Don’t Panic

Before going out yesterday we set up the Christmas tree in anticipation of decorating it today. That was not to be.

We had to decant it into the garden.

Upon reflection it is a good thing that I was up at 6 a.m. this morning. Upon an early doorbell ringing I unlocked the front door to find the cheery face of Connor from Crestwood who had laid our kitchen floor at the beginning of 2018. He was here to lay a new sitting room floor. No-one had told us to expect him. He was to take three days over the work. My first thought was

The next hour or so was spent trying to create clear areas for our craftsman to make a start.

My desk area in the hall gradually filled up; there was more to add after this; the kitchen and the stairs collected smaller items. Ascending the latter will be an assault course this evening, and there is no room to sit at the dining table

Connor moved the sofas. In the bottom right corner of this photograph can be seen the barcode on a random bit of beading which is a common feature of the work done by our predecessors.

Dismantling the wiring to our various internet devices was a major problem. Opining that I felt I was about to negotiate Birmingham in a car, I observed with phenomenal sang froid that I did not know how I was going to get it all back together again. For those who are not familiar with the so-called Spaghetti Junction of roads that surrounds that city this was a reference Connor well understood, having been there a couple of times.


He rather sensibly suggested that I should photograph all these

If these photographs are a little topsy-turvy that is because I didn’t know whether I was on my head or my heels. Please don’t look too closely at all the fluff.


What are the chances that this will make any sense to me in three days time?

Connor, on the other hand, knows exactly what he is doing. He began by taking up the old flooring;

then cutting sheets of ply to shape

and tacking it to the original floorboards

which, carefully applying a spirit level was covered with a screed which was then blown dry.

After lunch, having moved the sofas again he was ready to start on the other half of the room,

which he did with careful measuring.

There is only one thing to do when your kitchen is full of extraneous furniture and its table covered in nick-nacks. This evening we did it and dined at The ever friendly Wheel Inn. Jackie’s main course was a creamy mushroom and tomato linguin, followed by créme bruléei; mine was rib-eye steak, perfectly cooked medium rare as requested, chips, mushroom, tomato, and onion rings, followed by bread and butter pudding and custard. Mrs Knight drank Kaltenberg and I drank Ringwoods Best.




Let There Be Light 2

Last night, while just a few of us were still awake and beginning to tidy the kitchen, the lights went out. Quick as a flash, a still lively Poppy, dashed upstairs crying “I’ll get my Daddy. He’ll fix it.” She woke him. He said he’d deal with it in the morning.

True to his word, he did. Except that it took most of the day.

There are a lot of light switches and individual bulbs that needed to be checked, with constant trips to and from the fuse box in the hall. All were in good working order. Eventually our son discovered that the problem had arisen somewhere in the lights around the outside of the back of the house. He thought he would try the switch first. This entailed shopping at Christchurch for a replacement.

There was nothing wrong with the switch.

Matthew then examined and tested all the lights. There was nothing wrong with them. Observant readers will notice that we still have geraniums in hanging baskets.

The next possibility was the wiring between the switch inside the house and the lights outside. Eureka! The expert pointed out that the live wire had been exposed and water had dripped from this to the uncovered earth below. We have hardly ever used these lights, but did so last night because some our visitors had parked on the back drive.

Early this evening Ian, Jackie, and I repaired to The Royal Oak for a drink, some time later to be joined by Matthew, Becky, Tess, and Poppy who had visited the Byron Road Christmas lights. Having drunk Razor Back there, I, as did Tess, abstained from alcohol with dinner, which consisted of Jackie’s splendid lamb jalfrezi with savoury rice. The others drank Senza Tempo Pino Grigio.

Snow On The Eucalyptus


By the time Jackie and I returned from the forest yesterday evening, Richard had fitted


all the smooth-running drawers

Sink and draining board

and splash trims to the worktops. I had planned to photograph these before he arrived this morning, but I overslept, so I got in his way again.

Wadding under shelf

At top left of the above picture can be seen the new oak windowsill, under which wadding has been applied.

This had been the site of the old kitchen sink. Our friend decided to lower the power points now half way up the wall, and to fit new skirting board.

Other electrical work included the fitting of strip lighting. The first two of these pictures shows the wiring of the larder cupboard with Richard pressing the switch which will be operated by the opening and closing of the door. Beneath the materials in the cupboard can be seen the quartz base to the food store. The electrician holds a reel of LED lights from which he cuts a suitable length. The last of these pictures is the strip over the long worktop.

Yesterday, in describing the core cutting for the extractor fan ducting I did not give enough emphasis to the fact that both these holes were cut through solid concrete blocks en route to the new outside wall.

The first cut, through the wall above the hobs, takes us into what was the garage.

Extractor fan casing

Later, Richard made a casing for the extractor.

On the front drive, beyond Richard wielding the saw, can be seen the cold dry cotton balls that fell from the sky whilst he was thus engaged. Viewing the first picture above full size in the gallery will show that the ice in the Waterboy’s shell has only been disturbed by the running flow. I wonder how many eucalypts, like that in the third image, have gathered a coating of snow.

This evening, the management having changed, we dined at The Royal Oak, just two buildings away. The new team have only been in occupation 5 days, so it was quite quiet. A new, much more tasteful, ambience has been created. Service and food were very good. I enjoyed a rib eye steak, cooked exactly as I asked; Jackie was equally pleased with her gammon steak. She drank Amstel, and I drank Ringwood’s Forty-niner.

That’s The Way To Do It


I spent much of the day trying not to hamper Richard while he continued to work on cupboards.

In the corner to the left of the old fireplace hung a non-functioning extractor fan. Planning to install a functioning fan in a different position, and having fitted cables for the cooking appliances, Richard set about preparing the wall for a cupboard.

The next step was to prepare a back for the cupboard. First, with the aid of his scribing block, this panel was to be made snugly to fit the slightly wavy line of the wall. In the last of these photographs, Richard explains the purpose of this little square of wood enabling him to pencil the exact route following the wall onto the pliable template panel.

I then learned how this little block could be used to transfer the precise line onto the final panel.

Clamps had been applied to prevent excessive movement at the early stages of the process. Note that plumbing has been attached to the underside of the sink.

The sheet was then cut with equal precision with an angled saw. The craftsman wore his mask to prevent his breathing in the flying dust. The purpose of the angled cut is to allow Richard to plane the edge from the rear so that it is not visible from the front.

Why, I wondered, were narrow battens attached to this panel, once in situ?

The answer lay in the grooves in the shelves that were then cut exactly to size,

and fitted in place on the wall. Note the small piece of wood employed to protect the shelves from direct contact with the hammer.

Interspersed with this activity, another batten was going up on the adjacent wall. This was one of a pair of gravity battens matched to those previously attached to

the cupboards that were to hang firmly fixed there. Richard was pleased that the Kitchen Makers logo is visible on his T-shirt.

Before putting anything else on that wall more dodgy wiring needed tackling.

As Mr Punch would say: “That’s the way to do it”.

Every time we have passed The Hobler Inn on Southampton Road over the last two or three years, we have said we should try it sometime. This evening we did, and were not disappointed. Our superb starters were respectively whitebait with fresh salad and crusty bread, and chicken satay with equally excellent salad and pitta bread. My main course was fresh fish, chips, and mushy peas; Jackie’s was perfect penne pasta. I drank Ringwood’s forty-niner and Jackie drank Amstell.