Ted Barrett                                                   - Training, Consultancy and Technical Services

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Blog for September

Ok Chums, here is my report for September so get yourself comfortable, grab a cup of coffee and have a relaxing read of my adventures.

Those of you who like me, have reached a certain age begin to appreciate our holidays more and more. Some may say that this is part of your persona preparing for retirement. Personally I think it’s because we couldn’t get away while we were working all the hours god sent. So, despite spending three weeks on the Queen Mary 2 in July it was time for this particular branch of the Barrett clan to partake of their annual meeting at a kind of centre-park in Spain.

Suffice to say the next week or so was very relaxing and my son, who is also an electrician, finally managed to forget work for a while and relax. And this is where I must admit my respect for the Spanish people, who at least those of the male line seem to have the ability to go into a “powered shut-down mode” or sleep as we know it, at the flick of a switch.

Now as I approach my dotage I seem to discovering my Mediterranean blood and getting better at this as well. That stupid old image of the lazy Spaniard though is completely wrong. I have the greatest admiration for the Spanish people and their way of life. I particularly appreciate their regard for Family. Because to me, Family is all important.

Anyway, the average Spanish construction site worker/electrician/plumber etc will easily be on site at six in the morning if not earlier. They will then work up to perhaps one o’clock or so then take that famous siesta for a couple of hours when the heat of the day has reached its peak, they will then pick up tools again at three o’clock and work through until seven in the evening.

When they get home they will have a massive family dinner at around ten o’clock with multiple courses (mostly fish). Kids as well will stay up late as they have also had a nap in the afternoon. And the process will then repeat again the following day. I love this approach to what we now call ”work-life balance”, it wouldn’t do for us Brits as we prefer the “Job & Knock” approach – that means get on site early, crash the job out as quickly as possible then go home (most UK buildings sites are empty by 3:30).

But if you think about it the Spanish way of life (and before I get postbags of mail saying “Its not like that anymore”, Yes I know it is changing, but only in the cities and then slowly – Jeremy Clarkson got very upset because Madrid closed down for the afternoon) it is a way of almost getting two days out of 24 hours.

Sadly the day to drive my son and family back to the aeropuerte came all too soon and they climbed in that big silver bird and headed back to Blighty.

Now you might think that this left myself and CO alone to contemplate the wonders of the Spanish wiring code. And you may consider that their methods are crap, but far from it. No cheapo twin and earth here. This is all wired in singles enclosed in flexible conduit, draw-in boxes are provided EVERYWHERE throughout the premises so rewiring, upgrading and repairing is a breeze. No ring circuits for builders to cock up, so none of the risks of cross-wiring etc and they have had RCDs for yonks. They don’t seem to go much on rigid conduit.

Another thing is the bricks they use in Spain are similar to what we used to call “Pots” and are essentially hollow terracotta blocks. This means say goodbye to that disc-cutter for chasing, just get out your tacking hammer and open up a seam to cement your boxes and conduit straight into.

And speaking of conduit, I am reminded of when I was in New York walking round the back of Bloomingdales I spotted a drop of 1” (US) conduit coming down to an external escape light with a huge sweeping bend back up into the fitting as if the conduit itself had a drip-bend in it, weird.

Anyway, we eventually trundled back to the good old U of K to several rounds of washing and lawn-mowing along with picking up the cats from the cattery.

And it didn’t take long before yours truly was back on the road again doing the training circuit. Before the end of September I had made visits to such exotic ports such as Bethnall Green, Dagenham and Culham – my life is just one social whirl.

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