Category Archives: General DIY

Wills’ Cigarette Cards No 10: Making a Dog Kennel


Filed under General DIY, Household Hints, Slider, Wills Cigarette Cards

Wills’ Cigarette Cards No. 9: Distempering

Distemper may seem a somewhat outmoded decorative option, but anyone who has an old property will undoubtedly have come across it.  Also, anyone who is involved in conservation will be familiar with it, as well as lime mortar.  However, this is entirely separate from the veterinary condition and under no circumstances must you attempt to paint your dog, however shabby his appearance.
For more information on distemper and lime mortar click on Building


Filed under General DIY, History, Household Hints, Wills Cigarette Cards

Horror and achievement in equal quantities

Yesterday was a funny old day.  Despite several urgent administrative matters which reared their heads in the morning, I managed to complete my entire list of things to do, except the shelves.  These were not done because I ran out of red rawl plugs and I was buggered if I was going to drive five miles just to get some more – the TP  round the corner only sells them in batches of 20,000.

After I had done my jobs in the hall, I got the vacuum out to clean the carpets.  Because we are still hauling boxes and moving furniture, I have left a piece of off-cut carpet in the hall so the real carpet doesn’t get dirty.  I vacuumed the top and then lifted it up to vacuum underneath.

To my horror, the underside was absolutely crawling with maggots.  After the shock had worn off,  I tried to work out where they’d come from.  The carpet off-cut was relatively new and I had vacuumed under it recently, so it couldn’t be the carpet.  I checked for any rogue food which the boys might have dropped but there was nothing.

Then it dawned on me.  Last week we had very heavy rain and something organic and dead had been washed out of the gutter and, as I went out of the front door that night, the whole of the front step was covered with maggots.  I had poured boiling water on them and swept them up the next morning, but  clearly, some of them had got inside and snuggled up under my carpet.  Yuk. I would even go so far as to say ‘Eeooow’ in that slightly affected way of the Californian teenage girl.

I cleared up and carried on with my tasks.  Hooks were hung, steps were scrubbed, windows cleaned, ‘phone calls made, Boy the Younger was collected from school. I then went out to pick up Boy the Elder from the bus stop.  It’s only a ten minute drive and the first part is along a narrow road where one has to drive slowly because of parked cars.  20-25mph is about as fast as you can go.

As I came round a wide bend, I saw a group of little girls standing at the side of the road.  I slowed down a bit more, just in case, but they saw me and stepped back from the kerb.  Then, just before I drew level with the girls, two of them suddenly made a dash for it and ran straight out in front of my car.

I slammed on the brakes and literally, and I mean literally, stopped short of  the girl at the back by about four inches.  I stopped the car and got out, shaking.  Both sets of girls were stock still at the side of the road, obviously terrified that I was going to give them a bollocking.

I didn’t shout.  I checked that they were ok and then gave them a very serious but gentle lecture about crossing the road and how important it is to look both ways, twice, before crossing the road, looking and listening all the time.  The girls who didn’t cross were very upset and full of apologies.  The girl who I nearly hit just kept saying “I didn’t see you, I didn’t see you”.  Absolutely horrible.

I had a dear friend once who accidentally killed someone in a car and he never got over it.  He was driving down a main road and he saw a car coming out of a gateway and he slowed down just in case it pulled out.  The other driver saw him and pulled back.  But then, inexplicably, just as my friend was about to drive past, the car pulled out at speed and my friend ploughed into the driver’s side killing him instantly.  Fortunately the little girl who was in the passenger seat was unharmed.  My friend developed a crippling stammer which never left him.

Drive safely all of you.  And clean out your guttering.


Filed under Children, Cleaning, Family and Friends, General DIY, Life in general, Transport

Ticking off jobs on the ‘Things to Do’ list

I’m afraid I can’t provide you with anything devastatingly intellectual or life-changingly useful on the domestic front today because I am too busy.  I have a clear day and I’m going to mop up as many of the little DIY and organizational jobs that are playing on my mind as I can.

My short-term memory is appalling and, unless I have a list, or a Filofax entry, I don’t have a clue what I’m doing, when I need to do it or to whom.  I therefore have a paper list, which is updated at least weekly, which has four columns; Priority, Area of Life (ie home, school, Wartime Housewife, other work etc), Item and Date Done.

