It has been more than two and almost three months since we had the new garage door installed. A few weeks ago there had been a problem with the cushion in one of the guides, there to prevent metal to metal contact and wear when the door is opened and closed. We had informed the installer’s repair and maintenance department but it was more than three weeks before they contacted us to make an appointment! I in the meantime corrected the fault myself because at the time I wished to reinstall the circuitry which automatically switches on the main garage light whenever the door is opened when it is dark. Naturally that only happens when the door is opened and when closed the light switches off. On the old door the installation was simple to carry out, it just meant having a micro-switch which allowed the door to operate it as it reached its open position. The micro-switch was wired through a photo cell (still fixed above the new door, see in the picture) and then on to the light. The light can be manually switched from three positions too, that part remains as it did. I was sitting at the table having just eaten lunch on Monday afternoon last week when I decided to investigate my options regarding this garage light circuit. I took my toolbox to the garage to work on the problem. Unfortunately it was and still is proving difficult to install the micro-switch on the new door because it is a roller door and there is no easy way for it to operate the switch. It can be done though, nothing is impossible but it could require much work to achieve. There had to be another more simple way I thought. I had thought about having a relay which would operate using the power supplied to the door for it to open and I set about testing that. It worked but unfortunately it also worked when the supply was connected for the door to close. This is because of the type of motor being used. The relay switch would replace the micro-switch had I gotten it to work. It is possible to have a relay operate an external circuit of course and had the manufacturer incorporated one in their control panel it would have made things so easy. I however cannot tinker about with the panel as it would invalidate the guarantee and warranty. So having discovered I couldn’t use a relay in order to reinstate the automatic circuit I am left to continue figuring out how to get the door to operate the micro-switch instead. I had to shelve the idea whilst I think about it.
E an I have a number of televisions around the house, far easier you might say than having to cart one between rooms! Joking apart, many people have more than one television in their homes these days as they have become reasonably low in price to purchase. Last April we bought two identical sets for use in the bedrooms. One has since been used a few times as it is in the room our youngest son uses when he visits. It may have had around fifty hours of use. The other was placed in the guest bedroom we had refurbished early last year but that unit has hardly been used at all, probably less than ten hours. This is that tv shown working on the day we installed it.They each cost £129 which isn’t a lot of money for a 32 inch screen but it is the principle of the matter, we expect them to work as they should else they are not fit for purpose. I was in the room on Tuesday morning updating the security on the Windows 10 computer which now sits alongside the television and I thought I would watch the tv whilst doing that. Then I discovered it was faulty. It wouldn’t respond to the remote control which by the way worked with the other television and neither would it respond to the other remote control. We took it to Currys where we had purchased it but they after checking it out advised we contact their repair department. I did that on my return home and now as I write this I am waiting for a reply. I have received an acknowledgement to my email. Whilst at the store I asked if these televisions have in-built usage timers which would reveal their usage to the repair engineer. I was told that certain manufacturers do incorporate such devices and they can use the information to assist with guarantees to determine if the machine has had fair usage or not. It isn’t rocket science to be able to incorporate a timer to count usage time, one small chip……as long as it doesn’t go faulty too! I was told many years ago by an electronics engineer that most electronic devices that go faulty do so within the first few months or not at all. This television didn’t get out of the starting block!
Update: As the tv was out of guarantee it could not be replaced. They (the service department) say it isn’t worth repairing and we were offered a sum of £79 in lieu. That has been paid into my account. So a new machine (as it hasn’t been used for more than ten hours) is thrown on the scrap-heap and your’s truly has paid in essence £50 for the privilege of not being able to use it! If I was able to take it back to the manufacturer (Seiki) they would most probably exchange it. That however isn’t possible. The lesson here is to use something as much as you can during the guarantee period and if it goes wrong it should be replaced/repaired free of charge.
……I suppose. I meet all sorts of people in my capacity as an electrician. When I first entered the electrical business some fifty-three and a half years ago I was often engaged in domestic installations and repairs as well as industrial and commercial situations too. That work lasted fourteen years when I took a career side-step and entered into the maintenance field for a major bank at their large headquarters. The work was far more diversified than that which I had been used to but it was also far more interesting and I was able to gain experience and qualifications in many other things besides basic electrical installations. I spent a further twenty-one years working for the same company and was also able to gain promotion and a higher level of pay. Though there were many people working at the bank I had but only brief contact with most of them.
