I might as well retire from electrical work for again on Monday I hadn’t any. I shouldn’t speak too soon though because that can change in an instant. As it happened Monday was a fine day and it enabled me to get out in the garden once more. Now it was that once my electrical work was hard-going at times but now the only hard work, that is physically hard work I do is either in the house or in the gardens. My current project has definitely been hard-going. Digging out bluebells so deep beneath the surface is very tiring especially as I have spent hours at a time doing it! On Monday my main aim was to concentrate on installing a stone edging to the long flowerbed and I got this far with it…..(as always, click on pictures to magnify).
What slowed me down, apart from heaving the stones into position was the fact that I had also been digging out bluebells in the bed behind it. I see one and dig deep to get at it but it isn’t alone and I ended up digging lots of them. What is heartbreaking is that as I think I’ve finished digging them out I notice another and so on. These are sprouting up in ground I had already filtered! It proves they are elusive but I leave them till they appear at the surface. It’s all I can do. Anyway it looked as though I might not have enough slabs to finish the edging so I decided to use the ones in the Mound and elsewhere, replacing them with large stones instead. When I went to The Mound to see what I could use I saw more bluebells around the slabs so digging them out became my task for an hour or so. It is unbelievable how many times I have revisited The Mound to dig out bluebells….This time I began just on the other side of the dwarf conifer in the foreground and ended up at the back of the Mound as I saw more of them to dig out. I also removed the stone slabs which were surrounding the Phoenix Canariensis in the west wall flowerbed and tidied up the area…
The Phoenix Canariensis is almost dead centre in the picture. Whilst working in the area I put more soil in the bed where I had been working a day or two earlier removing some large slabs of stone. As I am the only one working in the garden the work is taking a lot of time to do. In all I spent about five and a half hours in the garden. Monday was the day the green waste was collected and our two wheelie bins are no longer full of bluebells! However, I do have to empty out the builders bag which is full of them too! That can be done at any time though, there is no hurry, there is too much else to do in the meantime.
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 finally got up early on Wednesday after a few days of getting up so late I’d missed breakfast. It was a classical ‘cold and frosty morning’ with some thin fog hanging about but the day turned out sunny throughout. It was cold though and barely above zero degrees (Celsius) and in fact it never rose above three. I watched the blackbirds foraging for food around the spot I had left some grounded up nuts and monkey nuts (in their shells) for both birds and squirrels. At least my plant pots still had their loose bark on top intact after I had placed some sticks into them to prevent the birds from landing upon them. They had been tossing the bark all over the place beforehand. Still, they had shifted some leaves in the borders and on to the path in their rummaging for insects. The nuts I had left for the squirrels had all disappeared so I grabbed a handful and went into the garden and put them in the same spot. There was no sign of a squirrel during the time I watched from indoors but one then two magpies came down and started to sample the nuts. They had to break the shells first but that seemed to come naturally to them. I decided to return to the garden with a handful of loose seeds and spread them around whilst chasing off the magpies with their bounty. There were still enough nuts left for the squirrels should they put in an appearance. I returned again indoors and waited to see what would happen. It took some time but finally the blackbirds returned and ate their fill of seeds whilst a squirrel, probably the same one I have seen a few times recently, appeared and began eating the nuts before burying a few here and there in the border. The magpies didn’t return but a few jays or jackdaws came down to eat the seeds. They however left the nuts alone. I supposed they didn’t know there were nuts inside the shells or they were too lazy to try to break them open. The competition and rivalry can be intense when the weather is cold and the food is scarce. That’s why we like to put food out for them when the weather is cold. We haven’t used the bird table recently because of the high winds we’ve had. I want to make a slight alteration to the table in order to keep the larger birds from using it. They will be able to feed on the ground. Later in the day I watched the antics of the squirrel for quite some time as it wandered around.
Nuts (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Just after breakfast I received a call from a regular customer asking if I could investigate a faulty floodlight. She wasn’t sure if I was back at work after the holiday but I told her I was taking a three-week break. nevertheless I agreed to look at the problem on Friday to fall in-line with her schedule. So much for a three-week break, it’s nuts I tell you, nuts! Later I had just finished lunch when our next-door neighbour rang asking if I could repair a faulty hinge on her chest freezer. I was there five minutes later with my toolbox. A hinge pin had simply worked its way out so it was an easy thing to put it back. When I returned home I made myself a coffee and what do you know, the squirrel was back again and running about all over the place. By now it was getting slightly foggy again as the sun sank behind the houses. It had turned colder too.
