Home: Teresa decorates the Xmas tree

Xmas Tree
Teresa scales great heights…

We put up our Xmas Tree, a fairly decent fairly sizeable fake, with built-in lights, yesterday. I brought it down from the attic, and put it together. Teresa then decorated it, with baubles and what-not.

Xmas Tree
… to decorate our Yule Tree.

Teresa’s a wee’un, and needs the stepladder to reach the upper regions. She looks pretty cute dressing the tree, I think.

Xmas Tree
Tiggy and I watch.

Tigger and I sat on the couch, enjoying watching Teresa at work, and taking snaps and offering our encouragement. 😉

Xmas Tree
Tigger looks calmly on.

I switched off the lamp nearest the tree, so as to better see the both it and the lights and decorations, and so on. Lovely!

Xmas tree
Looking pretty, um… pretty?

For years I insisted we have a real tree, as it’s more organic/authentic. But the annual cost, plus the mess and maintenance… in the end Teresa successfully persuaded me (i.e. cajoled/nagged!) to get a fake. Ours had a RRP of £299.99, but was reduced to £99 in a post Xmas clearance sale at Scotsdales, Trumpington, Cambridge.

The real trees we’d been buying were costing £25-35+ each year. This is our fifth year with this fake tree, so it’s just started saving us money. It also saves time decorating, as the lights are built-in, and there’s no maintenance, as it doesnt need setting in a pot, watering, or dropped-needle clearance.

Ok, it is a departure from bringing real nature into the home for Yule, but one could argue it’s greener in that respect. And granted, it doesn’t look 100% real or natural. But it’s pretty good. It’s certainly miles better than any of the fake trees I used to see in homes growing up as a kid, which is when I formed my strong allegiance with real Xmas trees.

FiLM REViEW: Jaws, 1975


Yesterday, Saturday, we went to Willingham auctions, got the Xmas tree down from the loft and set it up, and – as well my doing a little bit of model-making – watched a ton of TV. An episode of Poirot, an old black and white Hammer horror film (Nightmare, 1963), sundry other titbits (including most of The Island, 2005), and then finally, that toothy, bloody saltwater classic, Jaws.

I probably first saw this film in the mid ’80s. At that tender age (10-12 ‘ish) it had quite an impact, and I was rather put off the idea of swimming in the sea. Not that we ever got to any shark-infested waters; the muddy North Sea off Southwold was about it.

Over the years I must’ve seen it four or five times now. It’s become a veg-out staple. Despite repeated viewings I’m still always surprised at how the movie starts, with the kids at the beach round a campfire, drinking and playing music, etc.


Chrissy decides to go skinny-dipping.

The first kill is a classic; a beautiful naked young chick, Chrissy, from the beach party. In some strange and sinister way this scene touches upon the fascination we have with serial killers, perhaps of the Ted Bundy type, stalking young beauties before dispatching them with cold-blooded brutality.

Chrissy’s drunk/stoned male companion is oblivious, thanks to his stupor and the crashing surf, to her cries of distress. And we see her from both the attacking predators point of view, as Jaws approaches her from below, and also dragged about, as sharks do when they play with their catches, on the surface.

Who can blame Jaws for being attracted to such delicious looking bait?
Jaws messes with his prey before dragging her under.

The juxtaposition of the peaceful seaside, youngsters partying, and a nubile young beauty, with this cold ‘motiveless’ killing is very effective. Once again, the mid ’70s zeitgeist might suggest a connection with such then notorious serial-killers as …

The young male, a student on vacation, reports his companions’ disappearance, and police chief Brody (Roy Scheider) is called from the small humdrum concerns of the quiet coastal resort of Amity, to find his deputy at the beach, where a gruesome discovery has been made.


Apart from it being a well-structured and well-crafted intro to a film, with the twin lures of sex and death acting like ‘chum’ on the hungry audience, there’s also John William’s brilliantly menacing score. The driving bass ostinato has passed into our collective cultural consciousness as a shorthand for the approach of cold, relentless brutality.

