Category: projects

Breakfast In The Regency Period…

It is just after midnight Tuesday, so, technically, its now Wednesday.  Yesterday (Monday) was a busy one.  Up early as the girls insisted I began my list of “Things to do whilst M is away”.  Apart from several walks for the dogs I never stopped.  First was a deep clean of the kitchen.  I knew it needed doing but as our kitchen is so busy as can be seen in the photo (I like busy, but please note, the walls are a light green, not yellow, the photo was taken whilst the sun was out) you tend to miss things.  But with all deep cleaning in a kitchen, all the appliances need to be done, the dishwasher and washing machine are easy, add the product and they do it themselves.  Apart from the detergent draw in the washing machine, which never gets used as the liquid goes in the drum, so I had to do that by hand, and it was disgusting I am ashamed to say.  The cooker I removed all the parts and cleaned each one, and stripped the ovens (two) of everything and cleaned them thoroughly, and having a “Stoves” cooker all the doors have removable glass, so easier to clean.  Every object on shelves and units were removed and cleaned and put back, then the rest of the room was dusted within an inch of its life.

Next, was to shampoo all the carpets.  Luckily I had bought a new carpet cleaner, which is excellent, and one by one each room was done.  The living room carpet, the newest of them had that new carpet smell again, which is quite the sensory drug.

Bathroom next, which was not all that hard as we tend to clean the shower after each use, and always swill the basin out, and the toilet is always clean, so it is an easy room to do.  The biggest thing was polishing the giant mirror, but even that wasn’t hard as again I tend to keep polishing it, as I hate mucky mirrors.

Next job was to tackle the ivy growing around the house, mainly cutting it back from the windows, and trimming around the security lights so no shadows were cast.  As I was in the garden I planted new flowers for the baskets, the summer ones looked worse for wear and being summer plants and flowers do not do well in autumn, now we have cyclamen in them, and I will be doing some troughs to go outside the front gate when more come into season.

Final job of the day was to install a new electrical socket in the hall by the front door so the repeater can connect to the garden gate camera.  I have fitted so many sockets and changed so many from two to three ports over the years I thought I would have finished with this, but no, there is always somewhere else we need another.

Today, Tuesday, Mazikeen had a vet appointment, she goes every month to get weighed and get her worming tablets and a check over.  She is just over a year old and has never had a season, but the nurse said today that she was a little swelled up in various areas, so it looks like she will finally have her first, that is if this is not a phantom season, which can happen.  After that and a long walk with the dogs, I painted the master bedroom, only the first coat, but it was a start.  I was doing the edging and discovered the brushes I had were shit, that’s really the only way I can put it.  Off to the DIY centre to get a good sharp one, and whilst I was there, some magnetic catches for the cupboards and a new electrical socket with USB ports.  Apart from putting up some frames and making myself a curry from scratch, I decided I had had enough, and my lower back, right-hand side, was spasming, which told me to stop.

Tomorrow, Wednesday (which is now today as it is 00:38) I will be finishing off the painting, then starting my knitting again, which is The Great American Aran Afghan.  I had started it the other day, but it is in American English, which is an oxymoron in itself, translating it into correct English is a bit of a bind, to say the least.  For example, it states three ridges, which means knit six rows, so, why not just say knit six rows.  If you were next to me when I sussed out what this meant, you would have heard my eyes rolling never mind seen them with the added slow shake of my head.  I do hate that in English there is so bastardised, and do not get me started on spelling.  Anyway, I digress slightly.  I had started it, but due to this quirk in language the pattern reads wrong, and with wrong the WS rows are not mentioned, so you have to work that one out yourself, which my test showed that you have to to the WS as a reverse of the RS.

That’s the plan anyway, but as with the best-laid plans of mice and men, one can never be sure if it will change.

If you were wondering, yes, it is raining again, battering against the windows in fact.

Penpals Update…

And we are off.  A lady in Hamburg contacted me and wants to write, so YAY!, here we go.  She is sending the first letter which I am looking forward to receiving and starting this journey again.

