So what was I going to do on Monday? It was only a matter of a few months ago when I would be off somewhere doing an electrical job on a Monday morning. Now I can please myself but I have set myself a routine nevertheless, a routine to keep me in good health through exercising. Although I did exercise beforehand I had to fit that in between my work schedules, now it is the other way round, I exercise first then do whatever needs doing later. After getting dressed in my sport’s clothes I spent thirty minutes on the treadmill which I now do every second day and occasionally on other days. Likewise, if I take a long walk, which I do also every second day, I still take short walks on other days too sometimes. I almost never take a long walk if I have spent time rigorously working out on the treadmill. The plan on Monday was to use the treadmill and perhaps take a short walk in the afternoon but things didn’t quite work out that way. Having changed into normal clothing for the rest of the day I decided to remove a faulty floodlight on the rear wall of the house and replace it with another further along the wall which too often was affected by the operation of the house boiler. Although it was distant from the exhaust of the boiler it would still be triggered to switch on sometimes so I thought it best to remove it altogether. There are still four remaining floodlights on the rear of the house which is adequate. I used an old ladder to do the work of removing the good floodlight but used one section of a much lighter aluminium ladder to do the rest of the work. The first ladder, which is constructed of galvanised steel, was far too heavy a ladder for general use and I wanted to be rid of it. I did that just after lunch. Another section of the same ladder is still hanging in the garage (see picture, it has yellow and white industrial bags stored on it) and I will get rid of that next time I visit the tip. When the electrical work was finished I got the hacksaw and chopped the steel ladder into two pieces so that it would fit on top of the van. I fixed them to the roof rack and then filled the van with other items we were getting rid of, a gents bicycle (in good condition), an exercise bike (faulty), an old computer screen, two printers, an old electric drill and the tray from my neighbour’s faulty dishwasher. I took the gents cycle to The Salvation Army as it deserved a new owner being as it was in good condition. They took it from me.
I was about to go indoors for lunch when my neighbour called and asked if I could disconnect her faulty dishwasher as she was getting a new one later in the week. I was dressed in my overalls so took the opportunity to do the job then. It took me ages to remove the old washer from beneath the worktop as she had an old carpet on the floor which couldn’t be removed. Finally I got it out and removed the cable, the drain hose and the water supply pipe. However the valve controlling the supply water was faulty and I had to replace it temporarily so the water supply to the house could be maintained. She would use a plumber to install the new appliance. I took the faulty machine outside ready for collection but I wanted to see if parts of the tray could be used as spares for our own dishwasher. Unfortunately they couldn’t so that’s how it ended up in the back of my van ready for the tip. By the time I had returned from disposing the items it was approaching four in the afternoon. I’d had enough for one day.
Have you got good neighbours? Are you on good terms with them? Do you help them when they are in difficulties and need some help? The world would be a better place if we truly loved our neighbour, it is a commandment but there are times when our neighbours make it hard for us that we just make ourselves scarce sometimes. I have a neighbour who often asks if I can help with one thing or another. Usually I just go and do it, in fact I never refuse unless I am genuinely unavailable. My neighbour is a widow, she is around 80 years of age and suffers with emphysema so is incapable of doing many things. She does have a middle-aged son living with her who is long-since separated from his girlfriend but he is incapable too, so he says and in fact I believe him. He is an inspector in the police force and that is about all he is capable of doing and that by his own admission. Whilst his mom is alive I am only too glad to help her but I will be reluctant to remain available once she passes away except for emergencies. He I am afraid is going to have to dig into his pockets and pay someone else do it himself when things need attention. I am not getting any younger and though I will always lend a hand when there is a real need I refuse to be the neighbour who will jump at the chance to fix something for those who won’t help themselves. Last year my neighbour had a new bathroom fitted but couldn’t properly figure out how to use the electric shower and called the plumber several times to check it out. He kept telling her that there was nothing wrong with the shower and indeed there wasn’t. Not satisfied with the plumber’s assessment she asked if I could check it out. There wasn’t a thing wrong with it but I talked them both through the process of how the shower actually works. Well twice again I was called and again found nothing wrong and at the same time showed them how to use the shower describing what to do under certain circumstances if it wasn’t behaving as it should. On Friday she called again and asked me to check it out but I didn’t go there, instead I reiterated over the phone what was happening when the shower water wasn’t heating up. It is all about water pressure. Unless the pressure is above a minimum the unit will not heat the water. It is a safety issue in case the user gets scalded because the heating elements are set high. All that is needed to reset the unit is to turn up the water flow. I keep telling them that the water flow determines how hot the water gets at a given electric element setting. I mentioned to E later that it would be easier to train a chimpanzee on how to use the shower than to have to repeatedly tell her son. Neighbours eh?
