Tag: DIY

DIY Time?

Hellooooo Oooo ooo

Blimey, isn’t the house big when you take down all the tat Christmas decorations.

As ever, with the house returned to a semblance of order (ohh I do like a bit of order) thoughts turn to DIY. Namely the funny patches of paint just inside the living room door where we’ve daubed various shades of blue and grey in an effort to see which colour is best.

I don’t mind painting, it’s fairly painless, it’s the preparation that is the hassle.

Choosing the paint, buying the paint, getting out the old paint brushes, realising the old paint brushes weren’t cleaned properly and having to go back to the DIY store to buy new ones.

Digging out the roll of edging tape, edging off the.. ohh balls we’ve run out.

Back to the DIY store.

Edges done, paint on walls, time to clean the brushes with the…

Back to the DIY store.

And so on and so forth.

And that’s all before someone decides we should really rejig the living room, wouldn’t the sofa be better there, or maybe there?

And so on and so forth.

Still, I do have one little DIY project which will bring a little bit of personal pride to our living room. The hang of some of my photos. Still sussing out how best to do it, but have the fishing line prepared and think, if I can get it right, it’ll look fab. Photos of the.. er.. photos.. will follow.

The festive period

December the 24th is Christmas Eve. I mention this not as a startling revelation but because it’s the first of eleven days that I have off work. So if I discount the 25th and 26th of December, as well as the 1st of January as I’m Scottish and by law we are not allowed to go to sleep until at least 4am on New Year’s Day, I have approximately 8 days or so with nothing planned.

That will, of course, change.

I reckon, if I’m generous with my estimates, I’ll have five or six days to myself. I’ll say five just to be on the safe side.

That’s five whole days in which I can, within reason, do what I want. Watch some old movies, play some games, read a book, generally chill out. That kind of thing. Five days is a lot of time, so let’s presume I do some chores around the house as well, a little decorating or general DIY bodgery.

Yes, I could get a lot done in five days and I have to admit I’m looking forward to the time off as it’s been manic these past few weeks and whilst it’s probably partly because the holiday is getting closer, I’m definitely feeling a little ‘punchy’. Yes, five days is plenty to recharge the batteries all the better to start the new year afresh.

Except we all know what’ll happen.

Person X will decide to pop over and that’ll turn into dinner, which’ll turn into tidying up, shopping for food, preparation, entertaining and finally punting them out the door sometime before midnight.

Person Y will suggest that we could go out for a meal and a movie, which’ll turn into a late afternoon meal, a movie, then drinks and we’ll get home sometime after midnight.

Person Z will phone and ask us over for dinner, or just to see if we are going to visit and that’ll turn into “well if we are seeing Z, we could go and see Y and if we are seeing Y we are as well staying over with X” which means that we’ll need to prepare, pack an overnight bag and leave early morning, getting home sometime later the next day.

And before you know it it’s Sunday the 4th of January, 2009, I’m back to work the next day and I’ve not done anything that I’d hoped to do and I’m probably more stressed than I was on Christmas Eve.

It’s the same every year.

So, this year, I’m not planning to do nothing, and I’m not planning to do everything, instead I’m expecting to be busy most days and to make the most of the moments inbetween.

P.S. Persons X, Y and Z are interchangeable and do not, in any way, correlate with members of my family (immediate or otherwise) or any of my friends. Honest.

Harissa Paste

Picture the scene, if you will, of a dashing and debonair young man, slim of body with flowing locks of blonde hair framing his sculptured face as he lounges gracefully on a chaise lounge. Soft music plays in the background, whilst the delicate fragrances of dinner waft from the kitchen. A tranquil scene I’m sure you’ll agree.

Now picture the exact opposite, a slovenly baw-faced guy slouching in front of the TV, his belt undone, his thinning hair needing cut, his face unshaven.

That pretty much sums me up at the moment, but then it’s been a busy weekend.

Friday night found me dashing into Glasgow to catch Elbow at the ABC. Doors opened at 6pm the ticket said, something I only realised at 6.04pm when I lifted my ticket to put it in my jacket pocket for later. Of course, having jumped in the car and raced into Glasgow, I arrive at the venue to find a growing queue standing outside and received confirmation from the bouncers on the door that doors didn’t open until 7pm. And yeah, it didn’t matter what my ticket said, alright?!