I became self-employed some eighteen years ago and I have since spent all my time working once again in the domestic field meeting different people each day as I did when I first started in the business. Most people are good to work for but I have met some who have not been so. Thankfully they are few and far between. I was called to help an old lady who had placed her freezer on defrost and couldn’t subsequently turn it back on. There was no logical reason for there being a fault and I expected as much when I arrived there. The problem was merely the fact that she had switched on the wrong switch on the twin wall socket so in fact hadn’t switched on the freezer. She had a good excuse though as she was over ninety-two years of age! We chatted for a short time over a coffee and then I had to leave to go to my next job. She asked how much it was for my visit and I refused payment. It didn’t matter, she kept insisting that she pay me something so in the end I felt obliged to accept for fear of insulting her. It wasn’t that she couldn’t afford to pay me, far from it for she seemed quite well off in her well-appointed apartment but she wouldn’t allow me to leave without something. I had done work for her and her husband in the past but he died a couple of years ago. My next job was a bit more involved. I had to re-arrange circuit breakers and fit a main switch in a supply panel/board for another old lady for whom I had worked before. She too was getting on in years and in her mid to late eighties and her husband had also died since I was there last a couple of years ago. She was very interested in what I was doing to solve the problem she was experiencing whenever she switched on her cooker. Essentially it had been supplied through an RCD unit which also supplied other circuits. Cookers are noted for tripping these devices and therefore should not be supplied through one. especially if there are other circuits connected to it. She was very thankful for my services and even more thankful that I had kept the fee as small as I could. Later I was called to replace a ceiling light for a young guy, well younger than me! He was very amiable and helpful too. It is people like these who make my day and my work enjoyable.
Now I don’t usually work on a Sunday unless someone has an emergency of sorts but late on Sunday morning a lady called me to ask if I could help her with an electrical problem that continued to trip out the lighting supply. At that stage the remainder of the household installation was unaffected but a possible leakage current on the lighting circuit could change that situation. Evidently a lamp had broken in its holder which left its metal base firmly stuck. Furthermore the lighting switch didn’t seem to be working properly either. I told her how to remove the broken lamp base safely which she did but the faulty switch still needed replacing. I would have to go there, replace it and check everything was in order if she agreed. She asked that I should go but that she was just about to go to work. She works as a nurse at the local hospital. However I could go there at two o’clock when a neighbour would be there to let me in (and pay me). I agreed and she thanked me, going on to say that she was new to domestic problems such as these as her husband usually took care of them. It seems her husband had recently left her and the two children of ten and twelve years, though when I called they were both with their father at his house wherever that was. She was the third woman in the last few days, in fact since last Monday, to have told me that her husband had absconded. It seems to be a regular thing hereabouts for over the last couple of years I have come across quite a number of women in the same situation, four of them in this month alone! A sign of the times I suppose. Had the lady been at home when I called she might have told me the reason for their separation as many of them do. Perhaps it helps them to cope with the situation when they can speak about it with others. It is such a shame nevertheless. I did her job in about ten minutes and was back home within the hour. I am wondering just how many more women are going to call me for help because their husbands have left the home. The neighbour was an elderly gentleman who was quite surprised to see a female electrician attend to the job and he told me that he and the lady I had been working for would be adding me to their list of people to call when they want a job doing. That was nice.
