……even me! I have not done any electrical work for quite some time now which in itself isn’t a great problem, it’s just that I have to look for other things to do. I have mentioned that I am thinking about redecorating the stairwell and hallways and replacing the carpet up to and including the first floor. The decor can be the same throughout as long as it matches the carpets. I would really like to paint all the wood work white in colour and have a dark grey carpet and perhaps a very pale shade of grey on the walls. The problem is that there is a lot of wood to paint and carpets would have to be lifted until it was done. Of course I can concentrate on one floor at a time but even so it will be a long time in completing. With that in mind and the cost to do it I have decided to delay starting the work for a while. In the meantime I have been busy doing smaller but necessary jobs which financially have cost me nothing. I am also going to take the time to build a stand for a table lamp for the small lounge as I have been unable to find one ready-made or one and of the right size which I can paint myself. As I write this on Thursday evening I am proposing to start on that tomorrow morning as I have all the materials in the cellar and don’t have to buy anything. I did very little during the morning except to dig out some weeds and a few Montbretia shoots in the rear garden. The season is just right for the Montbretia to start growing and what few I had been unable to dig out along with the Bluebells last year and earlier this year are beginning to show themselves. Montbretia, at least those in my garden, have been quite easy to remove so they aren’t really a problem. I did spend a little time relaxing on the patio before lunch and afterwards I went out shopping for the two new table lamps.
Before I could use them I replaced the supplied 13 amp plugs with 5 amp ones so that they can be switched on at the door together with the floor-standing lamp. Each of these lamps incidentally has its own switch in case I don’t wish to use them. The first picture shows the lamp I have been trying to purchase a cabinet/table for but am now making myself. The second is in its intended place alongside the computer on which I am writing this. My other computer I keep upstairs in the guest bedroom. The one you see is the larger and runs Windows 7, my preferred platform whilst the other runs Windows 10 which I don’t much like and only use if I have to. I do run it frequently though to keep it updated, especially the security programs. If you’ve got really good eyesight you may be able to read the first half of this post on the screen in the second picture! I am now able to leave the computer on top of the cabinet and sit on the stool to use it now that I have made the stand for it. It is designed to spread the load and prevent the legs of the stool from digging into the carpet. I like making things that work!
The seat cover, though not purposely a matching colour just happened to be right. It is one of two stools we have had for many years.
Work on the redecorating of the small lounge took a slight detour on Wednesday because I went to install a replacement cooker hob for someone. The job was easy enough but I ended up chatting with the woman for longer than perhaps I should have. Still I was back home after an hour and a half ready to do something in the lounge. Now that the ceiling and frieze are completed I decided to make use of the tower whilst it was in the room in order to clean the chandelier. Although it hadn’t been cleaned for years it was not that bad. However it didn’t compare to its condition after I had cleaned it! It is a five-light unit with lead crystal glass decorations, quite an expensive light when we bought it from the previous owner of the house and no doubt probably more so if bought today. It is one of the reasons I am loathed to replace it, the other being that I like it, it goes with the house.
That took me an hour. The next task was to empty and remove the radiator to allow decoration behind it and to repaint it later before refitting it. Refitting it will be far easier than it was to drain and remove, especially as I have no assistance.
I wanted to do more work after lunch but decided against it. The following morning I was expecting the council team to take away the old furniture and they could possibly arrive as early as six-thirty which meant an early night for me. I was also expecting the representative who would be measuring up for the new curtains. After he would be finished I proposed to roll up the old carpet and underlay.
First thing Friday morning was slightly warmer than it had been on Thursday but I had a small job to do at nine o’clock about a mile from home. A regular customer had asked me a few days earlier if I could check out a faulty floodlight for her. Notwithstanding the fact that my intentions were not to resume work for a week or two I put that aside and went to see what the problem was. The floodlight was positioned over a passageway at the side of the house which meant it was slightly breezy. Spaces between buildings encourage air movement and always tend to be a little windy for that reason. Why is it that outside work is often called for when the weather is cold? Windy and cold conditions are not ideal when working up a ladder to work on a floodlight. When I looked at the light it was apparent that water had gotten inside and had been short-circuiting the LED lamp. The unit shown is almost exactly the same as that I went to look at. The glass had water on its inside surface which meant the whole inside would be damp.The unit was supposed to have a high waterproof rating so it was unusual for water to have found its way inside. I had it disconnected in minutes and then removed it from the bracket but had to go indoors for my fingers to warm up again. It took quite some time before I was able to resume the work. I fitted and connected a replacement unit and then returned inside once more to have a drink of coffee whilst it went through its start-up procedure. Having decided I had set it up correctly I returned and set it up for night operation. There was a pronounced change in the outside temperature and it was now quite warm with very little wind! I guess I should have waited an hour before starting the work but that is the way it goes sometimes. I was happy I had done the work after so many days rest from it. Now I am thinking I hope I’ll get more work before my intended date to return to work. Some habits die-hard, well for me they do.
