The Anonymous Widower

I’m All Right, Jack

When I bought the house that I live in, I checked all the maps and it looked as far as I could tell it was unlikely to flood.

But then C and myself lived in six places and we were never flooded once.  Admittedly, three properties were flats on the third, fifth and eleventh floors of well-built blocks.

My father had always said buy a house on top of the hill, so you don’t get flooded! I think he may have had trouble once, as he lived in a house in River Avenue in Palmers Green.

To make this current house even safer, I live on the first floor above the garage and the downstairs bedrooms and bathroom.

The roof does leak slightly though, but I think I’m more likely to be killed by a falling aircraft in my bed than be drowned.

But some of the flooded houses I’ve seen on the news, were in such a position, that even Noah wouldn’t have looked at them!

If you want to read some sense on the floods read Charles Clover in The Sunday Times today.

He misses out one thing that would improve matters and that is build more flats! As you can’t predict weather like we’ve been having lately and it’ll probably get worse in the next twenty years, if the geography of a site could possibly lead to flooding, then build accordingly.

February 16, 2014 Posted by | World | , | Leave a comment

My IKEA Furniture Now Has Some Brass Knobs!

My house has a theme of dark black-brown steel beams fitted together with brass fittings.

Dark Steel And Brass Bolts

Dark Steel And Brass Bolts

When I bought the house, it still had Jerry’s gold-painted steel bolts, which I have replaced with real brass ones.  Even if some might be just be real bolts glued into Jerry’s crude holes.

So when I bought some of IKEA’s Expedit boxes, which are just the right colour for the beams, I was disappointed that they only come with natural aluminium knobs.

IKEA's Aluminium Knobs

IKEA’s Aluminium Knobs

So it was off to Birmingham by train to visit Honeyglen Anodising in Sparkbrook to see what they could do. I’ve now got the trial batch and here’s one in place.

Expedit With Brass Knobs

Expedit With Brass Knobs

I’ve now got to get all the others together and send them off to Birmingham. I am getting them in a pretty standard brass colour, but there are more details here of the colours available.

January 30, 2014 Posted by | World | , , | 1 Comment

Work Starts On A Bigger Overground

I found this article about work at Clapham Junction station to prepare for longer trains on the London Overground at the end of 2014.

You don’t hear or read many complaints about London’s newest railway, from passengers or even moans from staff. In many ways this is a tribute to the engineers and architects, who’ve turned a very shabby almost-derelict railway into a superstar.

There are a lot of lessons to be learned from how Transport for London has created the Overground, that should be applied to transport projects throughout the world.

In some ways , the stars of the line are the Class 378 trains. You rarely hear of train failures and the interiors still seem pristine after nearly four years of service. And now, because of their design, they’re being extended by the simple addition of a fifth carriage in the middle.

And of course they were all designed and built in Derby!

Gradually, the stations are being improved and in a few years, some of the grubbier will be up to the standard of the best.

On a personal note, as well as giving me a lot of transport options, in common with many others who live along the line, the Overground has probably contributed to the rise in the value of my house.

January 3, 2014 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

The Ten Things That Annoy Me Most In This House

I’m getting increasingly annoyed with some of the features of this house.

1. The Front Door

It doesn’t shut properly in the wrong sort of weather and sometimes, I inadvertently leave it open. It also sometimes locks me out, when I say put something in the bin.

I’ve had three people come to quote to fix it, but I’ve never received a quote and it’s as bad as ever.

2. My Bathroom Cabinet

Virtually, every time I brush my teeth, I bump my head on it. In one case it did this when I got up from the toilet.

3. The Lack Of Handrails on the Staircase

I was trained in how to avoid accidents at ICI in the late 1960s and consequently, I always use handrails for safety. But I want them, in brass to match the theme of the house.  People look at me, as if I’m mad, but I’m just safety and design conscious.

4.Poor Lighting Everywhere

Where I’m typing this is dark, unless She puts the big light on and every room has some of the worst lighting I’ve ever seen. One of the problems it’s not fixed is that I can’t find any lights that satisfy me. I’ve searched all over London and there is nothing.

5. The Mixer Taps In The Kitchen

If I’m washing up in the sink and want some cold water, it’s impossible unless I run the water to get it really cold. The spout is also so low, with anything in the sink, you can’t do something simple like fill a kettle.

6. The Small Fridge In The Kitchen

The fridge is just too small.  But at least the one I bought, is better than the one that was supporting the work top, when I moved in.

7. The Lack of a Freezer In The Kitchen

I suppose I could have one if I had a small one in the fridge! But that would make the fridge smaller.

8. The Inaccessible Cupboards In The Kitchen

The idiot who designed these needs to be banned from any design or building work, for serious crimes against practicality and design.