Minor glitch over, the gig was pretty damn good. I was largely going on the strength of their last album, having not had much chance to hear their new one, nor having spent much time listening to any of the others. It didn’t matter though, as the band were pretty slick, and BOY can that man sing, what a voice (although I should mention the quality of the sound, it was spot on, you could pick out every instrument and voice). Top gig, and I got to meet Paul as well, bonus!

Saturday and we were up early, with the car filled with a variety of rubbish to be taken to the dump, then a quick bit of shopping and a few other chores before heading back home. Then, alas, it was off to work for a few hours before hooking up with my parents for dinner.

And today saw some DIY, the fitting of a new light in the kitchen and a few other tidy up tasks as we continue to return our house to some sort of order.

Ohh yes, the kitchen… it’s lovely, thanks (see for yourself)

Anyway, harissa chicken is cooking on the oven, some roast vegetables will be going on soon so I’d better get the table set and open a bottle of wine. Hope your weekend is ending as well as ours.

Because it's all that's in my head

Don’t hate me.

Please.

I don’t do this kind of thing on purpose. Honest I don’t.

But it does seem to follow a pattern, doesn’t it.

Ohh wait, you don’t know what I’m talking about yet, do you.

Let’s start over.

Don’t hate me.

Please.

But I’m really REALLY busy and just want to jot down everything in my head so that I don’t forget. I COULD do that on a piece of paper of course but then that wouldn’t get posted and as I’m feeling that weird bloggers remorse thing of not posting regularly then.. well… ohh look. It’s my bloody blog. If you don’t want to read on, then don’t. Presuming anyone has gotten this far (I’m beginning to bore myself actually).

I’m still loving my job. It no longer feels like a new job so I’ve dropped that adjective, but it’s still good. Getting a little hectic though but nothing more than usual chaos that surrounds every product release I’ve ever been involved with, at every company I’ve ever worked at. Thankfully we don’t have project managers here, hovering over our desks with Gantt charts and cost-analysis sheets. It’s quite refreshing to be left with only your professional pride to keep you in check, it’s quite a powerful motivator as it turns out.

As well as product release stuff, I’m also looking ahead to early next year, planning what the team will be focussing on next time and that particular piece of thinking is growing wings everytime another thread is introduced.

Hang on, I just broke my own analogy. Put it this way, in a nutshell full of winged threads:

If we (the team) undertake long term project A, it will make short term project B easier for us, but likely kick off other short term projects (for other people) in which we’ll need to be involved as they’ll directly impact on B, with the knock-on effect of slowing down A. Considering A is all about being faster and more efficient.. well that’s not a good thing.

I realise that makes no sense to anyone but it’s the first time I’ve written it down and *ping* I think I understand it a little better now. It does make senses if you know what A, B and ‘other’ mean. Promise.

Elsewhere I’ve been slacking off. Almost a full month of not doing anything purely because no-one was chasing me. I feel a little guilty as I promised two freebies, so I’ll try and blast them out ASAP. Then I need to properly consider a new design template, and there is the not inconsiderable event that will see me stand in a room of my peers, and present my thoughts and experiences of using a Wiki in the workplace. Must make time to go over the presentation a couple more times I think..

I’m also still ripping CDs, they last batch (100 or so) are piled on my desk to try and force me to deal with them, but if I just shove them over to the wall a little then.. yeah, there is PLENTY of room to work, I’ll get to them later…

Photos will be next of course, and for that I really want to clear the space so I can get the scanner up on the desk, rather than tucked away on top of a set of drawers. But to do that, I’ll need to clear the desk… of CDs. Dammit.

Lastly there is a rather large occasion looming on the horizon. I’m doing my best to ignore it but, to be honest, we’ll need to make a start. Only a few weeks I’ll be lugging boxes of decorations and nonsense down from the loft and then there will be no escaping the fact, Christmas will have arrived.

I’m not moaning about any of this, far from it, it saves me from sitting watching crap TV (like that Strictly Come Saturday Factor thing that seems to be on every channel at the same time) and means that I’m saved of any DIY projects until at least February.

