It was Tuesday morning and I had just awoken. I felt a little reluctant to go for a walk but thought I would do anyway knowing full well that I would enjoy it. However before I was even dressed I received a call from a lady asking if I could check a power outlet for her. As it was reasonably close by and a simple job I agreed to do it, though after getting dressed and having my breakfast. An hour later I was at the house and soon had the job done. On my return home I left the van on the driveway for I had decided to take a trip to the timber and builder’s merchant to purchase timber for the gate I am constructing. I found that the timber I had at home was unsuitable and of insufficient quantity anyway. Starting from scratch with pre-treated (against the weather) timber was a better option though I intended to purchase some coloured wood preserver to give it an extra coat when the work is finished. First of all though I had to take measurements so went into the house and then into the garden to do so. Off I went to the depot a mile down the road and found a young man in the yard where the timber is stored. Having selected what I needed he cut some of the timber into two pieces so that I could transport it home on the roof rack of the van. The money I had just earned more than covered the cost of the materials and my purse was more or less left intact! I have noticed that happening quite often lately since my ‘official’ retirement. It was approaching lunchtime on my return home. I removed the timber from the van and stored it ready for use on another day. I wasn’t going to make a start so near lunch time and afterward I probably wouldn’t be in the mood anyway. E had been informed that her mom had been discharged from the hospital as I mentioned in yesterday’s post. E was telling me how reluctant she had been to go and how much of a struggle the paramedics had getting her in the ambulance the previous day as she had fought tooth and nail resisting their efforts. Obviously they had persuaded her to go and be checked out. She confesses to not liking hospitals for fear of the possibility of dying there one day. I suppose many old folk think that way because they would prefer to pass away quietly at home. E drove off to see her later in the afternoon but I stayed at home watching the rain pouring down as promised.
Up early again on Wednesday to do more work on the Plot. Wednesday was an ideal day for working outdoors being as it was slightly cooler than of late. After an early breakfast I was outside at a little after eight o’clock and was soon working. I didn’t have to set up the mixer so I was pretty much able to get straight to work. My main object for the day was to finish building the walled enclosure, its inner walls. I managed to do that but I may take the structure up one more level of bricks as I have discovered I have sixty-three bricks remaining and to lay another course will take forty-eight bricks. As it stands (Wednesday) there are seven courses of bricks. Of course I will be topping the walls with natural stone in keeping with the patio brickwork. In this picture the work has been temporarily covered because rain was forecast for Thursday and I wanted the walls to remain dry. Now then, I had finished with mixing mortar for the day as it was approaching lunchtime and I wasn’t prepared to carry on working into the afternoon. Rather than do nothing I chose to remove part of the wall alongside the path and dig out the soil behind it as you can see in the bottom right of the picture. I then laid some old bricks and rubble as a base for some concrete upon which I will lay a paving slab later. Eventually there will be three steps to match those I constructed a couple of years ago shown on the left in the picture. The plastic sheet standing there covers what is left of the four hundred bricks I had delivered for the work. There are sixty-three of them as I mentioned. Before I can fill the structure with soil I have to ‘point’ the internal walls, that is fill in all the gaps in the joints. Later I will have to do the same with the outer surfaces of the construction. I had my lunch and then spent a few minutes on the patio but was disturbed by a phone call from the auto-electrician who had been repairing the fault of my van’s lighting switches. I walked to their workshop about a mile away and collected the van. The guy had to replace the whole mechanism which slides over the steering column and to which the control stalks are fitted. The cost for the replacement and fitting it? £246! I knew it wouldn’t be cheap but I didn’t expect it to be quite as expensive. I’m going to need a couple more electrical jobs to offset the outlay. Fortunately the work is still coming in.
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.
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!
So Friday morning I had expected the guys doing the roof and front step to arrive early as they did the day before. I was up very early so as not to be caught out asleep as I had been on Thursday but I also had to put out the wheelie waste bin as I do every Friday morning and Monday morning if it is ‘green waste day’. Most folk put out their bins the evening before but we have experienced others using our bins to dispose of their waste. That I do not mind but when they put the wrong type of waste and unsorted waste into the bin it is a bit of a liberty especially as we diligently sort our waste before putting it in the bin. Our collection is usually later in the day or morning so there isn’t the need to put the bin out the evening before. This week it was plastic and cardboard waste and the bin was full to overflowing as usual but alongside I had placed a small mountain of cardboard we were left with that came with the bedroom furniture and other items over the past two weeks. Most of the waste we dispose of these days is either plastic, cardboard or paper and all are recyclable. I ate breakfast and waited for the arrival of the guys but they didn’t turn up. As I write this at noon they have still not arrived. Accordingly our repairs are dragging on unnecessarily. The whole work if done at once would probably only take a little over a day but try holding down a builder even if he is E’s nephew! I am not sure at this point whether the repairs on the west end of the roof have been completed. I climbed to the top of the scaffolding on Thursday afternoon to see what progress had been made but I think there is more to do yet. Once that end is completed they have to move to the east end of the roof to carry out a repair there and to generally check the other chimney stack to ensure everything is alright. Then of course the wall alongside the front steps needs to be finished off. We did very little work at home ourselves on Friday morning though as I write that may change, in fact E has just come into the room to tell me she is going to gloss paint the picture rail I had sanded down an hour ago. That will mean I can get on with painting the walls on Saturday if I’ve a mind to do so.