Early to Bed (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Early to bed and early to rise according to the proverb makes you healthy, wealthy and wise. Not completely sure about the truth in those facts but I do know that it certainly improves my (financial) wealth if it is off to work I will be going. After doing a small job the day before I rested for the remainder of the day and went to bed as early as I thought fit on Sunday evening because I had to arise early on Monday morning. I would be off to work to do a small job before eight o’clock. It was the only time the customer could be at home unless I was prepared to work in the evening or at the weekend. I try my best not to work at those times, excepting for emergencies as was the case on Sunday. Despite the fact I knew I would be getting up early I couldn’t get off to sleep for quite some time and even when I did it was erratic once again. All I can say is that I probably don’t need the sleep I sometimes think I do. I guess that is an age-related thing or I am not working enough to get tired. As we age of course we are less able to work as hard and for as long as we once did. It’s a ‘catch twenty-two’ situation. Anyway I arrived at the house, two miles away, at seven forty-five and was back home less than an hour later having done the work. That work led to more work for me to do later in the week, on Friday when the customer would be able to get some free time at home. E was still in bed when I arrived home and didn’t get downstairs until nine-thirty. She keeps strange hours, not usually getting to bed until one o’clock in the morning. As I write this it is now approaching ten o’clock and I have no plans for the rest of the day but that could change, it often does *. Not so for the rest of the week though, I have work scheduled for each day. It is always busy at this time of year. Maybe I’ll get tired enough to sleep through!
* PS. I did end up doing more work, two more jobs in fact.
A sedentary person, or “typical couch potato” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I was watching the day’s news on television today (Wednesday) and smiled when I heard about an elderly widower who has been advertising for a job vacancy. He is just about 90 years old, his wife died two years ago and he says the boredom of not doing anything each day is driving him crazy. I know many his age who find it difficult to get up from the couch being as they are self-confessed couch potatoes! I admired his pluck and his obvious energy, even at his age, no, especially at his age. The newsreader went on to say that a local restaurant owner has invited the man along for an interview with the prospect of work to follow we assume if he is successful at the interview. I wish him success too. Not everyone wants to stop working as they get older it seems so I am in good company. I find it difficult to sit around doing nothing for any length of time but I don’t wish to spend my time doing useless things either. I like to be productive which means creating improvements in anything I do. It is good to spend time out of course but not for too long or too often. I know people who just flit away the hours going from place to place but actually getting nowhere, their time is spent looking at things or sitting in pubs and restaurants every day which would bore me to tears. Each to their own of course but I want to leave a lasting legacy that hopefully others will be able to enjoy when I’m gone. This is one of the reasons I like working for others or working at home on the house or especially in the gardens. I was looking out of the window in the wet room which overlooks the side of the house where I had been working during the summer, the ‘Plot’. I look at my achievements both there and elsewhere in the garden and am satisfied that what I have done is lasting. Whenever I look out of the windows at home my thoughts centre on what other improvements I can make. I am limited at this time of year as to what I am able to do simply because of the weather but I like making plans, in my head at least, for any future projects I’ve a mind to do. If I reach 90 I hope I will still have that same attitude and not resign myself or consign myself to a life of idleness.
Relentless is good, it means work is available if I want it. The period leading up to the Christmas break is always the same for me, busy. Relentlessly the offers pile in.
