I had a lousy night’s sleep on Thursday to Friday morning, tossing and turning throughout the eight hours I had. I had gone to bed at eight-thirty but didn’t actually nod off until just after nine. I was up and out of bed several times during the night until I decided I’d had enough and rose for the day at five-thirty. I remained in a sleepy state all day long and it was all I could do to stop my eyes closing. I had to go to that job I mentioned in yesterday’s post, no power to the downstairs lighting circuit. It was in the next town over seven miles away and I arrived there before nine o’clock as arranged. It transpired that the problem was a blown fuse and it had supposedly blown because one of the light bulbs on the circuit had blown. The lady’s son had previously rewired the fuse but it blew again. I could not find a fault so had to assume the fuse hadn’t been rewired properly. It can happen that if the fuse wire is too taut or has an indentation or even a loose connection causing an arc that the fuse gives up and blows under any load, especially if a light bulb has short-circuited. I repaired the fuse and all was in order. I was back at home just over an hour later. As the weather forecast was for rain early in the afternoon I decided not to do any work in the garden. I had been thinking of going to the pub for lunch yet again but thought the better of it as there was food in the refrigerator that needed to be used. E would be doing the weekly shopping and restocking the larder so to speak. She had been out all day on Thursday so switched to Friday to do the shopping. She even went out before noon which is a first as she usually goes out after two o’clock, even three o’clock sometimes. I digress. I prepared myself an early lunch because I’d had an early breakfast. When I had eaten I was looking out of the window at the rear garden, just pondering at first but then I went out and trimmed back the dead stalks on some plants so that the already sprouting new foliage could grow. Whilst doing that I noticed three or four bluebell plants growing in the flowerbed that runs in the front of the greenhouses..greenhouse-flowerbed-5

…..the one I had worked in late last year where I had fitted the stone edging and repopulated it. I knew there would be some popping up as is the case elsewhere. They were all located in the right-hand half of the bed where there had been a number of bluebells growing before I removed them. Just as I was finishing that small job I was shaken by the sudden loud bang of a large firework being let off followed by three or four more. They were exploding rockets being set off by workmen working at a house two doors away. The new owners have employed builders to renovate the property before they themselves move in, probably in a month or so. The noise was unbearable and I was showered with the debris which floated down over my house and garden and my neighbour’s garden too. I went upstairs and shouted as best as a woman can for them to refrain from setting the fireworks off whilst also telling them that they should be working. The noise abated, they must have heard me. I went to one of the front bedrooms and looked out of the window. I saw a couple of the men chatting and one of them walked past my house on the opposite side of the road towards his vehicle. I drew his attention regarding the fireworks telling him that there are folk in the area who work at night and they would be finding it difficult to sleep because of the noise. At first he tried to deny any knowledge of fireworks. I couldn’t believe his impudence. He apologised after I had told him I would be taking action if their inconsiderate behaviour lasted. It was only a few days ago I had to walk to the house to complain about the very thick smoke from a fire that was affecting several neighbours as well as myself. They had actually poured diesel on the fire to help it burn! Just then my next-door neighbour phoned and was wondering where the noise had been coming from. I went round to see her and explained what I had been obliged to do. She was answering a call from yet another neighbour who wanted to know the source of the noise too. Workmen can be so inconsiderate when there is no-one there supervising operations. Anyway it was around two o’clock and still there was no rain. As I walked up the path alongside this flowerbed I saw something that infuriated me…..No 2 Flowerbed 10

…bluebells! Now this was the second of the two front flowerbeds I had revamped last year and I had thoroughly sifted the soil from one end to the other. I was confident that there wouldn’t be any bluebells left as there are in the other bed  where I hadn’t been as fussy. If you magnify the picture you will see a shrub at the far right end of the flowerbed, a Fuchsia which I didn’t disturb when working the bed but did remove some bluebells from beneath it at the time. Now there were bluebells growing deep inside and among the stalks, impossible to remove unless the Fuchsia was taken out too. I was so annoyed but made it my business to remove it there and then. It took some time but eventually I got it out and then it was time to get at those bluebells too. I removed a bucket load of them! I didn’t really wish to lose the Fuchsia but on reflection it is a plant that grows vigorously, producing more and more stalks which get out of hand. For the time being therefore I am going to concentrate on the two front flowerbeds, especially the right-hand one which has many bluebells needing removal…Front flowerbed redesign 1

This is a picture (above) from last year. The rose has since been pruned right down and is going to look far better this year I think. Does it never end?

