DIY Gaming Gardening IAMOWIM Music Gear Parenting

What have I been up to lately?

Not blogging, that’s for sure.


I’ve got a couple of new toys, a Squier Vintage Modified fretless Jazz Bass, and a Zoom H2, which is a nifty little recording device that contains 4 internal microphones and records WAV and MP3 files to SD cards in startlingly good quality. It’s loaded with bells and whistles and is just what I’ve been looking for all these years. I’ve also restrung my acoustic guitar and have purchased a set of strings for my Epiphone SG. This happens quite infrequently. I’ve also got my guitars up on wall hangers these days, which means that I have to spend less time picking them up off of the floor and retuning them.


I have a new Krups coffee machine, the XP4020 ((the Krups website is antler-scratchingly bad, so I refuse to link to it)). I’m getting superb espresso out of it but it’s still taking some time to get used to. The grounds are very wet after use (which is supposedly due to the grounds not being tamped down hard enough, but I’ve tried a range of forces between featherly and elephantine and it’s making no difference) and I can’t get a decent foam on my milk. It will come in time, I’m sure. I’m really appreciating how much more quickly I can make a good cup of coffee these days. With the old machine I’d spend a fair amount of time waiting, but now I can do the whole process with no wasted time.


Haven’t been doing much of this, though on a couple of occasions lately the three of us have cycled round to some nearby brambles and gathered up kilos of blackberries. That’s damn good fun.

Playing Tomb Raider 2

As mentioned recently. Ah, they don’t make them like they used to. I’m playing in little bursts, half an hour or so every other day, and I’m currently a short way into the 40 Fathoms level.

Watching CSI, 3rd Rock From The Sun and Sapphire and Steel

Thanks to Mr Hg for the latter. We’re currently half way through season 5 of CSI, and we’re working our way through them at a rate of approximately one season every month. I think that we’ve seen most of seasons 6 and 7 already but we’ll enjoy re-watching them, and we’re definitely looking forward to season 8 which we haven’t yet seen. And I’m watching 3rd Rock in order too – I’ve just started season 4 and I think that for the most part I haven’t seen any episodes in seasons 4 to 6.


I’ve actually been reading more recently, getting through about a book per week. It’s not the most readious period of my life to date, but it’s definitely well above average.


Wandering around parks and playgrounds, taking photos of things and sharing mischievous smiles with Bernard. His language development is currently at a stage which I would describe as “explosive” with new words being added to his vocabulary daily. I’ve also organised all my photos from the last few weeks, so there will be a photo-based post on this site every evening for the next week.

Gardening and DIY

A little of this, but not too much. The occasional carefully-chosen task, selected for optimal benefit:time ratio. That said, the garden and allotment are both in reasonable condition. So it must be a case of working smarter, not harder.

Contemplating felines

We’re pretty much decided on this one, actually. We’re intending to go round to the rescue shelter tomorrow to see who is around. All three of us are cat lovers, so we’re unanimous on this one.

Complaining about my wrist

10 days ago I woke up with a very sore wrist. I wore a support bandage quite a lot over the next few days. People would put on concerned faces and ask me what happened, and I had to sheepishly respond that actually I just slept on it a bit funny. Karen thought that it was RSI from all the Tomb Raider I’ve been playing. After 5 days, it was not getting better. As an experiment, I took the bandage off, and kept it off. It’s been getting better ever since. I’ve decided to attribute the persistence of the discomfort to muscle atrophy, and what the injury needed was not rest, but exercise.


Back fence mended!

After my previous attempt ended in bloodshed, today I managed to complete the task and fix my rear fence.

It had been leaning at a worrying angle, so some time ago I purchased a concrete spur to reinforce it. Today, the planets finally aligned, and I was granted the (a) time, (b) weather and (c) lack of exsanguination that I needed to do the job.

I cut back all overhanging roses before attempting this task (actually, I did that a week or so back). I started at about 9am, heading out with my spade to expose the concrete. I used an old fence post to prop the fence up throughout the process.

I borrowed a small but potent hammer from the guy across the road, as he had promised some time back, and then realised that I didn’t have a suitable chisel. One quite trip to Focus later, and I was equipped with a rather beefy looking 4″ chisel, with a plastic handle and a guard to stop me mutilating my own fist. Similar to this, only four times the size.

I set to work.


Head Wound


While working on the fence around the back of the house, I turned around and banged my head against an overhanging rose.

“Oh dear,” I thought to myself, as the thorn withdrew wetly from the new hole in my head, and blood started trickling down from my hairline.

