Moel Famau

We forewent [ if that’s even a word ] the usual NYE celebrations and instead got an early night so we could get up bright and early and drive to North Wales…Loggerheads to be precise, so that we could climb the lofty heights of Moel Famau.  We got there and the first hurdle was that we needed £2 to park on the car park.  Since I pretty much pay for everything via contactless this was a bit of an issue.  In my rear view mirror I could see a queue of cars forming behind me as everyone in the car [ including kids ] were scrabbling around trying to find some change.  Fortunately Emma found a couple of pound coins and in we went.

We set off walking in our boots, hats, scarves, snoods and jackets.  After about five minutes the scarves, hats and snoods came off and the jackets were unfastened.  It was hard going and we were all getting pretty hot.  Amelia was loving it

 

At one point we thought we were getting near the top as all the trees started thinning out….nope, we just popped out above the tree line and then saw that the summit was a loooong way away.

We persevered though and made it to the top.

After some sandwiches at the top we started walking down again….Amelia cheered up by this point

This is where the fun really began. We didn’t realise Moel Famau was such a popular New Years Day walk. As we were coming down the hill there was a mass of people heading up. Some were in trainers and shorts, pretty much everyone had dogs, there were some guys walking up smoking a spliff and I’m sure I saw some guys walking up with tins of beer. Anyway, the important part was the car park was rammed and so people had started parking on the road. This reduced the access road to a single carriageway meaning people were trying to get out whilst people were trying to get in and it was just deadlock. We ended up stuck on the road for about forty minutes until somebody managed to organise the people coming up the road to pull onto peoples drives and reverse back down and all sorts of stuff. Eventually we got away and made it to Nana Pat’s for a New Years Day lunch. In summary, beautiful walk, definitely do it again…but not on New Years Day.

Soldering

You’ll all be pleased to know that my soldering has not improved one tiniest little bit. However, it was good enough to get the job done and my Pi is now driving the Neopixel LED strips. Next step is to power the Pi from PSU that powers the LED strip, but first I have to work out how much power the PSU consumes when the LED’s are not illuminated.

Wine is on sale again

25% off at Asda

Amelia spotted that wine was 25% off so off we popped with a load of wine carriers and the big car. I thought we bought 42 bottles but it turned out I miscounted and only got 38. Should last us a while though

Canon PIXMA MP560

Piece of shit

I cannot stress enough how much I hate this printer. The way it will totally randomly decide that a colour has run out every single god damned time you switch it on. The way it kind of gives a gallic shrug if you decide to print to it – sometimes it will print, sometimes it just can’t be arsed and no amount of prodding, poking, resetting wifi connections or kneeling before it begging to just print ONE FUCKING page will do any good.

Well today enough was enough. The kids seemed quite concerned at my hulk roar of rage but generally took it in their stride as I calmly unplugged the power cable, took it outside and used all my strength to smash this annoying piece of crap into many many [ but not enough ] pieces. Fuck you Canon – I just bought a Brother laser printer that just works.

Composting

We have quite large gardens and we end up creating an inordinate amount of grass clippings.

We had a massive party and we ended up with an inordinate number of pallets left over from building the stage.

So off we go with an eco Extinction Rebellion inspired solution to the problems.

Composting begins
I watched something on youTube that suggested making two half height gates on the front – seemed like a good idea.
The first one is complete. Due to my maths not being that great I didn’t buy enough hinges. So the project got put on hold
My glamorous assistant
A few weeks later – but finally complete and you can see from the third bin that it is very much in use
The gates in operation and a motherload of grass waiting to go in

Coffee

We went to visit Erika and Keith [ and their darling children ] in Hoylake for the weekend. We ate, we drank, we flew kites, I lost my phone and then it was found again on the beach…but…but…I drank a coffee.

Keith has spent years perfecting his coffee making prowess and insisted I try one. I try coffee every few years – and every few years I decide it’s not for me.

I drank more of this coffee than any coffee I have ever tried before – but I didn’t finish it. I’ll try again in the future but for now I’m still a tea drinker.

New Garage

This is a bit of an epic of a post. Lots of pictures and lots of words because lots of work went into it.

For a long time it’s been my ambition to drive a car that’s older than me. Parking such a car outside in the British weather means that car wouldn’t last much longer before it fell apart so we had to build a garage.

…and so it begins
Brickwork
End of stage 1

Needless to say I had nothing to do with digging the hole for the concrete, pouring the concrete or laying the bricks.

Trying it out for size

With the concrete set I thought it about time to make sure my old tractor would fit, it was quite a relief when I managed to get it in.

Framework has arrived

The garage is being built by my friend Alan of lancashireoak.com. It’s an Oak framed garage with larch planking. See that greenhouse…well, that’ll have to go.

Oak Uprights
Taking shape
Roof on
Mezzanine in
Oli testing the mezzanine
Greenhouse gone

Now that the greenhouse has gone it highlights the ugliness of the Kerosene tank. I’ll have to do something about that

Construction pretty much complete
Levelling the ground a bit

This is the bit where I get involved. The ground outside the garage is all a bit of a mess. So I felt the need to hire a mini digger.

