Category Archives: DIY

The week so far…

DSC_0010.JPGI’ve been without the Internet.  Apparently there was water in the works!  I suppose its one of the perils of country living.

I am now officially a churchwarden. I’ve been sworn in and have met the Archdeacon. I’m not sure I’m of a suitably serious disposition because on glancing through the order of service I noted ‘the Archdeacon’s charge.’  In my mind I imagined a sober cleric of indeterminate years (but preferably with a fine set of mutton chop whiskers) astride a hobby horse in full ecclesiastical regalia galloping down the aisle followed by a company of choristers – possibly accompanied by bugle and drums.  I clearly need to get a grip.  It turned out that charge is another word for sermon or set of instructions for what churchwardens might like to do – and I can tell you this, I shall not be inspecting the lead on the roof or dealing with the gutters no matter what the archdeacon might have to say on the subject!

And then I went off and attended a meeting.  Clearly I can’t divulge what went on in the meeting as that would be breaking confidentiality but let’s just say that I’ve probably joined the vicar on his mental list of ‘b****y difficult women,’ – but that’s his own fault for volunteering me for the role.

Whilst I was doing that, contemplating the scrapes I manage to get myself into, HWIOO was stripping the cloakroom of its carpet, wash basin and toilet.  I have a very fetching new planter and we have set five days aside where once two would have done for the tiling, flooring and refit of slim line wash basin with waterfall tap (will we ever get the Littlest Madam out of there?)  and low flush toilet.  We have also identified the fact that even with regular breaks and the occasional nap the following two or three days are going to be low key ones.

So all in all today has been a fairly busy one and that’s without celebrating the fact that I managed to install a Paypal button on my main website; send advertising leaflets for the WI to go into the school book bags at our local primary school and sort out my paperwork during the two days where all it did was rain and ruin the flowers.


What’s under the manhole cover?

cropped-dscf2156.jpgI’m pleased to say that my adventures with our cottage have now reached a conclusion.  Pause for wild celebration!

The cottage has been inspected top to toe.  We began the summer with a posse of builders breathing through their teeth about the roof (which is fine); paused for a wall inspection (this doesn’t require a surveyor with a tape measure it requires someone to stand and look at the wall.  I must assume that there are a few lucky mortals with x ray laser vision out there); moved on to demands for my furniture and we finished with a request to know what was under the manhole cover.

Now I don’t know about you but when I see a manhole cover my first thought isn’t to prise the lid open to see where it goes.  So as far as I know it could be the entrance to the Seven Dwarves’ diamond mine; an escape route for Gandalf from the Mines of Moiria; a land inhabited by Mad Hatters not to mention anthropomorphic time conscious white rabbits; or, er, and this is wild I know – a drain.  Sadly during our time at the cottage I wasn’t bothered by seven overly happy dwarves, a wizard wielding a broom stick or a small girl in a blue dress. Oh, hang on.  I encountered not one but three of those; so who knows?

Anyway, after weeks of gnashing my teeth, pulling out my hair and generally fretting, we’re good as I would say if I was even remotely cool.  On to the next adventure but no more dust for the time being- thank you very much.


Replacing the seal on a washing machine…

rubber duckMy AEG washing machine comes of age this year.  That’s right, it’s reached twenty-one.  So, its possibly not unreasonable that the rubber seal around the door has taken the opportunity to celebrate by springing a leak.

It’s only a little one.

I was quite happy to put a towel on the floor and use a mop until it deteriorated a bit further.  HWIOO became concerned about damp, the state of the floor, the state of the units on either side of the washing machine, silver fish and the time spent mopping.  He didn’t actually mention that we might end up with ducks coming for a paddle but you get the gist of it I’m sure.

I was duly dispatched to research where to buy a seal and how to replace it. E-spares very helpfully provide a video on U-Tube of a washing machine repair man removing the seal and then replacing it with a new one.  Simples.

My washing machine was so old that I couldn’t find the part on line but their chat facility solved that problem and hey presto one new rubber seal arrived on the doorstep within forty-eight hours.

Removing the old seal was easy.  I’d have to say that the retaining bands on my machine aren’t plastic, they’re metal springs which actually came as a bit of a relief as I had imagined having to order a new one if the plastic had become brittle.  Removing the seal was very straight forward having watched the video. The work of minutes.  Yippee.

Then we tried to put the new seal into place.  Sadly I neither have thumbs of steel nor several pairs of spare hands.  HWIOO couldn’t fit the inner edge of the seal into the lip whereas I could but only quarter of the way round before I couldn’t hold the seal and stretch it and fit it.  We tried doing the job  a deux.  The video said an assistant might be needed to hold the seal out of the way whilst the inner edge was being fitted. On the video the washing machine is all by its own…at no point did anyone mention contortionist as a useful skill nor having to balance on the work surface and lean down, hold the seal tight to the upper rim of the machine whilst leaving enough space for the person trying to fit the seal  to work the seal into position.  Odd that because that’s what I ended up doing shortly before HWIOO caught his thumb on the metal edge of the machine necessitating a visit to the bathroom cupboard for a plaster.