What a nice and quiet day Monday was, well almost. Early rise then breakfast, a little later I was placing one foot in front of the other as I walked to the north of town along the seafront. It started bright and sunny but soon after I began the walk it turned cloudy and somewhat cool, which I didn’t mind. The wind had changed and was now blowing from the north-west, hence the coolness. It was way too early for lunch by the time I got back home so I sat out on the patio with E with a coffee for the sunshine had returned. Because it was around noon the shadow of the house had now covered most of the patio but E was able to sit in the sunny part. An hour later and the patio was in full sunshine again and would be for the next three and a half hours if it didn’t turn cloudy again. It didn’t turn cloudy during the remainder of the day. We returned indoors for lunch by which time it was hot and humid outside. Now I could have done some work, which I was wanting to do but because of the weather conditions I decided against that idea. I spent the afternoon in the garden either on the patio or pottering about around the garden itself removing weeds and debris, nothing strenuous of course. Around five o’clock I got the hose and watered the plants before finally going back indoors to do some domestic chores. E had gone out, taking her mom they spent a couple of hours in town doing some business and window-shopping. When I was outside I had left my phone indoors. I sometimes do that so I am not disturbed but I check to see if anyone has called. Our next-door neighbour had called me three times on the mobile and twice on the house phone. E had just returned and before she came inside I told her about the calls thinking a parcel had been left with our neighbour which sometime happens. When E came back she told me our neighbour was having problems with her electric shower! Although it was now approaching meal time I told E I was going next door to see if I could help with the shower and she then told me that I should take note that our neighbour’s gates were stiff to open. Sure enough the gates were sticking together at the bottom. All had been quiet until our neighbour put a spanner in the works, lol. I knocked on the door and was invited inside. I went upstairs along with her son and checked the operation of the shower. There was absolutely nothing wrong with it just as it was when I checked it a few weeks earlier. The problem was they didn’t know how to use the controls to get the best from the shower. I explained how the shower works and the link between water flow and pressure to the heat of the water. The heat settings only switch on the elements either high or low. Water control does the rest. Finally the penny dropped and they could now see what they were doing wrong. I asked if they had an adjustable spanner (wrench) and the son fetched one. I took them both to the gates and showed them what the problem was with them sticking. I had the adjustments made in twenty seconds and all was fine. Maybe next time (though there shouldn’t be a next time after my adjustment) they could do it themselves, or rather the son could. It would be a first.
It had been quite a pleasant weekend with plenty of sunshine but we could see the weather was about to change as had been forecast. It was now early evening on Sunday, the sun was still shining and what clouds there were numbered few. There had been more clouds during the late afternoon however and soon they would return. I was relaxing in front of the television when our next-door neighbour called asking me if I would check out her twin floodlight at the rear of the house as one of the lamps had been flickering. It was getting late, it was Sunday so I explained that I would have a look on Monday morning. I did ask why she hadn’t called a day or so earlier when the weather was fine because rain was forecast to fall on and off for the next few days. She asked if I would call later in the morning as she didn’t arise until after eight-thirty. No problem but when I looked out of the window the following morning around nine o’clock I assumed that she had gone out in her car! I thought this because her gate was open and her son presumably was fast asleep which meant his vehicle was still parked at the house. Why did I think he was in bed? I had to go into the rear garden and I noticed all my neighbour’s upstairs curtains were still closed. Soon after I had eaten my breakfast at nine-twenty I saw a very large branch had snapped off the huge lime tree that stands in the garden at the rear of ours. It is forever losing small twigs and branches and is becoming rather a nuisance. Fortunately its own branches had broken the fall of the one that had landed in our garden and there was no damage to the plants along where it fell. I had to get rid of it. Unfortunately I had been that intent on removing it I neglected to take a picture but here is one of the offending tree taken soon afterward. Click on image.
