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Monday, 27 October 2014


I have received several letter asking how I am getting on with the undercoating in the hall, stairs and landing.

As you will recall, this involves six doors, one loft hatch and about a mile and a quarter of skirting and architrave, plus a banister with twenty-odd REALLY fiddly spindles, and as if that were not enough, the right side of the stairs is wood clad, so there is also about five square metres (mixing my measurements) there to paint, plus the decorative scrolls in the hall, the purpose of which eludes me to this day.

So, all in all, that is a lot of painting.  Over the last week or so, I have channelled the spirit of the Forth Bridge Painters, got my head down, put in a shift and generally painted a lot, and can now report that I have finished the undercoating.

This is really the easy phase.  Of course, to reach this moment, I have had to do all the cleaning and rubbing down in preparation, so have covered some miles, but I have been using quick-drying undercoat - which I can whole-heartedly recommend - so the amount of time between my brush putting it on and some careless Maggot brushing it off with their sleeve is fairly short.

Glossing is going to be a whole new kettle of fish, since that takes several hours to be touch dry, and several days to be hardened.  I will probably have to schedule in forty-five minute lunch breaks to get a door done a day, and fill in the architrave as and when.

Anyway, that is my painting update.  I am off to Oxford for five days, so will not be blogging Friday.  Have a great week, and speak soon.

Friday, 24 October 2014

And . . . relax

Busy week for all the clan.  Another career chat today.  Things are coming in to focus.

Home-wise, had a great birthday week last week.  One present, a combined present from A&E, R&R and J&M was for me to select a racket from our coach, Roger, who supplies said items.  The remit was, pick what you like, don't ask the price, and being a reliable chap, I did just that.  He brought a bunch for me to try on Wednesday, and the first one I used felt just right.  I tried a couple of others, on advice from R&R, but the one I tried first was definitely the favourite, and is indeed now on order, hopefully to arrive next Wednesday.  R is also looking for a new racket, so we swapped about, and at one stage when she was trying my precious, and I was trying one of the other loser models, I did have a small Gollum moment when I was jealous of anyone touching my racket.

In terms of how it played, what I did not appreciate is what new strings do for your game.  My old racket was new in 1998 and the strings have not been changed since, and what that means is that they ain't so grippy*, and what THAT means is that my game, which was always pretty good on the topspin ground strokes and a fairly wicked spin serve**, has been turned up to eleven.  The spin I can now get on the ball is quite something to behold, and to be honest I am like a puppy with a bone, a kid in a sweetshop and a dog with two wotsits all at the same time.  And that is a sight for sore eyes.

I have Tuesday to Friday off next week, and we are off to Oxford for a city break type thang, staying in a static van complete with hot tub and other fancy-pants features, so should be fun, relaxing and informative in equal measure.

I wish you a great weekend, and speak next week.

P.S. Message for Brad.  I have used my Aero Press for the first time today, with the old coffee.  It worked well, and tasted good, though not as strong as when I do my Scobi-latte trick in the cafetiere, so need to experiment with stirring and timings, and maybe even quantities.  However, it was quick and easy to use and the taste was smooth, so I think I am gonna like it.

* highly technical tennis term
** not boasting, rather repeating what others have commented

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Happy Birthday me!

Right at the start of my blogging, when I was going for the 700 words a day challenge, I decided on an editorial style that included never using exclamation marks.

It is therefore a momentous occasion for all the many many person who reads this blog for me to be using said exclamation mark in the title.

Today, fifty years ago, I appeared on this earth, plucked from the belly of my mother via a C-Section, and, so the story goes, on hearing that I was to be called Mark Antony, the doctor exclaimed "Bleedin' heck, who's next, Cleopatra".  Now, that story may be neither true nor funny, but it is one told often in these parts.

We have a small party tonight, a mid-week special with bangers and mash, one of my personal favourites, for those near enough to make it, and then a large party on Saturday when I would expect every bu$$er to be able to make it!*

We have red and white wine selected for both evenings, tonight a robust red/white combi, and on Saturday a pair of Italian beauties, personally tested by yours truly, to keep things lubricated, as part of our "Italian Evening". 

