Down in the mouth

‘Down in the mouth’ is an expression we use to describe someone who is (temporarily) feeling ‘out of sorts’ or not as ‘upbeat’ as they usually are. Late morning on Thursday saw me like that and I’ll explain in a moment. I had gone to bed early on Wednesday because basically I couldn’t keep my eyes open! I really was feeling tired. It meant once more that I would wake early too but that wasn’t a problem except that I woke a little too early at three o’clock. I had slept on top of the bed again in the high temperature and especially high humidity which was way over 90%. Sleeping under the covers would have been unbearable. So I woke up and made the attempt at returning to sleep but couldn’t. At five o’clock I gave up the idea and had a shower. I was downstairs for breakfast before six. As is my want I usually have the tv switched on while eating breakfast which was on that day porridge. Just as I had finished eating the tv went dead. At first I though I’d accidentally switched it off on the remote control but then I realised the fridge power indicator light wasn’t on. I checked the lights and they too were not working. Going down into the dark cellar rooms I discovered the unit which reads the gas and electric meters had no indicating lights working. This meant there was no power at the electric meter, the whole house was off, fridge/freezers, power outlets and lighting all not working. It was six twenty-five. There was nothing I could do  but go and do the weekly shopping run. However, even I didn’t want to go shopping at such an early hour though I had planned to go around eight o’clock. I sat and read the local newspaper for a while then looking out of the lounge window I saw our neighbour’s son about to leave for work. I opened the window and called to him asking if he had lost electrical power too. He had. It could only be a high voltage distribution problem for I learned later that large areas had been affected. Had it simply been local it might have been the lower voltage distribution system at fault. I decided I would go and fetch the shopping which I did but first of all I had to wind the garage door up manually to get the van out and wind it sown again manually too. I returned home at eight-thirty by which time E had come downstairs and eaten her breakfast. After I had packed the food away the power came back on as we stood and chatted. It was now nine o’clock. Now I had a dental appointment around eleven o’clock so after a short rest I drove there and was attended to almost immediately. I’d had a couple of fillings replaced. The injection I’d received didn’t wear off until almost two o’clock! I had no feelings on the right side of my mouth and when I looked in the mirror I could see my mouth was sagging on the right. I really was down in the mouth for a while. I was back home before eleven forty-five and drove E into town so she could attend to some business. We arrived back home for lunch after one o’clock by which time I was feeling really drained of energy. We spent a little time relaxing on the patio after eating lunch and wondered when we would get rain. The day was still warm and humid as we awaited the promised rain and thunderstorms late in the afternoon. Maybe it would finally rain on this the last day of the month……………

Shirley Anne


Back again

I was so glad it was Monday for I could resume working on my latest small project which was to install the circuitry for the two 5 amp power outlets I wished to install in the main hallway. Taking days off make me restless but I know I must have days of rest and Sundays are those days I take. I would have started working as soon as I had eaten breakfast but breakfast was delayed, I was going to spend time on the gym equipment first. So later after breakfast I continued with the project first of all installing the cables and fitting the two power outlets for the lights. By the time I had done that part of the work it was time for lunch so I stopped work for an hour then began installing the photocell and its cabling. The picture below was taken just as it got dark enough outside to switch on the circuit to the lights.

Following that part of the installation which incidentally took longer than I thought it would, I was finally able to connect the time switch and the work was completed by five o’clock.

Yes, the walls need painting but there are plans afoot regarding the whole room anyway. A very old sink unit requires replacing and the room needs a general face-lift. It is the room we call the laundry but it also houses three chest freezers too. The time switch is on the left in the picture. We had to wait till almost eight o’clock before the lights came on.

The picture above was taken from a position just inside the ground floor wet room. The door to the cellar is just in the picture on the extreme right. The black and white ‘box’ on the right is in fact the ‘Smart Meter‘ interface unit which monitors both the electric and gas consumption. The time switch is set to be on between the hours of 4 pm and 2 am but the lights will only switch on if the photocell senses it is dark outside.

Shirley Anne

Galloping on

It was the last day of March, the day before Easter Day and I had planned to do part or all of two electrical jobs at home before taking Sunday off from work. I therefore arose early for breakfast before driving off to the electrical supplier for the materials I would need. A couple of weeks ago I had replaced the old fluorescent light unit in E’s workshop at the top of the house but she needed another which she could switch on independently from the first. I had to purchase the new LED light for that work. I had the rest of the materials I would need in my stock. The second job was to start the work of installing two 5 amp power outlets for table lamps in the main hallway downstairs. I had those in stock too but I needed other things, a time switch, a photocell unit, pattresses, some extra cable and sundry items. Pattresses are the back boxes on which switches and power outlets can be mounted if it is a surface installation. The pattresses would otherwise be metal boxes recessed into the wall. These two jobs were surface installations especially the work in the cellar for the brick walls down there are not rendered with plaster. The main part of installing the circuitry and supplies for the two 5 amp power outlets would be carried out in the cellar rooms beneath the hallway. On my return home from the supplier E and I had a coffee and then we carried all the necessary materials, tools, ladder and vacuum cleaner to the top of the house and I began installing the new light and circuitry. Here is the finished work……  The second picture is the newer light and its switch is on the wall right of centre and to the left of a white card standing there. The supply was taken from the adjacent loft area shown here with the door open..