“Sorry darling but I’m just soooo very busy, and I promised I’d get it done, you wouldn’t want me to let people down, would you?”

Every cloud and all that.

Decisions

My life has been littered with decisions over the past week or so. None particularly major but each crucial in a small way.

The decision with the biggest impact is definitely whether I should pay the electricity bill, or purchase the Mac OSX upgrade. OK, not really a decision… (yes I’ll pay the bill… meh).

Overall, most of the decisions have been small and in the large scheme of things, inconsequential. They centre around the myriad of items I’ve been throwing away as I continue to declutter. Trips to the skip, trips to various DIY places to purchase storage, trips to charidee shops, all have been preceded by a quandary.

Louise and I are pretty good at getting rid of stuff we don’t need or use. Moving house several times in the first few years we were together, including down to England and back, meant that it was pretty easy to know what we had (pack your entire house 4 times in 3 years and you’ll know what I mean) and what we didn’t actually use.

However, we’ve been in this house for over 6 years now and as we are not likely to move for at least another 6, then it’s understandable that we’ve slowly been accumulating ‘stuff’. Personally my minimalist tendencies make it very easy for me to justify the removal of items from any room, but I am conscious that can leave things a little ‘cold’ and of course I’m not the only person who lives there. We are pretty good at compromising though, and it’s safe to say we both now tend to agree on what is acceptable and what isn’t.

Decluttering the house will take some time and, as I’ve mentioned, means that some hard decisions need taken. It’s easy to decide that I don’t really need 4 spare USB cables, or that having 2 spare keyboards is a necessity, so out they go. Similarly there are a lot of things which have slowly been added to various drawers and cubbyholes, none of which have much value other than pleasant curiosity (a champagne cork with a G initialed on it, for example). However there are some items which hold real value, and so I now have a small ‘sentiments’ box.

There isn’t that much in it at the moment, the nameplate from my Grans old house and a knocker from her old, huge, sideboard, alongside a pencil top Chewbacca from my childhood and a small plate with an Osprey on it which… well it came from my parents but not sure where they got it from.

And so, with bin bags filled, and memories safely stored away, I can now move onto the next room. Well I would if I had the space. There are now two large boxes full of CDs, ready to go into the loft. Alas, the loft is starting to reach the point that we consider it “full” (the point at which you can no longer navigate round the boxes and piles of … stuff).

Guess which area of the house we should’ve decluttered first…

Change versus Routine

As I’ve mentioned before, I enjoy change. I think most people do, as the dull and predictable, staid and static life soons becomes a ditch-water dull drag.

On the other hand, there is something to be said for routine. The familiar lends itself to easy comfort.

At the moment I’m trying to balance the two, change and routine, routine and change. My work routine of the past few years has changed and, as that has the largest bearing on my time, the rest of my daily/weekly routine is changing too. But that’s fine, it was expected. Anticipated change is a good thing.

The main stuff is first, when to leave the house in the morning, when best to leave the office at night, that kind of thing. Of course it has to be fitted into the ‘home’ routine; Monday and Tuesday nights Louise is out early, I’m out on Wednesday evenings. After that come the secondary activities, running and design work for me, then the daily tasks and finally the downtime for watching TV, reading books and so on.

Naturally that routine is up for change, but by and large it can be consider constant, within acceptable boundaries…

Of course what this doesn’t really factor in is those curveballs life enjoys pitching at you. That unexpected expenditure, the unplanned DIY (think broken fence post), and other less pleasant life events.

And that’s when stress becomes a factor. The unexpected change to routine hits hard and you start to fight back, desperate to keep your routine, to keep things normal, to stay in control as much as is possible.

But if you take a different viewpoint then, well, it’s just more change to deal with so I guess I need to clarify my position. I enjoy EXPECTED change.

Now, if you’ve read this far you are probably hoping I have some sort of point. Naturally I don’t. I’ll leave that up to you lot.

Which do you prefer? Change or routine? And are the two mutually exclusive?

Am I back?

Or is I front?

Looks like a small blip on the server this morning, so if you were rendered aghast at the rather unsightly WordPress error page you received this morning (must do something about that), fear not. I is still here.