It has been well over a week since I was last gainfully employed, the Monday before Christmas in fact. The weather on the whole has been awful and I had only one or two chances of getting out in the garden but alas didn’t. On Tuesday last (as I write this) I was expecting a team of scaffolders to arrive to erect the scaffolding needed to gain access to the roof in order to carry out repairs. After the last bout of heavy winds and rain we discovered the roof was leaking in water and I got my insurance company to undertake the work. Nobody turned up and as Wednesday’s weather was forecast to be very wet and windy I wasn’t sure if they would arrive at all anytime during the week as the next day would be New Year‘s Eve. I will let my readers know the outcome later. I was determined to have the two weeks break over the holiday period I had promised myself and accordingly had not placed my advert in the paper but it didn’t prevent people calling me. It looks like I have a couple of jobs coming my way next week, or should I say next year? I have been finding it difficult not having something to do. What I want to do I find I can’t because of the weather. I had waited in all day on Tuesday as I said and it was such a nice day for working in the garden but had I done that I might have missed the scaffolding team had they arrived. Unfortunately there was no-one else at home which meant I had to stay indoors. I have been pretty much on my own since Christmas Eve with nothing to do that could be done and it has been driving me mad. I can’t wait for things to start moving again and I can be busy once more.
Ecclesiastes 5:18 This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labour under the sun during the few days of life God has given them – for this is their lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives someone wealth and possessions, and the ability to enjoy them, to accept their lot and be happy in their toil – this is a gift of God.
So I strive to do that. It is fortunate then that I enjoy my work isn’t it?
I have learned over the years that life is a constant battle with things going wrong. I am referring to material things here. We do our best to stay ahead and if we make provisions we get by. I know people who don’t bother to save much for emergencies and end up getting into debt when something they need suddenly fails. I have always been a saver. I don’t like the idea of having unexpected problems happening that cannot be resolved due to a lack of funds and that is one reason I put aside funds. Whilst I have been able to lay money aside I have done so. It is annoying though to have saved money for a specific reason and suddenly having to divert those funds or part of them when some unforseen calamity rears its head. Such is life I say. I had a busy day on Thursday and in the afternoon I went to install a couple of replacement lighting fittings in a house a few miles away. Normally quite a simple job but problems can make it less so. I had been told that one of the original fittings hadn’t worked for some time and when I checked it out I discovered there was no live supply when the switch was on. That meant removing the switch to see if there was a supply to it. There wasn’t. It had been difficult removing the switch because the fixing screws had seized up but I finally managed it. I had therefore to find out why there was no supply. The lady of the house was beginning to think that the price was going to rise but I soon discovered the problem and carried on with the work. The job had taken me longer than I had expected and it was late in the afternoon by the time I could return home. I was feeling tired. When I arrived home I operated the remote control to open the garage door and as it was by now dark I expected the internal garage light to come on as the door opened fully but it didn’t switch on. It is wired in such a way that in hours of darkness the light will automatically switch on whenever the main door is opened but not do so if it is still daylight. I thought perhaps that the limit switch had not been pressed as the top of the door reached it and indeed that was the case. The reason it hadn’t had been due to the fact that the tensioning spring on that side of the door had failed. The steel connecting cable had snapped. At first I thought it had simply come off the guide pulley but it hadn’t. It is an easy job to replace the cable but the one on the other side of the door would have to be done too. I knew at that point that my labours for the day would now all be spent on repairing the door! I called the door specialist and made arrangements for its repair. Before the door was converted to automatic operation I used to do all the mechanical repairs on it but unless it is something menial I now leave it to others.
