Avatar Damp saga

You’ve heard of tap saga. Now prepare yourself for… Damp Saga. The story of one man’s quest to conquer the Forces of Dampness that threaten to overthrow his way of life, turning everything slightly moist and, upon close inspection, slightly mouldy.

I am currently battling dampness on four war-torn fronts.

From the north, the paint on the bathroom windowframe and windowsill has worn away to a point where wood is visible. This is because, in their infinite wisdom, previous owners of the house positioned the bath under the window, so when you have a shower you spray the whole window area with water.

From above, the new loft insulation I fitted last year is keeping the house warm, but it’s also keeping the loft damp, with condensation forming to such a degree that in very cold weather it effectively rains in there. Everything we store in the loft is now under tarpaulins, except for the things we didn’t cover in time, which are ruined. I have fitted new vents to the roof to get some fresh air through it and eliminate this unwelcome indoor microclimate.

From below, the very high water table in this area (the whole housing estate might be built in what is technically a lake) means that in anything less than drought conditions the lawn is often under an inch of water. My neighbour has an elaborate plan to resolve this by digging big holes, creating new soakaway pits and laying pipes, though I can’t help feeling that his plan will only succeed if they are big enough to absorb all the rain in this area of Hampshire.

And from the west, water running downhill through a series of back gardens is now making its way through the wall of the garage, where it turns out the woodwork starts below ground level. This means that, now the monsoon season has arrived in the loft, we have nowhere to store anything that we wish to keep dry. A big damp patch is creeping across the floor and fixing it is going to involve removing a whole line of garden fence and digging up part of next door’s garden. I have made a half baked effort to deal with the symptoms using wood preserver and cutting holes in the garage wall to allow air in. I do not feel hopeful about this.

Unlike #tapsaga, there is no satisfying ending to this where, after a hundred frustrating steps, everything works out. This saga is just an ongoing list of damp situations. Thankfully the inside of my car is still dry, most of the time, so I have decided to live there instead. Please send towels and talcum powder.

Avatar A little help

Back in November, I sent Ian his belated birthday present. Film yourself opening it, Kev and I said, so we can see the joy and wonder on your face as you open the tat you’ve been sent. Ian said he would do this.

It’s now been nearly three weeks since Ian told us he’d made the video but hadn’t yet got it onto YouTube. We are still waiting with baited breath to see him open his present. Kev, of course, hasn’t seen the present yet and doesn’t know what it is. I have seen the present, because it was me that bought and wrapped it, but so much time has elapsed since the video was promised that I’ve honestly forgotten what it was.

As a genuine YouTuber, I have decided to do what I can to help, and have dedicated my latest video to explaining how to get a video onto YouTube and then put it into a post on the Beans. Everything then got a bit meta because I uploaded the video, showing you how to upload a video to YouTube and post it to the Beans, to YouTube, and then after that I posted it to the Beans. Anyway… here it is.

Avatar Great British programme pitches

Years ago, someone had a brilliant idea. They’d get a big tent from somewhere, fill it with ovens and home cooks, and then run a low-stakes baking competition where people put in a lot of wholesome effort to see if they could make the nicest cake. Some family-friendly presenters would make gentle innuendo and hug contestants who dropped things on the floor. It’s still on TV and it’s still doing well.

What TV executives really like is more of the same. If you find a thing that works, and pulls in an audience, they want to produce more TV exactly like that. So after the Great British Bake Off, you got the Great British Sewing Bee (pitch: like the Bake Off, but people are sewing things), the Great British Pottery Throwdown (pitch: like the Bake Off, but people are making pottery), the Great British Menu (pitch: like the Bake Off, but for main courses), Interior Design Masters (pitch: like the Bake Off, but for making rooms look tasteless), and now Kirstie’s Handmade Christmas (pitch: like the Bake Off, but with Christmas decorations).

I reckon I could have a go at this crap as well. First thing tomorrow I’m marching into Channel 4’s headquarters, demanding a meeting with the boss and giving him my snappy pitches for these shows, now in development:

The Great British Veg Patch

Like the Bake Off, but for growing vegetables. A really slow, relaxing watch, since a single challenge takes the contestants all year. Most of their time is spent sitting in their potting sheds waiting for the rain to ease off. In the showstopper challenge they have to present their most humorously-shaped root vegetable. Hosted by Scott Mills.

The Great British Drag Race

Like the Bake Off, but for racing noisy muscle cars over very short distances. Has nothing to do with drag queens. The grotty, macho world of drag racing will be made softer, cuddlier and more family friendly by having the drag races happen inside a big tent on a giant gingham tablecloth. Hosted by Matt Hancock.

The Great British Steel Works

Like the Bake Off, but for producing industrial grade steel from iron ore. Contestants race to turn out neatly shaped ingots of pure steel at white hot temperatures while trying not to set the tent alight. Before each challenge, lovingly-drawn colour sketches of the precise cubes of steel each contestant plans to make will be shown on screen. Hosted by Lorraine Kelly.

I’m pretty sure this is my path to fame and fortune. If you want in on it, pitch me your Great British rip off ideas in the comments and I’ll see if I want you in on the meeting.

Avatar Search engine optimisation

A couple of years ago I conducted a little experiment in what we hi-tech wireless abbab professionals call “Search Engine Optimisation”, or “SEO” for short. Some people in Silicon Valley just call it “S” now to be even more efficient, but I find that arrogant.

Anyway, the issue was that our very own Pouring Beans – arguably the place that people around the world should turn first when seeking information about beans, pouring or the decanting of legumes – was only third in Google’s search results when searching for the words “pouring beans”.

Standing in our way were a whole shady cabal of sly, underhand people whose nefarious aim was to educate young children, broaden their minds, focus their concentration and hone their hand-eye coordination. Under the cover of running Montessori nurseries, they had posted all sorts of web pages about an activity for little kids called “pouring beans”. Clearly those people were up to no good and had to be stopped.

In summer 2019 I made a post here on Pouring Beans, titled “Pouring beans”, at the unbeatable web address www.pouringbeans.com/pouring-beans, which was about the Montessori activity called “pouring beans”, using the same phrase we are all now tired of reading several more times in the text.

Three and a half years have passed and I am delighted to report that we are now, and have remained for some years, the top search result for “pouring beans”. Congratulations, everyone. We are a step closer to conquering the internet.

Avatar Five Novembers ago

We bought our house from people who thought they’d be living there forever. They didn’t, because we sent them away so that we could have it all for ourselves. I regret nothing.

Anyway, last week we pulled all the wallpaper off the walls in what had been their baby room, and found a charming memento painted behind it that had presumably been intended to last for many years.

It lasted five years and we’ve painted over it. But here it is, a message from five Novembers ago, just to prove it once existed.