“You’re going to need a bigger boat.”

The cast are excellent, with Roy Scheider exactly right as the harassed, put-upon and slightly uncomfortable new man on the job, police chief Brody. Robert Shaw is Quint, salty old sea-dog with a special hatred for sharks, as a survivor of a shark feeding frenzy during the sinking of USS Indianapolis [1]. Richard Dreyfuss’ Hooper, a rich-kid college boy shark expert, completes the trio who will ultimately hunt the great white wha… er, sorry… shark! [2]

Avast… landlubbers!
Hooper & Quint have a certain chemistry.
Fun boy three: Hooper, Brody and Quint.

The first half of the film concerns how Brody will handle the shark attacks, what with the local mayor – Larry Vaughan (Murray Hamilton) – and businesses desirous that their 4th of July tourist trade and summer season business isn’t disrupted by a shark panic.

Mayor Vaughan; with a jacket and tie combo like that…

Not long after Chrissy’s death, a young boy swimming on a li-lo at a crowded beach becomes victim #2. And when victim #3, a grown man in a boat, is munched up, just yards from one of Brody’s own kids… well, something’s got to give.

So Brody convinces Mayor Vaughan to bankroll Quint, who’s already offered his services as aquatic pest control. The film then shifts from the community in panic segment, to the hunt, with Brody and Hooper accompanying Quint on an aquatic safari to blue hell.

Quint and Hooper finally bond, in proper macho style, comparing scars.

What starts out as a ripsnorting boys’ own adventure on the high seas, soon degenerates into a war of attrition. A war that’s being won, far from the terra firma of shore, by a gurt big fish in his element, terror aqua.

You, sir, are nuts!
Blue hell.

After Quint’s methods fail, they try out Hooper’s tactics. But once agin, that devious dirty great white outwits them. Until, finally, Brody faces the beast, alone.

Cap’n Ahab and the Great White… shark.
Brody’s patented extreme ballistic dentistry.

Familiarity breeds relaxation. It’s not easy to recall how terrifying this all was, on first viewing, all those years ago. But one things for sure: Jaws is a summer-blockbusting celluloid classic, chock-full of all the right ingredients for a breathless edge of your seat Saturday matinee, be it at the cinema, or on heavy rotation on the TV, ever since.


One could easily read a lot into numerous aspects of this film, and people frequently do. Indeed, it’s part of the films enduring charm and success, that it can be a kind of cinematic palimpsest, over which we write our own interpretations. Whatever it might really be all about, whether it be profound or just plain ol’ fashioned entertainment, you know a film has really sunk into the collective consciousness when it’s parodied, quoted and otherwise reprocessed.

Jaws, Mad parody

Pink Panther Jaws

And as well as the parodies, there was also the associated merchandising, and the several sequels. Jaws was one of the first films of its kind to be released with really hefty marketing, including many associated merchandising lines, such as the dolls below.


There are many things about Jaws to love or enjoy. But one thing I think is less good is its impact on the film industry as a business. The biggest grossing movie of all time until Star Wars, it set a benchmark for the thrill ‘n’spills style summer blockbuster.

And like Star Wars, or the Indiana Jones movies, or whatever, as good as they may be in themselves, they’ve helped usher in an era of dumbing down in pursuit of big bucks. This not only lowers the quality of the mainstream itself, but also, by helping turn the mainstream into an all encompassing juggernaut, shoves aside and marginalises other perhaps more interesting stuff.


Survivors of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis are treated at Guam.

[1] The sinking of the Indianapolis is a real event, as indeed were the subsequent shark attacks on the men who awaited rescue. These men, or rather some of these men, survived four days adrift at sea before being rescued. According to my quick glance around the interweb, only a little over 300 of the 1,200 aboard at the time of the disaster survived. Most died of injuries sustained in the torpedoing and subsequent explosions, or by drowning, starving, or drinking seawater, etc. What proportion were killed by sharks – and the sharks feasted on the dead as well as the living – isn’t made clear anywhere I can find. But one can certainly believe any survivors might well hate sharks!

