Pleasant surprises

No Surprises
No Surprises (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have always maintained that I am not fond of surprises, arranged parties and gatherings centred upon myself or otherwise. I guess you could say I am a person of routine also as I do not like change especially if there is no apparent need for it. Forever onward and upward is a motto held in high esteem by some who like pressing on into some idyllic future they think is better. In many ways the future as we arrive in it each day isn’t so great at all. We may have achieved much over the generations but in some ways we have taken a backward step as far as I can see. My future is a different one, I am just plodding along with all that is happening around me whilst trying my best not to let too much influence my daily life. I vehemently resist the temptation to acquire the latest technology, all-seeing all dancing mobile telephones hold no interest for me for instance. My mobile phone is only mobile if I take it with me otherwise it is just as immobile as any other inanimate object. I go for walks without my phone because I wish to be left undisturbed. On my return home I check to see if I have any missed calls and often as not I do, most though are unsolicited and are consigned to the bin. Actually I allocate many of them with a ‘Spam’ number so if the caller persists in annoying me I am not taken by surprise and can simply not answer. The kind of surprises I like are the ones which report an item of good news, an ill friend or member of the family regaining their health, someone attaining a qualification after much study, someone who has won a prize or has a financial upturn making their lives a little easier, these are nice surprises. A few weeks ago I submitted my annual tax return and I received a letter a few days ago informing me of the results of the calculations regarding my tax obligations. I appears that I have paid too much tax, £471 too much. Well that was a pleasant surprise as I had expected to be paying more.

Shirley Anne


Ticking over

Now that I have completed the redecoration and refurbishment of the small lounge at home I am beginning to consider redecorating the main hallway, the first floor hallway, the top floor hallway and the staircases in between them. I am considering hanging new, embossed wall paper and painting over it with white emulsion. I may decide to over-paint the stained wood work with white gloss but if I do it will take much time. Following that I would like to replace the carpets up to and including the first floor in a different colour from what it is now. 

The carpet looks its age and is well-worn and a little discoloured. If it isn’t possible to obtain the exact replacement I am thinking to replace it with one of a different colour, possibly a crimson or dark green colour. If I do replace with a new colour I would only replace the ground and first floors together with the intervening staircase as the carpet above the second floor is very much unworn and in good condition. It is at the moment just at the thinking stage as far as the carpet replacement goes though as far as the decoration goes it may happen far sooner. I have other things to consider in the meantime. Today, that is Tuesday 16th as I write this I actually filled-in my tax return form, took a walk into the village and posted it. I had all the collation work done weeks ago but as usual I wanted the time to recheck figures. The small lounge project prevented me from doing that but on Tuesday morning I finally had the time. This time next year I may be returning an empty form, that is one devoid of any profitable declarations as I may have fully retired by then, who knows? In the afternoon I went on the hunt for a small cabinet and to purchase some scatter cushions for the new suite in the small lounge. 

As you can see I found the cushions (£5 each) but no luck with the small cabinet as yet. I will keep looking though. Following that I went to the pub for an hour, just for drinks and to chat with people for I had eaten earlier.

Shirley Anne

All at once


There’s an old saying about waiting for a bus, you wait for ages without one arriving then three come all at once! It was like that for me on Thursday, no electrical offers of work then I get three in a row. All very nice of course but I often wonder why it happens. At one address they had been without a bathroom light for four weeks yet they called me in the middle of the day expecting me to drop by then. I did call but it was after I had completed the first job. I asked them why they had waited for so long before calling someone out to fix it. Their answer? They were not that bothered! The problem I had with the work was its timing and consequently I missed having lunch. Even when I had returned home late in the afternoon someone called for my services but that work I scheduled for the following morning. I was looking forward to a relaxing weekend as the weather forecast was for a warm and sunny couple of days. Whether I could put up with doing little was doubtful but I wanted at least to get the opportunity. If I was to do any work it would only be something at home. Thursday marked the beginning of a new financial year in the UK for me and for everyone else as far as the Inland Revenue Service are concerned. It was April 6 the tradition start of the financial year. This means in the weeks ahead I will have to prepare my accounts ready for submitting my tax return form later. Most years I would have already done much of that work by now but this year I have been too busy either doing electrical work, such as I have received, and working in the garden and have been too tired to even think about my tax return. It actually doesn’t take me long these days because my turnover is quite low, well come on I am 71 years old! It is something I seldom look forward to, a reluctant exercise but it is one that unfortunately must be done. Most of the work is in simply collating the information, adding up profits and expenses before filling in the form. Anyway it is the price we pay for being self-employed. Each year I think it will be the last tax return I submit but up till now nothing has changed. Maybe next year? In the meantime I carry on while I still have the inclination.