Looks like my weekends now run from Sunday to Monday with extra days free thereafter because my weekly work schedule is beginning to morph into a set late routine, no work at the beginning of the week then everyone wants my services from Thursday onwards! If I knew it would stay that way I could arrange to do other things on my ‘days off’ but it doesn’t work that way does it? Often I will get calls from people who know they want some electrical work doing but end up sitting on it then calling me late in the day or the week, and expect me to be available immediately. That happened on Thursday evening when I received an unexpected call from a regular customer who told me that one of his household circuits had been tripping out for days. Why didn’t he call me earlier when I had no work? As it happened I was returning to a house I’d been working in last week by arrangement the following morning and I was unable to accommodate him immediately. I found that I could have gone to his job in the afternoon on Friday as I had finished what I had to do at the first job but as things turned out I am glad I didn’t. The morning’s work had left me a little tired and when I got home for a late lunch something had arrived through the post which needed immediate attention so I had to go out again. By the time I finally got home it was getting late in the afternoon and I needed something to eat. As for the guy with the faulty circuit I had explained over the phone what steps he should take to try to reinstate the circuit and then call me again if the fault hadn’t been located. I suspected it might simply have been a faulty appliance and not the circuit itself. I told him that if the fault remained then I might be able to get there later the next day but as I have just explained, that wasn’t possible. He did leave a message on my house phone explaining that he had done what I had suggested but the fault remained. I called him to make arrangements to go there the following morning, Saturday. Up and until Thursday afternoon I had no electrical work scheduled though I had plenty of requests. Unfortunately those jobs were far too big for me to take on. The job I did late on Thursday afternoon involved locating a fault in someone’s garage circuit, which turned out to be a partially bare live conductor touching an earthed box. A simple repair solved that problem but I did find that the whole set-up needed bringing up to date with a new supply cable and control board. The present layout is far from being satisfactory and no protection is provided against possible electrocution. One really dangerous discovery was the ‘male’ half of a power point, that is the half fitted with protruding pins, had been connected to the electrical supply and the pins were exposed to the touch. It is the ‘female’ half of the assembly, the part with concealed receptacles, which should have been connected to the supply. I pointed this out to the guy, who by the way had installed it himself, that he should not leave it in such a dangerous state. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing indeed and I often see the results of those doing it themselves who by doing so place themselves in great danger of electrocution. In this case I have a feeling that I will be offered the job of updating the installation some time in the future.
It was a few days ago I wrote yesterday’s post and the work has been coming in little by little since then. The weather has been all over the place this week and it has been difficult to get a day where all is settled, in fact we’ve not been that lucky. I tell myself it can only improve as the weeks pass. E and I haven’t been dining out lately, not because we don’t wish to but at this moment in time I am trying not to spend my disposable income. I am trying to save it instead as there are one or two domestic maintenance jobs to be paid for. Of course when I retire our dining out escapades will be paid for out of my pensions but whilst I am working I prefer to use the income from my jobs. We don’t much do the dining out thing over the Christmas and New Year period anyway so we’ve not really missed it. Last week I had four electrical jobs whilst so far this week (Tuesday) I have had three. At least my overheads are covered with a little over. E went out with her mum on Tuesday afternoon whilst I was out working and she didn’t come home until well after six o’clock. I was preparing an evening meal when she came into the kitchen to tell me that she had dined out with her mum! Evidently her mum had treated her whilst they were out shopping but E didn’t let me know. I’d have thought she could have at least phoned me. It meant I had to dine alone and put the left-overs in the fridge. What can I say? She did tell me that the automated lighting circuit in the garage she uses had failed to operate properly. I wired the existing fluorescent light to switch on if the garage door was open and if it was dark outside. This means the light would only come on automatically if those two conditions were met. It also means I have another small electrical job to sort out! I used to dread coming home after work sometimes. E would tell me that there was something I needed to look at, which usually meant something had either stopped working or had broken in some way. Nowadays I half-expect her to say something! Half the time I find problems myself too.
Having passed my sixty-ninth birthday almost two months ago I have been thinking a lot about my work, how much of it I want and for how much longer. I have spent almost fifty-three years in the electrical business in one form or another and I suppose I have worked in most areas of the profession. There is very little anyone can tell me about my work now that I’ve a lifetime’s experience. However I have been taking stock of my situation lately insofar as I don’t wish to be swamped with work but only wish to spend a few hours each week doing it. It is a fine balance at the moment for on the one hand it is costing me to advertise and yet if I don’t advertise the work will drop off almost completely. I need to work a minimum amount of hours just to pay for the advertisement and the other overheads associated with a business of this type. At the moment my workload is very low and actually insufficient to maintain my business if it were to last. If it doesn’t pick up I shall most certainly go into retirement but I don’t see that happening, the workload picking up I mean. Of course I am not getting any younger and will want to retire eventually I suppose. It may happen sooner than I think, who knows? I was discussing these things with E a while ago for at that time I told her that I was as bored as hell with nothing to do. I wasn’t referring to my electrical work though for at the time I didn’t have any, I was referring to a lack of opportunity to work in the garden doing those things I knew wanted doing. It was all down to the weather being so appalling but we sis speak about what I might find to do if I were to retire from my electrical work. The thing is I do get bored very easily if I have nothing to do whereas many others might find that doing nothing is fine. Some may find travelling is what they want to do or indulging in the high life or a hobby of some kind. I am less inclined to do those things too often if at all. I prefer to be working at something so I am hoping my work picks up before I am incapable of doing it!