Pos and neg…..

……..or positive and negative. Tuesday was back to work day but I had no work to return to. It was the week to have my prescription re-ordered, two weeks before I would run out of medications. In the past I had to submit the prescription request slip at the doctor’s surgery and then collect it when it was authorised. Then it became possible for the chemist (druggist) to collect it on my behalf and all I then had to do was wait a few days before collecting the medication. A few weeks ago I registered to apply for my repeat prescriptions over the Internet using the Patient Access website. However, the medication I need has to be listed on the Internet request list pertaining to myself. When I first attempted to re-order my medications I was unable to because the surgery hadn’t placed the item’s description on the list. I had to make arrangements over the phone. I was informed that the next time I would have no problems ordering over the Internet. Well guess what? They still hadn’t put it on the list but this time I paid the surgery a visit and hopefully this time they will get it sorted. That was the negative side of the day. Soon after my return home I received a call from the electrical store where E and I had purchased two televisions for the bedrooms last week. The televisions were ready for collection. They had to be ordered from their main warehouse. So E and I drove to the store and collected them. Now you would think that these days an aerial lead would be included in the package but no, I had to buy two leads costing me another £18. We soon had them in place and working..Bedroom tv 1

Bedroom tv 2By now it was nearly time for lunch and just afterward I received a call requesting my electrical services for this coming Monday morning and yet another call informing me that the artificial turf would be getting delivered tomorrow, that was Wednesday last as you read this. Now the weather was forecast to be dry and sunny so we may get the opportunity for it to be laid. I didn’t lounge about in the afternoon, there was work to be done. I cleared out a blocked grid, watered the garden, removed some furniture from the large greenhouse putting two chairs in the house cellar and one of the two benches out in the garden in front of the patio, removed two of the four bicycles into a room in the cellar (we have five more bicycles in another room!), rolled up the old carpet we had removed from the small bedroom a couple of weeks ago ready for collection by the council on Thursday and created more space in the garage for the temporary storage of (the expected delivery of) the artificial turf on Wednesday, filled one of the green garden waste bins with a large amount of leaves I had swept up from around the greenhouse (they were holly leaves which seem to drop off at odd times in the year) and lots of other mundane but necessary tasks in and around the garden. Those were the positive things in the day. Meanwhile E had other duties involving driving her mom to a doctor’s appointment and shopping.

Shirley Anne

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Unsettled

The weather hereabouts has been very unsettled lately and as I write this on Tuesday morning the forecast is to be the same at least until Thursday. I have to keep an eye on the wind strength especially as it determines whether or not I allow the flag to fly on the pole out front. If it gets too windy I have to lower the flag until things become more settled. Fortunately there are only a few times during the year when it becomes necessary to lower the flag because of high winds. This morning (Tuesday) I took a walk into what you might call the centre of the village in which I live. Now though the Village of Birkdale is just another suburb of the town of Southport. The shopping centre is shown at the end of this short video… 

I had to make a deposit of some cash at one of my banks which happens to have an outlet in the village and at the same time I called into the chemist (drug store) in order to arrange for my prescription to be repeated. I normally do this over the phone but if I am in the village when the prescription needs repeating I do it in person. The prescription is for my hormone tablets and I get a twelve week supply each time. The prescription service has been much improved over the last twelve months. The chemist does everything on your request where once an appointment at the doctor’s surgery was necessary beforehand. Even so it was necessary to drop off the form at the surgery to be processed and then forwarded to the chemist from where it would be collected a few days later. Now it is all done electronically over The Internet by the chemist. If my doctor wishes to see me for a routine check-up I receive a note via the post. No doubt that will also get done over The Internet if and when they decide it is more efficient. In fact, I saw a leaflet in the chemist shop advertising the ‘new app.’ available for your mobile phone so that you can get the repeat done whilst you are anywhere. One day we’ll all be dependent on our mobile phones for anything and everything I suppose but not if I can help it. I never want to be controlled by and reliant on The Internet for my needs. I didn’t hang around once my business was done but simply returned home. By now it had begun to rain as promised but I was prepared, I had my umbrella with me. I wondered if I would need to lower the flag later in the day as the wind was beginning to pick up. I was hoping I might get some electrical work too.