Shirley Anne

So different

English: Northern Qi Scholars Collating Classi...
Northern Qi Scholars Collating Classic Texts. 中文: 北齐校书图 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Apart from the exercise I had on Tuesday I did nothing else. That exercise was in the form of two short walks, one before lunch being a trip to the bank and the other after lunch just for the walk itself. With no electrical work to do and nothing I wanted to do at home I struggled to fill my day. Wednesday was even worse, I didn’t even go for a walk. My only outing was a quick trip in my van to the Post Office and then on to the local supermarket filling station to fill up with diesel. I find I only fill up my van once a month or even less and even then the top-up isn’t usually more than half a tankful. In the morning and after many weeks collating all the information to fill out my tax return I finally got around to filling the form. The trip to the Post Office was to buy a stamp and send it off. It isn’t the form-filling I dislike, more the collating of all the information, though much of that is kept in one place. I guess I am not much into paperwork! It was only a matter of a week or two ago that I was so busy doing all sorts of things, but I like it that way, I would much rather have too much to do than nothing at all. Wednesday was a do nothing type of day only welcomed as a respite. The problem was I had nothing from which I needed a respite! I know full well that things won’t remain this way and I often wonder how people who are out of work cope with the boredom. As I write this on Wednesday afternoon I am hoping to have something to do tomorrow or I might have to start working on changing the radiator valves which I keep putting off. No doubt if I start the work offers from elsewhere will start pouring in but if that happens it won’t matter, I can manage the pressure. Once the radiator system is drained-down, which doesn’t take long, changing the valves can be done more or less at leisure. Don’t be surprised then to read that I have started that work for I can’t bear the boredom!

Shirley Anne

In demand

English: Easter holidays On a cold North Sea b...
: Easter holidays On a cold North Sea beach. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Monday’s weather was little different from Sunday, just as cool and just as misty. Only consolation was the absence of wind. As Monday was one of our ‘Bank Holidays‘ I took the opportunity to stay in bed a little longer. It was around 9 o’clock as I lay there contemplating the day ahead and what I would do in it. It turned out very little as it happened. The house phone rang! Someone had a problem with their light switch asking if and when I could fix it and probably expecting me to be available straight away. I explained that it was a holiday and I wouldn’t be available until the following day, Tuesday and only after I had completed my other work scheduled for the morning. He agreed and I scheduled it for lunchtime onwards depending on how soon it took me to do the first job. Other work is scheduled for the remainder of the week. I seem to be in great demand lately. Tuesday was the first day back to work for me after an extended weekend break as it was Easter. On Easter Day, that is Sunday, a small song developed in my thoughts and I quickly wrote it down once I’d played it through on my guitar. It was the first song I had written for some time. I went through a spell a couple of years ago whereby I wrote several songs in a matter of a few days so it was nice to be given a new one. Tuesday was also the first day of the new tax year for me and the first day of my financial year, the day from which all account reckoning is taken each year. I mentioned I would be filling in my tax return for the previous year quite soon so on Monday morning I began collating all my records and totaling my incoming funds and outgoing expenses. As the weeks go by I shall continue with completing the data ready for when I submit my tax return form. I had forgone breakfast on Monday morning by choice and intended to eat later in the day. It was about 4.30 when I ate a small meal. E had gone to see her mom for the afternoon so I had the house to myself. I decided to bake some more scones. It was last Thursday when I decided to bake a fruit cake by way of a change whilst E was out shopping and that had been eaten by Monday. I did little else during the day, saving my energy for the working week ahead.

Shirley Anne

New tax year

Punch cartoon (1907); illustrates the unpopula...
Punch cartoon (1907); illustrates the unpopularity amongst Punch readers of a proposed 1907 income tax by the Labour Party in the United Kingdom. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yesterday happened to be the beginning of a new tax year for those in the UK. Naturally that means the end of the 2014 to 2015 tax year (financial year) and the time for me to collate all my business account  figures to make ready my self-assessment tax return. It isn’t that difficult, in fact it has become easier for me now that I don’t submit a full tax return but what is termed a ‘short form’. That doesn’t mean I pay less tax, it simply means that my tax return form is less complicated because I have a limited turnover. It is still a little boring though having to collect all the information and submit it but I do it a little at a time and after a few days it is ready. I don’t submit the form immediately but give myself a little more time in order to check that my figures are correct. So today, Tuesday, is the first working day for me in the new tax year and already I have a couple of jobs scheduled. I remember this time last year when I had thoughts of making that year my last but as things were going so well I forgot the idea, in fact this past financial year has been my best for quite some time since I started self-employment. The last couple of years prior were not so good, not only because I did less but because I had been occupied working at home more often. I also had a few weeks off due to illness too. I just hadn’t the time to do as much electrical work as I have been able to do this last financial year. Having said that I still managed to fit in the refurbishment of our main bathroom and dig out that now infamous ‘mound’ in the garden! I have had that many offers of work I have had to turn down much of it. Maybe that’s why I am so tired! How long into this year I will continue to work I have no idea but if things go well I have an idea I might be doing the same thing next year as I am doing right now, filling out another tax return. I could be doing that on-line if the government’s plans go ahead (see below).

