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Trials & tribulations

April 1, 2015

The digger duly arrived and was squeezed into the back garden and they promptly set about digging several large holes. The new soak-away is well over eight feet deep and is being filled with gravel; the new drain was put in and tested. They dug out the trench for the electrical cable and laid the conduit, cable and warning tape. Then they set about digging and levelling the new patio area and after some discussion we have decided to keep the area flat as far as possible right up to the border edge by the lawn. This has meant digging up the old steps and moving the old slabs to one side. Then as the work progressed we decided to eliminate the steps altogether and have a straight border all the way across; it’ll look bigger and less cluttered.

We did preserve a few more plants, I got the climbers in by the back wall and the gardeners have moved a couple of other bushes that were in danger of being obliterated. After a huge struggle in getting my tools out of the garage and shed, rescuing my hose reel, I cleared the other drain soak-away and sorted out a new drain down pipe. The original had been disconnected years ago and a water butt put in its place, but we didn’t want it there blocking the side path so it will be amalgamated with the others or put to use on the shed/greenhouse.

The builders supply place is proving to be a bit disorganised, the extra gravel and fence posts hadn’t arrived but it got sorted eventually. They started laying the paving slabs from the shed end and immediately ran into alignment problems as the greenhouse base is not square to the shed base. Not sure how that happened but now we have a slightly misaligned path. This got worse as they progressed down the steps and towards the garage and discovered the remaining part of the original patio isn’t square or level. However, we have decided to make the best of it and carry on, disguising some of the odd grout gaps at the edges.

Next up was the fencing and again they ran into challenges – most of which were caused by the fact that there is hidden concrete and brick walls beneath the garden soil in many places. This forced the fence posts to be adjusted one way or another, the fence panels cut down to fit and other minor tweaks to get it all to fit. The gardeners are building a gate to fit but ran into more issues with the removable panel we need for boiler access. Basically they are going to have to remove a post and reset it more accurately and then the panel and the gate can be made to fit.

The electrician was here as well for a couple of days, connecting up the power into the shed plus fixing our bathroom fan & light switches and adding in a razor socket. We also installed light and power on the back porch plus exterior lights at the back of the house and some general rewiring and tidying of the consumer units. He of course also ran into snags – we had planned on having the outside lights on people sensors with a remote control to override them. However they have discovered that steam from the condensing boiler will set off the sensors so that idea got changed into one sensor for the side of the house. Then he discovered that the remote was “line of sight” and obviously that won’t work from inside the house – back to the drawing board.

In the midst of all this chaos my computer decided to play up because one of the hard drives in the RAID array had failed. I found a new one online but could not fit it as the computer has issues every time it is powered off or on and with an electrician here that has been more often than usual. Of course the laws of perversity of inanimate objects apply as I couldn’t rebuild the RAID until the electrician had finished turning the electrics off intermittently. Eventually this got sorted and the system is now up & running normally again.

They finally finished the work in the back garden but we are not totally happy with it. The paving slabs are not level and drainage may be an issue in future; the gate post is not vertical and they made several attempts to fit the latches so now there are numerous holes in everything. We have brought it their attention and are now deciding what can be rectified.

I was planning on using Saturday to paint the other fence and start on the trellis for it but the weather turned really nasty with strong cold winds and rain. Instead I ordered the extra wood required for extending the raised bed, making lawn edges and trimming the trellis. Since then we have been treated to very strong winds, rain and hail and very cold. All work on the garden has ceased.

The winds were so strong that they have twisted the new gate so now it won’t open or even close properly and on Tuesday morning the bins blew over after they had been placed at the roadside. Ever tried trying to right a wheelie bin and simultaneously chase the contents down the road in a 50mph gale? Not fun at all, at least it was the recycling bin so only paper and plastic bottles flying around.

Forced indoors by the weather, I have started a new project – genealogy research – and I am quite surprised by how much information is out there and how much isn’t. Very rapidly built the tree back to about 1820 (on one side) but getting detailed data and resolving differences is proving challenging. The data sources that are visible online are limited to single line entries with just names and a reference to other data which is not online. Even the birth records don’t quote parents names so it can be confusing. I was pleasantly surprised to establish contact with one or two other families whose records have the same roots and, as they are more advanced with their research, have added some very useful data to my tree. Now all I need is for various members of my family to jump in with their knowledge.

The other curiosity I have discovered (again!) is that contractors seem to be completely uninterested in getting new customers or even keeping their existing ones. The electrician has vanished completely, the decorator keeps complaining that his current project is constantly expanding and others I have contacted don’t reply. In ALL cases they never contact me, always me chasing them. It must be really easy to make a living these days despite all the whining we hear on the news about living standards and incomes falling. Rant over!


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David & June

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Mrs Niklasson's Adventures

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