9. The Inability to Control Temperature and Humidity

I’ve had a new control system and boiler installed and am running a big humidifier, but still the humidity won’t go anywhere near the value I want. There must be an expert somewhere, who can tell me what to do.

10. The Lack Of Lights In The Wardrobes

Try finding the right clothes in the dark.

And those ten, were just for starters!

January 1, 2014 Posted by | World | | Leave a comment

Getting Back To Normal

After yesterday’s disaster pm getting toDoncaster, which was compounded by Ipswich playing extremely well and winning three-nil, things seem to be getting back to normal.

They are dual-handed on BBC Breakfast with Naga Munchetty and Jon Kay.

Even our cricketers are doing better!

But I’ve still got a long list of things to sort out.

My e-mail and e-commerce computer has a missing R on the keyboard.  I think a USB keyboard and mouse will solve that one.

I’m typing this on my other computer, which I hate because it’s Windows 7 and Office 2010, which is just another case of fiddling and is far inferior for my purposes to Vista and Office 2007. I also hate the keyboard on this computer, as the Delete key is in the wrong place amongst many design faults. Can’t they leave well enough alone. All PCs and laptops must have the same keyboard!  It should be the law!

I’m also virtually typing in the dark, as I have this computer at the other end of the table, and Jerry’s lights are crap. I need to grow another pair of hands, so I can put the Anglepoise up at this end of the table. When I first saw this house, I said that the lights must be replaced, but short of tearing down the ceiling, no-one seems to have any idea on how to do it. Obviously, Jerry used to walk around with a miner’s helmet on.

I must hope that the plumber can get over to fix my heating system.  It’s just nineteen in here.

The humidity is up to forty six, which is better, but that is due to my little humidifier, I bought at John Lewis.  The humidifier, I hired at great expense has failed.

One of the weird things about this house is that small electrical things fail. One of my Nokia 6310i’s needed repair and the menders thought I’d dropped it in water.  I hadn’t.  The latest casualty is an expensive mouse, which seems to have given up the ghost.  It wouldn’t even let me change the battery, as it seemed to have glued itself solid. So I’m using an old fashioned USB mouse shared between my two computers.  And both have their USB ports on the left, which means the cable runs in front of me and constantly gets tangled up in my dressing gown.

Life could be worse!

December 27, 2013 Posted by | World | , | 7 Comments

Can This Christmas Get Any Worse?

Yesterday’s lunch with my son and his friends went well, but I had to come home, as I wasn’t feeling well! Nothing serious and I suspect it was just the effect of the cold dry weather, affecting my gut. I don’t think I ate any gluten, but it was as if I had. So it was alone and back to watching old Two Ronnies and Morecambe and Wise on BBC2.

To make matters worse, when I returned home, I did find that I’d left a window open, when I went out.  The house had a temperature of eighteen. At least, the open window only let the cold in.

At least, I was able to use the air conditioning to take the chill off of the temperature.  But of course, the humidifier I’d hired in to get the humidity up had failed.  Although, I’m doubtful it was ever working properly.

Why does she hate me so much? You can understand, why I feel that religion and God, herself, is so much rubbish.

I went to bed at about ten last night, as bed was the one warm place in the house.  The temperature was about 20 °C with a humidity somewhere in the low thirties.

I slept well as I always do and decided to get up at five, as I was fully awake. I thought there might be some good news on the cricket and with the air-conditioning  on, I might get the temperature up to twenty-three or so.

But of course, the news from Melbourne was its usual load of old rubbish.

And then the letter R on my e-mail computer packed up. Try typing anything sensible without that letter.  It could have been worse, as the E might have failed. So now, I’m using my other computer, which is not as easy for my one-handed typing. It also doesn’t run my preferred Windows Vista.

At six-thirty, I decided to have a hot bath. That was good, but the bathroom is stone cold, as the heating isn’t really working.

In an hour or so, I’m going to get my paper and see if I can find a nice warm cafe. Sadly, there isn’t a hotel near me with a restaurant I can trust.  Carluccio’s don’t open until eleven.

At least though, I’ve got plenty of porridge and some bacon, eggs and beans for a fry-up.  I’d love to have some sausages, but they’re all in my freezer. But would they freeze out before next weekend, if I got them out now? The nearest supplier is one of two Sainsbury stores, which open at ten. I’ll need to go to one, as I’m virtually out of gluten-free bread.

I still intend to get to Doncaster, and as I write this, I haven’t got a lift. I did think there’d be someone in the area going north with a space, so I didn’t make alternative provisions.  This would have been to book a place on the coach from Newmarket.  I can get there by taking a train to Stansted and then using a taxi.  But it is now too late to book the coach.