I grabbed my spade (hey, it’s been in my family for generations ((3 in total, if you include my son)), I wasn’t going to leave it behind) and made straight for the house, trying to staunch the flow without being exactly sure where the puncture wound was. All the while, blood dripping down onto my spectacles, giving me a nice grisly *noir* camera effect on the world.

Once inside, I made my way up to the bathroom, trying not to make a mess of the carpet. There, I leaned over the sink, and gently called Karen’s name to wake her from her slumber.

I’m okay now. She’s making me a cup of tea.

Oh, by the way, this happened about ten minutes ago. It was so exciting, I felt that I just had to share.

DIY Gardening


I installed a water butt last week to see if I could make the world a better place. It’s been exciting.

The first hurdle was the unavailability of a proper stand. We were informed by a Customer Services Representative at Pimp Your Garden PLC that this was due to a huge demand for water butts. Sankey, who manufacture water butts, had basically shifted their production facility from a 50/50 split to put more emphasis on butts, and less on accessories. Fair enough.

We purchased the butt and then went off on a stand-hunt. In a nearby garden centre, we found no stands, but we did find a rather cute little slimline butt that we would have bought, were it not for the fact that we already had a butt in our boot and we couldn’t be bothered to return it. So we bought a cheap terracotta pot instead, which we could turn upside-down for use as a stand.

**UPDATE:** *Found a proper stand at a different store. I’m much happier overall, but with the new stand the butt can’t get as close to the wall. I will need to hack the downpipe a bit more.*

We brought the butt home and I set to work cutting a hole in the top for the downpipe. At this point it struck me that I’d need to divert the downpipe away from the wall. By now I was sick of thinking about butts, so I put the project on hiatus until the following weekend.

DIY Guidance

How To Paint A Bit Of A Car (Part 2)

[Continues from here][]

[continues from here]:

This is gonna be such fun.

Firstly, admire your handiwork from yesterday. Marvel at the way that a day of rest has transformed it, from a painted piece of plastic into a piece of plastic which looks like it was always that colour. Set up your environment as before (figure 12). Sven Goran Erikson is optional.

As an aside, I received an email yesterday remarking on the fact that I read the Observer. I would like to suggest that whoever sent this email should check the photos again, because I quite clearly use the Guardian as my mat.

So, here we are again, and this time the watchword is restraint. Firstly, you must trust the colour on the lid of your paint can (figure 13). Once you have established your faith in the paint, we may begin.

The big difference in applying the paint rather than the primer is that you currently have an image in your head of what it is going to look like when you are finished. Do not trust this image. If you try to get the grille / bumper / spoiler / whatever to the right colour with your first coat, YOU WILL REGRET IT. It’s a schoolboy error, and your end product will be covered in fat fucking splodges. Today, we must use thin coats, and plenty of them. With the primer I applied two coats with one can – today I will apply four coats of paint from one can.

The spraying action is exactly the same, but just go easy, and maintain your ten inch gap. Make your coats as thin as you desire. See figure 14? See the light bits? That was my first coat. Remember – have faith in your paint. It will come out the right colour, in time. Just make sure that you don’t allow any blobs to accumulate. To ensure this, make sure that the spray jet is not stationary at any point. Only press the button down while the can is in motion. Figure 15 may help you to envisage your strategy (sorry, it’s a really cheap effort).

Again, your coats need 15 minutes to dry, and so you will find yourself doing quite a bit of sitting around. You can use your time to grab an orange juice and an apple (figure 16). Nothing is quite so grand as a man of the world getting his vitamin C. Especially if his hands are dirty. Ain’t that a man?

You should also figure out how to get the old grille or whatever off (figure 17). This may involve sticking your hands inside the engine compartment, around the battery and under the headlamps to get to the little catch. Be careful – there’s electricity in them thar power cells. And then put it back on again, because you still need to drive back to work in half an hour.

You will also probably spend this time running back and forth between your car and your bit of car with a tape measure, just to check that you bought the right item and it is going to fit in place. Just chill out, okay? You’re gonna be fine.

Should any of the attractive female neighbours walk past, you should get down on your hands and knees and randomly blow imaginary specks of dust off of it. Not only are you a perfectionist, but you’re also fucking brilliant at cunnilingus.

After your third coat (figure 18) you should find that the colour is pretty much matching your existing bodywork. It won’t be exactly the same, because wet paint is a different colour to dry paint, but you should be pretty much there. Remember the difference in the primer since yesterday? The same thing will happen again.