On Tuesday morning I went to see an old lady living some eight miles away. She had called me the night before at 1035 pm! I was in bed when the call came in and though I do have a bedside house phone I ignored the call at such a late hour. My mobile phone gets plugged into its charger during the night and is also at my bedside. No-one calls me on that phone during the evening or night, well not usually. She left a message on my house phone which I listened to the following morning, Tuesday. Evidently she was having problems with a wall light fitting saying that it was hanging off (the wall) and a neighbour had refitted it a couple of times to no avail. A very simple job to repair though when I phoned her in the morning I explained I would be charging my minimum fee. After telling her what that amount would be and asking if she still wished me to do the job she agreed that I could do it. I drove over there and on my arrival she was standing at the door. I found nothing wrong with the security of the light’s fixing to the wall but I checked it anyway. What I did find was a broken lamp in the holder which I removed and replaced with a new one. In view of the fact that I had done very little I told the lady I would only be charging half of the minimum fee. She apologised for having brought me over for such a silly reason but I didn’t mind in the least. She asked if I would like a drink of tea or coffee and she had a kind of hopeful expression on her face as she asked. I could sense that she wanted a little company so I accepted her offer and we each sat down with a cup of coffee. She asked about my reasons for becoming an electrician and where I had worked over the last 53 years. Somehow the conversation turned to Christianity and I asked her if she believed in God and Jesus Christ. She said she believed in God but I could tell that Jesus was not really known to her. She sat there fascinated as I told her about The Gospel and the message of salvation. She produced an old King James Bible from a drawer and gave it to me after I’d asked if she had one. I read several passages from the Old and New Testaments to convey the message and she hung on my every word. Later she told me that I was a good teacher! She also told me I was good company. I encouraged her to pursue the faith and to look for a good church where she would learn more. I prayed for her. Now I am always ready to witness to people and seize any opportunities as and when they arise but it is especially nice when it comes unexpectedly. A drove home a little better off financially but more importantly thankful that I’d had the opportunity to tell someone about Jesus. I stopped off at a filling station to get fuel for my van which uses diesel and a small container of petrol for my lawnmower as I had used the last drop to fill the mower a couple of days ago and would probably need more when I next cut the grass. I did very little else for the rest of the day..
I was rather busy on Tuesday. The day started off a little dull and the sun was trying its best to show itself from behind a sky full of clouds. That was seven o’clock in the morning but by eight or eight-thirty it was a different story, blue sky from horizon to horizon and it stayed that way pretty much all day long. I was however out working but all the jobs were inside. The first was in an apartment on the other side of the town centre replacing three ceiling lights. I had a lovely time chatting with the lady who lived there and would have liked to stay and chat longer but my next job beckoned. The second job was a further three or four miles away and involved changing a ceiling light unit, a switch and moving a central-heating controller. This lady too was chatty and we got along like a house on fire as they say. By now it was after twelve and I had to drive another twelve miles further afield into the countryside to the third and final job but this time far simpler, just the one ceiling light to change. Again the lady chatted away with me as I did the work. All three women were single, one a widow and the others divorced. They all had their stories to tell and that was pretty much what we chatted about. I was now around fifteen miles or more away from home and it was almost one-thirty. I drove homeward but didn’t wish to start cooking so I went to my local pub for a late lunch instead. Many people sat outside and I expected there to be fewer indoors but in fact there were plenty inside too. Fortunately there were a few tables empty in the bar area where I like to sit anyway. I was back home around three o’clock but when I got into the van in the pub car park I noticed that my dashboard camera was dangling on its cord. The mounting bracket is a simple affair and attached to the windshield using a rubber sucker. In the heat of the day it becomes loose and falls off the screen. It has happened a few times since I fitted it last year and I had it in mind to design and construct a more suitable bracket that I could attach to the bodywork instead but never got around to doing it. So when I got home I tackled the problem and made an aluminium bracket which sits beneath one of the sun visor fixings and disposes of the need for the sucker so it will now never fall away. It looks a far more professional set-up now that it did beforehand. My next-door neighbour came and chatted with me whilst I was in the van and she sat in the passenger seat admiring what I had done. She tells me that I am very talented but really it is only down to experience. After a lifetime of working in the electrical business and having a background in mechanical and other services too is bound to make these little jobs easy to do. I finally stopped working at five o’clock. It had been a very pleasant day in many ways. There is never a dull moment once I get going.
