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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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So, I've updated the garden pics (March '09 Set) with some new ones to show a few of the things that we've grown. It's amazing and awesome to look at these leaves peeking through the soil and to think of what was there before. And amazing to think that just a few weeks ago we planted seeds. Just seeds. And now look. There's beans and peas and onions and a garlic and Angelica (whatever it is!) growing.

There's flowers appearing on our Daffodils. There's leaves on the blackcurrant and the gooseberry (the raspberry canes are still somewhat on the dormant side). Even the inappropriate but bought-anyway Japanese acer's got leaves.

It's so cool.

We did this.

We made this garden.

'course, nature's doing all the growing for us, and generously raining since we don't have an outside tap so have to fill the watering can in the kitchen.

But it just...rocks. I like gardening, I've decided.

[in tedious car news: turns out the brake hoses are standard parts, so I can go down to Allparts and say I need something that's this; which should mean it's cheap and not unreasonable to replace. Hopefully then the brakes will truly be sorted. If not then that's the end of the line for Vixy (I said that before, but I mean it this time). No more new parts].
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Not all car stuff today; to skip the car stuff just scroll down to where it proclaims that car stuff endeth. :)

So, today I shuffled the cars to get the Minor on the drive, and whipped off the ill-fitting exhaust, separated the 45 degree segment at the base of the downpipe (which I spent about 40 minutes attacking last time with 'penetrating oil', this time I got the Plus-Gas on it, and the thing just came apart. Simple as that). Then, with Kathryn's help, we reattached the exhaust.

Only took from 11am to 3pm. I'm not very good at exhaust fitting, and having done it we drove into town and... it's rattling against something at the back. Usually this is the exhaust hitting the fuel tank; not a soothing noise at the best of times; so that's something to attack later.

Then I spent about half an hour adjusting the mixture. She's been running rich and idling too high. A bit of a tweak to that and she's now idling at a much more sensible speed and lord knows what the mixture's doing. I suck at setting carbs up, I keep meaning to buy a colortune to aid in my attrociousness. The DAFs have a much more 'relaxed' carb than the HiF44 in the Minor, which is slightly worn (not terribly so, she doesn't hunt horribly at idle) and which has proper mixture adjustment.

Still, she's running okay, so I'm going to presume it's alright for the minute.

Next week will be more car stuff, hopefully, in so far as I'm hoping that the brake bits will arrive for Jejy and Vixy and we can get them assembled.

Then comes the difficult decision, which of the cars to take on holiday with us. We're looking at around 1000 miles plus whatever motoring we do while we're there. The minor's swivel pins are worn, but I don't know how badly. Jejy's a big no-no, without the new clutch drum she's not going anywhere far (so that's easy), but Vixy? Vixy's kind of an unknown quantity. Unknown quantities aren't good for holiday relaxing, I find, but on the other hand she's been recently serviced by a garage, she'll have new brakes, she's got a spare pair of belts in the boot...

...and only 21k on the clock.

We'll see.

Anyway, hopefully we'll have less car-posts for y'all once this is done. Then we can return to the 'house posts'

car stuff endeth here

Mind you, I ought to do a garden post because the garden is *awesome*. Kathryn spent time today breaking up soil and prepping it, then planted some of our wild-flower seeds; she's hacked down pruned the buddleia, out the front, which officially needs to be dug up and moved into the raised bed at the front, but since the builders haven't quoted (or contacted me) then, uh, that's not quite happening yet. The back garden is looking really very nice; when she takes the photos off her camera and flickr's them I'll linky.

It is just amazing to look at the ground and go 'my god, they're beans. They are our beans, that we planted and they're growing. I could get quite into gardening, I fear. It's really lovely though, to go out there, in the nice weather we've been having and see plants we planted growing, and indeed growing well. It's not like either of us is particularly 'green fingered', but we've got good soil, and my mum's around to help and advise us (and Kathryn's mom is available for advice too :) ) and it's come together to be a really restful place, potentially.

And the lie and deception which is the gravel-over-concrete path appears to be working.

Anyhow, now it's time to make dinner. So I shall scoot.
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So, I promised pictures of the house and garden. I wanted this to be separate from the previous post, though (for obvious reasons).

Anyhow, this is the kitchen and the garden at the mo )
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So, we managed with a lot of effort to get the kitchen to nearly finished; yes, I know it was nearly finished when we started, but now it's nearlier.

