Random Jottings Of Gildersleeve

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Location: United Kingdom

Perhaps you'll learn more about me as you read my blog. For anyone who translates my blog using the translator facility, don't forget if you wish to read the comments in your own language to click on the title of the post down the left hand side otherwise they will remain in english. Also I assume that the translation is accurate but I don't know, so please allow for errors.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It's Almost A Lifetime Ago...

But almost 30 years ago I spent a number of years working for a well known high street jewellers in the UK. It always claimed that it was Britain's most popular and largest.

I cannot speak for how every branch was run but the branch I was at really was as close to the comedy TV series "Are You Being Served!" from the Management down to those on the shop floor resembled all the characters.

We had our own Mr Lucas who thought every young woman fancied him and tried to impress. We had the attractive young female that was similar to Miss Brahms. We had our own Mrs Slocombe who was a snob and put on a voice for the customers and called everyone "Sir" and "Madam"(She even dressed in a similar manner and had a similar hairstyle)and yes, we had our own version of Mr. Humphries...who did I resemble?
I might be likely to say this but I cannot think of anyone.

And it was one of those shops that you felt you had to prove that you were earning your wages, even if there were no customers. But you can only clean the counters, dust the shelves and products and vacuum the carpet, move the stock around the windows so often. That was mainly done so the displays were not dusty and most of the time everything went back into the exact same spot unless something was sold.

You'd vacuum the carpet, polish the glass cabinets at the end of the day and do the same thing as you walked in the next morning.

You did not open until 9am but were expected to be at your counters at least 15 minutes before opening(even earlier if you could manage it)and though the shop closed at 5.30pm, you were fortunate if you could get away before 6pm, so you were averaging a nine and half hour day(approx forty seven and half hours a week)for a very basic wage and by the time you add travel time to and from work you would be adding approx another hour to your working day and see quite a lot of the money you earned taken away.

Lets be honest you had to also add the time it takes to get ready and have a quick breakfast and after work have a meal and try and get some time to yourself so once you take out time to sleep you had approx 4-5 hours to do something you enjoy if you were not tired.

It was very rare anyone was waiting for the shop to open or would still be there stopping us from closing. I never remember anyone beating a path to our door.

I think you had to work there at least 5 years to earn two weeks paid annual leave. And as you virtually had to work all public holidays they still made it difficult to claim them back during the year.

The wages were acceptable for the time but only if you were married and there was another wage coming in or you were still living at home with your parents but again if you were then paying towards your board what you earned came down even more.

And no you did not get any commission on what you sold.

It wasn't my happiest time, I was popular with customers and all my training went well and I had glowing reports from HQ but at branch level, to be honest, there was a lot of bullying of the newer members of staff that came in and I stayed the longest. I doubt it would be allowed these days.

Its been years since I passed by the branch I worked at but I have seen it and have some others, they certainly have changed...they are more modern for sure and they seem to have very few staff who are mainly female. And its all open plan and very brightly lit.

I suppose that they can prove that the new design works and draws in customers and I might feel different myself if I felt I wanted anything that they sell but it doesn't attract me. And perhaps it is coincidence(and they probably do have busy times)but whenever I go past it always seems to be no customers and the staff are standing around. Everything is tidy and clean but they don't look as though they are forced to look busy anymore just for the sake of it.

Sunday, August 28, 2011


I really do feel it for anyone in pain be it terminal or where it is there all of the time. I have witnessed it with a "Loved" one and my own experiences.

We all have our own pain threshold and I would hate to try and say whose pain is more or less than someone else.

To some extent I have been able to control it but sometimes I want to cry out with pains in my eyes or cramp in my legs. And the start of my problems when my back pain was as bad as any I can remember.

I think pain killers damaged my kidneys because I was susceptible to the drug I was prescribed by a trainee Dr or because I took them wrongly, I am so careful how and what I take now in case I cause further problems. Its annoying that I wasn't one for taking tablets in the first place.

I have at present one such pain(probably caused arthritis)and the pain killers I have and moving around does not always work. The pain wakes me up, stops me sleeping or affects me when I am awake.

I cannot stop it coming on and just have to let it take its course however long it takes and no, I cannot pretend it isn't there.

And I don't know when it is going to happen and for how long. It can be both knees but its mainly its the left one.

Another problem I have experienced and its no fun is Sciatica and a quick look on a reputable site suggests that's what it could be...and that could mean other complications...oh dear.

Its a well written piece and though it does right to point out symptoms and complications it is written in general terms and so it should not frighten or scare and many can be attributed to other illnesses and is no different to the old reference book many households used to own of medical matters and in the end only a Dr and his expertise to diagnose(possibly with your extra help and suggestions)

Now if it wasn't for the above I would not normally be up at this hour, I assure you.

