Tuesday, 24 July 2012


In other news more relevant to the reason for all this DIY, I find myself in the pleasant position of being pre-Olympic and start of school holidays quiet at work. This in turn means I’ve had time to find some stuff out, such as a likely departure port from Turkey to Cyprus. This does still leave a large gap in the plan. The gap being the breadth of Europe...ish, but on the positive side I have an idea where the jump off point to Cyprus is.

I’d like to say I found this gem on my own by trawling through travel companies itineraries or a tramp steamer captain berthed and gone ashore from ye old Tilbury docks, but I would be talking more bollocks than usual and lying to boot.
The truth is some several months ago I subscribed to http://www.motorhomefacts.com/ . What can one say; Motorhomefacts is the font of all wisdom. There are other sites dedicated to Motorhome, caravan and camping tours and travel, but by far and away the most international one in English that isn’t C&CC (Caravan and Camping Club) is the one above.... you even have to subscribe and pay money to use it.
I dropped in my question regarding ferries and within 24hours I had five useful responses, including a link direct to this website http://www.turkeytravelplanner.com/trans/Ship/cyprus_ferries.html , once I have confirmed that they are still operating and the vehicle types they can carry  (I have no reason to doubt that they aren’t, or that our Moho is too big, but better safe than sorry) I will pencil in the relative positions on the map and start working backwards from Turkey and across Europe. I then have to find local weather information so we can plan our route around extremes of hot or cold, altitude, sceneicness (that’s a real word you just don’t see it very often), and dodgy bits.
A couple of other gems I’ve picked up from the forums regards pan European travel is the possible limitations of your vehicle insurances in some of the more eastern countries. I haven’t gathered all the information clearly but it appears that standard insurance won’t cover you through Bosnia, and that you have to buy insurance at the border. It also appears anecdotally that there is real insurance at the border and then there is a man in a peaked cap saying give me 100 Euros so you are insured... which apparently isn’t the same thing. And if rumour is correct there is a way of avoiding Bosnia altogether by catching a boat along a bit of coast (more research needed). The insurance tomfoolery reminds me of my younger brothers experience of flying into Minsk with an Embassy note but no visa and finding that the local Russian immigration agents wanted a $120 payment in cash for admin; for a laugh my brother and his Co Pilot played dumb and took the Mickey by offering to pay by company credit card instead, insisting that that was the way they paid ad-hoc fees... needless to say their joke back fired and they were arrested and held until they paid the cash fine, which they knew was totally bogus and just an official on the make.
These little gems of research are vital, you can’t plan for everything, you can’t account for bad luck, and bad people, but you can plan for bad weather, evacuation, mechanical failure etc. Up a few lines I said I didn’t trawl the travel sites to find these nuggets, however I did trawl the forums, so I suppose I have worked on this properly. I’ve just removed the sales person or booking agent twat element from the process (there’s plenty of time to deal with live people and possible half truths further down the line)... everything is easy on paper... (except radiator measurement and mounting instructions).
The light at the end of the tunnel I mentioned in the post below is not just a light we can see in some vague distance; it’s becoming a light we can shine into dark crevices to find our way. A week ago that felt like it was a long way off, but not anymore.
I won’t use the word optimistic; the housing market is flat, money is tight, the end of the world is due on the 21/12/2012, which is coincidently exactly three months prior to our proposed departure date... an apocalypse would rather put the kibosh on things. So no; not entirely optimistic but I feel I’ve opened the research door properly. We are by no means the first people to undertake this adventure, and I guess a seasoned campaigner would look at this blog and think “bloody amateur s”. Hopefully though I can pick that seasoned campaigners brains and make our adventure all we hope it will be.

