Pond Refurb

Our pond has always been a bit of a problem when it comes to keeping the water clear. To the point that most of the time we can’t see the fish. And that’s even when we clean the filter every couple of days. To be honest we know what the problem is – the pond isn’t big enough for the fish we’ve got in it and the filter/pump isn’t up to the job. There’s not much we can do about the former, but this is the feak and weeble pumpy thing we’ve been struggling with:

It recently gave up the ghost after an ‘O’ ring leaked and water got into the UV bulb fitting. Rather than replace it with the same model we’ve gone for an upgrade.

Hooj filter that lives outside the pond and is fed by a small pump. You don’t need to take it apart to clean the filters because it has a handle that turns a spinnumy-thing that flaps away at the filter foam inside and you divert the gunky water onto the plants for extra growth factor.

So far it’s been in for a month or so and the water is tip-top. The fish are loving it.

New Workbench

A month or so ago I completed Phase 1 of my epic plan to re-build the man cave (otherwise known as The Hall of Half-built Curiosities). I’ve been using a pretty bog standard Ikea desk since God were a lad and I’d always wanted to custom build something a little better suited to what I needed. So I stripped everything out and dumped it all in a huge pile in the bathroom (which made Kay deliriously happy I can assure you) and started hacking up bits of 2×4 and huge sheets of MDF.

Top tip number one folks: never, ever, buy timber over the interwebs ‘cos they’ll pick the twistiest POS sticks out of the entire stack for you. I’m surprised the ones I got even had the birds and squirrels removed. Every cloud though… I now know how to tune a hand plane and how to use winding sticks to turn Disney princess castle turret handrails into straight, though admittedly somewhat thinner, things. Of course it would have made much more sense to sack ’em off, barbecue some nice steaks and just buy some straight ones but where’s the fun in that?

I wanted the supporting structure to be nice and open with no legs to get in the way. I pretty much managed that but had to put a couple of glued up 4×4 props at either end of the bench. The remainder of the support comes from 2×4 wall plates bolted to the masonry walls with hoooj hammer fixings. In the end, the thing is pretty much bomb-proof and easily takes my weight without any sign of movement; way more solid than I had hoped for.

I’ve covered it using a couple of 8×4 sheets of 18mm MDF which I managed to get pretty much bob on when it came to level and joins. I even jigsawed some curves on the ends to make it nice and purdy. Oh yeah, I cut out some holes for cabling as well. Turns out my poor little Black and Decker does not like three inch hole saws. Some of the magic smoke definitely escaped and I had to leave it outside for while as it had become something of a fire risk.

The next job is to build some under bench storage; probably just simple MDF boxes with doors and casters. After that I’m planning on putting up some French cleats on the walls so I can put up custom and adjustable storage type stuff.

Really pleased so far. It’s not fine carpentry by any means but that’s not what I want. I want something beefy that I can get paint and glue and grease and solder and coffee and sweat and blood and tears and kitten guts on. No. Not kitten guts. I mis-spoke.

Garden Carpet Moth Pays a Visit

Sometimes there’s just not enough hours in the day. Yesterday we were busy doing the usual everyday stuff in the back (picking up dog poo, putting out the rubbish, living the dream) when Ellen goes all Disney Princess and has a little moth land on her finger.

It was one of those common-or-garden small-ish, grey-ish, boring-ish ones that you see all the time. Kind of the moth equivalent of the Little Brown Job. But it occured to me that I should probably find out what it was. Turns out there are a lot of moths that look just like this one but this is, I’m pretty certain, a garden carpet moth. Never heard of it. Which is kinda sad really.

So anyway, when you’re trying to identify moths (and flowers, and trees and birds and pretty much anything) it turns out you need to have at least a little bit of an idea of what you’re talking about. So I ended up hitting up Wikipedia to find out things like “Does the term ‘forewing’ refer to the front part of the wing or the front wing of a pair of wings?” and of course I end up doing the usual Alice down the rabbit hole schtick.

Turns out ‘costa’ is not just everyone’s favourite go-go juice dealer but it’s also the name of the vein that runs nearest the front edge of an insect wing. At least according to the Comstock-Needham naming convention. Who knew? Well, now I do and you do too.

Not enough hours in the day.

Childhood Objects

Well I’m going to borderline cheat here. Does teenage still count as childhood? It does? Cool. I guess like most, I’ve got quite a few well and fondly remembered childhood objects but my stand-out has got to be my touring bicycle. Just like this one.

Dark green Raleigh Royal, super lightweight (for the day at least), super strong and super comfy. Talk about an enabling technology, I pretty much lived on this thing in my teens. I went to a big private school with a wide catchment area so mates, and **far** more importantly, girlfriends, were pretty spread out. My trusty steed let me get there quick smart. See that rack over the back wheel? Hang a pair of panniers and a bag on that, phone my best mate Dave, grab a few tools, some cash, food, pans, stove, kipper and tent and off we disappeared for a couple of days or a couple of weeks. Wherever. We. Wanted. To. Go. Man alive, that thing was liberating. We once went down to Land’s End in Cornwall and then rode the entire length of the UK to John o’ Groats in Scotland.

That’s me on the right, next to my mate Dave, with my Dad and his mate Bryan at the front. We’re all celebrating with a tiny bottle of single malt each.