Another Gadget For My Store...

And this may be used rather than joining the store...

A while ago I think I mentioned that my smoothie maker(my fault)the jug was damaged. Either by washing it in water that was too hot or putting something warmer than I should have into it. I discovered that it was discontinued and to replace the jug was going to cost as much as the machine.

So whilst shopping the other day I found a complete system, processor, liquidiser and citrus press worth £44 approx reduced approx by half so I thought...why not.

So hopefully I'll be back to making smoothies and cocktails quite soon. Possibly something else...Don't think that I can juice things but ready produced cartons of Fruit Juice are probably just as cheap or as expensive as any you'll make at home as you need so much fruit to make them.

I wonder how many people make freshly squeezed Orange juice these days? The system does have a citrus press but I'm not sure I could be bothered to keep switching the different parts around and cleaning it a few times daily.

Also, you probably have to drink it straight away, whereas bought juices can be stored for quite a long time time(Open or unopened)in the fridge or cupboard and there are many varieties single or combined. I'm not sure you gain anything making your own juices...

The old one still works and just has fine lines in the plastic jug surface, they are not cracks as such so I may still be able to use it a while longer or I may just throw it away, haven't decided yet, the motor part is still in good working order.

I'm not great at keeping receipts for guarantee purposes, if it was a television or something like that I might bother more but for smaller items, I tend to think if they last the year...I'll just buy new. They usually last years in reality.

Things are so inexpensive these days...and yet I tend to use everything until they are really well used and do not replace just for the sake of it.

Now that means I do myself out of the latest, bright shiny thing and make do. Even my computers are second hand(they could be third or fourth hand)Our main TV is nearly 30 years old(where did all that time go?)The Sofa is probably is probably nearer 40 years old.

Now that's good in one way...for the environment especially but as I come to the last third of my life, where possible shouldn't I spend and enjoy the best with the little money I have whilst I am able? Rather than items that don't work as they should or look as nice.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Well That's That For Now...

The Councillor has been in touch and he says go with the advice I have been given. If/when the woman comes back about the problem tell her to check with her own department which said the opposite of what she did and/or the CAB who has checked legality of the problem.

I've already mentioned most of what is known previously.

The lady who asked for this work to be carried out visited our garden before the tree survey was done and said she could see that we look after everything.

If the matter is taken further hopefully the same conclusion will be reached.

It is annoying to think I have been given worry because of a problem that I was unaware existed but I was left to sort out, taking up my time and through taxi fares I incurred financial loss too whilst those who instigated it probably never gave it a thought and just did what they normally do.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

I Hope All Will Be Well...

The advice from a reliable source today and this is information was gleaned from the Housing Association itself...There are no dangerous trees after the tree survey was carried out so in theory no one is being asked to cut them back or to have them taken out.

The 8'Feet rule does not exist.

All the HA asks is that gardens and its contents are maintained and kept tidy.

So what I have been told would appear to be totally wrong.

Now,if there is a neighbour dispute and both are tenants of the HA they hope that you will come to an agreement with mediation under the HA rules.

If its a private neighbour and a HA tenants it goes to Environmental Health. But the person advising me didn't think that would be a problem. But if it is, to go back and see them.

EH would tie in with the Councillor I contacted but again he said if the tree is not near property and/or blocking light from a house or conservatory the tree should be safe.

And yes we could apply for a Tree Preservation Order if it looked as though it could be.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

If It Wasn't For...

The Housing Association and "That" neighbour everything isn't so bad here.

It may seem hypocritical but we are OK with "Yes" the neighbours I had issues with.

The fence has two coats of paint. We should have no problem putting shrubs in the border, the wall is built up and it has stopped the pebbles falling into our border and the drain.

Our gardener has dug over the border and it looks as different again. And I can live with it.

If you talk with neighbours most of the time all is well. And its much better not to go through official channels be it authorities or having to use the legal profession.

So this tree situation is un-necessary.

I finally talked with our neighbours who were away on holiday and they have categorically said they have not complained and that they like trees. And if they had any issues they would come and see us directly so...it would appear it is "one" neighbour that complained. He talks supportingly but he has never actually said "I have not complained" "It wasn't me!" Everyone else has.

The person representing the HA is wrong when she said "Some" complaints had come in. After talking with everyone it is just one and I have had it verified but as the HA wouldn't disclose who complained, I won't divulge my sources.

Why is the HA so keen to have the trees cut down when his only complaint seems to be natural light is not getting into his garden when we all know that's not true and...you can only ask for a tree to be felled or drastically cut if it blocks light into a conservatory or house(It Doesn't!)It is so close to property that it will cause damage(It isn't)

And the person representing the HA said if she was asking for the trees to be cut down she would say so that means that she isn't.