Prostitutes are in the news, and for all the wrong reasons. In saying that I’m not sure there are any good reasons that said ‘ladies of the night’ should be in the news but I’ll pause on that thought, lest I pay any disrespect to those who have lost loved ones. Life takes everyone down different paths, and no-one deserves a violent death.

Speaking of which, the “news” not the prostitutes, Peter is headed back into the limelight (he’ll deny it but he LOVES it) with his Serenata flowers thing. Apparently the Guardian are interested. The power of blogs in action, so to everyone who linked to Peter, pat yourself on the back, or have a Kit-Kat or something.

Louise and I watched a report this morning that stated that women still do the bulk of the shopping and housework. Apparently this is what counts as news these days, slotting in beside the facts that Cadbury stand to lose an extra &10million from the salmonella scare early this year (or was it late last?) and that today it’ll be raining a lot. The report basically pointed out that men are too stupid to buy groceries – “I try and buy healthy food” said voxpop lady, “he’d just buy pizza, cakes and chocolate”. Voxpop man responded with “if she wants to do all the DIY around the house then yeah, I’d cook more often”.

Now, I’ll happily admit that the research holds true in our house, with Louise doing the bulk of washing and cleaning, most of the shopping, and the majority of cooking. Louise doesn’t have a problem with this though, and it bemuses her why some women are so up in arms about those ‘lazy’ men. In my defense I do more tidying up – but that’s just my nature, Louise takes more of a “dump it for now” approach – DIY and dealing with bills, paperwork and so on. That plus the fact that, according to my darling wife, I don’t do the housework PROPERLY, well we’re a match made in heaven. Or maybe it’s just horses for courses. Hey, it works for us.

What else? Ohh yes. I started looking at some old code last night, for a website that never quite saw the light of day. It’s an odd thing, going back to something you’ve not looked at for months, trying to figure out why you did X instead of Y, or what on earth you were thinking about when you chose Z. Fun though, and one of the problems I had with the site may now be solved. Hoping to get it finished (finally!) within the next week or so and move onto the next project (two in pipeline, but one has just snuck to the head of the queue).

Ohhh yes, I’ve still got some questions to be answered. They’ll be appearing soon, I haven’t forgotten.

*sticks two chips up nose*

I’m going slightly mad, I’m one card short of a full deck, I’m not quite the shilling, One wave short of a shipwreck, I’m not at my usual top billing, I’m coming down with a fever, I’m really out to sea, This kettle is boiling over, I think I’m a banana tree …

There is just too much going on at the moment.

However it’s a pattern I’m used to as we always seem to do things this way, not on purpose, cramming several different tasks and events into a short timeframe. The last ripples of the re-mortgage are lapping at the shore (for those keeping count, that was fixing the car, getting new double glazed front and back doors, and a slew of minor DIY related ‘stuff’, plus a wee bit extra for Xmas), the new TV continues to add value (it’s SOOO luvverly) and cost (new cables mainly, and I’m still trying to figure out if we are using more energy now than we were with our ageing CRT), the 5K looms on the horizon, and we’ve just about finished our Xmas shopping.

Add in the new job stuff (spare time being spent reading up on Extreme Programming), the putting up of Xmas decorations, completion of some long outstanding DIY projects, and the start of the Xmas night out merry-go-round is a positive relief!

My first is today, although it’s a lunch, with the development team from my new company. I had a half-day holiday left so it’s worked out quite well. Be a good chance to meet them all in a less formal setting and see what they are really like! Thankfully I’m driving so they are saved from lesser-known alter ego “stupid drunk Gordon”. He doesn’t get out much but BOY, when he does… ummm… well those stories are for another time (ohh I feel like Scaryduck now… no I will NOT be having a Vote-O).

Sunday WAS going to be next ‘festive drinking occasion’ but, unfortunately, a couple of close friends can’t make it due to work commitments (they’re not even in the country) and this was supposed to be the only day we all had free in December! So I guess we’ll have our Xmas night out sometime in .. ohh.. April probably.. I’m sure Keith, Stuart and I will cope admirably. Which reminds me, don’t expect anything from me on Monday coming as I’m celebrating completion of the 5K by getting completely trolleyed on Sunday night.