[2] Surely there has to be a connection of some sort between Moby Dick and Jaws? Both embody a relentless battle between a Leviathan of the deeps and man.

Home: Thoughts On Living With A Critter


It’s a strange thing, is it not, to share one’s domestic life with other animals?

On the one hand, of course, it isn’t all that strange. We’ve always lived amongst and alongside animals. Mostly chasing them off or exploiting them for food, clothing, etc. But a few species – dogs and cats being the most common and obvious – chose or were coerced into sitting round the fire with us. And from such humble beginnings…

Squire Waterton
Squire Waterton, of Walton Hall. [1]
And there have been those, amongst us exploitative bipeds, from Squire Waterton (pictured above) to David Attenborough, who’ve centred their lives around a fascination for other living things, collecting and housing all sorts of creatures most of us couldn’t be bothered coping with. From the utterly alien, like snakes or spiders, to cute furry things, like Bush Babies, who apparently delight in leaving their scented trails of urine wherever they may go.

Bush baby
Aah… big-eyed ‘n’ big-eared, the Galagos, or Bush Baby.

I grew up in a home where we always had a cat. Mostly just the one cat. Although there was a period where my sister got her own kitten, Domino. And for several years he and Pishy co-existed, at our childhood home in Comberton, near Cambridge.

As I type this, Tigger (or Tiggy) [2] lies at the foot of the bed, noisily grooming, his warm furry body just slightly in contact with my cold bare feet. I call to him, in that way humans choose to interact with their pets, and he looks up. His expression is, frankly, inscrutable. I love him.

I love my little Tigster!

I suppose that for those of us pet owners who don’t have kids of our own, our furry friends take on an even greater role in our lives. What do they make of our grabbing them for cuddles? Tigger, now somewhere around 15 years old, isn’t the most tactile or affectionate of cats. Having said that, he’s becoming more and more of a lap-cat – at least with me – as he grows older.

I love having Tigger sat on my chest!

He has the run of the place, and makes free with the environment. Our only control is that now that we let our guest room, via AirB&B, we try to keep him out of there. And whilst he’s allowed out via his cat-flap in the kitchen/back door (and thence wherever he chooses to go), we don’t let him out the front, as it opens onto a reasonably busy road.

One of his favourite dozing spots/poses, on the arms of our sofas.

Currently, and for many years now, he has a bowl of dried cat food that’s kept continually stocked, along with a bowl of water, ditto, and a third bowl, in which every evening he gets his dose of ‘wet’ cat food.

Tigger tucks in at his feeding station.

[Tigga’s most recent mouse kill…]

Occasionally I think about changing his diet. I’ve toyed with trying to feed him something closer to what cats might eat in the wild. But in the end, he seems happy enough as is. And we occasionally give him special treats, or bits of what we are eating.

Interestingly, feline bereavement has brought deeper sadness in my life than any human losses, so far.


Pishy, our first cat, lived to about 18 years old. He passed away around the time my parents were heading towards a break-up, and I was getting ready to leave home for college. He was getting old and infirm, and my parents had him ‘put to sleep’. I was very sad about his passing. But the combination of other external human events, and his long-ish decline, meant the blow was somewhat softened.

Pishy was a big, black short haired cat. Domino, my sister’s cat, was also black, but longhaired, and with white mittens and a ‘blaze’ of white on his chin and chest. He was supremely cute. He lived with my dad and his new family, after both Hannah and I had flown the disintegrated family nest.

[Pishy & Domino?]

I went through a tough patch in my late twenties and early thirties, during which I occasionally stopped over with either mum or dad. I would always check in with Domino, when staying mit mein farter, for a playful roll around the floor, with lots of stroking, poggles, and purring.

On one of the last of my visits in this period, I noted the absence of Domino, and inquired as to his whereabouts. He was dead and gone! I was devastated. And burst into uncontrolled tears there and then. Having moved away from home, I had no inkling that my bond with him was quite as strong as it proved to be.

Domino: what a fab picture of a wonderful cat!