Low to High

From Last Wednesday’s DIY blues, to this week’s finish line in sight mood of optimism there have been tears, tantrums, near functional alcoholism, injuries, allergies (MDF dust, what a fucker), highs and low’s, drug abuse (mainly Paracetamol, but antihistamines as well), and the use of the full pantheon of colourful old English invective; that’s swearing; at things, people, happenstance... good and bad and just because I’ve slipped into a repetitive fuckfuckfuckfuck loop and need a slap to reset my brain. From the ashes of that midweek misery, we have risen like a flaming Phoenix to as yet uncharted heights of success... ahem. We’ve laid a tile effect laminate floor and finished painting the wood work indoors.
It’s the biggy, the corner turned, the light at the end of the tunnel is indeed the light at the end of the tunnel... not some delusion create by the DT’s or burgeoning insanity. We have just a tiny shave off the tops of the kitchen cupboard plinths, odds and sods and skirting’s to re-fit and “jobs a goodun”, we can move on. Now as it happens, we are at a bit of an impasse in the dinning room; to whit no materials and the place I need to get the MDF skirting from closes at five so I can’t pick it up until Friday (I want 4metre lengths because it requires no joins along the long walls). This means I can start a new job without getting antsy about leaving one unfinished... after all: Maximum Efficiency Minimum Effort.
The plumbing in of the new radiator and sink re-jig constitutes an entire separate work stream and is self contained (waxing lyrical and boardroom bollocks in one post, well I’m on fire today) so we are taking a break from the dining room and are moving on with another job this week: the hall and stairs... it’s a paint job with two hairline cracks to fill. Quite frankly I’m looking forward to it; there may be a few gremlins on the way but nothing like the aggravation that we’ve had elsewhere.
We finished Sunday with an appliance re-settlement and adjustment program followed by a focus group to discuss future comestible storage needs (moved the fridge/freezer and washing machine back into their respective positions threw away some out of date crap and decided to eat the contents of the freezer before doing another big shop). We then did another mega dust and mop, took more painkillers and went to bed, where upon we were sung to sleep by a mosquito (when I say sung to sleep, I mean kept torturously awake d until I got up and hunted the little fucker down with a war pillow and smeared him against the wardrobes).
So today the house is feeling like home again, which is important if you’re selling. There’s the smell of freshly laid floor, subtle paint undertones and space in the hall where the fridge has been squatting for eight weeks... nine weeks... I can’t be arsed to check back and find out, it may be even longer. We have space and room in the kitchen to move the pieces of the puzzle around again, and in doing so we have de-cluttered some cupboards, re-homed some vases and crocks and stopped breathing in the dust of the previous months. These are the tiny faltering but positive steps to March 21st 2021. If I could get a weeks leave and a few good nights sleep I could crack the whole thing, but today right now... I’m cheerful.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

All painted out.

It happens from time to time, that despite the best will in the world, a visible need for a action, and a timescale to work to... that one can’t be arsed... or one is so sick and fed up with, cement, plaster, paint, fillers, sandpaper, caulk, tile trim, profiling tools, brushes and all the other associated paraphernalia of decorating that one looks at the job in hand and suffers a mental breakdown of sorts. This breakdown is best described as above “Can’t be arsed”.
On Friday I made a frame to box in some ugly pipes and did some painting, filling and tidying up ready for radiator mounting, in between times I painted the final coats indoors, used the drying time between coats indoors to pick out the timber frame in the cupboards in the Moho with undercoat, reinforced the wall that the shower tap mounts on and through so the tap feels firm and the pipes can be supported for their entire length. On Saturday I cut the MDF panels and fitted them to the frame I made on Friday in the kitchen, did some caulking, more painting indoors and in the moho, drilled a big hole through the reinforcing in the Moho to mount the tap and smaller holes to mount the shower head holder.
Then on Sunday we snagged our paint, marked and measured for the radiator brackets (relatively easy but for stupid misleading instructions that were disregarded in favour of measuring everything ourselves to eliminate the oddities in the drawing supplied). We then mounted the radiator and finally cut a hole in a panel in the Moho for shower pipes to run neatly to the pump, made all the pipe connections... and took out a panel that looked grotty and decided to give it a fine lick of paint for added luminescence in the wardrobe.
Three paragraphs cannot convey the measure of the work and the hours put in, I started at 07.30 Friday morning and finished at 21.45 as an example. I’m whinging I know I’m whinging.... I don’t care. The joy of achieving a result has faded into the drudge of work, diy, sleep, work, diy, sleep. Fifty fifty monotony and fatigue are wearing me thin. It’s the time to dig deep and find little bits of fun and still crack on. With this in mind Amanda got us tickets to Madonna in Hyde Park... we went straight from work on Tuesday and after the knackering weekend, getting in at 12.30am Tuesday morning means that today Wednesday “I can’t be arsed” has now reached I can’t be arsed plus... this translates to bad tempered impatient exchanges with... well everyone everywhere really.
And as for Madonna well it was a break. That’s all, I preferred the two warm up acts Martin Solveig and LMFAO, maybe being tired didn’t help, but Madonna was preaching the cause of the Basque people like it’s a new subject ... hello you Yankee fuck nugget we live in Europe it’s been happening on and off all my life and I paid for music not a fucking lecture on human rights. So today, there is no work except this scribble, today I’m watching telly, sofa surfing and going to bed at 10pm. Tomorrow I’ll look at where we are, and get ready the flooring, at some point during the day I’ll order the new left leg for the Moho awning and try and find a new canvas for it.
I know we are nearly there at home but it still feels like a mountain needs to be climbed, and I feel the weight of the eight months until we get on our way pressing on me. At the back of my mind is the knowledge that any summer left will be short, and house selling is never easy in winter. Can’t be arsed is a fucker, because there is no doubt that when you can’t be arsed... well that’s probably the time when you really need to pull your finger out and get it together.

