Our ‘Disco’ Toilet

The main light in our bathroom also operates a very noisy extractor fan. That runs for over ten minutes once activated, and can be very intrusive at night. So we had a motion-acitvated night light that provided sufficient illumination to use the toilet in the dark, but it was very easily activated just by walking past, and used the batteries up very quickly.

Then Julie spotted one of these for sale.
(They are very inexpensive)

Just put in two small batteries, and it is ready to go. It doesn’t get touched by any water during a flush, so is completely safe.

So we now have a ‘Dico light’ effect inside our toilet, albeit a very sedate disco.
(It looks a lot more colourful in real life)

A Day Off The Blog

I haven’t had a chance to read any posts today, or to write any for my own blog. Apologies to all concerned.

I have been consumed with one of the most unpleasant aspects of the Christmas season, namely a ‘deep clean’ of the kitchen. I had to report for ‘Domestic Duties’ as my Call-Up papers had been served.

I was assured it had to be done, and as Julie was helping her daughter move house today, I thought I had better be the one to do it. I tried to give Ollie the job, but he was unable to work the spray pumps on the various cleaning fluids using his paws.

As we are eating out on the 25th, and have no visitors at all due to Covid-19, I did wonder what the fuss was all about. But it came under the heading of being ‘Completely ready for Christmas’. Apparently.

After crawling around cleaning skirting boards and doing the floors by hand, I now feel as if I have been run over by a small truck.

Hopefully, normal blog service will be resumed tomorrow.

Providing I am able to get out of bed that is.

Nothing Getting Done

Do you ever have those times when nothing seems to get done? I do, and this is one of them

Day 17 of rain means nothing has been done outside for almost three weeks, unless you count creating a blanket dam to stop the shed flooding completely. I would like to have cleared the gutters, so that they managed the downpours better. But that’s not a very attractive prospect, when you are on the tail end of a bout of Flu, and feel as weak as a kitten.

Even things that can be done inside are not getting done. Remember the expensive camera I got got for nothing from Amazon? Well other than a quick play with it to justify my review, I still have not set it up as I would like. What’s the point? I have no intention of taking it out to photograph rain.

And as some things get fixed, others keep breaking. The printer can wait, as I cannot muster the will to try to fix it. Then Julie took my car out today, and got a slow puncture. I do less than 4,000 miles a year, but the local neglected roads chew through at least two tyres a year on average. Something else to deal with, come Monday.

I could sit and type a list of all the things that need doing; from the simple mopping of the kitchen floor because of trodden in dirt and leaves, to routine paperwork that needs to be sorted out by the end of the month.

But truth be told, nothing’s getting done.

Another Job Jobbed

When I was young, my parents would always say that anytime they finished doing something around the house. As young as I was, I always thought it was a rather silly expression.

Now I am older, I still avoid using it. However, I have come to appreciate the sense of relief, if not satisfaction, when those routine jobs are over.

After ten days with a broken heating/hot water boiler, and trying to remember to keep switching on (and off) the electric back up, the boiler has been fixed. My son-in-law arrived earlier, and has been working for three hours to replace faulty parts, and get it going. The amount of dirt and soot inside the relatively small boiler cabinet had to be seen to be believed, and I was once again glad that it is situated in the garage, rather than the house.

It didn’t help that it has been raining torrentially all day, and walking in and out has left the floors of the garage and connecting shed covered in a wet sooty sludge that cannot be walked on until it has had time to dry out. Unfortunately, the freezer and large second fridge both live in the shed, so I have had to dump old towels onto the floor to be able to walk back and forth to the house without treading in sooty footprints.

After a week when the kitchen cupboards were painted, and the flooring measured ready to order and have fitted, I am relieved that the boiler has been fixed too, allowing the possibility of actually having a ‘day off’ of household disruptions on Sunday.

And I found myself thinking, “That’s another job jobbed”.

Domestic Disruption Ended: Almost!

After delays due to the Coronavirus lockdown, and then a problem when the first painter had to leave the job halfway through, the kitchen/diner has finally been painted! The new painters finished the units and cupboards yesterday, and they make the room look a lot more modern now.

Ollie has had to be kept out of there for two days, and his routine was disrupted, which he hates of course. And he had to sleep in the living room, with his food and water bowls moved into the small hallway outside the bathroom. As a treat, we took him to Castle Acre yesterday, for a change of scene. Of course, he would have preferred to stay at Beetley Meadows, so spent his walk around the Priory grounds hanging back and crying…

Today’s job is to investigate new flooring for the dining section. It previously had horrible old carpet tiles, which we threw away last year. Now we have to get something laid under the table and chairs, and when that is done, it will finally be finished.

I am definitely not getting any other tradesmen in until 2021, and maybe not even then!

My Last Year Of Hedge Clipping

Front of bungalow from across the road

In the photo above, (click to see full size) you can clearly see the larger and smaller beech hedges that are in front of our house. They are taller than they look in this photo, which was taken after they had just been trimmed, in late 2013. From street level, they reach to about eight feet in height, and are considerably higher than that when fully grown before they need cutting. On the plus, side, this height is reduced when cutting the back, as the ground level in the front garden is some twelve inches higher.

I bought some very good clippers when I moved here, as I also had to tackle the huge rows of leylandii hedges at the back. Compared to those, the beech hedges at the front were a breeze, easily finished off in a morning or afternoon. But then I got vertigo a couple of years back. And then I got older of course. I could no longer cope with the ten-feet high leylandii, and had to pay someone to cut them earlier this year. But I was sure I could still deal with the beech hedges.

After deciding that they were unacceptably shabby, I made up my mnd to cut them this morning. It is a hot day, 27 C, so I took Ollie out early, just after nine. On our return, I got straight on with the beech hedges, sweeping up the mess as I went. After managing just one quarter, the first battery gave up. I put it on charge, and went on with the second battery. I was very hot, and finding it difficult to stay steady on top of the step ladder as I tried to get the straggly stems in the middle. After two hours, I swept up, and had a lunch break.

When I went back out, I decided to use a proper ladder to reach the top, and jammed it as hard as I could against the hedge. But is was very wobbly once I got up there, and I was having real difficulty keeping my balance and cutting at the same time. When the second battery went flat, I had at least finished the biggest hedge, and can do the small one easily tomorrow. Sweeping up and tidying the things away, it dawned on me that will be the last time I can safely cut these hedges.

As of next year, I am going to have to pay someone to do it.

More Domestic Upheaval

Part two of the kitchen decorating saga begins! With the tiling completed, and the tiles having had time to ‘settle’, the painter has started the considerable task of painting the kitchen-diner this morning. We are also havng the dated units rubbed down and painted a light colour, so probably looking at a minimum of four days, possibly five.

After all the stress with Ollie recently, I went to bed at 9:30 pm last night, and slept like a log. Up early this morning to take down the lampshades, strip everything out of the kitchen, and pile most of it into the living room. It’s amazing to realise just how much stuff you have stacked around on kitchen worktops, as well as Ollie’s bed, food and water bowls, boxes of biscuits and food, and his treats container. Fortunately, no rain is forecast, so I was able to put the waste bins and kitchen chairs outside on the lawn. Other than the dining table, which I did not want to dismantle, the room is now completely empty, and ready for work.

I suspect we might be eating out or getting food delivered for a couple of days, as the prospect of having to put everything back and move it all again in the morning definitely does not appeal to me.

It is only 9:15, and it already feels like late afternoon after such an early start.

When the painting is finished, new flooring is next on the list.
Fortunately, we don’t have to move every single thing to allow that to be done.

If any other projects are taken on in 2021, I will want to make them outside ones! 🙂

Some Domestic Disruption

This year was planned to be the year we finally tackled the kitchen/diner. Unchanged since 1995, it is a style that is beyond getting away with calling it ‘Retro’, and definitely better described as’Dated’. After new windows, interior decoration, and carpets last year, I had to wait to save up the money to get someone in to spruce up the kitchen. In an ideal world, I would have used a kitchen planning company, and had all new units installed. But we all know that the world is not ideal, and I just cannot afford the many thousands of pounds that would cost.

The compromise was to change the multi-coloured tiling for something fresh and neutral, and have the cupboards rubbed down and painted. Once the tiling is finished, the painter can come in to do his job. Unfortunately, the painter is not adept at tiling, so we had to engage someone else to do that. He was so busy after not working during the lockdown, that he has to do the job over this weekend, instead of a weekday. So no morning lie-in, and everything shifted out the way of the numerous surfaces requiring his attention.

One good thing about the layout of this house is that social distancing from the tiler is easy to achieve. He is doing a good job so far, (Saturday) and plans to continue until 5:30, coming back to work all day tomorrow in order to get the job done.

As soon as the tiling is in place, we have to arrange a date for the painter to come. He estimates perhaps four days to make a good job of the fair-sized room, especially as he will also be painting all the woodwork and cupboards. To be honest, left to me, I would have tolerated the 1990s look.

I’m sure it will soon be back in fashion.

All At Sea In A Shop

With the partial renovation of the kitchen imminent, I had to bite the bullet and drive to a DIY shop yesterday. Two of them in fact. They are more rightly known as ‘Warehouses’ here, as they are quite cavernous, and industrial inside. We went with the intention of choosing tiles and paint.

For my part, I went with the intention of watching my wife choose both tiles and paint, so that I could never be accused of deciding on the wrong style and colour, no matter how long I lived.

Off we went, to the branch of B&Q (No, I don’t know what it stands for) in the town of Fakenham.

For someone like me, they are the strangest of all shops. I am uncomfortable in them, feeling all at sea. I watch the other customers as they choose huge sheets of wood, weigh up different power tools on the displays, and confidently load large barrows with piles of fixings and metal clips that I don’t even know the function of. Some are undoubtedly regulars, heading straight for the rows of this or that, knowing which direction to head in, and picking up exactly what they need.

Men are supposed to feel at home in such shops. They are even expected to be excited at being able to visualise their next project, and looking at improved tools and labour-saving devices. The TV advertisements portray the customers being able to revamp a garden almost overnight, or create a futuristic kitchen over a weekend. I see none of that. Instead, I see things I don’t understand, tools I have no skill in using, or desire to learn how, and endless hours of DIY drudgery as I attempt to end up with a result that is even halfway pleasing.

I am missing that part of my masculinity, I have no doubt. Or perhaps I am just realistic, and aware of my limitations.

Not for them the aisle-by-aisle circuit forced upon me by my lack of knowledge of the shop’s geography, not helped by a Covid-19 inspired one-way-system in place that meant more than one unnecessary loop to get back to tiles or paint. After a great deal of comparison of tiles in colours that looked very similar to me, a choice was made. As luck would have it, bad luck in this case, they only had one box of our choice in stock, and we needed five. So it would mean a trip on another day to the much larger branch in Norwich.

They didn’t have the paint we wanted in the colour we wanted either. They had the exact paint in huge quantities in almost any colour known to man, but not in the Ivory ‘we’ had chosen. We had to settle for two packs of kitchen doorknobs, and a plastic storage box. God forbid we could have left empty-handed.

It was decided to go back into Dereham, to the smaller DIY store called Homebase.

They didn’t have the tiles, but they did have the paint. Fortunately, they did not stock the same doorknobs or storage boxes, so it was agreed that our trip to Fakenham must have been worthwhile.

I would honestly have felt more comfortable in the female lingerie department of Marks and Spencer. I am far more familiar with ladies’ underwear than power tools and plasterboard.

If not one thing, another…

When I posted about power cuts yesterday, I feared that I was tempting fate. However, we survived that part of Storm Dennis, and didn’t have a loss of power.

But when I got up this morning, I soon discovered that we had no hot water, or central heating. I tried to reset the boiler, to no avail. We had power, but no heating.

I had to smile, I really did.

Luckily, we have an immersion heater in the water tank, so I was able to switch that on to get hot water. And once the sun dipped behind the house, I got the wood-burning stove going, for the first time in over a year. It is now 4 pm, and so hot in the living room, we could happily dress in swimwear.

And someone is on the way to try to fix the boiler.

The next two storms are on their way.

Storm Ellen, and Storm Frank. We wait to see what they will hit us with.