We've painted the ceiling, the walls and the woodwork. There are a couple of areas around and about that need touching up, and around one window needs painting with basecoat, probably a few times, to try and cover the crappy state of the paint, on the top of the window-frame before we do a final few colour coats.

The woodwork around the doorframes has been stripped, primed, undercoated and painted with two coats of super-cheap oil-based gloss paint which is working on destroying the planet as we speak, but is also fairly hard-wearing and was, as I said before, really, really cheap. Given the amount of woodwork that needs painting in the house, price was a significant factor.

Yesterday we finally put up the kitchen light, it's really pretty... but... does not work.

Since we bought it a long time ago, on sale, from B&Q, this is somewhat frustrating. The receipt is almost certainly missing believed permanently lost, and it's not an ordinary lamp. No. This is one of those evil lamps which contain a powersupply in the ceiling rose (a 240V AC -> 12V ?AC or DC) and which, I suspect, is tripping an over-current device as soon as you switch it on. It did work for about 30 seconds, twice. But since then has managed only to occasionally flick-on and then instantly switch off.

I am rather miffed by this, and am not hugely looking forward to taking it down, and I suspect discovering that I don't have the skills or equipment to fix it. I have to admit I am well out of practice with repairing electronics, and unless it's a glaringly obvious charred wreckage fault will probably not be able to spot it :(

I'll have a look though, at some point in the not too distant future. I suppose, theoretically, I could go and find my oscilliscope too, and poke at it with that (if I can remember how to work the damn thing, and the valves are still working after 3 years in my mum's attic).

It looks like it's one of these evil modern power supplies, rather than just a chunky transformer and a diode pack*, but I guess when I take the cover off I'll find out :-/

Anyhow, the majority of the last two days hasn't been spent on the house, oh no. We have, with the help of my mum and her husband, transformed the back garden. From dump to delight, I would say. There's still some more work to do; we even did some more today despite promising that today would mostly be relaxing (we had vague intentions to look at the pulling brakes on the DAF and the exhaust on the minor (which is apparently 2 inches too short)).

Anyhow, yesterday we spent a fair sum of money on plants, bark chips, soil improver, compost and seeds. With much work from everyone we dug over the soil (which Big Steve gave us free**) with lots and lots of soil improver and compost, we laid bricks, we planted plants, we planted herbs, we planted onion thingies, garlic, raspberry canes, a goosebury bush, two blackberry bushes... So hopefully we'll have some fruit, possibly, this year. We planted beans and peas. We planted flowers. The whole garden got a work over.

And it looks gorgeous.

I would show you a picture, but it's dark.

We've got a herb and vegetable garden near the house, yesterday we ate fresh basil in home-made pesto; to be fair, it was a basil plant that we put outside, and it's now somewhat short on leaves, but may survive and the act was somewhat enjoyable. One hopes that it' is indicative of a future of growing some of our own veg.

Kathryn spent much of the afternoon laying bricks for the new 'patio' type area near the shed... We have all but eradicated grass from our garden. Maybe a 6' by 5' area remains, near the house. We just need to get more bark chip (So far we've put down 240 litres of bark chip), get the wild flowers into the wild flower bed and put netting over it, and decide what we're going to do with the rockery (now it's got sort-of-soil on it).

Oh, and we put up a bird feeder, so the birds can nibble on seeds :)

Woot.

Pictures tomorrow....



* Which I have a hope in hell of fixing.
** (1) I didn't know we knew someone called, 'Big Steve'; the fact we do unnerves me somewhat. (2) I'm slightly worried as to why he gave us the soil free. Yes it was very poor quality clay soil, but still.
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Or, possibly a breeze-blockery. One or other.

Before I get started on this update, can I share a moment? We were expecting (to use a very loose term, I think faintly hoping is more what I was doing) that we would have a delivery of top-soil today. Our local top-soil merchant having given us a price which is much better than one of the national companies (but also means it's almost certainly not screened, graded soil). Yesterday they didn't turn up, and I had a little book running in my head regarding today's excuse.

Sorry, we...
a) had problems with equipment
b) over-ran on the previous job
c) got stuck in traffic coming back from our previous job
d) had to close early due to a sudden onset of bubonic plague
e) were overrun on site by a horde of marauding miniature nuns (skateboarding nuns, no less) demanding all our topsoil for a new convent garden they were building

It was of course e, uh, I mean, a, today. But it did make me wonder, do builders have a magic-8 ball which they shake when a customer rings? Or do they have an excuse of the day message e-mailed to them?

