Moop

Mar. 28th, 2009 10:10 am
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So, another week of nights approaches, and we're trying to get a car ready to go on holiday. The minor's exhaust is fouling the suspension, which should be fairly easily fixed. Rebecca is the most likely candidate; only the noisy gearbox and worn diff and suspension being a problem. Jejy's right out. Vixy's heading that way too. In fact, Vixy is looking like she might end up being a parts car for Jejy. In so far as I might pinch the engine, and possibly the seats.

Jejy then gets all new hoses, all new front brakes, new shoes, and a 21k mile engine. Vixy gets a worn out 79k mile engine and shipped off to a new home, keeping her new brake shoes and brake cylinders.

In other news I forked out for a new charger for the batteries. Years ago when I bought some Uniross rechargable NiMHs I went for the nicer charger that they had. It did NiCds and NiMHs and all seemed well, until, obviously, I looked deeper into the 'my batteries seem to die awfully quickly). It turns out it can't deal with more than 2,000mAh batteries. It's timer, not ΔV based, which means it's never, ever charged the batteries properly. The new charger (VapexTech, had a good review, somewhere) is ΔV based (although it has an over-time shut-off), sports specs for 2900mAh batteries (my highest capacity ones say 3,000mAH but probably aren't after having never been charged properly), and came with 4 shiny new 2,900mAH batteries. Hopefully the holiday snaps should be snappable.

Also, in the name of longevity it runs on anywhere from 100-250V at anything from 50-60Hz. Woot for portability.

Now, I'm gonna go shower and get working on the DAF. I need to get the rear brake drum off, because there is, what looks like a leak. Impressive, I feel, since when I tried to bleed it no fluid came out. A whole and proper WTF moment.

Anyhow. Shower. Car*.

* We were meant to be going protesting today. Can't though, 'cos we need transport. Granted we don't need transport more than we need to be able to breathe, but it's all a matter of timing :-/

'm okay!

Mar. 23rd, 2009 01:37 pm
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So, my good friend Nikki rang me up after the last post, concerned that I sounded very down and wanting to check I was okay. She's kind and thoughtful like that.

So I thought I'd just say, I'm okay. It's perhaps a healthy dose of realism time. I've been sticking solidly to the "the house will sell for enough and we'll go to Canada" belief because of the options we've got it's my favourite. To use the house metaphore, it's the one I've built foundations for, I'd been looking at the plans and preparing to get contractors. It worked thusly:

Buy house
Fix house
Sell house, use funds thus obtained to enable us to
1) Go to Canada
2) Me to pay off *all* my debts
3) Have some savings to live off in Canada if it all goes pearshaped
And I'd added:
4) Hopefully have enough that some of those savings can be scooped off for our notional world trip in a few years time.

There wasn't really a plan B. I knew that the housing market was going to plummet in just the way that bricks do, I just hoped it did it after I'd (now) we'd sold. Unfortunately, my hopes lacked the strong foundations of reality.

The new 'plan', for want of a better word, is to finish the house (because whether we're living in it, or selling it, I'd rather like it not to niggle like a splinter. The unfinished floor in the lounge, the dirty old door* in our shiny new kitchen), get it valued and make the rest of the plan based on the outcome of that.

- Sell and get to Canada ASAP
- Sell and move somewhere else in the UK (I don't need to clear my debts to do that**)
- Enjoy the lovely environs of Slough.

I'm rooting for A, hoping that at worst B comes off and trying to think about ways to make C more bearable. Ironically, the house is coming together to be a really lovely place. The garden should be beautiful this year, and even more so next; there should be fruit and fresh veg, herbs and gorgeous flowers...

If it weren't for the builder's yard right behind it would be glorious*** .

Anyway, so I'm okay. I'm just.... disappointed.

In other news, I just realised that I've owned Rebecca 17 years. That was quite a shock. And in another quirky thing I've never noticed before; she was first registered on my mum's birthday. How bizzare is that? It's funny how coincidence pops up on you.

Now, What shall I do with this last hour before I go to work? I've swept the bedroom (and put clothes away), and looked depressingly at my Student Loan deferment thing (I think I may finally have to actually start paying back the loans****). Hrm, maybe I'll watch some Holmes on Holmes.

Tomorrow is another day, and I'm hoping a day when bits of DAF might turn up.



* Needs the 1960s hardboard overcoat taking off, then it needs stripping and painting.
** I don't, I suppose, technically need to clear my debts to move to Canada, but it really makes everything a lot more complicated if I don't. And it makes living much harder to do. It's bad enough here where I can go and chat and shuffle my lack of money around. There... well...
*** It *was*, when I moved in, a wild untended lot. It was pretty.
**** Confusingly my loans are owned by two separate companies. I'm not sure if I'll get two separate student-loan-deferment letters, and need to make payments to two separate companies. That would be distressing. But only one of them has been flagged as 'needing payment' in this letter. It appears I won't make my dream of never paying them back by remaining a poorly paid wage-slave.
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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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If I don't get what I want done, and I imagine that it's a reasonable amount of work that I've set myself, I feel very negative about the things I did achieve. I feel like I should have worked on the Minor, but I know, logically, that I've never managed to get a decent seal on the LCB manifold without help. And therefore, what would have been the point? And had Jagdev have said 'yes, I can get the parts' when I rang then I'd've been stuck. On the other hand, when we hit mid-day I should have realised I'd not get the brake parts in time to fit and bleed them, so I should, maybe, have started work on the Minor.

At any rate, tomorrow I'll have to get up early and do the Minor. I can douse the connections on Jejy and Vixy in plusgas too, in the hope that when I come to try and remove them I'll actually manage to get them off in one piece.

Looking at the positives: While the radio is tatty, it is fitted. The parts I need are ordered and possibly even winging their way here. And I painted the kitchen window aperture (whatever it's called) with basecoat to cover the shite layer of paint and flakey plaster up at the top of the window and the not-great plastering I did on the left hand edge. Ready to paint, my arse.

As a side point, I've not heard back from the builders about the quote for new work or fixing the old work since their 'I'll ask such-and-such'. See, negative.
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So, nights were made more entertaining than normal, or scary, depending on whether I was hearing the stories about the doctor or telling the stories about the doctor. Just remember, nurses save your life. Not always, but sometimes.

Let's just say that that was one of the more scary things I've had happen. Not quite as scary as the new doctor intubating someone, and despite me clearly saying "tell me what you need, I've never done this before" he got to paralysing the patient and then looked at me and went "oh shit, where's the tube".

Anyhow, post nights have, so far, not been too awful. I stayed up yesterday, pottering in the garden. I laid the last few bricks; and then threw gravel down on the new pseudo-patio area. It makes the straightness of the concrete look less...well...like a big straight line of concrete. I'm already thinking we should have forked out for the weed control fabric, but hey, never mind.

I also spent some time in B&Q staring at concrete and (very lazy) mortar mixes; I'm definately feeling more inclined to spend the extra and get the pre-mix stuff, just because I need so little to do the stairs that it hardly seems worth getting a big bag of concrete, and once you factor in the big bag of stones and half a ton of builder's soft sand... well... it doesn't work out that much cheaper, I suspect.

Today I dropped Kathryn at school which proved to me that...the minor's exhaust is lower than it should be.

This I knew.

I think it's time for a state of the fleet address:

Rebecca:
Transmission almost dead. 2nd and 3rd attrociously noisy, and sometimes not that easy to obtain. 1st sounds awful too. 4th's pretty good though!
Front suspension worn out.
Exhaust needs two parts separating which don't want to come apart (no matter how hard I try). I will have another go, though, since the current arrangement of parts has the exhaust fouling speedbumps.

Jejy:
Brake cylinder needs replacing.
Exhaust needs replacing.
Probably needs a rebore and new rings, burns oil like a good'un.
Needs new vacuum hoses, probably, and new heater hoses, definately...

Vixy:
Needs a new brake cylinder, I think, because the one that's not been replaced's leaking more than a teeny bit. I think the new cylinders are a different diameter to the old ones, and that would explain the uneven braking. I'm hoping the new shoes will improve the braking in the sense of making it more effective, but I doubt they'll do anything to improve the significant pull. Needs new gaiters on the front suspension...will Duct-tape do?
Needs 2 new tyres (well, probably needs 5, but I've not looked at the rear ones as hard as the front ones).

Just a few jobs then :-/
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Kathryn can stay! We finally got the Visas back yesterday; well, visa. Kathryn's now allowed to stay here until we leave, unless that takes more than 2 years. I was incredibly relieved, since we're going on holiday in the not too distant future and need passports for that.

So that's good.

Also good, I had my eyetest today; in 5 years my eyes have hardly changed. In fact, one eye is exactly the same and one is so very slightly different they recommended no change in prescription. I also have no signs of macular degeneration - which is good - my mum's got very serious degeneration and I'm slightly worried about my eyesight (long term) but they checked it today my field of vision is hunky dory.

I will just have to take care of my eyes.

I was sat reading the contact lens sign and really want to go back to wearing lenses; but can't at the mo. If this allergy clinic does the Sublingual allergy treatment, that might mean I could, which would be awesome beans.

I was also good today for numerous reasons:
- I actually walked to town and back, rather than driving, despite it being cold.
- I sorted out my debts a bit. A very nice woman at the bank explained that there is a way to avoid early repayment charges on a loan, so my debt is now a loan. I must not take the credit cards with me anywhere.
- I didn't buy the Nikon D70s I saw. I'm even not buying it now, despite knowing it's quite a good price.
- On a smaller scale, I didn't buy lunch. I bought a drink ('cos I was thirsty after leaving uh...an hour earlier than I needed to (yes, I'm stupid sometimes)).
- I went and dropped off my prescription at the doctor's - so I should be able to get my new nose-spray on Monday.

I've also been good:
- Yesterday I fixed the car's exhaust. Well. Improved. Fixed might be an overstatement. It's now only fouling the suspension at extremes of travel. Having beaten crap out of the bit that you can't replace for about an hour I managed to move the 45 degree joint by about an inch and a half - a good chunk of the two inches I needed. I think it's leaking less now. Not quite sure how to get it that last half inch tho'.
- I got the iPaq working on the Mac. Well, technically it's working through Windows 2000 on VMWare on the MacBook. The GPS bit should work, and so before we go to Ireland I need to fork out for a new CF card for it - a much bigger one - then I can have Europe maps...and an MP3 player in the car again. That would rock my little world.

Also good:
Royksopp's new video. Many people seem to have missed this, and it's excellent.
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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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Said my body at 4:45am. I'm not quite sure why, I think I was woken by my throat, and then my brain started listing all the things I need to do today. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) Kathryn said I wasn't to do anything that might upset my throat further - so my cunning plan to strip the paint on the door frames, and uh, paint them is off*.

I've still got a fair bit to get on with. When the frost's melted a bit I need to take jejy round to the tyre place, having found that the 'slow' puncture's got quicker, and that it's leaking from the valve. Now I can point and go "look, it's leaking from the valve; that's definately your fault, please fix it". I also am debating getting an external enclosure for my now spare SATA hard drive (what? why?!)...