Relentless (Sick of It All song) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I don’t like refusing work but I must do it or burn myself out. I reckon I have passed on more work offers than I have accepted these past few weeks. On Thursday last I had one small job to do and to be honest I didn’t want any more work until the following week but the calls kept coming in. Most of the offers were for larger jobs but as I no longer take on the larger tasks they were rejected. However one or two smaller work offers were made and I did those. I wanted no more but still the offers came in. I found myself making all sorts of excuses for not doing them as it appeared people don’t want to take no as an answer. I was driving to the last job when a guy phoned me. I guess he must have been around ten years younger than myself as he was asking if I could do some work for his father who was in his mid to late eighties. It turned out not to be just one little job but more than four and he practically pleaded with me to do them. I was determined not to give in as I explained that I was extremely busy and probably wouldn’t find the time in the foreseeable future. I also mentioned that I was just about seventy-one years old, trying to wind-down but even so my diary was full and that I had personal things to attend to without getting much time to do them. It seemed to have fallen on deaf ears as he once again asked if I could perhaps find the time sometime in the next week. I had to politely end the conversation for fear that I might have succumbed to his persistence. Actually I know I wouldn’t have, I don’t give in to such pressure. Do people think I am a machine which never gets tired? Maybe I am considering what I do!
Boat of Boredom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
It appears that not having my advertisement published makes little difference to my receiving requests for my electrical services. To be honest though those requests have been few and I have refused more than I have accepted. To say I don’t mind would be truthful, as long as those requests are few, the occasional job breaks the boredom if I’ve nothing else to do. The weather has been a blessing, allowing me to be able to work at home outdoors but of course that won’t last. I write this on Wednesday afternoon after doing an electrical job this morning. I want to get into the garden again if not to work but at least to see if there is anything I would like to do as a project. I already have one or two things in mind which will cost me some money to do them but will keep me occupied for a little time at least. I guess I could spend a very long time out in the gardens doing something even if it is only maintenance! I wonder sometimes what makes some people tick. Here I am, almost 71 years of age still working and more especially wanting to whilst some do as little as possible, avoiding work at all costs and only wishing to collect their unemployment benefits, something I and others like me are paying for! If it were me in charge I would insist that all who are able-bodied be employed by local authorities doing anything that needs to be done before they could claim their benefits. There are many things that could be done, removing graffiti, cleaning rubbish from our streets, helping the disabled and many labour intensive duties not covered by those in full-time employment. Society it seems would rather spend our money by wasting it or just giving it away. The problem with all of this is we have too many rules and regulations which thwart efforts to use our unemployed workforce doing useful things for the society in which they live.
I like being my age, most of the time that is! Age brings with it many problems for some people though some will sail through their latter days with hardly a problem at all. You might say it was a matter of luck or good fortune and you would be partly right. Much of our health and susceptibility to illnesses can be attributed to our genes but not for everyone. We have to do our best to stay healthy and hope that will be enough. Remaining active into old age is beneficial to our health and well-being and it is one of the reasons I have kept working beyond the age I would normally have retired. The other reasons for working are that I enjoy it and if I am working for someone else it pays too! The beauty of working for one’s self is that there is no real pressure, you can work as much as you want to. Since becoming self-employed over nineteen years ago I have found that to be true. I can take work on board or not and take time for myself when it suits me. On Tuesday last I had a call from a guy for whom I had worked in the past and he was asking for my electrical services to solve a couple of problems he was having with his installation. My intention has been to work at home on a mini-project concerning the floodlights at the rear of the house but as there was no pressure to do it I agreed to respond to his request. It was nine o’clock when I arrived at his house and eleven-thirty when I left. It was financially beneficial to me of course and well worth the time I had spent there. When I returned home I prepared a vegetable and chicken stew, mostly vegetables, the way I prefer it being made. I used onions, bell peppers, garlic cloves, carrots and peas on this occasion together with pre-cooked diced chicken. I made enough for two or three meals as often I don’t have the time or inclination to stand in the kitchen cooking, much as I like cooking. I had some of the stew for my lunch as by then it was one o’clock. Soon after lunch I put on my overalls and started working in the garden. First job was to move the small concrete slabs, natural stone slabs and a couple of bricks that I had temporarily left in the passageway between the side of the house and the ‘Plot’ where I had been working lately. I then began to erect two sections of the scaffolding tower to allow me to reach the floodlights on that side and end of the house. There are five floodlights on the rear and side walls of the house. The one nearest the patio and facing the lawn had been faulty for some weeks so I planned to remove it and replace it with the one just around the corner which faced the Plot. It is the light just to the right of the window at bottom right in this picture, though the picture was taken a few years ago before I changed them to LED floodlights…… I would then extend the wiring from where I had removed that floodlight and install a new floodlight further along the wall but at a lower height and better position to illuminate the Plot and the passageway to the rear of the garage. Re-positioning that floodlight would also prevent false triggering of the floodlight’s sensor caused by the laurel bushes at the side of the patio which move in the wind. I got most of the work done by five o’clock when it began to get too dark. I had to put everything away but of course I left the tower erected as I hadn’t finished the work. Another hour or so would see it completed and I planned to do that the next day.