Apparently he will 'personally' deliver the topsoil tomorrow. I will believe it when the annoyingly large pile of dirt is on our driveway.

Anyway, we went to Tummies for lunch, the service was somewhat lackadaisical, not dreadful, but not brilliant. I was slightly less than impressed that they pulled the panini from the chiller (and Kathryn's sandwich) - at the price they're charging I'd expect a bit better'n that (given that for much less in a similarly nice cafe in Brizzy you pull things from the fridge and they toast 'em). But the food was good, and it's a pleasant (and less paint-y) environment. And we needed to celebrate Kathryn's test-passitude.

Anyhow, after shopping and a somewhat lax period of web-browsing, I headed out to the garden to move rubble. I've moved a slightly distressingly small amount of rubble, although I did create the basis for the breeze-blockery (aka rockery, aka good-way-to-disguise-a-pile-of-rubble). It includes, at the moment, an impressively large lump of concrete which I have no means of getting to the tip. Once the earth arrives, we shall pile it all over the damn thing, and then wedge some nicer stones in it, and some of those rockery-type-plants and no-one shall know the evil lying beneath; at least, not until they go forth and attempt to move it.

Plan is to put a fence segment up behind it (between it and the compost bin) and thus hide the big-black compost bin from the view out of the windows. Of course, the big plain brick wall will still be there.

Oooh, there's a lot of fumes in here now, I may have to move.

Anyway, the undercoat's gone on the door frame, Kathryn's working on my anniversary prezzie, (I cheated and bought her something, but it must be said I just looked at it and wanted to give it to her right there and then, so ordering it and waiting was pretty good). Rebecca's booked in to have her exhaust sorted on Friday*, and the oven's on to cook dinner.

Today has been a day where much has been accomplished. Ra :)

ETA: The laptop, incredibly, has a bid on it. i.e. it has sold. Even despite the description.

*I should ring the gearbox reconning company about the gearbox but can't pay for it until I've been paid anyhow. And there's still no signs of the king/swivelpins; a somewhat significant component in the front suspension which have now been on back-order with most MM companies for over a year. A situation which borders on the ludicrous.
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So, progress has been good this week; we've painted all the walls and the ceiling once, a second coat on the ceiling (and Kathryn will be here to help with the ceiling tomorrow*, yay) and a second coat on the walls and the kitchen will be painted, less the woodwork. I'm going to paint the door frames later today, just want to make sure it has as long to dry as possible, because it says 16-24 hours to dry.

Once they've got undercoat on them all the woodwork in the kitchen will be ready to be painted. We can put one coat of that on tomorrow, take much of the coverings off, and then Friday we can paint the last of the woodwork, let it dry, and pop the fridge back in it's normal home in the corner. But tomorrow evening we will get our kitchen back. Which is a good thing. Hopefully the paint fumes will abate soon, too.

But it has made such a change. The kitchen is much lighter and airier, even covered in dust sheets.

We have managed to create a weird optical illusion though, the green and sand paints meet on two corners; one, an internal corner, you can see the different colour paints quite distinctly. The other, an external corner which is really well lit, has the bizzare effect of making the two very different colours look the same. In fact it looks like it's just shadow that's making the one wall look a bit darker. it's most strange.

Anyhow; I'm off to lug stones about in the garden.


* She was off doing her driving test today**
** Which she passed, because she rocks.
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So, my head hurts.

I've no idea why, although possibly the 30 odd hours with an hour or so of sleep in the middle during which we gardened, shopped, I did a complete night shift at work, and so on, that might explain why every time I move my head it feels like I throw a large brick against the side of my head.

I did try going outside for a walk, and I've been drinking plenty of water, but it's all not helped. Which is saddening.

Anyhow, I mentioned that we did gardening, we also went to the garden centre (to get plants to do gardening with) - this has resulted in our garden going from a huge pile of rubble (which sadly I have no photos of) to this:



We've got what we're hoping will develop into a nice flower bed, and a also a nice veggie patch. The flowers already smell nice in the sun too; using a trick from Bristol, the path'll be covered over with gravel (to hide the concrete), and we have plans for a small bog-garden, a raised bed (where the coal shed used to be, or possibly outhouse), and a bit of lawn. Decking is still part of the plan too.