I learned that he had taken to sitting in a particular spot in the garden – as cats are wont to do – and was regularly to be seen or found there, sleeping away the lazy hours. One day, he just fell asleep there, and never awoke. That’s how a cat should die!

Thinking about him, curled up, sleeping happily and drifting away, brings the tears back even now. On the one hand I’m happy that he died peacefully. But on the other I’m sad that I wasn’t there.

I believe that he lies buried in his favourite spot. Bless him!

My sister has always kept cats, as far as I know, and we have been lucky enough to inherit one of them. And that’s Tigger, our fabulous furry, feline four-legged friend.

[Tiggy as a kitten]

It does seem strange to me that we share our lives with this little critter. But it’s a strangeness I love. Goodness only knows what Tigger makes of us, clumping about doing all kinds of strangely pointless human stuff.

And I do hope he’s happy? My sister often allowed one cat to bear a litter, so Tigger is part of a small clan or dynasty linking us to several other cat and human families. But like most pet cats, he’s had his fertility taken from him. He seems happy enough.

Teresa & Tigger
Teresa enjoys a moment with Tiggy.

And he certainly brings Teresa and I, and visiting friends and family, immense pleasure. And for Teresa and I deep happiness. The love between humans and their pets is very different from that between humans. But it’s certainly a very deep and real love.


[1] I learned about Waterton via Attenborough’s More Life Stories, in which he’s the subject of a chapter.

[2] Or Tiggy-Wiggles, Tig-meister, Count Von Tigulus, His Royal Hairiness, Furry Fella, Little Hairy Man, etc, etc. You get the picture!

[3] This post is a WIP, as I’m struggling to find certain pics, esp. of Pishy and Domino…

HEALTH & WELLBEiNG: Humira/Adalimumab

Many moons ago, some time in my mid teens, I think when I was fifteen, I developed a strange spot on my inner right thigh. It looked like some devilish bug had bitten a small chunk out of the flesh. That was the beginning, I was soon to learn, of my psoriasis.

As the years passed the condition worsened, spreading all over my body, and even affecting my internal workings; I developed psoriatic-arthropothy in my mid-twenties. As I understand it, psoriasis is an immune-system malfunction, in which the body kind of attacks itself, and ends up overproducing skin cells, which form the lesions/plaques.

The way it affects one, or at least the way it affected me, winds up being as potently toxic psychologically as it is physically. As time passed and the conditions deteriorated, it took an ever increasing mental and emotional toll. By the time I’d reached my late thirties, early forties, I was severely depressed over it.

I’d tried numerous treatments, mostly under the auspices of the NHS, but some self-administered. The NHS treatments were predominantly topical steroid ointments. Years of daubing oily unguents on various parts of my anatomy had very minimal effects physically, but were profoundly depressing, as they were messy, time-consuming, and not very effective.

My own interventions were either dietary, or attempts to address the possible psychological angle; the latter chiefly via meditation, to de-stress. It has long and often been alleged that stress plays a role in these diseases. In my own personal experience this doesn’t really ring true.

The dietary angle was based on desperation in the face of the ineffectiveness of the NHS treatments. I’d read up about psoriasis, and/or the related form of arthritis, once that had begun to compound matters, and frequently read about people who believed there is a dietary cause for the diseases. I tried a number of exclusion diets: cutting out dairy, avoiding the nightshade family (potatoes, peppers, chillies, etc.), and various others.

Some of the exclusion diets, for example gluten-free, I only tried for a few months, others, like the dairy-free and non-nightshades, I tired over many months, or even years. None of the dietary stuff made any discernible difference whatsoever.

With me it wasn’t  case of a fluctuating condition, getting better sometimes and worse at others – hence my scepticism about the stress-related factor – both conditions, once established, simply gradually encroached further and deeper, spreading over more skin and into more joints as time went by.

It had got to the point where I was regularly thinking about how I might end it all. What was the point in continuing to live if I was always ashamed of my appearance and in an ever increasing amount of pain? I couldn’t enjoy myself either in company or alone.

