful it did. The weather had turned cooler and less humid than it had been for weeks. Yes it was wet and damp after the much-needed rain but by the afternoon on Friday the sun was beginning to shine through the clouds. The weekend promised to be similar though with less if any rain in our location. That would change in the week ahead according to the forecast with Monday being the wettest day. Ah but that was in the future and I had plenty of time before then to get out and about in the fresher air. I had to abandon the idea of mixing some fine concrete to do the work I described in yesterday’s post but that was alright, I wasn’t in the mood to do much work anyway except maybe to dig out weeds and generally tidy around the gardens. Many months ago, even a couple of years ago we had dug out a few overgrown shrubs but it had been difficult to dispose of the large root balls. The local council would not take such large items except for a fee but I wasn’t prepared to pay for something I was throwing away! That meant I had to keep the root balls for a while and let them dry out when it would be easier to saw them up into manageable pieces which could then be disposed of in the normal wheelie bins. I have disposed of quite a lot thus far but there still remains more to go. Yesterday I managed to saw up some more and placed it in the bins. I cannot put too much in the bins each time else the council will refuse to dispose of it. I reckon another collection or two will see the last of those roots. You have to remember that there is other green waste to dispose of on a regular basis too, grass cuttings, leaves and other plant materials. As it is at the moment we generally fill two bins for collection at two-weekly intervals. I’d had enough of the gardening and was prepared to leave it for a spell in order to give myself some breathing space. There is enough work to do in the gardens to keep me going throughout the year if I was mad enough to allow it. I took time out and went for a walk mid-afternoon and felt all the better for it.
I have been bemoaning the fact that I have felt bored lately but also lacking a little bit of motivation to do anything. I do have the occasional mood swings though I am happy to say it is only me who is affected. It just happens. Anyway with the prospect of fair weather once more I made up my mind to get up early on Wednesday morning to do a small job in the garden. Whenever I work in the garden I find one thing always leads to another and I have to discipline myself to restrict what I do. However on Wednesday morning that restriction was imposed upon me and in a way I was glad of that. For quite a long time now the raised bed that stands between the two greenhouses has been in need of repair. The top layer of bricks at the end were loose and they needed to be removed and then relaid. That was the work I wanted to do and so after breakfast I was out there in my overalls doing it…….
As you can see the rear layer of bricks, that is those on the left in the picture, are one brick higher than the rest. That was intentional when the bed was originally constructed to prevent spillage between the bed and the greenhouse. Normal access to the bed and whatever is growing in it is from the right-hand-side where the space between the bed and the other greenhouse is greater. At the moment the bed has nothing growing in it except weeds. Whilst I was relaying the bricks, only eight of them had been loose, I disturbed many woodlice and they are the reason we don’t have strawberries growing there now. Last year they spoiled so much of the fruit by burrowing into it there was little left for us! I may decide to grow potatoes in the bed later as we haven’t grown potatoes there for a couple of years. By the time I had finished the work it was beginning to get too hot in the bright sunshine. I had been shielded from the sun when working on the bed but now it was beginning to swing around and the bed would soon be in full sunshine. Before I decided to stop work I wanted to tidy up the leaves that had accumulated on the other side of the large greenhouse and around the Mound at the other end of the garden. After sweeping up the leaves it was too hot to do much else so I left any other jobs for another day.
Things, they just happen. On Thursday I was feeling a little fed-up with my lot, not that my lot is that bad but it could be better. Perhaps you will have read yesterday’s post and seen the different things that can happen in any one day. I wake up in the morning often wondering what new set of obstacles I will face during the day. Every day there is usually something that requires my attention and that is the subject of this post in a way. The weather though nice has become more of a burden to me because I don’t like it too hot and especially don’t like high humidity and I will wager many folk don’t like the humidity being high either. So the weather affects me more than I would like to admit and on Thursday things got to me. I felt worn-out and put upon, too many things to cope with and hot humid weather making it feel worse, or rather me feeling worse. I hadn’t done much electrical work in the previous couple of months so I decided to place a stop on my advert with a view to leave it that way for a couple of months. Maybe it was just the weather, maybe it was just that I felt I’d had enough of work, maybe too many things happen at once sometimes, maybe it was a combination of all those things but I somehow felt better after I had done it. However, a lady did call and asked if I could do a job for her elderly mother, simply replace a couple of light fittings. I decided to do it the following morning. So even when I stop working I end up working! Did I say simple? It turned out quite the opposite, conduit boxes in the ceiling packed with wiring, a concrete ceiling (an apartment block) and two awkward fittings by design. So the work took me longer than expected but I was paid more for my effort. Friday turned out warmer and more humid than the previous days but the apartment was cool inside. More watering of the garden was about all that I did in the afternoon, it was too humid and warm to do anything else.