Next week should be a little bit calmer, thank god, which should give me some time to play with new mobile phone (which should arrive today). Alas the free XBox 360 doesn’t arrive until January…

Although the new phone does mean another jump through the multiple “how to port your number to the same network” hoops, but I’ve done it once before, just takes a little time and patience.

– – – –

For those who are wondering about the post title, it’s.. well.. ok, I screwed up. I always seem to think that Captain Edmund Blackadder, when pretending to be mad in Blackadder Goes Forth, sticks chips up his nose. He doesn’t, as can be seen here, so I guess my brain is mixing that with this scene from a Fish Called Wanda when Kevin Kline sticks a chip in each of Michael Palin’s nostrils (the photo was taken just before that moment, I think).

Just wanted to make that clear, it’s bad enough when the pedants correct your spelling and grammar…

The one where I'm old

“We won’t become those old people who can’t stand kids and are always shouting at them, will we?”

I said I didn’t think so, as we do like kids, it’s just the ones that run around, scream, shout, wail and generally cause minor chaos in shops that annoy. I long to give them a clip round the ear but, of course, I won’t. That’s assault you see.

When did I become a curmudgeon? A grumpy old man who can’t tolerate your average child.

Admittedly this was in the third DIY shop we visited this morning, and I was in the midst of trying to think up how to build a new headboard (have the idea, just finalising the plans), but surely if the parents of said noisy brat are completely ignoring him — and don’t give me that ‘zoning out’ crap, you could hear the wee bugger half way across the store — then that gives me additional ‘clipping’ rights? Even a firm grip of the arm and a stern word would probably have done it, I mean the kid was obviously just bored, his parents engrossed in picking out just the right colour of paint… aubergine or pewter washed grape?

Home to sketch out the new headboard and out into the garden to continue our ongoing war with the weeds. They have taken the garage area, but today we reclaimed three flower beds and a large chunk of the back garden. Our Maginot Line is being planned — re-paving the patio — and we’ll be deploying napalm on the monoblocking later on. Napalm, Pathclear, whatever.

After all that stress and activity I’m bushed. Drained and jaded and can hardly be bothered to sit here and check my emails. Maybe it was the extra long (and hilly) jog last night, or maybe I’m still getting over the dodgy tummy I had on Thursday, but I feel ready to retire. Is it bedtime yet?

Too much in my head

Blimey, ever get one of those weeks when, all of a sudden, EVERYTHING starts to happen? Now so of the following I knew was coming up, but the majority of it has kinda snuck up on me.

At work we are counting to down to a minor release, hoping to get everything done for the end of the week. Nothing too stressful in that but it does mean a lot of last minute chasing of bits and bobs.

We are currently re-mortgaging as the fixed rate period for our current mortgage runs out after the next payment. We’ve got a deal we want, and the paperwork has just popped through the door. Need to get on that ASAP or we’ll end up paying another month of our old mortgage and that’ll cost us £85!

Having spotted some cheap flights to Spain we need to get them booked ASAP before the rates go up. However we need to wait until we get the mortgage stuff sorted out, if we have to pay that additional £85 we won’t be able to book the flights (they are only £70 return at the moment!).

And we are away for a few days from Thursday next week, which we are both looking forward to, but of course that shrinks the timescale and it wouldn’t surprise me if the lawyer dealing with our re-mortgaging will ‘urgently’ need something signed whilst we are away. Sod and his flippin’ laws…

Ohh yes, and we are getting quotes for a new front door (the old one is needing replaced) which we’ll need to get done before the winter, I’ve got two websites to design, with a third on the horizon, and we need to spend a day in the garden at some point as the weeds are starting to creep back! I need to find a venue for the next Scottish blogmeet, I’m helping a mate with some DIY in a couple of weeks, we need to visit the caravan to pick up some DVDs and our spare Sky box, I need to buy a long sleeved top for running, and my Mum’s birthday is coming up…

OK OK, so everyone is always busy, but why does it always come in spurts like this?

In other news: Pringles “Gourmet (ha ha) Flame-Grilled Steak and Caramelised Onion Flavour” crisps are rubbish.