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!


second life

My much-loved pie plate is no more! Sadly, it’s developed a hole.

I’ve had it for well over thirty years, since just after I moved in to my flat in London. It’s seen service several days a week throughout that period: pies (of course), small roasts, oven fries, roasted veg, baked fish …

But there’s plenty of opportunity for re-use. I’ve decided that a couple of blobs of epoxy putty will fix the hole, and it can have a useful future life as a plant-pot saucer outdoors.

Bedroom bits

Decent mattresses are bloody expensive, aren’t they? Still, my current one has done just short of 14 years (it was a birthday present, to sort me out when my back gave up and I became disabled), which I suppose isn’t bad. Assorted pocket-spring mattresses duly tried – not that one can tell all that much from a couple of minutes in a shop.

John Lewis is as cheap as anywhere, delivery is free, and the extra-cost “take the old one away” claims that 98% of the materials are sold for recycling. Delivery due on Monday !

Hopefully, it will do the business. My back has been really dodgy for several weeks, and I think the elderly mattress is delaying recovery. So it was time to bite the bullet.

pic of pocket spring

Kitchen project (part 3a)

Last night, there was no water in the kitchen. Come to that, no taps, nor sink, nor worktop.

Today has seen much progress – tap is in and working (and no leaks!). Sink is in and the silicone seal is curing. However, the waste is not yet connected, though it’s usable with a bucket underneath!

Yet to do: waste, and build a decent cupboard, which may have to wait a couple of days. Even with back brace and strongest painkillers, this kind of game is right at the limit of what I’m capable of!

removed old worktop
tap in, sink not yet in
sink in worktop - but waste not yet plumbed
sink in worktop – but waste not yet plumbed

Kitchen project continued …

30-odd years ago, my Mum collected a bunch of antique cupboard doors, for refurbishing her kitchen. She had a couple left over, which have been in the eves cupboard for decades. Last summer, my brother Simon brought me one over.

It was a left-hand door (of a pair), and I need right-hand hinged. The rebate for the overlap was removed with the electric plane (which I use less than once a year, but would be lost without!), Then a light sand and two coats of Rustin Worktop Oil.

Final pic is it leaning up against the nasty cupboard door it will eventually replace (when I’ve built a new carcass, fitted a new sink and worktop ….).

old door in workmate
door planed, and ready for oiling
finished door
Shelves **finally** put up in the back loo – I’ve had the materials for months! It took 4 hours, what with rootling around in the loft for power tools, evicting a mass of “stuff” from the shed to get to the Workmate stored at the very back, and an exciting game of “hunt the spirit level”. Having to stop several times for a breather didn’t help, either!

Anyway, now that’s done, I can think more about the kitchen (phase 3). A nice beech block worktop arrived this morning (which will need oiling three times), and I expect sink and tap at assorted times this week. I must do a screws-‘n-brackets order soon …


completed shelves

winter starting

Well, we’re into winter.

Frost has killed off the last of the garden flowers, so I’m reduced to dried Chinese Lanterns for the coffee table. Nothing now until I bring in forsythia on New Year’s Day.

And a useful delivery of heat-logs last night. 12 packs, which is about 36 winter evenings. Made from waste sawdust, I reckon they’re a better bet than (often kiln-dried) logs – and the company I use delivers and stacks them where needed: vital for my dodgy back! Stacked at the end of the sofa in the front room, I can open each package as I feel up to it, and carry logs through to the logbasket.

Now off to make another batch of parkin – the lot I made for Halloween whetted my appetite for it!