Shirley Anne


A little bit

First thing Friday morning was slightly warmer than it had been on Thursday but I had a small job to do at nine o’clock about a mile from home. A regular customer had asked me a few days earlier if I could check out a faulty floodlight for her. Notwithstanding the fact that my intentions were not to resume work for a week or two I put that aside and went to see what the problem was. The floodlight was positioned over a passageway at the side of the house which meant it was slightly breezy. Spaces between buildings encourage air movement and always tend to be a little windy for that reason. Why is it that outside work is often called for when the weather is cold?   Windy and cold conditions are not ideal when working up a ladder to work on a floodlight. When I looked at the light it was apparent that water had gotten inside and had been short-circuiting the LED lamp. The unit shown is almost exactly the same as that I went to look at. The glass had water on its inside surface which meant the whole inside would be damp.floodlightThe unit was supposed to have a high waterproof rating so it was unusual for water to have found its way inside. I had it disconnected in minutes and then removed it from the bracket but had to go indoors for my fingers to warm up again. It took quite some time before I was able to resume the work. I fitted and connected a replacement unit and then returned inside once more to have a drink of coffee whilst it went through its start-up procedure. Having decided I had set it up correctly I returned and set it up for night operation. There was a pronounced change in the outside temperature and it was now quite warm with very little wind! I guess I should have waited an hour before starting the work but that is the way it goes sometimes. I was happy I had done the work after so many days rest from it. Now I am thinking I hope I’ll get more work before my intended date to return to work. Some habits die-hard, well for me they do.

Shirley Anne

At the ready

What a lovely day Thursday was, bright, sunny and just a hint of a breeze. I was hoping I would get the day to myself, at least during the morning as I had to walk into town to deposit money in my bank and also to purchase two items from the pharmacy store, one an anti-fungal cream and the other a lipstick. Yes they sell cosmetics too.Foot care The cream was to replenish a tube I had that is almost used up. I have been treating a fungal infection on a couple of my toenails as I don’t want it to spread. I arose early and after breakfast drove half the way into town then walked the rest of the way as I normally do. The town centre is only a mile and a quarter from home but I didn’t want to walk the whole distance thinking I might have to go elsewhere later. It didn’t happen that way but it did happen. I completed my business in town and returned home. There was a message on the house phone. A lady and her husband living a couple of minutes away asked if I could change a couple of light units in their apartment. I could have done one of them immediately had I taken the van but it seemed not worth doing that, I walked there instead. The other unit would have to be purchased as I had recommended they have a long LED unit to meet their needs in the room in which it was to be fitted. It turned out that she was an avid ‘crafter’ just as E has become these last few months. She once made greetings cards as E now does but she stopped producing them some time ago and now makes other things instead. Anyway I walked back home, collected my van and drove to the electrical supplier. I had to place an order for the LED light as they hadn’t one on the shelf but it would be there the following morning. The type I ordered has a flat back and a semi-circled (actually an arc) front but in essence a similar fitting to the one in the picture.LED Extrusion I paid for it and I would collect it sometime after my Friday morning dental appointment. I returned to the apartment to arrange a day for doing the work and we arranged for it to be done on Monday morning. It was just after twelve when I returned home. The afternoon would be all mine. After lunch I went into the rear garden to browse around. I went into the greenhouse, then in full sunshine, to see how the strawberry plants I had put in there were doing and if they needed water. They didn’t of course but I wanted to be certain the soil was at least moist. The plants were healthy and ready to start growing. In fact a couple of them have flowers on them already! I walked around the garden and reached the patio. We have a couple of pots on the steps and in front of the patio wall in which E planted tulip and daffodil bulbs two years ago. I had them partially covered to prevent the birds from digging out the loose bark in the pots. I removed the coverings and lo and behold the first signs of growth were exposed. The bulbs have sprouted and are pushing their way upward already. Nothing really stands still, not the plants in the garden nor me!

Shirley Anne

Well it certainly worked

The light shone through the trees
Casting long fanned-out shadows across the lawn
There was no hiding place for creature or man
Until the breaking of the dawn.


