It all started off looking like a disaster waiting to happen. I was later than I had wanted setting off to see Kim and, when I started, my SatNav was dead. No way do I want to make that journey by guesswork! I needed to recharge the SatNav and reload all the software before I could set off. It was a nice day and I did the two and a half hour trip there in my MX5 with the top off – fabulous! The only issue I have is that the vibrations necessarily felt when driving a sports car on roads that are not as well maintained and level as a F1 race circuit kept causing the power lead to drop out of the SatNav. That has two results. Firstly the screen backlight times out in two minutes – not too serious on the way there, but driving back after dark on narrow, twisty lanes was less comfortable (I use the display to give me a view of the twistiness of the road and alert me to the many hairpins). Secondly, the battery life is less than the length of the journey. I have a new feed cable on order, which should be here in a day or two.
Anyway, after a very productive day with Kim, from which I didn’t get home until 9:30pm (making it a 14 hour day in all) and an early night I arose early the next morning to catch up on all the stuff that needed doing online. Less than half an hour after I had started, there were rumblings of thunder in the distance. The sky looked ‘orrible and, within fifteen minutes we had local thunder and lightning and extremely heavy rain. It looked to be in for the day but, within less than five minutes, the rain stopped, the thunder disappeared into the distance and the sky cleared somewhat. Although it looked to be in for the day, it seems it was, like the BBC’s Damian Grammaticas, just passing by.
We have started on the balustrade around the decking, making use of the materials we have. It can be completed when Mr Bricolage has another 11 lengths of the 70mm x 30mm autoclave treated timber. Meanwhile, this shows where we have reached so far.
I have to say that bolting down the supports was no easy job. They are mostly located above the block supports, with only a 70mm gap between concrete and wood, into which one needed to insert a 90mm wide hand bearing a washer and nut that needed to be manipulated onto the bolt. The space in which I was working below the decking is, in places, less than the width of my shoulders and with a surface of 20mm gravel. It was not a comfortable working environment. Nonetheless, ’tis done.
When finished, it will be a two rail affair, just like on the steps.
As well as being the stuff that not only stops one from cutting the grass but also causes it to grow more, bad weather lets us do indoor jobs. This week’s jobs was replacing the small shower heads that came with the shower cabinets with something a tad larger. As the images show, for our ensuite shower we chose a large “rain” head and medium hand-held unit. The shower in the guest salle d’eau is smaller and couldn’t accommodate that unit, so we have put in there a big-headed hand-held – a larger version of the unit we have in the downstairs shower.
Disaster struck mid-week.
Completely out of the blue, the washing machine started making strange noises – high-pitched vibration noises we couldn’t locate – and one cycle later it was apparent that the drum wasn’t turning. The first thing to check (according to a web site that Clare cleverly found) was the drive belt. Apparently that can come off. It hadn’t; neither was it broken or stretched. The next thing to check was the carbon brushes in the motor. Look for yourselves:
It is very clear that, like a thoughtless child with its parents, one of the brushes had not been in contact with the commutator for some time – see the carbon buildup on the one on the left. I have a new pair of brushes on order, which should be here in a day or two. Let’s hope that does the trick.
We took the plunge and bought a budget priced petrol mower for doing the areas that are too small for the ride-on, too far away for the electric rotary mower and not right for strimming. We tested it and it works fine. In common with others of that ilk it has two throttle positions – go and stop. It has the same engine as Mr Rotavator. Having previously replaced Mr Rotavator’s regulator springs in July, I thought I would take another look and compare things to the new mower. I eventually got it started, pushed the throttle forward, released the clutch and …
Mr Rotavator is working again!
Now we can get on.
Plans for the potagers are progressing. I found a bit of software that will help immensely in the planning, recording and every other stage. Highly recommended, it is called The Vegetable Gardeners’ Almanac (I misread it as Armagnac and got excited, but that’s another story) and is available as a download for £4.99 or on CD for £7.99 from http://www.thevga.co.uk/. We have taken detailed measurements and are currently planning for the North Potager to be made up of 14 beds, each approximately 4m x 2m, and for the South Potager to be made up of 12 beds, each approximately 6m x 2m, all with 75cm pathways around them. The sizes make them big enough to justify using Mr Rotavator but small enough to be able to manage them from the pathways. We may merge some pairs into 9m x 2m or 13m x 2m to make best use of the cloches. Using the software, we are now just starting to plan the autumn and spring planting schedules and layouts.
I believe that the UK Tax man owes me quite a lot of money and, when that comes in, I can foresee a greenhouse!
Meanwhile, Clare had planted a row of parsnips earlier, and only one made it. We were going to leave it to let it go to seed for next year, but we found parsnip seeds in a shop in Montluçon, so up it came, and here it is (excuse the filthy state of Clare’s hands – the woman has no shame!). On a couple of personal things, we had a Skype call from brother Tony last evening and, despite the best efforts of my ISP we managed a good, long conversation. Tony suggested that there would be value in a family information exchange – just a place to put up stuff that any member of our family (and no-one else) can see and add to. If there is interest in such a venture I should be more than happy to set it up.
Finally, Tracey at the Hawk Conservancy Trust has recently undergone some back surgery. We wish her well for a speedy recovery.
À la prochaine