Saturday, August 25, 2007


All of the electricity has been replaced in the kitchen as the entire kitchen was being run from about 2 sockets and a bar lead. Rich ran the wires through first, leaving loops for the sockets, then went back and wired in the 2gang sockets.

Of course, this had to be done mainly with the power off, for obvious safety reasons! Thankfully, a rather wonderful little girl got her Daddy a useful torch for just this kind of thing. (you know who you are!)

This is when Daddy looks at the camera. Not useful!

This is what Daddy can see when he is working with his headlight. Much more helpful!

and this is Rich posing with the new socket tester he got. It's excellent, and basically plugs in, then says what is wrong with the wiring. In this case, nothing (obviously!)

Sealing the plaster with paint

Whilst Rich was doing all this (Ivan having gone home to his lovely missus and nipper), Caroline and I were painting. Obviously I couldn't take a picture of me painting, so when Rich was doing the ceiling bits that I was having trouble to reach, I took a couple, mainly for the benefit of a gorgeous little girl we know.....

If you look behind Rich, you can see the finished arch and it looks good!

It's important to seal the plaster, and to do this we used a 50%paint, 50% water mix of cheap emulsion (magnolia!) applied and worked in generously with a roller. The first coat was very patchy, as it is absorbed at different rates by different densities of plaster and so on. The second coat looked a lot better. This means that when we finally choose a colour and paint, the expensive paint will go on evenly, and neatly, and have good coverage, and the plaster is somewhat protected from knocks and grease.

Piping and so on....


When I returned from Wales on the Monday, I discovered that Rich and the lovely Ivan had done a very tidy job of the piping, the boiler was on the wall, and we were well on our way to hot water.

The one that goes up the wall is the gas pipe for the cooker hob. It's a bayonet fitting, so it is simple to move the cooker out for cleaning and so on. The others are the hot water feeds, all soldered joints, all neatly done!
And the most excellent boiler. I was reluctant to have a combi boiler, it's a Ravenheat one, and so far it's been excellent. The dials ect are clear to use, the response is amazingly quick, and it is much more energy efficient than the previous boiler. The heating is practically immediate to the radiators, and we have already noticed a couple of things that we really like, like being able to set the radiator temperature separately to the hot water temperature, meaning we can have lovely hot radiators, but set the hot water to a temp which won't scald anyone, or mean we have to put cold water into a bath to counter water which we just spent money and resources heating.

Ok, so... Plastering?

..... where did we get to?

We had a ceiling, and the plasterer was coming. Good. This is last Saturday then.

Plastering is an art, and if it's something you can do, fantastic, more power to your elbow. If it's not, like for Rich and I, then something has to be done - i.e. get someone in. The walls in the old kitchen had blown in places (the old plaster had come away from the wall) so we stripped back as much as we needed to so that we got to solid plaster in some places, and plain back to the brick in others.

We also took the opportunity to put in an arch between the kitchen and the laundry space, as we're never going to have a door on there - we aren't door people - and then the two places are connected, but still separate, if you follow my meaning.

There aren't many pictures of this bit, because the plasterer was working at a real pace and I didn't want to get in his way, plus the Adorable Child and I went to Wales for friends childrens christening.

Both of these pictures you may have to make bigger to see the point of them. This one is the ceiling, and shows where the wiring for the light is. Rich has attatched a small piece of wire to the square connector block, then pushed everything except the lead wire up into the ceiling to be plastered over.

Later, when he came to fit the light, he just gently pulled this through, the connector block came through behind it, and the hole was neat, square and small.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007


We have hot water!

I am waiting my turn in the shower!

I'll update this properly later, but we have hot water, and I can clean the house again, and I can keep the child clean and cook and so on.

The kitchen isn't finished - I'll post pictures of the plastering, the painting and so on, but WE HAVE HOT WATER!

(Not that anyone reads this anyway - if you do, drop me a comment?)

Finally! An update! (Or how to put up a plasterboard ceiling!)

Not that anyone reads this anyway, but here is an update on the current work. All pictures are suitable for young children as there are *no* picture of naked backs. (Seriously! None!)

This was Friday. No ceiling. See the floorboards of my sons room!

The panel lifter. Having done a ceiling without one and now a ceiling with one, todays top tip would be always use one. Our was £21 from the fabulous Travis Perkins Hire place, and well worth the cash.

See how it lifts the plasterboard with ease! We're using Gyproc Fireline. It's expensive, but what price a child's safety?

Offer it up into place, check the alignment, and screw it in. Rich spent quite a lot of the day in this shape!

Rich is snapping a chalk line onto the board to leave a chalk line (no, really!) so that we know where the joists are and can screw straight into them without guessing.

This picture shows all the big boards up, staggered joints, as they should be, and just the gaps to fill.

Da-Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! One complete ceiling, ready for plastering.

Thursday, August 16, 2007


We are replacing most of the pipework in the house. Much of it is an utter bodge job from the previous people, or the ones previous to them.

This is Ivan replacing some pipework for us. He is, without doubt, one of the best friends I have ever had. And flipping good with a gas torch.

Top tip. When gas torching near to a floor board, use a piece of plasterboard tucked in above the pipe to avoid scorching (or worst case senario, setting fire to!) the boards.

That's about where we are tonight. Tired. And off to bed.

Last picture of the workforce!

Boiler OUT!

Today's big news is that the boiler and the pipework and the chimney, and in fact anything boiler related are out.

This means that all that corner needs cleaning, and I'll be doing that tomorrow morning.

So from this......

To this - all disconnected, boiler moved away from wall, flue down.

To this... the beginnings of taking the chimney down. There aren't a lot of pictures of this bit as Richw as very nervous about doing it as the whole chimney could have come down, depending on the age of the house and the condition. but it didn't so that was ok.

