Broken Car

Once again my car has broken down. This time on the way to visit Herr Howarth. It was the coldest day of the year thus far and everything was going wrong on the motorways. My windscreen washers ran out of fluid so I stopped at the services to buy more but they’d sold out due to everyone running out. I ended up just buying a bottle of water and dumping that into my washers…which immediately froze and was simply cock all use. After refilling my washers with ice the car absolutely did not want to start. Finally it kicked in and the engine started but it freaked me out so much that I didn’t want to stop anywhere again until I got to the relative safety of Jason’s house.

Due to my windscreen being incredibly difficult to see through and my sat-nav being an utter bitch and trying to take me to Jason’s via the toll road I missed the A500 exit from the M6. Then my car started chugging when idling which is always a bad sign. Then it properly stopped on the toll road with a massive puff of smoke out of the exhaust and I rolled onto the hard shoulder.

This is where the fun properly began. I have AA cover via my Nationwide account. So I called the AA. Twenty minutes later they didn’t pick up the phone. So I dropped that call and phoned Paul who was coming down the M6 behind me. I arranged for him to rendezvous with me to try and work out what to do. Having arranged the meeting with Paul I got back onto the phone to the AA. Twenty five minutes later they hadn’t answered so I hung up and spoke with Paul to talk him into my exact location. Paul eventually arrived and I hung up an unanswered call to the AA for a third time. Wankers. In the end I just abandoned my car on the hard shoulder and jumped into Paul’s nice warm car and we went to the pub for lunch.

Fast forward many hours and I eventually managed to get through to the AA. I told them to pick up my car and tow it back to my house. They were absolutely adamant they couldn’t tow my car unless I was there. I was thirty miles away…and drunk. So that wasn’t happening. In the end I properly lost my shit with them, the AA person hung up on me and I went to bed convinced the police were going to impound my car.

I awoke the next day and my first thought, the very first thing that entered my head was where’s my car now. How am I going to get home! To cut a very long story a little shorter I won’t go into the range anxiety that Paul and I suffered due to him not being able to charge his car overnight. But we eventually made it back to my car. I hopped over the fence to the motorway and ran down the embankment to my car armed with a Lithium Ion battery charger pack hoping to kick start my car. Amazingly 24hrs after abandoning it at the side of the motorway it was still there. The hazard lights were still going and everything. I was hooking up the battery booster just as the police turned up. Literally 3 minutes had passed between me getting to the car and the cops turning up wanting to impound it! Because I was there they didn’t impound it and after 40 minutes on the phone the AA answered the call [ again wankers! ] and arranged someone to come and rescue me. However, the AA weren’t going to tow me home. They arranged for a 3rd party recovery company to come and get me and tow me to the nearest services where at some point in the distant future another truck would come and get me. In a massive piece of good fortune the recovery company had a car due for pickup up North so it made sense for them to take me home and get the other car.

After four hours waiting on a freezing hard shoulder this was an epic sight

I was still thinking that the problem was the battery so I got the car dropped off at my local garage with the intention of them replacing the battery. However, because it was so close to Christmas everything was just crazy. It was Christmas eve before they took a look at it. Declared it wasn’t the battery and was probably something much more serious, possibly requiring a new engine! Which as one can imagine was a shit bit of news. Very fortunately Paul is friends with a mechanic who he overheard discussing a Porsche Cayenne issue with another friend that was exhibiting all the same symptoms as mine. Paul sweet talked the mechanic [ Alan ] into taking a look at my car and so in that lull between xmas and new year Paul came over and towed my car off the garage forecourt

It was properly cold as we were sorting all this out

As I write this it’s now over a month since I last drove my car and our current working theory is that an injector failed. Hopefully this is the case…it’ll be the third injector that has failed in two years which is a bit annoying but at least I’ll be back on the road. I’ll drive it for a few months and then treat myself to an EV of some description for my birthday,

However, the message I want you to take from this blog post is that the AA are a proper bunch of wankers. Absolute cunts. Fuck the AA.

Fresh Ravioli

We had a bit of a dinner party. I made fresh ravioli from home made pasta and had a fancy serrated pasta cutter [ borrowed from the neighbours ] and everything.

Turned out alright

It was a while ago that I made them but I made three different varieties. One definitely had prawns in, one had chorizo and red pesto and one had some sort of mushroom and creme fraiche filling. They all could have done with more filling and I also forgot to drizzle olive oil over them at the end.

Emma made a Salmon en croute which was divine.

Skirting Boards

Yeah, it’s another story from me about extensions. This time, skirting boards. We opted to put in some beautiful oak skirting boards to give the kitchen/utility that fantastic finishing touch. The chap that put them in used a “butt joint” where you just cut the board at 90 degrees and butt it up against another skirting board in order to span a length greater than the skirting boards that you have. In theory it’s great, in practice it’s a bit jarring.

I decided that given time and patience [ hahahaha, yeah, me, patience ] I could do a better job. So I bought a load more skirting board. The first problem is that stuff that I got was 5mm ummm shorter/taller [ can’t remember which ] so I couldn’t tie the new stuff in with the old stuff. That’s ok though – when the skirting is on different sides of the room or indeed in different rooms then you’ll never notice a 5mm difference.

