November 2013

Now we’re cooking with gas.
Actually we’ll be cooking with gas on Monday when the new hob’s been connected, but you know what I mean. We have a wall tiled, a cupboard 2/3 shelved for electrical items to be used in and all but 2 doors are on units. A worktop mechanic aka carpenter aka Sam is coming tomorrow at 8.00 am to mechanic-ise the worktops. Woo-hoo. Then Joe Templeman can finish off the tiling and trim and do the grouting: were it as quick to do as to say. Then we shall have a kitchen that works and can argue happily what should go where.
At the hospital today I was chatting to other patients, 3 gentlemen and a wife, as you do while you drink your water*. There was such a friendly atmosphere between us that one of them remarked that it felt like a club. “Yeah,” said one of them, “the bladder club.”
I may be a founder member.
I have the weekend off hospital matters so can drink beer and have a curry. Even more woo-hoo.

* Radiotherapy for prostate has to be given when the bladder is full as it means everything contained in the pelvis is in the same position each day. It’s a fine line, for most of us, between a medically approved full bladder and an undgnified rush to the loo.

Sam the worktop man came, saw, and conquered. We now have some beautifully jointed worktops, a hob and a sink that sit in them properly and unfurrowed brows. Joe Templeman and I are more than happy not to have to tackle them and Judy Wright’s happy to have spent the money on it. So that’s all right.
Brow was a little furrowed in the afternoon though. We visited the Bluebell Railway to watch ‘Oliver Cromwell’ arrive hauling a tour from the Severn Valley Railway and I discovered my camera battery was dead. Photos on a mobile phone just aren’t the same..

Yep: we are coo…. we have the ability to cook with gas, so obviously went out for a meal instead. In fact I needed something from the dreaded B&Q to complete the water supply to the sink, so we thought by the time I’d completed that, installed power to the hob ignition and found the saucepans it would be midnight and too late to cook.
That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.
Anyway, we now do have a sink that works and doesn’t leak as far as experience goes so far, and a hob that lights. We also have even more tiles on the walls and a really clean looking window cill.
Visited Hurst today as promised and people seemed pleased to see me: the bribes must have worked. Though I promised to visit the maintenance area for coffee I ran out of time. So, Graham Payne, Kevin Baker, Martin Payne and everyone else: sorry. I’ll just have to return some other time and accept your kind hospitality (which starts with phrases like “Can’t you keep away? You’ve retired” and other niceties).

Lots forward today: oven in and connected, tiling complete, handles on and the kitchen is actually fully usable. I’m told by SHMBO that we can’t store anything in the kitchen until it’s been finished so I’m wearing a groove in the floor twixt it and the living room when I need kitchen utensils.
Roofer (I first typed ‘Rooker’, Hursties will be interested to know) arrives tomorrow to give us good or bad news. The idea of stripping off the tiles, in November, with PV panels just installed, is not a nice one. Won’t come to that though.
It’ll be February.
Late apointment at RSCH tomorrow – I think it’s a scheduled CAT scan. They didn’t find one inside me before, so I don’t know why they want to look again. Meeow.

Lots of grouting done and it all looks excellent. Now we can start moving food and gear back in and avoid some of the trip hazards around the rest of the house, he said trying to hide the bruises.
A major fire between Saltdean and Rottingdean this evening closed the A259 at about the peak of the rush hour. A lot of drivers, including me, were introduced to the town’s residential streets. Apply the entire westbound A259 traffic to narrow carriageways with parked cars and it’s a recipe for chaos. Eastbound traffic was being diverted north through Rottingdean, a place hardly known for its wide open boulevards. Couple that with a police related incident on the A27 and it’s hardly surprising there were lots of dischuffed commuters around. It was a rather stressful journey to Brighton. I told the hospital Reception people there what was happening and it was the first they’d heard of it: I became known as the fire-man.
You’ll be pleased to hear that I am CAT free, but only because I wasn’t scanned for them. it was only coincidence that I was on the one machine they have that can CAT, X-ray and radiotherapise. Ah well.

