As long as it didn’t rain on Saturday (23) I intended to spend some more time in the garden again. It would be the last day in the year for doing any work for me but alas it didn’t happen. I had gotten up early and went for a long walk down the coastal road to Ainsdale. I chose that route as it was still dark at the time I went, 7.30. I wanted to take the route through the sand dunes but that could have proved very difficult in the dark. However, by the time I decided to return home it was light so I walked back through the dunes. When on the beach the sky was clear toward the south but northward it was dark and heavy. To the south I could see the mountains of North Wales, easily seen when the skies are clear. The oil rig westward out to sea was still fully lit against the dark sky. This time the tide had receded before I arrived but it had left an enormous amount of seaweed behind! I walked northward again along the beach to the point in the dunes where I would turn into them and off the beach. I was back home before 10.00 and had breakfast whilst E was busy doing something associated with her crafting hobby. As I mentioned I wanted to do a little gardening but events got in the way during the rest of the morning. After lunch I just didn’t feel like doing anything. It has been quite a busy twelve months with all the projects that I have been involved with both inside and outside the house. It helped not having to do electrical work for others, at least for the last nine months anyway. My time became my own and I could concentrate on my little domestic projects, and there were many! Just the way I like it, better for my health and well-being to have things to do to wile away the time. When I look back on the year I am amazed just how much was done, all of them written about in my posts, and there was still plenty of time to relax too. Saturday afternoon being one of them. There was always Sunday for a potter around the garden!
At this time of year I was always busy working but this year all that has changed. Since my retirement back in April I have not done any electrical work to speak of, just a couple of very minor jobs and some of them were at home anyway. From around September until the week preceding Christmas I was kept busy doing electrical work with little time for myself. I was used to the pressure but then again I worked better under pressure, still do. However over the last few weeks I have had very little work to do, certainly no contract work and what I have been doing at home wasn’t that taxing. Don’t misunderstand me here, I am glad the pressure has been lifted from my shoulders and that now I can please myself what I do and when I do it. It is simply that it feels a little strange having all this freedom. I have been occupying myself outside of any domestic jobs I do by taking walks and exercising more on what equipment we have accumulated over the last few years. I am currently getting to grips with the new elliptical trainer we purchased a week or so back. Having not used one before it certainly felt strange when making the first attempt! I am more used to the treadmill, that is my muscles are more used to it.
With the elliptical trainer however those muscles are exercised in a different way and other muscles not exercised much when running or even walking have to adjust too. I wake up in the mornings with a kind of joy in my heart knowing I haven’t any reason to rush into the day so in a way that too feels strange, though I am getting used to it. To be honest I rarely lie in bed for long once I am awake and half the time I have something in mind I want to do anyway. I never thought of it before but having one’s remaining years free to one’s self is often not appreciated until the time it arrives. I’ll try to make the most of them.
I’ve been quite busy on the electrical front, all small jobs but very profitable nevertheless. I prefer the type of work I am doing for a couple of reasons, not least of all my age! What I like is the freedom and flexibility the smaller jobs allow me to have whereas when I worked full-time I never got a minute to myself unless I turned down work. Not a good idea if it is your main income. However, since I had an income from a private pension when I started self-employment twenty years ago that was less of a problem. Since I began receiving my State Pension eleven years ago there isn’t a problem at all when it comes to taking time off. That however isn’t me, if the work is small, and that’s all I will do these days, I am more inclined to do it. Having said that the pressure of offers sometimes is relentless. I even get called when I am not advertising! Much of my time so far this year has been spent in the gardens and no doubt that will increase as the weather warms up. It was another lovely sunny day on Thursday but still cold in the westerly wind. I went to do a job in a house on the other side of town at nine o’clock and had it finished just an hour later. As has often been the case recently I again noticed a few bluebells in the front flowerbeds on my return home. (Picture taken last year)Most were simply small and close to the surface but a couple were rooted deep beneath the soil. I wondered how I had failed to see them on my previous visits but they do grow quickly and short of removing all the plants and turning over the whole flowerbed soil I am bound to miss a few. Needless to say I put on my overalls and dug them out before digging a few more out of the flowerbed by the small greenhouse in the rear garden. (Picture also from last year) I thought I might have been able to sit out on the patio for a time but the wind was too strong and by early afternoon the clouds rolled in to blot out the sunshine. It wasn’t to be, not yet.
