Flags are designed for flying them or so you would believe but there are times when it is impossible. I frequently fly the flag at home and in fact I only take it down if the wind is too strong. That means unlocking the cover which hides the rope so that I can do it. When the flag has been lowered it is an easy thing to unhook it from the guide rope. The rope is tied into a loop through which the toggle that is attached to the flag passes through. The toggle on the flag is itself fixed to a rope which is stitched into the flag to emerge at the bottom of the flag. The loose end of that rope is then attached to a weight to hold the flag taut when hoisted up the pole. All might sound too involved but in practice it is very simple. So the routine is to lower the flag and detach it from both the rope at the top and the weight at the bottom. What I do then is attach the weight to the rope and hoist it out of reach up the pole and then push the excess rope at the bottom back inside the pole before replacing the cover. Today was a day for doing just that. It is Sunday 10 th March which happens to be my youngest son’s birthday, he is now 34. The wind is high and the forecast tells me it will stay windy for a few days but not just windy , very windy, windy enough to have to lower the flag, which is what I have just done. As per usual whenever I do this I find there is some maintenance to carry out but is is most often the rope which needs attention. This time it was showing signs of wear near to where it is attached to the top of the flag. I suspect it has something to do with the finial, which is where the rope emerges at the top of the pole. There is a wheel up there in which the rope sits and perhaps it rubs on it thus wearing it out. It shouldn’t really happen but I cannot gain access easily being as it is at the top of the pole. It requires lowering to the ground which isn’t practical or erecting scaffolding to reach it. I did that last year when installing a new rope as the old one had sheared off and couldn’t be lowered.
I am thinking I need a sturdier rope and I will check that out later. The existing rope is still serviceable in the meantime but needs keeping a watchful eye on. A new rope can be pulled through using the old rope if it is attached properly. All this just to fly the flag. Well aren’t flags meant for flying?
Well not exactly so the guys reading this can stop getting excited. It was such a nice day on Thursday I made the attempt to work on the flag pole in the front garden. As you may know from previous posts the rope had severed leaving the flag on the ground and the rope itself inside the pole. This meant lifting off the top section of the pole in order to carry out repairs, that is cleaning the finial and inserting the replacement rope which can only be done when the pole is either on the ground or the scaffolding used to work on the pole was as high as the pole itself.
As you can see in the above picture I erected the scaffolding but only two of the three sections we have. This was for two reasons. First of all it would be less safe to erect the scaffolding higher because the ground beneath is uneven and difficult to work upon. Secondly it was just as easy to lift off the top section of the pole once the second section of scaffolding had been erected. In fact it was much easier than I remembered when I last erected the scaffolding around the pole. Maybe that was due to my taking a different approach the second time. Anyway I lowered the top section and took it into the rear garden to make use of the soft grass to work on it.
The finial I discovered hadn’t in fact seized as I first thought but it did need loosening. All I could do was wash it with warm soapy water because the moving parts are made of nylon. I washed the pole itself too before threading the rope inside ready for re-assembly. Replacing the top section was as simple as can be. The only possible snag would have been pulling out the rope from inside the pole into the small access key-locked covered panel located at chest level on the outside of the pole for raising and lowering the flag. I used a stiff piece of wire bent at the end to form a small hook with which to pull out the rope. It was then a simple matter of attaching the flag and the new weight. The flag and small weight are shown in the picture I took the day before.
The work took four hours but most of that time was taken up in assembling and dismantling the scaffold tower because of the uneven ground!