Look over your work for any areas which you haven’t quite put enough paint down on yet, so that you can lay a little (but just a tiny little, mind) emphasis on them when you put down your FINAL COAT (figure 19).

If you are lucky, you shouldn’t suffer any major insect strikes, though wasps do like the smell of paint a bit. The worst that I suffered was this little thing (figure 20), which looks like a tiny pube.

Right, let your bit of car dry for another fifteen minutes and then take it indoors. Take great care of it. Scratch it now, and you’re a fucking moron.

End result

Go back to work.

DIY Guidance

How To Paint A Bit Of A Car (Part 1)

Firstly, you are going to need to buy your paint. You will need to know what colour paint you need, and what colour primer.

The shop should have a book with all the different combinations in it. Look up your make, model and year, and the manufacturer’s colour (which should be imprinted somewhere on your car, usually under the bonnet. In my case it wasn’t, so I had to use deduction). This will tell you what the name of the colour is (in my case, Maritime Blue) and the colour primer you need (in my case, grey).

Usually you need a white primer for light colours, a grey primer for dark colours, and a black primer for black paint. Primer is very important – it forms a good surface for the paint to key to. Without it, you can be pretty certain that within a few weeks your paint will be flaking off.

You will need equal quantities of paint and primer, and they normally cost about £5 per 300ml can. The shop assistant can help you with quantities, but as a general rule one can will cover a bonnet-sized area once. The part that I am painting is considerably smaller than a bonnet, though a more complex shape, so I can be confident of getting two coats out of a can.

Two coats is good.

Bring your paint and primer home, and set the scene. For such dramatic DIY attempts as these, it is important to wear blue jeans and a white t-shirt, as I demonstrate in figure 1.

Put a bit of music on, and open the windows because it is a nice hot day (figure 2). This has the added bonus of helping air to circulate, which apparently is strictly necessary.

Replace your lovely tablecloth (figure 3) with a shitty tablecloth (figure 4). Put a bit of newspaper down as well, just to be on the safe side (not illustrated).

Now, let’s get to work. Shake your can of primer until it starts to rattle, and then shake it for two minutes more (figure 5).

As the salivating vicar once said, "Let us spray". From a height of about ten inches, spray your bumper or whatever evenly, just allowing the stream to swing to and fro evenly.

Get about halfway through your first coat and realise that if you continue at this rate, your entire flat is going to be covered in a fine mist of primer within ten minutes. Lose your nerve and go outside (figure 6).

This adds a few new problems into the mix.

* Unfortunately you may find that you have an elegant “stuck-insect” motif by the end of this. Do what you can.
* The wind is going to try and cover your work with leaves and the newspaper which you are using to keep the tarmac in a good state. A little bit of elementary aerodynamic theory should save you here – use more newspapers, and put them around the edges of your existing newspaper so that the spine makes a kind of nosecone (figure 7).

However it does mean that the sun and breeze will speed this whole operation up a bit by assisting in the drying process. And the attractive females from next door can check out your mad skills. A provider, that’s what you are. You can provide for them. That’s why they want you. You don’t go running off to a professional every time a headlight breaks / brake pad wears down / exhaust bracket rusts away… you get the idea.

Finish off your first coat (figure 8) and sit down for fifteen minutes (figure 9) and enjoy the beautiful blue sky (figure 10). In fifteen minutes, your first coat should be dry enough to put a second coat on. To be honest, it should be dry enough after ten minutes, but lets not rush this.

On goes the second coat. Same as the first – smooth oscillating action. There will be some awkward corners on an item such as my new radiator grille, so try not to be overly generous when you are poking the can into the corners – you don’t want rivers of primer dripping off. While you allow the second coat to dry (figure 11), it is a good opportunity to figure out how the hell you are going to get the old radiator grille off without breaking any of the fixings.

When this fails miserably, take your semi-dry item back indoors so that it is safe from harm. Make sure that all the attractive female neighbours see you carrying your beautiful handiwork. They need to know about your mad skills. Also you must be careful that you don’t leave this fine example of your craft unattended – it’s very desirable.

Try not to bump the walls on the way back in.

Once you have it back on the table, note all the bits that you haven’t covered properly. You muppet. Can’t trust you with anything.

Your baby needs about 24 hours to dry before we can start to paint, so we’ll come back to it tomorrow.

You now should wash your hands. At first this may seem like an exercise in futility, but your fingers will be pretty much clear of primer by the evening. It’s a messy process, but if you can leave it on there, then you can go to the pub later and enjoy stimulating conversation with chicks who are impressed by your abilities and mad skills.

[Continues here][]

[continues here]: