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So, for the past 2 years we’ve not really had a full bathroom. Yes, technically, it has met the criteria for being a bathroom. It has a bath, a toilet, and a sink. Indeed, I think that bar maybe the odd day, it’s been fully functioning.

However, it’s not had a floor for most of the time that we’ve lived here, and nor, since the plastering was done, has it had wall coverings. Indeed, it’s generally been a bit unpleasant to be in.

Since completing the bathroom, it’s had this odd ‘does that belong here’ sensation that it brings up in my head. When I get to the top of the stairs (and it doesn’t help that the upstairs hall is entirely filled with tools) the bathroom feels finished, and very nice, and the top of the stairs is…although it’s actually more or less finished (minus the skirting) it’s just got that ‘unfinished’ feel. It feels strange. It does, in my head at least, feel like the bathroom is an entirely separate entity from the house. Of course, it will settle down and mentally merge. I’m getting more used to it. I’m getting used to the toilet paper being on a holder on the wall. I’m happily used to getting into the shower (oh, showers, how I’ve missed thee).

But it still feels quite odd to have a finished bathroom.

In other news, the GT550 is sold and awaiting a trip to its new owner.

Originally published at Kates Journal. You can comment here or there.

Days off

Jan. 16th, 2013 03:36 pm
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Days off still feel a bit of an oddity. I allowed myself a break between the slog of the bathroom and starting the hallway, because I thought this is probably good for my sanity. In it I’ve cleaned the house, I’ve moved the website (wordpress used to be in a subdirectory, it’s now not) and upgraded wordpress (and applied a new theme, which I’m not sure about at the moment, but is the theme that I’m trying. It’s a suck-it-and-see approach*). I’ve listed my Kawasaki GT-550 on e-bay (*whimper*). I’ve been to Two Day Coffee and got more coffee. I’ve been to Maplin and got possibly the worst power tool I’ve ever owned – a battery dremel clone (and been slightly stunned to find that it’s got an AC-adaptor**, rather than a DC adaptor, which means I’ll have to look at the guts of the charger to see if I can take it to Canada. The only reason I got it, rather than any other Dremel clone, is I thought it would be useful to take to Canada. I didn’t get an actual Dremel because Kathryn already owns one, so spending twice as much on something that duplicates what we’ve already got, not handy. Although, as we’ve already considered, probably vastly better quality).

I’ve worked on the clock*** (which I’m going to continue doing after this) and I’ve tried to rejoin the nursing agency. I’ve written some more of the next episode of Dead Bug Jumping, and I’ve installed and started to toy with a new media server. I’ve ripped another 10 CDs and done 3 loads of laundry (and am pondering a fourth).

I’m not quite sure I’ve got the hang of this ‘Days off’ concept.

* The result of which may be that it sucks. I’ve got through four themes so far today.

** Which outputs 6volts at 50hz. What’s up with that? I’m assuming that, somewhere in the guts of the hideous plastic base object, there’s a rectifier.

*** Which is for-why I bought the dremel clone. Because the new clock mechanism doesn’t fit in the space previously occupied by the old clock mechanism.

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Completely, totally exhausted. No idea why. One minute I was peachy keen, the next I felt like kipping on the sofa. I’m resisting, because it almost invariably makes me feel worse. It has been a fairly busy and productive day though, which might explain it.

So, the items on today’s list were: Replace the leaking ballcock washer, gluing the back of the bookcase back together* and making an iphone/ ipod to valve radio cable.

Having watched yesterday’s Rachel Maddow show over breakfast, and enjoyed the Pro-Obamaness**** I diassembled the 1930s ballcock and ‘simply undid’ the piston*****. It actually did come apart with less force than I thought might be required (although I was suspecting that it would need to be replaced entirely, so that’s not saying a lot). The rubber of the washer was fairly brick like and slightly crumbly, so the fact it was working as well as it was is quite surprising. Slipping the washer into my pocket I wandered down to the garage sporting my bike gear with the intention of going straight out to get the bits and bobs I required from the plumbing place and the very depressing Maplin.

Having had a bit of a mental debate about the issue of how to glue the bits of wood making the back up back together, I realised that really, I’m going to have to do that in the house. It’s a bit of a bugger, because it means that some of the drilling is going to have to happen in the house. But then, taking that into account, I realised that that timing was a bit of an issue and threw the first coat of varnish on the wood before taking my motorbike outside and dropping it.


See, we live in a nice house which backs onto a lane. The land outside our garage is gravelled, because our builders dumped the excess gravel on there. This is good, because prior to that it was just mud. I stood the bike on the gravel, locked the garage doors, started her up (she ran a bit roughly, probably because she’s not been used much recently) and hopped on. Up with the kickstand and pootle forward. Only the engine then attempted to stall. Pulling the clutch in, the bike came back to a stop, but now I was badly placed and the bike was starting to camber over. I stuck my leg out to stop the bike and the gravel took the bike rightward and my leg leftward. I tried to hold it up with my arms and force of will, but the fact was it wasn’t happening. The bike landed on it’s left side snapping the end off the clutch lever (argh). It also, I realised, weighs the same as a thousand suns.

A very nice biker who happened to be walking his dog kindly offered his help (I’d tried twice and realised I had no hope of getting the bike up, he arrived whilst I was in the midst of that second attempt at a lift). Between us we got it back onto it’s centre stand. I think from now on I’ll walk it out to the tarmac stretch before riding, because that was no fun. We had a bit of a chat before he went, he used to have a GT550, and commented on what a lovely bike it is, and also how insanely heavy they are compared to modern bikes. Which is kinda funny, because I thought it was just me thinking it weighed a ton, but no. Anyhow…

Having got the bike back up and running (it’s only the very end of the clutch lever that’s snapped, thankfully) I hopped on to go and be depressed by Maplins. Maplins, as we know, is painfully depressing, because I remember going in there and them actually stocking components. Still, they had what I required – a reasonable stereo socket, and a switch (for what was my mum’s broken bread maker), and I had the idea that a 4mm plug might fit in at least one of the connectors on the valve amplifier (I think I want a 3mm banana plug, but they’re very pricey) – so I got a couple of them. Despite costing more than e-bay I decided to pick up a pair of ‘helping hands’ too, although to be honest, they’re not the best ones I’ve ever tried. Nice heavy base, but finicky to set up. I then stopped at Graham and picked up the washer…

And arriving home threw the varnish on everything shelf related.

