Spanner in the works

Or…for my American friends and some others….a wrench in the works. Somehow ‘wrench’ doesn’t seem to express it as well as spanner but I suppose that is due to my living in the UK. I would prefer to say England rather than the United Kingdom because I am English, I was born here. I do have Scottish ancestry though on my father’s side of the family but I was born in England. Now we say ‘spanner in the works’ to express a condition whereby a planned activity has been forced to a stop by an outside influence or objection. Well it seems that E has thrown such a spanner in the works having raised tentative objections to my planned garden project. I think however she would prefer something slightly different from my proposals though not entirely different. At the moment therefore the plans are on hold until we can agree on what to do. I suspect that won’t take long and I’ll soon be making inroads but who knows? We’ll just have to wait and see. In the meantime I can rest up though with me that will be difficult. This morning, that is September 1 st I had to water the garden  again because we’ve had little rain lately and one or two of the plants were beginning to wilt a little. I had watered the garden on Friday evening and the plants were looking healthy afterward but a second watering was needed to ensure the soil was moistened through. For today and the following few days the weather forecast says it will remain dry. Anyway I did that and on the way back upstairs I glanced at the pit in which the cross-trainer stands and noticed a small amount of paint flaking off in one corner. When I first constructed the pit a few months earlier I had used paint we had in storage but was never really satisfied with the colour after painting the walls in the room white. The paint in the pit was more creamy looking. Having painted the floor red it magnified the differences between the wall and pit colours. I decided to scrape off the flaking paint and redo the whole pit in a gloss white though I couldn’t of course paint beneath the cross-trainer itself.

It didn’t take long to do, about twenty minutes but now it looks much better for it. Later in the day it was time for more garden maintenance, sweeping up leaves and mowing the lawn.

Shirley Anne

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Total disruption

My life has always been governed by routine and I suppose that is true for most people despite what they may say to the contrary. Routines are one thing and plans another. My life is also governed by plans and yes, probably everyone else’s are too. We all make plans in life. Plans are the promises we make to ourselves but sometimes don’t receive or carry out. After a complete rest on Sunday I was ready to resume the routine of working on my plan, a project I had given myself (like all the others) to fill a portion of my days with something to do but something else had to be done first. I had to have my six-monthly appointment with the doctor for check-ups and prescription renewal. I planned to do a little shopping after the appointment and then do a couple of other errands before returning home.  The appointment was for 0910 but as is usual I didn’t get to see the doctor until twenty minutes later. On leaving the surgery I walked into town to purchase a few things one of which was a blood pressure monitor before returning to my vehicle to drive home. According to my doctor my blood pressure was again just as the previous time very high. On that occasion I had subsequently been loaned a monitor to carry out the tests at home and they proved my blood pressure wasn’t high at all. The doctor suggested I might purchase a monitor or have another check-up by the chemist. I chose to purchase one so that I could take several tests and submit them to the surgery. Later at home my tests showed once more that my pressure levels were not high at all. I told the doctor that my results were always high when I visit the surgery. Now I suppose the reason for that is I don’t find it easy to relax at the surgery. I took my purchases home and immediately drove off again to dump some rubbish and unwanted items at the waste recycling depot returning home via the builder’s depot to purchase granite dust and cement. It was lunch time when I got home and after lunch I didn’t much feel like working but did a little plastering in the cellar storage room. The day hadn’t turned out anything like I thought it would, it had been totally disrupted. I thought later that I should have concentrated on installing the replacement shower cubicle glass instead but there was always tomorrow.

Shirley Anne

Just making plans

We’ve had a few bad days of cold and windy weather from the east but today as I write this on Thursday 1st March it looks as though things are about to change for the better. It has been snowing but not that much, in fact we’ve probably had only a few hours of it during the time it has been falling. I guess we’ve had three centimetres  of the white stuff at most as it comes and goes. What is worse is if it doesn’t melt away it freezes so although there might not be much of it the snow can still be a problem. We are very fortunate though for in many parts of the country conditions have been far worse so we mustn’t complain. It never ceases to amaze me though that this country cannot cope as well as it should when it snows whereas many other countries take it in their stride. I had planned to go for a walk but changed my mind and worked out on the Elliptical Trainer instead. That’s the beauty of being able to have the space in which to fit exercising machinery and equipment and I humbly acknowledge that privilege. Having gym equipment was never on my thoughts when we first moved into this house thirty years ago. Funny how things change I suppose. For most of the day I stayed indoors relaxing but I did wander about making plans for other projects E and I have been considering. My current project is to decorate the boiler room which houses the gym equipment and as you have been reading part of that work is already complete. However there is some preliminary work that needs to be done in other parts of the room yet to be decorated, tidying up wiring, replacing some of the pipe lagging, perhaps replacing the main light and installing another just to name a few. So over the next few weeks I shall be doing that work whilst decorating those areas which require no preparation. A little here and a little there is the way it will go. One other small project E would like have me do is to install a couple of 5 amp power points in the hallway for the two table lamps we use there. She wants them to be automatically controlled and I have the plans to do it. It will mean installing a photo-cell similar to those controlling the garage lights as shown in this picture…

and in conjunction with a time switch. The photo-cell will supply power to the 5 amp sockets when it goes dark and the time switch will prevent the lights remaining on all through the night. Once it is daylight again the power will automatically shut off. The system of operation is similar to that supplied to the porch light and the garden street lamp-post via the ‘part night’ controllers except that the new one will use cheaper parts and will be manually adjustable if required. Nothing like having plans as long as I can get around to doing them!