I could strangle them but obviously wouldn’t. Who are they? They are the invisible ones that from time to time make things difficult for me. Now you are wondering just what I am talking about, well I am talking about my work but specifically those who have gone before me. You might call them fellow workers or colleagues had they been working with me but no, they are the ones who let the side down because of their shoddy workmanship, never thinking that someone in the future might be faced with difficulties due to their work. I remember vividly one of the first things that was driven into us as novices to the trade, we were told by our instructor to ‘always leave plenty of slack’. He was of course referring to the length of circuit conductors we should have behind switches and power outlets and any other electrical equipment. If there is a problem with any fixture and it has to be replaced then replacing it becomes less of a problem when there is plenty of spare length on the conductors. Simple common sense. Look at the poor example in the picture above. Those two sets of conductors should be much longer. If a switch had to be fitted to them they wouldn’t be long enough! The number of times I have had to extend such conductors when replacing faulty equipment or simply fitting new ones is beyond belief. I had a job to do on Thursday morning and it was to install an extra power point in a bedroom. Without going into detail I discovered that whoever had wired the house power points had left a coil of connected wiring beneath the floorboards obviously to supply a new point sometime in the future but they had not gotten round to do that for one reason or another. It made my task that little bit easier as I didn’t have to install and connect any new wiring. All I had to do was to use the existing coil to supply the new point and there was plenty of cable in the coil to do it, so much so that I had to cut some off. The lady had come into the room with a cup of coffee for me and she noticed what I was doing. I told her that it wasn’t often that someone leaves plenty of wiring for future use but also mentioned that it is worse when little has been left behind a switch making replacement difficult and sometimes impossible. Anyway I soon had her new power point installed and working and as I was finishing I got a call from a guy who asked if I could refit three power points and a lighting switch all of which had been removed during redecoration. The house was almost en-route to my house and only a mile away so I accepted the work and called there thirty minutes later. It turned out that the guy had been working there himself as a painter and decorator and wasn’t the owner of the house. The owner was out of the country and having the work done in his absence. I asked the guy why he had disconnected and removed the fittings as most would have decorated around them by simply loosening the fixing screws. He mumbled something about it being easier to decorate with them removed. I kept my thoughts on that one to myself. So I got down to the job and discovered to my horror that the conductors in the power outlet boxes were extremely short and it took me quite some time to eventually get them all back and connected. The lighting switch conductors were much longer so no problem there. I was cursing the electrician who hadn’t the sense to leave enough slack in the boxes when he had originally installed them. I wonder if he will be presented with a similar problem one day and what will his reaction be if he is? Had the house been my own I would have moved the outlets further up the wall to gain some extra length whilst at the same time replacing the single outlets with twin ones but of course the house wasn’t mine and it had just been redecorated! Finally I was on my way home and on reaching there found that someone had left a message on the house phone. It was a lady in whose apartment I had worked some weeks ago and she wanted a special pull switch fitting as hers was faulty. I was supposed to do the job on my last visit but she hadn’t purchased the switch. It was the sort of switch that could only be purchased in a retail outlet or on-line as electrical suppliers don’t usually stock them. Anyhow instead of calling me on my mobile phone when I could have gone straight there from my other jobs she called the house phone. That meant I had to leave the house after only just getting there. Some people just do not think. I went along to do the ten-minute job but discovered it took me much longer as, you might have guessed, the conductors were barely long enough!
This past week has been very similar to the week before in that the work I have done has been concentrated at the latter end of the week leaving me nothing to do for the first few days. It isn’t often you will see me crawling about in someone’s loft but on Wednesday I did exactly that. Naturally I put on a pair of overalls (coveralls) before doing so in order to keep my clothes clean and to protect them from damage. Some lofts are surprisingly reasonably clean but whilst that is so most are not. Most loft areas now are fitted with layers of insulation material which hides the timber construct of the ceilings below and so there is always the danger of accidentally stepping on the fragile ceiling and putting a foot through it. In all my years as an electrician I have never had that misfortune. Other hazards in loft spaces include the roof beams and rafters and the many cardboard boxes or other stored items people have put up there. Having peeled back the insulation I was able to gain access to the lighting cables on this occasion for my task was to reposition and at the same time replace a ceiling light and remove another together with the pull-cord switch controlling it. Having done what was necessary in the loft I was soon able to close the hatch and continue the work in the bedroom below. Another problem I was faced with was the huge bed beneath where the new light (a chandelier) would be fitted and which couldn’t be moved. Have you ever tried balancing on a wobbly bed whilst trying to fit a heavy light above it? With a little help from the lady of the house who supported the light whilst I connected and fitted it I soon had it done. Of course the bed had been covered with a sheet to collect any dust and always there is! The lady asked me all sorts of questions regarding why I decided to become an electrician and how long I have been working as such. She was very much impressed when I gave her a brief description of the things I have done over the (almost) 53 years I have been in the business. She then asked if I enjoyed my work! I could only reply with a ‘yes’ for how could anyone stick at a job so long and not enjoy it unless they were completely bonkers? Maybe I am a little bonkers but I do enjoy my work.