As you can see it dwarfs all the other trees except maybe the sycamores growing around it. It took me some time to heave it all over the wall to rest with the numerous other branches we have had to throw there in the past. The owners of the lime tree do very little in regard to maintaining that corner of their garden and accordingly it is overgrown and in an awful state. They are the same family we had to inform about the Japanese Knot-weed they had growing just the other side of the dividing wall between us. They take little interest in their garden. So, as I was returning to them what was rightfully theirs it began to pour down with rain. Well thanks very much but hey it is only water! I returned indoors to dry off and write this post. Well now it appears her son (a police officer) had gone to work at six-thirty and had forgotten to open his curtains. I only know this because I called my neighbour to explain why I hadn’t called to check her floodlights and of course she was at home. We chatted a while and she told me the floodlight was now behaving itself! I will still check it out sometime when it stops raining. She was telling me about the price it would cost her to have the outside walls of her house painted again, around £3000. Her husband when he was alive used to do it every five years. I told her I didn’t think it needed painting (it doesn’t). A little time later she called back and asked if I did painting! What a cheeky neighbour I have. I pointed out that no, I do not paint the outside of houses on such a scale as hers is and that I am seventy-one years of age! Too old to be lugging around ladders and scaffolding, especially by myself. I think she was being cheeky to even consider asking me.
Life can be so hard sometimes but it can be so easy too. Things often seem more difficult or hard to deal with than they actually warrant. We ourselves can make life’s situations more difficult but if we could just stop and think things over we might find no problem really insurmountable. In every area of our lives this is so. However, it is one thing to overcome everyday situations we feel we could not previously handle and another when it involves others. Relationships with fellow humans can be fraught with difficulties especially where there is a clash of personalities, ideas, beliefs and so on but it shouldn’t be that way. It is a matter of how much we really love the other person, do we humble ourselves and put them first even if we know they are wrong? As Christians we are told to love one another, to love our neighbour (which is everyone else living on the planet) and in doing so honouring Christ. It doesn’t always work that way as anyone will tell you. I was watching a television program whilst waiting for another program to begin and it was called ‘Nightmare neighbour next door’. Many in the UK will probably have watched it themselves. The title is somewhat self-explanatory but in essence it reports relationships about people living next to each other who for one of many reasons just don’t get on with each other. Often the friction is one-sided and often it is based upon trivial concerns. As outsiders we can see the whole story and the stubbornness of people who simply cannot see their way to make an effort to resolve their differences. It is about love and putting others before ourselves but at the same time we shouldn’t simply let others take advantage. Being humble doesn’t mean being servile. Whilst watching one incident between two neighbours it seemed obvious that only one of them, a woman, was the source of the problems between them. The guy who lived next door had to put up with her unbelievably bad behaviour and for some time until one day he took complete control just using words. At this point I fell about with laughter at what he had said. Leaning over the wall which separated them he calmly said to her face ‘God you are ugly’ and then walked away. He had no further problems from that day forth. Now I wouldn’t advocate being verbally abusive to anyone but I had to admit he had made his hard life a lot easier with just a few words.
