“Where’s yer stop-cock Bob?”


The ground preparation for the conservatory build carries on apace. The digger arrived early yesterday morning and, along with a pneumatic drill, was soon put to work digging out the old footings.

Conservatory - The mini digger
Conservatory – The mini digger

However, proceedings came to an abrupt halt when the kitchen drain was discovered and the pipe cracked.

Conservatory - One cracked and repaired drain pipe.
Conservatory – One cracked and repaired drain pipe.

This was duly repaired and the work continued.

Continued, that is, until lunch-time when I was asked … “where’s yer stop-cock Bob ?” Apparently the guy with the pneumatic drill had managed to crack both of the water pipes which supplied the old utility room.

Work once again stopped while parts were obtained from the local hardware store and repairs made. With the water supply made secure and cold water feed once more live my wife and I headed off out to lunch.

The Pavillion, Stansted House
The Pavillion, Stansted House

After a very pleasant, leisurely, lunch with my granddaughter and great-granddaughter at The Pavillion Tearoom, Stansted House we returned home.

What a difference a couple of hours can make. The guys were pretty much finished for the day, just tidying up. The digger had been put to good use and apart from some hand digging the footings were dug.

Conservatory - Digging of footings almost complete
Conservatory – Digging of footings almost complete

The picture doesn’t really show the actual depth but the trench is around four feet deep.

During the afternoon, while we were out, a grab truck had arrived and taken away a load of the spoil from the trench. A second visit is scheduled for later today.

What the picture also doesn’t show is that the guys managed to break up another drain pipe during the excavations. This one being the drain for the washing machine and sink in the old utility room. This one will be made good once the new build and plumbing begins.

Apparently, this last drain was not the only casualty of the day as while using the digger the step under the garage door was caught and the brickwork knocked back. A piece of brick was dislodged and landed on the head of one of the guys. He is fine but does have a mark on his head.

The great British workman is a tough breed. I would have had to go lie down in a darkened room.

And so work continues. The steel reinforcing mesh was delivered yesterday and the guys are going get that in place ready for concrete to be poured. Let’s see how they get on.

Work Lag


We are all familiar with the term “Jet-Lag” and many of us have experienced the effects during our all too short vacations in distant lands. This is where our body clock insists on waking us up at our normal home country times despite the fact that we are currently the opposite side of the world. Worse still it prevents us from getting to sleep after a full day doing touristy things.

Well I have discovered a similar effect now that I have retired.

No matter that I don’t have to get up to go to work. Despite the fact that we have disabled all alarm clocks and the alarm functions on phones and computers.

My body clock is insisting that I wake up at 07:00 every day and, since I am one of those people who cannot stay in bed once I am awake, I am typically up and about by 07:30 which was my normal time to rise when I was working.

I have tagged this effect as “Work-Lag”

Many folks have said the effects will wear off.  My sister retired quite a few years ago and she is still waking before 06:00 every day. There is always an exception that proves the rule. Some folks have suggested that the inability to lay-in is a form of guilt. Well we can discount that one after over 45 working years.

I am looking forward to the day when I can have a guilt free lay-in.

Further Adventures In Conservatory Land


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Huh !! These footings were supposed to be at lease a meter deep. They are barely the depth of the spade. The tip of the spade is just under the concrete footings.

The longer we delve into the construction of our old conservatory, the more we find out just how crap a job was carried out by the previous contractor all those years ago.

I guess we are lucky that it stood for twenty-five years.

Conservatory - The final wall is down.
Conservatory – The final wall is down.

Based on this mornings investigations it has been decided that the old footings will have to be dug out completely. I’m guessing that is probably the best course of action.

So, to keep up the momentum a mechanical digger is being brought in to dig out the new footings. Also a “grab truck” has been booked to take away the spoils.

To get the mechanical digger round to our back garden we have had to remove my neighbours fence. Thankfully we have good neighbours.

Conservatory - Neighbours fence removed. Large holes in garage wall.
Conservatory – Neighbours fence removed. Large holes in garage wall.

The holes in the garage wall are as a result of the original builders keying the conservatory wall into the existing garage wall. When the conservatory shifted over the last twenty-five years it snapped quite a few bricks. They will have to be replaced as part of the new build.

Tomorrow will be another fun day in Conservatory Land.

Resurrection – A Tale Of Two Conservatories


Over the last couple of years I have been posting under the banner “View From The Conservatory”.

I thought it was probably time I showed you where my observations originated from. My main reason for this is the fact that we are knocking it down. To be replaced with a new bright shiny one.

Here is a picture to give you some idea……

Conservatory
Conservatory

This structure was built around twenty-five years ago. The company that built it had not, so we found out later, done a very good job. Unfortunately, they also went bust before it was completed. The build was completed under the supervision of the “Official Receiver” and needless to say the “10 year warranty” never materialised.

Over the following twenty-five years the conservatory has been slowly falling down, due to the poor preparation of the ground and subsidence of the footings. The conservatory has been slowly trying to pull away from our house and worse, one corner in particular, has been dropping presumably due to the clay base of the soil. Needless to say we also suffered leaks, sometimes emulating waterfalls, and draughts.

Conservatory
Conservatory

The photo above is the last view of the inside with all the carpets and most of the furniture removed. The patchwork on the floor is as a result of my trying to level the floor. You can just see that the two doors are out of alignment if you look at the handles and to the left you can just see the ivy which is constantly trying to invade.