On Wednesday morning I had some small electrical jobs to do in a house in another town nearby. Originally pencilled-in for Friday the job was brought forward because the customer couldn’t get time off from his workplace. He called me on Tuesday evening to ask if I could do the work the next day. Fortunately I had nothing scheduled for Wednesday so I was able to accommodate. I wanted to get the work done as early as possible so arranged to be there around 8.30. The first problem had been attempting to reverse onto his driveway as the house stands right on a busy road junction and directly alongside a mini-roundabout. Opposite is a school for infants and juniors and of course at that time the traffic is very busy. He did warn me that getting on and off his drive was often met with irate drivers with the attitude that anyone doing so shouldn’t be doing so. I despair at the attitude of some people. Anyway I approached the small roundabout and stopped the following traffic and waited for a gap in the traffic approaching from my left. The junction is in the form of the letter ‘Y’ so stopping as I did stopped traffic from two directions. I waited for only a few seconds but I suppose that would seem like an age to some people and was then able to drive across the roundabout onto the extra-wide pavement opposite where I then reversed onto the driveway. Traffic still had to wait whilst I reversed. On the way over to the town I drive across country and take my time. Several vehicles overtook me even though I was driving at 40-45 mph. I thought to myself, ‘Just what is the hurry? Why don’t drivers simple start their journey 5 or 10 minutes earlier?’ In the event I caught up with all of them a mile further down the road when they were stopped at a busy junction. I smiled to myself. So now I was safe on the driveway and soon inside the house.
The work was very simple, change four recessed lights in the ceiling, change the lights beneath the kitchen units and change another ceiling light in the porch but first we had to buy the units having decided on what was needed. I asked the guy to accompany me to the supplier so that he could choose the lights and pay for them. Normally I would buy them and use them at a marked-up price but I thought it wise this time not to. We purchased what we needed and then drove off, though that wasn’t straightforward as some of the lights we required were out of stock and we had to select a different type, a good reason for the guy to be with me. About a half-mile down the road we realised we had forgotten one item so we returned to collect it. I began with the recessed ceiling lights but found the original holes were too small to accommodate the new fittings though they were supposed to be identical in size. No problem for a pad saw. I removed the first light from its sealed box and discovered it was not only a different colour to that we had asked for but it was broken too as if it had been opened before. The guy returned to the supplier whilst I got on with the work. The original four lights had been fed through two transformers and one of those transformers turned out to be part faulty, that is one of the two outputs was faulty which meant it could only supply one light. That meant lifting a floorboard in the room above to gain access to it and install a new transformer to accommodate the fourth light. Fortunately I have spare transformers in my van stock so I fitted one of those. It didn’t work! It was a new transformer in a sealed box and it was faulty! I replaced it and this time the light worked. By this time the guy had returned with a replacement light and I fitted it before installing the new under-unit lights. That part of the work was straightforward though a little awkward. The last part of the job was to replace an old ceiling light with a basic light unit. After sorting out the numerous wires behind the old light I fitted the new unit and found the cover wouldn’t screw on. The real problem was the ceiling itself, it had been coated with rough cast ‘Artex’, an uneven surface. After a few frustrating minutes I finally got it fitted. It was now 12.30. I had been there for four hours when really the work should have only taken perhaps two. One thing that is needed to be an electrician is patience as it can be frustrating work sometimes, I take it all in my stride though.