I’ve known some folks with psoriasis, even pretty bad cases, who appear relatively unfazed by it. Are they just putting up a better front? Or are they genuinely less bothered by it? I suppose both things are equally real possibilities.

Anyway, I was, by this time, on antidepressants, to help me cope with the psychological aspects of the conditions. And I was making my state of mind as abundantly clear to the health professionals I was seeing as I could. These people were mostly dealing with the physical aspects, but I was also occasionally taking various forms of state-sponsored counselling as well. And I let them all know just how seriously it was affecting me.

And so it was, that finally and mercifully, Dr Norris, of Addenbrookes Hospital’s  dermatology department, finally suggested, almost every other avenue, including light/photo-therapy, having been tried unsuccessfully, that I be tried on a ‘biologic’ treatment. This turned out to be Humira,  or Adalimumab. And this medicine, injected fortnightly, has totally transformed my life.

For the first time since my teens, my body is pretty much entirely free of the plaques/lesions caused by psoriasis. And the aches and pains, and lack of joint mobility, caused by the later development of the arthritic component are also almost completely gone.

I’d say the lesions are 99-100% cleared up, whilst the joint pain is 97-100% clear. In other words I do occasionally have some joint pain – I have some now, particularly in my right hand, on account of all the painting I’ve been doing in the last few days – but it is nothing compared to what it had become at its worst, some few years back.

Skin wise, its is a constant source of joy to me to be able to not worry about shedding a constant snow-fall of dead skin flakes, or fear the disapprobation of folks that I always assumed would judge me to be a scabrous leper.

I believe that humanity has a deeply in-built sense that illness is a form of outward manifestation of inner evil. This may sound ridiculous, perhaps. But it isn’t at all. In art and movies, and so on, heroes are beautiful, villains are ugly.

It may be primitively minded and related to our legacy of superstition and religion, but it’s still completely normal, even for folks like me, who believe themselves to be rational ‘naturalist/free-thinker’ types, to think of disease less as a form of mechanical physical malfunction and more as a form of divine punishment for moral wrongdoing. Rather like those American fundamentalists who believe that catastrophic weather is God’s tool for punishing the ungodly!

This may be rank nonsense, but it’s deeply ingrained in the human psyche. So, to be free of the anxieties that come from that whole nexus of primitive ignorance is unspeakably wonderful.

And further, I think I’m someone who naturally gravitates towards not just naturalism in philosophy and science, but naturism. I don’t find the naked body offensive. Rather I find the way in which human culture has made the naked body taboo far more deeply offensive. I’m a naturist at heart. And now, thanks to this effective medicine, I can be one in practice as well.

This is, funnlily enough, also related to one of the most notable side-effects of the medication itself, at least as far it affects me. I used to be someone who ‘felt the cold’. I’m now someone who feels the heat. The change in my body-temperature metabolism is, along with a few other things (bouts of dry-retching, and some very intense headaches), amongst the most notable of the side effects of my current regimen of medicine.

It frequently happens that I’m ‘boiling’, and I will be literally sweating, when others aren’t warm at all. Indeed they may be, as Teresa often is, feeling cold. This can lead to some, I guess, reasonably comical scenarios. Such as me repainting the kitchen last night, in the nude, whilst Teresa watches TV, under a fleece-blanket in the lounge, with the electric heater on full! And bear in mind that we’ve both just had a hot bath, and the kitchen is very draughty, on account of the door to the back garden being very poorly fitted/insulated.

Now I’m no Adonis. And whilst I’m not fat, I have a somewhat bloated paunch. But, frankly, I don’t care. Sure, I’d like to be in better shape. And I have at times past made differing degrees of effort, exercise wise, to try and improve things in this area. But, truth be told, now that I’m free of psoriasis and arthritis, I’m happy enough with my body as is. Indeed, I enjoy it. And that’s how it should be, in my opinion

The culture of body-shame that we perpetuate through our media is an awful thing. It still effects me to some degree. But to a massively lesser extent than it did when I was worst afflicted with psoriasis and the related arthritis.