Reassembly of the toilet cistern proved to be a doddle, assuming it doesn’t start leaking in the near future. I’ve got 10 washers, anyhow (came in packs of 10). And then I sat down, watched Red Dwarf and made this:

Stereo to mono valve radio cable

It just all fits inside the metal case I got (I went for the metal one because I’ve had any number of stereo sockets with plastic screw together sleeves that have disintegrated). A quick check demonstrates that it works perfectly. The ‘Gram’ socket on our Bush VHF 61 does indeed work beautifully. Now I just need to make the iPhone base adaptor that looks like it’s made of bakelite and we’ll be good :)

I also took the opportunity of being in a fixy mood to repair the breadmaker my mum gave us. I don’t think anything in particular has changed with our other one, but the faulty display has led to enough failed loaves of bread, so I fixed my mum’s… Unfortunately, I made an unwarranted assumption. When I looked at it I assumed (without taking it apart) that it used nasty cheap membrane switches, because it looks like it does. So I thought, ‘sod that’ and bought a push-to-make switch. It turns out that actually, it had dinky little sub-micro switches actuated by pushrods and the plastic surface that looks like membrane switches is just a plastic surface. Still, since it’s pretty ancient I decided I wasn’t too concerned about looks, and also couldn’t be bothered to go and deal with Maplins again. A few minutes work, and a couple of little flyleads later we have a ‘Start button’ that looks more enthusiastic:


That done I went and did some more varnishing.

Yes, my entire life the past few days has been cutting or varnishing or sanding.

Then as I meandered up the garden I was suddenly hit by a wave of tiredness. An awesome wave of tiredness from which I’ve not yet recovered. I’ve been sat curled on the sofa dinking on the internet for the last couple of hours apart from… trying on my new leather jacket.

It’s pretty rare that I get clothing of a decent brand. This is because in general I’m limited to whatever’s in my size in charity shops, and I’ve broad shoulders and long arms which means that whilst the majority of me is one size, finding jumpers and jackets that fit is a fracking nightmare. However, I’ve been faintly trying to locate a leather jacket for a while, but given my ethics it had to be a second hand jacket, because one shouldn’t be killing animals for leather, and then taking that leather and using a sweatshop to make the jacket. That’s my opinion. But I’m also not wealthy, so getting new clothes that are ethically made requires either that I have very few clothes or that I get them from charity shops, or at least second hand.

Having vaguely poked at charity shops, then upped it to a fairly concerted effort to find one, including looking in vintage shops, I decided to poke at e-bay. And there it was, a Press and Bastyan jacket. Now, I’ve less idea who these people are than most, because my idea of following fashion is to watch Big Bang Theory and see if I can get teeshirts that match. However, I looked at the prices and I thought, hell, it might be decent quality. I stuck a bid on for a tenner (meaning the thing would cost 15 quid) and didn’t think too much more about it. The nice ‘you’ve won this item’ e-mail arrived, and I then assumed that it’d not fit.

It arrived today. It does fit, and it is, indeed really a very nice leather jacket. It’s not exactly what I originally went looking for, but I’m really quite pleased with it. So there we go. Now I just need to develop the ability to care deeply about clothing and I reckon I could look quite good. I suspect, however, that’s not going to be coming in the near future.

* So, yesterday Nikki kindly gave me a lift to B&Q to get the second sheet of spruce ply. Sadly, their stock was much smaller than it had been, and to be honest, a lot scabbier. It’s not intended to be furniture grade, and much of it was poorly filled with streaks of nastyness. The one I selected in the end also has scabby filled bits, but it was the best of the top few. I got it cut to size and we wandered out to Nikki’s Leaf (since Chester is not moving until we get a new strut). We tried a few angles, but were prevented by the narrowness of the rear door from getting it in**. I thought it was bendier than it is (it’s not really very bendy at all), and so having attempted every orientation of I took it back into the store and had it cut in half. It is, of course, now, 3 mm narrower than it was intended to be. Which is a bit of a bugger, but not as much of a bugger as the massive error I’ve made***.

** I can picture my dad’s rant now; he very politely destroyed every point that a Vauxhall salesperson had about why the then new Vectra was better than his few year-old Cavalier was. The only reason we were debating it is my dad had been made redundant, and whilst he still had a massive GM discount he thought it might be worth replacing the car. Having decided the Vectra was even worse than the Cavalier (which was not really as good as the Mk II Escort, but wasn’t nearly so rusty) he decided that he’d rather keep the Cav, which went on to do nearly quarter of a million miles before we sold it.

*** So, I thought there was more space around the bookcase than there actually was. So when I made the plinth, I made it a bit bigger than the case itself, to make it look nice. Like a proper bookcase, I thought. I just went and measured the gap (yes, you can all say “shouldn’t you have done that first”, but honestly, I thought it was bigger’n that) and will need to trim the ends off my plinth. Not a lot, but the nice end pieces I made? They’re going to be coming off tomorrow :(

**** Whilst I have a multitude of reservations about Obama, the choice between Obama and Romney was, to me at least, do you want someone who seems to be very competent, even if his record on civil liberties is no where near where you’d like it to be, or would you like an incompetent pathological liar. I’m sorry, but I wouldn’t object to Romney near as much if he actually stood by any position long enough to question him on it. Or admitted that he’d changed his mind. But he appears unaware of the fact that we now have the awesome technology to play back tape of him, and see what he said before and compare it to his random new position. Ah well, all done now :)

***** Whenever someone says ‘simply undo’ or ‘with a light tap’ you know that it’s bollocks, don’t you. You know that you’re going to be using molegrips and monkey wrenches or club hammers and your sharpest chisel and all the force you can muster.

Originally published at Kates Journal. You can comment here or there.


Aug. 8th, 2012 10:10 pm
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So, today in a spate of productivity I summarised 4 papers ready for inclusion in my dissertation (2 more to go); I updated the ‘Superpad 2′* to the hacked firmware courtesy of Tim, I think. This has made it work better, be a bit faster, have functioning marketplace support (although irritatingly, I still can’t install a working VNC server on it). I’m faintly hoping for the Ubuntu Linux distro to be installable on it in the not too distant future. I might do a little video review of it at some point (I keep threatening that).

Here's hoping I've not instigated a bricking.

It does now work ‘sufficiently’ that I’ll consider using it as an audio player, properly, until a Slimp3 finds its way into my grubby little mitts. It also has a much prettier start up swooshing android logo going on. That, actually, is probably the most exciting thing. The keyboard’s better, it’s rooted. But despite the fact I can now install paid apps, the free one (slow though it is) is sufficient for the moment. I’ll consider the pay-for uPnP client if I get sick of the freebie one.

I collected a garden wood chipper, which I got from gumtree, which should mean we can clear the patch of garden that’s been covered with dead wood since…err…let’s not discuss that too much.

But most excitingly, I made this happen:

It did settle down after a few minutes, and I then bought some insurance, booked an MOT and a service, and am trying to decide whether to install a GPS/Alarm on it. I’m guessing that GT550s are still reasonably stealable. This sudden enthusiasm is partially because Kathryn informed me that if she’s not used her bike gear within the next 6 months, she’ll have to sell it/give it away. So it’s vitally important that I get back riding :)

* BarelyAdequatePad2

Originally published at Kates Journal. You can comment here or there.

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So, I had good intentions for today. I thought I’d wash, get dressed, and work. Take a brief break to run some batteries to the metal recycling with Nikki and her handily available review Renault ZE (she asked for a real world test suggestion, I thought running the half ton of batteries to the scrap metal merchants was an excellent suggestion – incidentally, the ZE did this job without a hitch and actually, seems like quite a neat EV – more my taste than the leaf (in the wholeheartedly practical vehicle sense)), but basically set aside today as a Dissertation Day.

Annnyhow. So that battery lugging bit went quite well, but battling with Scopus was frustrating and…long. Scopus is a database, for those of you who don’t know, and actually it’s just because each database has its own search grammar and trying to take one search across to another database just doesn’t work, so there’s lots of tweaking to make it work that makes the whole job frustrating. But unlike Ovid which is old and painful, Scopus is actually fairly intuitive, and it was just tedious tweaking the search to work right.

After a while though, I got that sorted and worked my way through the hits. The plan then was rinse-and-repeat for Web Of Knowlege (that being the last database I need to re-search) but it’s been informing me, helpfully, that:

“Thank you for using Web of Knowledge
A system error has occurred.”

Which impedes my ability to search somewhat. So instead I decided to tackle another thing from the to-do list. The final tweaks to Kathryn’s Bicycle. Now it has brakes (at least working, could do with a bit more tweaking) and gears (all 3 actually seem to be working), and I’ve fitted the replacement cotter pin (to replace the one I munged fairly dramatically). So I shall maybe take it for a quick test ride on Wednesday :)

And for all being such lovely people, here’s a picyture.


I also discovered today that ripping to MKVs from blurays is all very well, if your media player can handle them. It turns out that the VMP74 can’t. So the poor old media server is now tasked with transcoding them to MP4 / M4Vs, which it can manage at about 6 frames per second.

Originally published at Kates Journal. You can comment here or there.

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So, a while back, some of you may recall that I bought and brought home a rusting heap.


The plan was to get a bike for Kathryn, but my fondness for things ancient and solid overwhelmed my common sense (not difficult). And I was somewhat optimistic about the state of the bike when I bought it from ebay. To be honest, when I got there I thought ‘oh arse’. But unless someone’s description is misleading I’ve always felt that once you’ve bought it, you’ve bought it. So I heaved the rusty heap into the car and drove home.

And then there was the misquote. See, I asked for a quote for a wheel rebuild and was misinformed about how much it would cost, and looking at the bike I realised that actually, it was fairly solid. Lots of surface rust, complete and total destruction of the chromework (impervious to water my ass), but the frame itself was pretty good. And having slathered the poor beast in penetrating oil, the brakes freed up and quickly came back to life. I started to contemplate what would be required to fix it.

….and make it look less shit.

Read the rest of this entry » )

Originally published at Kates Journal. You can comment here or there.

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One day I’m going to learn that I should check that the fault I think it is, is the fault it actually is.

So, I stripped down the bottom bracket on my beloved bike, having taken the cotter pin out from that side, and, having collected the ball bearings together after dropping them on the floor, spent some time cleaning up the inside of the bottom bracket.

I can see now that I really, really, really should service it properly, and that the one on the other side probably should be stripped down and cleaned as well. There was grease in there, yes, but I don’t know when it was last ‘greasy’. Much cleaning with plusgas of parts ensued, and fresh grease applied, and the bearings – which as others have suggested are tough as nails – all looked lovely when I reassembled. I’m slightly worried about the tightness to which I’ve tightened it, but it feels…okay. It runs smoothly. I guess I’ll check it in a week or so, and see how it’s feeling.

It’s good that something needed doing with the painfully overpriced tool I’d just bought (which, it turns out, I could have got away with the crappy Halfords one, because it was lovely and easy to adjust) because that wasn’t where the crunchy/clunky feeling was coming from. The cotter pin on the other side, the chain side, that had worked loose. And lo, a quick tighten and all was well. Having seen inside there though, I’m slightly unclear as to how the oiler is meant to work. It appears to just drip oil into a space in the bottom bracket that runs in to the legs running to the back wheel. There’s no cunning device to try and get oil dripped in there to the actual bearings. And that’s ignoring the whole pack-it-with-grease-then-add-oil-later freakyness I’m noting.

That’s what it says in my book, though. Still, if I’ve got it more or less right, then it shouldn’t need adjusting for a while. So that’s good :)

I have now ordered the tyre for the new wheel, and hopefully an innertube. It’s a bit difficult to ascertain whether I’m getting an innertube as the company it’s coming from are…somewhat…recalictrant about answering e-mail.

Originally published at Kates Journal. You can comment here or there.

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So, I battled through the hideous traffic to get the wheels to the bike store for rebuilding. I’d nicked the wheels off what is to be Kathryn’s Raleigh city beater for this – on the basis that they said ’20 quid each per wheel’. This statement was true, but only in the sense that the actual labour cost is 20 quid.

When I discussed it with them, I asked about the spokes and the guy said it’d be ‘a bit extra’ for the spokes ‘if they need replacing’. I assured him they probably would. Probably all of them. This did not prompt him to comment on the cost of spokes.

This was unfortunate.

It turns out that they charge £1 per spoke. Given the 40 spoke rear wheel, this is ‘more than I’d like to pay’ for the moment. Granted, rusty rims eat through brake shoes, but there’s pain, and there’s dear god, how much. Especially given that the sturmey archer 3 speed hub in the borrowed wheel is also dead. I am contemplating the fearsome ‘looking at it’ – although I’ve currently applied a process of pouring lots of penetrating oil into it and hoping. If I’d've been quoted that before the choice would have been an easy one. It’s waaay cheaper to get a pre-made westwood rimmed wheel, and yes, the spoke count’s wrong, but hey, if anyone has figs available, they’re welcome to give them, but I certainly don’t. I can keep the old rims for the moment I become independently wealthy, perhaps through sales of my awesome stocks of junk.

On the plus side, I can use the spare rim to rebuild my 40 spoke rear when I get around to fixing the BSA hub, and I’ve now found somewhere that charges far less per spoke, so the next wheel should be much cheaper.

Originally published at Kates Journal. You can comment here or there.

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I gave away my C-Spanner that came with the MZ, with the MZ. It was part of the tool roll, and while I delighted in it being a bit of East German history, I felt it was fair that it stayed with the bike. I thought about it and, having sold the DAF, had no other vehicles that had, or were likely to need a C-Spanner.

And I thought, it’s only a C-Spanner. Hardly impossible to obtain.

Apparently that was an inaccurate assumption.

Rather than use the internet, I decided I’d get it from a local supplier. Foolish, apparently. And indeed, I assumed that it’d be easy to do. I mean, it’s a C-spanner (or hook wrench), how hard can it be.

So I went to Bristol Bike Workshop. They could order them for me, or I could bring my bike in and they’d let me use the workshop tools… which is very lovely, but not really a long term solution and involves me putting the bike into and out of the car several times, and several trips across bristol. So I rang around, and Halfords, oddly enough said ‘oh yes, we have several options for them’. This morning I trecked, following this misspoken evidence to Halfords, who do have one of them as a part of a 35 quid set of bicycle tools.

Feh, I thought. It’s not even a decent quality one, and since the bracket’s probably not moved since about 1940 it’s probably going to need a fair bit of welly applied to it. I’ll ring around the bike shops, one of them is sure to have one.