This is the area I wrote about in which there is a water storage tank and hot water cylinder. The new unpainted door leads into the workshop where the new lights are. It was one-fifteen and time for lunch when I finished the work. Soon after lunch I began the work in the cellar for the other job. 

In the picture above the grey illuminated switch supplies the rear floodlights outside all of which are LED’s so there is little power consumption. The switches below it are the switches for the individual circuits to those lights. To the left is a wide white plastic trunking to accommodate the wiring and to its left is a new pattress box and wooden board I fitted on the day. It will house the new time switch for controlling the 5 amp power outlets in the hallway. A photocell unit will be fitted outside to work in conjunction with the time switch and the cable for that can be seen hanging loosely on the right ready for running out to supply it. In the picture below the roll of cable hanging by the door frame was positioned at the other end in the new pattress ready for connecting and clipped to the yellow wall shown.

The roll will be run out to the first 5 amp power outlet position and from there continue to the second outlet…….but all that would be done on Monday as by then it was four-thirty and I’d had enough for one day

Shirley Anne


Construction over

It was now Saturday morning and after an early breakfast I went into the cellar to begin the final stage of constructing the pit, the cosmetic work that is! I had sealed and later given the lining of the pit and the floor a coat of paint but hadn’t done the brickwork that had been exposed when the floor was lowered. See yesterday’s post. I had thought about rendering the bricks with cement but when I got downstairs and looked at them I decided simply a coat of paint would do….

At the same time I gave the rest of the pit another coat of paint and might have to do the same for the bricks later. there was one small spot on the floor of the pit where the sealant hadn’t dried out completely and it refused the application of paint so I have left it until it does. It is in the corner by the wall and is just out of sight in the picture. When the paint had dried, which I would leave until Monday, I planned to move the power outlet to a position above that same corner. A switched fuse box will be installed where the power socket is now situated. If you are an electrician you will know why and if you are not it will allow more outlets to be installed later should they be needed. The fuse will limit power usage from all the outlets. Technical stuff over. So it looks like we will be able to finally get the Trainer into position in the pit within the next few days. That in itself may not be as easy at it sounds.

Shirley Anne

Sea shells

Trotting off to bed at nine in the evening meant I was rather tired and to be sure I fell asleep as soon as my head hit the pillow on Friday (26) night. Of course that meant I woke early on Saturday morning but it served a purpose. I could take an early morning walk and in doing so that in itself served a purpose too. E had mentioned a couple of days earlier that she would like some sea shells for use in her crafting hobby so I took along a couple of bags and on my way back home along the sea front I collected the said shells, a couple of hundred of them. They would keep her occupied for ages! At the same time I gathered some more pebbles and stones for use in the garden. I was back home at nine o’clock so had the rest of the morning before lunch free. I decided to do some more preparatory work for the garage project so I manufactured the bracket that would hold the reed switch and also secure the magnet on the door which would operate it.

The bracket will be screwed to the frame so that when the magnet reaches the fully open door position it will lie directly beneath the switch and operate it. There was one small snag just as there is always just one snag or another and that was to do with the positioning of the magnet. There was only one place it could be fitted and that was on top of the cover of the alarm box which is attached to the bottom of the door. It is the only place it can go if the circuit is to be installed. That wasn’t a problem, I removed the top of the box which in fact holds the electronic circuitry and there was a space beneath the circuit board which allowed me to drill two fixing holes for the magnet. The magnet is the white coloured strip on the grey box…..

The snag was that when the door was on its downward journey the newly fitted magnet interrupted the safety edge beam and stops the door then raises it automatically as it is supposed to. The safety edging strips needed to be moved further out by inserting some packing behind them. As a temporary measure I used nuts but I have to say I wasn’t pleased with the way they had been originally installed. I propose to remedy that by using some lengths of wood to secure the strips more firmly than they are at the moment. The safety edge is the black strip running vertically on the edge of the white framework. Behind it is a length of plastic strip which hasn’t been securely fixed. The opposite side of the door is the same. Simply poor workmanship on behalf of the installer. It will be corrected.

One job leads to another….