He refilled the old chimney space with bricks that he had just taken out, and it'll be rendered tomorrow, plastered on Saturday.

So that's the chimney.

Next post - the pipework!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Wet Wednesday the second!

By now, Ivan (dark blue jeans) had arrived to join Charlie (in the doorway) and Rich (kneepads) in contemplation of the hole.

Which they then made deeper.

And then I put Sam to bed, and they made it even deeper.

And then they filled it in with the good concrete that had been on top of some of the rotten concrete.

And mixed a dryish mix of concrete to go over the top.

Rich looks rather delicious in this one I feel......

and that's where we are now.

More updates tomorrow!

Wet Wednesday

Why Wet Wednesday?

Well, the kitchen was all going well. We had found some remarkable tiles UNDER the wooden window sill. Yep, they hadn't even taken the tiles up to replace the windowsill, they just screwed it in on top.

Mmmmm. Yummy tiles! NOT!

This picture shows the beginning of the hole that we started when we found lots of damp plaster. Which led to finding lots of damp and rotten concrete in the floor. It had been laid on dirt, over a bad membrane.

Good concrete does not do this.

3 blows with a hammer.

Not good.

At this point we were looking at having to take up most of the kitchen floor. Not in the time plan, not in the budget.


Tuesday, August 14, 2007

kitchen so far......

This is the kitchen I have had for over a year now. The wooden units were from someone stripping out their kitchen and had been in a garage for over a year. The worktops were the ones that were here when we got here. The plaster had fallen off of the walls in lots of places where the water had got into it from the leak that the previous people had had, and not sorted out properly.

These are the tiles that were around the walls.

So far we have...................

Friday night

Stripped the tiles from the walls. All of them.

Saturday day

Stripped the tiles from the floor. Some with a floor chisel and 4 lb hammer. Some with the "electric drill with rotary action" as it's technical details describe the tool.

And yesterday he took the ceiling down, and tonight he, Ivan and Charlie are discussing and measuring and doing stuff with pipes.

It's all good! It's going to be fantastic eventually.

I'm even getting underfloor heating. As we have the floor up already.....

Friday, August 10, 2007

lyrics game - billy Joel

Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio

Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, Television
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe

Rosenbergs, H Bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom
Brando, The King And I, and The Catcher In The Rye

Eisenhower, Vaccine, England's got a new queen
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana goodbye

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
Well, we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

Joseph Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser and Prokofiev
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc

Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, Dacron
Dien Bien Phu Falls, Rock Around the Clock

Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn's got a winning team
Davy Crockett, Peter Pan, Elvis Presley, Disneyland

Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Khrushchev
Princess Grace, Peyton Place, Trouble in the Suez

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
Well, we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac
Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, Bridge On The River Kwai

Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California Baseball,
Starkwether, Homicide, Children of Thalidomide

Buddy Holly, Ben Hur, Space Monkey, Mafia
Hula Hoops, Castro, Edsel is a no-go

U2, Syngman Rhee, payola and Kennedy
Chubby Checker, Psycho, Belgians in the Congo

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
Well, we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

Hemingway, Eichmann, Stranger in a Strange Land,
Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs invasion

Lawrence of Arabia, British Beatlemania
Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson

Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British Politician sex
J.F.K. blown away, what else do I have to say

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
Well, we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon back again
Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock

Begin, Reagan, Palestine, Terror on the airline
Ayatollah's in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan

Wheel of Fortune, Sally Ride, heavy metal, suicide
Foreign debts, homeless Vets, AIDS, Crack, Bernie Goetz

Hypodermics on the shores, China's under martial law
Rock and Roller cola wars, I can't take it anymore

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning since the world's been turning.
We didn't start the fire
But when we are gone
It will still burn on, and on, and on, and on...

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
Well, we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
Well, we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire...

Thursday, August 9, 2007


So in a moment of genius, I decided to put the cereal on the stairs. I've run out of room everywhere else. What I didn't know was that Rice Crispies are afraid of heights, and promptly threw themselves to ground cover.

I was stunned/amazed/laughing/about to weep when the Adorable Child came over and said "Oh dear. well, don't worry, messes happen sometimes don't they mummy!" and then ran off shouting "I've got a plan!" over his shoulder.

This was the plan.
Hands and some considerable consumption first.

Then his broom to push the crispies into the box.

And then he got very technological, and finished off most of the rest!

What did this tell me?

1) He knows that it's ok to make a mess sometimes, and sometimes it just happens.

2)He knows that no-one shouts when messes are made.

3)He knows that a plan to help clear up is a good idea.

4)He knows that different tools are good for different parts of the same job.

5)He knows you can eat the ones on the top.....

6)He knows that helping to tidy is the kind thing to do.

I'm pretty happy with that to be honest. He was so sweet, kind and helpful.

I love him.
Sam's room. Just thought I'd see what it was like to post a picture on here!

Lyrics game

I learned how to write it, when I first started school
Some bully didn't like it, said it didn't sound too cool
So I had to hit him, and all I said when the blood came
It's my last name

Dirk Bentley

In other news, life is good. I met a really nice family yesterday, and they had come over to pick up some freecycle stuff, and are coming over again just for coffee and to play, which will be nice. Cat is on the way up after costing a HUGE amount of cash, and so we're a little skint, but it's ok. The swimming is already paid for, I've got money for what we need, if not a little more, and hopefully the extra will be in on Friday or Monday, I'll phone them about it.

I hope everyone is having a lovely day! Rich is about to find out that I made stoneground bread nad rolls yesterday, and that that is what is in his lunchbox because I didn't have time to make 2 lots. But I'll probably have to give up on the bread for a couple of weeks anyway. We'll see how the kitchen goes. I'm in the middle of moving it all into the dining room anyway!