Saturday, 22 November 2014

A Musical Interlude

Last Friday we went to The Pyramids in Portsmouth to see The Rifles. We ended up taking the car as the passenger ferries didn't have any return crossings after half past ten (thanks Wightlink and Hovertravel...).

As it happens this was probably a good thing because A: we didn't have to walk around in the cold and B: it meant we could park near Gunwarf when we arrived and go to Burger King. Now, it's important to note at this stage the love that SBB and I have for Burger King. We don't have one on the Island so whenever we visit the Mainland we make our mission to eat there!

Happily filled up on Burger King we drove to Southsea and bagged a parking space practically outside the venue with free parking! I know, simple things...

We were the first ones in the queue and stood making idle chat with one of the door-staff, mainly along the lines of 'Ooh, isn't it cold!'

When we got inside we headed straight for the bar and bought a couple of bottled waters and the barman told us he had to keep the lids adding, at the puzzled look on my face, that it was company policy.

'What can you do with a bottle lid?' I asked in wonderment.

He shrugged. 'I don't know. Throw them at people? The management assumes everyone's fourteen.'

We laughed and went away with our drinks to find a convenient wall to lean against next to the lighting/sound area and SBB pointed out that a filled water bottle with a lid acts as a solid weapon. I looked at my water a little distrustfully.

'To think,' I joked, 'I've always assumed water to be a refreshing beverage when actually it's a lethal weapon!'

The stage
 The place was almost empty and that's pretty much how it stayed all night.

Only joking.

People started filtering in as the warm-up acts were playing.

I've never been to The Pyramids before and the room was smaller than I expected but it filled quite nicely.

The Rifles were supported by The Novatones and The Incredible Magpies. SBB said he could see influences by The Libertines and the Arctic Monkeys in The Novatones and as I speak write is downloading some of their music. But to me the aim of their music seemed to be 'thrash the instruments and sing as loudly and as bolshy as possible'.
The Incredible Magpies (as well as having an awesome name) seemed to have better control of their instruments and their singing.
I do have to point out that it all wasn't really my type of music so it's not really fair to 'review' these bands. SBB had bought two tickets, intending to be joined by a friend but he wasn't available. I hadn't known that SBB had been intending on going alone and, although he would have been fine, I couldn't bear the thought of him being on his own so happily agreed to go along with him.

Although I'm not really a fan of The Rifles I don't mind listening to them in the background as we're driving along, for example, so while I wasn't jiggling around like the rest of the crowd I was content to listen and tap my toe every now and again. My enjoyment was hampered somewhat by two things 1: I couldn't keep my eyes open I was so tired, 2: My shoulders and back were aching from my week at work. At one point though a couple of  'crowd control' staff popped up near me and started making 'I can see them' movements with their hands - do you know the ones I mean? - so I watched with interest, assuming someone was about to be yanked out of the crowd.
However, to my disappointment, they decided whoever it was wasn't as much of an issue as they'd thought and so they went away.

As the gig wore on I became increasingly grateful for being stood at the back against the wall as the semi-empty beer cups started flying. Perhaps it's just me but I DO NOT UNDERSTAND THIS. What is the entertainment factor of throwing your drink dregs over the people in front of you and, likely, hitting someone on the head with your cup?

Anyway, SBB really enjoyed himself and the music so that's what really counts.

Week 6 - DIY Christmas Countdown

Okay, so this is a little late and it's closer to the end of week 5 than week 6 but that's because we've been doing the work for the week 5 update! (Which has a bit more to it than week 6 - yay!)

Weekends have been taken up with other things: SBB has been working Saturdays and I've been trying to do the things I haven't been able to do in the week... Laundry mainly.

This week saw me finally start to tackle the living room window alcoves. SBB was rained off one day so he put a first coat on the smaller window and I did the larger window. The previous colour on the walls - a pale blue - seems to be quite reluctant to be painted over and it's taken three coats to cover it up.

SBB also did a first coat of primer around the skirting board

The kitchen is still coming along too and measurements have been taken to put the worktop on and the rest of the lights have gone in! Look how pretty they are:

SBB also managed to plaster the hallway ceiling! This makes me more happy than I can say.

