October 2013

We journeyed to Lewes this morning to ensure the Old Ale was welcomed in by the town. Several hundred people sampled it and none complained, so they agree with me that it’s a fine brew.
We met up with a lot of old friends from the trad music and dance worlds, including Alison Lucas and Steve, Dave Rannie, whose involvement with technology stretches to wearing a watch so I can say what I like about him on Facebook, and the entire Long Man Morris side with whom I used to gain exercise. A really good stand.
Back home I puzzled out how best to make arrangements for the TV and associated stuff. An hour later went upstairs to find Judy rehearsing for her part in Les Miserables: she had built a barricade of boxes and there were mutterings from behind them. No bullets, fortunately.
We now have a swivel chair in the bathroom and have to sidle cautiously to get anywhere that isn’t downstairs.

1 injection
2 locks in for mending
3 hours out of the house
4 doors and a mattress collected
5 minute lunch extends to about an hour 6 bits of furniture moved plus TV and computer
7 oh sod it, I can’t think of any more. Repaired the now-dry wall at the SE corner of the living room with filler – thanks again to the Providers – you know who you are. Now just needs sanding down and painting. Then we start on the other side when my poor beleagured mate Joe Templeman has some time from all the other demands people make on him and can dig out the old lime mortar that’s fallen into the cavity and is bridging it, causing dampness and mushrooms.
8 damn, still can’t think… Yes! 8 pints plus of water in the towel rail that had to be emptied so I could remove the pipe and cure the leak. Yes, Joe, I found the wrench: I had it. Sorry. Rail now appears leak free but I’m not telling anyone else yet just in case.
9 times so far I’ve retuned the damn TV tuner cards in the computer as they keep having a hissy fit and forgetting the right settings. Grrr.
12 o’clock. Good night and yes I’ve omitted 10 and 11. A man’s got to have a break, right?

I must have done something to my back and it hurts to bend or do much at all really. This is my attempt for the sympathy vote.
Despite that I managed to get up and start work earlier than i ever had to at Hurst in later years, unless you count might/early morning calls to fire alarms etc. Btw, “etc.” includes a 3.00 a.m. call once from a voice which said “Hallo Richard, this is Tim.” and turned out to be the Head who was in the outer quad trying to tame a marquee that was threatening to take off in the wind. I went, but had been so deeply asleep that I’m not convinced I was much use. A bit of a random request, that.
Anyway, before breakfast managed to sand down and clean off some living room wall ready to paint later, as I though, then set to work to build a TV / audio cabinet. Such a simple piece of furniture; should take a couple of hours, or up to lunchtime, maximum.
I’m not sure who finished first, me or the sunset. It was a close thing. And the result? Let’s just say I’m better at electricity than cabinet making.
Kevin Baker, when you visit, just avert your eyes from it, please. And Tom Harvey, sorry once again. If I can bend my back by tomorrow without it feeling as though someone’s drilling into it I’ll make contact with you about logs. Drilling into it… hmmm… perhaps I was doing something wrong…

Today we lost a door.
It’s ok, you can call the dogs off. It was intentional.
There was a side door from, and I suppose to, the kitchen. We already have a back door, a front door and large windows to escape from should the need arrive, so this thing was redundant and prevented us having a reasonable size kitchen layout. Mark from Protec Glass removed it and its seized up window in double quick time, a bricklayer added a double layer of wall, and there it was: gone. The result is marvellous and why didn’t we do it before.
All I did was groan a bit (the back’s a bit easier; thank you for asking) and drive to get some bits and pieces from Hassocks. Yes, I know Eastbourne’s nearer, but Thomas Locks aren’t there. Oh, and I stained the results of yesterday’s labours a darker pine colour. I think it’s ok but I’ll see in the light tomorrow and then probably decide again that I’m better at electricity.

