Sustainable Stuff

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.


Slowly taking shape…


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


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.


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***


* 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

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.


… how it’s going

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


I remember when all this was credit card bills and cardboard


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?


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.


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


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.



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…


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

Mend It Monday: (It’s been) A Card Made Right

Looks like that must've hurt!

Looks like that must’ve hurt!

Some years ago, the Snail bought a new digital camera that was waterproof/shockproof/80% proof. Well, maybe not the last one but I needed three things for the list. Later came the purchase of a 16GB SD memory card, which we considered to be way bigger than we would ever need. And we were right.

In the early days, the Snail didn’t have a cable to connect the camera (via USB) to a computer to download the pictures, so would remove the card to put in a reader on her laptop. Over the years, the contacts on the card have worn away, to the point where they were drummed out of the International Contact Society for failing to live up to their essential tenet, at least inside the camera. That’s when a toothpick came to the rescue. Wedged between the card and the battery, it seemed to do the trick.

Until the other day.

The camera refused to accept that there was a card in the camera and was not going to enter into any other discussions because, deep down, the camera is, in fact, a computer.

The card itself would work in a USB card reader I had, so clearly it wasn’t completely beyond rescue.

Some frankly horrific use of a soldering iron later, and I had managed to flow some solder over the four most worn contacts whilst only melting a small chunk of the card’s body. In fact, so horrible does it look, I think the picture may need a warning notice on it.

The horror, the horror! Just, ugh, horrible. But it works!

The horror, the horror! Just, ugh, horrible. But it works!

And, in a turn up for books everywhere, it seems to work! It never needs to be removed again as we have USB cables around the place that fit, so hopefully, the other contacts won’t wear to the point of failure.

I wonder how many perfectly functional SD cards have gone to landfill because the contacts have worn through?



Categories: camera, repair, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , , | 15 Comments

ScrapHappy February 2021: Oven and Out

Our old, (t)rusty oven after 30 years of serviceOur old, (t)rusty oven after 30 years of service

Our old, (t)rusty oven after 30 years of service

Well, we persevered for probably a decade but, finally, I ordered a new oven…

When our house-to-be was built 30 years ago (see here for other 30-year-old stuff in Chez Snail), it was equipped with an oven and hob, because it was illegal back then not to supply a fitted kitchen having supplied the walls, roof, floors and general utilities*. I replaced the hob a long time ago as it was grim, but the oven… well, it still worked even though it did a good job of also heating the kitchen and in its last few years probably didn’t come anything close to its maximum temperature of 200°C. For a fan oven, its temperature distribution was, shall we say, uneven.

So, a shiny new oven arrives but what to do with the old one? Well, salvage some bits off it, of course! I decided that the electrics (heating elements, thermostat, fan motor) all deserved a good long rest, and that they could stay wrapped inside their metal shell for now. There were two pieces of glass that might prove useful for a cloche or the like, so I extracted them using that thing on a penknife you use for getting boy scouts out of horses’ hooves.


Glass from the past

Also, there was some wire that the Snail said would be useful for knitted things, and there were a couple of control knobs that might be handy. A little haul but the rest was going to be recycled so all, in all, not bad.


All that remains…

… and we have a new shiny oven to cook yummy things in! 


* No, it wasn’t.

Categories: recycling, ScrapHappy, Sustainable Stuff | Tags: , , | 17 Comments

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