The doors haven’t, until a couple of weeks ago, been opened for something like three years. Primarily because they were such a job to close again. Also, I had stuck gaffer tape all round the frames to cut down the draughts coming through the gaps. The seals were so out of alignment I could get my fingers through to the outside world.

Anyway, that is all in the past, as the next photos show.

Conservatory - No Glass
Conservatory – No Glass
Conservatory - No Roof
Conservatory – No Roof
Conservatory - No Frames, Just the partition wall.
Conservatory – No Frames, Just the partition wall.
Conservatory - No Frames,  partition wall has gone. Apparrently, halfway through the build, the original bricklayers decided to lay the bricks upside down i.e. frog side down !!!
Conservatory – No Frames, partition wall has gone. Apparrently, halfway through the build, the original bricklayers decided to lay the bricks upside down i.e. frog side down !!!
Conservatory - All gone barring the end cavity wall.
Conservatory – End of Day 1 – All gone barring the end cavity wall.

Tasks for day two – knock down the remaining end wall, start exploring existing footings to see if they can stay or if the whole existing base has to come up. Either way new strengthening and stabilising footings have to be created before any new build can be started.

Stay tuned for the next steps.

Early Days


Yesterday was the first day (officially) of my retirement. However, it was not totally disassociated from work, as there was to be an official luncheon. The IBM Hursley clubhouse had put on a beautiful spread for the buffet and I thank them for that. There weren’t as many attendees as might have been, had I retired a few years earlier. During last week I had already had a number folks say that they wouldn’t be able to make it due to work commitments or vacation. On the way out to Hursley I received a couple of texts from folks who would not be attending for a variety of reasons.

The main reason though, I think, is that due to the companies “restructuring” over the last few years I have out lasted many of my colleagues. Although the department in which I worked numbers over 150 folks, I have to say that I don’t know many of them and I’m guessing most of them would say the same of me.

During my thirty eight year career I have worked with many people spread across the whole company both in the UK and globally. While company restructuring (redundancies) will have seen off many of my UK colleagues, the recent shenanigans with the company pension scheme saw quite a few more leave or lose their benefits. More recently my working from home will have removed me from my local UK colleagues memory banks. And so latterly, but for a small core of UK-based folks, most of my work has been with people based in the US and Mexico.

I always find these kind of events to be a bit odd.  Some folks find it awkward speaking to colleagues about to leave. Perhaps some are a little jealous that the retiree has found a way out. For some it may be that their workload has increased as a direct result of the retirement.

Still, it was nice to exchange memories with those that did turn to. For some of them, I was already an “old hand” when they began as new hires. For at least one a black cloud settled in when he realised that after eighteen years he still had another twenty to go based on my time served, the realisation that he hadn’t even reached half way.

I have experienced many things during those 38 years. Been part of the explosion of computer technology. When I started there was no such thing as a personal computer. My career started working with display products where we saw the introduction of colour “dumb terminals”, the introduction of terminals with a microprocessor which allowed for “multiple partitions and scrolling”. Think windows before Bill G got started with Microsoft. Later I moved onto storage products where disk drives were huge and driven by washing machine motors. The first product that I worked on was a 850Mb drive which was around the size of a large suitcase, was a two-man lift and mounted in a rack. Back in the day, during a presentation on disk drive technology I remember someone stating that the target was to get costs down to $1 per megabyte. That was the target and recently I saw that the current costs are around $0.0000317 Now there are solid state drives and mechanical disk drives that you can put in your shirt pocket. Storage was where I finished last Friday.

Just one other point regarding my 38 years. I started at Hursley in 1977 and my first office was on the second floor of C Block. After having offices in just about every building on site, as well as two assignment stints down at the Havant manufacturing site, I have ended up back in C Block. One floor down. So 38 years and just a change in altitude.

From a technological standpoint I wonder if the next 38 years will be as dramatic for the folks that come behind me. I don’t understand the media excitement generated by the next iPhone or iPad and it  just leaves me cold. I guess it is not so physically obvious now, as technology marches onwards.

For me, retirement is both the end of an era and also the beginning of a new one.

The Wild Ride Has Started


I have retired.

I am now un-employed.

My last day in the office was Friday but, I guess officially, I didn’t become truly un-employed until midnight last night.

Today is pension pay day since my old employer pays on the 6th of the month and the pension is continuing thst theme. So I was glad to see that the money has gone into my account.

You may think that I shouldn’t be surprised but you would not believe how difficult the HR and Pensions folks made it for me to leave.

I have one last work related task to do and that is to attend a farewell lunch / buffet at the clubhouse today.

So not too onerous a task, he says with a huge grin.

And then its on to the wild ride and the rest of my life.

My prostate exam …


siskinbob:

Teehee

Originally posted on Bear Tales:

Shared by Bear Tales follower Ian.

Yesterday I had an appointment to see the urologist for a prostate exam.

Of course I was a bit on edge because all my friends have either gone under the knife or had those pellets implanted.

The waiting room was filled with patients.

As I approached the receptionist’s desk, I noticed that the receptionist was a large unfriendly woman who looked like a Sumo wrestler.

I gave her my name.

In a very loud voice, the receptionist said, “YES, I HAVE YOUR NAME HERE; YOU WANT TO SEE THE DOCTOR ABOUT IMPOTENCE, RIGHT?”

All the patients in the waiting room snapped their heads around to look at me, a now very embarrassed man.

But as usual, I recovered quickly, and in an equally loud voice replied, NO, I’VE COME TO INQUIRE ABOUT A SEX CHANGE OPERATION, BUT I DON’T WANT THE SAME DOCTOR THAT DID YOURS.

The room…

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