25 March 2007

finishing the fence

The fence in the back garden is very nearly there and it is very much improved. I should point out that we did first ask if the owner of the neighbouring property (who doesn't live there, but rents it out) would undertake the repairs but the immediate response was no, it was our fence.

We could not argue. Our deeds give no indication and the plan does not come in a big enough scale to be helpful.* The internet suggests that if the side which shows the rails is facing you, then you are responsible. In a terraced property the general rule, apparently, is that you are responsible for the boundary to your left. This didn't help as the old fence looked the same on both sides.

So, we could either argue for weeks, possibly months with a neighbour who has no interest, or repair the fence ourselves. Being the good human beings we are, we have done it ourselves.

Now, because of the advice on the internet and because we are good human beings, we have put the aris rails facing in towards us. This should prevent any disputes over who is responsible for future neighbours but the sacrifice is that our neighbours get to see the good side of the fence and for all our hard work, we get to see the back of it. Where's the justice in that?

Photos soon.

*NB if you can agree your exact boundary with your neighbour you can get a larger scale plan drawn up by a surveyor and make a permanent record on the property register of precisely where the boundary lies

20 March 2007


When I was a child, sometimes my mum would make mince, served with mashed or boiled potatoes and vegetables. I had completely forgotten about this very unsophisticated, school dinner-style meal, but last night, I decided to make it. Boy did it bring back memories. What a wonderful hearty comfort food.

What has happened to this and other basic British staples? It’s so easy and quick to make it could be called convenient, yet it seems to have lost out to foods that are even more so. There is no doubt that the balance between convenience and good eating has tipped too far. Schools have some part to play in providing good nutritional food for children, but so do families. When I was growing up, pizzas and oven chips were only just appearing in the supermarket freezers, and other super-convenient oven and microwave-ready options didn’t exist. Now there are too many to choose from, but there is a choice.

Serves 4

800g good quality beef mince
2 onions
2 beef stock cubes
1 tin of baked beans
About 100 ml water
1 tblsp sunflower oil

Cut the onions in quarters and slice, fry in a little oil until softened. Add the mince, fry until browned. Crumble the stock cube over the mince and pour in the water, enough to almost cover. Add the beans (you could add carrots or peas instead), simmer for 10 mins.

Good with mashed potatoes, or dumplings, and vegetables e.g., cabbage or broccoli.

18 March 2007

fencing and lighting

Putting up a fence is, in my opinion, a very tedious job, but unfortunately, we haven't had a choice, because our back fence has blown down, and the neighbours have a dog, yada yada yada - as if we didn't have enough to do with our indoor tasks! Anyway, the fence posts are in (that's the slow bit) and Dom's new nail gun makes putting up the feathered edge panels a breeze so we should be able to finish it this week.

Much more interesting for me is looking around for things like this aubergine light fitting, which, after extensive research, we have decided will shine over our dining table. I like it, I really like it.

15 March 2007

so far so good

I was going through some old photos and realised that I have never posted the before and after results of making our garden green again. It was a long and difficult task.

Whenever I feel like we are making slow progress on the inside of the house I think we should remind ourselves of the difference we have already made to the outside.

Not only have we improved the appearance, but it's much better for the environment.



12 March 2007

kombat opera

Last night's spoof was Question Time Out, last week's was Spouse Change (Wife Swap). This is definitely the most original programme to grace the television for a long time. It is so refreshing to see something different!

I was all the more impressed when I saw Stewart Lee's name in the credits. Stewart Lee is a talent indeed, I used to watch him on Fist of Fun with Richard Herring, then This Morning With Richard Not Judy, and his work is always er... unique. I was always amazed at how many religious jokes they got away with on TMWRNJ on a Sunday afternoon, but probably didn't receive many complaints because I don't think they had many viewers (apparently Points of View did receive lots of complaints).

He wrote Jerry Springer the Opera which was controversial to say the least, but I have to say I didn't take much notice of it.

Kombat Opera is fantastic. Look out for The South Bragg Show next week with the understated legend that is Kevin Eldon playing Melvyn Bragg, and then Manorama the following week. Highly recommended.

04 March 2007

the challenge

OK. The exams are over, for a while at least, and I can now join Dom on our mission to get the house "finished" (i.e. into a state that we are happy with) for Dom's 30th birthday at the end of July when we are going to be holding a big party for family and friends.

Dom has spent all weekend getting the loft flooring down so it can be properly used for storage. I spent a few hours today stripping wallpaper in what is to be our office.

This is what we have to do in 5 months:

all rooms need lighting to be wired; the downstairs ceiling needs to be put back up; we need a new loft hatch; the walls in the airing cupboard need finishing and shelves put up for storage; the stair rail needs taking down; the wall between the downstairs toilet and the coat cupboard needs to be put back up; we need to fit a new front door; all walls need sanding and filling or plastering then ceilings and walls need painting; the skirting boards downstairs need putting back; all the upstairs rooms, landing and staircase need carpeting; all the downstairs rooms need new flooring; we need a new bathroom suite and a new kitchen, including new appliances, this will involve re-plumbing the washing machine through into the conservatory; kitchen and bathrooms need tiling; the office needs fitting out; our bedroom needs wardrobes fitting; the TV/ multimedia housing needs building; all the doors need sanding and painting; all the door handles need to be changed; all the switches and sockets need replacing; and finally, we need a new dining table and chairs, new sofa, new curtains and blinds.

Wish us luck!

02 March 2007


It is such a gorgeous spring day outside: the sun is out, the sky is blue, there's not a cloud to spoil the view... but I'm stuck indoors concentrating on big daunting law exams and that's enough to cloud any rosy outlook.

I took a stroll down the garden path and this cute little crocus display cheered me up, but now, it's back to the books.