2012 and all that

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So, as is traditional (for me) here’s a little summary of the year just gone. I’d like to say it was a fantastic year and I look forward to more of the same, but the a more honest comment is that it was a pretty crappy year, and I’m glad it’s over. And yes, I’m aware that there’s no particular reason that today is declared 2013 and yesterday was 2012, and that we could start our years at any point. We just choose the bit where we’re nearest to the sun…

But hey, society (here) chunks the passage of time into approximately 365.24 day chunks and I’m willing to go with that for the sake of not explaining myself more.

Anyway, enough philosophising.

The house

Having spent much of the year working on my University course, the house got markedly neglected. Only in the last weeks of 2012 did I start to get back on track with progress, meaning that we moved into the new year, after two years without a shower, only hours away from having one. Of course, the specific hours are ones I need to spend battling the crowd at John Lewis, who I believe sell a plain white non PVC shower curtain.

Despite not actually occurring in 2012, I’m going to now show you the shower rail, I’m doing to do this because my arms are aching like mad from installing the bastard thing which, this morning, I held up whilst Kathryn marked the ceiling, and which we screwed into the wood supports that I spent the day installing above the ceiling.

So you may all feast your eyes upon this:



Progress has mostly been small things…

Like, in addition to the bathroom sporting a shower and curtain rail (although the curtain rail is a 2013 addition), the fitting of the smoke alarm to the ceiling upstairs (which I was so pleased to do, after having it dangling on it’s wire for over a year), and the deep and lasting joy of a toilet roll holder on the wall.


Most people will not understand the deep, deep joy that comes of a toilet roll holder being on the wall. That is because most people don’t live without one for two years in a bathroom that’s got a bare wooden floor and is ‘being renovated’ (despite not being renovated).

Toilet roll holders are awesome and underrated. Ours is doubly cool because it was hand-forged from iron by a blacksmith in Wales.

There have, however, been some notable big jobs completed. The bookshelves in the Library / My Office / Front (spare) bedroom are something of which I feel, I think, justifyably proud. The quality isn’t quite what I’d like, but I have plans afoot to try and improve the quality of my woodworking*. However, given the uneven nature of the wood, and my lack of general wood working knowledge, producing a bedframe that folds out from being a single / daybed to a double (king size) bed, and also is a component of a bookcase, which is one of a pair made from reclaimed douglas fir? I think that’s not too shabby:


My mum informed us that the bed was very comfortable, so I think we can be satisfied with that. And the shelves hold the books up adequately, so that’s all good too.

In small jobs that happened this year, but that I’m going to share anyhow, today I also, finally, got the lampshade up upstairs. The reason this took so long is that it involved moving all the wiring for the light up into the roofspace (done) and adding a support above the ceiling for the lampshade to attach to (done). Having finally got around to all of this, today I stuck the lamp up and with Kathryn’s help got the shade onto the lamp holder:


Now all that’s left to do upstairs is paint the trim.


Anyhow, so over the year, progress has been there, but mainly incremental improvements, and apart from the major leap forward on the bathroom over the past month or so, fairly sluggish. But 2013 is, I hope, the year, all this work and absence of work, will combine to produce a finished house. I’m quite optimistic on that front, although the leaking roof (damnit) and scabby render (with the associated disappearing plasterer. I know the weather’s crap, but just say if you’re not interested) are combining to make me feel slightly less optimistic.

The Job
So, I started 2012 working in a hospital in which I wasn’t deeply happy. There are various long and complicated reasons for this that I’m not going to go into, because I value my career too much, but whilst I liked most of the staff, I wasn’t really happy with my work. I moved from there in April, and was instantly sick, thanks to some issues about moving from night shifts to day shifts with no break, and working a very large number of days on the trot. My body rebelled. But despite the inauspicious start, I’ve been much happier in my new job. The 12 hour shifts help, because whilst any specific day may be either brilliant or interminably awful, at the heart of it I know I’ve only, really, got to work 3 shifts (more or less) in any given week.

That change has made me face difficulties with an equanimity not previously known (or at least, only known when I very first got used to the Emergency Department). Which has all been good. I’m finally settling in there to the level of being my usual unprofessional self (apparently I get away with talking to people in a way that most people don’t, although I’ve never realised this). I think this is just the chipper way I approach life. Err, or something. Still not back in my comfy old converse though. I’m saddened to see that every other trust appears to have a bit of a shoe obsession. Or more of a shoe obsession than the first trust I worked in, who appeared to largely be of the opinion that you could wear whatever you wanted so long as it was vaguely black. My much loved black-and-white converse, which were very much part of me, have been relegated to wearing when I’m out and about and don’t want to wear my vibrams (cycling, mainly).

Having finished my course I’ve started getting back to things I like to do in my spare time. Crafty, Hackery things. I’ve also been engaged in a degree of hackery to just keep things going…

A little trip through the year in hackery has to start with my newly acquired Sock Monster Skillz:


That, there, is Reginald Rathbone, the (sock) Monster. And I made him. All by my little self (with some direction from a friend of Kathryn’s called Carole). She had a crafting night, and I was invited, and that is my creation. Reginald perches on the piano at the moment, nonchalently contemplating devouring us all, or some such. You can never tell what Monsters might be thinking…

I also unleashed the hackery on my beloved with a present concept that had been bouncing around my brain. Late though it was, I managed to turn scrap wood and perspex:



Into the thing that had been causing me much amusement:


Unfortunately, in the rush to get it ready I got some runs in the paint, but the contents of the box is a small alcohol burner and tripod, a metal kettle, a tea infuser, a teeny tin for tea, and a china cup and saucer. Such that in any Emergency you can produce the cup of tea (an EmergenTea) which will, no doubt, cause the resolution of whatever ails you. Because tea fixes everything. The front of the box folds out to produce a shelf, and the whole thing is lined in velvet. Yes, it is very silly. What can I say.