And to labour the point the trees I thought may be a problem were not mentioned but she said "If you are doing those at the back of the garden, you may as well do them while you are on!" Saying that suggests they could be left as they are.

What baffles everyone is the ruling that all trees must be 8' feet. But as I cannot find my tenancy agreement I cannot check if that's right or wrong. But experts think that is incorrect and that applies to hedges not single trees.

Do that and all that will remain are tree trunks or if you could save any foliage it would kill most trees.

Many are saying I should not worry about how it affects our tenancy and look into having a Tree Preservation Order put on the tree most at risk.

I really can do without all this...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

I Think That I Shall Never See Anything As Lovely As A Tree...

Thanks to some detective work I now know who did complain about our trees.

Says one thing and does something else.

Other neighbours have noted that his garden is not in shade and gets daylight practically all the time so to say light in his garden is reduced is untrue.

When talking to me the other day he suggested complaints about our trees could be via his neighbours(but he started to complain about another tree which is well away from his garden)

I said(not really wanting it to happen...)If our trees have to come out or be reduced to 8"feet that should be the rule for all properties rented from our HA.

I have found out that a tenant has been told that her tree has to come out altogether, so it looks as though many properties around the area are going to be affected.

This one...

I cannot help but wonder as he mentioned that tree, if he has complained and in doing so brought it to the HA's attention. That has to be supposition on my part and that cannot be proven. It remains a suspicion. Well it would after all that has happened.

As it is so far from any property, seems good and strong and no one has complained, even I don't see why the HA is pressing for it to be removed. Chances are as the tenant is elderly she'll probably go along with it because you can do without the hassle and probably worried that if you make a stand you will be threatened in some way.

When we were unavailable as the tree survey took place, we would phone to tell them give us time to get to the door, come on an afternoon, they'd knock so quietly that you'd miss them or sometimes you'd get to the door and find them leaving and you'd be waving frantically to get their attention. If you phoned the office those you had to speak to were out and so on.

And yet when someone did visit to arrange again for the company to call to carry the work out I was told, "Well if this had continued it would affect your tenancy!" If that's not a threat I don't know what is. And every time they talk about the trees even if we are dealing with the requests, they keep putting on all cards that come through the door "Urgent" as if a few weeks or a month or two will make a difference.

Also, I now know that when they said "Some" complaints had been made...it would appear that there was only one.

Someone suggested getting together with others in a similar situation(Strength in numbers)but I don't know who are in a similar position.

If the story could get into a newspaper, the broadcasting media or be looked into by an MP it might be interesting to see where this would go. Perhaps people would make their voices heard as one be able to reverse the rule or a compromise of some kind could be reached but initially someone would have to go public being a kind of whistle blower.

At a time when the environment is so important this seems to be reversing the trend.

Friday, August 19, 2011


From left to right these images show all the trees etc...within my area. Now when you get to the third image that is my tree in my garden under threat with all the others. OK we may be able to prune and shape what we have but if they stick to the 8" Feet ruling all there will be is tree trunks and nothing else.

I have watched and tracked the sun and the neighbour that might've complained saying his garden is darkness is not correct as the sun is at various heights during the year and the direction means that sunlight hits his garden from virtually every angle mainly coming in from the sides of other gardens(My own garden has a part of the day where it is darker because of a shadow from the house next door)
It happens.

My tree is bare for approx 8 months each year. The picture perhaps doesn't show it too clearly but sunlight does get through big swathes of gaps inbetween branches and finally it does not block any light from the property.

And I understand that though you can ask for a tree to be cut if light into a house is a problem, its not so if some light is lost in a garden.

There would be more to worry over as the fourth image shows where a line of conifers are down one side of a garden and another similar line is down the other side of the same garden. I can't see that second line but I know they are there. But its a private property and neighbours have tried to do something about them unsuccessfully.

We'll just have to see what happens next.

Remember you can make the images larger by clicking on them.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Can't See The Wood For The Trees...Not For Much Longer!

Sorry I haven't been around.

It now looks as though I am losing every tree in my back garden and they will all be removed!

Where do I start?

In a previous post I mentioned that we to take part in a tree survey by the landlord.

Through no fault of our own it seemed to take forever for them to catch us in even though we kept phoning to arrange a time when someone would be in.

Eventually, they came and surveyed our garden. We were told that everything was in order and all the survey was for was to get information as to where and what is in everyone's garden. Obviously, I suspect in some cases if a tree was too close to property or needed pruning arrangements would be made to do so.

Hearing nothing further I thought all was well.