Yucky stippled ceiling
I'm not a great fan of artex - especially the stippled kind - so I was glad to see this go. We'd had the kitchen ceiling done by a professional as the ceiling was such a large area SBB was worried he wouldn't get it flat (and would injure himself in the process). However, while the guy did a good job I felt myself a little underwhelmed. Some of the edges close to the ceiling weren't straight and in a couple of patches near the window I could still make out the pattern. To be fair, I could only see it if I stood right underneath it and stared straight up at it and how many people actually do this on a daily basis? My Dad came round and I pointed out all my little niggles and he was a bit disappointed - the plasterer has done several ceilings at my parents' house and they've all been very good. Dad suggested that I call the plasterer and give him the opportunity to correct the mistakes but SBB and I decided that we needed to crack on with the painting as the vinyl was on it's way (and I had no intention of trying to paint with my lovely new flooring down!).
As it happens, we painted the room and the 'problem areas' weren't that obvious, unless you knew where to look. It doesn't help that SBB, Dad and I are all perfectionists. SBB and Dad most of all because of their jobs. So, I'm not going to mention the plasterer's name because he did an okay job and we didn't give him the opportunity to sort out our issues so it's not fair to 'name and shame' the poor man.

Right, back to the hallway ceiling. After our experience with the kitchen SBB was a little reluctant to get the plasterer back in to do the job, but also didn't really want to do it himself. He ummmed and ahhhed over it for a while and even, at one point, suggested that we leave the ceiling as it was.

'How important is it to have a flat ceiling?' he asked.

I scowled at him and reminded him that I'd bought lovely new spotlights and didn't want them ruined but having them put into a crappy ceiling. Spotlights and stippling? I don't think so.

My knowledge of plastering is fairly limited - being only what I happen to see when I pause from whatever I'm doing to wander in see what SBB's up to - but I think the process is this:

1. Prepare the surface. In this case that meant scraping off the stipples - or 'blunting' them. This was SBB's job - I don't have the arm muscles for that sort of thing! Essentially you just have to wear down the worst of the 'bump' to get the ceiling as flat as possible. (The first time that SBB did this, in our hallway at home, he scraped off almost ALL of the artex which we later learnt wasn't necessary!) Then it's time to glue. This is always my job and I always end up with glue splodges on my glasses. In this case I only did one coat of glue but previously it's been two. We waited for the first one to go off, then applied another coat and when it's reached the correct amount of 'tackiness' SBB moves on to...

2. Apply the first coat. This coat seems a little thicker than the subsequent coat and when it's on the board it looks like chocolate mousse to me - a really think luxurious one. At this point I don't think it's too important to get it mirror flat but it is important to get it level. Wait for it to go off a bit then...

3. Apply the second coat. As I said, this one is a little thinner than the first coat and, if I remember correctly, looks a bit like chocolate yoghurt. This is skimmed over the first coat and worked together to make it smooth.

4. After waiting for the plaster to go off for a while, it's time to spray with water and smooth off with the finishing trowel any bits that need attention. This is the bit that takes a while because this you don't want a bumpy wall/ceiling and you have to make sure you don't over soak the plaster otherwise you get dribbles and it looks bad. This is the bit that I really enjoy watching (and not just because I get to 'help' by pointing out bits SBB misses) because with each go over with the finishing trowel the wall gets smoother and smoother - like magic. (Although I'm sure SBB would prefer me to think of it as his hard work, rather than magic...)

5. After the plaster is dry any remaining bumps - usually at the edges of the adjoining wall/ceiling - can be sanded down.

I'm not, by any stretch of the imagination, an expert and I've never picked up a trowel in my life other than when SBB asks 'Can you pass me the...' so this is definitely not a 'how to' (!)
Luckily for me though I have a man who does know how to plaster and -


A plastered hallway ceiling. It's so pretty that if I could reach, I would stroke it.

Monday, 10 November 2014

One of those days....

This morning started off so well.