Ladies in Retirement (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
So much for semi-retirement and taking things a little easier. I am approaching my 71st birthday and by all accounts should have retired by now but because I am not one for lazing about and living the high life (whatever that is) I am still working. Of course I am talking about my electrical work for there is always other work to be done at home. Officially I am semi-retired though as far as the electrical work is concerned, and I do try to limit what I do in that respect, it hasn’t worked out that way. Although I haven’t been doing electrical work every day this past week on the days that I have done so I haven’t had much of a rest from it. I am my own worst enemy I suppose because I don’t like letting people down. Even so I have had to turn down more work than I have actually taken on board. I need to remove my advertisement more often and I might just do that. I remember the last time I did though it made no difference, I still got phone calls. The price of being too popular I guess….well someone’s got to blow my trumpet! Although I enjoy my work I am getting more tired of it as the months go by so perhaps a proper retirement is on the horizon. I’ll have to weigh up that possibility though and it will depend on whether I can remain occupied more at home. I have to find things to do or go bananas. I suppose I am more tired because I have been doing work both at home and away and occasionally both on the same day. I said to myself that as long as I am capable I will continue to work and I have kept that promise but I also said that I will cut down on it. I haven’t kept that promise though but increasingly it is becoming more important that I do.
Every so often you get a day where nothing seems to go right or you are interrupted at the wrong time. It happens to me fairly often. They are the kind of days I struggle sometimes just getting things done but I persevere, I really don’t have a choice, none of us do, it’s just the way things go in life. Having the right attitude and not getting all worked-up is the key to overcoming whatever comes our way. It doesn’t make it easier nevertheless. For me it is more of a nuisance when things happen the way they sometimes do. I had placed an order for a Victorian style street lamp-post two and a half weeks earlier but was still waiting for the delivery. I decided to call the supplier for the second time to make inquiries and after a minute or so was told that they were having trouble with their computer when making a search for my details. This was the same response I got when I first called them a few days earlier. I was asked for a contact number and I gave them my mobile number as I knew I would be in the garden when they returned the call.
Most of the work on or in the Plot had been completed on Tuesday but I still had a couple of things to do. The main one was to cut a brick in half to place at the end of the existing wall near to the rear of the garage. It was necessary to put it there now because I needed to fill in a small section next to the end of the paving slabs with concrete. There are two other small areas which also need filling with concrete too as they couldn’t be done earlier. I will do all three in a day or two. I also had to fill in the spaces beneath the natural stone capping I had set in place on Tuesday with mortar and any other places which required filling too. So on Wednesday morning I put on my overalls and began the work. No sooner had I mixed the mortar when someone called me on my mobile phone. It was the company supplying the lamp-post and they had bad news. I was told that the lamp-post was currently out of production but should be available in four to five weeks! ‘WHAT’? I exclaimed and proceeded to remind them that when I originally made inquiries I was told the same thing but that they would email me when one was available. They sent an email a week or so later informing me that I could now place an order, which is what I did. Now they were telling me differently. What kind of organisation is it? Meanwhile the mortar was getting harder. The young girl on the phone said she would make further inquiries and call me again. I carried on with my work. I was mixing the mortar by hand, a bucket at a time to make it more manageable. The work took three buckets to complete. Just after I had mixed the second load the girl called back and told me that she had spoken with her manager and they have agreed to deliver the lamp-post on either the following Monday or Tuesday. I thanked her for resolving the problem and continued with my work but I was thinking from where did this lamp-post suddenly appear when I had been told none were available yet? I was part-way through using the second bucket of mortar when the phone rang again. This time it was someone asking if I could install several floodlights where none existed around their house. I rejected the offer because of the amount of work involved and resumed my work. I had to mix one more bucket of mortar and had just done so when the phone rang once more. This time it was an old lady living a few hundred metres away who was having difficult in getting someone to repair problems with her kitchen lights. I told her I would call later and after lunch because at that moment I was about to use the mortar I had just mixed. I was wasting my time telling her that for she just kept on talking and I could stop her! Eventually I got a word in to remind her that the mortar was getting harder by the minute. The penny must have dropped and she apologised for inconveniencing me. I would call there at one-thirty as arranged. I finished that work and then went indoors for a length of high-grade pvc sheet to place beneath the garden compost bin now sited on the Plot and a pair of scissors to cut it. I doubled the sheet then placed the bin on it and then cut the sheet around it. I placed the bin where it should go then by the wheelbarrow transferred the contents of the yellow bag which I had temporarily removed from the bin a couple of weeks earlier. It took five trips with the wheelbarrow but I couldn’t get the barrow close enough to the bin to refill it directly. I had to use a large bucket to transfer it from the barrow to the bin. Fortunately the bucket holds half the capacity of the wheelbarrow so the transfer didn’t take long. Time to clear up and have lunch.