I have also been chatting to an 82-year-old chap who wants to write, but can only use email as he has tremours so writing is a no-no, which is fine with me, so email it is, not exactly snail mail, but I can live with it.  I used to correspond to my 85-year-old Great Uncle via email, although we had never managed to meet. My Mum was adopted and when I finally found her family my Great Uncle found me via Ancestry.com as I had him in my tree, we emailed quite a lot, but unfortunately, he died last year after a short illness.  It was a great shame, as he had said that he would like to meet me and my Mum and due to his eyesight, I said I would drive over to visit him, saving him travelling, he agreed, but, as he was not feeling too good said that he would arrange some time soon, alas that never happened.  Although we never met we wrote to each other each week.  He was a fascinating man that I wish I had got to meet.

One of the downsides of the sites I have joined is one has to be paid for and so far, no one wants to talk to anyone.  The free one everyone wants to talk, some want husbands, romance, money and other things that are yet to be revealed.  My profiles states I am looking for snail mail pen pals but so far I feel that it is being ignored.  Oh well, I can always ignore and delete.

I have also returned to Postcrossing.  I have been a member since October 2007, but in 2011 I stopped sending as the cost to send a postcard as I had quit my job due to professional disagreements, that is to say, my boss wanted to do illegal things and I disagreed, so I walked.  I kept thinking over the years I would pick it up again and sent 2 in 2015 and did not receive a single one back which was not what the rules of Postcrossing dictate.  I have received 214 postcards in the past, so let’s see what cards I get and where they come from, and of course, I will share them here with you all.

I have checked out also some swap sites to and joined, so it looks like it may start to be a busy hobby for me.  Of course I will leave time to knit, and in all honesty, I think I need to pick up my needles again as the hat project I was doing has sat there since April, begging me to finish.

IMG_5506

Penpals…

I wondered the other day, how many of us had penpals when we were growing up, and how many of us had them when we were adults too?

I never had a penpal when I was a kid, living in a small village (of French origin) there was not exactly an opportunity to have one, hell, my primary school consisted of just 28 pupils, and apart from general subjects with a huge overdose of religion, yes it was connected to the church, there was nothing to inspire people to look further than their own garden gate.  No one I knew ever went on a foreign holiday, it was all quite alien.

When I was in my early 20’s I decided I wanted a pen pal, the internet did not exist, so this became a challenge.  I had no idea where to start.  By this point, I was working in the city, and on my lunch popped into WH Smiths as I knew they had international papers and odd publications you would never find elsewhere.  The New York Herald had nothing in at all but was an interesting read.  I tried several foreign publications including Le Monde, but nothing seemed to have the information I wanted.  In the end, I asked one of the staff there if they could recommend something, and to my surprise, she knew exactly the paper.  It was one called Loot, which had every conceivable advert you could think of, and I guess you would compare it to Craigs List on paper.  Adverts for cults, sex, personals, animals, you name it, it was getting sold in this paper, then close to the back, there it was, penpals.  I have no idea where they got the information, but I jumped right on it.

I ended up with quite a few people I wrote to, which suited me well as there was a great shop called Athena that sold coloured writing paper and envelopes, and there was also a few places you could get other designs of writing paper too just around the corner from work.  Some of my pals dropped off and stopped replying, so I dropped them too, but I had two that were constant writers, both from California, one Heather from Burbank and the other Rocko from San Diego.

Both came to visit me.  Rocko was a little over the top and was a party animal.  I was living about 2 miles away from the city at the time, so nightlife was easy to get to and walking home was good.  He was supposed to stay for a week, which I took off work, however, he stayed for a lot longer, which really was a strain as I was used to living on my own and in the end it really started to affect our friendship and my bank balance.  His friend was killed when he was over and that was my queue to make him go home, which was a battle.  He was not convinced that he should go, even though it was his best friend, but I persisted and eventually, he went after staying for about 6 weeks.  I heard from him once more after that, and then he vanished without a trace.

Heather, however, was a delight when she came to visit me.  It was 1998 and I had moved to a seaside town 25 miles away from the city, and she was touring again.  We had a great time, she only stayed for a few days as she was covering a lot of the UK visiting penpals and distant family.  We carried on writing for many years, then the internet came with email, so we ended up emailing each other, which was novel at the time, but I really missed getting snail mail.  Our emails slowed down over the years but still kept going, however, they soon stopped when FaceBook arrived.  To this day we are still in touch with each other through FB, but it’s not the same excitement that was felt when a letter dropped through the door.  I have FB but don’t really bother with it, as I really don’t feel the need to see every aspect of everybody’s life, warts and all, so it is there for the odd message and to keep up to date with the dog trainers.