The lamp at the top of the lamp-post switched itself on just after seven o’clock in the evening and remained  on until seven-ten in the morning, a full twelve hours. This is why I want to obtain a part-night photo sensor to control an ordinary but LED lamp as it will automatically switch the lamp off a little after midnight for  maybe four hours or more, switching it back on before dawn for a couple of hours. I have one controlling our porch light which switches off at one o’clock in the morning and  back on again before dawn. The lamp supplied with the lamp-post is a fluorescent and uses 15 watts of energy whereas an LED equivalent would only use 5 watts of energy or thereabout for the same light output and far less power if not left on all night. Both of course are far less expensive than traditional tungsten or halogen lamps which can consume ten to twelve times the amount of power as an LED for the same light output. Anyway the lamp will remain for the time being. I was quite tired on Thursday evening and glad to get to bed. I had nothing planned for Friday but after breakfast I went outside with a brush and a tin of black paint for painting metal in order to cover over the sealant I had put between the joints in the lamp-post. I also wanted to paint the screw heads of the screws fastening the cable clamps and to paint over the white cable I had to use in part of the installation just to make it less noticeable. It worked. Just as I was about to start however, someone called asking if I could fit a couple of replacement light units in their apartment. It never fails, I seem to get calls whenever I am about to do work at home. The painting would take five minutes so I agreed to do their work immediately after. The apartment was only two and a half miles away. I was back home well before lunchtime. After lunch I mowed the lawn hoping it would be the last time for this year but I fancy that won’t be the case. Because of the season it is difficult to find the grass dry at any time, even if it hasn’t been raining it is usually wet with dew.  Our lawn is on the north side of the house so the grass can remain wet for long periods and it makes mowing sometimes difficult to do but with the petrol mower it isn’t too bad. Some of the cuttings however tend to clog-up and not end up in the collecting bin. The hardest part is trying to sweep the cuttings that have ended up on the concrete paving slabs because they are wet. One of the two wheelie bins for green waste which were emptied on Monday was now already full. You can see why we need two of them. It was a sunny day on Friday, sunny enough to sit on the patio for a while to relax, which is what I did later on.

Shirley Anne

Go girl go

Seems to be me at the moment. I did get the rest I needed over the weekend but since then it has been all go.

Wonder Girl
Wonder Girl (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My previous posts reveal some of the things I have been up to so far this week. Now as I write this on Wednesday late in the afternoon I have just returned indoors after working in the garden on the lamp-post project. I haven’t uncovered the work I did yesterday, that is Tuesday because rain is forecast overnight and I want the concrete I laid then to remain dry so that it can itself dry out completely. It was 26 hours ago that I laid it. Today I concentrated on fixing both the connector box and the box with the isolating switch to the wall and then connecting the steel-wire-armoured cable and the supply cables to them. The supply cable had to be fed from the other side of the wall to a power box there but I had to remove a small piece of capping stone first. I secured the cable to the wall so that I could replace the capping stone over it. Of course that meant mixing some new mortar too. I didn’t make the final connection to the power box as it was getting late and I’d had enough work for one day and also because the power box  needs some attention as two of its fixing screws had become loose. I might get the time on Thursday afternoon to finish that part of the work. I had been to work doing electrical jobs in the morning so essentially it had been a full day working. By Friday it may be possible to fix the lamp-post’s base to the concrete plinth and if so there would be no reason to prevent the post itself to be fitted. For the moment we will have to use the lamp that was supplied, an energy-saving lamp (miniature fluorescent) which has a built-in light detector. It means though that the lamp will be lit throughout the night. I am still trying to source a part-night sensor which will switch off the lamp for a few hours during the early hours after midnight. If I obtain one it will be fitted next to the connector box I have just installed to control the supply to the lamp-post and then I can replace the lamp with an LED version instead. Tomorrow, Thursday I will be installing equipment and wiring inside someone’s shed! They breed turtles…………..don’t ask.

Shirley Anne

On the go

I woke up rather late on Thursday, I must have needed the sleep is all I can say. I knew the guys were coming early but I wasn’t dressed and ready to come downstairs. Fortunately E had risen earlier than I but even she had to answer the door at ten minutes after eight in order to give the guys access to the rear garden. I actually didn’t get downstairs until almost nine-thirty. I ate a very light breakfast, mostly fruit and after a short while drove off to buy the LED light bulbs for the new fitting. If you remember yesterday I mentioned E had been given six tungsten bulbs but I was never going to use them. Anyway I drove to the retail park to see what they were charging for the bulbs and then phoned my electrical supplier to ask them how much they charge. They were even less than half the price at the electrical supplier. I drove there and bought them for less than £19 for six. When I returned home E had just finished vacuuming the carpet on the stairs. I went upstairs and installed the new light fitting…Bedroom light