I wasn’t feeling well later on Tuesday. It began soon after my return home from a walk. Though the walk was enjoyable I suppose the cold wind had gotten through to me. I went to bed feeling a little miserable but felt somewhat better the following morning. All I wanted to do was to rest for the day and get myself back to normal but just after lunch an elderly gentleman called to ask if I could check a faulty light or him. I use the term ‘gentleman’ because I discovered on meeting him that he fitted the description very well. He was polite, chivalrous, well-mannered and well-spoken and well-dressed too, something sadly lacking in many guys these days. The light was fixed to the ceiling but behind a suspended ceiling beneath. He claimed it had been working for twelve months and perhaps it had but the connections weren’t good and it had been barely hanging from the one screw which had prevented it dropping from the ceiling altogether. For a small light that wouldn’t have been a problem but this was a twin-lamp six-foot long fluorescent unit. The lamps had not been installed properly either so they would never have worked. I removed it from the ceiling and tested it. There was nothing wrong with it and I returned it to the ceiling, this time fixing it there properly. That was it, the only work I had done in a couple of days. I was paid my minimum fee and I returned home. I was still feeling a little under the weather. Just before my evening meal one of my regular customers called to ask if I would check out the light in her kitchen as it had ceased working. I had fitted the unit a couple of months ago so I wondered why it had failed so soon. I arranged to check it out the following day, after I had done the other work I had scheduled elsewhere. The other work entailed checking out another faulty light unit! You could say therefore that I am on light duties (forgive the pun) which is just as well I suppose given the way I have been feeling lately.
On Monday I had arranged to call at a customer’s house some 12 miles from home on Thursday and as usual I duly arrived on time. I have worked in her house many times in the past and when her husband was alive. He passed away around three years ago I think, I lose track of time sometimes. Anyhow, she often calls upon me to do little jobs for her, some of which are not electrical jobs. Thursday’s work involved replacing under-unit lights, replacing a few light bulbs, disconnecting unwanted garden lighting, moving a lighting switch in a bedroom to a position outside of the room because she was having the door hinged on the opposite side which would have hidden the switch, re-positioning a small wall-mounted ornate shelf between two single beds in the same room and re-fixing a wooden ‘blind’ next to a window which had become loose. When all that work was done she wanted to chat with me even though she had been doing that all morning! It wasn’t because she is lonely, she isn’t as she has a full social life. No, she just doesn’t know how to say goodbye. It was now after one o’clock and all I wanted to do was get home, have a quick lunch and then install the newly acquired photo cell to control the lamp-post (see previous posts).
It should have been a quick and simple task but as is often the case with electrical work it wasn’t. Silly little things like the masonry drill clogging up with the moist brick-dust sticking in the flutes and having to constantly remove it. Discovering that the connection box access hole for the cable gland had a poor thread making it difficult to screw into it and one or two other minor irritations all serve to annoy and slow things down. Once I had everything done I replaced the existing automatic lamp in the post with an ordinary LED lamp. The work was complete by four o’clock so I had a couple of hours to wait before the lamp lit. The grey box contains a fused switched spur unit. The black box is a waterproof connecting box and the part night photo cell is on the left. The wall faces northward making it the ideal place for the photo cell. The adjoining wall is on the west of the garden.
The light shone through the trees
Casting long fanned-out shadows across the lawn
There was no hiding place for creature or man
Until the breaking of the dawn.