Lots of bike shops informed me that yes, they have them in the workshop, but no, they don’t sell them.

Lots of them.

A few could order them in…in a few days.

Unfortunately, I finished my quest after 12, when I finally gave in and rang back Bristol Bike Workshop, who informed me that sadly, because it’s after 12, it wouldn’t be in until Thursday. When I’m at work. Which is no use at all for me, because at that point I might as well buy the damn thing off E-bay where it’s half the price.


I’m now waiting on Bristol Tools who said they might be able to get it by tomorrow. They’re trying their suppliers.

I learn from this that you should never, ever, get rid of tools.

ETA: Bristol Tools Fucking ROCK. 10 minutes later, and they ring back and say ‘we have one place that has it in stock, and can get you it for tomorrow before lunch’. It is, however, 10 quid extra delivery, which is a bit painful. But it means I can sort my bike before I have to go back to work :)

Originally published at Kates Journal. You can comment here or there.

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So, today I went on a little jaunt.

A little jaunt to collect another wee beastie for the fleet. See, a while ago (when the garage got broken into) a charming scrote (who’s name I actually know, thanks to a nice letter from the court system) decided to relieve us of Kathryn’s bicycle. It was a pretty, and modern, 3 speed ‘Giant’ brand bicycle with hub brakes and hub gears. It was incredibly low maintenance and very nice indeed. And I imagine whoever’s bought it from thieving git is very happy with it.

Anyhow, so I’ve been wondering about how we could replace said bicycle for a while, and wanting to find Kathryn something pretty. I’ve sort of won, in a very kind of…. well… see, here she is:


Read the rest of this entry » )

Originally published at Kates Journal. You can comment here or there.

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So, despite the hideous weather and a real inclination to light the fire, sit inside and let the rain fall all day I’ve not done that. I’ll grant I was slow to get going, but once I was moving I’ve been productive, useful and frankly, good.

Having done a little favour for my friends I stopped en-route home to buy some more smoke-free logs for the fire (these are made of compressed wood waste). While they appear to produce an awful lot of carbon low down (the fireplace is really black), I have to say, looking at the top of our chimney, you’d be hard pressed to tell that the fire was going. While it’s a bit of a bugger having a fire going and the upstairs does start to smell a bit smokey, it’s very nice to be heating the house with a CO2 neutral form of heating. Although it’s only really the lounge that it affects…

Then I got home and inertia set in. I sat and planned an afternoon of activity whilst watching the world go by (in the wet). I poked at my dissertation and e-mailed a person at work that I think is the right person to pass audit requests to. I sat some more. Thankfully, then, Kathryn rang with a task. A sad task, but a task none-the-less. Our 1950s iron has been, forever, tripping the breaker. My response to this having checked it over was to decide to slap a trip-switch in the way of the main RCD which meant at least, in general, it wasn’t throwing the house circuits off.

I also hunted for a new baseplate, on the basis that the rest of it is adequately insulated, and I suspected that it was the heating element that was on its way out. Well, this morning it passed from on its way, to out. It didn’t collect £200.

Plugging it in now leads reliably to instant trippage, and a brief examination of it (having stripped it down) shows nothing untoward that’s visible. I was going to dig out my multimeter and test it more, but then realised it doesn’t really matter which bit is faulty. The only spare you can get for it is the thermostat (it astonishes me that you can still get that), and so pretty as it is, the iron is dead.

I texted my beloved with this sad truth, ate lunch and wandered to the garage to continue progress on the desk. The desktop has been sat irritatingly close to finished for ages. The difficulty being that I needed to sand it some more and hadn’t, well, found the energy to do so. And I was wary of sanding it so far as to lose the “story” of the bits that make it. They are ex-scaffold planks, and despite the weird looks I got for saying I wanted to keep the reinforcing metal strips on them, I wanted to keep the metal strips on them, and the end tags that state the max loading / distance of supports. All of that was stuff I wanted, and I didn’t want to clean them up so far that they just looked like hunks of wood. What’d be the point?

So with some trepidation, and having measured the rough size of the record deck that’s got to sit on top of the desk, I headed down to the garage (in the rain), stuck on the gas heater, and started work. Having attached the three scaffold planks together I then hacked most of the third one off (really, I needed about 2 inches of it). I then set to with the various sanders, before finally cleaning and varnishing the beast:

Back to the drawing board...or desk... as it were

That’s just after the first coat, I’ve popped a second coat of varnish on now…. but first, the good.

See, we needed a new iron. That much was clear, normally this would be the cue for me to hop into the car and burn rubber. Well, okay, gently warm some rubber. Instead, since the rain had stopped (for the minute at least), I adjusted the brakes on Molly, grabbed my bag and helmet and headed off to Gardiner Haskins. Now, I was debating getting a second hand iron, but I’m not that fit and riding to the second hand places was a bit more of a treck than I really wanted. But I did cycle to the store, fought (thankfully successfully) with the box of the new iron and rode back.

I’m quite proud of myself. I know it’s only a little thing, but I’m hoping it’s the start of me being more healthy.

I also managed to squeeze in 2 loads of laundry, so I’m really feeling like I’ve been very, very good. Sadly the sun’s now gone in, but I think I’ve done my bit for today :)

Originally published at Kates Journal. You can comment here or there.

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I dropped off Kathryn's DAF (Vixy) at the garage this morning, which went fine. I'm praying that I'm right and that the clutch shoes are worn out... Anyhow.

One of the cooler things about owning a classic, or one of the things I enjoy anyway, is getting packages through the post that have fallen through a hole in time. Such was my experience today when a 'Cords' brand 1970s package popped through our postbox. I've recorded the 'unboxing'...

the cords box

There's something terribly cool about opening things that have sat for decades. Something fun about encountering design intended for a different generation (and they got the swoosh!*). Anyhow, so they arrived; sadly the ring compressor doesn't appear to have arrived. Hopefully it'll arrive tomorrow. However, what did arrive was the clutch shoes. I am so unutterably impressed by Jim Jack Services - they had the shoes arrive yesterday - called me to check on the details - and had sent them back by the evening. They arrived today - and look like they did when I last got new shoes.

Despite not having a manual I guessed my way through replacing the drum (it looked easy) - and eventually got it right (it was about 3mm out when I first did it) - and got the clutch back together. Then I made the mistake of having lunch.

Well, technically the lunch wasn't the mistake - no - it was sitting on the rug in the lounge. I've done this every day, but I've not been dealing with something quite as dirty as the contents of the clutch. And I was silly enough to clean out the flywheel too. So there was a lot of dirt.

It was on my jeans. Now it's on the rug.

Then I made the mistake of starting on the bike. I started in quite a good mood, despite the fact that the manual (and therefore my notes on how to wire the rev-counter to the old-style wiring, the circuit diagrams, and the explanantion of where the clutch should be adjusted to) remained elusive. I started stripping down Cherry Red 'zed, carefully working my way through noting where the wires went from the switchgear - and then it dawned on me...

I've got three partial looms from three bikes with three separate wiring and connection schemes. Seriously.