It didn’t take long to install though even using the high ladder it was still a bit of a stretch to reach the ceiling. I have been able to get things done at home as my electrical work has been slack in coming in this week. E went out in the afternoon to do the shopping and I decided I would climb the ladders to the top of the scaffolding were the guys had been repairing the roof to see what they had done. The guys had left for the day. One of the tasks they were to do was to re-point some of the brickwork but like most builders I have come across they are no too fussy about the mess they create. One of the five floodlights we have on the walls at the rear of the house was literally covered in red mortar. I descended to fetch a brush and clean it off before it set hard. A plastic bag to cover the light whilst they were working would have prevented my having to clean it. I am capable of climbing ladders but many women, probably most women my age are not and would therefore not be able to check things over. I set high standards when I work, especially if it is for others so I expect those working for me to be just as conscientious. It looks as though the front steps will be finished off soon as one guy was preparing the small wall for skimming with cementFront steps 3

Everything is on the go but I will be happy when all the building repairs and alterations are completed and the scaffolding removed. We can then concentrate on our own work.

Shirley Anne


English: Fluorescent lamp
Fluorescent lamp (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What a day! Over the years I have come across many different problems in my line of work and I often say to myself that it never ceases to amaze me when some new problem arises. It isn’t the problems themselves but more the fact that some of them wouldn’t be problems if manufacturers and designers of equipment realised they were building them into their goods. Often no feedback mechanism exists to help in eliminating problems and to improve designs. I had two small jobs to do on Thursday morning and I expected to have them both completed within two hours but unfortunately I was away from home for more than six! A lady had bought a new light fitting and I was to install it. The existing lighting, recessed downlights did not give enough light though they were halogen lamps. The reason for that was most of them had been changed to LED lamps but of a far lower equivalent rating to be bright enough. The easy answer would have been to put higher capacity lamps in but she and her husband had decided to purchase what they thought was a twin-tube LED fitting instead. Actually they had bought a modern fluorescent lamp fitting and two LED tube lamps to fit in it. Now I have seen fittings of this type before, they look like an ordinary fluorescent fitting but are different. I gave it no thought and proceeded to install it but first I had to locate the supply to the existing recessed lights and divert it to the new fitting. That was a job in itself for the supply could have been anywhere in the false ceiling but I located it quicker than I had thought I would. It took some time to install the new light fitting and when I had finally succeeded I discovered it wouldn’t work. I checked the supply and all was well so the problem lay in the light itself but there was nothing evidently wrong. We contacted the supplier from where she had purchased it and I explained the problem. They allowed me to bring back the internal part of the fitting and have it replaced rather than having to remove the whole unit from the ceiling. I drove there with the lady as my passenger and the salesman was unable to reason why we were having problems. The manager came to the desk and we discussed things. It turns out that they had sold the lady a fluorescent fitting with LED lamps in error. It could only work with fluorescent lamps and not LED lamps. That explained a lot for I had been under the impression that its internal components were LED ‘drivers’ but in fact they were choke units, the devices normally found in a fluorescent fitting. Ironically the fitting could have been modified to use LED lamps but that would have meant cutting the internal wiring and partly rewiring it, something you wouldn’t do with a new fitting. The supplier admitted their error and offered the lady a larger fitting for the same price and she accepted it. It was an LED lighting unit that had the LEDs built into it, no separate lamps to install. It actually looks much the same as the fluorescent fitting in the picture above. We drove back to her house and I installed it. However, although the light worked first time with no problems when it came to fixing the diffuser it was a nightmare! It had been manufactured to hold the diffuser in place with 16 or so metal clips which were almost impossible to fit into place and even when I had managed to do that it was extremely difficult to clamp the diffuser in place using them. In the above picture you can see two of the four clamps of a similar nature holding the diffuser in place. A much simpler way of fixing the diffuser would have saved so much time and frustration if it had been designed that way. I took the rest of the first fitting back to the supplier as I’d promised and by chance I spoke with the manager again who confessed that he had installed the same LED fitting at home and had exactly the same problems in fixing the diffuser. The second job I had been to replace a small lamp holder and it took me a mere ten minutes by comparison! I didn’t get back home until mid-afternoon. Some days you wished you’d never gotten out of bed.

