Author Archives: writinghouse

About writinghouse

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

ScrapHappy July 2021: Palletgate V2.0 Update

Everything Put Together Falls Apart (well, it does when I'm involved)

Everything Put Together Falls Apart (well, it does when I’m involved)

You’d forgotten, hadn’t you? Well, that makes two of us. In March 2020, when so much happened and then nothing happened at all for months and months, I wrote a little ScrapHappy post entitled ScrapHappy March 2020: Palletgate V2.0. There was a suggestion that, in the near future, Palletgate would be rebuilt, stronger, tougher and more pallety than ever before. Well…

Welcome to the near future. In it, pallets have given way (not literally, at least not in this project) to something altogether shinier (when polished): aluminium (or aluminum, if you prefer). The problem with Palletgate Version 1 (apart from the obvious one of being built by an idiot hammer-wielding optimist) was that without further treatment of the wood, it was bound to rot as it isn’t good quality. In Wales, well, we have our fair share (and also that of England’s) of rain, so the idea of building a new one just for it to rot (even if I were to finally prime and paint it) seemed a bit silly**.

Then I wondered if I could repurpose the old bits of staging from the long now-replaced-with-the-Limery greenhouse to make a shiny new gate to keep our currently non-existent chickens* away from the raised beds. Made of lightweight non-rusting aluminium, these bits seemed ideal, so I investigated the pile of potential material further. The original leg sections could be bolted together, in ways that wouldn’t make sense if you were making staging but made PERFECT sense if you’re making the frame for a gate. I reckoned I could probably use some of the old struts as supports for the mesh (recycled from Palletgate version 1), and maybe use them for hinge supports too. Time would tell…

All the World's a stage and all the stage is a new gate. Maybe.

All the World’s a stage and all the stage is a new gate. Maybe.

We did indeed appear to have the technology. We COULD rebuild Palletgate. It WOULD cost 64 pence, with change for a small beer.***

Extra bits and pieces

Extra bits and pieces

There were also some (potentially) handy extras too. I also used nuts, washers and screws from a set I bought about twenty years ago, one which has already outlived its original case (which was the subject of this ScrapHappy).

You know what? This might just work...

You know what? This might just work…

I tested to see if two bits of the staging could form half the gate – they could, so I set about bolting them together, using the pre-existing holes and new bolts, since the originals had all snapped (I know that feeling!) when I removed them.

You know what? This just might work, vertically this time...

You know what? This just might work, vertically this time…

Having created the framework, I figured out a way to attach the hinges. The gate is so light that the existing hinges, that had bent a little under the weight of the old pallet, were perfect for this incarnation. Now to attach the mesh, a remnant from PalletGate version 1.

A Complete Mesh

A Complete Mesh

The mesh fitted on easily but needed some support as it was, to use the technical term, “a bit flappy”. This had been a problem with the first gate, with various extra supports being added over its life. I tried to find the focal points of the flappiness and clamp them with some of the original support struts from the staging.

Strutting its stuff - trying to stop the mesh flapping about

Strutting its stuff – trying to stop the mesh flapping about

I also added one of the tops of the staging to dampen any movement at the top of the mesh.

A piece of staging worktop acting as further mesh support

A piece of staging worktop acting as further mesh support

Finally (oh, how you have longed to see those words in this post), I cut a couple of grooves and constructed a gate latch from other leftover staging bits.

Groovy!

Groovy!

I’m not sure if this will be the final design of latch but it works for now. I do have an idea to improve it, but that is possibly for a later ScrapHappy!

It's Gatier than you Think

It actually looks like a real gate!

But, what should this new gate be called? StagingGate? AluGate? Well, it is Partly Aluminium, Lightweight and has the usual DIY vibe of LET‘s-see-how-long-this-lasts Gate, so perhaps we can abbreviate this to:

PALLETGATE

What else could it be called? Palletgate (version 1) is dead. Long live Palletgate (version 2)!

oOo

* So much easier to look after than extant chickens and produce almost as many eggs as ours did in the last year of their lives.

** Problem is, I do silly really well.

*** Small, bordering on non-existent at today’s prices.

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 (me!), HayleyDawn,
Gwen, Bekki, Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin,
Vera, Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Bear,
Carol, Preeti, Edith and Debbierose

Categories: recycling, ScrapHappy, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , , | 24 Comments

Village Life

“Look into my eyes – you’re going to take me for a walk”

“Whatever…”

A walk through an English Village on a Late Spring Evening…

“I reckon we could have our own show, or at least maybe our own proverb.”

High as a kite

A green patchwork of potential

A thistle, its niche found, watches over as the bell sounds

In or out? No need to decide.

And, as the sun calls it a day, there is some last-minute pollen to be collected

A bee’s work is almost done for the day

The sun-gold yellow of the laburnum glows as the laburnum-yellow of the sun fades into a warm night.