I got to the old lady’s apartment and discovered that she had eight large recessed down-lights in the kitchen, three of which were faulty. They were fitted with 100 watt screw-in lamps which are notorious for burning the holders and occasionally the wiring too. One old lamp had been broken off in an attempt to remove it and I had to remove the whole fitting from the ceiling before I could repair it. I explained why these fitting were causing the problems she’d had with them. Basically they get too hot! I explained the advantages in replacing the lamps with LED versions but after I had told her how much they would cost (£65 -£90 just for the lamps themselves) if she changed all eight she changed her mind and asked if I could replace one so that she could ‘test’ it. She would then get her son to replace the others a few at a time. Not a problem. She hadn’t the funds to pay me there and then for my time and it bothered her but I told her not to worry and that I would return on Thursday with a lamp. I had phoned my supplier to see if they had the lamps in stock and it appeared they had but three left and were waiting a delivery of more. I drove there but it seems they couldn’t locate the lamps where their computer indicated they would be and after ten minutes they and I gave up. I walked the short distance to the other electrical supplier who had no problems finding one and at a lower price! I returned to my usual supplier as they had asked and I told them I bought one and that it cost £3 less at £8.40. I drove home. The following day I would be house-bound until the engineer who was to repair the fridge/freezer had called. It was a return visit because the original repair, such as it was, a re-fixed loose sensor, hadn’t worked!
I had one small electrical job to do on Monday morning in a local property a mile away but it turned out a little bit more difficult than I or the customer had assumed. I did the work and got back home around eleven-thirty and I really wanted to work in or on the Plot laying the last of the concrete between the newly laid paving slabs on the right of the flowerbed. I wanted to make the most of the fair weather while it lasted. It was a little too early for lunch so I went outside to set everything up and to put in some pieces of wood for shuttering where it would be necessary. It was twelve-thirty when I went indoors for lunch but I was back out again at one ready for work. I mixed a full load and then another half load in the mixer to fill-in the spaces and I had about two spoonfuls of concrete left over. A pretty good guess I thought and better to have that much over rather than being short of the amount. The hardest part for me anyway is the leveling off but that is only because of the grit in the mix. It takes a light handed touch to get it smooth. This is what it looked like on Tuesday..
Once I had finished I covered the area in case of overnight rain though the forecast was for dry weather. I started to clean up and pack everything away, including the mixer and stand which had been left outside for a few days. Any more concrete or mortar, and there would be for the work was not quite complete, would be mixed by hand. At last the major part of the work was finished and I could concentrate on other things. I started the project on 9th August but have not spent all day and every day working on it because of the weather and my other commitments. Considering what I have achieved I think I’ve done well. It has been hard work at times but that’s what drives me forward. Apart from the lamp-post project I have no other major projects in mind to do, at the moment that is!