Shirley Anne

Out of the window

After breakfast on Wednesday morning I drove to the electrical supplier and purchased ten metres of cable with which to wire the new power outlet in the garage. I discovered my stock had diminished to zero for that size of cable but that didn’t matter as these days I have little use for what remains of my stock since I retired earlier this year. If I need something I don’t have in stock it can be purchased as required. The cost for the cable? £6.66….Mmm…a little ominous I thought, that number being the mark of the beast (Scripture). Anyway on my return home it was eleven o’clock and I wanted a drink of coffee before starting any work. I called to E to ask if she would like a coffee too but she was drying her hair and wouldn’t be downstairs for another ten minutes. I waited until she came downstairs before making the coffee. Just then she received a call from her nephew who wanted to ask us which of the two options we wanted in the alterations and repairs to the garage roof before the installation of the new roller shutter door in a couple of weeks. The first option, the cheapest, wasn’t what we wanted so we chose the second option which met our requirements. It would cost us £550 but that didn’t matter as much as getting it right. E sent him a text message and he called back asking if he could start the work straight away otherwise we would have to wait a couple of weeks because of his schedule. We agreed he and his crew could come immediately. That meant I couldn’t do the work I had intended to do because I would be in their way and they in mine. My work could wait as it would only take an hour or so and there was plenty of time before it had to be finished. That left me a little high and dry to have my plans fly out of the window with nothing else to do. I find it difficult to do my own thing when there are others working in or around my house because I cannot concentrate in case they require something or information that only I can provide. The work couldn’t be completed in the few hours they were here so they planned to arrive early the next morning to hopefully finish the work before noon and especially before it might rain.

Shirley Anne

It never ends

End or Limit switch on canal lock Deutsch: Sic...
End or Limit switch on canal lock (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have learned over the years that life is a constant battle with things going wrong. I am referring to material things here. We do our best to stay ahead and if we make provisions we get by. I know people who don’t bother to save much for emergencies and end up getting into debt when something they need suddenly fails. I have always been a saver. I don’t like the idea of having unexpected problems happening that cannot be resolved due to a lack of funds and that is one reason I put aside funds. Whilst I have been able to lay money aside I have done so. It is annoying though to have saved money for a specific reason and suddenly having to divert those funds or part of them when some unforseen calamity rears its head. Such is life I say. I had a busy day on Thursday and in the afternoon I went to install a couple of replacement lighting fittings in a house a few miles away. Normally quite a simple job but problems can make it less so. I had been told that one of the original fittings hadn’t worked for some time and when I checked it out I discovered there was no live supply when the switch was on. That meant removing the switch to see if there was a supply to it. There wasn’t. It had been difficult removing the switch because the fixing screws had seized up but I finally managed it. I had therefore to find out why there was no supply. The lady of the house was beginning to think that the price was going to rise but I soon discovered the problem and carried on with the work. The job had taken me longer than I had expected and it was late in the afternoon by the time I could return home. I was feeling tired. When I arrived home I operated the remote control to open the garage door and as it was by now dark I expected the internal garage light to come on as the door opened fully but it didn’t switch on. It is wired in such a way that in hours of darkness the light will automatically switch on whenever the main door is opened but not do so if it is still daylight. I thought perhaps that the limit switch had not been pressed as the top of the door reached it and indeed that was the case. The reason it hadn’t had been due to the fact that the tensioning spring on that side of the door had failed. The steel connecting cable had snapped. At first I thought it had simply come off the guide pulley but it hadn’t. It is an easy job to replace the cable but the one on the other side of the door would have to be done too. I knew at that point that my labours for the day would now all be spent on repairing the door! I called the door specialist and made arrangements for its repair. Before the door was converted to automatic operation I used to do all the mechanical repairs on it but unless it is something menial I now leave it to others.