Writing this reminds me of a thought I’ve had many times over the years since I began my current successful treatment. And that’s that I ought to thank Dr Norris, and perhaps even the developers and manufacturers of the drugs themselves – although here we run into the thorny issues of big-pharma profiteering from the ongoing sufferings of countless millions – for the incalculable improvement this treatment has brought me.

So I’ll say it here; thanks Doc Norris, and thanks also to the developers of Humira/Adalimumab. I feel like I’ve got my life back.

I’m happier now than I’ve ever been since, oh, my early/mid-teens. Indeed, I’m as happy at times at present as I ever remember having been, even as a child. And that’s really saying something, given that now I have the innumerable cares of adulthood to deal with, which I didn’t have back then.

Home: Kitchen re-Paint

Spice rack
The colour before… *

Late-ish in the evening, I decided to tape off the kitchen, ready for a repaint tomorrow. that was done so quickly, however, that I chose to do the re-painting right away. One whole sampler pot did the room. There’s really not too much surface area that needs covering.


Certainly it’s an improvement. But I’m not 100% sure it’s quite right. Thinking I might buy another sample pot tomorrow, and do a second coat. Should I stick to the same colour, or go with something a little more sagacious?


I’ll be painting a lot of the woodwork – skirting mouldings, door, window, etc. – white. As I did in the bathroom. So I may need to buy some more Permoglaze. I’m planning to totally rebuild the kitchen cabinets, etc. But they’ll almost certainly be painted some other different colour. In the meantime, it’s nice to gradually improve things.


We need to sort out all the curtains and associated fittings as well. Then there’s the butler sink. And the outside tap… sheesh kabop. It never ends!

* Not accurate colour reproduction!

The following day, tape off:

Spice rack back up.
Utensils back up.
Door and curtain now need attention.

Media: The Tie-Hacks of Wyoming

Wyoming tie drive
Crazy architecture…

During a break from today’s decorating (well, yesterday’s, I guess, now it’s after midnight) I watched a few YouTube things. One of the suggested videos I spotted was a PBS Wyoming thing called Brotherhood of the Broadaxe (see below), which I thought sounded intriguing.

The story of the Wyoming Tie-Hacks, and the Tie-Drives, where thousands of trees are felled, and the resulting logs are turned into rough ‘ties’, for the ever-expanding railroad network, being sent from remote camps by flume and river, is fascinating.

Wyoming tie drive
The Warm Spring flume clings to sheer rock.

The log flumes were miles long. The Warm Spring flume looks, on maps, to be about five miles or more. Note the guy perched on the catwalk in the above pic. Precarious!

Wyoming tie drive
Feeding the ties through a channel in the river.

In the period and location which this documentary covers, not one fatality occurred under the auspices of the Wyoming Tie and Timber Co.

Wyoming tie drive
Clearing a log-jam. Dangerous large scale djenga-cum-pick-up-sticks.

When you consider the extremely hard work, long hours, and the vast volumes of timber cut down, prepared and transported, using only hand tools and very primitive methods of transport and processing, that is really quite amazing.

Wyoming tie drive
Ties gather…

The industry, a short-lived boom created by the burgeoning rail network, but soon to be rapidly superseded by industrialisation, lasted only one generation. It was a hard life. But judging by the accounts of those interviewed for this film, a good one… fascinating!

The Scandinavians were a big part of this particular epoch, with the Wyoming Tie & Timber Co. set up by a guy who’d done similar work back home in Norway. He got a lot of folks from the ‘old country’, and Sweden, to emigrate, and they formed the nucleus of the business.

Wyoming tie drive
These are the kind of men who did the work.

Local Indians and other more or less ‘native’ Americans would fill out the teams and bulk up the numbers, especially during the Tie Drives, after the Scandiwegians and other more expert Tie Hacks had done the felling and hacking, getting the wood from source to destination.

