Amelia and I were on our way to Blackpool to have fun on the pleasure beach. As we set off my car flashed up a warning about the level of coolant. We had some time to spare so we nipped to the car shop place nearby and bought some coolant. I opened up the bonnet, Identified the oil thingy. There was only one other lid which I therefore assumed was the coolant so I added a bit.

Fast forward a couple of weeks and the coolant thing came up again. I opened the “coolant” flap and had a look, it was fine. So I ignored it.

A week later the coolant thing alerted me again but this time the engine temperature hit the max level whilst idling. This was not right. I did a proper investigation. Turns out underneath a flap in the engine is the coolant reservoir. So, hang on a minute, thought I. Where the fuck did I pour that last lot of coolant? Apparently I added coolant to the power steering reservoir. A quick google search about this reveals this is really really really bad. Like power steering system destroying bad. Several thousand pounds in repairs bad. So I flushed the system

This is the milky coloured shit that came out of my system. Not groovy.

This would be the thing I thought was the coolant, but is actually the power steering thing with the return ummmmmmm thing disconnected, so I could flush it. Took me 5 litres of power steering fluid at £10 a pop to sort it out. But it was worth it


Back when we did the extension we had a bunch of planters built and filled them with flowers. In front of the planters we laid a few breeze blocks and covered them with render with the intention of building some benches out there. Since I was buying a load of oak to build a workshop at the end of my garden…more on that soon…I got a few bench slats thrown onto the delivery.

Whilst waiting for the oak to be delivered I took some 4×2 and laid it out to see how it would perform over such a large span.

Not cut to size or anything, just playing around. The short span at the end of the picture was absolutely rock solid. But the large span was just rubbish. It was going to need some steel to brace it.

The oak arrived and I cut it all to size and laid it out.

After clearing some space in my garage I managed to set up my wood horses and add some Osmo Garden Furniture Oil to preserve them a bit better.

The steel finally arrived and I used some rawl plugs and screws to fix the steel supports in,

It worked pretty well until about 2 seconds after I took this photo when the entire bench dropped an inch having ripped the screws out of the top mounting point. I was a bit worried this would happen so I made a trip to the local hardware shop for some concrete fixings. Then I made a trip back to the shop to buy a 12mm masonry drill as my 12mm cheap crappy SDS drill from Aldi was bent and ended up making a 15mm hole rather than a 12mm hole. Then I used my concrete fixings and it’s definitely so far so good. When the screws were ripped out it made a bit of a mess of the render but I have a cunning plan to patch it up again.

Roger Waters

Charlie and I went to watch Roger Waters doing his allegedly farewell tour. It was an absolutely epic day out and a fantastic performance.

£8 per pint though – robbing bastards

Garage Pi

I’ve got electric garage doors. You may remember that from an earlier blog post where I managed to close the garage doors on my car before fitting sensors. Well now I’ve gone one better and made it so that I can open and close my garage doors with my phone.

It all began in January 2023 when I bought some spare remote control garage fobs, synced them up with my garage doors and then ripped them apart. I used an oscilloscope to determine which pins on the chip went high when I opened and closed the doors and then I delicately soldered some wires to the chip and then hooked them up to a raspberry pi [ of course ]

Now, my electronics has always been a bit rubbish but I knew that the raspberry pi GPIO pins ran at 3.3 volts. Also, I knew that the battery powering the fob was running at 3.3 volts so I just made a direct connection. It worked first time. I was amazed that I could open my garage from the end of the garden. The remotes had never been that powerful before.

Then came a problem. It stopped working after the first go. It confused me for a while…quite a while…about three remote control key fobs at £20 a pop. I thought maybe I’d damaged the processor when soldering so I again hooked up my oscilloscope to see which side of the switches were ground and I hooked my wires up to them to keep some distance away from the delicate microprocessor. Again it worked for a while and then stopped working.

One day I had an epiphany. “It’s the current! The signals from the raspberry pi are blowing up the processor”. So with a really simple fix of dropping a 55k resistor between the pi and the remote control everything worked well.

At this point I only hooked up one door and I could just make it go up or down as I hadn’t soldered up the stop button. Fast forward a few months and I bought another remote control for the second door, ripped it apart and soldered up all three buttons [ up, down and stop ] and whilst I was at it I took the first remote control and soldered the stop wire onto that too.

The finished item looks rather like an IED

Then of course there is the mobile phone app which powers the whole thing and the python based flask server running on the raspberry pi that does all the real work of driving GPIO pins and such

Black Pepper Tofu

Yotam Ottolenghi has a recipe for Black Pepper Tofu. I made it many years ago and loved it, although it was pretty spicy. Fast forward many years to present day and I’m walking through the middle aisle of Aldi and I spotted some Tofu. I thought I’d give it another go.