Other than that; I've been around to the back-garden-adjoininger responsible for the slow collapse of the shed (the back wall's giving up due to them undermining the foundations) and given them a letter saying I want a new shed. On the way back I was witness to a lot of high-speed driving by police and general bemusment of peoples because - I am unreliably informed - a youth was 'waving a gun around'. I didn't see any youths with guns, thankfully. But I did see a lot of people milling. Now, I'm sorry, but my plan on hearing 'youth running around with gun' wasn't to stand there like some sort of startled dugong, but was instead to head to the house (not, I grant you with any particular urgency, but more because it was where I was going and I reckon being inside was better than being outside in such a situation). One imagines that lots of milling around people must annoy the police.

Of course, people do like to stare at things. On my last night, on my way to work there was an upside-down car and a lot of flashing lights on the opposite carriageway of the motorway; this, one imagines, was an accident. What this might require from someone travelling in the opposite direction is a quick glance (ideally nothing at all, but I'm human and my interest is piqued, especially 'cos I like to know what might be at work waiting for me). What it doesn't require is letting your foot off the throttle, dropping speed from 80->65, then actually braking to slow down more and get a better look, when you're in the centre lane of the opposing carriageway. Doing this when I'm behind you leads to me hitting the horn, flashing the lights and also hurling abuse in your general direction. It's dangerous and annoying... 

In other news (I might post about work in a bit, given that I've done 3 loads of laundry and we've not got any newspapers kicking around), Brick's for sale. He'll do 'til the end of the week with just posters in the car, and then come thursday I intend to run him round to the jetwash, take lots of photos of the clean'd brick and pop him on e-bay. The DAF Welder is coming on Thursday, so hopefully the DAF'll be returning to the road shortly. Of course, he may turn up and give me a quote that's entirely insane, in which case I'll be calling the other welder.

It's weird, I find it so hard to take time off. Today is basically my only full day off in a run of 9 shifts, and it was only yesterday morning I came off nights. But to take the whole day off seems excessive somehow. I guess doing laundry and writing a letter's hardly challenging, but hey. I'm going to stop there because this post's taken hours to write and been completely rambly. In other news, my headache's gone :)
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So, yesterday was spent doing some 'preventative' maintainance on the bike. If you can really call it preventative after riding it a week having left it sitting for 2 and a half months and having not done any maintainance for a while before that...

I adjusted the brakes, which took longer than might be expected due to the unfortunate fact that they were only just off, and only just moving to on; and when I adjusted them so they were only-just-off but could move to fully on they jammed. In fact, I don't recall ever greasing them...

...So I spent some time unsiezing the brakes. They're still 'sticky' but it's a lot better than it was. It was slightly embarassing to go for my test circuit of our roundabout, put my foot on the brake and then not be able to start moving again.

I also spent some time doing the DAF. The rust is over quite a large area, but it's also 'a big flat panel'. Well, actually it's got an L shape to it at the end, but I reckon it shouldn't be too expensive. I need to ring round some welders... I don't suppose anyone knows the actual rules on 'to and from a place of repair' for non-MOT'd cars. Can you take it 'to and from' one for a quote? (I'm assuming not, though I can drive it *to* a place of repair when I've chosen someone).

meh.

Anyhow, the DAF runs - and starts easily - and is quite cute really. It also moves, it's a bit odd to drive after the Viva and the Minor, but it trundled the 2 feet down the drive and back up the drive without too much trauma.

Kathryn spent the day sorting out the back garden. We've modified and simplified plans for the back garden; mostly to cut costs. I don't think there are any shots of the back garden at the height of 'stuff piled everywhereyness'; but she (and I helped a little bit with the bigger chunks of shite) moved all the rubbish into a heap where the dog-hut (which she took down) was. In the process of this, we noticed that when the people-building-a-house behind our house did their de-tree-and-fence work, they have undermined the foundations for the shed. There's now a fracking-huge crackin the back wall, so I'm going to go and demand monies from them for the shed.

Aaanyway, so she cleared the ground, and having been defeated on the DAF brake service (because, well, I don't actually appear to have ramps, jacks or axlestands here, something which I find a little surprising) helped dig it over. Then we went to b&q and spent 26 quid on compost/plants/seeds and a rake.

