Sunday, 29 August 2010

Signs of Ageing

There's a process to ageing, a certain kind of rhythm. The obvious signs are all very well: the grey hairs, the lines around the eyes, the creaking knees. These are kind of expected; predictable, easier (by some measure) to tolerate.

But it's the unexpected signs of ageing that stand out the most. Like hearing oneself say:

"I think I'll get these. They're the best fitting gardening gloves I've ever found." 
Ah, me.

Friday, 27 August 2010

When "Finest" Sandwiches Aren't

The label rather proudly proclaims that
"All Finest sandwiches are made by hand"
...which means that others are made how, exactly?

Horrible, just horrible.

My definition of a good sandwich, let alone one to which I could apply the superlative, is one that I don't have to smother with English mustard in order for it to taste of something, anything.

If "Finest" sandwiches are this poor, what does that mean for the rest?

Monday, 9 August 2010

DIY: Changing a Washbasin (and a Personal Best)

I am not the King of DIY, as we have established previously.

So why did I agree to change the washbasin in our shower room?  Why did I let myself be persuaded that it would be a relatively simple job? For starters, it's a plumbing job; the most challenging kind for those of a non-DIY persuasion, given the chance of broken pipes, localised flooding, and water damage. Plumbing is scary.

So before I agreed to the job, before we even ordered the new washbasin, I rang a Capable Friend, and asked if it was a job that I - me, the absolute not-king of DIY - could do.

He assured me that it was, estimating that a couple of hours would be required. He even talked me through the basic steps; it seemed very straightforward. I thanked him for his counsel.

So we bought the new basin, and matching pedestal. We bought new taps to go with it. I researched the task, made the initial Purchase of Necessary Tools long before the planned start date. I practised visualisation and relaxation techniques. When the appointed day came, I was calm. Prepared.

Removal of the old basin was trivial and quickly achieved; a few screws, some isolator valves, and it was done. My elation was without bounds. After a few minutes, the job was already half complete!

I congratulated myself quietly. After all, destruction is always faster than construction. But I was buoyed by my success as I turned to the second stage of the work.

And - of course! - when it came to fitting the new basin, I discovered that the pipework could not simply be connected to the new basin as my Capable Friend had suggested. Some cutting of copper water pipes (Flood alert! Beware!) was required. And the waste outlet - the waste was not a matter of fitting a new one, oh no. The three or four different types and fittings I tried simply did not fit, would not fit; could not be made to fit. One was the wrong size (a novice mistake); another the wrong shape for the pedestal fitting. A third would not fit the existing configuration of pipework (which I did not want to alter for fear of enlarging the job and, consequently, the risk of Major Damage).

In the event, it took me several hours, on three or four separate occasions, over a period of more than a week, to complete the job. In all, I made five visits to various DIY stores to complete this job (including the initial Purchase of Necessaries before I began the task). Five visits; a personal best for a DIY (or should that be DIM*?) task.

I'll need to make another trip to return the bits I bought and didn't need.

Oh, plus the two consultations with the Capable Friend (one on the telephone, one a personal visit). And the loan of his tools, without which the job would have floundered.

It does look rather nice in the room, though. And there were no leaks, floods or spillages during the process, nor any since. Which is something of a result. But I'm not expecting to be wearing a crown any time soon.

*DIM = Doing It Myself