A couple of days ago I unscrewed the top hinge on the lounge door in order to set it back in the door frame. This was because the door was too low at the leading edge and was brushing the carpet as the door was opened or closed. Setting the top hinge back even a tiny amount was enough to raise the door but unfortunately the door still brushed over the carpet. The hinge couldn’t be set back any further however so on Wednesday morning I decided the door had to be removed so that I could plane off some of the wood on the bottom. It took me less than twenty minutes and the door was back on its hinges and no longer brushing the carpet. The old carpet didn’t have the same depth of pile that the new one has so the door wasn’t a problem. Anyway that was the first job for the day. Mid-morning I took a trip to the electrical supply store to purchase a new in-line switch and some flexible lighting cable with which to lengthen the cable supplied with one of the new table lamps I had purchased. The cable supplied on the lamp wasn’t long enough to allow the lamp to sit on the new pillar stand.I had made. Unfortunately the switch that came with the lamp couldn’t be removed except by cutting it free which was why a new switch was required, one that clamped together with screws.
The power outlet is behind the television just over a metre away from the stand. The stand is just that, simply a stand with no access to the inside. It could equally have a vase full of flowers sitting on it instead. By now it was approaching lunchtime and I decided to eat at the pub rather than at home. I had hardly left the house at all over the previous couple of weeks being as I was busy working there. I had walked to the pub and on my return I met my next-door neighbour who was about to keep an appointment with her doctor. She tells me often that she is fed-up with her situation in that she has to go everywhere with an oxygen bottle because of her condition. She has emphysema. I always try to cheer her up and I get her to laugh but I can see she knows her situation is not going to improve. The rest of my day was spent at home and out on the patio. We have been enjoying a lot of wall-to-wall sunshine this past month and it is good to be out in it.
Looks like I will be busy between now (as I write) and Christmas but I am not surprised by that, it happens each year. That doesn’t mean I will be working myself to the bone, just doing what I feel is enough. Today is Monday and already I have done two jobs with another three scheduled for other days this week. I went to a house in a tiny village in the countryside some ten miles north of my own town. The lady had asked me to check out a light unit and to see if it was possible to move a power outlet in one of the bedrooms. I had the light checked and secured within a few minutes then proceeded upstairs to the bedroom. The outlet could be moved up the wall without too much of a problem but it would require that the wall be chiselled out for the new box. She agreed that I should do it.
At this point I want to change the subject for a moment or two. I don’t watch a tremendous amount of television and often as not if the set is on I am only listening and not watching. Some programs I enjoy watching and some of those include reports about police encounters with offenders, problems with landlords and their tenants and ‘neighbours from hell‘ to coin a phrase.
I have had little personal experience of such things as most folk don’t which is just as well. However, returning to my installing the power outlet in a new position I had to use a hammer and chisel to hack out the brick wall. The lady passed no comment until we both heard reciprocal banging on her neighbours adjoining wall. Evidently the sound of my banging was resonating through to her attached property even though there were intervening rooms. Then the lady told me about her ‘neighbour from hell’. They had been at loggerheads for a few years and hadn’t settled their differences. The lady apologised for not having informed me before the work started. I suggested I call next door to apologise for the noise but she thought I shouldn’t. I went anyway and spoke with the disgruntled neighbour and apologised for having disturbed her peace. Without going into great detail I could see her point of view in her relationship with her neighbour, the lady I was working for. In situations like these one has to be extremely diplomatic and not take sides which might make matters worse. I was very diplomatic and assured the woman I had very little more banging to do but that I would keep it as short and as quiet as I could. In total the noise only lasted about eight minutes anyway. I felt sorry for them both that they hadn’t been able to resolve their differences and be good neighbours to each other. I finished the work and popped into the lady’s other neighbours home to fix a faulty light in her bathroom. I wasn’t going to levy a charge for it was a simple repair which had only taken a mere five minutes to do but she insisted on paying me something. It was now fast approaching lunchtime and time for me to return home.
It was Friday morning and a day forecast to have rain. After many days of dry and bright weather it is always welcome to have some rain. It meant however that E and I could do no more work in the front flowerbed we had made a start on a couple of days earlier. I was available though I expected calls for my electrical services and indeed got some but unfortunately they were jobs I wasn’t prepared to undertake. The top room beckoned. My readers may remember we had done a lot of work in refurbishing one of the rooms at the top of the house up and until the weather turned hot and sunny. It was wiser to make the most of the good weather while it lasted and get on with necessary outdoor work. We would rather have continued the work indoors to its completion but we need to use our free time in the best ways possible. So it was that on Friday morning I did some sanding down of the wood we had painted last time in preparation of receiving another coat. The window frame and some of the other woodwork were painted before I decided I’d had enough for the day. As it turned out it did rain but there was little of it and we could have continued with the flowerbed had we wished but we didn’t want to risk it.