As I hear the gentle strains of Barwick Green from the living room and think “where the hell did I leave my pint?”, it occurs to me that today has been quite productive.
A form of plumbers arrived, on time, to quote for moving the boiler to a point where it doesn’t form the centre of attention in the dining area. I nearly fell over when I was told they could do the job … wait for it … next Thursday. As in this Week. Plus they will fit a new radiator, 5 thermostatic rad valves and a radio room stat.
And Dave Green Carpets, who I can’t recommend highly enough, sorted some water damage in the bathroom; again, on time.
Last night Judy shortened some curtains for the middle bedroom and liked doing it so much she’s playing the same game with the bathroom ones. All I did was put up a rail and install right-size curtains on it in the library.
Finally, removed 3 kitchen cupboards from the boiler wall so the engineers will have space to work. In doing so we discovered a lethal electrical joint, nicely pressing against the oven for maximum effect. I think we may be re-routing that come the revolution. Like tomorrow.

Went to see Anna Hopcroft at Hurst College about Back. Lots of muscles in spasm, apparently, some of which I didn’t know I had. Pressure applied to ease (ow). Then acupuncture, a first for me, to “restart” the muscle; a sort of biological Ctrl-Alt-Del I suppose. Then some massaging to the base of the spine.
Good news: no vertebrae are damaged, she know where the problems are or were, and she can and has done a lot for it. Medium news: it’ll probably show little improvement for a day or two but then will. Bad news: none, really, apart from getting in the car is painful, as is putting on shoes and socks. Not that I wait to get dressed before getting in the car, you understand.
Went to Lewes Saturday Folk Club to hear Kevin Gifford in the evening: great singer and a really interesting bloke. I did a floor spot and amazingly everyone stayed in the room. Yay! A major achievement!

Managed to stretch enough to install a wooden blind today. Woohoo. Apart from that minor achievement, searching for a corner cupboard on eBay, cooking, moaning about the weather, nothing happened.
Oh yes: took Judy to a book fair in Denton. Turns out it consisted of two trestle tables, so she came back with a measuring jug.
Look, it’s logical, I tell you.

Exciting times here at aching-back-land. Today I installed scaffolding at the back of the house.
That is a lie.
Above All scaffolders did. And to make it even better, tomorrow Sun & Air will be installing Solar PV panels on our south-facing roof. Watch for sparks over Seaford.
Joe Templeman visited and suggested making a start on installing the new kitchen tomorrow. Judy kissed him.
That’s also a lie and I have been reprimanded by both her and Beverley Templeman. But you can see what I mean about exciting times, though it probably won’t be quite so exciting when it’s chucking it down outside and we have nothing to cook on and no fresh water in the kitchen (or even a kitchen for it not to be in, if you see what I mean).
However, in celebration I tore up the flooring in the half of the kitchen I can get at and removed a grubby, redundant cupboard door in the other bit. And we cleared everything else, so now have all our uncooked food , saucepans etc in the living room. Great. Still, it’s a good way to diet and economise.

The Full English Breakfast I promised everyone who reads the Daily Bleat (that’s another lie) is cancelled since we no longer have a kitchen. Sorry, throng.
Let me expound: there is no frying pan, no hob, no oven, no sink, November (nearly). Utensils, plates and even food are all missing. In fact there are no worktops, wall tiles and even bits of floor have vanished.
It’s odd to finish a cup of tea (yes, we can still do that or Joe Templeman would pack up and go home) and turn to rinse the mug, only to find a blank wall and a piece of morose copper pipe.
Be nice to your kitchen and nuture it. As the song says: “You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone”. And for those who know the song, no one is leaving in a big yellow taxi and I have no intention of putting up a parking lot.

