Far too warm!

The front room has been unusually warm for the last couple of days. Having taken the thermostat in there to check, it was over 80F (27C).  An investigation of the radiator showed that the head of the TRV had pinged off! On closer examination, the bits of the head supposed to grip the valve body had got embrittled, and clearly shattered.

shattered grip on TRV head

Not a good start, really. However, I discovered replacement valve heads at Toolstation for £9.99 – frustratingly just under the £10 minimum order for free delivery. I bulked it out with a couple of steel straps, to hold back the clematis over the porch at my Mum’s house.

To my astonishment, I had a phone call from the pre-diabetes people early afternoon! They’ve offered me an initial appointment next Tuesday – a really rapid response, considering their website warns of potential delays of up to four weeks! I had already decided to start keeping a food-and-activity log again, like the one I kept for several months last spring – precipitated by the scales hitting 74kg yesterday morning! I’d really like to keep around 70, though somehow 71 seems to be more realistic.


Marmalade finally made!

The Seville oranges have been here for a fortnight, but an emergency trip to my Mum’s, and arthritic thumbs, have mean it kept being put off. I finally decided that I simply couldn’t chop 18 oranges into fine matchsticks,and used the box grater to shred off the skin, so it’s a bit like the Robertson’s “Golden Shred” marmalade my grandparents used to have. Still, it seems to have worked OK and tastes fine.

sven assorted jars of marmalade


The amaryllis on the bathroom windowsill gets taller each year – this being the 5th one. It’s now reached the point of being seriously unstable! Once flowering finishes, I think it will have to re-potted in a heavyweight clay or stoneware pot (which, sadly, may man it doesn’t flower next year – they don’t like root disturbance).

Still, there’s this year’s flower to enjoy at the moment.

not really spring yet!

The forsythia brought in on New Year’s day is now fully open, and cheering the place up a bit.


Much needed – I’ve had a really shitty time since getting home on 30th December: a cold, which has settled on my chest and in my sinuses. The result is almost no voice, blurred vision, headaches, and frequent dizzy spells. I had something similar a couple of years ago, which took around six weeks to shake off, and I’m desperately hoping that this resolves itself before then!

I’m due to go to London at the weekend, for a “wake” to celebrate the existence (and impending closure) of OUT – a gay social networking site I’ve been a member of since March 2005. I’ve met a number of good friends – known mainly on line with only the occasional meeting in person – through the site, and enjoyed a lot of stimulating debate on the forums there. I’ll be deeply sorry to see it go, though there’s promise of “an app” called Gmeet, to operate in a similar social space, for which I’ve contributed to the crowdfunder. Launch date is uncertain … possibly March?

flower bits

Sunshine this morning, so I’m feeling a bit more cheerful, even if still rather groggy. The camellia outside the French windows is starting to show a flush of pink on the buds – fingers crossed, though I’ll probably lose them if there’s a heavy frost. Indoors, the dendrobium on the bathroom windowsill is in full flower.




Chinese lanterns

Chinese lantern (Physalis alkekengi) brought in to dry, while they’re still orange and haven’t got to the skeletal tracery stage. Some on stems to go with honesty as a dried flower arrangement, as there won’t be fresh flowers until I bring in forsythia at New Year.

However, this year I’m also drying individual seedpods, which I’ll hang on loops of thread on the Christmas tree, as the start of a move to plastic-free decorations.

single seedpod


many seedpods

moderately housebound

The weather yesterday was absolutely the worst for me: heavy showers interspersed with bright sunshine! Every joint in my upper body was aching, so I lit the fire and did nothing all day.

Today is a bit better, though shoulders still very stiff and unpleasant. I occupied myself with working out next year’s “cropping plan” for the garden – similar to last year, but with a few improvements from this year’s experiences.



Well, it’s gone full-on autumn! Vile weather, but laying in winter stores in full swing. Yesterday was a couple of jars of raspberry jam (which I haven’t made before – I don’t use very much jam). Today is the regular autumnal batch of green tomato chutney, to use the tomatoes that clearly won’t have a chance to ripen on the plants. A mix of Black Russian and Urbikany … the very early Latah tomatoes are already finished.

I still have a couple of jars from last year, but that’s fine: this batch will need until at least Christmas to mature in the cupboard.


that carpet thing

The roughly annual chore of shampooing the carpet in the back room. UGH! Twice-over with clean water to shift surface dirt and loosen stubborn stuff, then a good go with carpet shampoo.

Possibly the last time I do it. The carpet was here (new, I think) when I bought the place five and a half years ago, and was cheapest HMO-type crap. It just can’t cope with the six months of the year when I’m in-and-out of the garden through the French window twenty or thirty times a day, and sooner or later will have to go.

I’m in two minds about lifting it and seeing if the floorboards can be sanded and stained (a fairly vile job, as I remember from helping Mike Falconer in his house at Greaves Road!), or if it would be better to buy an expensive-but-bombproof wool carpet. Or to resign myself to cheap contract stuff every five or six years.

I suspect I’m not much good at being an adult … carpet care is beyond me!