Just before our lunch which we had later than usual our next-door neighbour came to the door and E brought her into the kitchen where I was removing the edible seed pods of a pomegranate and putting them into a bowl. She had come to give us each a box of chocolates. I asked her why she had done so and she told us that it was simply in recognition of our being there for her when she needed help. Naturally we thanked her but insisted she need not have bought us anything. Anyway she passed a remark about how much she liked eating pomegranates when she was a young girl and I offered her some, passing her a dessert spoon. She half-filled the spoon and ate them and I could see the look of delight on her face as she remembered the taste. Soon she returned home and we had lunch. We did nothing else that day except pick up a few weeds and have a short break out on the patio. It wasn’t sunny but it was warm. I received another call for work on Monday morning so I would have to make the most of my free time at the weekend or get nothing done.
As I had been away from home on Monday morning I didn’t feel much like doing any work in the small bedroom we are decorating but I did remove the door because it required shortening in height. However I didn’t do that until the following morning for I was too tired. So after breakfast on Tuesday I took the ‘Workmate’ from the cellar and carried it up the two flights of stairs to the room and brought down a sturdy metal-framed chair from a room above. It was the only method I could use as a platform on which I could cut a centimetre off the bottom of the door. The door was far too heavy to have taken it downstairs into the workroom in the cellar. The doors throughout the house are all original and date to 1877 when the house was built. They are constructed of solid wood and are thicker and wider than most modern domestic doors. I chose to saw off the excess rather than use a woodworking plane. We have a couple of planes, one of which is electric but both have been lent out. It didn’t take long to cut the door with the saw. I had to reposition the lower hinge because the door frame had split where it had been originally fitted and of course I repaired the frame at that point too. Hanging the door was simplicity itself, the hardest part was manoeuvering it into place because of its weight! Once the door was back in the hole as it were, I gave it a coat of under-coating paint, and so you know this is the door……….
E had taken our next-door neighbour to the hospital for her appointment and didn’t return home until after lunch. After she had eaten, for I already had, we called next-door to have another go at getting her television connected to The Internet. My readers might remember I had spent some time a few days ago in a vain attempt at doing it. With a little help from her Internet provider we finally made the connection. It appeared I had been attempting the connection with the wrong password/wi-fi combination. At last she is happy now that she can use her Sky connection.
Saturday was Grand National Day, probably the world’s most famous horse steeplechase racing event held here in the UK at Aintree in Liverpool. Although I do not gamble on the race or any race for that matter I do like to watch it on television each year it is held. I always thought it amusing that once I lived quite close to the course yet never went to the course itself except on one occasion. I cannot remember the exact year but it was probably 1967 or 1968 I went there in an official capacity for the at that time Electricity Board who provided a standby emergency service should there be a power outage. I took on that responsibility on that one occasion. As it happened there wasn’t a problem so I got paid for standing around! I couldn’t wander too far from the supply switch room however so I didn’t get to see much but I was not really interested at that age. I was twenty-two to twenty-three years old. Now I live further away from the course, about sixteen miles away along the coast in the town of Southport and I avoid travelling anywhere near the north end of Liverpool because of the disruption.
E and I spent the day at home busy decorating or preparing for decorating in the small bedroom. First of all I heaved the old mattress out of the window and dragged it into the garage for disposal later. I then finished off painting the ceiling and we cut the carpet into two and heaved it out of the window into the garden so we could put it in the garage with the mattress. I removed a television aerial socket that I had installed on the skirting board years ago because the room had not long been decorated and I didn’t want to spoil it. I re-fixed it alongside a power outlet and sunk it into the wall. Meanwhile E was busy filling in cracks and holes in the woodwork ready for applying an undercoat later. Our neighbour who lives directly across the road had popped over to ask if we had heard her house alarm sounding as she has had a little problem with it over the last few days. She had been away from home in the morning. We had heard it sound whilst she had been out. E invited her inside so she could see our newly decorated bedroom and view her own house from our point of view as she always wondered what it looked like from afar. At the moment it is covered by scaffolding at the front for the final stages of re-pointing the brickwork. It was almost time to watch the horse race when we finished working for the day.
