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 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.

Avatar Kitchen guide

At the risk of inducing an episode of PTSD in Kev, I’d like to give you a quick rundown of where we are with the kitchen, one week in.

For a week now the living room has included a fridge, a sofa standing on end, a drinks cabinet, a table, a microwave, a kettle and a toaster. All our meals have either been boiled, toasted or microwaved. The kitchen itself has bare walls, a bare concrete floor (now perfectly level), wires sticking out of holes and pipes that go nowhere. The ceiling has one coat of white paint. As I type this a very tall Polish man is whistling and making loud banging noises and there are a range of half-built cabinets scattered around the room. The rest of the house does not bear thinking about.

For your convenience, I have compiled this list of things you might need and where you will find them.

ThingWhere you will find it
Extra large martini/cocktail glassesUnder the radiator in the spare room.
Electric chopper/blender thingElectrical bit is in a cardboard box underneath two other boxes in the spare room. Blade is in a bag with sharp things that you should avoid putting your hands in. Lid is AWOL.
CandlesIn a plastic bag underneath the Uno cards in the fold-down part of the drinks cabinet.
Dining tableIn pieces, under a blanket in the spare room, behind the chairs.
Dining room light fittingGlass shades are under a collection of tea towels on top of the chest of drawers in the bedroom. Wires and metal bits and bulbs are casually scattered on top of boxes in the spare room.
Bag of quinces from the bit of our quince tree that hangs over the neighbours’ fence, brought round by the neighboursUnder the Flash Speedmop refills and a recipe book, on the shelf in the utility room next to the recycling.
Jar of ground cinnamonOne is in the bag of herbs, spices, condiments and oils in the spare room. Another one is in the bag of pasta, rice and tins. Another one is in the bag of snacks and biscuits.
Cat bowl, including remnants of cat’s previous mealNext to the wifi router in the hall, behind several pairs of shoes and some old post.
Skirting boards from the dining roomIn the garage, balanced on top of two old pallets and the saddle of a bicycle.
SultanasIn a drawer in the living room next to the Ryvita and a bottle of maple syrup.

Avatar The kitchen of the future

We’re getting a new kitchen. This is an exciting time for us, and also for everyone we know, so please rest assured that we will be sharing stories and pictures of this thrilling adventure at every opportunity.

Having decided to buy our kitchen from one of the big kitchening retailers, we had the room measured up and then attended a design appointment where all the possibilities for filling a space with plywood cupboard units were explored in full. We compared paint samples, touched various worktop textures and considered the merits of many differnet taps. Finally, when our choices had been entered into the supercomputer, we held hands and watched as our brand new kitchen was rendered in Hollywood-style 3D graphics before our very eyes. The kitchenologist even printed out a picture of it so we could take it home and gaze on it in our own time.

Our present kitchen, as you may recall, has pale yellow doors and a wooden worktop, arranged in a U-shape around the walls and sticking out on a peninsula. Our new kitchen, which is going to be totally different and better in every regard, will have creamy off-white doors and a natural stone-coloured quartz worktop, arranged in a U-shape around the walls and sticking out on a peninsula.

While the new kitchen will be far better built than the old one, incorporating improvements such as the upper cupboards not leaning precariously off the walls and the worktops not soaking up colourful patches of everything we’ve ever placed on them, the clever 3D render is not that detailed.

When we got home with our print-out, we excitedly stood in the dining room and held it up at the appropriate angle in front of the old kitchen. It appeared for all the world to be a picture of our existing kitchen.

We have put the picture away.

Avatar Mysterious shed

Picture this:

Two men are sat watching some good old fashioned rock and roll music at a gig. They’ve already had to endure the poor organisational skills of Huddersfield, Wetherspoons meals without the drinks (because the wait for drinks was longer than the food for some reason), rain, snow, sleet, drunk Yorkshire idiots and a winding, zig-zagging queue to get inside.

The support act were fine. The sun came out and the woman took her top off. If only the sound system was decent enough to make what she was shouting about audible but you can’t have everything I suppose.

The first band came on and despite numerous jokes at their expense (not from me), a jolly good time was had by all, especially when they did a rousing cover of ‘Enter Sandman’ by Metallic and a soothing rendition of ‘Africa’ by Toto.

The second band began their set with a weird recorded message by some semi-famous actor guy who I recognise the face of but can never remember his name. About four songs in the band suddenly decided to leave the stage.

“What’s going on?” everyone asks.

Cue the stagehands and roadies going backstage and trying to wheel on what can only be described as the world’s most unnecessarily large shed (FYI it looked more like a log cabin to me, Kev’s description is the official description though because he said it first). The shed is so big they struggle to get it onto the stage because a corner keeps getting caught on something. Manoeuvre, pivot, manoeuvre, pivot. A few minutes later it’s wheeled into the middle and the drummer climbs on top.

The band then do a two further songs before sacking the shed off and putting it back where they found it.

