Sunday, October 30, 2011

Today's ROSPA special

The melted chocolate extension plug behind the microwave - that's where my chocolate went. I wore my rubber-soled wellies to clean this one up...

Sunday, October 9, 2011


This little flashing box is our new fibre-optic internet connection (+multicast TV) - nominally up to 100Mb/s download AND upload. Actually, I get about 65 Mb/s directly connected and about 45 Mb/s on the wireless N. The high upload rate is very handy.

It's really waiting for our electrician to finish wiring up, first the electricity, then the gigabit ethernet that's going into every room. Then I'll have an enormous switch plugged into this to distribute it all over the house. The wireless will have to do for now...

Flower bed

Catching up now on all the things we did over the summer - this was one of the first - bringing the old flower bed back to life. We killed all the existing stuff and have now put in a geotextile underlay with lots of bark chips on top. It's got automatic watering laid in there too, so it hasn't been too much work to maintain over the summer. Weeds are amazing things though, and they still manage to poke through the slightest gap in the bark chips...

Water water everywhere

The obsession with pipes continues - this is but a small part of the garden watering system we've been putting into the garden.

It's spent the summer watering the tomatoes and our new flower bed, but I have greater plans for it...
There's a couple of conduits built in the concrete wall supporting the balcony - they were previously used to get water to and from the old swimming pool. I plan to use them to get the house cave-drain through the wall and down to the bottom of the garden where there's a real drain (underground).

We'll also take a garden water pipe through the wall to get the water out into the rest of the garden and down to the bottom of the garden where we'd like to put the chickens.

Knock knock

We've now decided to do something about the quarter of the downstairs which was the old studio - it's going to be a new playroom for the kids.

It will have two doors - one from the existing kitchen and one from the hall. As you can see, the existing door into the hall is still there, though rather impressively bricked up with concrete construction blocks.

All this means a bit of reconfiguration in the hall - the existing toilet under the stairs will become a cupboard and what was the old bathroom of the studio will become a new larger downstairs toilet.

The partially demolished old bathroom, which was raised up onto high steps, with lots of walls.

The new shiny toilet is getting there - the plumbing work and demolition of the old bathroom is done now. Next we (meaning the builders and plumbers, by the way) need to do the underfloor heating in here and in the playroom next door, and put up all the plasterboard walls and ceiling.

The pipe going overhead is for the new laundry room upstairs (next project)...

Sunday, June 12, 2011

New arrivals

Meg and Stumpy (*) are pleased to announce the arrival of five small kittens!

(*) at least we assume it's Stumpy, since at least 3 of them look like him, and he was caught in flagrante delicto with Meg a few weeks ago, on the balcony, by Mrs McCance (senior).

All household renovation work has stopped as my wife just sits and watches them much of the day.

Friday, June 3, 2011

It's all getting a bit industrial..

Just bought a large electric breaker for taking down the concrete wall in the garden... no action shot yet - it's still in the post.

It's a monster. Thank you Amazon.
(gift wrap available.)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Bed for the night?

It's amazing what you find in the attic.

We found these old steel-spring hotel beds while getting the attic cleared out for the work on the roof.

They don't look very comfy though they are quite solid (and heavy), and I'm not at all sure about the old horsehair mattress..

Monday, May 23, 2011

There's a garden at the bottom of my garden!

After some work - we've finally got the bottom part of the garden (the bit next to where the pool was) in a state where we can plant a lawn. We've hacked out I don't know how many bushes, trees and bamboos, mulched them into compost (with the fantastic Bosch tree chomper) and killed most of the remaining foliage - none of which was grass. We did this over the winter and got rid of all the remaining rubbish in about 40 cars loads to the local dump.

This was followed by a rotovation, an epic stone hunt (the kids helped), burying of some pipes to transport water around the garden, and days of raking to try and level out the bumps. Along the way we found a water source (the same that flows through the village), a barbecue and paved bit, and an old border (which now has some tomato plants in it). We've added a swing set, a sandpit and a little wooden house for the kids to play in.

The grass seed is now sown according to Alan's careful instructions, so now it's just a matter of watering and hopefully we'll have a new lawn in a few weeks!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

No more pool

Finally caught up with the pool on the blog - this is me yesterday chopping up the pool with my other big chopper (angle grinder). Sadly the photos don't quite do justice to the stream of sparks shooting out from between my legs, but Kerry tells me it was quite alarming... It turned out this was the easiest bit of the whole job, as the sheet metal chops us fairly easily.
The whole pool is held rigid at the top with a rim which just unscrews and lifts off. The posts at either side are connected underneath the pool by big steel ribbons to stop the base of the pool from splashing out at the bottom - another job for the angle grinder.

Finally we got everything in the car and away to the dump - and now we almost have a whole new garden! Just the concrete wall to go...

No powertools required

And here's the explanation for the bouncy decking.. the posts holding the decking up all go into blobs of concrete with big spiky rods in them. But they're rottten at the base.

I managed to break almost all of these posts just by pulling the away from the base with one arm.

This was how it looked last weekend - most of the decking gone and the garden starting to take shape...

Getting my chopper out at the pool

Ahhh.. if I can't hack my career in demolition, at last a good career at The Sun awaits...

We've spent a couple of weekends now unscrewing the decking around the old swimming pool. Despite being quite bouncy, some of the wood on top is still in reasonable condition, so the plan is to save it and build some raised beds with it. Every plank is screwed every couple of feet into the frame, so it's taken a while but we now have a reasonable collection of wood.

I couldn't handle the thought of more unscrewing, so eventually I cracked and bought yet another Tool, a Bosch PKS 60 A circular saw which made the job of "unscrewing" the decking rather easier. I say I cracked, but clearly this was just a good excuse... the fiddly bit was getting the hundreds of screw-laden spiky bit of wood to the dump.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


First on the list to reclaim the garden are the evergreen trees next to the pool -  they were probably planted when the house behind us was new, to give a bit of shelter for the swimming pool.

But since we aren't going to have the pool, and the neighbour now has a big hedge, they don't really serve any purpose, so we've chopped them down. It was great entertainment for the whole family.

If only I could find a suitable Tool of the Week to help get rid of all those branches...

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Relaxing by the pool

I'm posting this a little behind, since we've already started work... This is our lovely new pool, as it was when we moved into the house. We got a man round to have a look, bought some new pipes to connect properly up to the swimming pool filter and pump in the basement of the house. The decking was a little bouncy but we decided to give it a go.

Removing the cover, we found seriously black water (looks like the filter hasn't been connected for several years). After several days of intensive filtering and scrubbing with a long swimming pool pole thing, it was almost looking good - we could see the bottom.

Then, just after dinner one night, I got a phone call from the neighbour behind us (the first time we met actually), who was wondering why his entire patio and much of his garden was under water...

The pool now looked like this, the liner having burst.
This was a little disappointing, because the hope was to at least test the pool before deciding whether to clean it up properly. Instead, we've now decided to get rid of it completely and replace it with a bigger garden!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Happy New Year

Possibly the least exciting picture of the new year is the foam lagging that I've lovingly cut and shaped and tied to our bare pipes in the new boiler room.

Look at that craftsmanship... you don't see that any more (tm).

On the plus side, I've had to turn the water down since I added it, so it must be doing something good. Makes me feel all ecological...

However, for the majority of folks that aren't into rubberised insulating foam, here's a much nicer New Year's picture of one of our kittens, Rosie.