Wyoming tie drive
Ties at source, being poled into the river.
Wyoming tie drive
Good ol’ horsepower was also used.
Wyoming tie drive
Logs coursing down the flumes.
Wyoming tie drive
Flumes cut through ravines, sometimes even through the rocks themselves.
Wyoming tie drive
The scale of the flumes could be enormous.
Wyoming tie drive
Ties being retrieved from the river.
Wyoming tie drive
Ties are stacked and sorted.
Wyoming tie drive
Processing plants grew up at key locations.

Hearing the old-timers and their wives and children reminisce about this period, it sounds both very hard, and yet very satisfying. The work was intense and seasonal, the logging locations were remote, and incredibly beautiful. Winters were hard, and skiing was an essential daily skill.

Wyoming tie drive
Cooks moved ahead of the work gangs, preparing massive meals. Check all the pots on coals!

The Wyoming Tie & Timber Co. really looked after their workers, building homes and camps, buying the employees kids Christmas gifts, and feeding the workers well (tourists would sometimes stop to watch the work, and were even invited to feast on the abundant victuals!). They even had programmes to look after the older less able men.

Wyoming tie drive
The church at Dubois, made of logs donated by Wyoming Tie & Timber.


Home: Bathroom Update

Paella #4
Mmm, check the socarrat!

Cooked a seafood paella tonight, with haddock and large prawns. Followed Omar Allibhoy’s directions again, this time from Tesco’s website, rather than Jamie Oliver’s. Turned out delish! Very happy. Will defola be cooking this again. The alioli dressing really sets the paella of nicely. Yum!

Paella #4
Dished up, ‘n’ ready to eat.

Sitting in the lounge, watching Errand of Mercy, from the Star Trek Complete Series box set, which is really great, I just leaped up and took a few snaps of the bathroom.

View from the kitchen.

The new Feathers of a Dove colour is looking great. And the Permoglaze white woodwork is also very cool and calm. The whole room looks so much better. It’s also nice to do stuff to put out mark on all the various domestic spaces. Up till now, this has always felt like Clive’s bathroom, not ours.

View towards the kitchen.

I still don’t like the tiles, the ceiling Artex, the carpet, or the clam-shell styled bath, bog and sink. But one or two things at a time, I guess. And with each addition or change, it becomes more personal to us. The white paint is still drying, and the room’s a bit messy. Once the paint’s dry I’ll be able to tidy up properly.

In the doorway of the kitchen.

I think I’ll take a momentary break from all this DIY and home improvement mallarkey. If I do anything, it should probably be using some white sealant to properly attach the trim along the top edges of the bath. And after that, I’m spoilt for choice with a myriad of further jobs. Ranging from further garden clearing, to repainting the kitchen.

But for now? Another beer, and a second helping of Star Trek!

Home: Bathroom Re-Paint #2

Today I bought two sample pots of Feathers of a Dove, from the trusty B&Q Valspar range, plus a single pot of Sculpting Clay. The Feathers is for the bathroom, and the Clay is for… well… I’m not sure yet.

1st coat of Feathers of a Dove.

I painted directly over the Quiet Rain; these Valspar paints do a great job of covering previous layers/colours.

Even though the texture of the Artex is much reduced, it’s still quite an undulating surface, which makes it more paint hungry. Getting the new colour into all the recesses is quite tiring work.

These Valspar paints cover well.

With a partial second coat wherever it looked like it was required, and the Frog tape removed, I can see – in the pic below – that I need to neaten up around the edges. But I’m planning to paint all the woodwork white anyway, so it should wind up looking much tidier. I’ll also need to paint the coving.

Frog tape removed…

Yes, looking sooo much better. It’s a lovely colour, cool, calm, but also with a warm note. Just great! And such an improvement on the more trad but overly intense blue we had before.

Much better!

With the mirror and med-cab back up, the room is looking decidedly improved. I’m itching to start in on the white woodwork.

Painting the large window.

Aargh… couldn’t resist! Started by taping off the woodwork, and have now applied an undercoat. May do a second undercoat. Or I may go straight to the wonderful Permoglaze. Either way, I’ll have to restrain myself… if I can, and do that tomorrow!

And the smaller window, etc.