Was the shed some kind of protest? Probably not. Were the two songs that the band sung whilst it was there based around sheds? Did they sing ‘Sweet Shed of Mine’ and ‘My Love (How I Shed Those Tears For You)’? No they did not. Did the shed have anything to do with what was happening onstage? Not in the slightest.

It’s times like these that does make you wonder if anything actually makes sense anymore.

Avatar Jolly good: free wood

I started the ”jolly good” series a couple of years ago when the world seemed less than jolly good and we all needed a nice cheering up. It only lasted a couple of posts, but actually it’s nice to see something positive, so I’m going to carry on labelling my good news under the ”jolly good” banner.

Here’s some good news now. Our house came with a wood burning stove in the living room, which is great but more difficult to use than the central heating, since we have mains gas, but no way of getting logs delivered by underground pipeline direct into the stove. Logs have to be bought, which isn’t always cheap, and have to be brought home somehow, which isn’t easy in a small car.

The people next door are landscape gardeners. The man over the road had a large pear tree in his garden that needed to come down. The people next door were happy to cut it down for him, but couldn’t be bothered going to the hassle of getting rid of the bits. We got a knock on the door. Could we take some of the wood, maybe, and save everyone a trip?

Yes. Yes we could. In fact we could take all of it.

I am treating this windfall as a birthday present from the universe. Jolly good.

Avatar Floor “saga”

Not a saga, not really. I tried to think of the right word and all I could come up with was ‘ragu’ and that’s definitely not the right one. Nobody wants a floor ragu.

Here it is in all its sexy glory. My new hallway flooring, floor hall. Look at it as it stretches off into the distance because, yes, it is quite a long hallway. It would take a few strides to get up and down there, even with Kev and his gigantic pair of legs.

The original planning phase begin in November of last year. Me being the ultimate slob I am decided to wait until Christmas was done before commencing any work. Then I temporary lost my hearing in one ear and had to wait until Boots was ready to suck out the various globules of wax hiding in my ear canal. Then some other things happened that stopped me from doing it. Then my installer got covid. It’s been one hell of a ride.

Don’t look too closely at the edges though because Council architecture, like most things, is not infallible and after sixty years there has been a bit of movement. How do I know this? Because when we were laying the floor from the front door down towards the living room the wall seemed to bend slightly to the right meaning the perfect symmetry we had going on at the beginning wasn’t present anymore. The further in we went a thin section remained uncovered along the edge. It wasn’t even a straight line too, the git. This then meant that muggins here had to use all the offcuts to try and wallpaper over the cracks (so to speak) to avoid spoiling the illusion of goodness.

Patience is a virtue. In my post-covid blues state, off work and with not much else to be getting on with, I cut the remaining pieces needed to finish the job. Similar to all great works of art, from a distance the integrity and the beauty remains intact. Get close though, dangerously close, and all its shortcomings will become apparent. I therefore ask that you only inspect the floor using your regular eyes, possibly from six feet away, wearing a pair of sunglasses and being distracted by genies.

I don’t think that’s asking too much?

When is a saga not a saga? When it’s a… ragu. No, it’s still not coming to me.

Avatar Slime Mystery

There has been an invasion of my privacy and I want the world to know about it!

In-between running away from cows, I do like to take the time to keep my flat tidy. I had noticed recently that the windows haven’t been cleaned since I moved in almost two years ago so I did make an effort over the Bank Holiday weekend to buff them to a suitable sheen. I also made sure to put all the washing away and clean the dishes although admittedly I half-heartedly hoovered on Monday evening; it needed a charge and I soldiered through regardless.

It’s a level of domesticity that I don’t normally document because it interferes with my macho image. You can’t be seen as a spokesperson for toxic masculinity if you’re too busy wiping down the kitchen tops and dusting the blancmanges (or whatever it is that people dust).

Whence I awoke in the fresh morn though I noticed a familiar sight; over the living room carpet, in and around the sofa and armchair, there was a trail of glistening slime. It’s fragile and tranquil beauty was a wonder to behold, what a marvel indeed. It was also a huge annoyance in the backside given the time I had spent trying to keep the bugger clean.

What is it that keeps messing up my carpet? If David Bellamy was here, and he’s not, something I am very pleased about, he would probably say that it was a small insect, a woodlouse or a spider, that was carrying out some antics during the night when I slept. The faint lines of silver goo were to indicate the presence of my fellow animals, my houseguests, who were happy to live in a steady harmony in that I would be there during the day and they were there to fill their boots during the evening.

I aspire to something else though, an uneasy thought process which could indicate something much more deadlier and much more sinister. What if it isn’t insects scurrying about the place, what if it is English television and radio presenter Andy Crane who has taken to compressing his body into a flat state and living underneath my sofa? He waits in some kind of bizarre chrysalis, a state of hibernation, lying dormant for most of the month but every so often comes out and leaves a long, winding reminder that he is there and he isn’t going anywhere.

What is his reason for being there? How did he get in? Did he fly in when I had the bathroom window open to get some air in? I suppose we’ll never really know. I do, however, try to be considerate when sitting on the living room furniture so as not to damage him if he is there. I would hate to squash the old boy.