Much of my latest posts have been about my work but it is fair to say my work occupies a lot of my time and is full of interesting occurrences. Well last week was such a busy time for me so by Friday evening I was very happy to forget about the work and think about other things. I was tired too! Earlier on Friday I had two jobs to do at two different locations. The first job went well as did the second though the second one was in two stages. I had to remove two light fittings from one house, replacing them with something else then transporting the lights I had removed to another address before installing them there. The guy was moving home but hadn’t yet done so which meant all his belongings were at the first address. There was a beautiful piano in the lounge together with a lovely acoustic guitar. Naturally I asked if he often played them and he gave me a wonderful rendition of the Simon and Garfunkel song ‘Bridge over troubled water’. He then told me that he wasn’t as good on the guitar. When I had finished the work at that address I asked if I could play something on his guitar. I played a couple of my own songs and he told me that I play well. He asked what instruments I have at home and I told him. We then travelled to the other address and I installed the lights there. It must have been about one o’clock when I was back at home cooking lunch. The rest of the day and the weekend was mine. Late in the afternoon I received a call from the lady in whose house I had worked on Tuesday and Wednesday. There was a problem with an appliance which was causing the new electrical panel to trip off. I called to her house immediately and spent an hour sorting out the fault. It proves just how effective new safety measures are in modern electrical panels. Sometimes though they can seem to be too sensitive as far as equipment protection is concerned, not so for our own protection. Anyway I solved the problem for her without charge and was back home just before six o’clock. Now all I wanted to do was relax and after my evening meal that is just what I did. However I got a call around nine-thirty but didn’t respond thinking they would leave a message, which they did. It was an older guy from the sound of his voice, asking how much I would charge to fit the two wall lights he had bought earlier and that if I was interested could I give him a call. Well I thought to myself what a cheek to phone at such a late hour, reasoning that if he knew he wanted the job doing, as he had already purchased the lights, why didn’t he call earlier? I decided not to return his call until Saturday morning. On Saturday morning the house phone rang at nine o’clock and woke me up. I resisted answering and began to drift off again for a spell. A few minutes later my mobile phone rang and by this time I was feeling a little annoyed at the audacity of the caller ringing so early on a Saturday morning. I thought it might be the same guy who had phoned the night before and I was right. Now I can understand someone calling in an emergency but fitting two lights isn’t an emergency. When I had gotten dressed and was now downstairs I called his number only to be told that he had found another electrician to do the work. What was the urgency? It seemed he had purchased his lights late on Friday afternoon or even early evening and then expected there to be someone instantly available to fit them. Such audacity and I could tell from his voice that this guy thought the world revolved around him. Well it doesn’t. I was polite with him but hung up. Some people are unbelievable.
Often during the week I get time to myself though the week before last I had the whole week! At times like these, that is the free time, I have taken a fancy to do some baking unless I am involved with domestic projects but even then I can still do some on a Sunday afternoon. I worked every day last week, the complete opposite to the previous week but I earned enough for the two. Even so I got some afternoons to myself, Thursday being one of them. I had been to a job in another town to install an extra power outlet and had been informed by the lady of the house that the hallway, where the outlet was to be placed had been stripped bare with no floor coverings. When I arrived early in the morning at her request she wasn’t there but her husband fortunately was. He had a couple of days break from work and was busy decorating the area at the top of the stairs. The outlet was to be fitted at the bottom of the stairs but first I had to remove the floor covering that wasn’t there! The carpet was easy as was the underlay but beneath them the floorboards had been covered with hardboard on which plastic tiles had been glued. That was a little difficult to remove but I managed to remove enough to be able to lift a floorboard. None of the floorboards had been removed before and they were tightly packed together. Finally I was able to cut one and lift it to gain access beneath the floor. That part of the job took longer than the rest of it. Finally I had the cable and the power outlet installed much to the surprise of the husband for I had it all done within an hour and a half. I took a detour on the way home to purchase a couple of items from the electrical supplier but was still home before eleven o’clock. I prepared a lentil-based soup in which I had lentils, barley, potato, peas, bacon pieces, stock and seasoning. It was ready to eat within thirty minutes. E doesn’t like lentils or barley so she eats something different if I make things like this. After lunch E went out to do the weekly shopping and I had nothing to do so I decided to make a large fruit cake. Preparing the mixture takes very little time but as usual I switch on the oven before I do anything else so that it is up to temperature when the cake is ready to bake. We have two ovens in the same unit together with a separate grill and a separate warming drawer. Everything electrical is below and everything gas is on top, that is the hob. There are eight gas rings available for use, a rather large cooker that once was used almost to capacity but with just two of us in the house now that is a rare event. One of the ovens is fan assisted whilst the other isn’t. However the fan needs to be replaced in the oven in which it is fitted but I haven’t gotten round to doing it yet. I suspect the whole unit needs to be pulled out to gain access to the fan at the rear for there doesn’t appear to be access to it from inside the oven at the front. That would be normal from my recollections of the industrial ovens I once repaired. I haven’t repaired a similar domestic oven surprisingly. In the meantime we have been using the non fan assisted oven which is fine if roasting foods or baking things like scones which are only in the oven for a very short time. Baking a sizeable cake is another matter as cakes of large size can be in the oven for one to two hours depending on the cake. I have baked a few cakes in this oven but have yet to master the process for no matter how many adjustments or how much care I take part of the cake ends up overdone, usually at the rear. By the time I can get it right every time I might get the fan assisted oven repaired else buy a new oven unit! Baking in a non fan assisted oven is a challenge and each oven is different. It takes time to get used to its idiosyncrasies. The oven we have now is approaching twenty years old so I suppose I might end up cutting my losses by buying a new one. It will save me the bother of repairing it! The cake? It turned out fine. I must be finally getting the hang of the oven for baking cakes.