I didn’t intend taking a walk on Sunday morning (26 th) because I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep or that’s how I felt. I must have had plenty of sleep though for I couldn’t account for the hours I was in bed! Sometimes it goes like that I know for there has been many a time when I have woken up feeling tired even though I’d had the sleep. After breakfast I felt much better and more awake and I considered taking the walk but left it for a while to allow my breakfast to digest a little. It gave me some time to check emails and other things. Finally I opened one of the windows to get a feel of the conditions outside; it was cold but it was dry and there was hardly any wind to speak of. It meant I had to wear something extra to keep me warm so I put on a scarf and took along a pair of gloves just in case. I had a long-sleeved warm top on beneath my jacket and decided boots were the order of the day once again. I wear heavy woolen socks when wearing the boots but still insist on wearing a skirt rather than covering my legs with trousers or jeans which I never wear anyway, don’t even posses them. It isn’t my legs which feel the cold when it is cold, it is my hands mainly and of course my body but that I make sure is kept warm. It sounds from all of this that it was biting cold on the day but it was actually 14 deg C at the time. Had it been really cold of course I would have been wearing heavier clothing beneath the jacket. It is after all still summer and not likely to freeze all of a sudden! I took a slightly different route than I normally take but still ended up on the seafront. That night there had been a full Moon and it shone faintly and rather eerily through the heavy cloud covering the sky over the sea. A couple of miles off shore stands an oil/gas rig and the faint glow of the Moon was above it looking like some alien craft hovering menacingly with evil intent. My imagination runs riot sometimes. It was whilst I was on the seafront that I put on the gloves as my hands were beginning to feel cold in the breeze such as it was. When I got home it was still dark but just about sunrise time. I hadn’t noticed the flag lying on the ground instead of hanging on the pole. It was after I had watched some catch-up tv and had a coffee I happened to glance out through the window and saw that something was missing.
I put on my coat and went to the flagpole. The rope had severed and the flag had dropped. I opened the covered cleat where the rope is secured using the key and pulled out the rope from inside the pole. Ours is the type in which the rope runs up inside the pole and out at the top down to the flag and the weight to weigh it down. The flag itself was looking a little tired and worn so I ordered a new one and a replacement weight, one which would look better than the original supplied which is a plastic-covered heavy chain.
It meant of course that I would need to erect the tower around the pole in order to lift off the top half in order to thread the rope down inside. I have done this once before and it isn’t that easy because of the weight of the pole; even though it is aluminium. It would be a week before I could to that and then only if the weather permitted. Happy days.
I had electrical work to do on Thursday so I made sure I was up early from bed. My first job was not until ten o’clock and I had plenty of time to hand after breakfast before I needed to make my way there. In the meantime I decided to return the flag to its pole now that the storm-force winds had died down. The problem with the flag is getting it to hang from the guide rope without there being any weight attached to the flag by the weight which is supplied for the guide rope to keep it taut. The flag has a toggle at the top which is supposed to pass through an eyelet in the guide rope but the bottom of the flag only has a length of rope attached to it with no instructions as to how to tie it off. The proper set-up I think should be a guide rope that has two eyelets attached to it into which toggles attached to the flag can pass through them. The guide rope can then be attached to the weight whilst the flag is only attached to the guide rope and not the weight. The guide rope therefore has to be knotted in two places to form the two eyelets and the end of the rope will be fixed to the weight. This would make the flag easy to attach and remove when needed. Every time I have raised the flag I have tried to think of the best way to do it so that the flag isn’t put under any strain. So on Thursday I decided to make the necessary adjustments to form two eyelets in the guide rope at the correct distance apart then attach the weight. If the flag had been supplied with two toggles it would be very simple to attach but as I said only one is fitted. That meant I had to make the bottom connection just using the rope that is attached to the bottom of the flag. It all sounds complicated but it isn’t, it is just a pain in the proverbial having to think of ways to do it properly given that the system is poorly designed. At least now it will be easier to attach and remove the flag when we need to. I thought it was only certain items of electrical equipment which were poorly designed. It was time to go to work, installing an extra floodlight at the side of the customer’s house. Although the area was under cover it was open at one end and where it met the adjacent garage roof along its length. That meant it wasn’t as warm as I had been led to believe, in fact it was bitterly cold. Just my luck. After almost two hours I was driving to the second job a few miles away to an elderly lady who wasn’t enjoying the best of health and who had put up with not having any lights working in her apartment since Boxing Day. Nobody it seems could find the distribution panel in order to check the circuit breakers. I had trouble myself in locating it. It was situated in an extension building remote from the apartment! I saw what the problem was immediately, one of the breakers had tripped or had possibly been turned off accidentally by person or persons unknown as they say. Even her care workers couldn’t find the panel but I found it odd that the problem had been left for almost three weeks before someone called me to go and have a look. As fortune would have it a new neighbour called and I explained everything to her so that she could be of assistance if the problem returns. Now I was off again to the third job which was in the direction of home but this time only to survey it, not to do it. The guy wanted two existing outside lights replacing but would only be available at home the following week. It suited me and I drove off to the electrical supplier to purchase what would be required when I return. Embed from Getty Images
However I made a detour first of all to the service station where I have my van checked and booked a day at the end of February for a service and an MOT test. Yes, it is that time of year again for my annual MOT on the van, insurance renewal, excise duty (used to be called road fund licence) and breakdown recovery fees with The AA (Automobile Association). Spend, spend, spend…….now you know why I still work…..LOL
Later and after a snack at home I went on-line and purchased another pair of high-heeled court shoes (sneakers I think my friends in the US call them). Well I have to treat myself once in a while!
