Chip off the old block

English: Nissan GT-R Tachometer
Nissan GT-R Tachometer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I passed my driving test in April 1967 and soon after bought my first car, a Hilman Super Imp. It was maroon in colour and second-hand, though only a few months old. It lacked an interesting dashboard and I decided to make one and fit it myself. I constructed it from plywood and stained and varnished it to look like walnut. In it I fitted a rev.counter (or a tachometer) together with a voltmeter and an ammeter  to monitor the battery state and charging. I fitted lights to monitor other functions and a radio too and by the time I had finished it was quite a work of art. The project gave me a couple of weeks of something to do in my spare time and I was well pleased with the result. As I grew older and bought other vehicles I found I was no longer interested in tinkering with them probably because they were better appointed and also the fact that I had other things to do with my time.
The other day my eldest son paid us a visit but he wanted to use one of the garages so that he could tinker with his car out of the poor weather we had been experiencing and also because it was evening and he needed light. He returned a second time on Tuesday at lunchtime so he could carry on with his little project. On both occasions he mustered a little help from me as well as asking for some materials which I was able to supply. His project? He was installing some red LED strips in the passenger foot-well and around the glove compartment and other discrete places. The idea is to give a gentle background red light effect inside the car when it is dark. He has learned to do these things all by himself and with very little assistance from myself though I have rendered some help whenever he has asked. He shows an interest and is not afraid of a hands-on approach when tackling any manual work. His brother is much the same but I have yet to see him tinkering with the electrics in his car to the same extent. I wonder from where they got their aptitude and inclination?

Shirley Anne


Busy week

English: A remote control for an automatic gar...
English: A remote control for an automatic garage door opener – showing the outer case and inner circuit. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last week saw me gainfully employed doing something every day, work, rest and play! I was kept rather busy at work especially which has come at just the right time, not that I am desperate for money, I am not but rather than having to dip into my savings I found myself with the cash to fund the various projects I had planned at home. Those things are now catered for as well as getting E’s car back on the road. E and I actually dined out together for the first time in six months on Wednesday and had a thoroughly good time. We are now closer than we’ve been during the last six months. Some things need to change yet though before I can say we are back totally to where we were six months ago. It is good however that we are talking once again.
Two weeks ago tomorrow we had the roller door fitted to the new garage and E has enjoyed the fact that her car can rest securely overnight and out of the weather too. A thought came into her mind regarding the use of the garage when it is dark. There is a floodlight over the garage that is controlled by a motion detector but it doesn’t illuminate the inside of the garage which remains pitch-black unless the internal light is switched on and therein lies the problem. She can operate the roller door by remote control from her car but would have to get out of the car to switch on the light. I needed to come up with a system that switches on the internal light when the door is opened but only during the hours of darkness. I had the necessary components to construct a control box. I bought a proximity switch for the door and a photo cell detector to monitor the ambient light conditions and I constructed the control box on Friday morning. I plan to complete the installation today, Sunday. As the door reaches it’s fully open position it will operate a switch which in turn operates a relay. A switch on the relay is wired in series with the photo cell switch and on to the fluorescent light inside the garage. Both switches must be closed for the light to work so although the door may be fully open and operating the relay the light will remain off if it is still daylight. The light naturally has a manually operated wall switch too for use when the door is closed. This is a two-way switch that enables the supply to the light to come from a manual operation or the automatic operation but only one or the other. This is to prevent the light being accidentally left on manually. It all sounds complicated but in real terms it is quite simple. Well it will keep me out of mischief for a few hours whilst I am installing it all! Here endeth the electrical lesson for today… LOL.
I spent a few hours in the pub on Friday afternoon and evening and met up with quite a few people, some new to me and some well-known. I didn’t much feel like going to bed early and ended up staying up far too long consequently I didn’t get out of bed until a little later than I would normally do on a Saturday morning so I decided to forego my early morning session on the treadmill. I decided to take that exercise later in the evening last night instead. Now am I fit for work or fit to drop? Well after that exercise I had a good night’s sleep and am rearing to go as they say.