How different this week has been to last week. I talked about this in yesterday’s post and since Tuesday I have received more requests for work. I returned on Wednesday morning to the house I had been working in on Tuesday to replace the second of the electrical panels. I didn’t expect the second one to be as awkward as the first one was but even so it wasn’t as straightforward as I had hoped. I soldiered on of course and had it completed in a couple of hours. However, there were a couple of things I had to check out before I could finish but was unable to do so until the lady of the house had returned home from her shopping trip. I needed access to a locked area in which the boiler was situated outside and I also needed to inspect the garage installation to ensure it had been wired from the panel or board I had fitted which had the RCD unit. As it happened it had been wired to the board I had replaced with the RCD unit fitted. There had been no markings on the original fuse board. Alas inside the area in which the boiler had been installed was a separate power outlet that had been supplied from the other fuse board. I hadn’t replaced that board with one fitted with an RCD as it wasn’t deemed necessary. The power outlet was faulty in any case and wasn’t in use so I disconnected it. Now I was finished. As I was driving home, for I had no other work, I got more calls for work but turned them down. They were too remote and out of my catchment area. Once home I got more calls and these I put on my schedule, one of which I am doing next Tuesday morning. I seem to get a lot of work on a Tuesday!
With the amount of work I am offered it is difficult to think about retirement and it isn’t hard work, that is strenuous, so as long as I can do it I carry on. I try not to do too much though. I am the type of person who simply finds it difficult to sit down too long. I often think I am going to wear myself out but it doesn’t seem to happen. People ask me how I manage to continue and I tell them that I am afraid I will seize-up if I stop! There’s a lot of truth in that you know, I have heard many people tell me their experiences once they stopped work and how much it affected them. I cannot go on forever I know but I will always remain active one way or another if I can.
After a quiet weekend at home I was expecting to receive requests for my electrical services on Monday but no-one had called. That meant I would be at home on Monday looking for something to do. Our local council issued a new waste collection rota a few weeks ago and Monday was set to be the fortnightly day on which green waste was collected. We have two wheelie bins for this service. Normally only one is given per household but another can be requested for those who may have more green waste than most. We don’t usually have to put out two for emptying except at the height of summer or in autumn when there is a lot of leaves to sweep up so at this time of year it is unusual to have to put out two bins. Nevertheless we had two of them filled with garden waste so they needed to be out in the street to be emptied. I do that first thing in the morning but I had forgotten to do it this time. However, I did remember at around ten o’clock and as the crew hadn’t yet turned up to empty the bins I still had time to put them out. One of them was already in the front garden and the other was out in the rear garden. Both were full. I had to take the bin through the garage in which I park my van for it has a ramp and is the easiest way anyway. I grabbed the remote control for the automatic door and the key for the rear door of the garage but having got inside the garage with the bin I found the automatic door wouldn’t open. I tried the spare control but it made no difference. I returned into the boiler room which is the normal access to the house from the rear garden and I saw that the RCD unit in the panel supplying the external power outlets and lights on the side of the garden behind the garage had tripped. As the garage circuits are fed from this same panel too it meant there was no power in the garage to supply the automatic door. Of course it needed investigating immediately at the very least to enable me to drive the van should I need to. I grabbed my tools from the van and removed the cover on the panel and separated the garage supply from that supplying the outside power units and was able to temporarily reinstate power to the garage. I could now open the door and take out the bins. Fortunately the crew had still not arrived to empty them. I returned to the rear garden and began to remove the covers to the power outlet boxes and found water had managed to get inside one of them. This is what had caused the RCD to trip and remove power to the garage in the process. It was very cold in the garden and by this time I had donned my coat for the half-hour or so it took me to replace a faulty socket and do some remedial work to the boxes. Isn’t it funny that you only feel how cold you are when you return indoors? Going to sit on your backside? Oh no you’re not…….Oh and did the bins get emptied? Well actually no. Most of the residents in the street, like myself, forgot the first day for collection of green waste is scheduled for 2nd March!