We headed to a coffee shop  and fired up the wifi, re-watched the video for additional clues and then re-read the reviews of the product.  There was one we’d wilfully ignored up until that moment.  One man must have virtually dismantled his washing machine in order to fit the seal…which seems slightly excessive.  Our estimation of a couple of hours from start to finish suddenly seemed a tad optimistic.

At which point we  looked at one another and arrived at the conclusion that sometimes its better to let someone else do it.  We rang a washing machine engineer who wasn’t surprised that we had a new seal or that we’d removed the old one nor was he terribly surprised that we couldn’t fit the new seal.

I wonder how much he’s going to charge?  After all, we now know that there’s a knack and we don’t have it!

That was the week that flew

DSCF2185What a week!  From landscaping patios and gravel paths to rehoming snails followed by the Paston Letters, the Cumbrian coast and trying to locate a 26in television set at a moment’s notice.

So, it always rains on a bank holiday doesn’t it?  Why then did I suggest bank holiday Monday as the perfect day for re-landscaping the Number One Daughter’s back garden?  By three o’clock we all looked as though we’d been through a mud bath.  The Right Little Madam had demonstrated staying power, construction skills and a fellowship with David Attenborough and Gerald Durrell by rescuing snails from my fiendish attempt to relocate them elsewhere a long way from the remnants of the Number One Daughter’s tulips.  She was ultimately found with six, named, snails in her bedroom. “They’ve come to play because its raining.” They were escorted back to the wild with the Right Little Madam keeping a firm eye on me to make sure I didn’t give them flying lessons – apparently the adage that travel broadens the mind is not one that the child feels applies to snails.

She wasn’t terribly pleased to discover that her grandfather had accidentally killed a worm whilst digging the base out for the patio either so having deposited team snail in the shrubbery spent the next half hour or so working as a dedicated worm rescue team of one moving them from the line of the spade.  I’m not sure that HWIOO found it terribly efficient having to pause at the turn of every spade of earth in order for the Right Little Madam to sift through the mud but there you go.

Over lunch, as I sat dripping onto the Number One daughter’s Laminate floor I asked if the Right Little Madam might consider becoming a vet but she informed me that as much as she liked spiders she didn’t feel she’d be able to make one better as she wasn’t particularly keen on tarantulas.  I hadn’t noticed a stream of people taking their arachnids to the vets but what do I know? So I suggested that she could be like David Attenborough who has been all over the world studying animals.  The Right Little Madam peered at me over the top of her glasses, “Has he been into space?”

“Uhm, I don’t think so.”

“I’d like to go into space or make pots.”

So there you have it – a space going potter – which just about sums up the entire conversation. Mind you I’m about to add to her pet population with a watering can of nematodes just as soon as they arrive which should sort out the slug and snail problem without me being held responsible for their removal or causing a falling out with the neighbours.

The tv set?  You really really don’t want to know. Suffice to say we found one of the right size and make but the remote control is too small for my mother-in-law which means I need to find a large universal one with as few buttons as possible before she has the tv sent back to where it came from and summons us north to buy something else. At least HWIOO wasn’t required to go up onto the roof of her bungalow to fiddle with the aerial which is what the first idea revolved around. We wondered why she said it was a pity that he wasn’t wearing jeans and trainers when we first arrived.  I may need to work on the message about dizziness, vertigo and having arrived at an age where scrambling around on a roof trying to get the best signal for Coronation Street isn’t really an option so far as HWIOO is concerned.

Tomorrow the joys of fitting a new rubber seal to the washing machine.  Yes, there will be a post – assuming I’m not reduced to incoherent gesticulation by this time tomorrow night.  There’s also the small matter of Jane Seymour, Anne of Cleves and the demise of Thomas Cromwell to occupy my time.

Carpet, chablis and a polar bear.

DSCF2079Hurray and huzzah! We have a fully carpeted cottage.  The carpet gnomes did good as they say in footballing parlance…okay, they got the carpet fitted before Christmas 2017.  I can now glide around bare foot without fear of splinters which is very lovely indeed.

In celebration I was sent out for a bottle of wine.  Now, there was a time when I didn’t like venturing down the wine aisle in case I selected something on a par with radiator fluid but these days I’m much more gung ho about it.  For starters I have learned to check the percentage alcohol on the label on the back of the bottle as well as read the notes which are usually very helpful;  there’s the punt – the dimple on the bottom of the bottle- the deeper the punt the better the wine (or so I’ve been told); then there’re those little words ‘grand vin’ and ‘appellation  de’ along with awards that vintners seem to give one another on a regular basis.  And then there’s the domestic goddess failsafe- does it have a lovely label?  Now your idea of a lovely label and mine might be different but I liked the look of a chablis sporting a ammonite on its label and even better it was on special offer.  So think of me sitting here in my bare feet (toes buried in the carpet- oh luxury indeed) with a nice glass of chablis at my side typing manically.