Shirley Anne

Light duties

English: A selection of commercially available...
English: A selection of commercially available LED lamps (“light bulbs”) with Edison (screw-type) base/ Photo by Geoffrey A. Landis (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

E and I live in a rather large detached house that was built in 1877. When people ask about our house I tell them that it isn’t that large but we’ve already lost three butlers and four maids who seemingly have gotten lost in the place. Joking apart though it is large for just two people but once, a few years ago there were seven living here. It is classed as a seven bedroom house, four bedrooms on the third level and three on the level above. There are three main lounges, a family room which serves as a dining room and a small kitchen. Other rooms include an en-suite bathroom, a family bathroom and a wet room. there are four main rooms in the cellar together with three small rooms/stores and a hallway. Three more hallways/landings are on the three other floors. Attached to either side of the house are two garages. Quite a lot of space to hide away in and quite a lot of space to fill too! On Friday E and I went out shopping for some LED light bulbs (or lamps). Both the newly built wet room and the main/family bathroom (undergoing refurbishment at the moment) have between them 16 LED down-lights (recessed into the ceiling) and we want as many of the other light fittings in the house to have LED lamps in them. Some of the rooms are fitted with fluorescent fittings as the main source of lighting, some in the cellar, some at the top of the house and of course the garages. Some rooms have large chandeliers which have six to 10 lamps in them others have less. Some of the rooms have wall lights too, each with two lamps in them. We purchased enough lamps for three chandeliers and six wall lights which amounted to 27 lamps of three different types and all of them LED’s. They cost us a little over £170. Ouch! As an exercise and to determine just how many light fittings there are in and about the house I counted them all both inside and out and discovered that there are 124 lamps of different types and sizes. Some are large fluorescent tubes, some are LED floodlights, some are chandeliers with many lamps in them and the total number of actual light fittings amounted to 84! Phew! We reckon we will need to spend quite a few hundred pounds more yet to replace all those that can be replaced with LED lamps. Even the fluorescent tubes can have LED tubes fitted. That is a lot of money to spend out in order to cut down on running costs and the payback period will be measured in years however, the LED lamps are supposed to have a 30,000 to 50,000 hour lifespan under normal usage which works out to be quite a few years too. There will be a saving on power usage of course which means less to fork out for electricity and less demand on the electricity supply system.

Shirley Anne

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Just when….

LED Lamp with GU10 twist lock fitting, intende...
LED Lamp with GU10 twist lock fitting, intended to replace halogen reflector lamps. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had no real plans on Monday but I did have a small job to attend on. A local guy asked if I could check out the lighting in three upstairs rooms. He had exchanged the small halogen lamps for LED (light emitting diodes) versions exactly like the ones shown on the right and he found that the LED ones remained dimly lit even when the circuits were switched off! Although LED lamps only require around 1.2 volts DC to work there has to be a transforming and rectifying circuit built within them in order to plug them directly into the 230 volt AC supply else they would explode! There were no dimmer switches involved and no driver devices simply an on-off switch by the door. I couldn’t see why the lamps remained dim when the switch was off but assumed that somehow their internal circuitry was holding a charge for a while. Evidently the lamps were remaining dimly lit for hours on end so my theory went out of the window. On removing the fittings from the ceiling however revealed that their connections were not secure and worse than that they were not earthed even though earth wires were present! It seems that ‘some old guy’ had fitted them and couldn’t be bothered to connect the earth wires. In doing so it made all the earth circuit redundant and the next light fitting down the line would not be earthed either. I stripped back the cables and made good the earth connections on all of the fittings whilst reconnecting them to their supplies. I powered up the circuit and tested the lights to make sure they were working and when I switched them off the original problem with the LED’s remaining dimly lit had still not been resolved.  On paper it doesn’t make any sense but funny things can happen with electricity. I could do no more at that stage so and returned home with nothing in mind to do. I decided to practice playing my songs on the guitar and I made five recordings of a new song I’d written the day before and then placed it on my YouTube channel. I don’t know what it is with YouTube but I always seem to have difficulty when I am uploading a video. It took me a couple of hours to record the one song before deciding which version to upload. Now I have 45 of my own songs on there but only this new one features me singing. It has been a long time since I attempted to sing so this first effort might not be my best but I think it is good for a first attempt. Maybe I will re-record some of the others and sing too. Just when I thought I had nothing to do it all changed.

Shirley Anne

PS. I revisited the house the following day (Tuesday) to re-check the light circuit using sensitive meters but found I still couldn’t get a reading to explain the phenomena. I could tell that there was a connection box somewhere in the ceiling by the way the wiring was configured and because the colours were not consistent. I suspect the box may be damp inside or some other fault may be present, however, access to the loft had been removed during building alterations some time ago. The owner of the house plans to re- open up that access so until then I am unable to see if my suspicions are correct. He wants me to return to make alterations to his supply board soon so I should be able to check it out then.