Until today...

I missed who called but a card was put through our door. It said...

"Urgent Regarding Trees overgrown in back garden. Please make arrangements to have them cut down. I will call back next week."

I thought OK...I can accept them being tidied up but when I called to get a definition as to what "Cut Down" meant it became more of a problem.

I called the office and did lose my temper when I phoned for more details which is unusual for me but I didn't like what I was hearing.

I was told that there had been complaints. I knew that they wouldn't tell me by who but I did press for some additional information and because I talk to my neighbours and if there are any problems(which there are rarely is)I expect or would hope they'd come through me rather than going to the local authority/housing association.

I said that I was going to talk to my neighbours to try and find out who had complained and why they had not come directly to me. I got one little bit of information,its not our newest neighbour(who recently built the fence)

One slight bit of good news...they are going to repair and build up the bit of the fence where that brick wall is and it will stop the pebbles coming through...but I digress.

I pressed for information which trees had to be cut back and was told the ones at the back of the garden(furthest away from the property)I'd have thought if any were to be affected it would be those nearest the house but no...

Well, I talked again to the neighbour where these trees are and he still says he has not complained but by certain answers given I am virtually certain it is him(but cannot prove it)

The new neighbours said they have not complained(which I know because I was told that they haven't)They say that they like our trees and are sorry if they have to come out or be cut back. The only other person I can ask is away on holiday.

I said "Please don't say it neighbours if it isn't! If its you who want them cut back admit its you because as far as I know my immediate neighbours have not coplained and they have said that they have no problems."

She again said there have been complaints.

This is where it get worse, the representative of our landlord started quoting our tennacy agreement and that calmed me down(because I don't want to risk being put out of our home which we have been in for over 50 years)we have never been in any trouble with neighbours or any landlord, previous or who is in charge now.

We have now been told that no tree is supposed to be higher than 8"(2.4384)feet tall. Tell that to everyone else around here who have trees much taller than that but the difference is they are private houses so they can do as they wish.

I'd like to bet there are many other properties owned by our Landlord that have trees as tall or taller than ours but we've been chosen as the unlucky one's to have this action taken.

Who has a tree that is only 8"feet(2.4384 metres)tall.

If we cut all our trees back all that will be left are trunks. There will be no folliage and at a time when we are being told to make our gardens friendly to wildlife and not cover them in flagstones and concrete, we will be taking away all the vegetation they need.

I have blackbirds and collared doves living in mine...not for much longer.

It looks as I'll have to plant lots and lots of shrubs instead and hope I pick the kind birds may like to feed from and nest in but by the time they grow I suspect I'll not see the benefit because I'll be that old or Mum and myself will be dead or have moved somewhere else.

It also looks as though we have to find the money to have the trees felled(Taken down)and all the debris taken away too so I am dreading what that's going to cost.

We were much better looked after and had less problems when we were under Council care but when you are afraid of losing your home if you stand your ground, there is little that you can do.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Less For More...

We've heard of chocolate bars shrinking in size(but you still pay the same price)

Finally Heinz(of the 57 Variety)has followed suit...

They have a range of soups called Farmer's Market. They cost a little bit more than the usual range in the cans with a red label.

These normally have 515g in a can...now they have taken away 115g so you only get 400g for your money. That is quite a reduction.

Saturday, August 06, 2011

An Aladin's Cave...

I have a few gadgets(Did I mention this before?)That I have been saving up. In some cases just in case something breaks and I can move onto another or because I feel finances will be tough and I may not be able to afford them.

So I have two cordless electric kettles(one rapid boil)a steam iron, a slow cooker, a toaster and now...

A compact deep fat fryer. It was only £15 and I suddenly thought, when did I last taste or make my own chips.

I tend to stick to microwave or oven chips and they are perfectly fine. But there was always something about "Home Made" Chips!

I may never use it but its there if I wish to. Then again it means that potatoes will be used up(you can only mash or boil so many)but then again its easy to buy some that can be fried rather than popped into an oven.

It'll be ok, I don't eat loads of chips but I'll be using Sunflower, vegetable or olive oil and putting them into a sheet of kitchen roll to take any excess oil away.

I'm still using that water filter jug for fresh water and making tea and coffee, it has made such a difference especially to making kettles less likely to scale up and they are lasting longer, there was a time when I seemed to be going through two or three kettles a year and the element breaking easily. We have hard water in this area.

Virtually all the gadgets are supermarket own brands and therefore reasonably priced.

Wonder what I'll find next?

I'm also getting back into trying to make some special dishes for Mum and myself(looking through my cook books)even though there is nothing wrong with simple fare. And also making my smoothies and cocktails again.

Its good to keep an interest in things.