Let me explain. I want to sell the G5 Mac. The G5 Mac currently sports 2 largish harddrives, a lot of memory, a 20" monitor, a 14" LCD monitor and so on. To sell it, I have two options:

1) Dump all my data onto and remove the second HDD.
2) Copy all my data onto the 500Gb ex-entertainment-Hackintosh drive in an external drive case and then nuke the two drives.

I think the latter is probably the better solution. Whilst it will cost 20 quid, it will probably add more than 20 quid to the value of the Mac, selling it with two big hard drives in. Mind you, if one of them is bigger than 500Gig it'll be being swapped around.

At any rate, I've been travelling in the DAF a lot recently, and it's come to my attention that the Radiomobile radio doesn't work...



It did work when we got the car, it stopped working a while ago, and has not spontaneously reanimated itself. But I rather like the look of it. Ratty and tatty though it is, it's part of the car's 1970s charm. The plasti-chrome is peeling and the volume knob turns on it's spindle. But I have a solution. Rip out its guts and throw them away.

I've finally found a cheapie company making (almost certainly lousy quality) automotive amplifiers (but you're in a car with no soundproofing to speak of). In fact, the one I've bid 75p for (but £9.99 shipping) also sports 2 inputs (but no means of switching between them, switches, presumably, are extra). But since I intend to gut the poor wee beastie, that's fine. I'm also hopefully going to get my grubby little hands on one of the Matsui DAB tuners. Back before I planned to move to Canada I debated buying one of these for the Minor. But they were 30 quid at the time.

Now, at a few quid second hand, they're tempting to again be the subject of my soldering iron. The plan is simple; gut the DAB tuner, gut the amplifier, make Radiomobile into DAB tuner. Leave socket for MP3/CD player. And lo, we'll have the perfect modern stereo in a 70s box.

Mind you, that's how it is in my head. How it'll work in practice is another question. The other thing I quite fancy, having driven the car a while now, is a small amount of illumination around the air vent controls and the hot/cold air selector sliders.

I usually end up waving my arms around under the dashboard to find them (when driving in the dark) so a little glowy white LED illuminating the up/down arrows seems quite tempting to me. And a little red/blue illumination on the hot air and cold air sliders also seems like quite a nice idea (potentially mounting them in a small piece of sanded perspex to diffuse the light). I'm slightly concerned she might look a little boy-racer though with the blue/red glow eminating from the dash, but at least I'd be able to control the temperature while driving without too much concentration. I'm also slightly concerned that I might get overly attached to Jejy. But hey.

This all comes about because I need to prepare Jejy to be Rebecca's temporary replacement while I fit the diff (when it arrives), the gearbox (when it's ready), the new swivel pins (when they're manufactured; if ever), trunions, poly-bush the front suspension, and repaint the damaged paint areas of the engine bay. Oh, and strip out the dash, find all the things that are rattling, stop them from doing so, clean out the heater, fit a new inline heater control valve (from a golf, apparently), and potentially convert her to Left Hand Drive (which involves moving the brake master cylinder and associated plumbing, remanufacturing the dash I made (otherwise the worry gauges will all be in front of the passenger), fitting the other gearbox front plate and somehow working out how to lock and unlock the passenger door from the outside), oh and ideally fitting a heated rear window that works, and in a perfect world sending off the speedo to be recalibrated, the revcounter to be reinternalised and the clock to be made to work (a car with a working clock! that'd be a novelty).

Just a short list of jobs...

So Jejy may have to do service for the minor for a while. Which is why I fancy a radio and a CD input.

Anyway, today I need to get my act together and sell the Mac, and possibly the Dell (although I doubt the dell is going to sell). And in aid of getting started, I shall now have my breakfast.

* Yes, yes, I know she's right, but it seemed like a good idea in my head :)
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It's Sunday, it's cold out, and guess what. I'm inside!

Inside!

I can feel all my limbs, my peripheries are not the temperature of something you'd normally drop in a cocktail, and I can't see my breath. The lights fading and I'm not struggling to put in bolts in the half-light.

The minor has an exhaust, I'm not rating it as the best fitting exhaust in all of christendom, it's an Aluminised Steel one so it hopefully last a few years longer than a plain mild steel one (before it rusts and drops off). I've poked at LJ, Kathryn and I went out for a drive in the DAF - we went out for one yesterday and on hitting 40mph the L plate (a magnetic one) peeled up and flicked off the front of the car, fluttering gently into traffic. Sadly it meant Kathryn couldn't drive home from the store, so we checked the road today and couldn't see it... Instead, today, we bought a static-cling one which is living behind the front windscreen - seeming less likely to go fluttering off.

Assuming it's not pissing down with rain tomorrow I may even take the little DAF round the corner and get the front and rear windows removed and refitted in an attempt to stop the high rate of water ingress.

We've had a very nice breakfast, in a relaxed and quite decadent manner (Lady Grey tea, scrambled eggs with mushrooms and Parmesan; with toasted bagels and home* made jam (apple and ginger)) before we head out to inflict DAF on Slough. I've placed a bid on an e-bay Bread Maker - we appear to have missed the whole bread-makers being cool thing. Every shop appears to have stopped stocking them. The two laptops have all of a few quid between them - which is less great, but hopefully the watchers will bid in the last few minutes as normal.

Jejy still has a few quirks, most noteably a distinct leftward urge when braking hard. The idle's started to settle down now, which is nice, it was far too high (my fault) because I kinked the throttle cable (and also because I pulled it too taught). Other than that though, she's been a good little car, and definately is running better with the new air filter, the new insulated king lead & the insulated HT leads... :)

You'd think I'd've noticed the horrendous lack of insulation at some point earlier....never mind :)

*My mum's home, not ours...
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So, I spent today working in Resus. I am, not to put to finer point on it, exhausted. My alarm went off this morning and having hit snooze once, and then switched the alarm off, it took me a full 'nother 20 minutes to get out of the bed. I missed my shower, and was late setting off, but managed, thankfully, to get there on time. Of course, once there I remained tired. Perhaps doing the car the last two weekends in a row was not the most sensible plan.

Perhaps I do, at some point, need a break.

I have a spot on my head, under my hair. It's annoying.

I wish I'd had a shower.

Anyhow, having had an very busy shift in Resus I came home and lept on the car with all the enthusiasm I could muster. I wish I'd remembered what I learned last time was doing this - fundamentally that without a pipe expanding dooble it's really fracking difficult. However, in a few hours I've managed to knock up a temporary section of exhaust. Would have been a lot less had I have had a sharp blade in the hacksaw. It started out pretty good, but by the last cut on the last section of exhaust it was a bit laughable really.

It's not really any quieter, 'cos it's still got several holes in it (2, actually) but they're smaller holes than were in it before hand. I may go and get some exhaust repair bandage which'd shut it right up, or I could get a couple of jubillee clips and some metal from a can... ;)

Bodge? Me? To keep a car on the road? Never.

Anyway,

I'm going to stop now, because I'm really very tired.
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So, it's cold, frequently wet and windy. What would be less than ideal?

Guess... go on... guess.

are you right...? )
pyoor_excuse: (union)
So, the plan was to do the clutch on the DAF. This is, obviously a simple job...

1) Remove the bonnet, bumper and grille
2) Detach all electrics (including the solenoid on the carb, the coil, the ....)
3) Remove the air filter
4) Remove the exhaust and heat exchangers
5) Slip out the engine and clutch
6) Change the clutch
7) Put the whole darn lot back together.

Theoretically a weekend should have been enough. Hell, with enough light and it being warm enough it should have been done in a day. Unfortunately, mid way through day two (siezed bolts, the fact it was freezing yesterday) this bolt intervened:

DAF exhaust

It is actually impossible to reach with ordinary spanners, a 3/4" wrench or a 1/2" wrench (even with a UJ inserted into the mix). I'm contemplating a set of S-shaped spanners but I'm not sure I can even get it off with them. I'm suspecting that the answer is: Angle grind off old exhaust (which I suspect may have been badly welded), Replace. Put on new exhaust with S-spanners. Unfortunately this doesn't fit into the plan of having the car running tomorrow, or uh, any day this week.

It's very annoying to have been defeated by a single nut. Once that's off the engine can come out and we can attempt to change the clutch shoes, but until it's done we're stuck with a DAF on ramps with a tarp over the front on our drive. Not really what we had in mind.

On the plus side, we had a very, very nice dinner yesterday at Wagamamas in Windsor. And then came home and had a very nice evening at home :)

Also on the plus points, the minor's oil leak is now sorted, theoretically, and the heater while not pumping out heat is significantly warmer.

Ah, drugs.

Jan. 9th, 2009 05:09 pm
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So, massively overtired as I was, thankfully yesterday's shift was in an observation ward. A proper obs ward, not like where I work. Or perhaps that's backwards. Our obs ward is really just that, it's clearly intended as a place to keep an eye on a few people who you can't send home immediately but don't really need admission. No nurses' station, no drug cupboard, nothing but a few beds and chairs, and a loo.

This one had a showers and bathrooms and isolation rooms, and a full range of drugs like you get on a ward. It had it's own resus trolley, a large nurses station and a dedicated A&E doctor. Quite odd. Dear god was it dull though. I hadn't realised how much I hate ward work!

I've not been so bored in my life. Mind, at 50p a minute for me to be bored there are worse things.

And I got to read the independent, from cover to cover.

The trains were very good to me too.

And Kathryn, very kindly, bought me drugs. I came home and there was a bottle of night-nurse waiting for me, so last night I slept all the way through, from 2200 to 0600 when I, with some poking, was encouraged out of bed. Rebecca, you see, had a date. She was to go to Southam Mini &  Metro Centre to have her leaky engine looked at. She now sports a new timing chain cover, one without a pinhole in it (I hope), and the water leak has hopefully been sorted too.

Also slightly more sorted is the heater. It'd not been getting warm, as such, and as winter's got on I'd got bored of being bitterly cold, so asked if they could fit a 88 degree stat. When they checked, they realised it didn't have a stat at all, being still set up for running in - so that ended up being a freebie (always good), and it does now get warm, at least some of the time. I am vaguely wondering if it's got an airlock or somesuch problem though, 'cos it does seem to run cool at points, but I've checked and there is definately a full radiator of coolant.

It needs more exploration.

One thought that struck me today, as I noticed I'm less than 1000 miles from an indicated 30,000 is that, well...  I got Rebecca at 60,000 miles (ish). She's now displaying 30,000 (whether that's 130,000 or 230,000, or indeed more is a bit of a question). So that's 70,000 miles in her, except... for 2 years or so she sported another speedo. And I faintly recall that one had 30 or 40k put on it was in use.

So in fact, Rebecca and I may have travelled around 100,000 miles together in the last 8 years. Not bad for a 40 year old car, I'd say. Anyway, I need to go and write a note for the owner of the corner house, apparently he said 'no' because the roof of the garage is falling in. I *know* it's falling in, my point was that I'd deal (at least temporarily) with the roof if I can use the garage for free for as long as it's standing... So I'm going to go and drop off a note.
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So, yes, sorry for the inconsiderate post-spam, but I've been so tired this last week that I've not been able to post anything. This has, of course, been annoying for me because most of the things I wanted to talk about have gone from my head. You've got one work related post, I think there were going to be four or so, but can't even recall what they were going to be about.
And the spam continues... )

Anyhow, despite my desire to lie on this sofa and repeat yesterday's impressive TV feast* (I watched 6 episodes of Blackadder, and one of Homes under the Hammer), I really should get up and move and do stuff. What with the list getting longer by the day, and my effect on it so-far having been minimal.Read more... )
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So, it being the holiday season, or at least the tail end of the holiday season I thought I'd emerge from the hole in which Kathryn and I have been hiding and wish you all a Very Merry (if somewhat late) Xmas. We, for our part, lurked inside the house and I had a fantastic day. Peaceful, relaxing and with the woman I love.

We had a slightly lazy morning (by my standards), and got up at half-8/9ish when hunger and the fact that I'm still like a child at Christmas (bouncy, in my usual bouncy way) got the better of us. Thankfully I didn't get an agency shift, something my bank account is less overjoyed about than me, which mean that we could munch on home made Chocolate and Pecan pancakes (American style). Then we did prezzies, and Kathryn's mom & dad had been very generous which meant that prezzies actually took quite a while.

Kathryn and I then did each other's prezzies. Kathryn got me the Morris Minor Biography, which I'd spotted only weeks before and lusted after; she ordered it way before though...

But the best gift, is the one she made:

She made me a mini Kate Monster!

She's so cute! And awesome! (applicable to both Kate Monster and Kathryn).

I want to take her to work and 'assess' patients with her. It would both be awesome and hilariously amusing (for me).

Sorry, two awesome's in one sentence. We relaxed the rest of the day, with a little break to cook a Xmas dinner (Parmesan Chicken, veggies, Yorkshires). We watched White Christmas and the Doctor Who Xmas Special (with scary Cybermen)! It was one of the most beautiful Xmases I remember.

Yesterday, we repeated the Xmas experience with the visit to my Mum's; getting yummy prezzie from her and her partner, fluffy prezzies from my sister and her husband and sharing our hand-made gifts with them.

And tomorrow, before my nights, we shall have a mini spending spree, since everyone rather handily gave us vouchers for the same store (John Lewis), although we're planning a little trip to Peter Jones, in Chelsea, as befits our double-barrelled name :)

The only other news over the Xmas period that occurs to me to share is that my laptop is not, well, great. We've had days without some of the keys, days when we've decided not to start, and the screen's clearly on it's way out again :(

I'm watching a few G4 Powerbooks on ebay, and may pick up one of them to replace the aged Dell... Oh, and 'beccamogs shaken one of the exhaust clamps loose, so I need to do that up tomorrow, or Tuesday. :)

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Yesterday I engaged in shameless money grubbing, despite being exhausted I drove for an hour and a half after a revoltingly early wake up call, to go work in St. Marks Hospital for the Feverish and Sickly. I've done one shift there before - a night shift months ago - and bizzarely some of the staff were on again. And also somewhat confusingly we've had so many agency staff at the trust in which I work over the last few weeks that I knew a whole load of people who were at St. Marks yesterday - all of whom looked very confused when they realised I was out of my normal location. Not only that, but a member of the Ambulance Service who I thought seemed interesting, but never got around to working out how to say 'hi, shall we meet up for a coffee some-time'*, and who recently left our area to work closer to home, happened to be on duty too. So it was kind of like working in my own department.

I even knew how the system worked and were the drugs were... which was nice. It wasn't that harder day, although being one of the agency nurses I got shuffled from one place to another through the morning, ended up doing admission assessments, having my own bay, looking after an observation ward... It was all fine though.

Unfortunately, it has left me exhausted. The 3 hours of driving after how ever many days on shift has left me feeling drained. I slept in 'til nearly 10, which is incredibly unusual for me, and even now just ache. I need to sort out the exhaust on the mog, the front manifold of which is leaking like....well...something. Although I've asked (at long last) about the abandoned garage a couple of houses down, so if I've got access to that then that'd make all the jobs that need doing much more pleasant. Unfortunately, it also requires time; time which I don't currently have. ONe would think that you'd either have time or money, and though this month through a process of working a ridiculous number of extra shifts I'm able to actually look at my bank account and not wince, which is nice.

There may even be some to pay off the overwhelming debts that lurk on my credit card. And perhaps there's the possibilty that Charles Ware's Morris Minor centre might respond to my statement that I'm going to have to take them to court over the 'restoration' of Rebecca they did 7 years ago - in which case - the debt incurred fixing that restoration will be somewhat ameliorated.

Anyhow, I need to get on with doing Kathryn's present, the coffee doesn't seem to have kicked in in quite the way I'd hoped, but I am at least upright.

In other news I've sorted a place to sort the gearbox - so the new gearbox is off to them to be reconditioned (later today if I get off my arse) *and* I've got the clips to hold the trim in place on the DAF. Woo yeah!

* I'm always faintly worried that it'll (a) sound odd, particularly with the techs/paramedics because I barely know 'em, and (b) sound like some sort of come-on, when all I want to do is make some friends**
** Yes, I really suck at making friends.
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So, 'becca's covered a full 3000 miles since her rebuild and it's service time. While the newly rebuilt A+ engine has somewhat longer service intervals than the A-series, the suspension, gearbox and back-axle are all original mog and need servicing every 3000 miles. It's a clear blue sky out there and I'm going to shower and head to the store to get some oil and oil-fiter and bits and bobs (I'm not going to do the valve clearances, but I will ring Southam Metro Centre to see if they can fit me in any day before Xmas to get the 500 mile check over done; because they said just carry on driving and come back when you've got enough time free).