Have a Happy Summer* everyone!

oOo

* Other hemispheres/seasons are available.

Categories: bees, birds, Universe, wildlife | Tags: , , | 6 Comments

ScrapHappy June 2021: One becomes Two

A pile of slightly fuzzy scrap…

One of the new things we have tried at Chez Snail as a result of lockdown is being part of a virtual audience on a radio show. In the past, we have on a couple of occasions gone to a recording of “I’m Sorry I haven’t a Clue” which, for the benefit of my international reader, is probably the original unscripted panel show in which the panellists are “given silly things to do”. It was a part of my childhood and is still going a hundred and fifty years later.

As part of a virtual audience, you need a ubiquitous computer with a microphone and a set of headphones, or two, if there are two of you. And therein lies the problem. Most laptops only have the one headphone socket, and won’t allow you to use, say, one set of headphones and one set of Bluetooth connected ear buds. What you need is a gizmo to make one socket into two. I feel a ScrapHappy coming on…

To create a headphone splitter, first carefully select* an old CD player which has two of the required stereo 3.5 mm sockets (usually one is labelled “Line” and the other with the headphone symbol). Then, remove the sockets from the board, plus any other components that look like they may be useful for something one day (and will come off without too much effort).

Shiny soon-to-be used socket

Shiny soon-to-be used socket

RIMG0904

Not-so-shiny soon-to-be used socket

 

Removed and ready for action!

Removed and ready for action!

Now, carefully select one wire from the tangled mess of wires that is my collection of broken headphones – the wires break in the cheap ones** all the time because they are, you know, cheap, and very unmendable. Fortunately, they tend to break in the unopenable earphone bit, or in the moulded plug bit so if you can find one that has broken in the former way, you have the right thing: a bit of wire with a plug on the end. All you need to do now is solder the wire to one of the sockets and that socket to the other socket and bingo! You may want to elicit some help…

Wires. Four of them. Stop me if this is too technical.

Wires. Four of them. Stop me if this is too technical.

RIMG0914

JonBeastie at the ready with his soldering iron

Finally, I decided to make something to hold the sockets so that they weren’t, to use a technical phrase, “flapping about all over the place”. I started with a piece of clear plastic that I carefully removed*** from the front of the CD player but that shattered when I drilled it so I cut a piece of the casing off instead, and drilled that.

A hacked-off CD player

A hacked-off CD player

Possibly a hammerhead shark

Possibly a hammerhead shark

And almost immediately after completion, those Beasties had nicked it and were listening to their grimy hippity-hop music by some popular beat combo.

RIMG0922

Beasties chillin’ to the groove – apparently

oOo

* It was the nearest one.

** And expensive ones as well.

*** It fell off.

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 (me!), HayleyDawn,
Gwen, Bekki, Sue L, Sunny, Kjerstin,
Vera, Nanette, Ann, Dawn 2, Bear,
Carol, Preeti, Edith and Debbierose

Categories: recycling, ScrapHappy | Tags: , , | 20 Comments

Lawn Again

All hail the soon-to-arrive lawn!

All hail the soon-to-arrive lawn!

As my Reader knows, Chez Snail now has a new raised bed and some bare earth (didn’t know? Read about that endeavour here). The bare earth is, of course, where the grass is going to go. The Snail decided that we should invest in some pre-turfed, er, turf, the kind you roll on from a, you know, roll.

A few days after completing the raised bed, the turf arrived from Shropshire. We wanted to buy more locally but there basically isn’t anywhere by us unless we were prepared to pay over a thousand pounds for it, which seemed steep for 16 m2 of grass.

051521_1506_LawnAgain2.jpg

Worst. Swiss. Roll. Ever.

I moved the 16 rolls round to the back of the house and The Snail and I began the task of creating a new lawn.

051521_1506_LawnAgain3.jpg

It’s beginning to lawn…

We kept on rolling…

051521_1506_LawnAgain4.jpg

Halfway there…

… until, amazingly, after about 75 minutes, it was complete!

051521_1506_LawnAgain5.jpg

Turf’s up! Well, down.

We put up a barrier to stop the dogs having a dig – it’ll come down in about a week or so’s time when the grass had had a chance to root. Another step closer to Stormy Harbours at an expanded “Throw It Again Sam Cocktail Bar”!*

Mine's a Stormy Harbour please, and hold the squeaky ball

Mine’s a Stormy Harbour please, and hold the squeaky ball

Quick update: We have had persistent rain the last few days and the grass has already started to root into some of the ground!

oOo

* When the rain would care to stop.

Categories: gardening, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: | 18 Comments

Raising the Bed

PICT0004 (2)

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.

IMGP8851

Slowly taking shape…

IMGP8857

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

IMGP8858

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.

IMGP8870

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: , , | 14 Comments

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