This keeps me on the straight and narrow and also allows me to cross off ‘X’ amount of jobs before I allow myself to do something nice, like have a tea break or watch ‘Doctors’ at lunch time.  It also means that if I’m really steaming ahead, the jobs that have been wallowing on the list for some time, start to float to the top.  The list is currently 1 ½ sides of A4.  But I did get the table and chairs built for my kitchen yesterday, so no more porridge on the dining room carpet.

Therefore, when I have dropped the boys off at school, my jobs will be as follows:-

  • Put up hat racks in the hall so I can empty the bag of hats that is sitting in the dining room
  • Put up a key rack in the hall so I stop screaming for my keys every time I go out
  • Put up a shelf in Boy the Elder’s room so that he doesn’t leave his schoolbooks in tottering piles in the sitting room
  • Put up a bracket for the ironing board  in The Bunker(after all it’s rarely going to be used)
  • Buy a curtain pole and put it up at the dining room window so that the curtains are no longer sitting in a pile in the dining room
  • Clean the window in The Bunker as it’s half underground and covered in crap
  • Make a hair appointment as I haven’t been to the hairdressers for nearly two years.
  • Take the new ‘British Pigs’ review to my local bookshop for a bit of mutual PR

And by the by, what bastard thought putting ‘Downton Abbey’ on at the same time as ‘Spooks’ on a Sunday night was a good idea?  Luckily, ‘Spooks’ is going to be repeated tonight at 11.10pm.  And wasn’t Downton Abbey a cracker last night – talk about starting the series with a bang.


Filed under General DIY, Life in general, The Wartime Housewife Blog

My unexpectedly flat-packed table and chairs: some tips on home assembly

Tips on home assembly of flat-packed furniture.

My new house is bigger and generally of a different layout to my old house and, therefore, the furniture, shelving and storage needs are different as well.  I am blessed with a kitchen just big enough to have a table and chairs in it and on Sunday afternoon I hot-footed it into Kettering Argos and purchased a small pine table and four chairs.I was slightly taken aback when two flat boxes appeared on the conveyor belt, but I had ordered them and it was the cheapest set I had found, so I wrestled them manfully into the car.  I arrived home with the enormous boxes and took them into the kitchen.  I peeped gingerly inside.

Oh my God.  Four hundred and eighty thousand pieces of cut and drilled timber, screws, bolts, washers, dowels, brackets.  I may even have seen a floral oilcloth, a vase of flowers and a kitten but I may have been hallucinating by this time.  I was expecting to have to put the legs on the table, but I genuinely was not expecting to have to carve the bloody chairs out of pine tree trunks which I had cut down myself whilst whistling The Lumberjack Song and eating a Yorkie.  No, no not the little dog you ghastly people (the hairs gets stuck in your teeth for one thing).

This afternoon I rolled up my sleeves, READ THE INSTRUCTION LEAFLET and began to remove the pieces from their packaging.  I am a methodical person so I laid all the wooden pieces and the associated ironmongery out on the floor in their groups; 4 x legs, 1 x tabletop, 4 x brackets, 8 x bolts etc.  I then counted out all the small fixings and placed them into ramekin dishes and bowls.  Next, the tools needed for the job were laid out on the worktop with the precision of a Harley Street Surgeon; “Allen key, small hammer, tape measure, screwdriver – no NOT a flathead, Nurse, for heavens’ sake where DID you do your training!” I barked to myself (barking, I suspect, being the operative word).

I soon had the table up and very nice it looks too.  The chairs are tomorrow afternoon’s little project.

It’s very important not to be intimidated by a flat-pack.  Nine times out of ten, all the pieces are there and the instructions are relatively clear.  It is sometimes necessary to substitute your own screws, particularly with shelving units as the screws provided are nearly always of inferior quality. But with furniture, it ultimately boils down to reading the instructions and being orderly in your conduct.  I also often use my own socket set rather than the miniature spanner provided as this will usually offer more leverage for manual tightening.

