Author Archives: writinghouse

About writinghouse

I am an Author, Database Consultant and Guitar Player. I have no idea what that makes me.

Raising the Bed

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From this…

When Sting described seven days*, he reckoned that Monday could wait until Tuesday, and also that Sunday would be too late. The Cure didn’t care that Monday** was blue but were prepared to spend Tuesday and Wednesday in bed. Here at Chez Snail, none of this would have washed with The Snail who, on a Sunday morning, had a great idea.

“Let’s rearrange the garden,” she said, or words to that effect. The three raised beds we had created over a very hard weekend about 15 years ago weren’t really working for us anymore, so The Snail felt it was time to move a number of the old railway sleepers around to create a new big raised bed and leave a space on which to create a green grassy area (lawn is too grand a word, it implies a strict totalitarian regime of cutting which will never happen) to put important things on, such as a parasol and some deck chairs.

And so, on a Monday (actually, it was a Sunday afternoon that I tested out whether I could move a sleeper on my own, but Sting wouldn’t have approved), I started the move…

First sleeper (in the background) moved

First sleeper (in the background) moved

Digging a trench to take the sleeper that will form the front of the bed

Digging a trench to take the sleeper that will form the front of the bed

New front sleeper being moved into place. Old vertebrae being moved out of place.

New front sleeper being moved into place. Old vertebrae being moved out of place.

Now, if I had followed Sting’s and The Cure’s advice, nothing would have been done by Wednesday. However, I was beginning to think that the heart attack The Cure were planning on Thursday might come to pass.

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Slowly taking shape…

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Top front sleeper in place – originally, it was going to be the one on the ground, pretending to be a banana

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Just a couple of pieces to fit in now

The weather forecast was for very heavy rain on the approaching Monday, so now having everything done by the end of Sunday was really important. With help from The Snail, we finished up in the cool sunshine of a Sunday early evening.

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Bed raised and ground in front covered to stop the forecast heavy rain washing soil away

Sleepers (two kinds)

Sleepers (two kinds)

All finished for now – there will be a few additions, such as a painted wooden top to the front sleeper to act as a nice seat.

Roll on edible things growing in the raised bed and drinks under the parasol on the new grass (post to follow about that)!

Complete (for now)!

… to this, In Only Seven Days***

oOo

* Seven Days by Sting

** Friday, I’m in Love by The Cure

*** In Only Seven Days by Queen.

Categories: gardening, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , | 13 Comments

ScrapHappy May 2021: Candle with Care

 

Lights out!

Lights out!

I am all for the right to repair, as my reader will know. Give me a broken thing and I will try to mend it. Give me a working thing and I’ll probably break it. Give me a decent single malt, and I’ll stop breaking stuff.

Sometimes though, things can’t be fixed because the manufacturer has inadvertently, or advertently, made them unfixable. And so it was with this pair of quite funky lamps from Mother-of-Snail. These lamps, when they worked, were touch sensitive so when you brushed them with your finger they giggled like a small child. Oh, wait, that’s me. You could cycle through “light off”, “light a bit on”, “light quite a bit on”, and “Ah! My eyes! My eyes! on”, just by touching the base. Then a power glitch one day meant you could only use the “light off” setting.

I took the pair of similarly-afflicted lamps to my workshop/office/lair/scrapheap and replaced the electronic component that was most likely to have been affected (it’s a thing called a triac, but you already knew that, didn’t you?). Sadly, that didn’t do the trick because the little custom-made silicon chip that controls the whole thing had also decided that the power glitch was a perfect excuse for a permanent holiday.

Nobody's bolt but mine

Nobody’s bolt but mine

I decided to de-evolve the lamps to candle holders. The threaded bolt that held the bulb holder into the body of the lamp was removable and so I glued a screw as shown to push the candle into. I was going to use something pointed but then realised how dangerous that might be for passing spaniels/terriers/Snails.

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DIY candle holder

There are a few bits left over. There will be some electronic components that are still useable and the bulb holders are fine (although I have no use for them at all unless I build a lamp, which is unlikely). There are the little boxes that held the circuitry that might come in handy.

...and that's what lamps are made of.

…and that’s what lamps are made of.

I may add some extra support (possibly by melting wax) around the base of the candle at some point.

And now, by the light of two candles, I am off to finish some lovely single malt.

Another two, and we have the basis for a very funny sketch

Another two, and we have the basis for a very funny sketch

oOo

 

These ScrapHappy posts are curated by Kate, who provides links to other (mostly sewing) ScrapHappy bloggers at Tall Tales from Chiconia on the fifteenth of every month. I have sneaked one or two non-fabric-based ScrapHappys in when no one was looking!

Lots of other happy scrappers contribute too, so check them out:

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Kerry, Claire, Jean, Jon (that’s me!), HayleyDawn,
Gwen, Bekki, Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin,
Vera, Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Noreen,
Bear, Carol, Preeti and Edith

Categories: recycling, repair, ScrapHappy | Tags: , , , | 25 Comments

Scrum from Scrap – a quick update

How it started...