Medieval dentist removing tooth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I know I shouldn’t complain about the weather for there is nothing I can do about it. These past few days have been very warm and humid, so much so it has left me feeling very uncomfortable and drained of energy. It has more to do with the humidity rather than the temperature and that applies to everyone. We can only cool down (in the air) if our perspiration is allowed to evaporate but the higher the humidity the less that can happen. I try to do as little as possible when conditions are humid but it isn’t easy. On Thursday morning I had a dental appointment across town and even at ten o’clock in the morning it was beginning to feel uncomfortable. How grateful I was that the surgery is fully air-conditioned. Whilst I was waiting to see the dentist I received a phone call from my neighbour informing me that I should return home because the house alarm had been sounding. I wondered why E hadn’t contacted me but as we haven’t been on speaking terms she asked a neighbour! All that however is a different story which I will not go into at this time. I explained that it was impossible for me to return immediately and left it at that. The alarm would automatically cease sounding after twenty minutes anyway and when I did arrive back home some forty minutes later it had indeed cut off.
A house alarm (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It transpired that the main panel battery was faulty but I called the alarm company and asked if they could attend and replace it and also do a complete service at the same time. We hadn’t an existing maintenance agreement so I arranged that with the engineer when he called. For an annual fee (presently £108) they will check out the system each year and carry out any necessary repairs. I had asked their office not to send an engineer before three o’clock as I was eating out. They came at one-fifteen! Fortunately I had been to the pub before then but my visit there was cut short. It was just as well as it turned out. It is unusual for people to arrive earlier than the appointed time I have to say but I suppose they had time on their hands. My dental appointment by the way was for a routine check-up and clean but I have been referred to a local clinic in regard to a gum infection at the dentist’s request. He just wanted a second opinion. By mid-afternoon all had calmed down, dentist, pub, alarm sorted but I had to water the gardens once again. It is easy enough for me to go and stand in the shower if I get too uncomfortable but the poor plants must be wondering when it will be that it rains again! I wish it would too.
A couple of days ago I unscrewed the top hinge on the lounge door in order to set it back in the door frame. This was because the door was too low at the leading edge and was brushing the carpet as the door was opened or closed. Setting the top hinge back even a tiny amount was enough to raise the door but unfortunately the door still brushed over the carpet. The hinge couldn’t be set back any further however so on Wednesday morning I decided the door had to be removed so that I could plane off some of the wood on the bottom. It took me less than twenty minutes and the door was back on its hinges and no longer brushing the carpet. The old carpet didn’t have the same depth of pile that the new one has so the door wasn’t a problem. Anyway that was the first job for the day. Mid-morning I took a trip to the electrical supply store to purchase a new in-line switch and some flexible lighting cable with which to lengthen the cable supplied with one of the new table lamps I had purchased. The cable supplied on the lamp wasn’t long enough to allow the lamp to sit on the new pillar stand.I had made. Unfortunately the switch that came with the lamp couldn’t be removed except by cutting it free which was why a new switch was required, one that clamped together with screws.
The power outlet is behind the television just over a metre away from the stand. The stand is just that, simply a stand with no access to the inside. It could equally have a vase full of flowers sitting on it instead. By now it was approaching lunchtime and I decided to eat at the pub rather than at home. I had hardly left the house at all over the previous couple of weeks being as I was busy working there. I had walked to the pub and on my return I met my next-door neighbour who was about to keep an appointment with her doctor. She tells me often that she is fed-up with her situation in that she has to go everywhere with an oxygen bottle because of her condition. She has emphysema. I always try to cheer her up and I get her to laugh but I can see she knows her situation is not going to improve. The rest of my day was spent at home and out on the patio. We have been enjoying a lot of wall-to-wall sunshine this past month and it is good to be out in it.