Shirley Anne

She had to give in after all and more

AA car transport vehicle, Bristol, United Kingdom
AA car transport vehicle, Bristol, United Kingdom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Thursday at our house means that E drives over to see her mom in the afternoon and they go shopping for food, usually to a superstore for most items and then on to other smaller stores for the rest. I had been out during the morning and when I returned I discovered that the gate to the new garage in which she now puts her car was closed but the alarm had been set in the house meaning she had gone out. She wouldn’t close the gate knowing that she was going to have to open it again on her return. I checked inside the garage to find her car was still there. I thought she may have gone to the store in a taxi so I called her mobile to ask if she needed a lift back home but she said she didn’t. When she returned home later with all the groceries I discovered that her brother, who lives with her mom, had given her a lift. I asked why she hadn’t used her own car and she told me that she wanted to see if she could get her car repaired in case that fault recurred and she found herself stranded again. Sounded sensible to me but the cost was going to be around £800 as she was previously told. She had phoned several other repair depots and got similar quotes so she knew the price was fair. So she had to give in to the fact that it was going to cost something to have it repaired. Most probably though it will be me paying! During the afternoon she made arrangements to have the car taken back to the depot who had previously checked it but when the rescue vehicle arrived they realised it was not suited for the task. As it was getting late in the afternoon they decided instead to send a large flat-bed vehicle fitted with a ramp and a winch on Friday morning. Now our street isn’t very wide and when the vehicle arrived it was far too long to back in toward the garage and even so the gates are too close together to allow it anyway. The car could not free-wheel as the gears were engaged because of the fault which meant it had to be slowly winched out of the garage and down the drive to the street using plastic skates beneath the two front wheels to protect the tyres. The driver used the winch and took the cable via a pulley half-way along the vehicle before taking it up the drive to the car. essentially the winch was pulling the car through a 90 degree angle. Eventually he managed to get the car on board and I drove ahead of him the two miles to the repair depot. E went along with him in his cab. We returned home in my van after a short detour and now await a call to let us know the repair is done. I got a call from an old lady who wanted some lights fitting and went off to do that. I have done several jobs for this lady who now lives alone after the death of her husband last year. She is still struggling in coming to terms with her loss and I could tell she is feeling lonely. She was a little short of funds to pay me and wanted to go to an ATM to withdraw some cash and also to spend an hour or so in town to do some shopping. She lives just on the other side of the main shopping area in the opposite side of town to myself. Naturally I took her to the ATM and then offered to drop her off as it was on the route home. We had been chatting about home life whilst I was working so I asked her if she would like to come along to see our house. She was so happy for the suggestion as it would be something of a diversion for her, a change to her routine. We drove to my house and her jaw dropped when she saw how big it was for she lives in a small bungalow. I invited her inside and took her for a mini-tour of the ground floor and cellar and then into the garden at the back. She couldn’t get over the size of the property when she saw it from the back garden for it is four stories high from there whereas it only looks two stories high from the front! After a short while I drove her back into town so that she could do her shopping and I went back home.

Shirley Anne

Never-ending story

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

Do you ever get the feeling that you are a walking bank? Hand always in your purse for someone else’s benefit? Well money is made round to go round they say and even the fifty-pence pieces will roll if there is enough impetus! Having children is an expensive affair and I have two of them, grown up but still reaching for assistance from time to time. It’s all a part of life and I have no reason to stash the cash other than to support whatever needs I may have in the future. That is the point though isn’t it? We never know what the future holds or even if we have a projected one. For me, money seems to come into one hand and straight out of the other in recent times and I struggle to save but I manage to anyway, little by little it all mounts up. My parents always told me to put a little something away for a rainy day and I have maintained that advice throughout my life, always putting something aside whenever I could. In the past few months I have forked-out cash to help our youngest son, not that I ever neglected our eldest son, he has benefitted from my support too. On Friday I spent all day installing new light fittings in a large house and didn’t return home until five o’clock. I was preparing something to eat when I received a call from E who asked me for assistance. Her car had stalled and would not restart. She drives a semi-automatic so couldn’t be towed in the normal way as the front wheels, the drive wheels, will not rotate if there is anything wrong with the clutch. The clutch is controlled automatically in her type of vehicle. The car can only be towed if the front wheels are lifted from the road, which requires a special vehicle fitted with the necessary lifting gear. that meant the car would have to be repaired where it stood else be carried  on the rear of a wagon. I drove to where she was, about 3/4 of a mile away and asked if she’d tried starting the engine again but she hadn’t. She tried it whilst I was there and it started. I had called my emergency breakdown service, the AA, as she hadn’t one and they came to our assistance within a half-hour. The guy explained to E what the problem was and that she would have to have the car examined but that he would drive behind her as she drove back home in case the engine failed again. It didn’t. Evidently the fault was intermittent. On Saturday E had her monthly meeting date with her friends some twenty miles away in another town or to be more precise a pub/restaurant outside of that town, a place we have often gone for a meal together. She was planning to drive there but I offered to drive her there instead. She insisted to drive herself but I advised her to take up membership of a breakdown service, something she agreed she must do anyway and she arranged that on-line with Green Flag.

Green Flag logo
Green Flag logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Meanwhile I did my routine exercise on the treadmill. By eleven I was dressed and ready to take her should she change her mind. She normally leaves the house around one o’clock so she had plenty of time to change her mind but didn’t. Around twenty minutes later she called me to say that the car had broken down again a mere half mile or so away near my local pub. This time the engine refused to restart so she was stuck. Eventually she called for assistance and they came to her rescue, however they could not do a roadside repair and arranged for her car to be taken to a service station in town. She missed her meeting because it was after four o’clock before the vehicle was recovered and half-past four before it was taken to the service station where I had arranged to meet her. The car will be checked on Monday morning. We drove home in my van. I have no idea how much the repairs will be and she doesn’t know it yet but I shall be paying for it and for her fee to the recovery service for her. Well what else should I do? It’s the never-ending story called love.