MZ changed their wiring for the later bikes, with their electronic ignition and electronic regulator; Kanuni changed the wiring again when they started building bikes, because they didn't do with the nice clicky MZ connectors. Oh no. They went back to the good solid DDR connection blocks with 55 wires going in and out of each one.

After a while it dawned on me that I had an impending disaster on my hands.

I needed a diagram, or something, to give me some idea of where I should be looking. The front end is more or less wired, the alternator is partially reconnected to the rectifier and regulator. I plodded through assembling it - discovered in the process that I really do need some obstruction wrenches because I can't actually get the Bing Carb (better, faster, more efficient) off Cherry, so Charlie's stuck with my old BvF (proper DDR, and has covered 120k miles). I sprayed the side panel (badly, I didn't have any primer, so it went straight over the blue paint. Fluo-Pink as it's called is not big on coverage). I also found a patch where the paint's flaked off the frame - I couldn't afford shot-blasting when I did it - so I wirebrushed and sanded the old paint, but perhaps I should have stripped it all off - because there's a small patch where it's flaked off.

When I spray the DAF I'll touch up the frame :(


Poor Kathryn arrived home as I stood in a rotten mood contemplating how in hell I was going to work out the wiring on the bike. Feeling like I'd taken 2 potential runners and made one impossible to fix vehicle.

But then I remembered this website - and a bit of dinking - and here we are with simplified diagrams and what each of the connectors actually is. Thank fuck.

Death and Rebirth

And in a totally unrelated to motorbikes, cars, or anything else I normally ramble about, I'd been contemplating writing something about Barack "Change we can't believe in" Obama's release regarding the DoMA. The problem is it's likely to come out as an depressed rant. I've been unimpressed with Obama for a while; his stance on abuse photos, on individual privacy, on illegal wiretaps; it's all been bad. So I guess the DoMA announcement seems like more of the same. Anyhow, so it was going to be a rant, but then I read this over Kathryn's shoulder, and it was articulate; intelligent; and it said everything I could have considered wanting to say, were I feeling anywhere near as good at expressing myself as this writer. So go read.

In final other news, after much work I've finally found a builder who has at least actually turned up, and quoted for the work on the driveway, and moreso has actually agreed to come and do the work. So next week for a day or two we'll have to get the fleet off the drive. Once it's done though, we should be able to get two cars on the drive. Which will assist in making-other-people-happy. :)

* I remember, years ago, when Amazon's swoosh was new and shiny there was a website snarking about everyone having swooshes which enabled you to design your new e-logo for your new e-business. It was swooshtastic.
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1) Kathryn drives much more economically than me.
2) It took me much longer than it should to work out the DAF's MPG. Given that I think she's still not running quite right (mixture wise), and am pondering whether there's some clutch slippage going on, we should be able to get better fuel economy from 'em.

The result of the pondering is that a 1974 DAF 44 returns, with an economical driver, 38mpg (which equates to approximately a CO2 rating of 194g/km (or, adjusting for how optimistic auto manufacturers are, about 155g/km). That latter 'adjusted' value is disconcertingly close to a Mini One.

But the government in their pseudo-green drive are scrapping cars that are just as green as the modern ones, discounting the energy required to build cars, and essentially are propping up companies that failed to adapt to changing market conditions with more environmental destruction. Thanks Labour. Don't think you'll be having my vote. You've actually driven me to voting for the Greens. Seriously. I never thought I'd do that.

Sadly, incidentally, there've been some classics which were casualties of the destructiveness of this government... Anyone who said Classics wouldn't be affected want to reconsider that answer.


In other news, I've been continuing to ponder the construction of an EV-DAF. Slightly prompted by Mr Clarkson's annoying take on the (probably awful, but his whining about all EVs and his belief that climate change is all in everyone-elses heads make me want to recommend it anyhow) Honda Insight Mk II*. I knew it'd been done before, albeit somewhat badly - Nikki B, of the a minor journey EV blog & appearances on EV cast waved it at me a while ago - essentially, this conversion consisted of a Milkfloat motor dropped into a DAF with some scaffold board to support it. That the owner claimed it moved at all was no mean feat.

What I didn't realise is that it'd been done somewhat more thoroughly somewhat earlier; twice. Shell used the cute little DAF to build a Fuel Cell Hybrid (yes, seriously) in the 60s.

I wonder if the technology of producing an extremely poor energy carrier for nothing is close to maturation yet ;)

Apparently it wasn't great - but what do you expect from 60's fuel cell and electric motor technology? The colour choice was good though :)

What was more interesting still (although the photo was very cool) was that there were two independent companies that built DAF 44 EVs in the states (in the 70s). CHW, in Athol, MA. (who later became 'ElectriCar' - and seem to have disappeared) and a company called EV Propulsion. Although the DCA chap has figures for CHW's cars (around 60 produced) he didn't mention how many EV Propulsion converted... But that, lack of money, time, space, and plans to do it in a vague and hazy future haven't stopped me mailing them.

Still, there's plenty to keep me entertained on them as it is. Vixy's off to an actual factual garage to have the brakes done, although I'm going to have a little go at mixture again tomorrow, having invested in a colortune. I'm also going to give her actual new spark-plugs. We'll see how that whole thing goes. Her new door should arrive in a couple of days time too, just a case of spraying it to, uh, match and fitting it. I'm looking forward to her having a window winder that works :)

Jejy's new wheel bearing is sat in the lounge too, all ready to be fitted, and I've got a 'source' hopefully tracking down a silencer (or two), wheels and some clutch shoes to re-con. The new drum and inlet manifold have arrived, so that's all shiny. Lots of work to do there...

I've got a quote for fetching the 'zed from my mum's to here. I think I'll go make it accessible, and then get the couriers to bring it over.

Unrelated but very, very good: We were sat in the garden and one of the birds (?sparrow) decided it didn't want to wait until we vacated the area - and hopped around a few feet from us (literally, 2-3 feet), fairly much disregarding us. It was really just incredible.

Unrelated but very, very bad: Change we can't believe in.

* I always rather liked the look of the Mark I, although tbh I want an EV that looks all futuristic and modern, not a Hybrid. Basically I want an EV1. Yes, I'm still whining.
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Work's been suprisingly pleasant of late; perhaps everyone'e scared of Swine Flu and haven't been coming in? Can we please keep it that way? I've had some odd ones though, in triage. People who've broken things days/weeks ago, not really in pain, slight, possible, deforimities and off to Xray they go, then we find out they've completely broken their humerus or fractured radius/ulnas... Also sick people who've actually been sick. It's been quite like actually working in an emergency department.

Then, to make things even more strange I was working in the Resus area; normally when I'm there it's like there's a neon sign that goes up outside and we get overdoses, cardiac arrests, infections-gone-septic and the odd bit of major trauma (at least potentially). I am like a magnet for the very sick and accident prone to go and be ill and fall off something. But on this occasion I had one person who was very sick who was there when I arrived - and some potentially sick kiddies who improved (one of whom kindly vomitted on my top).

I was quite confused. Why wasn't the red phone ringing constantly? Why was I stood there doing regular obs on people instead of running past going 'oh crap! His BP is 60 systolic! It was 120 before!' en-route to administer some drug to prop some other patient up for a bit.

Not that I'm complaining mind; I've quite enjoyed it. I've been riding my little red bike to work and bike, slow as it is, and now it's got a brake light working again I'll be much happier* (so it is, of course, raining today). Ironically, the MOT and Tax run out next month, so I'm contemplating using it as a spares bike to build up Charlie. I looked on e-bay and MZs aren't worth anything anymore. It's rather sad. They're on there really rarely, and now the company has gone, completely, as opposed to just being bought by new people every 3 weeks, they seem to have disappeared.

I've also wired the exhaust back on to the DAF - there's only about a foot between the missing exhaust hanger and the next one, but really... I've ordered bits of Morris Minor to use to hang it all back together properly(ish) - and will hopefully get a chance to do that this weekend. I need to get Vixy up on ramps and check the belt tension on her... but... the weather forecast looks attrocious. Which does not bode well :(

Vixy's booked into my local garage for the rear brakes to be done, too. I just need to actually source the parts. My local place can get them but they're more expensive than getting them shipped from Holland, although he's having a look through his personal stock and will give me a ring back with a price for that... apparently. Although he's yet to ever actually ring me back about anything.

I'm hoping, also, that the bits of car for Jejy will arrive before too long and Jejy will get a new clutch drum and new shoes, and an inlet manifold without a huge crack in it.

The garden continues to progress; lots of things are flowering and producing a great deal of pretty, we've got more Swiss Chard than we can eat, the beans are growing into great tall bean-stalks; we picked up some more plants when my mum was here (some more dogwood, and some other things which I'll journal about later) - which have gone in. I've clearly found an effective way of making it rain though, which is to remember to water the new plants. Then it pours with rain for the rest of the week :(

Anyhow, Lunch and then Work.

* My initial assumption was that the contacts were dirty &/or sticking, and would clean with a few uses. That has occured before, but having ridden to work it wasn't working. Riding it home, I presumed the bulb had blown; but no. I checked that and it was fine. Finally, in a fit of enthusiasm (and desire to not be squished, and having got fed up of doing hand signals) I dug around the foot brake switch on which both wires had broken. This made me happy because 10 minutes later they were resoldered and the bike has a brake light again :)
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About 6 or 7 weeks ago I sold the Viva; it had become somewhat of a millstone, sucking money in and making me miserable. It also had sprayed me with hot coolant, and looked likely to fail it's next MOT without fairly substantial works to at least one sill, if not both.

On the plus side, the Minor looked to be nearly ready and so it made sense to sell a car with an MOT, rather than sell it without. It's now about 7 weeks on, and the minor hopefully should be ready this weekend. We're apparently waiting on the engine, which itself is waiting on the crankshaft, which needs to be reground. I'm praying that it's done and back and being assembled as we speak. I promised the Minor to my mum for her wedding, plans involving white ribbon and all that. I know she's hardly the world's shiniest minor, but she's part of the family.

Part of the reason for selling the Viva was, I'll grant, that I thought I'd have the DAF up and running too. This was, of course, dependent on the original owner coming up with the V5. Which she hasn't done. Which means that the DAF - while roadworthy (although needing brakes adjusting) is stuck on the drive - the ridiculousness of the DVLA's policy (that an MOTd and insured car needs a V5 to get a tax disk) does frustrate me. If I'd stolen the car, d'y'think I'd *really* turn up at a DVLA office asking to *buy* a tax disk? Really?

I can't actually think of a criminal process which would involve buying a tax disk for an illegally obtained car, and therefore find the idea that I can't have one dumb.

At any rate, we've now been without a car of any road-legal sort for 7 weeks, and I'm beginning to tire of it. This wasn't meant to be a long old whine, but frankly, it cost me 65 quid to make the journey to *agency nurse shift* and it should've cost me around 35 quid. To be fair I could've ridden the bike, but also to be fair, the bike's top speed can drop as low as 45 on a really bad day, and 2-3 hours of riding at that speed would make me want to weep.

Anyway, so, skipping the whining, we had a productive week- in so far as I made lots of money  (more than I make in a week at work) doing 2 agency shifts (does anyone see how ridiculous that is?) and we replaced the old metal shed with a new (attrociously poor quality, but looks the part) wooden shed. We spent almost 12 hours solidly working on the shed (apart from a very quick break for lunch), the old one being surprisingly hard to take down. Rotten though it was there was a lot of rusty old steel holding it together. The block-work back wall was as bad as I feared though and I just pushed it over. Kathryn and I broke it up a bit once it'd been pushed over - so as to clear it away somewhat more easily. Unfortunately, the guy who said he'd come take away the steel hasn't turned up; and our back yard looks like a scrap yard. We need to get a skip in, and my plan to put the car on the neighbour's drive (the one of the abandoned house) has been foiled by him turning up and putting his car there. The swine.

I don't see any action on the house though, so I guess he's just dumped his car there and gone off on holiday (it's a handy spot to park if you're flying, I guess).

Anyway, so I'm back at my usual work after a week of nights, and the week 'off' with the 2 agency shifts - and I've screwed my body up by doing one night in that bunch. I'm tired and grumpy feeling - and I meant to ring the doctor this morning to sort out an appointment (I'm due my regular blood test to see if my liver's got worse, I need my allergy meds and I want a referral to Guy's allergy clinic). Unfortunately, I sat being apathetic until I finally rang and they'd no appointments left. Some days I really suck :-/

I'll have to do it one day next week now, which is a shame because Kathryn might be at home and I'd much rather have spent time with Kathryn. The problem is, I'm achy and tired, and the sofa is terribly comfy.

Other tasks which were up for this morning included wandering to B&Q and seeing if they still do the dire, cheap, wobbly metal shelving which I could screw to the back wall of the thin-staple and nail shed so as we could actually have our kitchen back. I reckon that with a couple of sets of shelves there'd actually be enough space in there to put *all* the decorating and DIY stuff. Possibly even the relevant bits of the Charlie when I bring her back from my mum's.

I'm, it must be said, getting desperate for a bike which does more than 50 mph. It's mind blowingly tedious, the motorway at 50mph. And it's not even like I'm getting awesome fuel efficiency from Cherry at this cruising speed, some of the petrol's going into the gearbox, and lord knows where the rest of the 60mpg is going (it's still running around 45mpg).

I *am* in a whiny mood.

I think I'll go shower, and then put some more filler on Jejy, and watch We love XKCD a few more times. As a side point, one thing which I have noted for it's awesomeness, apart from my luck at meeting Kathryn who is awesome beyond words, is that cooking one's food from scratch does result in meals that are delicious. For years I've espoused this theory, and being one who can knock up a reasonable tomato sauce in the same time it takes to warm a pre-bought one (mine's better :-P) had lived on basically: wraps, pasta, curry and pizza - those being the recipes I had in my head - for years. But being with Kathryn, and being bored of those minimal choices, we've started cooking our way through a couple of cook books - including the world's most gorgeous chicken pie (coming again this weekend, because while it's phenominally unhealthy (pot of cream, block of butter) it's just so damn good that occasionally we have to eat it), calzone (we overcooked it slightly and it was still bloody delicious), curried parsnip soup (my dad'd be proud, bit too lemony but also great), and a miriad of other great dishes - and y'know what, my diet is much better and (apart from being knackered) I feel healthier. And it's just damn spiffy.