The lamp at the top of the lamp-post switched itself on just after seven o’clock in the evening and remained on until seven-ten in the morning, a full twelve hours. This is why I want to obtain a part-night photo sensor to control an ordinary but LED lamp as it will automatically switch the lamp off a little after midnight for maybe four hours or more, switching it back on before dawn for a couple of hours. I have one controlling our porch light which switches off at one o’clock in the morning and back on again before dawn. The lamp supplied with the lamp-post is a fluorescent and uses 15 watts of energy whereas an LED equivalent would only use 5 watts of energy or thereabout for the same light output and far less power if not left on all night. Both of course are far less expensive than traditional tungsten or halogen lamps which can consume ten to twelve times the amount of power as an LED for the same light output. Anyway the lamp will remain for the time being. I was quite tired on Thursday evening and glad to get to bed. I had nothing planned for Friday but after breakfast I went outside with a brush and a tin of black paint for painting metal in order to cover over the sealant I had put between the joints in the lamp-post. I also wanted to paint the screw heads of the screws fastening the cable clamps and to paint over the white cable I had to use in part of the installation just to make it less noticeable. It worked. Just as I was about to start however, someone called asking if I could fit a couple of replacement light units in their apartment. It never fails, I seem to get calls whenever I am about to do work at home. The painting would take five minutes so I agreed to do their work immediately after. The apartment was only two and a half miles away. I was back home well before lunchtime. After lunch I mowed the lawn hoping it would be the last time for this year but I fancy that won’t be the case. Because of the season it is difficult to find the grass dry at any time, even if it hasn’t been raining it is usually wet with dew. Our lawn is on the north side of the house so the grass can remain wet for long periods and it makes mowing sometimes difficult to do but with the petrol mower it isn’t too bad. Some of the cuttings however tend to clog-up and not end up in the collecting bin. The hardest part is trying to sweep the cuttings that have ended up on the concrete paving slabs because they are wet. One of the two wheelie bins for green waste which were emptied on Monday was now already full. You can see why we need two of them. It was a sunny day on Friday, sunny enough to sit on the patio for a while to relax, which is what I did later on.
I was supposed to be driving off to the job I had scheduled on Monday morning but it had begun to rain and the forecast was for rain throughout the day. So I stayed at home. The work was to be done outdoors so it would have been difficult if not hazardous to do it especially as it would all be done up a ladder! I called my customer about 70 minutes before my expected arrival but could only leave a message as apparently she was unavailable according to her messaging service. I called back several times during the following hour and a half then gave up. She finally called me wondering why I hadn’t turned up. I explained with the same information you’ve just read. She checked her messages and discovered nothing had been recorded. What was going on? Anyway we made arrangements for me to visit the following day when the weather would be better. I was hoping the lamp-post would be delivered whilst I was at home. E is home much of the time but I couldn’t rely on her being available to sign for the delivery. The problem was not knowing on which day it would arrive but as luck would have it the post was delivered mid-morning. However I was shall we say, ‘indisposed’ and E must have heard the doorbell ring and she came downstairs to answer the door. She had been at the top of the house in her ‘workshop’. I confessed to having not heard the doorbell and had the delivery men come a couple of minutes earlier or later I would have been there to accept the delivery as I was actually on the same floor. That is very typical of many folk’s experiences I’m sure, we wait in for something to arrive and then just for a moment we are indisposed and it arrives! I have a feeling it happens by design! I took the three packages downstairs into the cellar where I began to remove the enormous amount of corrugated cardboard and bubble-wrap surrounding the three main items, the heavy base unit, the pole and accessories and the lamp itself. I discovered they had included a light-sensing economy lamp (fluorescent) in the package. They are designed to switch on from dusk till dawn and of course will remain on throughout the night. It will do for the moment but I am still trying to obtain a part-night sensor/controller and if I do I will replace the lamp with an LED one.
At least I won’t have to wait until I obtain a sensor for the light to work. Having unpacked the parts I now know what has to be done. My first task will be to cut off the excess cable near to where the post will be and set it in position with more concrete so that it will emerge beneath the pole when it is fixed to the base. The pole is designed to be fixed using four ‘rawlbolts’. All I need now is for some dry weather……….
The weather forecast for Saturday was rain for most of the day. Any work I might want to do outside would have to wait until late in the afternoon when it was supposed to become dry. I had gotten up early and before breakfast I went out into the garden with a tape rule to measure something but first I checked the concrete I had laid the day before. It was solid but obviously still ‘green’. I had placed a cover over it whilst it set and decided to leave it covered until the rain had ceased. What was I measuring you might ask? On Friday I received an email from a company who sells among other things, street lighting posts. I had been making inquiries with a view to purchasing one for the rear garden but they had none of the type and size I wanted in stock. I chose to wait and they would send a message when they became available, the email was to inform me of that. I immediately ordered one online. This is the one I chose.
With a discount voucher but with the added cost of delivery the cost would be £319. I have at the time of writing on Saturday no date for the delivery. As Saturday was going to be wet I could do no work at least during the morning so I decided to pay a visit to the electrical supplier and purchase the materials I would need to install the lamp-post when I could get around to doing it. It will also require that I build a concrete base on which to stand it. The concrete mixer will need to stay out a little longer! The tape rule was to measure the length of cable I would need to reach the proposed lamp-post position which turned out to be a little under 19 metres. The cable I am using is pvc steel wire armoured which will be small enough to be almost invisible when I install it beneath the capstone where they overhang on top of the wall. The other materials included a weatherproof box in which I will put a control switch (for isolation only) and a weatherproof connection box where I will connect the cables and the wiring to the photo cell unit which will control the light. The photo cell could not be purchased over the counter so I have been trying to source one online. A few years ago I bought one to control the light in the front porch. It is a special unit which switches on at dusk, off at midnight, on a few hours later and then off again at dawn. It takes a few days to settle down and adjust the switching times more accurately and it will enable the light to remain off during the early hours of the day. In the meantime I have work to continue with on the Plot as long as it isn’t raining. The rain did ease off for about thirty minutes in the afternoon so I took the opportunity to mix some mortar by hand as it was quicker for such a small amount and I managed to lay the second paving slab and recover the area before the rain resumed. I wanted to lay some bricks on its rear edge as I had done with the first step but hadn’t enough time because of the rain. Here are two shots taken on Sunday morning.