I got up before my alarm went off, which meant I was washed and dressed a whole 15 minutes early which, in turn, meant I actually got to sit down and eat my breakfast AND I had a cup of coffee. I NEVER have time to drink a hot drink in the mornings! I was quite chuffed, feeling sure that today - ah yes - TODAY would be a good day.

When we got into the truck to leave I realised I'd forgotten my water bottle so I ran back to the house to grab it.

In the meantime my mum had phoned and SBB was just hanging up when I got back to the truck. Turns out she'd forgotten her ID badge so we had to drive over to her house to grab it - she works in the same place as me but in a different department so I could easily drop it off. I gave Dad a quick kiss and ran back to the truck - aware that every extra minute meant SBB would be late for work. I stepped up into the truck - forgoing the step to hop in quicker and....


I froze in horror. I'd ripped my trousers. I poked at the seam and, believing it to be a small hole, told SBB to drive as I thought I could get away with hiding at my desk all day.

Then a thought struck me. What if the hole got bigger?

OR - what if it was bigger than I thought? I checked again.

It was bigger than I'd thought.

Putting my hand through the hole
 Luckily I had my painting clothes with me as I'd planned to go to the flat. I changed into the trousers in the truck which must have been a sight for passing motorists! You may well laugh (everyone in my office did!) but I had to spend the rest of the day in my paint splattered baggy jogging trousers.

However, what I should really take away from this is how I lucky it was that I had a spare pair of trousers. If I hadn't... Well. If I hadn't SBB would have driven me home to change and we'd both have been late for work.

I went up to the flat after work and painted some mould treatment around the windows in the living room. With the flat empty for so long it wasn't ventilated or heated so we discovered a bit of a problem around the windows. SBB had been up there at the weekend while I was getting wet trying to put out and then frantically take back in the laundry (good times!). He put up the kitchen wall cabinets...

(You'll have to excuse the quality of the photos - I took them on my phone.)

He also took up the floor in the living room, which makes the room look so much bigger. (It's almost carpet time :) So exciting!)

We also realised last week that we hadn't bought a kitchen hood so during my lunch break I had a quick scout about and we picked up this little baby from B&Q (on sale!):

I also ordered some switches and sockets for the kitchen - they should be here this week and I can't wait to show them - they look so swish.

It's all coming together.

When we got home SBB cleaned out the rabbits and there was a poo explosion. Turns out Cillian had some wet poo in his fur. He paused just long enough for SBB to notice and then ran away - flicking it over the door, the skirting board, the coffee table, my dinner tray and the carpet. Ah, the pitfalls of having indoor rabbits... We had to put the poor baby in the bath and I cuddled him until he was dry. So maybe the day wasn't so bad that some cuddles couldn't fix it.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Weigh in Wednesday

I've been on a health kick since April this year. I realised I'd got to a weight that A: was the heaviest I'd ever been and B: I didn't like it. So I started exercising again and over the months I managed to lose a stone and four pounds. I reached 11 stone and sort of hovered around it for about two months. I wasn't too worried as I could pinpoint the areas where I'd gotten lazy - either with my nutrition or with my workouts - but then I realised that if we get pregnant straight away I could lose the opportunity of reaching my goal weight and then possibly struggle to reach it whilst working off pre-baby weight AND baby-weight.
It's not impossible, I know, and many women do it - I've seen the blogs! - but I'd said to myself that I was going to get down to my goal weight before getting pregnant and dammit I want to hit that goal!

I've been weighing myself on Wednesdays - 'Weigh in Wednesday' I like to call them in my head and occasionally out-loud to SBB and he always looks at me as though I've said something cute - at the same time, wearing the same thing (which cuts out any excuses I might make to myself) but this Wednesday something amazing happened.
For the first time in about 7 years I was below 11 stone. It was only by one pound but I was in the tens again. Cue happy dance and fists pumps and dancing around in front of SBB yelling 'Oh yeah, oh YEAH! I rock!'
I realise this is a DIY blog - but I think this comes under the category 'life'? - and for all I know I could just be talking to myself. So, there you have it, it may be a small victory but I'm gonna take it and run with it. Probably not literally because I'm clumsy and I'd probably trip over. But still - yay me.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Week 7 update

I'm regretting moaning about how cold I thought it was. It is NOW cold. In fact we had the first frost this morning. There wasn't any frost on the car but the ground was white and crispy just outside my office.