Shirley Anne


Traffic lights can have several additional lig...
Image via Wikipedia

This is something I’ve written about previously but I wanted to share this particular part of my day just to show you what it is like in my part of the world occasionally when I am out and about in my van.

Where do these people come from? On Wednesday morning I went to do an electrical job about two miles from home. I had driven but a couple of hundred yards when I got behind a lady driver who for reasons best known to her was struggling to keep her car in a straight line. She overtook stationary vehicles as though they were proximity bombs, swerving way over to the other side of the road unecessarily. She braked at almost every opportunity when just taking her foot off the accelerator would have been enough. She made a left turn and was soon out of the way. I approached the first set of traffic lights which were on red as were the brake lights on the vehicles stopped there. Why do people sit there with their foot on the brake pedal? I stop further back than usual when coming up behind people like that, I don’t want the bright lights glaring in my face. The lights changed to green but the car at the front of the queue was preventing the other cars from proceeding because the driver was turning right but had positioned the vehicle on the left! Just selfishness. Eventually I got across the lights and made a right-turn further on. A bus had parked up the road on a bend with its hazard lights flashing. Anyone overtaking the bus had great difficulty seeing the road beyond, making the manoeuvre dangerous. Moving on I came to a traffic island to turn left then on to another island going straight through. I came up behind a driver who wanted to crawl along in the 40 mph zone at 25 mph! Why? I couldn’t overtake him because of oncoming traffic. Half a mile on I made a right turn around another island and he went straight ahead, still crawling along. A short distance ahead I had to turn left down a winding road for half a mile and then right into the road where I was doing the job. Now that I finally arrived safely but a little frustrated at the quality of driving I witnessed getting there I was ready to start work. There was no answer at the door. I phoned the house number but only got the answering service. I left a message. I also left my card with a message reminding them of my appointment. I waited thirty minutes during which time I decided to tidy up the contents in the rear of my van. Still no-one answered the door and no-one arrived. I went back home feeling disgusted at such a lack of consideration. I spent some time at home playing guitar, going on my computer and preparing a chilli for later. I received a call from someone asking if I could supply and fit a new fluorescent light. I said I could and after verifying the price went and purchased the fitting. The job was in another town so it meant a long drive. No sooner had I left the suppliers depot when, you guessed it, I came up behind another dilatory motorist who couldn’t make up their minds as to which way to go, eventually turning right, the same as me, with no indication and a light foot on the accelerator. Getting to the first set of lights the lady driver was very hesitant in moving off and when she did it was all over the road, just like the previous driver earlier. We both turned right at the next set of lights and through to the following set. I thought to myself ‘Oh no, I hope she isn’t going to the same place as me’, a further 8 miles up the road. Sure enough she was! I am not a driver who likes to dilly-dally and at the same time I don’t drive like a lunatic but I simply couldn’t drive behind this woman who couldn’t keep up her speed on a straight road. I overtook her and left her standing. In the distance I saw the traffic that we both sat behind further back down the road and soon caught up. There were temporary traffic lights which held us back but we eventually moved on, that is the queue in front of me moved on but the guy in his little car immediately in front of me didn’t want to keep up with them. Another crawler! I managed to pass him further up the road. How I got to the job in reasonable time is a wonder. I get days like this fairly often and I wonder why the standards of driving I see are so appalling. Drivers lack confidence, lack experience, lack common sense, they are often selfish or unaware of what is going on around them, they take unnecessary risks, they hesitate, the list goes on. I appreciate that not everyone is a good at driving but they can be safe and aware, they can use common sense and most of all they can keep the traffic moving instead of holding everyone up. Rant over.

Shirley Anne

Not quite!