Today, Tuesday (22 nd) as I write this post, I have been busy at home all day long. I actually received a call an hour ago asking if I would do a small electrical job! Now there’s a thing but I am waiting for his return call at this minute to let me know for sure. So this morning my first job was to cut and fit four lengths of semi-circular molding to cover the joints on the pillar/stand I have made and then paint them with primer. An hour later I gave the whole unit another coat of gloss paint and left it to dry, which will take it at least 24 hours. Gloss paint takes time to dry and even then it will be a few more days before it becomes rock-hard. It will probably be the weekend before I attempt to use it. Following that work I removed the top hinge on the door to the small lounge in order to set it further into the frame by chiselling out a little wood beneath it. This has the effect of lifting the leading bottom edge slightly so that it clears the floor covering, the carpet. The new carpet pile was restricting the door moving over it. That work took me almost to lunch time and after lunch I decided to water the gardens because of the dry weather. As I went into the rear garden however I saw that the lawn was looking a little unkempt due to the daisies and other plants growing in it. I think it needs treating to eradicate weeds but at the moment it isn’t too bad. Anyway I had to mow it. Rain threatened, that is I could just about feel tiny drops of rain falling on my bare skin now and then but it didn’t materialise and I got on with the mowing. Once that was done I could water the garden. When I say water the garden I usually mean the border plants and those in planters or on the patio. I only water the grass rarely at this time of year though in the warmer months I try to give it a watering regularly. That took some time as once again I had to stop to dig out Montbretia shoots. I moved into the front garden and to give the plants there a good soaking too but first I spent some time removing a few weeds from the flowerbeds. I got stung by the rose-bush as I reached between the stems to get at a weed. I wasn’t wearing gloves and I had forgotten the fact that rose bushed have thorns, large thorns! The flowers are beautiful though in this picture only one has at yet fully opened..
I wish it were possible for you to smell the scent, it is a heavy and powerful aroma which can be sensed far away from the plant. Other plants in the front garden are in blossom too, like the small rhododendron in the Mound. The Mound has been left to grow a little wild though some wild flowers such as dandelions and thorny weeds I remove.
The flowerbeds I worked on last year have been growing back well but a few plants, supposedly perennials, haven’t grown back for some reason. See bare patches at the front.
Morning Sunshine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Amazing start to the month of May has seen us, that is where I live (Southport UK), enjoying almost entirely wall-to-wall sunshine. As I write this on Monday 8th we have had yet another sunny day with the rest of the week possibly remaining that way. Should I have spoken too soon? Time will tell but I am enjoying it while it lasts. It isn’t that I mind dull and wet days but sunshine is good. However that has meant I have had to water the gardens manually with the hose pipes but I’m not complaining. Things were to happen this week, a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday morning for a quick check-up and to arrange for a repeat prescription of hormones, the curtains to be fitted on Wednesday, the carpet to be laid on Friday and the furniture to be delivered on Saturday. That meant I had to do my shopping on Monday. I had ordered a floor (standing) lamp which I had been informed might arrive on Thursday. I wanted to purchase some casual flat-heeled shoes for general use in summer and I couldn’t be sure I would get the time to buy them at the time in the day I preferred to go shopping, the morning. Before setting off to the shops I did a spot of painting with primer on the cabinet drawers where I couldn’t paint them the previous time. I took the mile or so walk into town and shopped around for the shoes eventually buying all three pairs in the same shop. Yes I bought three pairs and all for £26. One shop wanted £40 for one pair of similar quality! Having purchased the shoes I went to Nero’s for a coffee before walking back home. It was warm in the sunshine at 9 o’clock in the morning but quite cool in the shade of the trees along the route I had taken. Thankfully it was mostly in the sunshine I walked. Returning home I over-painted the drawers together with the other side of the shelf with gloss paint and that was all that was left to do as far as the painting went. The rest of the day was spent on the patio and later watering the two gardens. I had no electrical work for a few days and had cancelled my advertisement for the week so I could have the time to myself and finish off the lounge project.