Yes, we loose an hour every night to cooking, but quite frankly it's worth it. Unfortunately, however creatively I did the sums I couldn't make buying cereal more expensive that making our own granola. Our own granola was excellent. Truly, we had hit on the celestial being's own recipe for granola. But now we're back to Tesco Crunchy and Kathryn (not being a huge fan of it) is back on Fruit and Fibre. It's somewhat of a comedown.

The other disappointing thing is not having time or space to invite others to come share with us. I miss having people come around to stay, and come for dinner. Hopefully, once I've got my debts a little more under control, and perhaps got money back from Charlie for the bodged restoration of Rebecca, and the house is more finished we can get back to a more luxurious lifestyle. Anyhow, I should move off this sofa, because I've been sat here all morning. 

...oh, I'm still tickled that we don't look over 18 :)

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So, yesterday after my Violence and Aggression training (I'm just not aggressive enough with patients ;) ) I headed in to Theale to attempt to get the newly MOT'd Jejy Taxed. The government are usually overjoyed to make off with your cash, but giving a tax disk to a non-V5-having vehicle owner is a discretionary act, and may actually not be possible where the V5 lists the car as having the wrong tax band (Disabled == free tax; I'm not disabled, so need Private / Light goods == not free). At any rate, the chap was friendly, polite, cheerful, and determined not to give me a tax disk. More frustratingly I have to go *back* to Theale when I finally do get the V5 (the timescale for which is entirely dependent on whether the old owner deigns to send back the letter saying 'yes, I've sold the car') - because they can't simultaneously issue a new V5 *and* change the tax band. No, they're two separate and distinct processes which cannot be combined. *le sigh*

So I rode back, and on the way back came to a decision. I would get a new bike jacket. My old jacket has done 5 years of hard abuse. It's seams are disintegrating (relying on the hidden for extra-strength seams), the zip is broken, and it doesn't even make a pretence of being waterproof anymore. Riding in the rain had become one long shower... since I may be stuck commuting on the bike for a month, possibly more, since the Minor continues to be a disaster area (did I mention, my old 1300 engine was apparently the subject of a welded repair both to the head *and* the bore, and is thus not worth reboring and rebuilding), and the V5 for the DAF could take 6 weeks to come back...

Not only that, but I'm hoping to do some Agency work this week, although ironically today (for the first time in several days) I've not got a message saying 'please come work for us'. Argh!

So I stopped off at Hein Gerick (well, stopped off == rode through Sloughland's awful traffic) and examined the huge range of women's jackets (ha, all 4 of the textile ones). Was seduced into buying a better one than the one I was going to get (it's more waterproof than the cheapest one, which I was looking at), piled it all onto the back of the 'zed and rode home.

It's black, again, which is not what I really wanted; I wanted something with better visibility than my old jacket, but they didn't have it in any other colour. Mind, it'll show the dirt less, which is probably good given how filthy I was after riding home yesterday.

And more stress? Because having so little money that bills are impossible to look at without wanting to hide, working more than full time, planning 2 wedding ceremonies (although, to be fair a lot of that's being done by Kathryn's Mom, Kathryn's Dad's Partner, Kathryn's sister and my Mum), running 2 classics (well, theoretically) and struggling to keep a very sickly MZ on the road isn't stressful enough I've agreed to go on a 5 day ATNC course (ATLS and Nursing, not observing this time)... partly in the week before our wedding.

It's one of those 'take the opportunity or possibly loose it for years' moments, and biting the bullet I took it.

I'm scared witless, but there y'go. Anyway, I'm going to shower and then chase the agency and see if they need anyone in A&E anywhere this afternoon. I'm all set to go... 


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So, I went to pick up Cherry from Burwin's - they weren't sure that they'd fixed her problems, although she was running better... 245 quid that MOT ended up costing - new front wheel bearings (apparently they were completely shot), new fork seals, new brake MC/brake-light-switch and a free mirror (because they rock). They changed the oil, checked the timing and the mixture and found that Cherry's been running very rich.

She does now rev much higher - but as soon as we hit 65 there was the familar sudden loss of power and back down to 50-something she went. She is now running better though, and seemed to do over 50 fairly reliably. However, 245 quid means I ain't buyin' no new jacket for a while. The bike also needs a new front tyre (tread's fine, but it's too old); so I need to order one of them and sort out fitting...

She does, however, look vastly more respectable - they replaced the fork gaiter which I'd been gaffa-taping back together for some-time, and with two chrome mirrors perking out from the bikini-faring she's looking all the more like a motorcycle.

Hopefully she shouldn't drink quite so much fuel now, either, which'd be nice. It would, of course, be nice to be able to travel at speeds over 60, but this I fear is not something that's likely to happen while I'm riding Cherry.

Quote of the day, though, I feel was me as I transiently got lost in London:

"Who stole the A3220! I was bloody using that!"

I also (and I say this while hiding so that Kathryn can't tell me off) touched the exhaust down on a corner. They really do lean over a long way, do 'zeds, if pushed. I wasn't even going particularly fast, I don't think, but as I ducked around the corner I felt the familiar sensation and heard the light scrape which meant that the exhaust had touched the ground.

Oh, and London? Not so good traffic wise - had to filter almost all the way out, which was tedious. Also had to buy petrol, thankfully Burwin directed me to a 116.9p/litre ($8.55/US gallon) which was less painful than the next garage I saw (120.9p/litre)... Here's praying that the bike running leaner puts her back up towards the 60mpg mark.

Whilst I've not bought a new jacket I do still have the new helmet, which is grand. I'll break that one in on Saturday. Anyway, I should get on with my ATLS reading, I've cleaned the kitchen, taken the washing down from outside (where it got rained on many times) and hung it on the rack inside.

Oh, quick question: anyone read Vinyl Underground? Is it any good? I heard a recommendation for it (from

[personal profile] cadhla's journal) and it looks interesting...


At some point I'll comment on the internment thing in the UK (42 days without charge; y'know it's sad that we're having to rely on the House of Lords saving our civil liberties because of the pathetic excuse for a government we have at the moment); but at the moment I'm rather too pissed off about the not-so gradual destruction of our liberties that I doubt I could say anything sensible. Incidentally, days you can be held without charge in Canada? 1.

pyoor_excuse: (Toll Booth)
The good:
The MZ is done and MOT'd (yay! a year of road-worthy-ness, ish)
The DAF is booked for transport to the welder.
I plastered the curve and the wall under the window (or alternatively, as I originally wrote, the window under the wall) yesterday.
I have done much laundry and our laundry basket is no longer full.