I’ve also made a stool. Yes, I know. Risky. But it’s all doweled and glued, and made from scrap banister rails:


Xmas 2012

It is, as you can imagine, somewhat too tall. This is because I didn’t want to lop the legs off in the middle of their length, and the lump of pitch pine (or similar, we’re not sure what it is) that makes up the top of the stool is also very thick. Indeed, the top of the legs are about where the top of the stool was intended to be, but I’m discussing with Kathryn how she wants it shortened, to make it suitable for use at her desk…

One of the bits of hackery that’s been useful was the creation of the microphone stand / pop filter:

Mic suspension mount and pop filter

Whilst we only got two Dead Bug Jumping podcasts out the door, the pop filter has upped the quality, despite the death (again) of the M-Audio interface. But its death finally made me look into the guts of the record deck and it turns out fix the earth loop that’s been driving me nuts. The deck’s earthing is now good enough that I can hopefully get some DBJ’s out the door :)

There’ve been other bits of hackery, and other bits of protohackery. I’ve got my Moskva watch, although I need to send it to someone experienced with Russian 1950s watches to repair it, because the unreliable starting has got so unreliable that it’s impossible to actually set the time. Apparently, they might be able to polish the quartz of the face, which would be teh awesomes. I also wonder if they might be able to replace the glow-paint on the hands (not too worried about the face). Would like to get it repaired before we go over to the States though :)

The Fleet
So, the fleet has been fairly good this year, with a couple of exceptions.

Rebecca, shiny as she is, is not moving at the moment. Her diff is shot, or at least, in need of reconditioning. I will have to start this year by shuffling her in the garage and removing the back axle. I am displeased by this… I had been putting it off because I had real hopes that before we went to Canada she’d be an EV. I really, really, wanted it to happen. I bought a motor, controller, DC-DC, Servo pump, etc etc. The signs were positive… but there’s just not time or money to make it happen properly. And she needs to be converted properly, so plan B has been instigated.

Plan B is that we haul the motor/controller/etc over to Canada, and I save up to buy the batteries. In the mean time, the young, fresh, virile A+ 1.3 litre engine can continue to supp squashed dinosaurs.

Chester has provided sterling service, although the suspension on the driver’s side did follow that on the passenger side causing a costly** repair, and more irritatingly, a period of time without the car. He’s now sporting a ‘good second hand’ strut and the old one is living in the garage awaiting a new spring-cup. Otherwise, I don’t recall any major traumas… which isn’t bad for a 24 year old car which is regularly called on for an almost 150 mile round trip.

Must fix a few little bits though, like the heated rear window, which is an intermittent feature at the moment, and the heater fan which is working towards sickness.

The GT550 has been a peach, which is sad, because I’m going to have to sell her. She’s a toy for me, at the moment, and I can’t afford a toy that’s worth that much. With my work I can only really ride her for fun, and whilst I’d love to ride her for fun, there’s other things that need the money.

She is lovely though.

I’d happily have another GT550, although a lighter bike might be a bit nice… :)

The Enfield has departed us, and gone on to a new and much better home. Having languished in a variety of locations, it was eventually bought by Jonny Smith and has gone on to be the awesome Flux Capacitor. Yes, I am looking forward to a ride in the finished car.

In exchange, a somewhat more sedate pair have joined the family, Molly and the as yet unnamed ‘Raleigh’. A pair of 1930’s/40s step through 3-speed bicycles one of which has all of one gear, and one of which I’m fairly convinced has slightly bent front fork.


1930s BSA 3 Speed Stepthrough Cycle


I bought the green one as a gift for Kathryn. Finishing fixing the gears is the final job – I managed to get the 3-speed Sturmey Archer to work, but it tends to jump out of gear which leads to nasty, nasty bruises on your knee. Or on my knee.

But what they may lack in functionality they make up for in prettyness…

She was getting bored of being cooped up

And, whilst I might wish for better brakes, the geometry of these bikes suits my knee much better than anything modern I’ve tried.

Test run.

Also, I’m hoping that the battered green one, when left at railway stations, will be less appealing to casual thieves.


This is, I suppose, the biggie. We’ve started on our quest to get moved to Canada again. This time we’re looking at Nova Scotia, for a variety of reasons, at least one of which is the massive price differential. We can actually afford a house there, rather than living on the streets of Vancouver in a box. Also, we found a really nice little town*** which we think will suit us…

And so paperwork is submitted, I’ve got some more to fill in tomorrow and send off to places in the UK (I figured they’d not get processed over Xmas anyhow). And then it’s just the painfully expensive exam (I have a book to prep me with), the flights…. the moving costs… the clearing out before hand… yeah, so easy.

So, you’re thinking, it doesn’t sound that bad-er year. And in many respects it wasn’t. But for reasons that I’m not likely to go into here, at least, not in a public post, it was a damn hard year. Here’s hoping that 2013 is better…

* As a christmas present, Kathryn gave me a saw for cutting dovetail joints, and a tool for marking up hardwoods for dovetail joints. It’s very, very pretty – and she’s going to get it sharpened… This, one might think, is all very well. Even combined with my 1900’s copy of Amateur Mechanic, there’s a high probability that proper tools plus a bit of knowledge would improve my woodworking. But actually, the bigger plan is that my beloved also got me a leaflet about Women’s woodworking courses, and I think I might well go an attend. I’ve popped an e-mail to work to ask if one specific day off for a few weeks is a possibility, so… :)

** By our standards. Just over £200 all in, I think.

*** Okay, we should perhaps visit it to see if it’s actually a really nice little town…


Kate is lord and mistress of all she surveys at pyoor.org...