Looking at the ex-kitchen, nothing much seems to have happened. But look closer… no, not that close: the plaster’s still wet… and notice the new plasterboard inserts where once were larder vents or damaged surfaces. See the new plumbing in shiny white plastic tube and fittings that are SO much easier than copper to fit and correct if necessary. See how the boxes have been carefully cut into the walls. See the layer of dust caused by that cutting which was inadvertently allowed to permeate the house. By me.
The tiny inaccessible kitchen cupboard is being altered to a cunning multi-layer recycling / breadmaking / microwaving / storage facility. Yes, it will be accessible or there’d be no point. Don’t be silly.
And, to my surprise and relief that neither Lee nor Rob from Sun & Air fell off the scaffolding, were blown off or dropped a panel, all 10 PV panels are now sitting happily on the roof sunning themselves. Connection Day is tomorrow, the day when our electricity meter starts going backwards. It’ll probably actually mean the start of months of Icelandic-style winter days and the onset of permafrost, and no electricity will be generated unless I go up and shine a torch on the roof. Somehow that seems not to be a good idea.

Nothing much seemed to happen again today. At least it didn’t if you ignore the completed ring main – much of it channelled into the wall, the planned and nearly fixed wastes, 2 more double sockets sunk into the wall and a double light switch treated the same way. Oh, and the feeds for all this re-run too. Rob. the guy fitting the solar panels, said it looked a good, neat job, and who are Joe Templeman and I to disagree?
Also thanks to Rob we now have a new consumer unit (fuse board to the uninitiated, except it uses trips rather than fuse wire) to replace the 50 year old original.
Oh, and we have a solar power system that works; or at least we think it does as by the time the connections were made it was dark outside!
And I’m knackered. One thing retirement does is to render weekends rather meaningless, so work of any sort just carries on and we have no break to look forward to.
And please stop playing that violin while I’m typing.

Today some bits of kitchen freed themselves from our garage, wandered up the hill and hung themselves on the wall – in the kitchen, fortunately. In the afternoon two base units also intruded. One was a little put off by the gas supply that’s in its way and another couldn’t get the hang of its soft-close door, but then they’re only young.
And all through this, electrics were continuing to install themselves, and seem to work. It was all about to end when Wally Phillips, the electrician who taught me most of my electrical skills, rang. I told him what we were doing and he conducted a safety check by phone!
None of the above have anything to do with Joe Templeman or me of course, nor even Beverley Templeman who called to chat to Judy Wright.
Anyone else want to be tagged? You’ll need to come and help in order to qualify. We need work done on the outside of the house too… In fact after next Monday we might need help rebuild the fence!

So kna… tired last night I didn’t do the Daily Bleat. More progress on Kitchen and we now have a working washing machine. You’ll be nearly as relieved to hear that as you were when I told you the shower worked. Slight design problems have come to light. That’s not our fault as it was designed for us and then quickly redesigned when we commented as requested. So back to Howdens for a fix on Monday.
Shopped for tiles in the afternoon and returned with some face flannels and a lampshade. Look – don’t complain. You know our sort of logic by now. And that’s quite normal: it could have been a tank of newts.
The tiles arrive on Thursday. The newts don’t.
Thank God the clocks went back last night. (Yes, Mark, I wish we didn’t have to mess with them twice a year too, but last night we were glad of it!). A lie-in! Yes, really, and combined with the extra hour it was most welcome. The Law of Murphy and Sod (solicitors?) dictates that if I stay in bed too long my back starts aching and I can’t sleep. Bit of a bugger, really.
Being kitchenless, we searched Seaford for a bite to eat, a sort of brunch being what we’d have liked. No cafes open on Sundays it seems, so we waited and went to a carvery in Newhaven. Nom nom nom.

The waves pounding onto Seaford Bay were quite impressive and I was glad to be on dry land. Thoughts go to the family of the local lad playing in/near the sea in Newhaven later in the day, who has been swept out, presumably to his death…

The horrible light in the kitchen area fell victim to demolition in the afternoon. Probably it was just in time as lots of its connections relied on hope and nicotine rather than good practice. After a fight (me and the wiring, not me and Judy) we now have a track and adjustable lighting controlled by dimmers.
During a walk along the prom it seemed that the weather had died down a bit; didn’t stop me from getting wet, though. Tonight is still forecast to be force 8 gusting force 11 (gale to severe storm) on the BBC- ignored Beaufort scale, and it might reach that about 3.00 am. Sleep well.