The bad:
The 'zed is still not doing any more than 6k rpm. She needs a full engine rebuild to work out *why* she's not revving right.
The DAF is, at the moment 4 miles from the restoration place. It will cost 10 pounds a mile to get her there.
The flat bit of the wall under the window needs a lot of work to make it smooth. Conversely the curve looks ace.
It's intermittently trying to rain on the clothes.

It'll do...
Well, the 'zed, really. It's not worth the hundreds of pounds it'd cost to fix it, but the new brake MC and a mirror, (a mirror on the right hand side!) they make it much safer to ride. Well, the mirror does. The old MC was fine, but I was rather worried about the crack which had made the metalwork for the lever not really, well, attached very well in once place. It was all hodged back together with washers and the hand protector, but I wasn't really very happy with it. Now I can brake with confidence. Poor old Cherry Red Zed, she'll probably end up being a spares bike for Charlie. I may even pinch the new MC and such for Charlie... And keep the original MZ one as a back-up. I do need to get Charlie back here though, so I can reassemble her and get her MOT'd.

The DAF'll have to do. I am peeved that it's 10 quid a mile, or there abouts, for the journey to the welder. I have had these terrible thoughts of 'well, technically it's legal to drive to and from a place of repair'. Once the brakes are serviced 'n all, the only person I'd be putting at risk, theoretically, is me. But if the police were to, say, stop me as a car with no MOT or Tax and ask questions it'd be hard to defend and difficult for them not to notice the huge-gaping-lack-of-sill on one side. I shall, instead, content myself with attempting to find time to do the brake-service in between now and then so that I can drive her directly from there to the MOT; thus saving at least the 40 quid for the return journey.

The wall? Well, the curve I'm really proud of. It's not perfect and has a couple of small ridges on it that'll need a little sanding to make right; but really? It's pretty darn good for someone who's plastering qualifications are 'I've patched up a few walls now and then'. Me and the float though, we couldn't get on when covering the scratch coat on the flat wall. To be fair to me I think the problem was I was trying to do a proper skim; not a full on coat of plaster. On the curve it'd more-or-less all come away so the curve was a proper thick layer of plaster that I could skim until it was right. On the wall, it was a skim on top of a very thin scratch coat on top of multiple patches and such - which I was just attempting to smooth out. And without making it so high as to make the skirting entirely disappear that's pretty hard to do. It'll look alright after a light (moderate in some places) sand, but it's slighly disappointing - I really felt like I'd started to get the hang of plastering with the stuff in the kitchen. I've still got the big section by the light-switch / door to do. That still needs more stripping back though :-/

Anyhow, I'm off to nodnol in a bit, go and collect the 'zed. 'm just letting the phone charge and having a cup of tea first :)
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So, today we've had a less lazy, but superbly unproductive day; instead of doing any of the jobs that 'need' doing we headed out into the hinterlands twixt Slough and Maidenhead and wandered about enjoying the beauty that is available, free of charge, to those who like to wander. 

We actually spent much of (or indeed almost all of) the morning engaged in web-browsery activities, with Kathryn reading and me hunting down bits for the DAF. Not, as it happens, particularly useful bits, but bits, none-the-less. I've got four sets of brakeshoes heading to us - not because I need four, but because it was cheaper to buy 4 than to buy two. And while we may not (it is likely not) get through 2 sets in the time we have remaining here; we might. And it seems silly to chance it.

I also paid for a new side repeater. This is because, for some random reason, the DAF has a side repeater on one side and not on the other. It has a cable for it, and I imagine that at some point, someone's replaced the wing on one side. Presumably they suffered a fit of intense lazyness and decided not to get or transfer the rolo shaped side repeater. It is, I am told by some very nice members of the DAF Owner's Club Forum, the same as that used on the Fiat 500 - and thus it is that which I've ordered...

Unfortunately, the sills haven't materialised yet. They did say 2-3 weeks, so if they've not appeared after my nights I'll have to contact them and check progress. It's not like I can afford this, but hey, what's money if you don't use it?

I also sorted out my Agency application; it's been dragging on for a while and thanks to them I've had live vaccine injected into my arm (because my MMR wasn't complete, because I didn't get it as a kid) - but I neglected to get a copy of the evidence that I got it. So I need to send that in...

Which is silly, because if I'd've put on the original form: Dates of Vaccination 22/4/03 and 29/05/08, and then sent it, that'd've been fine. But I can't write to them and say I've had it now, because I put I wasn't sure of the dates. Which I wasn't. Bah. BUT - by ringing them - they've been through the file, and all the stuff they said they didn't have it turns out they *do* have.

So it now does just hang on me getting a copy of my vaccine dates.

I have, however, failed to change the oil in the bike. I've been thinking about changing the oil in the bike, but quite frankly, I've done so few miles on it that I resent the need to change the oil. This is, I suspect, linked to the reduced top speed - in that I suspect that some of the missing petrol is going into the gearbox oil, and some of the gearbox oil is being burnt instead of petrol in a crank-case-over-pressurisation issue.

But I'm not really sure enough to actually consider fixing it myself - because the only way I could do so is to strip the engire engine down, replace all the seals and measure everything to check tolerances. This would take me weeks, and ideally require a workbench. I don't have one of them, so...

The afternoon, however, was spent wandering the countryside which was a far more sensible way to spend it - despite the grey and overcast nature of the day. It's been warm and not actually muggy, leading to a very pleasant walk (hayfever not-withstanding). Photos are here. And now, given the impending arrival of my mother, it is probably time to clear and clean the lounge. And perhaps also, finally, put up the cabinet in the bathroom. Kathryn's painted it, and I've done the wall in the office... Which means, it's time to do things.

So, today

May. 28th, 2008 08:52 pm
pyoor_excuse: (Default)

So then - did we leap into action today - given the rain outside and the related inability to service the bike or work on the daf - did we instead leap into action and finish the bathroom?

Did we paint the wall in the study?

No, we did not. I had a headache this morning, and we only actually got going some time after 1. Possibly 2. But we've had really nice day; scrambled eggs and bagels for breakfast; a nice long shower; yesterday's curry for lunch; I've sorted out the bike getting the bits needed to make it not only MOT worthy, but in a better condition than it's been for ages - and organised a day to get it down to Burwin to see if they can figure out why it'll only do 50mph. And maybe get that efficiency up a bit, because it's down around 25-30mpg which is way-low for an MZ.

Kathryn used that opportunity of me ringing to head to the post office, and then we settled down reading websites and doing little of import for a while before embarking on a mammoth larder clearout. Rubbish and tools out; mould off the wall (but it really needs a coat of mould resistant paint), and then cleaned and tidied and labelled and reorganised. It's actually a usable space now (although I can't wait to clean it, rip out the old shelves and reorganise that).

Finally we cooked an awesome dinner.

Kathryn made gorgeous shortbread biscuits yesterday, which I may have to eat some more of, when I'm less full. The good thing about not being on holiday all the time is I suspect I'd weigh about 3 times more than I do if I was.

And now, potentially, trivial pursuit.

As an aside, the burn on my hand is peeling...

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