31. July 2009 · 1 comment · Categories: DIY
We've been in the new house for just a week and have done a lot in that time. Here's a quick list of most of the DIY jobs we've done – with a bit of help from the parents and in-laws. Thanks very much to them!

Cleaning – lots thereof.
Fill crack in front door panel, that you could see outside through.
Trim holly and other bushy plant that was half blocking drive.
Remove dead and scrappy bits of Goldenrod and tie back with string (later replaced with green wire).
Brush whole deck with stiff brush to clean it up.
Remove posts and chains from most of deck edge.
Fit new lock to front door (got existing one refurbished and innards replaced).
Fit retaining bar to front door.
Fit coat hook rail to wall in hall.
Put up pan hanger rail in kitchen.
Replace hooks on back of bedroom door for nicer ones.
Figure out why living room door knob isn't working the latch – needs a grub screw.
Put up new curtain rod in master bedroom, reusing existing holes (needed some adaptation).
Fit new keyhole escutcheon with cover (on inside of front door, to get the benefit, without the annoyance).
Put together flat pack metal shelving from Homebase. 56 nuts and bolts! Won't buy that again.
Improve sink in bathroom, raising it on bits of card and screwing it better to the wall, for a flusher fit. Still needs grout and seal.
Adjust patio door hanging to help it close properly.
Adjust cabin door hanging to help it close properly.
Sweep patio around cabin, including leaves and crud at back, that could have caused damp.
Fix shower so it doesn't leak: remove old sealant, chip away years of limescale, clean, regrout and reseal. (Still working on this actually, but it's the biggest job of any of them time-wise.)
Clean UPVC outdoor bits of patio doors using special cleaner.
Fit extra shelf under kitchen sink by cutting out section of original extra shelf to fit round drain pipes etc.
Fit cleat to tree stump and run washing line to apple tree (where held with wide strap round tree).
Fit bird feeder hanger to tree stump.
Saw off and file down ends from over-long bolts protruding from chimney back plate in kitchen.
Fit lock to side window.
Put up IKEA mirror in bathroom, with cunning springy top-clasps.
Assemble IKEA shelves for computery stuff.
28. July 2009 · Write a comment · Categories: Me
A few days ago we moved across St Albans to a much bigger place where hopefully we will stay for many years. Expect a number of DIY posts over the coming months! My fingers are already shredded from all the manual labour.

We've moved!
This Japanese import is surprisingly decent, but nothing special. It's clean and crisp, and ideally drunk well chilled. There's nothing particularly notable about it that I can pick out, but it steers clear of tasting like weak/sweet American rubbish. I wouldn't go out of my way to drink it, but it's a decent enough simple lager on a hot day.

Is this a familiar sight? A pile of fresh herbs ready to garnish your meal, but discovered in the kitchen only when you bring the empty plates back in. In this case, fresh torn basil straight off the plant. And unfortunately, straight into the bin after sitting around unloved in the kitchen for half an hour whilst we ate a very nice dinner that just lacked that certain something.

I had a couple of long train journeys today, so this morning just after I boarded that train at Paddington I followed the instructions on my iPhone to turn on internet tethering. This would allow me to use its 3G internet connection on my laptop via bluetooth, enabling me to get some work done. Brilliant!

Follow the instructions to enable it and you end up with a fiddly web form that requires you to manually fill in the details that O2 already have for you. How's that for an integrated experience?! Terrible, that's how. And then the coup de grace – it's 14 hours later and internet tethering has still not been turned on for my phone. Both train journeys have been and gone, I'm starved of juicy internet goodness and O2 are presumably laughing at me whilst making a small tower from 15 of my pound coins.

Their instructions do say it could take up to 24 hours to come alive, but it's natural to assume that this is a worst case caveat, like Royal Mail saying you're not allowed to complain about 1st class mail until it's gone missing for 7 days – a backup clause to cover exceptional circumstances. Apparently O2 are serious, perhaps to deliberately discourage people who are in any way impulsive from stupidly parting with their money for such an overpriced service. Perhaps they're on our side after all…

Update: about 30 hours have now passed since I bought the tethering bolt on. Now not only does my phone still not have data tethering, but it has no data connection whatsoever. So I can't get email, visual voicemail, web etc. on the phone itself, let alone on a tethered device. A quick call to O2's magic iPhone support number gives me a recorded message that they're having trouble in the London area with 'network congestion'. I don't see why this innocuous Tuesday would result in a tidal wave of traffic that brings their service to its knees, unless it's simply the continuing weight of iPhones being added to its network every day as they continue to sell like hotcakes.
Look what Mrs C found in the bathroom today! A very large woodlouse spider – at least 25mm including legs, which seems to be as large as they come. I've seen smaller ones before, about half this size. Yes, this picture was taken through the side of the pint glass that I put over it! These slightly scary spiders have very large bitey things at the front (technical term chelicerae) and can give a nasty nip apparently, though are unlikely to.

I bought this in the hope that it might be in some sense a real beer, but it's basically just an alcopop. Not being a complete fool, I realistically expected that to be the case but assumed that it might at least be quite a special and interesting variant on the ginger beer theme. I like a nice ginger beer, but this is nothing special I'm afraid – sweet and straightforward. It might be just the right drink for certain circumstances, but I can't see myself buying it again.

I can't believe I haven't reviewed this before now as it's a classic and a firm favourite of mine. At 5% ABV and with just enough honey to notice but not overpower, this is a well balanced brew. This is true in every sense with not too much bitterness either – just enough to counter the  sweetness. It doesn't taste as alcoholic as it is and I reckon it's a perfect if-you're-going-to-have-just-one-beer-in-an-evening beverage. I prefer it reasonably chilled – more so than less sweet ales – which probably makes me a philistine, but so be it. It's quite similar in style to some of the more floral, sweet and spicy Badger beers, of which I am also a huge fan.

A classic car seen at a steam rally in St Albans. But what is it? Answers on a postcard please.