We were going to plant them this morning before heading to the zine symposium...but the grey sky are likely to make us leave it... that and it's a bit late....

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So, it's been four weeks since my bin was emptied. I realised that today. I've finally managed to fill my outside bin to the point I need it emptied... by putting two carpets in it.

I'm not quite sure how I generate so little rubbish - obviously the fact that an awful lot of my food is not prepackaged; or is prepacked in plastic bags (recycled) or cling-wrap (binned, but very small) helps. And my habit of not always remembering to eat, that probably helps. But I still find it faintly odd that after 4 weeks all I have to dispose of as rubbish is two small carrier bags mostly full of tissues (and they're *months* worth of rubbish from the lounge and bathroom), and two two-third's full binbags of kitchen waste. Paper and card are recycled, plastic's recycled...uh. Yeah. It's kind of odd.

But this week, yes, the bin is very full. 2 grotty old carpets filled it to fullness. So I'm kinda glad tomorrow is bin-day.

On the matter of the car, we appear (touch wood) to have finally reached understanding of why the bloody thing wasn't starting. It turns out that despite (when I checked) the coil appearing to get a full 12 volts of unballasted little flowing electrons when in the Starter position, it appears that it's not *actually* working as-such. So current bodge is to slap a jump lead twixt coil+ and the battery, start the car, and then whip it off. This is fine, fine and indeed dandy, except that it's been raining almost continuously today and I didn't much enjoy getting wet.

Still, that moves us onto the topic of the coming two weeks.


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So, having lazed on the sofa and eaten (oh goddess was I hungry. I could've eaten a horse. Well, maybe not a horse, but an extremely large feta cheese / mixed veg wrap. That sounds less impressive though) I managed to locate the enthusiasm to find my cheque book. I thought it was on my desk, but I couldn't find it there. Eventually, having searched the lounge and the bedroom I finally went through each piece of paper in the now nearly half metre stack of documents to be filed.

I reached the bottom and was a little perturbed to discover that I'd not found it. Finally I moved a notebook sat twixt the keyboard and the pile-of-documents-to-file; and y'know what? There it was. So anyway, the newly e-bay'd hob should be on it's way to me. I need to collect the sink and the oven too (from Manchester area!) I also discovered that the doors I want are much cheaper from B&Q than their online prices suggest. Doh.

I discovered this because my builder rang and apologised, saying he'd not be here today. This is largely why he's chosen. Although he's rarely turned up on time (I can't say about the days when he's worked while I've not been here, actually); he's fairly tidy and he also rings when he's not going to turn up. In building terms that's almost like being here. So anyhow, he's coming tomorrow now ("Before 11") which meant that my aching tired legs and I could go to B&Q.

The problem with walking to B&Q, as I discovered, while environmentally much better than driving is that when you discover the wheelbarrow you're considering is a flat-pack, well, it screws with your plan somewhat. So I'll have to make a separate wheel-barrow obtaining trip. I also need to sort through the left-behind stuff and pull out that which is hardcore and that which is just gunk to be binned. But the best thing about B&Q was buying weedkiller.

See, my 'lawn' (on the left at least) is basically weed. In fact, there's almost no grass at all. So my mum recommended some evil nasty weedkiller to destroy the weeds before I dig it over, turf it over and call it lawn.

So, there I was at the till with my Fork, my Spade and my 3 litres of weed killer and the woman looked at me for a few seconds, held the weed killer and then said:

"Are you over 21?"

Heh. She looked quite shocked when I declared my 29itude. And then said:

"Well, you don't look 29" in a cheery way.

I just grinned at her. Clearly, I am gorgeous and youthful. I suspect this is due to the careful care I take of my skin; washing every day with, uh, showergel and...bathing it regularly in fresh used engine-oil and grit. Also my routine of nights/lates/earlies which means that my body is constantly deprived of sleep is clearly the way to maintain a healthy young complexion.

I didn't show her the grey hairs *grins*

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So, in an attempt to reduce the chaos, prevent potential moping, and generally keep myself occupied I prep'd the bike for it's MOT. Which went slightly less well than I'd hoped. The front brake light switch has, as usual, stopped working. I should've thought of this and ordered one in advance. I'm going to hope he'll let me promise to replace it. I've sprayed it with lots of contact cleaner come lubricant and wiggled it lots, I'm hoping that it might work on the day.

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