On Friday afternoon on my return from the pub having had a meal there I found the house empty. E had gone out somewhere and had forgotten to set the house alarm. She may have thought I was still at home instead of checking that I wasn’t. I suppose part of that problem is mine because I slipped out without letting her know. Anyhow it was a lovely sunny day and I wanted to make the most of it by being outdoors doing something. It wasn’t too warm however, a mere 9 deg. C but because there was little or no wind it felt much warmer than that. Saturday’s forecast didn’t look promising at all, we were told to expect high winds and gales coupled with lots of rain. In fact that was the forecast for many days ahead. I mowed the lawn on Friday morning for that reason and was glad I did for we did get lots of wind and rain overnight and into Saturday morning. However although the wind was high it wasn’t as bad as had been forecast, here at least. With that in mind I decided to lower the flag on Friday afternoon until the worst of the weather had passed. In winds exceeding 35 mph it is recommended the flag isn’t flown. I guess we had winds of around 25 mph but I didn’t wish to take that chance. I wanted to carry out some maintenance on the loop of rope which holds the bottom of the flag when it is flying. The top of the flag is held by the main rope itself which is inside the flag pole and emanates at the top. The loop of rope needs to be weighty so that the lower end of the flag is held down and also to allow the rope to fall downwards when both the flag is fitted and when it is not. When the flag isn’t fitted I attach the free end of the rope to the loop so that there is enough weight to allow the rope to fall. If I didn’t do that there is the possibility that the rope would remain at the top of the pole and out of reach. The loop I had made a few months ago needed to be heavier and I had it in mind to alter it the next time the flag was lowered. That is what I did on Friday. No special loop of rope is supplied by the manufacturer of the pole or flag but the flag is supplied with a short length of rope attached on its lower corner. This is supposed to form the loop to circle the pole at the bottom of the flag whilst the top is held by the main rope. If this method is used however there is little weight to hold the bottom of the flag down and in high winds this prevents the flag from opening fully sometimes. It also means there is no way to hoist the rope up the pole to keep it out of reach when no flag is attached. A separate heavier loop of rope is a better idea so that the main rope can be fixed to it and hoisted up out of reach knowing there will be enough weight to allow it to drop when required. The other end of the rope is of course locked inside the pole and is only accessible by removing a locked cover plate. As the very high winds didn’t materialise I re-attached the flag on Saturday afternoon. It was windy and although the temperature was 12 deg. C it felt much cooler than the day before because of that wind.