  • Lay all the pieces out and check them carefully
  • Place small items such as screws or dowels into bowls to stop them getting lost
  • Make sure you have the correct tools to do the job
  • Make sure you have left yourself enough time to complete whole elements of the job, eg the table or a whole chair, otherwise bits may get lost or you just irritate everyone because you’ve left things lying around
  • If you are easily irritated, try to be alone in the house when attempting an assembly.  This way no-one gets hurt
  • Read the instructions carefully before you start
  • Look at the photograph of the thing you are going to build so that you understand what it should look like when you’ve finished.  This avoids a Dali-esque item which, although perfect for draping soft boiled beans over, serves no functional purpose and will almost certainly not be displayed in The Tate

Failing that, many handy-persons now advertise that they will assemble flat-pack furniture for you for a hefty remuneration.  Whilst this undoubtedly stimulates the local economy, your first duty is to yourself and with petrol now marginally more expensive than ground unicorn horn and bread at £47 per slice, I would advise you to do as much for yourself as you are able in the interests of domestic economy.

This time tomorrow I shall be sitting on a solid and reliable pine chair.  Hurrah!


Filed under General DIY

Heartily sick of DIY (or how sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a relentless Black & Decker)

Tool Academy

The Wartime Housewife?  Tired of Doing it Herself?  This can’t possibly be true!

But, friends, Romans and countrymen, it is true.  For the last five years, all I have done is put up curtain rails, shelves, cabinets and racks, assembled furniture and applied locks and bolts to various doors.

This has been closely followed by taking down curtain rails, shelves, cabinets and racks, disassembled furniture, and the buying and fitting of new locks and bolts.

Not long afterwards I begin putting up more curtain rails, shelves … you get the picture.

I have always been grateful that I not only have the skill and the will to do these things but that I also have decent tools – to say nothing of the finest set of chisels that money can buy (one of my best birthday presents ever) – but, as of today, the novelty has absolutely, categorically worn off.

Today I have:
put up two curtain rails and put up curtains
applied a bolt to the bathroom door
sorted through and relinquished the entire contents of the airing cupboard and relocated them
sorted through all my tools and DIY accoutrements, put them into labelled baskets &  thence into the shed
sorted through all my curtains and packed away the ones that can’t be used
changed the beds
put some things in the loft (I have a huge loft – hurrah!)
done two loads of washing

… and in between that, cooked meals, been to work, tidied the sitting room, sewn half a dozen name tags and broken up two fights.  And the bloody cat ate all the ham out of our sandwiches at lunchtime.

If I never see my tool box again, it will be too soon….

Oh my lore my blimey; I haven’t put any pictures up yet. Now where did I put that hammer….

The Wartime Housewife falls forward onto the kitchen table, a single lightbulb illuminating her floral pinny damp with pitiful tears as the tumble-dryer provides a fitting Bennett-esque musical motif.  She blows wind and cracks her cheeks.  Exeunt all pursued by a bear etc etc.  The curtain falls.


Filed under General DIY, Life in general

A solution to the problem of lost chargers: a Charging Station

Thousands of electrical things in our house need charging rather than replacing batteries, seemingly on an hourly basis.  Although I attach little white labels with the name of the appliance to which they belong onto all my stuff, the boys shuffle, weeping, around the house looking for the chargers for NDSs, cameras, ‘phones, video players and, if things have gone really critical, toothbrushes.

I have solved the problem.  I have erected two shelves just outside The Bunker, next to the electric sockets and have run two long extension boards to each shelf.  Into these I have plugged the chargers (which I have carefully labelled).  When anyone needs to charge something, they bring it down to the cellar and just plug it in.

There is the danger that they may wilfully attempt to use the appliance whilst it’s charging (not the ‘phones of course children, as using a ‘phone whilst it’s charging will fry your brain).  In which case, if they then lose said charger, they have only themselves to blame.

I, however, will never lose sight of a charger again.  She said smugly.


Filed under General DIY, Household Hints

Bicycle, bicycle, bicycle, bicycle … rack

A splendid summer evening

Yesterday evening the boys went to Pitsford with the Scouts for the annual 7-mile cycle round the reservoir followed by a barbecue.  Until recently, the boys’ bikes have been small enough to get both of them into the boot of the car, but they will persist in getting taller, and Boy the Elder’s bike is now bigger than mine.  I was forced to buy a bike rack.