Shirley Anne

 

Just the same

English: Female cosmetics use.
Female cosmetics use. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Many of my Mondays have been more or less identical lately, no work scheduled. Again, it usually happens that I get calls during the week. One old guy did ask me on Sunday if I could do some work on Monday but called back five minutes later to change the appointment to Tuesday instead. Another guy called late on Sunday asking if I could fix a three-phase switch for him in his restaurant but when I told him that I no longer take on commercial or industrial work but simply do small domestic jobs only he was reluctant to accept the fact. He began explaining that the job was simple but I interrupted him by saying that although that might be the case I would still not be doing it. A couple of days earlier I had received a very similar request to repair a three-phase switch, it had to be the same job and at that time I had also explained that I didn’t want the work. Some people just don’t give up do they? Both guys who had called were either Indian or Pakistani but because I have had so many problems dealing with people who are either one or the other I would have been very reluctant to do the job anyway. I have no problems with their ethnicity but the fact is they always want to barter with you to bring the price down, even after an agreement has been made! I have been stung twice that way before. I have to be selective in what work I will do or I would be inundated with all types of problems I can now do without at my age. I had arisen quite early as I normally do during the week in case I do get offers of work but as none had materialised  I took a walk into town by the back streets as I wanted to purchase a few cosmetics and toiletries. I could have simply taken a shorter trip to the village but the day was lovely and sunny though a little cool in the slight breeze and the added opportunity to exercise couldn’t be passed up. A couple of years ago I wanted to buy a new black cosmetics bag to carry in my handbag but after trying so many outlets I still couldn’t find one. When I purchased the few cosmetic items on this trip the woman at the check-out told me that I was entitled to a free cosmetics bag because I had purchased a certain brand. I had no idea. She walked to another display unit and brought back the bag, a black one! It had been just what I had wanted a couple of years ago. A nice bonus considering I had only spent £6 in this particular store. Soon I was back home and wondering what, if anything, the rest of the day would bring.

 

Shirley Anne

 

Things

The Ask and the Answer
The Ask and the Answer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I posed a question on yesterday’s post which asked what was wrong in the picture. Maybe a few of my readers discovered what it was and well spotted by them  but for those who didn’t the answer is that the flag theoretically should not have been flying. One is supposed to lower a flag at dusk and raise it again at dawn but most people don’t bother. If it were a flag maintained by the armed forces then it most certainly would have been lowered as it would be somebody’s duty for that day to do it. How many got it right I wonder?
So I am again sitting at home and I am wondering why we didn’t get the severe stormy and wet day that was forecast for this area. The weather forecasters at the BBC are often very dramatic with their presentations and often speak on generalities. I know they cannot get it right every time but most of the time the forecasts are fairly accurate and I suppose that where I live right on the coast it can be difficult to be so precise.

George Cowling (above) presented the first in-...
George Cowling (above) presented the first in-vision forecast on 11 January 1954. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The thing is that although the weather can be forecast to be bad for the region it is often a little different along the coast, for instance when snow has been forecast we often don’t get it and if we do it isn’t as bad as elsewhere. With the roofing problem we have at home, dampness on a wall and ceiling at the top of the house we were hoping for some rain to help pinpoint the leaks if any. Now it looks like we’ll have to wait some more.
Sunday is time out for me unless I have a mad moment and do something in the garden but it doesn’t stop the telephones from ringing. Even whilst I was writing this I received two inquiries one of which led to a job I will do in the morning. If I wish to get requests I have to be near to the phones or one of them at all times. Of course I don’t mind that for it is an essential part of being self-employed but it can be a pain when the calls come in at unusual times, often inconvenient or anti-social times. For some people it seems I have to be available whenever they call, even at six o’clock in the morning! Oh yes I have had such calls and they were not even emergencies! It is nice having days off therefore and sometimes I allow myself that pleasure during the working week, I have to else drive myself into the ground.
Just now the rain has all but stopped and it is beginning to get a little brighter. I wonder how long it will last?

