On Thursday Feb 1 st I took my van in for its eighth MOT annual test and expected it to pass thinking that if it failed it would be something small that failed it. It failed! It did fail on something small too. Because the van carries various loads from time to time and those loads can either be heavy, light or something in-between there is apparently some sort of levelling device linked to the braking system which is supposed to raise or lower the van to compensate. A small hydraulic valve achieves this but I was told the one on my van wasn’t working properly and would need replacing. As I had booked the van in for one of its rare servicing appointments the garage mechanic would replace the part at the same time. I didn’t have to pay for the MOT until the service had been completed. The van was to return for that four days later on the Tuesday. I reckon the van has done extremely well in passing all of its tests these past eight years. It still hasn’t covered 32 thousand miles in the eleven years since purchase.
Mind you I do look after it and don’t drive like a maniac. That said though there are things I have no control over, the valve mentioned for one. In case you are interested the van is a Peugeot Partner and it really has been my partner since I bought it new in 2008. Come to think of it I have been very fortunate with the vehicles I have bought over the years. Some people change their vehicles very often but I like to get my money’s worth and keep them until it is no longer profitable to do so. I therefore haven’t had too many in the 53 years since I passed the driving test. I have had eight cars and the last two vehicles have been vans, both the same model but my present van has been much more economical than its predecessor. I don’t drive a car now as I explained in another post, the van is much more versatile.
My van will be ten years on the road come Spring, March to be precise and during that period so far it has covered a mere thirty thousand and a couple of hundred miles only. Not a lot of mileage and considering the engine is run on diesel, a mere drop in the ocean. That means little wear and tear and of course little expenditure too. Nevertheless despite the low mileage the engine has been started many, many times which of course has been a strain on the battery. The original battery, as I write this on Monday, is still under the bonnet but I made the decision to have it replaced and by Tuesday a new one will have been installed. I had the old one checked beforehand of course and a replacement was just about required. Although I could have managed with the old battery for a while longer I thought it prudent to have it replaced just in case it failed at an inopportune time. Money well spent I think. On Wednesday this week (27th) another measurement will be taken in the garage to ensure our alterations will be adequate for the new door installation. There is no reason why it should not as we have followed the instructions regarding the installers requirements. The door will be installed on Thursday the following week and I am to pay the balance on the day. However, the fitters are to be paid separately preferably by cash. With that in mind and whilst I was out arranging for the battery replacement I withdrew the remainder of the cash which I couldn’t withdraw the first time in readiness. The fee will be £415 requiring two withdrawals from an ATM on separate days because of the present £300 limit here in the UK. All routine stuff as we all know. That expenditure will be money well spent too. I asked E if she would like to dine out for we hadn’t done that for a time but she had to spend the late morning and early afternoon out with her mom. On my return home she still hadn’t left the house but did so soon afterward. It was one-fifteen when she returned and we went out to lunch. We drove to a place located on the other side of the next town, somewhere we have visited many times. This time however service was slow even though there were few diners in there. Disappointed we left and went to another establishment not far down the road, another place we have visited many times before. This time the service was prompt. Well we thoroughly enjoyed the time spent there laughing and joking with the staff as well as ourselves. Time well spent cheering up other people and bolstering our own relationship too. We didn’t stay for coffee though as we might have done but drove homeward passing Dobbies (garden centre) on the way where we spent a little time drinking coffee. The coffee was free, that is each month I am entitled to two free drinks of coffee or tea because I have membership there. That was nice too and again our time had been well spent.
I had not worked on the Plot for some days but was determined to get something done on Tuesday when the weather made a change for the better. The forecast for the following few days looked promising too so I hoped to make the most of them. I had to take my van in on Tuesday morning to have a fault on the lighting circuits repaired but the repair shop didn’t open until nine o’clock and I had to wait a while. It was almost ten o’clock before I returned home. I walked the distance as it wasn’t too far away. It meant a late start for my project work but soon I was in my overalls and getting organized. I had put everything away after I had last worked on the job which was just as well because of the heavy rain we had in the interim. I spent about three hours mixing mortar and laying bricks. Not having a helping hand made the work tiring for I had to do everything myself. I laid about nine bricks to finish the outer walls and then began to build the inner wall on one side. This is how far I got..
I have almost completed the right-hand-side now and have also started building the inner wall at the front (out of sight in this picture). Part of the left hand inner side wall was built last week but hopefully I will get to finish it tomorrow, Wednesday as I write. I may have to find some more bricks to be able to complete the inner walls though I haven’t done a brick count yet to verify that. Hopefully I will be able to use some of the old second-hand bricks we have lying around if it comes to their need. I did no more work in the afternoon having finished tidying up at one-thirty to have lunch. I was also waiting for a call from the repair shop letting me know the repair had been done.
So Monday came and went and there was no telephone call from the builders/scaffolding company about our leaking roof. It appears they are too busy, probably carrying out repairs for lots of other people having the same problem. We will just have to wait for a while and leave it up to the insurance company to push things along. I will contact them if nothing happens soon though. I had completely forgotten about the roof as I had work to do, electrical work to be precise. My first job of the day and indeed the year was to change a couple of power outlets and check or replace one or two lighting units. The old lady who had called me earlier in the previous week called again on Sunday at my request for I didn’t want anything to do with work over the two-week Christmas and New Year break. I had previously worked for this lady a year ago last November but when she called me she had thought I had done that work in early summer last year. When I arrived at her house I remembered her. What I had forgotten was the fact that she could talk a glass eye to sleep! She didn’t let me down this time either as she didn’t stop talking during the hour and a half I was there! I mean that literally, she didn’t stop at all except to take a breath or allow me a word. Even as I was getting in my van to drive off she continued to speak. I was glad to get out of the house and drive off to the second job back in my home town, though the other side of town. I had worked at this house previously too, I had installed a replacement shower unit there about three years ago. A guy welcomed me inside but the work was to be done outside the house replacing an outdoor wall light. He was an Italian guy of similar age to myself and I had a little difficulty in explaining things to him regarding some of the work I had to do in order to meet his requirements. The old fitting only worked if an internal light was switched on but the new light was equipped with a motion detector and needed a permanent supply. Eventually I managed to get through to him and he was able to understand. By the time I had finished the work it was way after lunch time and I then had to pay a visit to my supplier to purchase some things for my van stock. On the way to that second job I called into a vehicle repair station to book my van in for a service followed by an MOT test. That work is scheduled for 4 February, a Thursday, so I must remember not to schedule any work of my own for that day. My ears are still ringing after the first job!