Shirley Anne

That time again soon

The blue 'three triangles' logo, which station...
The blue ‘three triangles’ logo, which stations have to display, identifies approved MOT test stations. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The first three months of my year is all about spending. It is all to do with my business transport, my van. First off is the annual fee for emergency breakdown service with the AA (Automobile Association) who offer different levels of cover. I pay the fee automatically by a direct debit but I am always wary of the fact that one year the subscription wasn’t debited from my account and I hadn’t noticed so I make sure each year that it has in fact been paid. Because the fee wasn’t paid, or taken, my membership lapsed for they thought I had cancelled. Most companies would follow-up on that you might expect but this time they didn’t. It wasn’t a problem until I needed their services and realised I wasn’t covered. I paid for the service and then had to reapply for membership. That was about twelve years ago. My next outgoing payments are the road fund license fee, the insurance and the MOT test which are all due before the end of February.

AA van, Bristol, England
AA van, Bristol, England (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the moment of writing this I have yet to receive the insurance proposal notification but I have already arranged payments for the road fund license and the MOT test. I have set up a direct debit to be automatically paid each year for the road fund license fee so I will no longer have to sort that out each year either by making a one-off payment through the Internet or by queuing at a Post Office. I have paid in advance using the Internet for my MOT test which the van will get on the 20th of this month. My little van is now seven years old having been first registered in March 2008 so this will be its fourth test. I hope there are no problems for that will mean more spending but if that is necessary then that is how it will be. In those seven years the van has only clocked up a mere 23,000 miles but it is usually only used for my business needs, rarely for anything else. That distance represents a rough mileage of only 3500 a year! No wonder my insurance premium is quite low! The van runs on diesel fuel and for diesel engines that mileage means it is barely ‘run-in’. With the implementation of new methods by the Government for collecting fees and the necessity for displaying tax disks mo longer necessary it makes the system far easier and robust. Payment evasion has become more difficult for those who try to avoid it. Checks are automatically carried out to ensure every vehicle that uses the roads are insured, taxed and tested were it is necessary. Police these days are equipped for checking on these things if you drive by a check point or are ‘seen’ by equipment in their vehicles. I will be a happy bunny if I get to March with no problems to sort out.

Shirley Anne

I still had to visit the bank!

I remember years ago, actually 1967, when I bought my first little car, a Hillman Imp, a lovely little car that used very little fuel, which at that time was only 3 shillings and 3 pence per GALLON. Ah, the good old days!

English: Singer Chamois (ie upmarket Hillman I...
English: Singer Chamois (ie upmarket Hillman Imp) at Classic Car Show in Hertfordshire

In today’s money that amounts to around 16 new pence. We cannot even buy a litre of fuel for that price today! Progress I suppose. I must admit to have been quite a novice in those days  when it came to buying cars and insuring and taxing them. The MOT wasn’t required in those days either but that soon changed when they realised the amount of very poorly maintained vehicles that were being driven on the roads and to be honest, in a very dangerous condition in many cases. Although all these things were sometimes a bit of an inconvenience to organise and pay for it was and still is of course, a necessity. Another good thing to come from more recent legislation is the SORN (statutory off-road notification) declaration. If a vehicle is not going to be used for a long time it has to be declared as being ‘off road’ so that no tax will be demanded. This is to prevent abuse of the system and the driving of uninsured and untaxed vehicles. People still abuse the system though and many take a chance and drive around with no insurance to the detriment of others they may literally ‘bump’ into. Stern measures are in place to deal with anyone caught driving illegally. Anyway that brings me to the point of this post. My little van needs its road-fund licence renewing (tax) and its MOT renewing too else at the beginning of next month I will not be able to continue working! This used to mean a trip to the Post Office with the renewal form, the old MOT certificate, the insurance certificate and a means of paying by cash or debit card. Now it can all be done on the Internet! I don’t need to move from my armchair. I used the system last year for the first time and clicked on the site again today (Thursday) and completed the transaction. My new tax disk will be sent by post early next week. Before they issue the disk they check whether my MOT and insurance are valid for the date on the tax disk. They are, but they too need renewing. I know my insurance company will be sending me the usual reminder in the next few days and I can deal with that without having to leave home but I have to take the vehicle to the testing station for its MOT of course. I have arranged that to be done early on Tuesday morning. I don’t envisage any problems as the van hasn’t done more than four and a half thousand miles since the last test but you never know. If there are any problems I’ll quickly arrange for them to be dealt with. Sometime in the near future though I know my two front tyres will need replacing but at the moment I think there is enough tread for a couple of thousand miles wear yet so that shouldn’t be an issue. Again, you never know! I don’t much visit the bank, preferring to only go there when I have a considerable amount to deposit. I had accumulated such an amount and so I walked into town to make the deposit after driving half the distance there and parking just outside the meter zone as I usually do. It is almost impossible to find somewhere reasonably close to the bank anyway so it makes sense to walk in. One day I suppose we won’t need to actually visit a bank in order to deposit cash.

Shirley Anne