Turns out the middle aisle Aldi Tofu was a bit rubbish. It was too soft and just crumbled in the pan. However, a few weeks later I spotted a new “super Firm Organic Tofu” on the shelf and thought “oi oi”

So I bought the chilli’s and shallots, ensured we had enough black pepper, fired up the frying pan and boom….

It was truly a thing of beauty.

The kids mostly pulled their faces, ate a bit and put the rest in the bin.

Jason Howarth described it as “offensive” and “a fucking abomination”

I’ll maybe use less black pepper next time.


We live in a pretty rural area. Our broadband was rubbish and every time the wind blew the connection would go down. So we got rid of that and used a 4G unlimited data SIM. This was a bit better but the DHCP lease time meant the connection would drop for a little while every 3 days and the IP address would change which meant some stuff on my network would need restarting. This was a pain. Things got a bit better when I introduced another 4G SIM but it still wasn’t ideal. The data rates weren’t that great either and Oli would always be moaning about it all being a bit laggy and slow.

One evening, after a little bit of wine, I noticed that Starlink had dropped the price of their kit in the UK. I asked Oli if he’d be willing to pay for half the kit to speed up his connection – he absolutely was – so I finally pulled the trigger on buying Starlink after years of talking about it.

It finally arrived a week after it was supposed to. The road at the end of my lane was shut and so you had to come in from the other end of the bumpy lane. The DHL driver [ the lazy bastard ] just couldn’t be bothered. Three times they “tried to deliver” it. Three times they utterly couldn’t be arsed. In the end I had to redirect it to a shop pickup point thing and go and get it myself. Fucking DHL.

Whilst waiting for the mounting post to arrive so that I could attach it to my garage I just set it up on the roof outside Oli’s window and ran the cable into his PC. We were getting absolutely blistering speeds and latency was much lower. It’s a whole new internet experience

Finally the mounting post came and I could properly integrate Dishy McFlatFace into my home network and have a 4G SIM as a failover in case those sneaky Chinese bastards ever make good on their threats of blowing the Starlink satellites out of space.

Once everything was integrated into the network I ran around various locations in the house to see what speeds I was getting. My office….super fast. My garage…super fast. Oli’s room…super fast. My kitchen…rubbish. This puzzled me for a while but I plugged the AP straight into the switch in my utility room and then it was super fast. This was a relief as I was worried the cable from my garage to the house was bad…this would have been a massive PITA. Instead it was the cable from my utility room to the kitchen. This is still a potential pain in the ass as it goes through a stud wall and into the ceiling. Before I started pulling cables out of walls and putting new ones in I did a network test. The Ethernet tester in the utility room went 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 so was all good. The tester on the kitchen end went something bonkers like 1, 2, 6, 3, 5, 4, 7, 8. So all this time the Ethernet cable had been done wrong but it was limping along on 4 wires hence the poor data speeds. I’d never noticed the poor data speeds until Starlink came along with my super fast connection.

I chopped the end off and had another go at wiring it up. My least favourite job in the world is wiring up Cat 6 terminators. Anyway, it worked first time and now my kitchen is super fast too.

Heating oil tank

We used to heat our house with heating oil but I always hated it. It smells, it’s carcinogenic, it’s not environmentally friendly in any way. I finally got rid of it.

This is me getting the last of the oil out and selling it to my neighbour at a very discounted price.

My plan was to sell it on eBay as they’re really quite expensive. However it turns out my tank is single skinned which is really not cool these days. People are still trying to sell them on eBay but nobody is buying so I decided to not bother going down that path.

Out comes the trusty Ryobi jigsaw. I only knackered 2 blades during the entire process. Not bad for me.

All stacked up ready for the tip. It took me three trips to get rid of everything and even though I jet washed the tank inside and out there was still a minging smell of kerosene as I was transporting it. But finally – after 16 years of putting up with my driveway stinking of heating oil it’s all over.

Usual April 1st Post

Two years in and I’m still not saying that I have retired…or that I haven’t retired. However I always celebrate the day I finished my last job with a massive breakfast

It was all a bit too much though…

Two hash browns [ carbs ] and half a slice of toast [ carbs ] left behind

In what can only be described as “probably not my best idea” I decided to remove a no longer used drain thingy with my car. I tried digging it out but it was taking ages and I got bored so I came up with the cunning plan above. You may be wondering why I put a brick inside the rope. Well my genius thoughts were that it would distribute the load onto the plastic drain thingy so that the rope didn’t just cut through it. Again, not my best idea as it instantly became a projectile heading straight for my car.

The plastic drain thing clattered into my car but these Porsches are made of tough stuff. No damage occurred thankfully.