Yesterday I got a few more things done. It's all very well having a nice holiday after all the exam slogging, but if I reach next term without having achieved at least a few of the big jobs that need doing around the house, then I'll feel slightly ashamed of myself.
One of the most interesting tasks I did yesterday was to call a locksmith. Our front door mortise lock had been a bit sticky, to the extent that one day we had to leave the house via the back door. I unscrewed the lock from the door and looked up locksmiths in Yell.com to check out where I could buy a new one.
I called 'Lockmedics' and a woman answered and told me that Dennis was out at the moment, but he could call me back. He did, and suggested that he call round on his way home. This was not what I expected - I was anticipating going to a shop, showing them our lock, buying a similar one and coming home. I'm glad I called Dennis, though, because when he saw the lock, he just said "It must be the key. That's a Chubb lock, you never need to replace Chubb locks."
I offered him a cup of coffee, which he refused, then I gathered all the keys we possess, and Dennis examined them and singled out the ones that had been copied from copies of copies, then identified the original and said if we ever needed to make more copies we should use that one. Then, just in case, he opened up the lock, and found a tiny fragment of what looked like brass, which he reckoned might be what was causing the problem. He oiled it all, reassembled the lock, and even the not-very-good key worked fine. He did all this out of the back of his van, which was full of all sorts of interesting locksmith stuff.
While Dennis was hard at work, I wandered next door where Jason and Dan are working on the pub's beer garden. Since we've lived here, it's been a concrete yard surrounded by brick walls, and all the flowers and hanging baskets in the world couldn't have made it look attractive. Smurf and Mark decided to do something more drastic, which has turned out to be decking. It's going to look really good, and nice that they're using local people - Jason has occasionally been out motorcycling with Mr A, and Dan helped us out with some carpentry a while ago. Jason gave up his job as a graphic designer a few years ago to retrain as a landscape gardener, and looks pretty happy about it.
When Dennis had finished, I asked him to look at our Yale lock - might as well take advantage of an expert. He confirmed that one feature didn't work, showed me how to double lock it and suggested I screw it on to the door more firmly. One of the brass discs with a keyhole cut out of it that you fix around a keyhole was missing; Dennis gave me a new one and told me that it is called an escutcheon.
He charged me next to nothing - a fraction of what a new lock would have cost, let alone all the keys we'd have needed to cut. If we ever need a locksmith again, I know who to call.