No, nothing to do with money. We have enjoyed quite a number of warm and sunny days these last couple of weeks and it has allowed me the opportunity to work on my patio projects. I completed the first phase last week and as my post showed, the flowerbed is now filled with plants. I wanted another few dry days in order to begin phase two, the construction of two smaller flowerbeds. As my latest posts show I have made good progress. On Wednesday I had almost completely built both beds leaving only the top course of bricks to lay and also to apply a concrete render to the inside of the newly built walls. On Thursday I was able to complete that work. I worked from ten in the morning until one in the afternoon when I got a call from somebody wanting a small electrical problem sorting out. I cleared the site, had a quick bite to eat and went off to do the job. All that remains to be done with the two flowerbeds is to fill them with soil and plants and then fit a stone capping as with the other walls. At this point in time as I write I have no idea when I will be able to do that but it will probably be on Saturday. On Friday we have people coming to the house to repair a couple of faulty windows under the guarantee or assess that work and arrange a date to repair them. E’s nephew, who is a builder/bricklayer is also calling to give us an estimate to rebuild a large section of the garden wall. When we levelled the area we called the ‘mound’ and redesigned it last summer we removed tons of soil and stone slabs. Over the years the sheer weight of that material had gradually pushed the wall away from the vertical so once we had removed it we realised the extent of the damage it had caused. The wall is safe as it stands but it looks unsightly and it can only become worse unless something is done about it. Dismantling the wall will also give us the opportunity to cut back the undergrowth on the other side. Our neighbour is lazy when it comes to keeping their side of the wall in order. As it stands at the moment they have brambles, ivy and Japanese knot weed as well as many other garden ‘nasties’ but they have let it get out of hand. As for the knot weed, they were informed about this more than a year ago but have done little about it. The knot weed plants need to be removed by professionals. Our main concern is that it doesn’t begin to show itself on our side of the wall. Fortunately the wall is deep, however that is no assurance. Also on Friday I have a dental appointment in the middle of the day so I am unlikely to be doing any work. I was glad therefore that I got so much done on Thursday.
On Thursday evening I was about to make myself a snack, just a sandwich for I had already eaten a large meal earlier in the day. The doorbell rang and I had to answer the door because E, though at home was unable to. I was a little surprised to see my new neighbour from across the street standing there with her two small children. She apologised for the intrusion but asked in a knowing way if I was an electrical engineer. I had mentioned that I was an electrician when I paid her a visit not long after she and her family moved in last year. I guess she remembered something about what I had said. She asked if I could help with a problem and I replied by asking her to give me two minutes and I would follow on after her. She had been preparing their evening meal and her cooker had tripped out the supply which affected other circuits and she had been unable to reset the controls. Essentially there were two ‘trip switches’ (RCDs) controlling the circuits and they were in conflict. A small distribution panel in the cellar (basement) supplying a number of circuits was affected and this was the panel to which the cooker circuit was wired. The house’s main panel was unaffected. I reset the controls and all was fine but I gave my neighbour advice as to why the cooker had tripped the supply and what should be done to prevent it happening again. Essentially the cooker circuit needs to be separated from the panel and placed on a dedicated panel whilst one of the two RCDs supplying the small panel should be removed and replaced with a normal switch. If she asked me to do the work I would oblige. For the time being I advised her to leave the system as it is. It isn’t dangerous but simply a nuisance if the problem persists. I returned home to prepare my snack and thought no more about it. The following day, Friday, I was away from home for several hours working but on my return I discovered a small potted plant with flowers in full bloom was sitting on the coffee table. There wasn’t a message with it and E wasn’t there to tell me who had left it but I am supposing it was my neighbour. She had offered me payment for my services and I refused payment of any kind. I had done very little and certainly nothing worth paying for. My next-door gave me a potted plant too after I had done a very small job for her without payment. I don’t want paying for doing the neighbourly thing but I suppose it is just their way of saying thank-you. It is nice to be appreciated though I have to confess.