Although I have lots more work to do in the Plot the main construction is complete. In a previous post I showed the natural stone slabs placed temporarily on the walls of the new ‘flowerbed‘ for want of a better description as there won’t be any flowers in it, not at this point anyway. The two slabs nearest the high wall had to be cut short by a few centimteres so it is fortunate that I have an angle grinder in my possession. The main object for having the raised bed there is firstly to give that extra height to anything grown in it. Secondly it will allow the sun to shine on the plants for a longer period in the year than if they were planted at ground level. The reason I needed to do this is because the garage blocks the sunlight from anything near to its rear wall. For instance in the month of June when the sun is at its highest anything within a metre or so of the garage still remains in the shade. No good for plants except those which prefer the shade. Plants growing in the bed will be bathed in sunshine for around three months or more. When this picture was taken it was late in the day so the sun wasn’t shining on the bed but earlier the shadow of the garage lay in the middle of the rear natural stone capping which meant the plants were in full sunshine for a few hours. The picture was taken on 29th August about a month and a half after the solstice. The space behind the bed will be paved and will be used for other things. Watch this space. Now I can concentrate on doing the steps, the paving and the landscaping. I had just finished the work for the day and it was after two o’clock. I had lunch then went out on the patio to join E who was already toasting herself in the sun! I was only there for ten minutes when I got a call from a guy who had asked me a few days previously if I would install his new cooker hob on Monday. As I had agreed I drove to his house which was fifteen miles away and did the work. It took me about fifteen minutes to do the job and soon I was on my way back home. I did return to the patio though by this time the sun shone on only a small part of it. It was enough and I spent fifteen minutes relaxing then I decided to get out the hose and water the garden before going indoors to prepare a meal.
………..especially at my age! Retirement, semi-retirement, couple of days a week or even a couple of hours a day should be my lot at my age. Somehow I can’t manage any of them. There are times though when all I want to do is well, nothing but I soon get restless doing that. I did one small electrical job about twelve miles from home and returned by ten o’clock. I had a larger job scheduled to follow but it was cancelled at the last-minute and at the time of writing I am not sure whether it is a permanent cancellation or not as they didn’t explain in their text message. A bit naughty I thought for not informing me one way or the other but that’s the way some people are I suppose. It didn’t matter because I could do some work in the plot. I donned a pair of overalls and boots and began cleaning out the small internal annex to the garage which stands next to the plot and followed that by clearing the pathway and the large pile of root balls that had been stacked in the corner of the plot which can be seen in a few recent posts. I then took the cement mixer stored in the other garage and put it behind the garage next to the plot for use when I had the time to begin laying bricks. The next thing was to stack some of the bricks recently purchased on the plot in readiness to build. Both the mixer and the bricks are covered with plastic sheets just in case it rains though that is unlikely for a few days. By now it was one o’clock and time for lunch. I had not long finished lunch and someone called asking if I would do a couple of small electrical jobs in a town twelve miles away. It was after two o’clock but I decided to take the work. It was too hot to work in the plot and too late to start mixing mortar anyway. It was an old lady for whom I had worked before and she wanted an extra power outlet installing and her bathroom towel heater checking over as it had ceased to work. It was five o’clock before I left after completing the work. So much for part-time working! After my evening meal I spent an hour watering the front and rear gardens! I don’t know how I do it all but thankfully I can.