How it started…

Back in June 2020, I wrote about creating food from old credit card bills and cardboard, because that is the sort of nonsense I write about sometimes. By way of perpetuating such blatant misuse of the time given to me on this Earth, I thought you, my ever-faithful and amazingly tolerant reader, would like a picture of what that rubbish (the actual rubbish, not this blog) is up to.

Mmm... Green things

Mmm… Green things

Actual rubbish into actual soil in less than a year! The creation of compost is still something that fills my heart with joy and, eventually, my belly with food.

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… how it’s going

Planted by the Snail herself, these plants would not dare do anything but grow. Yumminess awaits!

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I remember when all this was credit card bills and cardboard

oOo

Categories: gardening, ScrapHappy, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

ScrapHappy April 2021: Reel and Raspberries

The reel thing

The reel thing

The Snail and I walk the dogs every day, provided the weather isn’t so miserable that even the dogs are begging us not to drag them out. This has meant that, over the last year, we have been out twice almost every day. On our walks, we talk about pretty much anything and everything and also encounter some ‘useful’ items lying around.

One such conversation went pretty much along the lines of:

Snail: The raspberry canes need supporting with tree stakes and wires of some kind.

Me: Mmm… steaks…

Snail: We’ll get some tree stakes from the garden centre when they are allowed to open. Do you have anything in that pile of junk you laughingly call your office we could use for the wires?

Me (noticing a reel of old telecoms wire by the road, and then failing to pick it up): I’ll have a think about it. Can we have chips with the steak?

One such item was a reel of copper wire, left by OpenReach (the telephone maintenance people, for my non-UK reader). They had been upgrading the telephone cables to fibre, and this rejected reel had been left, unloved and unwanted, and finally abandoned against a wall awaiting further anthropomorphism. It was left longer than was necessary as I kept forgetting to pick it up on the way past.

Eventually, I did remember to pick it up and recognise that its wiry heart was perfect for the Snail’s task. Easy! Just remove the outer sheathing and extract the wires. What could be simpler?

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Attempt #103 to strip the cable quickly (it didn’t)

Turns out, almost everything. It took me around eight hours to strip back the sheathing and pull out the wires. I used the workbench as a vice and then cut the sheathing every 10 cm or so (being careful not to nick the wires inside). After every three or so cuts, I pulled the sheathing off and started on the next section. It took quite a few attempts using a variety of tools before I came up with this method.

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Using a workbench as a vice because using the vice as a vice didn’t work

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Just when you thought my office couldn’t be any more messy…

Once all the wires were removed (some broke in the process), I wound the long pieces onto whatever was available – thread reels, and toilet roll middles.

A wired and weary face

A wired and weary face

There was a lot of waste – unfortunately, the cable sheathing is unusable. I might be able to melt it down but I don’t think it is very nice stuff, chemically speaking, so reluctantly it’s off to landfill. Boo.

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Wasted

Happily, there was more than sufficient wire for the raspberry canes and quite a bit left over for electronics projects or more plant restraint. Now I’m looking forward to fresh raspberries in my Kir Royale for breakfast, er, evening cocktails I mean…

oOo

These ScrapHappy posts are curated by Kate, who provides links to other (mostly sewing) ScrapHappy bloggers at Tall Tales from Chiconia on the fifteenth of every month. I have sneaked one or two non-fabric-based ScrapHappys in when no one was looking!

Lots of other happy scrappers contribute too, so check them out:

KateGun, EvaSue, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy,  Tracy, Jill,
Claire, Jan, Moira, Sandra, Chris, Alys,
Kerry, Claire, Jean, Jon (that’s me!), HayleyDawn,
Gwen, Bekki, Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin,
Vera, Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Noreen,
Bear, Carol, Preeti and Edith

Categories: gardening, recycling, ScrapHappy, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , | 32 Comments

ScrapHappy March 2021: I just can’t stand it…

Many, many years ago, I built a water butt stand that steadfastly refused to do what any decent DIY project undertaken by an incompetent should do – completely collapse after five minutes. I know, that is decidedly NOT playing the game. I think I built the stand nearly twenty years ago when we installed our Window Operating Cistern *† (a hosepipe that you can open a window and pull in to fill the toilet cistern). The stand has had one or two minor repairs and this one is no exception, except it has an element of happy scrappiness to it.

You see the two bits of fresh wood that will be the new support on one side, replacing the rotten timber?

They were part of the packing around our new oven.

Some jiggery-pokery later and ta dah! Fixed. I even managed to reuse one or two of the screws. I guess when the other side goes, I’ll just order a new oven!

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Reunited – water butt reconnected and looking a little like Borg‡

oOo

* Patent applied for

† Patent refused with the message “Stop sending us rubbish like this!”

‡ Alien assimilators rather than Swedish tennis players

Categories: recycling, repair, ScrapHappy | Tags: , , | 19 Comments

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