I think I worked pretty hard on Saturday in working in the garden and was glad for the rest on Sunday. Sunday was an ideal day for working outdoors too but it is a rest day for me. Wanting to resume work on Monday the forecast wasn’t promising in the least for it would be raining throughout the day. I am actually writing this on Monday morning and true to the forecast it is raining. We are told there might be a break for an hour or so around midday but I doubt I’ll be able to do much if I decide to make the attempt. What I might do is rake off as much top soil as I can so that there will be less of it to dig out to get to the bluebell bulbs I want removing. To give you an idea of how many there are here is a picture taken last year when they were in flower…
As you can see they are numerous. Fortunately about half of them are now removed. Those which remain as I write occupy the area approximately to the right of a projected line from the right-hand side of the path that runs from the bottom of the picture to the top. There might be a few to remove on the extreme right (in the corner plot) though E may have already done that last year. If not I will probably wait for them to appear above the soil to make it easier for myself. You will be able to see more clearly by clicking on the image to magnify. As I write this the forecast for tomorrow (Tuesday) is slightly better, though it will rain. Wednesday and Friday will supposedly be dry. By the end of the week we will be almost one-third of the way through winter but the next two months are usually the worst! I may find the time to get things done or I may not. I am at the mercy of the English weather. I will be available for electrical work once more from Wednesday onward so that may limit my spare time too.
I had been reasonably busy on Monday, especially in the morning as I had been removing many light fittings and replacing them with basic roses and pendants. The lady of the house had sold the property and wished to take the lights with her to her new property in Hampshire. It is a requirement that electrical circuits in a property must be in working order with all fixtures and fittings in place or as in this case replacements fitted. I don’t know why some electricians insist on wiring some circuits the way they do when it leaves too many cables at the light ceiling roses. The maximum should never really be more than four cables, that is twelve conductors. The minimum of course would be one or two cables, that is three or six conductors. Ceiling roses can accommodate these levels though I have to say the more conductors the more difficult it is to connect them neatly. Another thing I find with some electricians is the lack of slack they leave in the roses or switches which makes alterations and repairs almost impossible in some cases. These are the problems I had at this house so it inevitably took me longer than normal to do the work. Anyway, Tuesday started quite differently as I had no scheduled work but there was one job I wanted to do at home which was to fill-in the three small spots on the Plot with concrete where they couldn’t be done when the original work was carried out a couple of weeks ago. It was less than an hour’s work and I was soon back indoors with nothing to do. I was waiting for a call from the place I had ordered the wall plaque a few days earlier and also from an electrical wholesaler who was sourcing the part-night photo cell I have been attempting to acquire to control the garden lamp-post. It was mid-morning when my phone rang but it was an invitation to work at a house less than a half-mile away. I was more than happy to oblige as I was beginning to get bored. He had a couple of track lights, the track of which appeared faulty but after testing I discovered it was the lights themselves that were faulty and would need replacing if he wished to keep the track system. He wouldn’t need me or any other electrician to fit the replacements. I returned home with the prospect of little to do for a couple of days. There seems to be therefore a bit of a lull in activity and until I receive the plaque and the sensor I will be searching for things to occupy my time. I had one job scheduled for Thursday but it was rescheduled to be done on Friday instead which meant Wednesday and Thursday would be free though I did have a dental appointment on Wednesday morning. I really looked forward to that!
Should I or shouldn’t I? That theme was mulling around in my head for hours on Wednesday evening. It was all to do with my project on the Plot. I had pretty much used all the materials I had so more needed to be purchased. The weather forecast for Friday and throughout the weekend was for rain. That meant all outside construction work would cease. Of course if I had a large enough tent to cover the site the rain would not be a problem, however I do not posses one. Perhaps if I had thought about such things many years ago I might have purchased something and had one to hand. The only other option would be to buy an awning but it would need to be fairly large. The project doesn’t warrant the cost so when it rains the project stops. It isn’t as though it will rain non stop for weeks, mind you this is the UK I am talking about so anything is possible! Should I buy in the materials and perhaps do a couple of hours work on Thursday morning while it was still hot and sunny or should I wait a few days and buy the materials then? No contest with me, I had to be doing something. The only drawback when purchasing these heavy materials is that I have to empty out my van of electrical gear and tools if I am to collect them myself. The alternative is to pay the merchant to deliver, the cost of which could buy me more materials. If they deliver I have no control over the time or even the day of delivery. When I have nothing to do but work on my project I don’t want what time I have to be wasted waiting for materials to arrive. I emptied the van and whenever I do that I place everything on the garage floor in a neat and tidy order to make putting it all back later far easier. I have to be careful not to purchase too much as I don’t wish to overload the van, although I could make a couple of trips if I needed to. The merchant is about mile and a quarter from home so a couple of trips don’t take up much time. All I wanted this time was six bags of sand and two bags of cement so only the one trip was necessary. Once I returned home and offloaded the materials and reloaded my electrical gear I was ready to do a couple of hours work.
I didn’t want to work in the afternoon for two reasons, one, it was going to be a hot day and two, I wanted the mortar to have enough time to set before the onset of the rain we were promised the following morning. I only laid twenty-five bricks but it was enough to have satisfied my goal for the day. I finished at noon, plenty of time before the likelihood of rain, about fifteen hours or so. I tidied up the area and stored everything away until next week. I could concentrate on electrical work until then and I had plenty of that to do. The old metal bin you see in the first picture we have been using to burn rubbish inside. When I lifted it out of the spot where I had put it temporarily the base fell out! I am wondering how much longer it would last if I didn’t get rid of it? It is old and worn out…..a bit like me!