Mid replacement

So with the skirting above I eventually put a mitre joint in…and it still looks shit since the oak is different patterns/colourings where they join. Had it been a standard piece of skirting that I subsequently painted then it would be beautiful.

Then it comes to the corners. Despite it being new walls the corners are not 90 degrees which leads to all sorts of grief. I had to buy a coping saw that you use to cut the outline of the profile and then you can put it up against a perpendicular skirting board and you get a perfect join…in theory. In reality, because I’m rubbish at this sort of thing – it looks shit.

Emma would have gone mental if she’d come home at this point

So I spent about £200 on new skirting board, wasting three or four days of my life to oil the boards and then try to fit them and it could be argued that I’ve gone backwards. I’ll probably have another crack at it later this year. Never give up and all that!

Mulching Mower

Back in 2014 I bought myself a new ride on mower after nearly slicing off the bottom of my foot with the old one. This one was/is a mulching mower that allows me to change the cutting blades and insert a plug into the collection chute and then the blades just chop the grass into tiny pieces and drop them back on the lawn…hence the term mulching.

All was going pretty well until I tried to “mulch” a protruding cobble stone which bent the blade which destroyed the plug.

To be fair it was falling apart before the cobble incident

In the background of the photo above you can see the newly purchased plug. It’s just the plug bit and all the fixings are reused from the old one.

As an aside, you see how the picture above is beautifully brightly lit. Well, let me take you on a little side quest….

The bench at the back of my garage isn’t terribly well lit. I have a desk lamp [ see below ] on there which can be used to illuminate small areas – but nothing for the big stuff. The mulching plug above is “big stuff” so something had to be done. Several years ago Emma bought some stage lights cheaply off eBay or facebook marketplace or something for an upcoming gig in our garden by The Inkbirds [ nephew Charlie ]so I decided to make use of one of them.

The big black thing to the left is the stage light

The only problem was it had a weird 3 hole rectangular power coupling, and the cable was about two feet long. So I snipped off the cable and took some flex I had. Soldered and insulated the wires and then stuck a plug on the end.

It wouldn’t pass building regs!

Then I mounted the stage light on a handy beam above my workbench and switched it on. Now I have a nice bright workbench and a warm head!

Anyway…back to the mulching plug

After a couple of hours buggering about with the lighting for repairing my mulching plug it ultimately took me about ten minutes to replace the plug section with the new one and I now have this thing of beauty.

Don’t even get me started with the saga that was putting a fresh set of mulching blades on my mower. It finished with me tearing something in my shoulder and being unable to sleep on my left side for two weeks.

Losing land

We sold a bit of our land to the property developers who reckoned it was theirs. I’d rather not have sold it but they gave us a decent price and I wasn’t mad keen on a court battle. I decided to get rid of a lot of the rubbish that was on the land and have one final fire on the area behind my office.

It got a bit smokey

As a result of me having such a big fire I might have inadvertently set fire to my wood store…a bit

Ooops

I didn’t intend burning my woodstore down. It would have had to be moved anyway so it saved me a bit of a job. But I was really hoping to keep the roof and the uprights….and some of the wood. But it’s a bit late for that now I suppose 🙁 It was always a bad idea to have a fire so close to a woodstore anyway. Kinda surprised it lasted this long really.

BoltonAbbey

Emma and I spent a little time in North Yorkshire at Bolton Abbey. We went for a walk to the Abbey in the morning and due to the early hour and it not being a school holiday we were the only people there. It was pretty epic..and wet

We wanted to recreate the time we went up there with the kids and Oli fell off the stepping stones into the river and we had to go home early but annoyingly it seems some trees were washed down the river and knocked out some of the stepping stones. So we couldn’t get terribly far

After our wet walk through the woods we headed back to the hotel, got changed and then

Paul got married
The first time ever that all three of us are married at the same time

Pie Saturday

A long time ago I used to love making pies and would regularly make up a batch of pies to keep me going. I recently felt the pie making calling once more and decided to start with an easy puff lid version. Now, as my darling wife was very eager to point out I would never class this as a proper pie when I’m eating out. It’s a stew with a lid. But, one has to start somewhere.

Chicken and sweetcorn, but one also had mushrooms added. Beautiful.

Next up are some proper shortcrust pies.

New Drill

We had some people round to put render on the house and they were in and out of the garage doing stuff. A little after they had finished and left I realised my Black and Decker toy drill that I use for light drilling work was not in its usual place. I hunted high and low for that drill. Looked in all my sheds. Quizzed the kids but all to no avail. I thought the renderer people had nicked it. The charger was still in my garage so it was cock all use after a few hours.

Always seeking to find the good in any situation it seemed like a fine time to get myself a new Ryobi tool for my growing collection.

Beautiful!

So, I was able to do some outdoor plumbing work now that I had my new and much better drill.

A week or two later I was messing about getting some brick lights working and needed a 10m piece of Cat5 cable. I opened my silver networking box and there was my Black and Decker drill. After I did some networking in the front shed it seems I may not quite have gotten around to putting my drill back where it should have been. Ooops. Still, new drill!