Indoor camping


I’m currently camping on the living room floor while the last two rooms upstairs get a 60 minute week long several week makeover!

Since we moved in we’ve been using the en-suite as a cupboard, partly because the shower leaked. It did make a pretty good cupboard though so clearing everything out took a while. The rest of the house is now full to bursting, even with full loads to the charity shop and tip! Need less junk! After enough flights of stairs to qualify for a Redwood Forest, Ferris Wheel and Lighthouse badge, it was finally all empty…

This is the first major work we’ve done inside the house since having children so we planned carefully. Here are the blueprints at a 1:1 scale…

(No prizes for guessing who added the extra stickers.)

Partly thanks to an amazingly helpful local planning department, we had an extra window after day one. And no walls.

By the end of day two first fix plumbing is done, and the new and improved walls were beginning to take shape. (The existing walls upstairs are literally just a thin sandwich of plasterboard and paper. Quality.)

At the end of day three first fix electrics are in, the walls were back properly and the bonus window is looking like a fantastic idea.

The plastering started on day four and by the end of day six we have one less artex ceiling, fewer holes in the floor, the door back. Even the new shower tray fitted, which was a bit of a relief!

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The whole job was meant to take five days but unsurprising it’s overrunning. It hasn’t helped that the floor under the old shower has rotted through. This time next week, it’ll all be done though, hopefully!

Update: Hooray, it’s all done! (14th April)

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Now I just need to do a spot of painting…

 

After and before


Despite the distractions of an impending baby, we’ve also been making a bit of progress on the house lately. Most of the major work is done (I hope!) so it should just be decorating from now on.

The war on leaks is going well and after ripping out the old toilet last year, the new cloakroom is almost done:

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An even bigger milestone was finally finishing the front bedroom. I don’t think we have a before shot for this room because it was just too horrible!

From start to finish it took about 14 months to complete! That was partly due to getting other rooms done at the same time, but there were a few minor complications along the way: the floor needed a bit of work, someone stole part of the wall and, just when all that was fixed, even more holes were required to install a cable for the new boiler! I do hope we don’t need any extra holes now the carpet is down!

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I guess it’s probably time to get cracking on the nursery…

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The old carpet has gone already and, fortunately, it looks like the floor is mostly ok! Which is lucky really: we don’t have 14 months to finish this room! Maybe not even 14 days!

Explaining the auto kitchen light plan


Since a few people seem interested/skeptical on Twitter, here’s a very quick explanation of a small update to the kitchen lights. Since getting a Current Cost meter it’s been obvious that the biggest waste of electricity are the halogen spotlights in the kitchen. (It amazes me that ordinary incandescent light bulbs are being phased out while at the same time many new houses are full of halogen bulbs, but that’s for a future post!)

Most of the time the two lights under the cupboards would be good enough, but the switch for those is a bit hidden away, so we usually use the five ceiling lights instead. The first part of the cunning kitchen light plan is to connect the two worktop lights to a Home Easy remote control ceiling switch. Now we could put an ordinary remote switch in easy reach next to the main light switch but where’s the fun in that? I got tentative spousal approval to use an indoor PIR remote control instead…

Results so far seem promising: the lights aren’t triggered walking past the kitchen because the sensor is looking inwards from above the existing light switch, and there’s often no need to resort to the manual switch to turn on the electricity burning main lights… which is actually quite lucky because they aren’t there at the moment!

Only temporarily removed due to some planned ceiling painting* but it was a good excuse to automate the backup lights.

* Well, it seemed pointless painting the tiny ceiling in the porch on it’s own, so the kitchen is getting a fresh coat as well.

You weren’t supposed to take the cupboard door off!


Not quite such a memorable line as the classic from The Italian Job but in the slightly more mundane comedy caper that is my project to decorate the porch, I got a bit carried away with the cupboard door…

I was only supposed to be painting it! It was nice to have a break from the decorating this evening (nice meal in Zizzi) especially as I’m really not looking forward to attempting to hang the door back on straight. Maybe the porch would look better without a cupboard door at all!!