Those little crescents at the bottom of each window pane always have a lovely wintry feel - the fact that that brick wall is my view from my desk... is not so great.

 Cold weather = hot drinks and the other I picked up this little baby:

I bought the normal peanut butter version a while ago and it was DE-licious so when I saw this peanut butter and CHOCOLATE version I knew I had to buy it and I'm so glad I did. I enjoyed a yummy cup this morning while I was warming up from the frosty walk!

Stuff has been happening at the flat - but not happening with a capital 'H' unfortunately. I finally got started on a job that I've not been looking forward to. There's a box over the pipework in the bathroom which has needed stripping and repainting and I finally got to work on it. The angle was really awkward for me (see picture below) to scrape off the paint but luckily it came off really easily.

Two coats of primer later and it looks like this. I was so glad that we have a new unused toilet - particularly as my face was basically pressed against the rim the entire time of scrapping, sanding and painting.

BUT before you think that this is the most boring DIY update ever let me show you the kitchen. The spotlights are now wired up.

And here they are with two lights in:

 I love the look of the lights and am really excited to see how it looks when they're all in. And look! More cabinets have been put together - just need to put them on the wall.
SBB wants to move the fridge into the kitchen - I've already painted that part of the skirting board - so that we can rip up the flooring in the living room and I can get to work on that skirting board and then it's carpet time! Which really excites me because I love carpet shopping, don't ask me why.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

7 weeks to go...

....And I'm not just talking about Christmas. SBB has decided to make a real push to get the flat completed by Christmas. Gulp.

This seems like an impossible task but I'm also quite excited to try and meet the challenge. So, to anyone reading this, I will be bringing you weekly updates of all the items we merrily cross off our list!

Kitchen progress

You may remember how the kitchen used to look from this post. We'd hoped to just give it a lick of paint, possibly paint the cabinets... Just basic stuff. However. Tragedy struck in the form of a roof leak which left us with this (dun dun DUN):

I could have cried. We hadn't budgeted for a new kitchen so this was a bit of a disaster. The water ran down the wall behind the plasterboard - which meant the wall was ruined. The kitchen units were fine but as we had to fix the wall we decided at this point that to re-instate the old kitchen, which would save money, would also look a bit pants. We decided to bit the bullet and rip out the kitchen as well. The roof was fixed so SBB got to work ripping off all the old plasterboard.

Here's the wall with the new plug sockets cut out. SBB did a great job of attaching new plasterboard and we both stood back to admire it. It was a beautiful wall - as plasterboard goes - but there was one problem. Due to a measuring error the sockets were cut in the wrong places. Whoops!
So he had to take it down and start again. To say he was little miffed would be an understatement.
Then, new plasterboard in place, SBB got to plastering:

He did a really great job - he's not a plasterer by trade but he learnt the technique in order to plaster our place. He only had one lesson from a colleague and then he got down to it and (I'm not just saying this because I'm biased) he did the most beautiful plastering I've ever seen - seriously, some of the walls were so smooth it was like glass. But boasting about my husband's trowel skills aside, he got to work on the kitchen and a couple of days later it was ready to paint. Then we looked up.

There was no way that we could install a new modern kitchen and have the artex still on the ceiling (see above picture). SBB didn't fancy skimming the ceiling so we called in a pro.

THEN it was time to paint - and that was my job. We'd decided to paint the kitchen white - but three under-coats of cheap white paint to prepare the plaster and then another couple of coats over the ceiling and walls and I was beginning to wonder whether we'd gone crazy.

But looking at the room with the new flooring and I know we made the right choice. I'm a little envious of the person who buys the flat because I'm really starting to love the kitchen!

In retrospect I'm a little bit grateful to the roof for leaking - if it hadn't we'd have just done a quick touch-up and called it good but now the have the opportunity to make it a really great room.