I'm planning to take the fan-heater outside with me (the one with switches) so I can warm my toes and my hands as I need to - because despite the sun being 'out' it's still frosty outside. I'm also planning a quick trip to the bank to deposit Kathryn's half of the mortgage and such - and then I will get the stuff ordered for the DAF. I'm already going to have to move 'er today, which is less than ideal, but I need the driveway space. My lax approach to asking about the garage on the corner means today's service has to be conducted on the driveway. In the cold. Lying on a sheet of cardboard.

I also need to sort out some means of getting music outside or I will, and I say this quite honestly, go nuts. I hate working on the car in silence, and I've done it often enough. I'll probably run the cable round from the back of the house and dump the laptop on the wall. But I must admit to being slow about getting outside because it's fucking freezing. It was cold *in* the house (this morning, it's not now :) ). Outside it's going to be even colder.

Work continues to be incredibly short staffed, virtually every day they've offered me extra shifts - I've covered 2 this week and been offered another 2 - and we've been working with more agency staff in the department than I've ever seen before. We have had some truly excellent Thornbury nurses, which is not entirely surprising, but it's good when you see how agency should be. People with plenty of A&E experience coming in, which makes it far easier to deal with than when you have lots of non-A&E staff.

I've accidentally accepted a shift I shouldn't have though. I'd meant to keep the day open for Agency, but forgot to put that on the Calendar. Ah well, at least I know I've got a shift.

I need to send my agency my Plaster form and Suture form and Cannulation form too. Get that sorted this week, maybe.

Sorry, this is emensely dull for you. Today's journal post comes from the 'Post it note of things to do' genre. ;)

Yeah, so anyhow, on other topics. Canada's been lurking in my consciousness a lot recently. Contemplating logistics, and timings, and considering posting on the vancouver community (and possibly canadian lesbians) to get some input on ideas. Propsects for Kathryn's job-interests, good hospitals, should we consider living in Richmond - or would it be like living in a giant Slough. Also wondered if there's some kind of equivalent to housing auctions here - there - just because I'd like to look at Reno possibilities (not yet talked to Kathryn about that) - with the idea that we could live in place A, reno place B (or even get people in to do it) - and thus be able to land up in a house of our own (again) - 'cos I like having a place which is ours. I like painting and decorating and the fact that we picked the decor, and we can change it when we want.

I keep having this sort of pseudo-dream that I'm coming home from work and we're living in Canada. It doesn't get as far as 'and I'm not working 3 jobs', but I suspect that all the extra shifts I've been doing are factoring in to it.

The unnerving thing is that to earn enough to pay off the credit card I'll almost certainly earn over the threshold of starting to pay my student loan. Which I've been carefully avoiding for the last 6 years. In fact, I was hoping to make it, in some cunning way, to the point when they write the loan off (which iirc is around 50 years old). Unfortunately I'd like to earn enough to eat and go out - the two don't necessarily coincide.

One quick question though - I read this post in the Vancouver community - I can't find anything about this new show ('Paradox') anywhere online - has anyone heard of it? Only it sounds quite cool - and I'm intrigued 'n want to find out more about it...

So - anyway - I need to go shower and get on with getting oily and dirty. Have fun with your days, y'all. Think of me, frozen to the floor outside.

Le Weekend

Dec. 2nd, 2008 08:52 am
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So, despite the persistent sore throat (which has lead me to be worried about whether I got something icky in the small cut I found on my finger during one night shift (and hence whether I should have done an incident form and gone to occupational health); I have to remind myself that I had the sore throat *before* the cut, and therefore my paranoia should shut the f*ck up) we held a pretty darn spiffy Thanksgiving.

Nikki and Kate supplied turkey, James some truly delicious wine, and us the veg, the cooking space and the, uh, space. Our house isn't huge - but we managed to squeeze 5 around the table without too much difficulty - and thanks to Kathryn's careful scheduling the food all landed up being cooked and ready to eat at the right time. We had a traditional US dinner consisting of Turkey (one of the rare occasions we've cooked meat, although I let Nikki do all the prep ;) ), Sweet potato casserole, Sage Cornmeal biscuits (anyone know where you can get Cornmeal in the UK? We brought back an entire kg of it from the States - in our case), Home made stuffing spicy sausage and sage stuffing, Cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes, Gravy, Wine, Schloer & Root Beer... and for desert, made with fresh pumpkin - Pumpkin pie with whipped cream / pseudocream.

It was a vast amount of food. We have, as is traditional, a fridge half-full of turkey. Yesterday Kathryn made one of our pet meals, Artichoke and Cheese Tart - but replaced some of the onion with... Turkey. Today I'm going to have a second slice of tart for lunch and some... Turkey :)

We attempted to fob off much Turkey on Nikki and Kate, and later on James, as well as some of the remaining produce from the Fried breakfast for the day following (Pancakes, Sausages/Beans/Hash Browns etc, which Nikki very generously cooked).

So much food!

It was a delight, though, to see everyone and have everyone here. I have new admiration for dog owners though. Pepper and Eddie occupied our house for one day - and very well behaved dogs they both are too - but the amount of hair and dirt they left behind is truly astonishing. Our venerable and aged Dyson DC01 wept tears of frustration as it attempted to suck and beat the hairs off the carpet*; and the sheer quantities of hair that we swept up in the kitchen - well - I am much impressed by those who keep dogs and keep their houses clean. I've no idea how you do it. I do, vaguely** recall that when living with Daisy there was an amazing amount of fur-deposits around the house, and that vacuuming was often a multi-bag-emptying job (with the then quite shiny DC02).