So if I do go, it’ll be a 113 bus to Apex Corner and then hitching up the A1.

I’m really looking forward to tomorrow and the return to some degree of normality.

Next winter, I’ll book myself into a five-star hotel on Christmas Eve. Then when it all goes pear-shaped, I’ll at least ruin the Christmas of a lot of other people.

December 26, 2013 Posted by | Food, Sport, Travel, World | , , , , | 2 Comments

My Upside Down Heating System

My heating system is proving a nightmare to get right.  On Friday the plumber found that instead of having the normally closed actuators on the valves with an M30 thread, they are normally open ones with an M28 thread.

Obviously, the originals fell of the back of a lorry somewhere in foreign parts, but they are totally incompatible with a modern heating control system. One supplier said that they were probably specially made, so they could charge a fortune for replacements.

The outcome is that there is little or no control of the temperature of the floors in my house.  They seem to remain stone cold all the time.

Although, you can get some heat into them at odd times, but I suspect that is because the sun warms the room above the temperature set on the controls. This opens the valve and it gets even hotter, when it should switch the system off.

Was this why I collapsed in the heat and ended up in hospital? The doctors don’t think so, but I’m not going to let the house repeat its attempt to kill me!

The more I find out about this house, the more I come to the conclusion, that the architect had a few good ideas, but was very short on detail and calculations, the house was built by Jerry and he used a heating engineer, who used components with a very dodgy history. But then the name of company who developed the site was called Back Street Developments. They seem to have taken the money from those who bought the houses and run, as there is no trace of the company or an NHBRC Warranty.

I’m going to change the manifolds and actuators to the standard that every other system uses.

December 25, 2013 Posted by | World | , , | 3 Comments

Are Smoke Detectors Worth It?

For the last three days, I’ve been living with the constant beep of a smoke detector every few seconds.

I thought, I only had three smoke detectors; one in the kitchen, one in my bedroom and one in the boiler room.  I check them regularly and know the beep when they need a new battery. Not that that would have helped, as I have none of the standby batteries needed, as if I do need one, I just get one from the 25 hour a day convenience store round the corner.

The builders, who put in my false ceiling in the hall, made provision for another, as this picture shows.

Provision For A Smoke Detector

Provision For A Smoke Detector

But fourteen months after they started, it’s still not finished.

I eventually traced the noise to the smoke detector intended for that ceiling, which some helpful soul had placed in the downstairs bedroom.

The Errant Detector

The Errant Detector

As I couldn’t be bothered to silence it correctly, I stuffed it under some coats in a drawer.

If I hear it again it goes in a bucket of water! What noise does a drowning smoke detector make?

So how many smoke detectors end up being silenced or removed, because they annoy the house owner or tenant. Incidentally, when I moved in this house, all were beeping like an orchestra of mice.  But that’s tenants for you and after having them for ten years this house wasn’t happy.

Smoke detectors as they are designed now are a nightmare. I’m not against them, but they should be independent of any form of changeable battery. I do wonder how many people end up in hospital, trying to put a battery in a smoke detector.

A Chief Fire Officer for Ipswich once told me, that they put smoke detectors in all the Council’s housing stock.  But within six months none worked, as the kids had had the batteries for their toys and games machines.

December 25, 2013 Posted by | World | , | 1 Comment

Mugged In My Own Shower Room

Ever since I moved into this house, I’ve moaned about the bathrooms. The en-suite shower room of my bedroom has got a lot of my anger, as every other time I clean my teeth, I bump my head on the cabinet above the basin.

Last night, as I went to bed, the awful cabinet bit back. I’d needed a new toilet roll and as one does, I keep them in the bathroom cabinet.  But the catch is not the most reliable of devices and as I rose from the toilet, the door caught me on the head.

It only managed to extract a very small spot of blood.

My head has a very thick skull, but this morning, I do have a wound and a small amount of pain there.

It could have been a lot worse.

It’s another piece of bad workmanship and/or design to blame on Jerry.

I wonder if RIBA have a worst building prize.

December 20, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , , | 1 Comment

Another Advantage Of My New Plumbing

I’ve just read the meter readings for the switchover to Ovo.

Before the new plumbing was installed, the electricity meter was half hidden behind the washing machine and to be read properly needed a step ladder.

Now I just walk into the cupboard, switch the light on and read the meter at eye level.

How did Jerry manage to get so many things wrong?

The readings I’ve submitted are 33235 and 0778257 for electricity and gas respectively.

Incidentally, this supplier changeover seems to be taking forever.  I assume this has been designed into the system, to discourage people from changing. After all, if you could change instantly, that would drive prices down.  I said why here.

December 15, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment


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