It felt like a return to bus engineering this morning as I set to with screwdrivers and socket set. But it was a lot warmer and dry, something that bus repair never seemed to be. What was I doing?
Altering the fridge/freezer and the small freezer from left hand to right hand opening.
No, don’t laugh, it’s difficult. Even Joe Templeman said it wasn’t something he’d try. As usual, the manuals either assumed you knew how the equipment designer’s mind worked so needed no introduction into what the names of the parts were, or they were written to be read by 7 year olds. There’s never a happy medium, or if there is it’s clouded by pictograms.
Anyway, it’s now done. Watch how the Judy and the Richard pull madly at the wrong side of the doors whilst working on autopilot.

This morning I performed a striptease.
To be specific, I tried to strip some wallpaper off the kitchen wall and it teased me by staying on. But I got your attention. It’s vinyl, by the way – horrible stuff.
Managed to fit the last of the kitchen shelves, having successfully shaped it to fit round the plumbing. Then spent ages measuring and remeasuring the first of our new doors to see how much I needed to remove from it so it fitted. I have said many times that I’m not a carpenter, and was just grateful that Kevin Baker and Joe Templeman were nowhere about to watch. The mistakes are now filled with plastic wood so I stand a chance of the whole thing fitting. Hinges and door furniture tomorrow.

I will say it once again: I am not a carpenter. True, woodwork is becoming a tad easier (read ‘slightly more accurate’) and I enjoy doing it. Until, that is, I see the results of the stupid mistakes. Grrrr.
Be that as it may, the library (aka spare bedroom) door is now hanging, it shuts properly and doesn’t open or shut itself because it’s hung on a slant. Whew. The centre hinged doors needed for our bedroom are hung, but on hinges rather than the manufacturer-intended swivels. That, at least, was a decision rather than a mistake.
So all we have to do now is to move a load of boxes so that young Grandson (the 5 year-old, not the gentleman of 16) can sleep somewhere. I think I hear an attic calling…

What a weekend.
“Tidied up” – also known as panicking slightly – so it didn’t look as if we were used to living in chaos too much. Made room for beds in the 2 spare rooms. Started cooking. Welcomed Carl, Miranda and Ollie and chatted. Continued cooking. Chatted. Welcomed Jerry Jordan (well known and respected Sussex Folk musician). Continued cooking. Finally had lunch at 3.00 pm as if it was Christmas Day and we were determined to be late for The Queen.
We’d just dished out some of the vast apple crumble – thanks to Judy – when Leon, Becky and Jack appeared. As a result more crumble disappeared. Good.
Chatted. At 5.00 Becky, Jack and I left for Portsmouth and 90 mins later I found that my memory of the city was not as good as I thought. Eventually we found the Guildhall, joined the queue and waited for Bellowhead to arrive.
Bellowhead: well, here’s what I wrote elsewhere:
It was one of those events that you feel you’ll never forget. Still amazed at the musicianship, the imagination behind the arrangements and the energy. To someone who can play nothing, to be able to play a violin and Morris dance at the same time is mind-boggling (Sam Sweeney)! Thanks to all at Bellowhead as well as to Becky Martin and Jack Hogsden for being such good company and making it even more enjoyable.
Sunday was chillin’ with Grandson and Parents, cooking lunch (exploring new ground for me!) and eating late. They had to go out, but welcomed them back with a cream tea, then just sat around and talked.
Marvellous. Back to work tomorrow – on the house, fitting doors as instructed and decorating Dining Area. Yawn.

Where are we… ah yes, Thursday. Not a lot to report yesterday, so I didn’t. Morning trips to Brighton cut into the day and getting going after a late lunch is not easy. But that’s the story of my life.
However, the last remaining bit of unredecorated room, the dining area, has been the subject of random attacks. I try to creep up on it when it’s unawares and quickly fill a hole, or remove yet more of the patches of vinyl wallpaper that stick like…er… Must be working as the walls are starting to feel smooth as a baby’s… Hang on, we’re back to the first simile.
Joe Templeman lent me a hot-air gun to strip paint (I was going to draw a hot-air parallel with a certain official elsewhere but thought better of it) and it made quick work of stripping the windowcill. That too is now filled and just needs sanding. We’re getting perilously close to painting time. After that, unfortunately, there’s more carpentry to make a b-up with.
Lit the fire today as it was so cold and miserable, and have a feeling it’s going to be a regularr occurrence. Thanks to Tom Harvey for the logs once again: they work a treat! (Odd, that).