Brick wall
Image via Wikipedia

So Tuesday was going to be harder than Monday, it had to be, I did almost nothing on Monday! When I went to work I had a rough idea of what was entailed but not an exact knowledge. I was prepared for work, I was feeling much, much better and I knew I would be alright. Did I tell you that E likes to run over walls with her car? If you look at one of my earlier posts, a few weeks ago, I posted a picture showing the older garage at the right of the house. To the left of the garage is a wall which slopes down to ground level over the last few feet. My van is parked in that garage overnight so I had to pass the wall to get to it. The first thing I noticed was the bottom two bricks had been dislodged and moved about a foot from the wall. Now E has always parked her car in front of the shrubbery to the left of that wall. She drives into the driveway and heads for the garage then reverses back around the wall to park ready to drive off by turning right, out of the driveway. She must have driven over the bottom two bricks and loosened them. When I got back home at 2.00 after my job, I mentioned that she must have dislodged the bricks. She looked a bit perplexed, she hadn’t noticed that she had done that. It is a simple matter to reset the bricks and we do have a small amount of ready-mixed mortar so it isn’t a problem. Many times in the past I have suggested she not park quite so close to the shrubbery as there is plenty of room to do so. She might also have less spiders and cobwebs on her vehicle and possibly less scratches (from the shrubbery when the wind is high). The funniest thing is she didn’t know she’d run over the wall! Strangely enough, a couple of months ago we had various pieces of concrete and stone standing alongside the perimeter wall which is the wall on the right-hand-side of the garage. There was space in front of them (along the wall) to park a vehicle. Now at that time my van was parked in the garage as usual and as work was going on around the front of the house E decided to park her car in this space to keep it out-of-the-way although she could have parked it in front of the garage or even in it (that would have meant moving some stuff but the garage is built for two cars after all). I was behind her car whilst she parked it, ready to stop her from hitting the pile of concrete standing there. This I did but she wanted to manoeuvre the car more precisely. I was shouting stop, stop and banging on the back of the car for her to cease letting it creep any further backwards. Too late! She backed into the concrete and dented the skirt beneath the rear bumper. Fortunately it is a plastic skirt and it was easy to pop back into shape. she does crazy stuff like that sometimes! That’s probably one of the reasons I love her. Incidentally, I park my van in the garage by reversing it all the way from the street so that I can simply drive out in the morning, or any other time. I have yet to hit a brick wall though…LOL!
I got to my electrical job and the lady and I discussed her needs. All the work was in her bedroom, fitting extra power points but the job itself wasn’t all that easy to actually do. I spent four hours there and was quite tired when I’d finished. whilst the lady had gone to get some cash to pay me I walked up the road to where her mom lives, a mere 50 metres or so. I had done some work for her mom last year when she had employed this guy to do all sorts of general joinery and plumbing jobs. She had also asked him to do some alterations to the electrics upstairs but he made a mess of it (well he wasn’t an electrician and shouldn’t really have been doing it). My job had been to correct those mistakes. Later she told me that she had been stupid to allow him to fiddle with the electrics (what can I say?). Anyhow this time she was asking about installing a supply to a water feature in her front garden. I told her what she might expect depending on what materials and fittings came with the water feature and to buy what she wanted (from the reputable supplier she had chosen) and I would make a better assessment having seen what was involved. Personally I don’t think it will be difficult or expensive, quite the opposite and she will be happy about that!
At home, after a quick snack I fixed myself a drink, took my guitar onto the patio and sat playing random songs for an hour. I simply let the songs come into my head, a mixture of pop melodies, Christian songs and some of my own stuff. E had gone to her moms for an hour or two so I was left undisturbed. So the day wasn’t quite exactly as planned. I didn’t do any more work in the other garage (I was too tired!), the electrical job put paid to that. Now today?
Just a point of interest, that is of course if you are interested, many are not! Tuesday or to be precise 12th July (actual date is 11th July and in the old calendar 1st July) marks the anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne here in the UK (see ) and in Southport (as in a few towns and cities) there are marching bands dressed in their orange regalia who visit the town from places like Liverpool just down the coast. I remember every year walking into Liverpool where I lived as a youngster, to see them. Some feel these events are an excuse for drunkenness and violence and indeed that is often the result during the day so they are against them being held. It is also an excuse for religious hatred and bigotry between Catholics and Protestants. If you read the short history you will understand why this is so. One would think that to continue to celebrate an event that happened 321 years ago should now cease but in fact it seems to get stronger year by year! It appears that another brick has been put in the wall between Catholics and Protestants.
Shirley Anne

Not tired now!

It is now 1.30 in the morning and here I am watching tv and writing this! I am just not tired. I guess when you get up late and don’t need much sleep anyway this is bound to be the result! I will go to bed soon though and at least try to get an hour or two shut-eye. My youngest son is at home for a day or so; actually he is out on the town right now but he will be home later. He phoned yesterday morning explaining that his car wouldn’t start and that he would be late coming home, that is here, he normally lives in an apartment twenty miles away! evidently the starter motor is the problem. It looks as though I will have to help him financially so he can have it mended; he is short on cash at the moment, which sounds about normal! He has left the car at a local garage and hopefully something will be sorted on Monday. It’s going to be another rest day today I suppose, the weather is too bad for doing anything worthwhile outside and we have no immediate plans for decorating indoors, although that is planned to happen later; at the moment we are trying to decide on ordering another greenhouse. A deposit is required and delivery would be in the new year. The funds are available for that and we will make the arrangements soon. The movie has almost finished and I will be off to bed soon afterward. I am looking forward to missing my breakfast again!

Shirley Anne