I’m not entirely sure I made it any better
Smoothing the floor
This didn’t quite work out as hoped for

From this photo the floor looks perfectly smooth. Unfortunately it has loads of tiny air bubbles in it. They’re going to come back to bite me soon.

Work boy, work!

Oli and I got some floor paint and set to work. In the photo above you can see the dimple effect that was caused by the floor screed. For some thoroughly mental reason I decided I wanted a perfectly smooth floor. So after the first coat of paint went on and didn’t fill all the holes in I put a second coat down…which also didn’t fill the holes in. I finally put down a third coat and decided enough was enough. I realised it was just a garage floor and that I was being irrational. However, the damage had been done. It was cold and I didn’t leave enough time between coats so the paint never dried properly. Two weeks after the final coat I was in the garage in my boots when I turned on my heel and ripped a big hole in my soggy paint mess. It would have to go…

So I hired a sander
…and started again

After sanding all the dimples disappeared! So I gave it one last coat and called it a day.

Laying the weed membrane
More weed membrane

The eagle eyed amongst you will have noticed two brick gate posts in the background. Tony, an old workmate of my fathers, came and built them for me. I did consider building them myself but they wouldn’t have looked nearly so good if I’d done it. As an aside I also considered making the gates myself – but that would just have been foolishness.

Now that all the weed membrane is down it’s time to organise 10 bulk bags of MOT Type 2 hardcore.

What’s that…a beaten up old BMW in my back garden!

The photo above hides a LOT of work that went into this. It’s really really really hard moving about 10 tonnes of hardcore around so that it’s roughly level. I also took some of the leftover stone and grit-sand from the gateposts and spread it within the hardcore to form a much stronger and stable surface. The cobbles you can see at the edge came from a crazy fella up in Leyland who had a big pile of them for sale. At a pound a cobble it ended up being quite expensive.

ello baby

I wanted to get my base layer smooth and compact so I hired one of these for the day. I also took the opportunity of putting six bulk bags of hardcore out at the front of the house to fill in some of the crazy potholes that have appeared there.

Oooops

You can’t tell from the picture of the ummm steamroller thing above but it actually had a kind of roll bar that can be up above your head. When I hired it the roll bar was in the up position. I didn’t think anything of it as I was keeping my focus intently on the ground outside the garage making sure I didn’t damage the concrete with the whacker plate. I heard some crunching and scraping noises but couldn’t work out what was happening, until the security light swung down and nearly decapitated me. The crunching noise was the upright snapping a big chunk of the ummmm roof rafter/beam whatever. I’d managed to break my garage before even putting a car in there.

Our first ever go at laying cobbles with mortar and everything

Fortunately our neighbour Dan owns a cement mixer which we borrowed. This turned out incredibly useful. I was going to mix the mortar by hand but given how much we ultimately used I’m so glad we didn’t go down that path. Anyway, back to the cobbles, they may not be level, they may not be straight, they may not even be pointing in the same direction….but I laid them.

and then it became a family affair
Oli supervising
She’s actually pretty good at it

My friend Tony donated the workbench above, it’s a great piece of kit. The caricature is Oli and me when we were over in Thailand a couple of years ago. But the important part of this picture is the block of wood on the workbench. That’s a wooden gatepost that attaches to the brick gatepost and has the gates mounted on it. So I’m drilling holes in it. Big holes, with a new drill bit that I had to buy.

Applying the gate furniture
One gate up
For the first time in six months the back garden is secure
hahaha, very secure – I’m such an idiot. You should have seen my face when I tried to open the gates
The cobble ramp

We decided that since we’d laid a few cobbles we were now experts! So it was time to lay a whole bunch of cobbles across the gates. They had to go up slightly to form a ramp so that we could take into account the hardcore and gravel on the other side. It turned out pretty well but I wish I’d taken the time to put a guide line in to try and make them level across the gates. Oli was my labourer on the cement mixer whilst I was laying cobbles.

Work in progress
The finished ramp

You see the black mark to the right of the gate handle. That was my earlier disastrous gate furniture attempt when I essentially bolted the gates closed.

Garage a la wisteria
More cobbles laid
Operation “hide the oil tank” begins

Prior to ordering the gravel for the driveway we had to put a fence around the oil tank and then we could put the gravel up against the edge of the fencing for a beautiful finish.

The annoying thing about doing this is it blocked the view of the garage from the house.
Gravel arrives – 20mm Gold Coast, or something
Started spreading the gravel around
More spreading
The almost complete oil tank cover
Gates view with gravel. Kind of wish I’d moved that old gas canister before taking all these pictures.
I’m quite impressed
We doubled up the cobbles in the place where the lawn tractor will enter the garden
Swinging door

It took a while to work out the best way to achieve this. I wanted a fence around the oil tank but I had to access it sometimes to … you know…add oil to it. I was going to put some finger bolts on to unscrew it, but in the end I decided a hinge and catch would be the best solution.

Routing a gate slide hole

I got a bit carried away with the router. It probably didn’t help that I’d had a couple of glasses of wine when I was trying to do it.

Finally added some proper locks onto the main gates
and here we have it, a garage full of crap

So it’s done, it’s complete, it’s taken months and months of my life and cost more than I anticipated … and now my nephew and his band have occupied it and it’s now known a recording studio.