Water problems

The front of our house where we park the cars has always been prone to a little dampness since it’s the lowest point of our little enclave of houses. This Winter has been spectacularly bad since it feels like it’s rained non stop. This has been our reality for a few weeks.

However, in the past few days the builders that are planning to build on the “swamp” that is behind the far trees in the above photo have found a blocked land drain. They unblocked the land drain and hooked it into their drainage system and for the first time in possibly two years we’re all seeing the water levels fall in the “swamp”. The ducks are moving out and my car parking spot has now dried up. My back garden no longer squelches underfoot and all seems good. Admittedly we’ve had a few days of dry-ish weather but I’m still quietly optimistic that removing several hundred thousands of litres from the field next to us will solve our problems. Fingers crossed.

As an aside – rumour has it that my elderly neighbour blocked the land drains deliberately a few years ago for some unknown reason. The same guy that promised he wouldn’t sell the land to the builders until after his death. He’s still alive but the builders moved in a year ago so hey-ho.

Scroll Saw

When we did the extension the builder installed some Oak skirting boards. He did the joins using a butt joint. I moaned about it here [ https://junglefreedomfighters.com/?p=2017 ] in the past.

Well I’ve just been bought a scroll saw [ thanks Mum ] to have another crack at all this. The scroll saw is essentially a powered version of the coping saw I mention in the post above.

Turns out I’m still a bit rubbish at it.

Shiny!

The skirting board joint you see above is my first attempt. I’ll persevere with my scroll saw with a bit more practice and then hopefully I’ll finally have the skirting boards I’ve dreamt of.

Holly Dog

Jac and Mark and the kids all went out to celebrate one of their children’s birthdays…yeah I should really know which one but I’m rubbish at things like that and I was totally distracted by us getting Holly for the day.

We absolutely loved having her. Yeah, there were a few puddles. Yeah, she did nearly break the patio doors by running head first into them. Yeah, she did have a bit of a chew on my hat. But it was brilliant to have such an excited bundle of energy in the house. Violet enjoyed it for the first hour or two but then she wanted a sleep…and Holly didn’t.

As a side note I also popped around to Jac and Mark’s yesterday and Holly came running and jumping at me and was so excited that a bit of wee came out onto my foot. Her wee, not mine.

Baking like Nana Molly

When I was young and at Primary School my Mum was a Schoolteacher and so couldn’t pick me up. Fortunately Nana Molly lived a few hundred metres away from my school and so after I finished school I’d walk over to Nanas and she’d make me my “tea”. Dinner was often “Lobbies”. Meat, potatoes, onions and other veg in a gravy. Some call it potato hash, some call it scouse. We called it lobbies. Anyway, quite often Nana Molly would also make jam tarts. They were amazing. Highlight of my day even though it was just shortcrust pastry with some jam in it.

I recently had some pre-rolled shortcrust pastry that was past the use by date so I had to do something quick. So I picked up some sausage meat from the local butcher and made some posh sausage rolls. I had some left over pastry and we had some jam in the fridge that had been there a while and this is the end result.

The third from the right was made without using a pastry cutter. Dunno what I was thinking

More Power!

My friendly neighbourhood electrician finally found some time for me and came and hooked my workshop up to power. I specified my usual ridiculous number of plug sockets, four strip lights and two outdoor sockets. The electrician quizzed me about what I intended to use the outdoor sockets and I had to admit I had no idea. I’m sure they’ll come in useful for something though.

We left the armoured cable trailing over the garden because neither of us were up for digging. The sun came out the next day and Oli fancied earning a bit of cash so out he went and buried the cable for me. He actually did a pretty good job of it too.

Never gets old

Will we as a race [ or possibly that should be as a gender ] ever get tired of drawing penis’ on things? It’s a pastime as old as the hills. I reckon somewhere in Africa there’s a cave with a huge penis drawn in dinosaur blood or something.

Anyway, I bring you the latest act of petty vandalism from my little boy.

Charlie’s new band

About half of the Kelly family made a trip into Manchester to see Charlie’s new band [ Cromwell Range ] perform at the Lion’s Den in Manchester.

Playing the drums these days – is there anything the boy can’t do?

Beers were drunk. Laughs were had. Eardrums were destroyed.

Ooni Pizza Maker

As you can tell from this blog I’ve been a bit of a layabout for nearly three years now. I’ve got stuff done – just not any paid employment. Well all that changed recently when I started doing a bit of work for Jason Coope to help him out with a few bits and pieces. I got paid. Paid some actual money. So the first thing I did was buy an Ooni Pizza Oven. My friend Aggy raves about his pizza oven and Amelia and I recently had a shockingly horrifically bad pizza takeaway. So I thought I’d make my own. We already have the Kitchen-Aid food mixer that can kneed the dough for me. We have the funky GBBO Neff slide and hide oven that does a 40deg dough prove. So all that we were missing was the thing to cook the pizza in

Gas powered thing of beauty

So after watching a few YouTube videos and reading a few blogs we were off making our own tomato and garlic topping.

Then we fired up the oven with annoyingly a new bottle of gas because the gas we have for the barbecue has a different connector.

Then about 60 seconds later we had our first totally home made pizza. Better than that piece of shit we bought from Sahara’s in Ormskirk [ ooops, I accidentally named them ].

Yeah, we’re one of them families that likes a bit of pineapple on their pizza!

I’m currently tracking how many pizzas we make and working out how much it’s costing us per pizza. But I can already state quite definitely that the quality is better than any take away pizza we’ve had for a long time. My dough making skills aren’t quite there yet but I’ll keep watching videos to try and improve.

Can I Crimp-it

Apparently yes I can. My darling daughter bought me a Crimp-it tool for making food related stuff. I initially meant to use it to improve my pastie making crimping finish – but I think it’s a bit big for pasties. I need a Crimp-it mini!

Anyway, the day came that I had a leftover Sunday roast and some wraps…so what is a man supposed to do?

Mushy peas, ham, stuffing, chicken and carrots…in a wrap

Pop it in the Crimp-it tool, microwave it for a bit until the edges of the wrap seal and then remove it from the Crimp-it tool and carry on cooking in the microwave.

It was well lush

Magic Monday OK Chicken

The more observant amongst you will notice we don’t have a Magic Monday December post. That’s because I forgot to take a picture. In order to relieve everyone’s stress levels though I can report we had Crispy Chilli Chicken. Which was ace.

The OK chicken that we had this month was…alright….edible…not bad….I’d go with OK. So we’ll not be getting that again.

The league table currently stands at:

  1. Peking Chicken
  2. Crispy Chilli Chicken
  3. OK Chicken

Orange Traineeeeees

I finally got a pair of orange trainers and ohhhh my god are they orange! They don’t look so bad in the picture but once you get outside in them they’re bright. We went for lunch with Erika and Keith and I wore them. At the end of lunch I went for a wee. On the way back from my wee I heard some woman on a table remark to her companions “There they are…that’s the man with the trainers”

Windows

I wanted to make some rudimentary window frames on my workshop. Since I heinously miscalculated the amount of really quite expensive Larch I would need I managed to end up with quite a bit leftover. The Larch that I have leftover is currently being used as a temporary workbench and I have plans to build a wheelie bin enclosure with it, a pet shelter in the garden and the sides and maybe roof for a wood store. Yeah, I really have that much left over!

But in the meantime, I thought I’d use it for my “window frames”. The only thing left was deciding to whether or not to have a top framey bit hangovery bit. So I tried one of each.

Sans hangover

The one above is kinda square and flush. The one below has a little hangover flourish at the top. It’s also the design that we all prefer so I’ll be changing the one above…when things get a bit warmer.

ummm avec hangover…maybe. My French is pretty rubbish

Tetris off 2023

Charlie and I generally have a bit of competitive Tetris when he comes over. This year we decided to make it a formal Xmas thing. The only problem being that we were pretty drunk when we decided to formalise things. We definitely decided to do the competition over 5 games but we can’t remember if it was the best of 5 [ i.e. first to 3 ] or purely based on who got the highest score.

So now we reckon it was a draw since he won 3 out of 5 but I got the highest score.

Next year we’ll write down the rules

Plough

At the end of each term everyone tends to finish at lunchtime so off we pop to The Plough for lunch and beers. The Plough is great as it is walkable, you can book a table for four plus a dog and they do fantastic salt and pepper chicken with half rice half chips and curry sauce.

The end of the Summer term was a bit of a bust as both the kids refused to come despite it being a family tradition so this year I made it clear we were *all* going.

Good enough for winter

Since the weather is starting to cool down quite significantly in the UK it was a final rush to get the workshop weatherproof, or watertight if you prefer.

The cladding turned up about a week earlier than expected and it coincided with some good weather in the UK so I dropped pretty much everything in my life and cracked on with it.

This is what about £1000 worth of cladding looks like.

Putting up 3m lengths of cladding on the walls on my own was a bit tricky. I ended up utilising some 4×2 of various lengths to act like a second person helping me. It was slow going at first but once into the groove it worked out pretty well. The first “panel” that I clad…

… probably took me about 3 hours. By the time I got to the last panel it took me about 40 minutes. I always start anything new on this “hidden” side by the bushes so I can make all my mistakes well out of view.

I quite enjoyed doing around the windows…it was easy!

Doing the top bit of the cladding, above the oak beam, was a bit tricky. I had to cut angles on each side to tie in with the shape of the stud walls and the roof beam. I then had to climb up on my platform and pin them in. The very top ones were put in using a ladder. The only good thing about it was as the cladding got higher up the frame it was also lighter to carry.

When I first started this project I cut almost everything with a table saw. It’s safe, accurate and pretty easy. By the end I was a dab hand with my angle measuring thing above and a skill saw. Went so much faster and there’s so much more flexibility in the cuts one can make.

I looked into various garage door options. The one that stood out to me was Crocodile. They’re not the cheapest out there by a long way but they do seem to be the best. They sent somebody around to inspect the site. They sent another fella around to properly measure up and work out all the details and finally they sent out two fine fellas that did the installation. Fortunately we could mount the door on the back of the frame so we managed to get past the problem of my door not being quite square which is something I was worried about. The garage door fitters even pointed out why I’ve been having scuffing problems with the doors on my garage and told me how to fix it.

The end result…

Secure and water tight.

It’s still very much a work in progress. I need to add some fascia boards to the front and back. I need to add guttering down the sides and some downpipes into a soakaway. Need to fit a wood burning stove in there and also seal/paint the floor. Then I can start filling it with toys! But the happy point now is that I can sit back and wait for the weather to warm up before doing all that kind of stuff.

Midlands Ho!

Paul and I rocked down to the Midlands to celebrate Jason being a year older than us again for the next 7 or 8 months. The usual carnage took place. On the Saturday we had a lunch reservation for quite early, about 11.30 I think. So we were all up and about. We had a light breakfast. I settled into the best chair in the world with a superb view of the rolling countryside and started reading a bit of my book. Paul…in his inimitable fashion piped up “Is it too early for a glass of wine then?”

This was the result