Oh ‘eck… Compulsion to paint found me giving it a coat of the Permoglaze, before turning in. I reckon it’ll need a second coat tomorrow, before I can de-Frog. And I need to do the door and the wooden parts of the bath, as well. It never seems to end!

You can see what remains of the Artex texturing here.
Permoglazing the window frames.

Home: Bathroom Re-Paint #1

As mentioned in my previous post, the bathroom is horrible. So we decided to re-paint. I did it all today, and – due to the Artex element – it was a lot of hard work. Sunday, a day of rest? Not this time!

Valspar, Quiet Rain
Valspar, Quiet Rain

Bizarrely, although the swatch we went for didn’t appear, to us, that similar to the previous colour, it wound up coming out both darker, and equally intensely blue. Not what we wanted at all. So I’m going to have to re-paint again! I’ve even left the Frog tape in situ, an open admission that I’m not content to leave as is.

Oh well… ne’er mind! Tomorrow is another day, as Scarlett O’Hara says.

Bathroom quiet rain
Bathroom repainted in Quiet Rain.

One good thing that’s come out of it all, however, is that I’ve really reduced the degree of Artex texture. I haven’t gone for a completely flat surface, as I did elsewhere in the house. But rather than the stippled nipples that we had formerly, which are spiky enough to draw blood if you scrape against them, the surface is now merely irregular. Almost like some kind of animal/dinosaur hide!?

Valspar, Asian Silk
Valspar, Asian Silk

I have a sample pot of Asian Silk, pictured above. But we intend to repaint the kitchen in a very similar sagey green. So that’s poss too close. My current favourite is Feathers of a Dove, pictured below. It’s a lovely warm grey, with some green and beige in it.

Valspar, Feathers of a Dove
Valspar, Feathers of a Dove

I do also rather like Sculpting Clay. I have to admit I like both the colour and the name. Indeed, I like a lot of the name/colour combos in the current Valspar range. I even like going and getting the colours. I shop therefore I am. Homo Consumerus?

Valspar, Sculpting Clay
Valspar, Sculpting Clay

We had a bit of a panic on today, what with me going for the Artex removal as well as the painting, starting late last night and working through till gone six today. We were supposed to have an AirB&B guest arriving. And the whole house, but the bathroom especially, was a mess. Check in is 6pm, and we’d just about got everything ship shape in time. But he hasn’t shown up yet, and it’s 10pm now.

We’ve had last minute cancellations before. But this is looking like being our first outright no show.

Home/Workshop: Med-Cab Installation

I really wanted to get the medicine cabinet installed tonight, as well as the spice rack. But before installing it, I needed to add an internal shelf. This proved relatively straightforward. Although really I should’ve done this earlier on.

Med cab
Internal shelf installed.

I used the last of the Lark Song painting the new shelf (and it still needs a little more!), and then added the wall mounting fixtures, exactly as per the spice rack.

But before putting it on the wall, I wanted to remove the Artex texturing from the portion of the wall where I plan to install it. I found just enough Ex-Tex in the shed to daub a load over the required area… now I just have to wait an hour, for the stuff to take effect…

Med cab
Well, I got it up, at 11.30-ish.

Starting to remove Artex at 10.30pm is never a good idea. It’s a messy time consuming process. And I did no prep in terms of keeping the area clear and clean… oops! This has also brought home to me what a hideous state our bathroom is in all round. I don’t like anything about it!

We inherited what we have from the previous owner. And it’s one of the rooms to have received the least attention thus far, in terms of changing it to suit our own tastes. In fact this medicine cabinet is – aside from a replacement loo seat and some bathroom rugs – the very first thing in there that’s truly ours.

Med cab
And already fully laden.

Next I need to get some sample pots from B&Q, and tidy up the half-arsed Artex removal. I originally only intended to remove sufficient Artex to mount the cabinet. But I ended up using the entire remains of a pot of Ex-Tex. But that wasn’t much, and only covered about 50% of the textured wall surfaces. And of that I’ve only removed about 50% of the treated area.