So that’s the carpet and the wine.  The polar bear, an Alan Dart creation. came off the front of Simply Knitting a couple of months ago.  I’ve completed two thus far but have bits for another four but won’t get them sewn together now until next year and since then the magazine has generated an entire cast of mice clad for Aladdin, a werewolf and Old Father Time.

Oh yes and its time for some more before and after pictures:

DSCF1118Lovely isn’t it?

I thought you’d think so.


And now?  Well obviously we kept it exactly the same…


Only joking… now where are the marauding grand-daughters?  They’ll want to inspect progress.

To coin a phrase – the weather outside is frightful! And by rights I should be painting the living room ceiling but I’ve been slightly side tracked with a Harry Potter project this weekend.  I’ve also discovered the joys of chalk painting.  Currently I have painted a wooden box with burgundy chalk paint, added the Right Little Madam’s name and the Hogwarts school badge along with the school name in acrylic.  I’ve even managed to paint a snitch inside the lid.  The next stage in the process is to apply at least one coat of wax.  Wider reading suggests that three coats may well be better.

DSCF1098It’s time also for a before and after photograph.  Here’s the landing six months ago – not a pretty sight and we won’t discuss the floorboards.  You would think given the amount of housing stock with imperial sized floorboards that it wouldn’t be beyond the wit of the average purveyor of diy accoutrements to sell an imperial range of floorboards – but no – apparently there’s no demand.  Actually we did find some but the line was being discontinued.

And now!


Wall paper, carpet, books – what more could a girl want?  But for the time being it’s back to sign writing Hogwarts in black acrylic.

Winter cottage blues

DSCF1193I’ve not felt very goddess-like during the past couple of weeks – think more headless chicken with many pages of lists circling manically mixing metaphors left right and centre – not to mention dropping the odd cliche.

Having said that the carpet gnomes have been to measure up the living room and the fair maidens in a distant land are no doubt weaving the carpet even as I type.  Despite that it feels a little bit like that difficult stage of a marathon where your lungs fell like they may explode, your knees have turned to jelly and you have another six miles to go.   I hasten to add I’ve never run a marathon but I’ve watched several on the tv and the looks of pain etched on many of the fun runners faces have often led me to wonder how that much anguish can be deemed ‘fun.’  So, I’m just guessing but I think you get my drift.

However I’ve perked up, not least because the last of the plastering has been done.  But more importantly today I got talking to a neighbour and discovered that they have been renovating their cottage for the last three years – and they still haven’t finished. If I’d discovered that in May I would probably have reached for the gin but as it stands I feel quite chirpy as we are on the last room and doing the  ‘easy to forget bits.’ This afternoon for example I have been spray enamelling the lock for the spare bedroom door. All I need to do is another coat tomorrow and then attach it to the door, add a couple of pictures to the spare bedroom and hey presto. I may even get so far as to take photos of the landing and stairwell.  To be completely fair our neighbours have a listed cottage and apparently the fairy of listed buildings can be a little bit on the stroppy side.


Downstairs a cupboard has been built, pipes boxed in, plastering plastered and skirting board attached. There’s a bit more filling to be done and then I think I’ll be allowed to slap the paint on the walls. I’ve measured up for curtain poles and noted the fact that the pendant light needs a fitting.

And I have central heating – another lady of my acquaintance currently has no hot water. She’s relying on kettles and popping around to see her mother on a regular basis. She’s also at the stage where she has a solitary tap in the kitchen taped to the wall…happy days – and they always look so much better many months after the stresses of living in a wreck have passed – which is probably why we thought that living like this for a third time was a reasonable idea. We’d actually forgotten what it was like.


Actually my acquaintance, who is lovely and who I hope will turn into a friend with the passage of time, told me a story that far surpasses anything that has ever happened to HWIOO and I. She and her husband moved into their cottage five months ago and that first evening of domestic bliss their toilet, an elderly macerator, exploded. It wasn’t anything they’d done. It just stopped, backed up and, er, returned what had been previously deposited. Now, I’ve never had to don my wellie boots in order to mop up a room or clean down walls covered in something that unpleasant and I have no wish to do so at any point in the future. Amazingly she’s still enthusiastic about diy and we have started swapping notes on our various projects – it’s a bit like a self-help group as in “My name is XXX and I’m renovating my house.”   Afterall, there’re knit and natter groups; book clubs; patchwork covens and all sorts of other affiliated societies so why not one for goddesses with an interest in crowbars, partition walls and all types of wall covering?