When at the dashboard which controls all functions of this blog, I click on ‘Add New’ under the umbrella heading of ‘Posts’ and am immediately presented with a blank canvas on which to write. ‘Add New’, seemed to me to be a good title for a post hence the title above but what is new? I could talk about many things that are new in my life and in fact I often do as my posts reveal but I talk about new neighbours now. Since I moved into this house I call home way back in 1988 most of my neighbours have remained the same. One of my next-door neighbours left for pastures new many years ago but the occupants of the house directly opposite my own house have changed a number of times during the last twenty years. I think we have seen it change hands five times during that time. I was beginning to think the house was cursed or that there was some underlying problem with the structure but no, it wasn’t any of those things I am sure. The last occupants to leave departed only two weeks ago but the house had been difficult to sell this time round mainly due to the housing market and the state of the country’s economy. Hardly anyone could sell their house during this dry spell. As it was our neighbours were finally able to make a sale after more than three years trying. Even so the house went at a much lower price than was originally asked for, selling for £580,000. The original asking price was something like £700,000 or more and to be fair was probably worth it at the time. The trend over the last twenty years was to buy then sell at a higher price after living in a property a couple of years, making a tidy profit in the process but that has become more difficult in recent times. I had just returned home after visiting Liverpool and was hoping at some point to call at the house across the road to introduce myself and to welcome my new neighbours. I didn’t wish to do that any sooner thinking it best to let them settle in. Moving house and getting things to some normality is stressful and I thought it best to give them space. I would have introduced myself last week but I was laid-up after my surgery and pretty much was unable to do anything for a few days. So on Friday I called to see them but only one was at home, the lady of the house. Her name is Joanne and she and her husband have two small children, a boy of six and a girl of three who evidently were at school or nursery at the time. She tells me that they have no plans to move anywhere else soon saying that they plan to stay ‘forever’. How refreshing I thought to myself, that finally we have neighbours living in this house who want to stay! I let her know that she can call on us at any time if she has a problem we could help her with. I let it slip out that I was an electrician too which she thought was a useful thing to know. So we have new neighbours who wish to stay, a welcome addition to our community.
On Saturday E and I were chatting about our old house in Freshfield, Formby and specifically the gardens there. I suggested we drive there incognito to have a look. It is only eight miles or so from our present house. E said she would like to see the old place again so on Sunday she reminded me about the suggestion. I wanted to get some fuel for my van anyway so off we went to see the house. As we turned the corner one of the first things we saw was the lovely, now quite tall Laburnum tree in full bloom just like the one in the picture with its bright yellow flowers hanging like small bunches of strange-looking grapes. Other trees had been planted on the lawn too and as we approached for a closer look I spotted the lady who had been our next door neighbour when we lived there. She still lives there and she was cleaning the boot of her car which we learned later had been accidentally filled with liquid soap that had spilled out of a container. I pointed her out to E and inched the van over to her driveway. She had noticed our arrival but hadn’t recognized that it was us until E wound down the window and said hello. She was taken by surprise and didn’t immediately realize it was E speaking to her. She came over to greet her and as she did she looked in my direction and said hello to me too but in a way that one might do as a matter of courtesy to someone not known to oneself and because I was accompanying E. I might say at this point that I was wearing sunglasses and obviously looked nothing like her former neighbour! She and E chatted away for a few minutes and whilst she had been distracted for a moment I whispered to E not to reveal to her who I was. At that time I didn’t wish to be drawn into a lengthy discussion about my transition. I did my best not to be drawn into the conversation and although I was listening I kept quiet. After a few minutes E bade her farewell and we drove off slowly down the road. I wondered if I would have been recognized had I not been wearing the glasses but I am guessing not though I am sure she would have begun to realize it was me once I talked about the old house. How could she not? It has been about 25 years since we last met and a lot of water has passed under the bridge since then. I used to call in to see her on the way home from work for a while after we moved house. We called into the service station for fuel when near home. I suggested it might be nice to invite our old neighbour over one day for a barbecue or meal so that we can catch up on events. One thing we did learn was that she had remarried after her former husband ran off with another woman. We already knew about her husband because that happened whist we were living there. It appeared that her new husband had suffered a cardiac arrest and died only fives years into the marriage. She has had a rough time in her life.