A couple of months ago I bought a large tent in the sales and a bike rack, with the intention of attempting a brief camping trip with our bicycles in the summer holidays.  I hate camping with a passion I find hard to express, but I figured that if I had a tent I could actually stand up in and a covered area for cooking if it rained, it would be marginally more tolerable.

Naturally, there is always a part of me which is utterly convinced that our holiday will be like a Famous Five novel, pedalling gaily down country lanes, picnicking on sardines, heaps of tomatoes and ginger beer.  We will then retire, tired but happy, to our tents pausing only to climb into crisp winceyette pyjamas before sleeping the sleep of the innocent.  Will it bollocks.  But I digress…

I had forgotten about the bike ride and, just as it started to rain, I realised that I needed to assemble the damned bike rack.  I opened the box and pulled out a large piece of metal and a couple of bags of straps and metal bits, which I laid out neatly on the grass by the car.

I have never owned a bike rack, and because I haven’t needed one, I haven’t paid the slightest attention to the assemblage of such items on the cars of others.  I instructed the boys to go far away from me, with the gravest of threats should they utter a single sound, and set to work.

I always read instruction booklets and never fail to be amazed at how easy it is to do things when you already know how to bloody do them!  I dutifully followed the booklet, step by step, strap by strap, ratchet by ratchet.  Then I undid all the straps and re-assembled them in the correct wotsanames.  I turned grippy things with one hand whilst trying to balance an unwieldy array of metal tubing exactly two inches above my bumper, whilst avoiding another metal tube which hovered exactly one inch in front of my right eye..

Having finally got the rack in the right position with all the metal sticking out at the correct angles, I crawled under the car in search of a hole in which to hook the bottom straps.  I drive a 12-year old, hag-ridden Ford Escort which I have decorated to look a bit like a Spitfire – the underside is not a pretty sight, particularly on a muddy, stony track, just as it has started to rain.

In all honesty,  neither was I a pretty sight by this time; dirty from the proximity to my car, sweaty with exertion, my long skirt tucked into my knickers, my wet hair plastered to my head and now covered in mud and gravel from crawling under a pseudo-Spitfire.  But England wasn’t built on glamour and competence! No sir!

After an hour of swearing, cursing and ratcheting, the thing was done, the bikes were strapped on and we were going to be 20 minutes late.  I had no time to change my clothes and we headed for Pitsford.  As the rain became increasingly torrential, badgers and rabbits started appearing in the hedgerows in pairs, holding paws and looking expectantly at the rising puddles.

I parked the car and the boys set off at top speed to catch up with the others.  I squelched across the car park in strappy sandals, my rain sodden skirt clinging to my legs in the fashion of an unpleasantly mis-shapen mermaid.

‘At least there’ll be hot dogs’ I thought, but the barbecue was wet and the Scout Leader was manfully erecting a tent in a desperate attempt to bring the spitting, smoking pile of charcoal under canvass.  I stood sullenly with damp, corned-beef arms wrapped around my dripping torso in a futile attempt to fend off certain consumption and probable mildew of the extremeties.

Eventually, thanks to the good spirits and efforts of other people, the barbecue was lit and the heavenly scent of sausages and burgers wafted through the air, just as my boys hove into view.  Boy the Younger claimed to have had a heart attack half way round and Boy the Elder had torn his trousers.  Despite my misery, I was terribly proud of Boy the Younger who has never cycled 7 miles in one go before, and I patted his soggy head and wiped the rain from his little pale cheeks as he munched on his hotdog.

‘Enough of this,’ I said ‘I’m going home, and if you want hot cocoa you had better come at once.’  They jumped into the car whilst I wrestled the bikes back onto the rack.  We drove home with all haste, wipers struggling to hold back the rain and narrowly avoiding a large wooden boat parked at the side of the A508, small animals gratefully ascending the gang plank…


Filed under Children, General DIY, Leisure, Outdoor Activities, Wildlife

Coming soon…

I’m really sorry that I’m being so shoddy about my postings at the moment.    I am trying, but I have so much to do in order to make the impending move as painless as possible that my mind is full and my hands are dirty.  Would that it was the other way round.