About 10 years ago, I tried to start up writing again with penpals and had a few who then all wanted to swap to email, talk about colour me disappointed.  M started about 6 years ago to write to a few American prisoners, who were all quite charming, but then the begging letters started, asking for him to send money to them.  He did, to begin with as he knew they did not have much, but this turned out to be an error and they asked for more and more, and unfortunately, he ended up cutting ties.

I keep thinking that I would like to have penpals again, but knowing the way past ones have wanted to switch to email puts me off, and as for writing to prisoners, I would be happy to do that, but hey, I do not need someone that begs for cash in each letter.

Not So Great Afghan…

The Elusive Great American Aran Afghan…

Well, this is becoming more and more interesting as I search for this book or needle in a haystack as it is becoming. So far I am not doing very well, usually shipping is about $45 to $60. One lady on Ravelry had it for sale then when I messaged her she had “given it to a friend”, so that is a closed door on that.

I read on Knitting Paradise that a lady bought it from WHSmiths here in the UK for only £6, I thought WOW, that is a hot lead, but alas on WHSmith site, it does not exist, and she only bought it last year, WTF!.  I have called Waterstones and the lady just could not find it because I did not have an ISBN number, god forbid a boolean search on the site.

In the town, there is a second-hand bookshop that holds vast stocks of old books and magazines, but even he could not get it.

I still have hope, and will keep looking as I am not one to give up easily, and K at NothingBitKnit has been keeping me on my toes with loads help.

Aquarium…

After our jaunt to unexotic lands, I found on our return that I had lost a few fish, one of my reedfish, a rainbow shark, an oranda and two mollys. Needless to say, I was not happy at all, these things are not cheap to buy and the oranda I had had for years. I tested the water and there were no problems apart from quite a bit water evaporation in the sump.

With a heavy heart and a flush of the toilet, they all went to the watery heaven and I took myself off to the aquatic shop to get more fish. I bought a male Siamese fighter, two silver dollars, two shrimps, and two gouramis.

The silver lining to the very ugly death cloud was one of the fish had given birth and there are a few baby fish hiding around the tank, and one managed to make its way through the filter grill into the weir, then took a ride down the pipes into the sump. I thought of moving him to the main tank but decided that he can stay there as he would have a better chance of survival as one of the others would probably eat him. So with the birth of the fish, I can rest assured that the tank levels must be okay.

Photos to follow later.

Wet Project…

I like having projects to do, not only to keep me busy, but it keeps depression at bay. If it is a large project then all the better. This, however, is one the huge side. I decided to start a new aquarium tank. But, not the usual type of tank you see in most houses, this is a massive 250-litre job, complete with 65-litre sump below the tank, hidden in a cabinet.

I have had 2 tanks running in the house, one in the lounge and the other in one of the halls, but I wanted to combine these two tanks and create a larger one.  Three weeks ago I started the project firstly with the tanks and getting them installed in the house and ready for use. This sounds easy enough, but I had to prep the tanks, silicone glass and install all the pipework from the weir to the sump in the cabinet below, and make sure everything was completely watertight.  After a few leaks and many pipe problems, I managed to get everything sealed, watertight and all in the right place.

The sump is gravity fed through a weir at the back of the tank, so to be on the safe side in case it ever gets blocked, or I forget to turn the flow tap back on after cleaning out the sump, I fitted an overflow pipe to the sump, and of course a return pipe connected to a 600/4000 litres per hour pump back into the tank.

The sump has three compartments complete with baffles. The first compartment (right) where the water feeds into has three grades of pond sponge, the super fine floss. Below that is a double set of biological balls where the water feeds through into the baffles and into the next compartment. The second compartment (middle) has K3 media, a skimmer and three aeration stones to make the K3 rotate and develop the required nitrification bacteria and an aquarium bacterial bomb. The water then flows to the final chamber (left) through the baffles and is heated and returned via the pump to the display tank.

I have used an iLumenAir V2 for the lighting which has automatic sunrise, sunset and lightning storms, which is quite cool.

Today I added transferred the fish to the big tank. So far I have 24 fish in the tank including 3 Corydoras, 12 Tetra 2 Goldfish, 2 Plecos, 1 Siamese fighter, 1 Platty, and 3 fish I cannot remember the name of. I am hoping to get quite a few more including giant fan shrimp, but depending what I can find and what will live with the other fish will determine the outcome of the final fish family.

Now this project is close to completion, and summer is finally over, I will be going back to my knitting, so more projects to come.

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