My first return to work in the new year saw me working Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings this past week and I hadn’t even posted my advertisement until Wednesday (they are printed in the newspaper for circulation every Wednesday). The newspaper wouldn’t be circulated until later in the day on Wednesday so all three jobs were from folk I had worked for previously and who had my business card. During the week I have been turning away offers for work for one reason or another too! I have been eager to get into the garden as soon as the weather permitted and on Tuesday afternoon the opportunity arose but only after I had done a small electrical job for my neighbour and then ate lunch. The main task was to dig out the Rhubarb Rhizomes, raise the bed slightly by inserting stone slabs to serve as edges and then replant the Rhizomes spacing them out at the same time. I had to remove some flowering plants that had found their way into the rhubarb patch too. The rhubarb patch is only small but then we don’t want a lot of rhubarb as it is only myself who eats it. Rhubarb’s companion fruit is the strawberry, they go together like peaches and cream. If you’ve never eaten rhubarb (cooked and chilled of course or in a pie as above) together with strawberries you must give it a try. Most people who try it are not disappointed. We have more strawberry plants than we need but the plant grows profusely in the summer and has to be kept in check. It took me about an hour and a half to complete the work on the patch and then I returned indoors. I could have done much more work in the garden but gardening is hard work and I wasn’t up to it. During the autumn E and I spent quite a bit of time clearing away fallen leaves but more have somehow appeared over the last few weeks. It’s as though we hadn’t shifted any in the first place! They seem to accumulate only in certain areas so although they may be numerous they are all in the same place making it easier to remove them. We’ll get around to clearing them away soon.
It has been yet another busy week in my capacity as an electrician. It is late Friday afternoon now and I have just returned from the last job of the week, at least I am thinking it will be for last weekend proved me wrong when I was called out in an emergency. I will usually respond to those calls if the caller has lost all power. No sooner had I arrived back from the job when someone else called me saying they had just returned from a holiday to discover a light fitting wasn’t working. Their house was along the same route I had been to a little earlier! Typical of what happens. Anyway the man calling told me that it wasn’t urgent but asked when could I do it. As I had work already scheduled for Monday I told him it would have to be Tuesday before I could do it. He then changed tack explaining that he would rather have the job done immediately rather than wait until Tuesday. I suspected he was simply disappointed in the fact that I wasn’t prepared to do the job for him that afternoon. I will not be persuaded to give up all of my time just to please someone who cannot be bothered to wait and especially where the job isn’t an emergency. He did say that if he couldn’t find anyone else to do it before Tuesday he would call back. I will not be holding my breath waiting for that call. During the week I have turned down more offers for work that I have accepted, some because I no longer work in the particular field I have been asked to work in or the work has been too much for me to take on board, things like rewiring a house for instance. Although I advertise for small jobs it doesn’t seem to sink into the minds of those calling me who ask me to do much more. One gentleman, whom I could tell was not native to the UK by his voice, first of all asked if I operated a call-out charge (which I don’t but do have a minimum charge) and then proceeded to tell me that the job was very easy and almost suggested what I should be charging to do it! It didn’t matter that he lived many miles away and that it would take me time to get there, time he apparently didn’t think he would have to pay for! That’s why I operate a minimum charge. I am guessing he is the kind of person who would begin to barter about my charge after I had done the work and even after I had given him a price for doing it beforehand. I had one of those a few years ago when the man I was working for wanted to renege on our agreement! This sort of behaviour spoils the day for me as do those who get the work done then tell me they’ve no cash with which to pay me and they have to go off to an ATM to get it. Often I end up taking them there too. You would think people would have the means to pay to hand before they call anyone in to do their work. I am hopefully going to forget electrical work for the weekend……………………