I was researching an article for you yesterday morning,  but A Man came round to mend the broken window pane in my front door.  Boy the Younger had found a piece of wrought iron, which Boy the Elder had found and kept because he liked the shape.  Boy the Elder made one sarcastic comment too many, so Boy the Younger hurled said piece of iron down the stairs, narrowly failing to inflict serious head injuries on his brother, but absolutely succeeding in smashing through the front door.  I would usually repair a broken window myself, but there was beading involved and I have so much to do at the moment, that I called in a local professional, thus supporting the local economy.  The window took half an hour, the stories about his daughter took considerably longer.

I was going to finish and write up the article last night but … well … I fell asleep in my comfy wing-backed armchair, with little Jeremiah snuggled up in my arms.  By the time I woke up it was time for bed.  Said Zebedee.


Filed under Children, General DIY, Life in general

Wills’ Cigarette Cards No 6: Whitening a ceiling


Filed under Cleaning, General DIY, Household Hints, Wills Cigarette Cards

How to change a tyre on your car

This morning I got a puncture on a country road and was obliged to change the wheel myself.  It was full of screws, so huge thanks to whoever left those at the roadside –  I was wondering what to do with that sixty quid.

No-one is born knowing how to change a tyre, put up a shelf or plumb in a washing machine and men do not have this information encoded in their brain stems.  We have to learn how to do them and, by learning how to do these things, we are empowered and leave ourselves fractionally less vulnerable to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune.

The jack - The flat plate goes on the ground, the grooved plate grips the sill

Before you find yourself in trouble, you need to pull up the carpet in your boot and identify what’s under there. (In some cars the wheel may be elsewhere – you still need to familiarise yourself.)  There should be the spare wheel, a wheel brace (a socket on a stick), perhaps some other small tools and a jack to lift the car up so the wheel can be removed safely.  Some wheels have a lockable trim and you must make sure that you have the little tool for this at all times otherwise even a mechanic will have trouble getting the wheel off.

Extendable wheel wrench

Also familiarise yourself with the jacking points on your car.  These are strengthened points on the sills near to the wheels where you apply the jack when raising the car clear of the ground.  This information will be in your handbook, which should be in the car at all times.

Even if you know how to change a wheel, one of the biggest problems is having the physical strength to get the wheel nuts off and sufficiently tightened again.  If you get tyres replaced at a garage, the chances are that the wheel nuts have been tightened with a machine and even a strong bloke will struggle with this.

The tool to remove the wheel trims may look like this

I managed to get two nuts off but the other two were stuck fast.  Fortunately, I had a length of metal pipe in the back of the car which I slipped on to the end of the wheel brace, which gave me the extra leverage to loosen the nuts.  Once those were off it was plain sailing. I have just bought myself an extendable wheel brace. Why suffer?

Once you have familiarised yourself with the contents of the boot, you should always carry these additional things:-


  • An extendable wheel brace which has an extra long arm to give more leverage, and only costs about £11, but failing that
  • A decent socket set – wheel braces wear out like any other tool
  • A length of metal pipe which will fit over the end of your wheel brace or socket handle to give extra leverage
  • A small foam kneeler – the pain of kneeling on a gravel road is excruciating and soul destroying
  • A warning triangle – so other vehicles will give you a wide berth or even, if you’re lucky, stop and offer assistance



  • Make sure that you are in a safe place – drive slowly to a lay-by or gateway if you can
  • Park on firm, level ground if at all possible
  • Put on your hazard warning lights and erect the warning triangle if you have one
  • Put on your handbrake and put the car in First or Reverse gear – this is so that if the brake fails the car will stall and stop, rather than running you over and killing you.