Anyhow, we spent the evening engaged in a War on Terror which - amazingly - we (the coalition of Nikki, James, Kathryn and I) beat down the terrorists (Kate - who managed to at one point have Terrorist cells in virtually every country). James wishes it to be known that while the Coalition won, he won the most*** ;)

Sunday, Kathryn and I had a fairly lazy day (apart from the hoovering, sweeping and laundry) leading in to a week of work in which my shifts are 'not great'. Two long days**** and two late shifts. This weekend just gone was the last and final weekend I get off until after Xmas - the only reason I have a weekend off then is to prepare for nights. And to ice the cake of awful shifts - Kathryn is off for two weeks over Christmas - Christmas week - which I'm working (except the weekend after) and New Year's week - which I'm on nights. The day she goes back to work is my first day off after nights.

Bloody fantastic that is :(

The only compensation is that while December is a 3 week month pay-wise and January a convenient 6 week month (urk!) then the pay I get in January should be less painful for it because I should get a bucketload of enhancements. Making it through the December / January months is always somewhat difficult. I am faintly tempted to move my pay straight into my savings account when it comes in, and give it back to myself just before Xmas (an idea which only just popped into my head).

And, can we all have our 'make it a nice day and Kate-be-well' heads on for Friday - 'cos 'beccamog really needs a service, and however much I try and put it off it's time and I should do it. Even if it's bloody freezing (like today :( ).

As a side point - changing your name is complicated as a Registered nurse - especially when people randomly say things like 'hey; your civil cermony certificate isn't signed' and you go 'oh, no it isn't, arse'. Virtually everyone's accepted it except NHS Professsionals, which makes it doubly complicated because my name on the Register has now changed. Anyhow, jobs to do today include faxing my statement of entry (from the Nursing and Midwifery Council) to all and sundry and also ringing Cumbria's Registrars and saying 'oi, should our Civil Partnership Certificate be signed'? 


* although I think its filters probably need changing again - what with us having had builders in and much dust being sucked through the poor benighted object.

** all too well, actually

*** Having all of North and South America under his control

**** Sort of my choice.

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So, more from the delayed update fairy.

Today Kathryn awoke me with a kiss and the information that Obama had won the US election. I was hopeful but wary, considering that I'd spent some of yesterday watching the video / reading the Rolling Stone article on Republican maneuvering to remove nearly 20% of voters  in some areas. And listening to NPR yesterday the discussion of malfunctioning machines, and then reading the news last night and finding that optical scanners were causing problems... well... it all boiled down to me not being utterly convinced that the election would go the way the voters intended.

But all that's in the past - although I think some true electoral reform may be needed - in regards of making sure those who are registered to vote can vote, and maybe kicking Diebolt's arse for manufacturing such attrocious voting machines :)

At any rate, it's pleasing news. Maybe the world can get on with moving forward into a nice, sensible future, rather than attempting to bring back the inquisition.

So, on the topic of local news; Kathryn and I have been making use of wedding gifts - we tried out the new teapot a while ago and it was excellent - the cool thing about it is you can stop the brewing process; so once the tea's ready, it stays in the pot ready, rather than going yicky. That, and it looks cool too. It is the Bodum teapot - much in the line of the cafetiers, but for tea. In fact, you probably could use the cafetier to make tea, should you wish. I may indeed try that at some point, for a one cup pot of tea.

We've also used the new mixer; it's very, very nice. It does really quite yummy dough - and the metal bowl can stand near the fire being as we have no 'warm place' (i.e. there's no airing cupboard) to put the dough in to rise. In it we made Calzones, which are yummy, and enabled us to christen our new baking tray (well, cookie tray, technically). And yesterday we had our first pasta experiment - which also seemed to go fairly well. I didn't quite get the mix right in terms of consistency, and have realised I don't need to bother with the hand mixing bit; I can just dump it all in with the dough hooks and it can do all the faffing. But, once cooked it tasted like pasta (pasta is just egg and really, really fine flour. Who knew!); and I suspect that given this (mixer related) information we may be able to produce pasta somewhat quicker.

The pasta maker got christened yesterday too - although we need something to clamp it to; so I suspect in future I'll make pasta on the dining table because yesterday it was a two person job to make pasta ('cos it kept sliding around).

I was going to post a picture of the pasta, because I was quite proud (a million italians are weeping right now), but unfortunately I've no idea what I did with the batteries from my camera. Not that they're really working now - it's on it's third set and they're nearly dead - I ought to take a whole bunch for recycling because it slaughters them. I'm not quite sure how or why, but they end up lying in the gutter after about 6 months of use; they still take an age to charge, but the camera only works for about 30 shots or 8 flash shots before they give up and start crying.

But I still can't afford a shiny new SLR, so another set of batteries will have to be sought.

In other, other, news; I appear to have sourced a 3.9 ratio Diff for the minor. This will mean (a) she'll go faster for less revs (the original diff is 4.22:1); (b) she'll have a diff which isn't producing little shards of metal as we go along (which is, I think we can all agree, a bad thing); and that (c) I need to get off my arse and sort a gearbox. The diff in question needs reconditioning, but honestly? 3.9 Diffs don't come up *that* often, (3.7 Diffs even less so); so one that needs some new bearings is quite honestly a good find.