Silently he crept up to the wall, the soft soles of his shoes leaving his footsteps unheard. Loaded, his right hand at the ready, the left gripping his supplies tightly, he was determined to attain maximum surprise. Slowly the right hand extended, lifted, angled…
And the paintbrush in it made the first stroke of magnolia in the dining area.
Gotcha? Good.
Wall by the door and adjacent to window is now drying. Windowsill is primed and hardening off before sanding, then the first coat of gloss goes on (if I can find the gloss paint).
The muffled screaming is the old blue, off-white and filler finish trying to get out.
In other news: we have spices in new spice racks and the paper towel etc dispenser on the wall rather than in supine position where we couldn’t get at it. And we’ve decided that if anyone wants to buy us a Christmas present a self-regulating, analogue, pendulum-driven, pine cased clock for the kitchen would be welcome. And a miracle, ‘cos I’m sure no one makes one. (Thinks: if everyone buys one, what the hell do we do?).
And I have a Hospital-free Saturday to continue painting. Whoopee – I think.

After yesterday’s attempt at pulp fiction I was expecting a visit from either the SPCE or SPCP* but neither appeared so that’s all right. It’s actually starting to look clean in there, so soon we’ll be worrying about paying for the carpet or whatever, then opening up for business (inviting friends over who haven’t already been, that is)
* Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to English and Society for the Prevention of Crap Painting respectively.

It appears that a review I wrote about the Bellowhead gig at Pompey last Saturday has been published: see…[your_review]. That’s nice. But I can’t believe it’s only a week ago!
What was I doing today, I hear you ask. For some reason I was working with a paintbrush before 8.00 am, something that’s almost unheard of any day of the week, let alone Sunday. So now we have white skirting boards, two of which are in kit form, and other detail improvements which I won’t bore you with. The rest of the day was spent as a Guard on the Bluebell Railway where my first action was to have a shunt.
As I explained to Jack this was not a car – or even train – accident, but a necessary operation to attach an extra carriage. We ended up with 8 of them, the largest number of vehicles I’ve ever been in charge of. Two problems: they’re all old and short (yes, yes, like me. Ok, ok. But they date from the early 20th C. I’m from the middle of it.) and there’s no corridor. That means I can’t wander up and down being rude to people and drinking tea from the buffet even if there had been one. Ah well.

Why does decorating old walls require so much washing and sanding, and four times the time taken to do it waiting for the wall to dry? All I want is to have a flat, keyed surface and to paint it.
Though thinking on, the more I delay it the more I can delay the next bit of carpentry.
Oh – and I’ve broken a tooth. Don’t worry, it’s one of mine; I haven’t hit anybody or been hit. The broken bit’s still there, wobbling, so I feel like an 8-year-old again. Comments, please…

It currently feels like being back at work. I have 2 desktops and a laptop on a small desk and am trying to find a load of image files. I also have 2 keyboards and the laptop’s keyboard/touchpad combo, and persist in using the wrong one to operate each computer. Confused of Seaford here.
On more manual matters, we now have a completely magnolia dining area and for the first time the room looks rather pleasing despite the old geyser in the corner. But I can walk away. It’ll be boxed in soon – like tomorrow, depending what delays there are on my daily Brighton journey. However, the boxing in does involve carpentry and regular readers will have gathered it’s not my strong point.

What’s on my mind? Carpentry, bloody carpentry.
Once again the gremlins that lie within otherwise innocent pieces of timber come out to play as soon as they detect me. How else can it be that after carefully measuring a gap 3 times, I still make a 10mm error? I mean, 10mm! 1 of the buggers I could put down to one cataracted eye and one not, but 10!
Bloody hell.
Anyway, the cockup has been hidden and although far from perfect the main carcass of the cupboard / boiler disguise has been completed. Now just a paint job and the doors… that’s more crapentry. (Spelling error deliberate).
What’s even more aggravating is that it’s taken the best part of a day to get that far. And tomorrow is interrupted by the daily Brighton visit (I had a day off today), Saturday is a Bluebell Railway duty and Sunday is theatre and Hurst College Advent Procession.
Who said retirement is restful?