Removing the Wheel:

  • Remove the wheel trim (if applicable) using the special key (if it needs one)
  • Just loosen each wheel nut, by about half a turn, using the wheel brace
  • Place the jack head underneath the reinforced jacking point nearest to the wheel you are going to replace
  • Make sure that the base of the jack is as stable as it can be, then turn the jack handle clockwise until the wheel is raised clear of the ground
  • Unscrew the wheel nuts in this order:  left, right, bottom, top and put them in a safe place
  • Remove the wheel
  • Fit the spare wheel and lightly tighten the nuts with the wheel brace
  • Remove the jack by turning the handle anti-clockwise thus lowering the car gently to the ground
  • Now really tighten the wheel nuts in this order:  top, bottom, left, right – using the wheel brace
  • Replace the damaged tyre, tools and wheel trim back in the boot


Get to a garage as soon as you can to replace the tyre, check the tyre pressure and have the nuts tightened to the correct torque for your vehicle.

Wash your hands and make yourself a cuppa.
Never underestimate a cup of tea and a custard cream


Filed under General DIY

Wills’ Cigarette Cards No 3: A Broom Rack


Filed under General DIY, History, Household Hints, Wills Cigarette Cards

Out of an old sewing machine came forth a kindling box

Our homes should be places where we can be expressive of who we are.  Even if we can’t afford the furniture or paintings we would like, we can always make comfortable compromises by putting an attractive throw and bright cushions over a tatty sofa or, as I do, photocopy pictures of paintings (in high resolution) that I love and frame them.

As I have said before, I am deeply uncomfortable and perplexed when I go into a house where everything is white and there are no books or pictures, precious few ornaments or fol-de-rols and no clues as to the identity of the inhabitant. 

The ability to make things oneself comes in so useful, particularly when money is shortUsing up old materials to make new things is not only deeply satisfying; it makes your house more individual and exciting but also means fewer  items going to the tip.  For good examples of this, you need only visit Sue at the Quince Tree or The Vintage Knitter to see the lovely things they do.

As usual for a Sunday, I was wandering around the Market Harborough Antique Market and spotted an interesting looking box, half under the table of a stall that I frequent.  It was a slightly unusual shape and it drew my eye, something about the shape nagging at the back of my mind.  The vendor had put a few small logs in it and I thought “What a super, neat little box for kindling”.  I’m currently using an old straw bag for kindling which does the trick but it looks untidy and just ‘not right’. 

The cover off an old sewing machine

I asked what price she had on it and immediately beat her down a few quid.  It turned out to be the lid off an old Singer sewing machine.  How completely perfect.

which became a kindling box

I am the owner of four sewing machines; an 1890s treadle, a 1910 flower-enamelled Singer, a miniature 1950s Sew-ette and a fancy new modern jobby that goes shopping for its own bobbins and advises you on your colour schemes.

Everything in your home should tell a story – your story.  So make it an adventure.


Filed under Collecting, Decorative, fashion, General DIY, Re-use Recycle

More cold weather tips

In January of this year I wrote an article telling you how to double glaze your windows for about £1.50.  I also gave you Andy & Teddy’s Guide to Cold Weather Clothing and I would urge you to re-read both these articles as I think we’re in for the long haul. 
There are also a few more tips in Not Enough Thermals in the World.

At the time of writing these articles, I was living in the house across the road which was positively tropical compared to this one.  Last night I decided to have a bath.  My bathroom has no heating other than a small fan heater on the wall which cuts out after eight minutes.  I ran a bath that was as hot as I could possibly bear without actually taking my skin off and, at 11o’clock precisely I jumped in.  By 11.10 it was lukewarm and I was in that horrible dilemma of being miserable in the bath but being unable to bear the consequences of actually getting out.

So here are some more general tips for dealing with the cold and keeping your bills down.


  • Keep all interior doors shut
  • Only heat the rooms you are actually using and keep curtains closed whenever you can
  • Put thick curtains across outside doors to keep out draughts
  • Stop using any outside doors that you don’t need to.  Tape up others with masking tape to keep out draughts
  • If you have dripping taps, get the washers fixed or your pipes will freeze.  If you have overflow drains, put the plugs in sinks and basins as a further precaution.
  • If your water tank is insufficiently lagged, you may be able to get a grant from the council (also for loft insulation).  Failing this wrap the tank in old towels or jumpers – anything to stop the heat escaping.
  • Make sure you have some camping stoves with spare gas bottles and plenty of tinned food – there could be power cuts
  • Keep your calories up for your own internal central heating.  Make sure children have a good breakfast before they go to school and that they drink plenty – dehydration happens in cold as well as heat
  • Oil filled and oil free radiators and halogen heaters are very cheap to run and are a useful boost in a cold room