 

Shirley Anne

 

 

 

A portfolio

Portfolio: An Intercontinental Quarterly
Portfolio

When I look back upon my life I really am surprised at the things I have been involved with and the skills I have acquired. I was out with E one day some years ago and she went into a post office to conduct some business. I was left standing alone to browse some of the things that were on sale there and came across some name key-fobs, the ones that have a description and meaning of the name printed on them. Curiosity got the better of me and I selected the two with my names on them just to see what they said. This is what I found

‘Shirley’……..From the Old English meaning ‘From the bright meadow. Usually easy-going, she will dig her heels in when she feels she is right….she knows her own mind’.
‘Anne’…….From the Hebrew meaning ‘Graceful. She is industrious and practical and can turn her hand to anything. A Lady of many talents’.

Now I am not one to believe in such things but the descriptions of my names are actually very accurate and do describe very much my character and abilities even if I do say myself. I bought the fobs! Here are some of the things I have been involved with over the years

 

Apprenticed with a former electricity supply authority for just over four years
City and Guilds Certificates in electrical technology, special techniques, power and equipment and regulations
Basic training and experience with qualified contracting electricians
Experienced in domestic, commercial and industrial fields
Trained in underground mains distribution and overhead mains distribution systems up to 11Kvolts
Experienced and trained in the installation and testing of equipment in distribution sub-stations up to 11Kvolts
Experienced in working with large motors and machinery including overhead gantry cranes
Trained in the testing and installation of all types of metering equipment
Trained and experienced in the periodical testing and maintenance of the old air raid sirens and equipment
Trained in portable appliance testing
Trained in the repairs of most domestic appliances
Fault finding in all types of installation.
Familiar with and experienced in the installation of most electrical cable types
Contracting electrician for the electrical supply authority for 14 years wiring houses, factories and commercial premises of all types. Building site works.
Spent the next 21 years working as a maintenance engineer entering at Technician Grade 2 until I departed as a maintenance manager.
Worked on following, large air conditioning plants, refrigeration plant, chilled water and hot water supplies for plant-room equipment, humidity generators and associated controls, air conditioning electronic and computer controls, computer environments and special needs, general plant and building electrical and mechanical maintenance, specialist computer air conditioning units and isolated refrigeration equipment, large refrigeration equipment up to 350 tons, heating and ventilation equipment, elevators, vending machines, catering equipment, fire and smoke alarm equipment, emergency lighting supplies, uninterrupted power supplies and associated batteries, power factor correction systems, building and faulting, testing and installing electronic circuits and control boards and a host of other miscellaneous things.
I left that work to become self-employed returning solely to domestic installations some 17 years ago and for the first 8 years also took upon the maintenance contract for a number of retail outlets of a large confectionery and pastry manufacturer. Along the way in my working life I have become proficient in other fields, bricklaying and general building work, laying concrete, joinery, plastering and plumbing to name a few. I work more or less part-time these days.
I write poetry and songs and taught myself to play the guitar some 24 years ago.

So it appears my names suit me!

Shirley Anne x

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Two whole days doing nothing much

weather
Weather

I usually take at least one day off at the weekend from my weekly labours but this past weekend I was forced to take two. The weather made a turn for the worst and it rained almost solidly for the two days. What made it even more uninviting was the high wind, especially on Sunday. I have been eager to do some more work on my little project but as it is all outside work the weather decides when I can do that. Most of the concrete mixing and laying has been done but some still remains, the footings for constructing the steps to the vegetable plot. The area is raised a couple of feet (say a half-metre) above the pathway leading to and from the garage where I have been constructing some concrete steps and is about at the same level as the adjacent patio. Hence the need for a couple of steps to reach it safely. I shall be using precast concrete paving slabs for the steps rather than mixing and laying concrete to make them, it is easier and quicker but there will be some brickwork required. If the weather remains fine, as it is now, I hope much of the heavier work will be completed this week but I can’t let it interfere with taking E out to lunch! As the weather was rather lousy over the weekend I decided to fill out my tax return for the Inland Revenue, something I usually put off doing until later. I hate, well no, that is too harsh a word, I dislike collating all the paperwork and accounts and filling in the form but it has to be done. I breathe a sigh of relief when I have finished. You would think I had mounds of information to collate but in fact the whole process takes me less than an hour! Well I am only a part-timer these days so there is little really to do. I just find it a chore. On Sunday morning I missed breakfast and spent a half-hour on the treadmill, went into the garden to cool off. I returned indoors, cooked a Bolognese sauce before bathing and getting dressed. The sun finally showed up in the afternoon and the weather turned less unsettled. So far it has remained that way.