I've stuck a post on the MMOC to see if someone will pallet me a slightly knackered old gearbox - and if they will I may have to take over a spot of floor and strip and rebuild it. It's a little scary, but me and my trusty Morris Manual (and a selection of tools) should be able to manage it. No, forget that; we will be able to manage it.

Sadly, the DAF has developed a new noise; although the DAF owners club reckon it might not be such a disasterous noise as I first thought - so the Minor's due a service, and the DAF is due a service, and I need to run the Minor up to Leamington again to get the leaky oil-breather changed. It's at this point that I could do with access to a garage.

And in the final piece of news; I've re-sealed the shower, again. What I pulled out was, to put not too finer point on it, manky. I cleaned within an inch of it's life, and sealed it with fresh silicone sealant. What happens now is up to the gods. And now? Now it's time for me to go dunk myself in a bath - 'cos I'm giving the sealant lots of time to dry out.
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So, it's been a bit of a busy week and posting (while it's been in my head) has been a bit of a not-happening-thing.

Amazingly, on Tuesday Jonathon at JLH informed me that Rebecca was (or would be) ready to pick up that evening. Sporting a new MOT, and despite the gearbox sounding like a blender filled with spanners, all the work that was paid for and asked for was done, with the exception of a few piddly jobs. I chatted with Kathryn and we decided to head up after work on Wednesday and bring Rebecca back to the fold.

We flew up there on Wednesday, the trains being amazingly good to us (although Virgin had double booked our seats, but we found a pair together elsewhere on the train); and the timetable's incredibly irritating, because you arrive from the FGW train in Reading just after the previous Leamington Spa Virgin train service has left, so all the staff go 'oh, platform...no, sorry, you've just missed that one'...

Having got there we were met at the station by Jonathon (who really is terribly nice), who also kept us entertained with tea while we waited for Rebecca to make her way back from the engine-place. She'd gone back there because she'd sucked up a bunch of crap from the petrol tank and wasn't idling very well. Carb cleaned out (and apparently 'could do with a rebuild', *sigh*); she returned. She sounds *fabulous*.

I've missed that A+ series engine. It doesn't clatter musically the way the A series did (mind you, all my engines have been pretty worn out), and is apparently now developing a shocking 75bhp, approx. ISTR that it was originally rated at around 56 or 65bhp, but I doubt that the A+ I had was developing more than around 50 or possibly 40. It was pretty sick. And by the time we got up there, probably around 30 :)

Anyhow, she sounds lovely, and quite sporty. But, in the way that's traditional, Jonathon reckoned that they cold just pop the new heater control valve on, so we'd not cook on the way home. That 15 minute job took a couple of hours (waiting for the car to cool down, tap not fitting, different tap not fitting, studs going in, coming out...) - and when we finally went to leave, just as they'd locked up the garage and the gate they realised that Jonathon's car had a flat tyre... and Jonathon was leading us to the nearest local petrol station...

We finally started making our way home at about 2100... And finally got home, having not eaten dinner, just after 2300. I fell into bed and then had to get up at 0500, to get to work. But it was nice, driving the minor. The reason the journey home took that long is we have to run in the engine. People don't seem to bother (or know) about running in engines anymore. But having just forked out a grand for an engine I'm going to give it lots of love; so I've been good about not taking it far over 45mph (I've not even hit 50 - as 45 was the limit that was proscribed by the engine builder).

Apart from the sidelights stopping working (ack! turned out to be a corroded fuse) and the starter motor jamming on (and not working once, I think I need a new solenoid), it's been trauma free. And I'll tell you something, she's darn nippy. Roundabouts in particular are standard-suspension-pushing.

But one of the *bestest* things about having Rebecca back (apart from the stupid grin it puts on my face) is that we took her to my mum's house at the weekend - and drove my mum to her wedding. Paint all washed and shiny (at least in quite a few places - particularly the back where she's been painted, the roof which they 'mopped' and the bonnet which they seem to have also polished), sporting a cream ribbon (which Kathryn went and got, 'cos she's a *star*), we carried my mum to and her and her new hubbie from her wedding; which felt quite fun.

The wedding itself was really beautiful. It was a small affair, my mum and Paramito invited only close family and a few friends; in all I think there were 10 or so people. The Register Office in Newbury is really grand - it's a huge old Edwardian manor, and is quite beautiful. It's just a shame that you only get a few seconds for photos - but James - who is also an awesome friend - came and took photos of the wedding.

The rain even stopped long enough for M&P to be photo'd outside. It started again as we did the group shots...

Once we got back to the house, and everyone was being fed by my mum (who remains a truly awesome cook) the weather cleared completely and we spent the afternoon and evening hanging around outside in the sun.

Then Sunday we hurtled (for very low speed values of hurtling) back home, tidied and greeted Ali and Kris - two of my friends who Kathryn'd never met and I'd not seen for 2 years! We had a fairly chilled afternoon just sat chatting. There was a lot of catching up to do, and it was just really good to see them. With all my friends being so far away (well, um, 45 minutes in their case *embarassed*) it's sometimes easy to forget how generally awesome they are.

We then spent the evening doing a wedding gift list. We'd not been really intending to do one - on the basis that there's not much we *need*. But the requests came in for one; so we sat down and worked out things that'd be useful, or that we want, but that aren't insanely expensive. Annoyingly Ikea have no gift-list system, and their gift-card system is a non-online one. What planet are they on?!

*le sigh*

Finally, today's been spent working on the house; well, more accurately it was spent at work, then in the supermarket, then working on the house. As it's now ten to 12, I think it's time for me to head to bed...I've run out of plaster and the wall is as smooth as I can manage in my tired state :-/

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