  • If there is heavy snow about, keep your journeys to a minimum – coffee with a friend is not an essential journey
  • Keep an emergency pack in the car at all times with blankets, first aid kit, cereal bars and, if you’re going on a longer journey, a thermos of hot tea or cocoa
  • If the road is white, it is likely to be slippery.  Drive slowly and if you have to brake, pump the brake in light short bursts.  If you have to brake suddenly and start to skid, take your feet off all pedals and steer into the skid.   This may seem obvious, but if you saw some of the mothers at school …
  • Always, always have your mobile ‘phone switched on and topped up

Wider Community

  • Please check on your elderly neighbours or relatives – don’t assume someone else is doing it.  They might be stranded and need some shopping but they might also just need some company – if they can’t go out they could go for days without seeing another person.  Make sure they have their heating on.
  • Get together with your neighbours and shovel snow if your street is icy.
  • Make sure that you know the procedures for if your schools or businesses are closed.  It would be ghastly to take an hour to get to school only to find no-one else there
  • If you have friends with 4×4’s consider lift sharing and chip in with the petrol

However, I am sitting in an unheated room and my hands have stopped working.  This is how much I love you.  I also have to clean the bathroom and kitchen as a plumber is coming at 8am to fix my dripping taps.  It’s amazing what the landlord will do when you refuse to pay your rent until basic maintenance is done.

Yours in thermals



Filed under Family and Friends, General DIY, Household Hints, Life in general

Hard at it

This weekend has been nothing if not productive.  I, and to a lesser extent The Boys, knuckled down to some serious house tidying, organizing and DIY.  The new house is significantly smaller and less well appointed than my former residence, despite having one more bedroom, and it therefore takes skill and imagination to fit all our stuff in.

Now before any smart-arse suggests that I should get rid of my stuff, I would like to point out that I have been downsizing for the past three and a half years.  I am a fascinating person with lots of interests and I therefore possess the accoutrements necessary to service those interests. Nothing more can go.  Glad to have cleared that up.

The important thing to remember about DIY is that no-one, not even boys, are born with the God given knowledge of  how to do things.  We have to be taught, or in my case, buy a book on it.  Unless you can afford to pay someone, it’s important to learn to Do It Yourself.  There’s no mystery and the only barrier to a woman handling a Black and Decker*, Sigourney Weaver style, is the possible lack of physical strength.

So this weekend Matthew, we have:-

  • Put up 4 big shelves with metal brackets in crumbling, crappy walls
  • Unpacked 6 boxes of books to put on the shelves
  • Completely tidied Boy the Elder’s room
  • Hung 6 pictures
  • Put up 1  bathroom cabinet
  • Put up one 1 loo roll holder
  • Removed a defunct shower bracket and filled the holes
  • Put up 6 candle sconces and a Green Man
  • Established a system of large cuphooks screwed into a lower shelf for the hanging of brushes and flannels
  • Unpacked 2 boxes of ornaments and bathroom stuff and placed them appropriately
  • Washed and replaced all the cushion covers in the sitting room
  • Hung 3 mirrors with plates (smashed the largest and best one – wobbly moment)
  • Half tidied Boy the Younger’s room, which had never actually had any boxes unpacked and had therefore been totally trashed before a single toy box made it to the shelves

…and in between that, broken up almost continuous fights, shopped, cooked, serviced the blog and even made it to Evensong.  Fish and chips tonight though.  Lovely.

Still to be done:

  • 1 kitchen cabinet – never done one of these before so that’ll be interesting
  • Re-organise kitchen contents to utilize new cupboard
  • 6 more pictures
  • Repair Boy the Younger’s curtain rail and re-hook and -hang the curtains after they pulled them down whilst makes a jungle shelter
  • Filing – huge pile
  • Mend large gouge in the landing wall which the previous occupants gouged with a bed frame
  • Re-hang the sitting room door
  • Gouge out badly done and therefore repellant sealant and grouting from bathroom tiles and re-do

Round of applause please.

* other makes of power tool are, of course,  available


Filed under General DIY