I hadn’t worked particularly hard on Friday but I had been quite busy during the week with my electrical work. Nevertheless I was very tired on Friday and though I had been up at around five o’clock in the morning it was after midnight before I went to bed. Needless to say I had a very good night’s sleep. I usually find that tiredness catches up with me a day or so after working hard and not necessarily the day after. The same seems to apply to aching limbs. With nothing planned to do on Saturday it was going to be another day for rest and relaxation. In any case I didn’t think I would be able to do much on Saturday because my hands were swollen by early evening on Friday, especially my left hand. If you remember I was diagnosed with osteoarthritis a few weeks ago and my hands swell up sometimes and are painful. After applying my prescribed gel the swelling is reduced after a few hours, indeed if I am using my hands I don’t seem to suffer much with swelling or pain. As it happened my hands were perfectly all right on Saturday, as well as they could be anyway. It was just as well for with the morning’s post I received the new Union flag and I wished to fly it. The day was blessed with a little wind so if I were to hoist the flag it wouldn’t be in vain. I had been flying the flag of St George during the latter half of the week after the more extreme winds had ceased. Previously we had been flying a Union flag that unfortunately wasn’t up to the task and had begun to shred. The new flag is much more robust. So I lowered the flag of St George and hoisted the new Union flag in its place however I had to lower it again to make adjustments to the loop that holds the lower corner around the flagpole (see previous recent posts) for it had tightened around the pole. That in itself was a problem for it took quite some time to lower the flag as a result. Finally I got things sorted out with a little help from E. That was it, nothing else but rest and relaxation. I have been able to play my guitar despite the problems with my hands though I have to exercise my fingers by playing simple chords for a few minutes beforehand.
In some ways my condition has helped my playing for I am encouraged to play alternative chord shapes more often, especially barre chords. I never tire of playing my guitar though after so long at the instrument I am forced to stop anyway or wear my fingers to the bone!
And today, forty-three years ago, though at that time the date fell on a Saturday, I met E for the first time. That’s got to be a great excuse for dining out and hopefully we will be doing just that this afternoon for the first time since early December.
I got up late on Tuesday morning, something of a rarity for me. I had no work scheduled though there is always something to do at home. My problem with home projects is that I am happy doing the major aspects of the work but tire easily at the thought of doing the ‘fiddly bits’. I wasn’t much in the mood to do any work at all if the truth be known and once lunch was over I felt even less inclined. I missed breakfast of course as I didn’t get downstairs until eleven-thirty! I asked E if she would like a coffee as I was about to make one for myself. I took mine outside with me into the front garden for I had decided to re-attach the flag and hoist it. If you remember I had taken it down because of the high winds we have been experiencing lately. When I purchased the pole and flags last year I couldn’t figure out how to set it up. At the lower part of the pole is a locked plastic lid which fits over a base in which are two holes. The rope is supposed to pass through one of them and onward to the top of the pole emerging over a roller and down to the flag. The lower end of the flag however has to be connected to a rope too and on poles where the ropes are exposed there will be two ropes or rather the same one going upward and returning down the pole. The system I have isn’t the same, the idea is that the rope goes to the top as I described above and the bottom part of the flag is fitted to a loop of rope which encircles the pole. That loop of rope though must have some weight to it in order to keep the flag hanging taut and also to enable it to be lowered because of the weight. The flag itself is not really heavy enough to allow it to drop down from the top when it needs to be lowered or removed. The rope inside the pole is heavy enough to counterbalance the flag unless some form of a weight can be placed at the lower part of the flag were it is attached to the loop around the pole. One of my flags has a length of rope attached at one corner and has a brass ring fitted in the corner above it whilst the second flag is fitted with two rings. Evidently the flags are designed to be attached to the ropes in a different way. Initially I made a small alteration to the arrangement which allowed the rope to enter the pole inside and emerge at the top and drop down to the bottom in a continuous loop but it caused problems when the wind changed direction as the flag became wrapped around the pole sometimes. On Tuesday I decided to arrange the rope as I think it was meant to be, totally inside the pole with the flag attached only at one point and the lower end of the flag attached to a separate loop of rope around the pole with an extra weight attached to enable it to be lowered easily. Without the weight it would be difficult to lower. There were no instructions with the pole when it arrived so I have had to work it out for myself. The extra weight I have used is an old handle that used to be on a curtain (drapes) rope. It was pulled in order to close the curtain. On it was a short length of waxed rope, ideal for use outside and the weight, whatever it is made of is covered in white plastic. So now the flag is flying again though when I purchase a replacement for the other flag (see post a few weeks ago) I may have to alter the arrangement I have at the lower end of the flag to enable the flags to be switched from one to the other with ease. That was basically my day! I did little else for a change.
If you click twice on the picture you will see the arrangement I had used previously with the rope but now that rope is not seen on the outside until the flag is lowered.