Saturday 27th January also marked the 45th anniversary of E and I meeting for the first time. Time for a celebration meal later in the week methinks.

Shirley Anne

More goings on

Up early, off for a walk, collected some more stones, returned home a couple of hours later and had a late breakfast. It was Thursday. It began well enough, bright and sunny but the clouds began to drift in and drop their load of rain. It got colder as forecast but it wasn’t too bad. E went to do the weekly shopping before noon, the second time in two weeks. She traditionally goes shopping in the afternoon but I fancy she has decided earlier is better. I think it is too as it leaves the rest of the day for her to do other things. I could go shopping with her but as she takes along her mom my presence wouldn’t be appreciated, I would spoil their routine. As it happens I don’t much like shopping for food so it suits me fine to stay away. I was able to concentrate on my little project. Having collected the necessary components I needed to build the interface unit for controlling the light in the garage I discovered I had a more suitable relay for the job. Initially I thought I had only one which operates on a 12 volt DC (direct current) supply which necessitates the use of a rectifier but I found I had one that operates on a 12 volt AC supply so I didn’t require the rectifier. This made the task far easier as I only required two components in the unit……

You can see the relay on the left inside the box and the transformer to the right. I rigged it up for testing by plugging it into a wall socket as it will be done when installed in the garage. I connected the reed switch (shown lying on the lid) in order to test the circuit. As the magnet was brought close to the reed switch the relay was activated. The integral switch in the relay will be used to switch on the light. The whole unit will only power up when the outside photo cell senses it is dark. The next phase is to install the wiring to the photo cell. Next I have to fix the reed switch in such a position to allow an existing magnet on the door to operate it when the door is opened and to install the wiring to the switch itself. Finally I have to purchase an LED floodlight then install the wiring to the control unit. As time permits I will get those things done.

Shirley Anne

Goings on

I wrote yesterday about our neighbour’s panic attack after she had discovered her dog had died. She doesn’t enjoy good health and is reliant upon her oxygen bottles else struggles to breathe some of the time. E and I were concerned that she was over-stressed but she finally calmed down whilst we were there. Today, Wednesday I called in to see her after I had earlier phoned to see if she was alright. Thankfully she had settled down and was her usual self. I had been exercising on the gym equipment soon after getting out of bed but at that time it was too early to call next door to check upon her. After my breakfast late in the morning I decided to sort out what pieces of electrical equipment I had in stock with which to build the circuit for the garage light project I have been mentioning in previous posts. Finally I was able to gather enough bits and bobs to make progress…..It always seems the way when searching for the right parts I have some of them but not all of them. I then find I have other suitable parts but not all of them are usable with the first lot. An example would be a reed switch which is only suitable in low-voltage situations., as here… That means a transformer is required and also a low-voltage relay. A low-voltage relay would use an alternating current and could be used directly with the transformer, if I had a suitable relay. I found I had a low-voltage relay which uses direct current and therefore added to the transformer I needed a rectifier too! Fortunately I did possess all the parts necessary after salvaging them from redundant electrical gear I had. I even found a suitable box in which to install them, see picture above. I left off working on the project as it was by now lunch time and after lunch I had some gardening work to do. First of all I had to sweep up more leaves again and it was then I began to notice montbretia and bluebells here and there in the flowerbeds. Once again I set about digging them out. This is an ongoing task. Most were removed early last year but I always knew there would be more appearing for a time.

Shirley Anne


On Monday evening I set my alarm to rise early on Tuesday morning and went to bed but not feeling as tired as I might. I use my mobile phones’ alarm feature having not had an alarm clock for many years. I didn’t invest in a new clock when the old one gave up the ghost because by then I had a mobile phone.

English: Alarm clock 日本語: 目覚まし時計
Alarm clock Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Anyway I found it very difficult to get to sleep even though I had been busy during the day but did manage a few though interrupted hours. As usual for me I awoke fifteen minutes before the alarm was due to go off so I cancelled the alarm and arose shortly afterward. I didn’t fall into the trap of going back to sleep because it was prayer time and I had to be up anyway. I would be taking the van in for its MOT Test at eight-thirty. Again, as is usual for me I arrived fifteen minutes beforehand. I had asked E if she would pick me up soon after eight-thirty but on my arrival I was informed that I could wait as they would have the test completed within the hour. I phoned E to let her know she could remain at home. It was just as well I phoned when I did because she was about to exit the front door. The van passed the examination and I was soon driving back home. Normally I would have gone for a walk but decided to take a break instead. I had other things to do anyway. In the afternoon I spent some time dismantling an alarm unit I had manufactured many years ago in order to salvage some of its internal components. I had been thinking of getting to grips with the garage door project to automatically switch on the light (see older posts). Having finally come up with a practical solution I needed to source the components. By late afternoon I took a break from that and watched some television, that is I watched a program on BBC iPlayer which I had previously missed. About three-quarters of the way through E came downstairs in a bit of a panic and asked if I could go next door with her. Something had happened regarding our neighbour and my first instinct was that she was in desperate need of help. She has been suffering with emphysema for a couple of years and has to use an oxygen bottle several times during the day. She is very poorly. We were there in minutes. Our neighbour was in a state of panic too and she could hardly breathe. As we have a key to her house door we were able to enter without her having to let us in. She was immensely distraught. We immediately set about calming her down and getting her to use the oxygen cylinder. After a few minutes we were able to find out what the problem was. She struggled to tell us that she had found her dog had died two hours earlier and she hadn’t noticed. Her son had already taken the animal to the local vet. Rigour mortise  had already set in. He arrived back home a half-hour later and we chatted a while before we returned home. Thankfully this time our neighbour was alright.