Shirley Anne

Just when I was tired


Embed from Getty Images

It was Monday morning and although I didn’t have to rise early nevertheless I did. I woke up not long after five o’clock but didn’t get out of bed until closer to six. I was washed, dressed and fully made-up before six-thirty and had eaten my breakfast by seven. I very seldom just lie in bed once I am awake. I had a job to do but that was scheduled for ten-thirty so I had to think of things to do before then. One thing I needed to do was to replace the television aerial socket which had become faulty and to re-arrange spaghetti junction behind the television, you know, all the tangled cables supplying the gadgetry. I had also to take down the washing I had hung in the cellar the day before. It was thoroughly dry, one of the advantages of having warm cellar rooms, especially one with the boiler in it where we hang the washing when it is too wet outdoors. It has certainly been wet these last few days. A little pottering about on the computer then it was time to drive to the job, not far away, about three miles. I had to fit a ceiling-mounted fan unit and it took me about two hours. Most of that time was spent just constructing the unit! I was paid and then drove homeward but made a detour to the electrical supplier as I wanted to purchase some materials. I decided to eat at home and had just finished eating my lunch when another call came in. I’d had lunch rather late and it was about three o’clock when the call came in. A woman living not far from where I had been working during the morning asked if I could solve a problem she had with her new shower unit which repeatedly tripped the supply when it was switched on. I was feeling a little tired but decided to go to the job anyway after the woman had told me about the problems she’d had with people trying to help but making matters worse. I examined the shower, a new one that had been fitted by a plumber who also fitted a replacement isolating switch as the old one had been faulty. The circuit breaker at the supply was a little small in capacity to carry the current drawn by the new shower so it needed upgrading. Unfortunately I didn’t have one of the correct size in my van stock so had to drive to the supplier to buy one. When I returned about twenty minutes later I replaced the old breaker with the new one. I also removed the isolating switch outside the bathroom that the plumber had fitted and discovered that one of the wires behind it had been connected to the wrong terminal. That was the source of the fault. However, I had to remove the switch entirely in order to fit an extension ring behind it. This increased the space behind the switch making it a little easier to refit. After testing the circuit I was paid and I drove back home a little more tired than before. So once again, someone had called me to do a job after I had returned home from another job in the same area! Why this woman hadn’t called me earlier or better still the night before so that I could arrange my day better defies logic, especially as she’d had the problem with the shower for days!


In my previous post I talked about having a balustrade installed on the patio walls. No, the above picture is not of my home though I would like the idea, it is just to demonstrate what the balustrade would look like. I want my balustrade to be a half-metre in height, not more than a metre as in the picture above. I received a quotation from the first company via an email but the quote seemed too high for me to consider at around £2850 (supply only). I am in the process of obtaining a quote from another company which hopefully will be a tad lower.

Shirley Anne

Planning ahead

At the moment of writing work has come almost but not quite to a standstill on the bathroom project. I am still finding work to do that isn’t affected by the fact that we are waiting upon the tiling being done. The reasons for that are listed in recent posts for those new to reading my meanderings, and thank you all new-comers by the way for following my blog. I am not short of work though as I have been inundated with requests for my electrical services. It is Thursday afternoon and I have taken the afternoon off. I went out this morning to do a small job and on my return spent an hour or so with E marking out a datum line and fitting more wooden battens on which the first row of tiles will sit when the guy comes to do the tiling. He would only have to do it himself anyway so we are saving him the time. I have had some fun with linking this computer to E’s printer in order to print out my certificate of motor insurance. Earlier in the month I arranged and paid for the renewal but didn’t receive the certificate through an email in order to print it out. I had to take action as the old certificate expired on Saturday. I went on-line and contacted the insurers through their chat line facility and it appears they were having difficulty in sending it to my AOL email account and not only mine but everyone using AOL. I gave them an alternate address and they said they would send it there.

English: I wasn't planning to go that way
English: I wasn’t planning to go that way (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

However in the meantime the chat was disconnected so I used their freephone number and contacted them over the phone. I explained what had happened and I also requested a hard copy of the certificate to be sent to my home address. I was told the fee would be £3.99! Well I was never charged for receiving a hard copy in the past as they were always sent that way. No doubt the fee would have been hidden in the overall cost but I never saw it. I was told that they would send it free of charge on this occasion and I would receive it within three days. Whilst checking my other email address I discovered they had indeed sent me the certificate electronically to the alternate email. It was then that I decided an attempt to print it. After a few attempts and it not responding I finally discovered that the computer was sending the data to a printer that wasn’t connected to it, the default printer, my own printer. Having discovered that error and correcting it I was able to print off the certificate. It now looks as if I shall have two of them! It is wise to have more than one copy I guess. Later I decided to print off a few business letterheads as I thought I’d used up my stock. When I came to store the newly printed sheets I found I had plenty left and didn’t really need the extras! I’m sure I am losing it! Anyhow I like to keep abreast of things and am always thinking and planning ahead. So it was that I ended up in the cellar in the little room we plan to convert into a washroom and toilet that will only be accessed from the garden once the existing doorways have been bricked up. That task will be given to E’s nephew who is a builder. The floor tiles need lifting and the floor levelling as there is a slight slope in it at the moment. These tiles are made from fired clay and measure something like 8 x 8 x 2 inches. They don’t make them like that these days! They are simply set upon compacted sand and can easily be replaced in preference to a concreted screed if we need to but I prefer to keep them if I can so every effort will be made to do so. I was simply making some assessments of the alterations and preparations that will be required to set the ball rolling once we set foot in there in earnest. I like planning ahead.

Shirley Anne

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