Remove all the nasty bits.


At some point during the lifetime of this house, someone replaced the stairs up to the attic. If I understand the scars on the wall and the position of the original hole into the attic, there was a very steep staircase originally. The replacement stairs are alright in themselves. However, the balustrade leaves much to be desired and seems in part to be made of old fence posts, I'm sure there's still mud on the end of one of them.
Because the top newel post needs replacing before the lower landing ceiling can be replastered, I finally got up the nerve to remove the offending fence posts. Even though I've been assured that the newel post played no part in holding up the stairs, I wasn't taking any chances and propped up the stairs with acrow props. Happy to report there was no sudden sagging as I cut through the six-inch nails that held the fence/newel post in place.
Now all I've got to do is figure out a more elegant method of interfacing the new newel post, various lengths of timber trim and all the new plastering.

Dog Navigation Lights

I noticed Sampson's eyes glow red and green in flash photos. I thought at first it was due to the angle of dog to the lens, but it turns out it's due to his left eye being a little different.

I don't deliberately take face on flash pix of animals, at the very least it must be a little startling.
I accidently left the flash on when I took this shot.
It seems Sampson is missing the tapetum lucidum in his left eye. This makes his left eye glow red and his right eye glow green. Just like navigation lights on a boat. More information on the tapetum lucidum here. I don't suppose it bothers him and his night vision is very good, he always lets us know when there are foxes in the garden when he's looking out the back window at 3am.

Recent Conversation in a Secondhand Bookshop.

I love secondhand bookshops, some of the owners are delightfully bonkers. I've had some of the most bizarre conversations in secondhand bookshops. Maybe it's me.

Most recent conversation as far as I can recall.

Me "Have you got any copies of Boswell's Life of Johnson?."

Owner "Who's it by?"

Me "Errr... Boswell, James Boswell."

Owner "Why?"

Me thinking 'wtf?' but saying "Errr... well... I'm looking for a particular volume of a 1884 edition."

Owner looks at me blankly.

I'm completely wrongfooted by this but I babble on "I'm looking for volume 2, published by Bell. Err... 1884?."

Owner "I wouldn't split a set."

Me "Oh I wouldn't ask you to, but if you happened to just have volume 2 on its own or with one or two odd volumes from the edition?"

Owner "I haven't got any editions."

BINGO! That's all he had to say in the first place.

I'm thinking of going back and asking for something else, now I'm prepared for oddness I can have some fun.

(no subject)


"Finally, I ask you to look at the shed door, which contains the keyhole. Look at the thousands of scratches all round the hole - marks where the key has slipped. What sober man's key could have scored those grooves? But you will never see a drunkard's shed without them. He locks it at night, and he leaves these traces of his unsteady hand. Where is the mystery in all this?"

Hot Stove Action

See that stove in my all time favorite film?

Look! There in the bottom left-hand corner, just behind the perambulator.
That's the same as my stove.
Well, it's actually the slightly wider version with a hot water tank on the side.
I'll let that slide.


Tonsillitis and another chest infection. I thought I was feeling a little under the weather. Was very rough last night, so went to see the Doc yesterday morning. Doc prescribed penicillin and other squirty stuff. I had no idea you could still get tonsillitis post tonsillectomy, but yes you can. This information left me wondering what was the point of cutting the offending lumps out 30 odd years ago. Then I remembered that repeated bouts of tonsillitis between the age of 1 and 21 left me with tonsils so big that when moving to a new doctor, he marveled at the size of them and called in his colleagues so they might also marvel. One of the marveling throng of MDs asked, "How do you swallow?"

Fast forward a few months post tonsillectomy, and I was marveling at my ability to swallow food after only chewing for a few moments.
Fast forward 30ish years. Just woke up (2am) with raging sore throat, came downstairs to rummage for paracetamol. Said drugs found, now sitting waiting for them to kick in, but right now cold water is helping.

Now I just want to get better so I can get on with all the work I have.

My Great-grandfather's Fish Shop

Finally found a picture of my great-grandfather's fish shop. It's a still from a film.The film appears to be a "borough in bloom" film possibly made by the local authority. These two chaps are probably from the Council Arboreal Department.

I've been in contact with a couple of people who lived in the same road and it turns out the shop was open at the front like a lot of old fish shops with a big marble slab along the front, you walked in under that veranda. Apparently, there was still a stuffed fish on the wall when the terrace was being demolished.

And below is what the same stretch of road looks like today.


Dog Day Afternoon

Dropped Sampson off at the vets this morning for teeth extraction and ear scrubbing. I was on edge all day, jumping out of my skin everytime the phone rang. He's home now, A bit subdued, laying at my feet right now. He's had a drink and some boiled chicken.

A sample of his weird ear goo is off the lab.

Found this while doing some work in the garden.

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At first, I thought it was ceramic tile bit as I dug down further I realised it was an enamel sign. It looks like a previous owner used it as shuttering when doing the concreting around the shed. What little I can see of it seems in surprisingly good condition. I hope it hasn't been cut down to fit the job.

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I followed the line of bricks along and lifted the slabs and it seems there's another sign in there.
I can't get them out yet, as we were putting in a temporary patio area for a hot tub. I'll be making a better and more permanent base if we decide the location proves favourable this summer. Either way, all being well I'll be digging out the signs in the autumn.

Patching the floor.

The cables for the landing light switch were routed over the top of the skirting-board, and had then been painted over. There's a lot of this sort of "botch it" work around the house. While the plaster was off the wall I rerouted the cables and put them in trunking in the wall. This left a hole in the floor. Usually, I'd swap out the damaged board, however here it was under the wall and I am not about to dismantle any more of this wall just to fix the small cable hole.

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The offending hole.
The skirting-board has been removed.

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I drilled a hole into a scrap of plywood with a forstner bit to use as a guide.

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Then drill down about 4mm into the floorboard.

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Cut a plug the same size as the recessed hole.
I use knots if patching pine because they are easier to match in.

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The patch once sanded. I may draw in the grain, but by the time it's stained and varnished it will hardly notice.
The skirting is a mock-up, the finished article will be reclaimed wood to match the existing landing skirting.