Shirley Anne

Sloping ponds and window scenes

An optical illusion. Square A is exactly the s...
An optical illusion. Square A is exactly the same shade of grey as square B. See demonstration. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On my way back home with E after the long weekend break we had taken in Brighton on the south coast and to meet with friends I sat in the train carriage admiring the scenery. Many of my travelling companions were surfing the Internet on their mobile phones and tablet computers or playing games on them. Some were trying to catch a few minutes of sleep but very few seemed to be looking out of the window at the passing scenery. I could have followed suit but I would rather watch the scenery. I left my tablet computer in my suitcase and only touched my phone when I wanted to check the time. Everywhere we went in Brighton we saw people on their phones and I estimated at least 60% were doing so. It seems to be an absolute necessity, an obsession for many to spend hour after hour locked into this electronic technological phenomena. I get the feeling that those using the technology often do not realise just how much time they actually spend ‘twiddling’ their thumbs on such devices. Whatever happened to simply admiring life all around us, the scenery, the people and places we find ourselves in either accidentally or purposely? I digress. I was looking out of the window and every so often would see a canal, a river or a pond. Nothing remarkable in that you might say but what made it a little more fascinating for me was the fact that many of these stretches of water seemed to be sloping just like the land in which they were seen. I saw fields on hillsides sloping down to the train tracks and the water on these fields appeared to be doing exactly the same! An optical illusion of course unless somebody has invented a way for water to slope like the ground. Time passed by rather quickly as I watched the ever-changing scene through the carriage window. There is always something to see, always something to catch the imagination, old buildings, green fields and hills, animals, motorways and highways, rivers, streams, canals, bridges and tunnels and monuments of all kinds. I never get bored watching the life all around me. There is a slippery slope to oblivion for those who let life slip by because of some electronic gadgetry. Theirs is a life of virtual reality but I prefer mine real!

Shirley Anne

A nice afternoon

A meal at the court of Emperor Ferdinand I,
A meal at the court of Emperor Ferdinand I 

On Tuesday morning I had a ridiculously small job and then nothing for the remainder of the day so I suggested to E that we might dine out somewhere for lunch. I had returned home before 10 o’clock and spend some time on my computer and the Internet and watched a couple of programs on television. It was around 1.45 when I heard a tap, tap on the lounge door and jumped a little for I had dosed off in the chair, one of those ‘cat-naps’ I love to experience. I looked toward the door to see E smiling at me. ‘Well I’m ready’, she piped up. ‘I’ve just washed my hair’, she said. She has the kind of hair that gets greasy rather easily but greasy hair is probably healthier hair as it proves that natural oils are being produced from the scalp protecting and nourishing the hair. Of course too much oil can be a problem and then the hair needs washing more often. E tends to have this problem. My hair on the other hand tends to be dry and would benefit having more natural oil. I tend therefore not to wash my hair as often unless it gets dirty. So I dashed upstairs to change my clothes and fix my make-up and was ready ten minutes later. E drove as she normally does and I didn’t ask where we were going as we headed off down the main road. She turned toward the coastal road so I though she was going to drive north as we normally do when visiting one or two of our favourite places but a couple of  hundred yards (metres) down the road she pulled into the car park of my local pub! There were quite a number of cars there and I thought it would consequently be full inside but we were surprised to see it almost empty. After a quick look at the menu I went to the bar opened a tab and ordered the meals and drinks. We received the best of service as usual and the meals followed soon after. E followed her meal with a dessert but I didn’t. We had a great time together and chatted with the staff as the opportunity arose. When we had finished eating  a couple of people came in and sat a short distance from us and I turn to look. ‘Hello, Shirley Anne’, the woman said and I replied in kind though I couldn’t remember how they knew me or I them, although I did recognise their faces.  It turns out that I had done some work for them back in November. Neither the man nor the woman knew E personally but the woman recognised her as having worked in her local Post Office some years ago. The man told E what a good electrician he had found in me not realising that E is already aware of my capabilities! I thought that was very nice of him to say such things. He went on to tell us that two weeks after I had worked in their house they were burgled! Immediately I asked if they had an alarm to which they said ‘We have now’! Talk about closing the barn door after the horse has bolted! Fortunately not much had been stolen. Soon afterwards E and I prepared to leave for home and they bid us farewell, the woman saying ‘I’ll telephone you’. Looks like they want more work doing……….Is there no rest for the wicked? LOL