Brad and Angelina are coming down for Saturday, which will be lovely, since we have not seen them since Riverside Lakes.  We can catch up on news, including Brad's gall stone problem. 

Anyway, I am off to put on my party frock, so TTFN and speak again later in the week.

Two "!" in one blog, unheard of

Friday, 10 October 2014

And . . . relax

I had my first meeting with my new Mentor on Tuesday, and that turned out to be very useful.  It has given me a focus on what to do, and via her network, a means to do it, so I am following up on some leads, and will report progress as and when it happens.

At home, Maggot 2's bedroom if finally redecorated, just in time for his 9th birthday celebrations, the approaching of which has caused much excitement in him.

We now have our "play area" at the end of the garden, to address the area that, due to the trees, never had any grass on it.  This area has now been cleared, weed-killed, membraned, surrounded by sleepers and filled with wood chip.  It has made a great difference to a big tatty corner, and is this the next step in the normalising or our jungle.  We also have a tyre on the rope swing, and some climbing shapes* to add to the tree.

We have also had to purchase a new trampoline net.  In memory of the Captain Pugwash episode when the captain wanted to remove the annoyoing pillar in his cabin, LO thought it would be a good idea to remove the section of net with the annoying hole in it, but cutting out the whole section.  Needless to say, that section held the poles, and therefore the other sections, in place, so the whole net collapsed.

I plan to really crack on with the decorating this weekend.  I want to have all the walls painted, and have started the enormous task of undercoating and then glossing 6 doors, a loft hatch and several miles of skirting, plus a bannister and, just to put the cherry on the top, the whole wood-clad side of the stairs.  Phew, that really is going to keep me busy for a while.

I hope you have a great weekend, speak next week.

*Part of Maggot 2's present stash.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Wet and dry

Not a DIY reference, but a weather one.

The weekend was mighty fine.  Rather wet until 1pm Saturday, but after that, glorious sunshine rest of Saturday and all Sunday.  Lovely.  Really felt like the last dregs of Summer, which means all we have to look forward to is colder and wetter.

One final paint coat on Maggot 2's wall, and then that is done.  Rather worryingly still a bit of damp showing through the painting, so got the dehumidifier on in there, which will probably be better than nothing, but only just.  This means that either the wall still has not dried out, or there is some ongoing ingress problem.  Oh well, let's see how the Winter shapes up.

I have also filled much of the hall, stairs and landing walls, hopefully a bit of rubbing down tonight, a rub over with the tack cloth, and then ready for the first scratch coat of paint, which will show up where there are still bits to fill.

That's all for now folks, speak later.

Friday, 3 October 2014

And . . . relax

Wow, another week is all but over, and I am none the wiser.

Really not much to say.  At long last, I have a potential mentor, and have my first meeting next week.  This is an exec leaving my account, and I like her style (not all bluster and shouting, like many [male] execs) so am hoping she can help me with my career with more EQ and less testosterone.

I did actually throw my hat in the ring for another role as well.  Early days, and based on past performance, will likely come to nothing, so I will say nothing more until something actually happens.

We are off in the 'van this weekend, down to the New Forest with A&E.  It is always a bit stressful preparing for it*, but when the first beer is cracked open, or sometimes the second, everything straightens out nicely and the evening can begin in earnest.  As a rule, the girls drink too much too early, and are then rubbish at Canasta.  At least, that is the excuse they give.

Hope you have a great weekend, and speak next week.

* We planned to pack last night, and that was on the day that Maggot 1 was playing a rugby match after school, Maggot 2 had gone with A&E's nanny for the afternoon, Maggot 2 had to be dropped at 6pm at Brandy Hole Lane Woods, picked up at 8pm, give or take 20 minutes, while Maggot 1 had to be back at school for an open evening (he was one of the helpers) for 6.45pm and picked up at 8.30pm.  Add to that a request from A&E to pickup their Maggot 2 from the Woods also, to be part of a hostage-swap type maneuver at the school (since A&E's Maggot 1 was also a helper).  We also had to get a quick shop at Tesco's in for cake making ingredients, plus some Italian beer for my Italian-themed Birthday Party.  And in-between, we had to pack the car with all the stuff for a weekend away