Shirley Anne

Finding out

It has been more than two and almost three months since we had the new garage door installed. A few weeks ago there had been a problem with the cushion in one of the guides, there to prevent metal to metal contact and wear when the door is opened and closed. We had informed the installer’s repair and maintenance department but it was more than three weeks before they contacted us to make an appointment! I in the meantime corrected the fault myself because at the time I wished to reinstall the circuitry which automatically switches on the main garage light whenever the door is opened when it is dark. Naturally that only happens when the door is opened and when closed the light switches off. On the old door the installation was simple to carry out, it just meant having a micro-switch which allowed the door to operate it as it reached its open position. The micro-switch was wired through a photo cell (still fixed above the new door, see in the picture) and then on to the light. The light can be manually switched from three positions too, that part remains as it did.  I was sitting at the table having just eaten lunch on Monday afternoon last week when I decided to investigate my options regarding this garage light circuit. I took my toolbox to the garage to work on the problem. Unfortunately it was and still is proving difficult to install the micro-switch on the new door because it is a roller door and there is no easy way for it to operate the switch. It can be done though, nothing is impossible but it could require much work to achieve. There had to be another more simple way I thought. I had thought about having a relay which would operate using the power supplied to the door for it to open and I set about testing that. It worked but unfortunately it also worked when the supply was connected for the door to close. This is because of the type of motor being used. The relay switch would replace the micro-switch had I gotten it to work. It is possible to have a relay operate an external circuit of course and had the manufacturer incorporated one in their control panel it would have made things so easy. I however cannot tinker about with the panel as it would invalidate the guarantee and warranty. So having discovered I couldn’t use a relay in order to reinstate the automatic circuit I am left to continue figuring out how to get the door to operate the micro-switch instead. I had to shelve the idea whilst I think about it.

Shirley Anne

Back to it for a time

Having recently purchased an Elliptical Cross Trainer there was a need to install a power outlet close to where I intended to locate it, (read yesterdays post). It was Monday morning and I had spent some time on the treadmill before eating breakfast during which time I planned how I was going to install the outlet. After returning upstairs to dress for the day my fist task was to check the cellar’s socket outlet circuit and decide where to break into it. There are regulations to observe of course so simply taking a supply from the nearest outlet is not always possible. There exists an outlet close-by but on the other side of the wall to the where the proposed new one was to be fitted. However because of the regulations I had to take the supply from elsewhere. The next-nearest place was another outlet four metres away. I took a supply from that one. The work itself took a mere forty minutes but I was down in the cellar for three hours! It was all about access and the removal of items no longer wanted causing the work to take so long. While I was carrying out the work I received a call from an old customer asking if I could repair her faulty lights but I had to tell her that I am now retired from my electrical work.  Not however at home! A few days ago  I talked about accumulated waste materials, items of furniture and other paraphernalia stored in the cellar rooms and no longer needed. The two rooms in which I was carrying out the work had plenty of such items. So the work was two-fold, carry out the new installation and remove and tidy up the areas. While I was downstairs I made use of the washing machine too for there were clothes needing to be washed. It is amazing how sidetracked one can be when carrying out a task. I expected that of course, especially working in the cellar. Slowly but surely waste was removed and gardening items like plant pots and other things taken to the greenhouses where they should have been in the first place. Our eldest son used to do a spot of DJ work and was also involved with the church’s audio and sound systems. Consequently he accumulated large speakers, lighting equipment, amplifiers and mixing desks with enough cabling to surround a village! All of this equipment is stored in the cellar and some of it in the boiler room where we now have the gym equipment. That had to be moved too. This is why I spent three hours down there. Finally I got the power outlet installed and ready for use just before lunch. Electrical work it seems is still part of my life for a while.

Shirley Anne