It would be Monday before I could do any more work at home but I had two electrical jobs scheduled, one small one and the other not so small which would scupper the idea.
I am surprised at my age that I am still working though not as hard and as long as I once did each day. These days my work is simpler in element (forgive the pun) than it used to be and that is totally my choice. It is my choice because I don’t wish to do too much in my semi-retirement. Sometimes I do work for longer periods than I expected but those times are rare. Usually I work no more than four or five hours whenever I do electrical work for others and part of that time is spent travelling anyway. Whilst at home I may put in more hours and often do on my own projects but I get tired if I try to do too much. I am a victim of my own good fortune though. I do not look anything like my age and that encourages people to ask more of me than I am prepared to undertake. When I tell people how old I am I get comments like ‘You’re never. I can’t believe you are that old’ they say. Once or twice I have had to produce my driver’s licence to prove it! Then the compliments start pouring in, ‘How do you keep so young-looking? Your complexion is amazing, not a wrinkle in sight’. I tell them that I plug myself into the power supply each night which brings a laugh. Seriously though I have never looked my real age at any stage in my life. I have always looked younger than I am. It is a blessing I guess. I was working in a house occupied by two elderly people on Monday morning, a married couple who hailed from my old home town (city), Liverpool and they like myself moved away from there some years ago. We reminisced about the old days and what it was like when we were younger. They were about ten years my senior. Naturally I was asked how long I had been an electrician and when I told them they couldn’t believe it as they said I looked far too young to have worked for so long. Once they saw me in action though their doubts soon faded. I was replacing faulty and dated under-the-unit lighting in their kitchen, rewiring the system and installing LED strip lights.
They had no idea what I was talking about when I suggested the type of replacement fittings I had in mind so I took the old guy off to the supplier and showed him. I selected the equipment and he made the purchase. He was surprised at how little he paid for them though the guy at the counter offered them at a discount because I was with him. When I had finished the work the couple were highly impressed at the result because the new fittings were brighter and gave a uniform light over the work surfaces. The old fittings gave a poor light output at ten times the cost in running them. I had to explain what ‘LED’ lights were and why they are so efficient. Now they are talking about replacing other lighting with LED units. When I left their house it was approaching noon and I drove to another house to do a job there. I finally returned home at one-thirty. I had been away from home exactly five hours. Just right. I took the rest of the day off!
I had a phone call from an elderly lady on Monday evening asking, even pleading that I go along and replace several light bulbs of various types in many of her lighting fittings. Now I don’t usually take on such work and in fact many electricians don’t do so either. I asked if there was a neighbour or a friend, maybe someone in her family who could change the bulbs for her because I would have to levy a charge if I did the work. I was trying to save her the expense but she seemed not bothered. I gave in to her wishes and told her I would be there the following morning at 9 o’clock. Her house is about six miles from home. I sorted out some lamps from my own stock which I was prepared to supply free of charge as in fact they are no longer of use to me anyway. I arrived at her house on time and she began to show me around. She told me not to worry about the dog as he wouldn’t bite. The house reeked of stale tobacco and as I was about to take an inventory she lit up a cigarette. I asked her if she would be so kind as not to smoke indoors whilst I was there. She took objection to my request and telling me it was her house and she wouldn’t be told (I’d asked) what she could do in it. I was asked to leave, which I was only too pleased to do. I, like anyone else, have the right to refuse to work in hazardous conditions and this house was hazardous to my health. I had only been inside the house for about five minutes but when I went outside to leave I could smell the stale tobacco on my coat. Fortunately Tuesday had been a very windy day, one of several continuously windy days recently so the smell soon disappeared. I drove back home but had to make a stop in order to secure one of the ladders on the roof of the van. It took me quite some time to secure it because of the high wind. As I was doing so I received a call from one of my regular customers who asked if I could do a small job for them, change bulbs! It was kind of on my way home and I drove there to do it. I had however to drive off to the supplier to buy a special lamp. What a difference their house is to the first, clean, fresh and free from stale tobacco smells. Their whole attitude was different too!