After another full working week I was determined to take Friday off so that I could get started in earnest of my latest garden project which is to vamp up the are we now lovingly call the plot. If you’ve read my earlier posts you will know what I am writing about. Not only was I hoping to mix and lay the concrete topping on the footings for the proposed walls I wish to build but I was hoping the weather would stay fine as Thursday was a day of wind and rain. Friday as it turned out presented the ideal conditions for the work I was to do. I always expect phone calls when I am in the middle of doing something and Friday morning while I was working I got one. It was from an old lady who was desperate to have her doorbell circuit working as it had gone faulty. She could hear the concrete mixer in action and apologised for interrupting me. I explained that if she wanted me to do the work it would have to be later in the afternoon. She was insistent that I should pay her a visit but I will explain more further in this post. It takes some time to get organised when doing building work. First I had to get out the mixer and it’s stand and take them near to where I was working. There is a power outlet on the wall just beyond the bench in this picture where I could plug the mixer lead into. This picture was taken a couple of years ago before I carried out the alterations to the patio. Then I had to fetch the gravel, sand and cement. The cement is stored in the cellar room where the boiler is located in order to keep it dry. Fortunately that room is the one whose door leads directly into the garden. The other building materials are kept in the main garage. Finally I gathered all the tools I would need, brush, shovel, spades, wheelbarrow, hose pipe and such things as a spirit level and timber. I had to construct a wooden retaining wall before I could pour any concrete but it didn’t need to be anything fancy which was just as well for I had only off-cuts of various timbers anyway. It took two full mixer loads and another half load to finish the work. As you might have noticed the sun was about to shine down on the plot from the south. It was one o’clock. It would shine down for a further four hours or more on the plot and the patio next to it. I cleared everything away to return indoors for lunch at one-thirty. I went to fix the lady’s doorbell circuit a little after two o’clock. I was greeted by herself and a gentleman friend. He was evidently just that, her friend. Her husband had passed away within the last two years and I could see that she would be helpless without her friend. Why do I say that? She was what you might call highly strung and excitable, she was also very nervous and inattentive to anything I said regarding the fault. The bell itself hung in the hallway and three door push switches controlled it, one at the rear of the house and two at the front. It was the two at the front which didn’t work. I had to replace one of them. I traced the fault to a joint beneath the carpet and in the corner of the door frame. I had to roll back the carpet and remove the carpet grippers to get at it. Awkward wasn’t in it and one of the wires was extremely short! Somehow I got them all reconnected and everything was fine. The reason she had insisted the work be done immediately was because as she explained she was expecting a friend travelling up from Shropshire to visit for a few days! I couldn’t see the connection but as I explained, she was rather highly strung. She was overjoyed that I had taken the time from my day off to do her job though.
So many times I have said to myself and others that now I am in my 71 st year I am limiting my workload but increasingly I find myself breaking this promise. My main problems are that I enjoy my work and I don’t like to let people down. Of course there is a limit even so, I won’t be persuaded to work when I know I’ve had enough. On Thursday I had one electrical job scheduled and after a day’s break from work on Wednesday I was ready to get active again. It would take me around two hours to complete and I could drive back home. About an hour into the work I received another call from a lady not living too far from my house asking if I could do a small job for her so as such I agreed. I had just finished the first job and one of my regular customers asked if I could fix a problem with her lights. I couldn’t let her down but the work took me further away from home. I had it done in a few minutes before driving homeward and stopping at that lady’s house to do her little job. However whilst driving there I received yet another call asking for help with faulty lighting switches. I agreed to go there after I had done the lady’s work. Finally I was able to drive home but I needed to fill my van’s tank with diesel. My eldest son had called to the house but found no-one was at home. E was out shopping as by now it was three o’clock. I was ten minutes from arriving home so he waited. He is a keen cyclist and he wanted to collect one of the bike frames he stores in our cellar because he wanted to work on it. These bikes are not the run of the mill road bikes most people might buy but they are specialist built and cost a pretty penny to have repaired. That is why he wanted to do the work himself. By three-thirty he had left and I was about to have something to eat having missed my midday meal but I got another call to a house twelve miles away where they had lost all power.
Keep It Turned On (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Rather than drive all that way to fix the problem I tried to talk the customer through a possible solution over the phone but it all fell on deaf ears. Some people just won’t attempt to solve an electrical problem even if it only involves switching on a tripped circuit breaker. They seemed not to be able to get anyone else to help so I drove there. There was no power at their circuit breaker board so I checked the supply compartment on the other side of the wall on the outside of the house where the meter was located and there was an RCD unit in there which had tripped. I switched it on and all was back to normal. They told me that one of their freezers had become faulty so they unplugged it from the outlet and that is what had tripped the RCD . It cost them £40 for my call-out but they gave me £50. They could have done it themselves and saved the cash. £40 is my minimum charge for any work I do. Now although I had done five jobs on Thursday none of them were difficult but it’s the driving around that wears me out. I finally finished for the day at five o’clock having started at eight-thirty and no break for lunch. After my evening meal my eldest son returned asking if I could assist him to remove the pedal bearing assembly as it was to be replaced. However it had become damaged as he had tried to remove it with a special tool for the job. We had to come up with an alternative method to remove it. It took some time but we managed to free it. Now at least he can fit the new parts without the added cost for labour. It was now eight o’clock in the evening and I had little time for anything else.