In yesterday’s post I mentioned the problem my neighbour had been having with her kitchen mixer tap and the struggle I’d had effecting a repair which eventually was successful. I mentioned something about her dropping a hint regarding another minor fault that had apparently come to light since my last visit and asking if I could look at it. In yesterday’s post I was also taking about the demands upon my time and how reluctant I tend to be to refuse people’s requests. I didn’t drop everything to go next door and repair her tap but on Saturday morning I’d had a nice lie in bed for a change, something these days which is as rare as rocking horse manure! I was glad to miss out on breakfast and didn’t get downstairs until almost eleven o’clock! I had brought down some dirty clothing to be placed in the washing machine so I did that and then went into the garage to get out some tools and a tap washer and went next door to my neighbours’ house. The hot tap required a replacement washer but the leak was very minimal. Nevertheless I made an attempt at removing the tap assembly but found it impossible to unscrew from the main housing for a couple of reasons, one, it was stuck fast, probably with limescale and two, it was very awkward trying to get a spanner (wrench) to fit and be able to turn it to loosen the part. Usually a sharp tap with a hammer to break the seal is all that is required but it was impossible to position the spanner in such a way as to allow it. I might have been able to do it by removing the spout which had taken so much time and effort to refit on my previous visit. In essence she would be better calling in the services of a plumber who would probably remove the whole sink and draining board combination and fit a new tap, which is what I think ought to be done. She was happy that I at least made the attempt. I would have been able to remove the sink and fit a new one myself but I really do not have that much time to spend on someone else’s job that would be better done by a plumber. I returned home and E pointed out to me that the mixer tap in our own kitchen required attention because the hot tap was loose as was the main stem which forms the outlet spout. The arrangement is similar to our neighbours tap but of a different design and easier to get at. The pair of us stripped all the parts that could be removed without having to isolate the water supplies and we gave it a thorough cleaning. I replaced the ‘O’ ring that caused it to leak when in use and secured both tap tops so they are no longer loose. Time for lunch but first I had to hang the washing in the boiler room to dry. It is so handy having a heated cellar room in which to hang the washing, especially if it is too cold or wet outdoors. I wasn’t in the mood for work on Saturday, I guess I’d had enough work during the week to tire me out! It was early evening on Thursday our youngest son called me and asked if I could help him out. I knew what was coming! Whenever he calls me directly it is usually something to do with a financial difficulty and this was no exception. It is a good thing I love him. He and his girlfriend are currently living in an apartment, one in which they have lived only for a very short time but they have been looking to buy a house together for quite a while. They found one they liked at a reasonable price but they needed proof of owning a deposit to secure the purchase through a mortgage. His girlfriend’s parents had given her £5000 and he was looking for a similar amount to clinch the deal. I immediately went on-line and transferred £5000 to his account. On Friday afternoon he called me again with the good news that they had succeeded in getting the house through a mortgage. I am so happy for them and glad to see him beginning to take life a little more seriously. It may be that they will be looking to upgrade to a better house in a couple of years but at least they now have their feet on the ladder. Renting a property is really just lining someone else’s pockets and then having nothing to show for it years down-line. It is usually the deposit which prevents many people from buying their own property. I have yet to see the details of the house but I am sure it will be better than living in an apartment and it will allow them more freedom of choice. I hope he can handle small plumbing jobs! I am now waiting for his older brother and his wife to find a house of their own to live in. They currently live with her parents, which isn’t really a suitable arrangement. I will be happy to help them as I have helped his brother.