Shirley Anne

A great feeling

Working life
Working life

I often wonder what each week will bring to my working life, even each day! I remember when my life was filled with commitments to others in the workplace, in my job as an electrician and how I was forced to spend my days because of my contractual obligations. Once I became self-employed those chains were taken away and I could please myself how my working life would be. At first though the chains weren’t completely removed as I took out a small contract with a local firm to look after the maintenance of their retail outlets and cafés but even so there was still some freedom to do other things. That contract ended when I had decided it wasn’t worth continuing with, it had become financially less profitable and was taking up too much of my time. At that point, in 2005, all of my time became my own and I was able to take on larger private electrical work. Since then of course I work fewer hours and can utterly please myself what I do. It is this fact that I am having difficulty in appreciating. When once I used to look forward to the weekends and days off work I don’t have to do that now. I can treat each day the same as the next, I can take days off whenever I please and it is a great feeling. However, filling those days can be a problem for someone like myself so used to working and liking it. Old habits die-hard, new routines are difficult for me to get used to and half the time I don’t wish for the status quo to change. Many people might find this a little strange but I like to be occupied working at something at least part of the time, for me that is as much a great feeling as waking up on a weekday knowing I can please myself whether I want to work or not! The weather recently has been fair with lots of sunshine, a prelude of days to come hopefully, days when I most probably won’t want to work so it will be great knowing I don’t have to.

Shirley Anne

Monday for Shirley Anne

Typical "Pub Grub" served at a publi...
Typical “Pub Grub” served at a public house in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I didn’t go to bed on Saturday evening. I had slept in until around 10.30 and just wasn’t tired but by Sunday evening I was quite ready for bed. However, having watched many of the Masters Snooker Championship preliminary elimination rounds I was keen to see the final itself but it didn’t finish until almost midnight. The person I thought would win, Mark Selby, did. This was the third time in six years he claimed the title this time beating Neil Robertson 10 frames to 6.
When I did get to bed it was an hour later before I actually fell asleep. Again I slept in but was in no rush to get up early anyway as I had no work scheduled. I had a bath during which time somebody had called wanting an electrical job doing but as I had left my phone in the bedroom I missed the call. Normally I would have taken the phone into the bathroom. Later I returned the call and discovered she had called someone else instead. I guess it must have been an emergency. It was now 11 o’clock and I got dressed in some ‘no intention’ clothes as I call them meaning not the clothes I would normally wear to work, dressing up clothes if you like. It had been snowing overnight and I had to go to the village to collect my medication from the pharmacy and then go to my local pub for lunch. As I was walking I wore boots and off I went. Although it is only a half-mile or so to the pharmacy it took some time getting there because of the slushy and slippery snow lying on the pavement, far more dangerous than fresh snow. I had submitted my request for my medication a week previously but I discovered they were only able to supply a third of them. Poor service I feel so I have to collect the rest another day. It was now 1 o’clock so I walked another half-mile to the pub. There were plenty of cars in the car park but when I got inside it wasn’t as full as I imagined it would be. I didn’t order food directly but bought a drink and opened a bar tab as I had no cash with me. It was almost two hours before I decided to eat, in the meantime just chatting with a few people. One thing I like about my pub is the fact that they are not mean with the meal portions and the quality is excellent and reasonably priced too! It was early evening before I got back home and found some messages on the house phone asking for my services. Mondays are sometimes like that.

Shirley Anne