Thursday, 12 July 2012

DIYers Are F#*%ing Bastards

As an update to last week’s missive, we finally bit the bullet and stripped off our new paint and scraped our walls clean because of the paint crazing and then soaked and scrubbed them with dilute Flash all purpose cleaner as suggested by my dad whose a bit of a whizz with paint and brush (refuses to use rollers, he does “you don’t get the finish you do with a brush he says disapprovingly”... he’s right, but he’s retired and can take all fecking day, I’m on the clock). Anyway the Flash worked, albeit it took three hours to do... What was gob smacking though was the sheer amount of paste that still remained from the previous sand and scrub. In total it took four gallons of water, two scourers and a squeegee to get it all off; even with having painted the walls; then conceded defeat and having soaked and scraped them to remove our nice new paint... we still had this mammoth scrubbing job to do... how I missed it first time round I’m not sure? I think the original mist coat was so thin that it gave no clue as to what was going on microns beneath and the previous slosh with PVA likewise. In any event another lesson has been learned from the art of the bodger or the sneaky fucker looking to hide a nasty DIY secret. DIY is definitely the average mans school of hard knocks.
On balance it’s an all’s well that ends well scenario; the end result being that at a quarter to ten on the 10th July the walls were dry enough for a 50/50 scratch coat, just to see if there was any other residues to worry about, and as luck would have it we awoke this morning to the manky smell of dried emulsion, that despite being laid on thinner than a final coat, doesn’t exhibit any signs of crazing or cracking... My Friday this week will be rounds of finish paint and edge filling, a final coat on Saturday followed by mounting the new radiator on Sunday and I have a tiny bit of gas pipe to box in and make neat.
It’s odd sitting here writing this and seeing the end of the damp saga... the chink of light at the end of the tunnel. One has to be philosophical: After the massive upheaval and delay that this job has caused, all the other odds and ends of tidying up will seem easy. Every Cloud as they say J

Travel News

In between rain showers and coats of paint, we’ve had a little time available to do minor jobs in the motorhome. A minor but key job (in the grand scheme of things) was tracing out the remains of the old water system so I can connect the kitchen sink and shower. The kitchen sink will be dual purpose as the face wash and toothbrush sink and the all important washing up sink (when site facilities aren’t available)... I think I mentioned this elsewhere; but to re-cap; by only having the one sink in the kitchen, we save space to manoeuvre in the wetroom, where once there was stupid old style corner sink and cupboard, plus shower, plus toilet... moving swiftly on. The shower connection speaks for itself... we need a shower.

The tracing of pipes isn’t hard, though a little cramped and dark (that’s what head torches are for), and if you’ve ever done plumbing at home, believe me plumbing in a motor home is a joy ... no solder, no flux, no gas burners, no PTFE tape and measuring to millimetre tolerances.. no risk of fire or death when you accidently heat a gas pipe adjacent to a water pipe, and for a second or so everything is very bright and clear...and then very dark for the longest time. No in a motorhome, hot water is in the red flexible plastic pipe and cold water is in the blue flexible plastic pipe (unless you are total nob or a masochist and use clear pipe for everything. Pipes push together on T, Y or straight connectors and are held fast with Jubilee clips, as do the end terminations; being taps or showers. forward of your water heater you have a grit filter, and some main and branch isolating valves.... erm that’s about it for real pipe gotchas, though I’m sure that there are more if I look in the book of words, but the only issue I ever had was air in a pipe, and that’s no great shakes to sort out as long as the water tank is full and you get the priming order right (sounds like a biggy that, but it ain’t).
The bonus from this little tracing job was that I found that the new shower hose’s have their straight connectors bonded on already so I don’t need to purchase any, and as the wetroom previously had two feed pairs (hot and cold) and the kitchen sink only one feed pair, that with a little gentle pulling pressure and then twenty four hours in Milton fluid that I don’t need to buy anymore connectors (unless ours let by...see previous post about the goods available in GoOutdoors). Had I had the time this week I would have already made the connections and done a test fill and flush of the entire system (what with the long hours of light and all); and subsequently declared the Moho ready for business as long as leaks weren’t found. However I am now saving myself for this weekend because of the works in the house.
I’m anticipating having several hours free on Saturday for this momentous piece of work... and connecting the plumbing and dealing with the shower for me is the DIY equivalent of eating a good meal and saving your favourite bit until last, because of the overall simplicity of the system...I was going to make a legover or wanking analogy regards saving this treat for myself, but maybe not everyone would get it, in any event Saturday is a big day.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