I have been waiting for an opportunity to get into the garden again, that is the rear garden, to do more work but two things have stood in the way this past week. Firstly the weather turned unsettled with intermittent rain and windy conditions. Although that was enough to keep me indoors I hadn’t the time anyway because of a busy work schedule. For some reason my electrical services have been in great demand this past week keeping me away from everything else I might want to do. Each day I’ve had electrical work to do, some days three jobs and some two and none of them were difficult, in fact much of the work was ridiculously easy. Is it any wonder then that I continue to work? There were some spare hours during the week but they were dedicated to housekeeping and the things one does inside the house. While the offers to work are coming in I would be foolish to reject them though a few have been rejected because too much was being asked of me. A couple of ladies told me they were envious that I could pick and choose what I do but I told them I think I’ve earned that privilege having been at work for 54 years! So it has been a busy week but it has been profitable and worth the time spent. There will be plenty of opportunities to get back into the garden if all goes well. The plants I’ve put in over the last few weeks are all doing well but more need to be planted elsewhere in the garden and I’ve yet to decide what I want to do in the plot behind the garage from where I removed the gooseberry bushes. One idea is to have a compost heap there. We used to have one in the area but somehow it was done away with when we stripped out the various shrubs and trees that were growing there some years ago.
We do have a compost bin, that is a large plastic container into which we can tip in grass cuttings and other degradable items just like the ones above . It stands at the rear of the other garage but perhaps it could be moved to the plot instead. There are numerous old house bricks only suitable for use as hardcore which sit near to the other garage too together with many large natural stone pieces still remaining after they were dug out of the mound in 2014. They could all be moved to the plot and out of sight until somebody decides they have a use for them. If I do that I will erect a wooden fence to hide it all and make the area more presentable. If we have to keep these things they are best kept out-of-the-way and the plot is an ideal place for that. Everything takes time but at present most of it is getting used elsewhere.
It was Friday morning and a day forecast to have rain. After many days of dry and bright weather it is always welcome to have some rain. It meant however that E and I could do no more work in the front flowerbed we had made a start on a couple of days earlier. I was available though I expected calls for my electrical services and indeed got some but unfortunately they were jobs I wasn’t prepared to undertake. The top room beckoned. My readers may remember we had done a lot of work in refurbishing one of the rooms at the top of the house up and until the weather turned hot and sunny. It was wiser to make the most of the good weather while it lasted and get on with necessary outdoor work. We would rather have continued the work indoors to its completion but we need to use our free time in the best ways possible. So it was that on Friday morning I did some sanding down of the wood we had painted last time in preparation of receiving another coat. The window frame and some of the other woodwork were painted before I decided I’d had enough for the day. As it turned out it did rain but there was little of it and we could have continued with the flowerbed had we wished but we didn’t want to risk it.
Just before our lunch which we had later than usual our next-door neighbour came to the door and E brought her into the kitchen where I was removing the edible seed pods of a pomegranate and putting them into a bowl. She had come to give us each a box of chocolates. I asked her why she had done so and she told us that it was simply in recognition of our being there for her when she needed help. Naturally we thanked her but insisted she need not have bought us anything. Anyway she passed a remark about how much she liked eating pomegranates when she was a young girl and I offered her some, passing her a dessert spoon. She half-filled the spoon and ate them and I could see the look of delight on her face as she remembered the taste. Soon she returned home and we had lunch. We did nothing else that day except pick up a few weeds and have a short break out on the patio. It wasn’t sunny but it was warm. I received another call for work on Monday morning so I would have to make the most of my free time at the weekend or get nothing done.
Now that I feel like doing some work I find a reluctance to do so. The warm weather and various appointments haven’t helped either. So once again the small project gets shelved. Early on Friday morning E and I took a member of the family the twenty miles to the next town so he could conduct some business. He was incapacitated and was unable to drive himself. It was almost 1.45 by the time we returned home for lunch. At 3.45 E had an appointment at the hospital to have an X-ray picture taken of her knees on the advice of her doctor. Her left knee had been causing her problems for quite some time and it was painful for her whenever she knelt down. Her right knee had banged against a stair rail a few days ago when she tripped whilst climbing the last couple of steps leading to the top room we are redecorating, that is when we get around to it again! The fall was her own fault and not switching on the lights didn’t help. She asked if I could drive her to the hospital though she was able to do so herself. She did say that her back was aching and she needed to relax. That problem was probably caused by her bending down on her knees and digging out the weeds in the flowerbed. She uses a proper kneeling stool but I don’t think she realises that kneeling down and stretching to dig out weeds isn’t doing her back or indeed her knees any favours. She ought to use a hoe instead but she insists on doing it her way. So what with her aches, pains and injuries and the problems I have had this past week is it any wonder the redecorating has slowed down to a crawl? Now that the weather is turning warmer and sunnier it is going to be difficult to discipline ourselves and get the room finished. I still have to find the time to do other necessary jobs at home too. Did I say we are looking forward to some rainy days?