Too busy to blog


I seem to have been far too busy to get any time for blogging lately. Actually, it’s the finishing off posts that I’ve been having trouble finding time for; I do still keep adding to the number of unpublished posts, with this selection boosting the number of drafts to 38:

  • Master Information Hub: Social Bookmark Search Transaction
  • My first Joggler app
  • Election results!
  • Icelandic Economy Bill
  • dub dub dub dot fail
  • Parking charge

Instead of finishing any of those off I’ve been…

…ordering a canvas for one of our wedding photos.

We’ve been married almost a year so it seemed like it would be a good idea to finally do something with some of our favourite photos!

The canvas has arrived, and looks great, but it’s still sealed in a back to keep all the dust off from…

…decorating the porch.

We have two front doors; one on the outside and one on the inside. I added the outer door not long after moving in to create small enclosed entrance hall/porch, which has been great for shoes, coats, assorted junk, and getting rid of anyone trying to sell something without letting out all the heat in the process. The old front door has needed a coat of paint ever since, but because I never look at the outside much I only painted the inside, until now. As a result, most of the house is currently covered in dust from all the sanding!

…playing with a new toy.

A bit of an impulse buy, but after gradually increasing the number of boxes I have plugged in all the time (ironic since it all started with the Current Cost meter!), I’ve cut down a few with a FRITZ!Box. Pretty happy with it so far: it’s a neat combination of ADSL wireless router, file/media server and DECT base station. Plus, thanks to a tip off from Jee Labs, @jthouse will soon be following @andy_house‘s lead and sending me an SMS if I miss any calls.

…not hacking the Joggler.

Apart from being in German, the FRITZ!Box media server works very well with the Joggler, so I’m still really happy to keep using the default Joggler software. For now that is: the Joggler appears to have been discontinued, and my question to O2 about creating Joggler apps seems to have vanished as well. I didn’t have much/any luck using Flash Develop, which is a shame because it seems to be a decent IDE, but Nick has been getting on pretty well on Linux. His Joggler music app looks very promising.

I have been keeping an eye on various Joggler hacks and the first one to have me seriously tempted, is Opera mobile running on the Joggler. I did briefly boot Ubuntu off a USB stick, but I don’t think it’s worth it just yet. On the other hand, Jolicloud does look like it might be ideally suited to running on the Joggler, unfortunately it doesn’t seem to work. I’m still hopeful that someone will get Jolicloud booting on the Joggler though; any ideas?

Actually, I think Sony have got a much better idea of how devices like the Joggler should work with the Dash. Getting something like that running on the Joggler would be awesome.

…thinking about home automation.

@lauracowen sparked off some great discussions on the Homecamp group, and I definitely like some of the ideas in Ian’s blog post. I had a chat to Laura on Friday, and the idea of a ‘boost’ is probably a good starting point. I’m sure that would help lower my gas bill, although I’m wondering whether an even lower tech solution might work with my existing heating controls. We often turn on the hot water to top it up, but forget to turn it off again. So, since there is currently no boost button, I’m tempted to just get a basic timer to sit next to the controller to set a reminder to come back and turn off the hot water after a short period. Or I guess I could even use the kitchen timer that’s already in the microwave.

…visiting London.

We spent yesterday in London, mainly to see The Woman in Black, which was excellent. It was hard to work out which of the blood-curdling screams were from the audience and which were part of the production! We also had some time to visit the National Gallery, which brought back a few memories of art lessons.

See how much things have changed since I ruined Turner’s Ulysses deriding Polyphemus with an oil rig?!

…watching Inception.

Really enjoyed Inception although, now I think about it, it’s riddled with plot holes that I never noticed at the time. Guess that’s pretty normal for dreams!

…blogging.

I’ve also been posting on the MDM Workbench blog, so there’ll be fewer work related posts on here now. (Still figuring out how to decide which blog to pick for MDM posts.)