DIYers are all bastards

DIYers are all bastards (that probably includes me... though I think I’ll be expedient and say not). I doubt (unless of course our DIYer is malicious) that the average DIYer is a bastard deliberately. Maybe the DIYer isn’t the bastard at all; maybe its the fact that craftsmen know what they’re doing... one hopes... and DIYers only think they know what they are doing, based on reading the sanitised materials information data on the materials they use (that and man hearsay and legend regarding DIY jobs of yore). Our material in this instance is some form of hard coat anti condensation paint that I have spectacularly failed to cover with lovely fresh paint, despite washing the walls, drying them sanding them and then scratch coating them.
What ever this material is it seems to retain either moisture or the remains of long chain damp activated molecules left over from a previous decorating experience (that’s Glue in plain English, specifically wall paper paste). If it’s retaining moisture (not surprising given the ambient moisture content of our rain soaked atmosphere at the moment) then the answer is wait. However given that if you allow the walls to dry, then sand them and then wet them again, they get slimy you have to give credence to the glue theory. In any event the result is beautiful white paint that crazes into little plates.
So last night we bit the bullet and soaked the fresh new paint and scraped it off. The Paint underneath is holding firm. Tonight I will sand again, and scratch coat in one area, and then tomorrow I will fully paint over a small area of the scratch coated walls and wait 24 hours to see if the paint crazes again. If this doesn’t work then there is a solution: Remove the scratch coat, and buy some eggshell or other oil based paint that won’t react in contact with water and then craze... however this puts me firmly in bastard DIYer territory, because whoever buys our old place will then have to work out (should they wish to decorate or make alterations), how we circumvented the problem left for us by the previous bastard DIYer that occupied our house.
The really stinky part of all this, is that we all do it. We think we are doing the right thing for right now, with no real regard for the next owner; though sometimes ironically we sort something out for ourselves only for that quick fix to come round and bite us in the arse years later. By the same token we don’t admit to our sins in pursuit of smooth walls, buried pipes, spliced together wires and sections of wall made of little more than newspaper expanding foam and the good will of gravity. And we certainly don’t leave manuals or list of materials, lest the next occupant contract some skin condition and sue us, due to our product being layered on like plaster with a shovel, when it should have been stroked on gossamer thick by angels using their own wing feathers.   
Maybe I’m going soft, but it irks me to think that I may have to leave a DIY conundrum for someone to solve down the line. I’m hoping some more elbow grease and 60 grade sandpaper coupled with sugar soap does the job and that my revised target of paint done by this weekend doesn’t slip... again.

Thursday, 5 July 2012


A week ago I started writing a post on the Tab. I was tired and it was laborious, and when I was getting home I was cracking on with a mix of decorating, cooking and trying to stay on top of the mess. Needless to say the post on the Tab is now irrelevant, and the only use I had from it would be loosening the keys on the associated Bluetooth keyboard. This demonstrates several things.

  1. Keep posts short and bang then out same day, or don’t make them day/week specific unless you are going to date the sections in the post… as some sensible people do.
  2. If you’re writing a column piece then don’t get bogged down in specific days or weeks unless you're making a point; see point 1.
  3. When we finally get on the road we need to be on top of this process or it will be pointless having a blog and remember points 1 and 2.
It’s been tough these last few weeks. Time that precious commodity that cannot be begged, bought or bargained for slips through the fingers like a zero viscosity fluid (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superfluid if you’re interested... which I am… patently); which brings me round to summarizing where we think we are today.

We have a room that is a sanding and final undercoat away from final paint, then a radiator away from laying a floor, and a floor away from moving to other rooms that need freshening up.

We think cautiously that we will be able to put the place up for sale by the end of this month… And then like an atheist in a foxhole I shall say a prayer to whatever power controls the whims of fate (in this example represented by estate agents), and hope we sell relatively quickly. And then we have matters of temporary accommodation to deal with… and I still really haven’t done much of what I’d call the logistical planning of our actual trip. Which is a pain in the arse, because the last thing I want to do is wing it when we get out on the road.
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