The final frontier….

Well it’s the final floor really. The very last floor that needs to be laid is the wood flooring in the main kitchen. And there’s nothing like adding a bit of pressure to assist in actually getting the thing started.

So I went online and ordered myself a swanky new fridge-freezer. One of those all singing all dancing things that churns out ready made ice on demand for the G&T.

But having ordered it, I really needed to get the floor down before it was delivered. I’ve had everything I needed to complete the floor for a couple of months; it’s just been another one of those jobs that kept getting pushed to the bottom of the list – mainly because I was still using the kitchen as a builders site/workshop/toolstore…..

So with the aid of my ever-willing parents, we cleared the room of everything except the Aga and the boxes of wood flooring. Ready to go. Bog standard tongue and groove on the oak flooring and sticky-back plastic underlay. How hard can that be?

Well the real tricky bit is getting it started. Once the wood is stuck down it’s pretty much there for eternity. So you’re a bit scuppered if you haven’t lined all your T&G up nicely.

To make sure you can do that the underlay comes with a bit of spare film to start you off. Just peel back a plank’s width from the underlay, put the spare film in its place, and then you can lay all your wood on top, make sure it’s all nicely aligned, whip out the spare bit of film and then stick it all down. Simples!

Ha! This filmy stuff is like clingfilm – sticks to anything except what it’s supposed to – you, the scissors, any dust it can find – and it fights you all the way.

Still, once you’ve finally got it all in place and got that first row done, the rest starts to follow fairly quickly.

So by the time I had to leave for the airport, I’d at least got enough done to take the fridge-freezer when it was delivered.

I left my parents up there – and they’d sort of mentioned that they would have a go at getting it finished. Well that’s my kind of DIY – it does itself while you’re away…


If only. But regular readers will know by now that nothing can ever be that simple in my barn;  the wonky floors struck again. Within a couple more rows, the floor at one end of the room started doing an impression of the nursery slopes at Val d’Isere. Mr Incompetent Builder had obviously been using a deformed spirit level when he put this one down….

So instead of coming home to a lovely solid oak kitchen floor, I came home to a bag of self-levelling compound and the enticing prospect of cleaning out the dreaded cement bucket.

I’ve never used this stuff before. I decided I probably wouldn’t need the whole 25kg bag full, so decided just to mix up half of it. In the absence of any way to weigh out 12.5kg of cement powder I stood the bag upright, measured it, and drew a line half way up. That should give me about the right amount…

I’ve mixed up all sorts of cementy stuff before – plasterboard adhesive, plaster, tile adhesive, grout… so I’ve got a bit of an idea about the necessary consistency of the various types of goo in the bucket.

But this stuff is different. The whole point is that it’s self-levelling. So one assumes it needs to be fairly runny. But how runny is that exactly??? Will it set if it’s too liquidy? I have no idea. I added all the powder down to ‘my halfway down the bag’ marker. But it still seemed a bit too much like runny pancake batter for my liking. Well what do I know? When in doubt, chuck in another couple of trowelfuls…


I eventually got it to a consistency I was happy with, and upended my bucket into the corner of the floor. And watched it ooze itself out into what looked like a lovely level patch of concrete.

But when stuff had hardened enough to take a closer inspection with a spirit level, the self-appointed Harbinger of Doom (otherwise known as my Dad) helpfully pointed out that my self-levelling compound hadn’t in fact self-levelled.

Followed by:

  1. Me in complete denial – “It’s close enough… it won’t matter… will it? The other bits of wood must be wonky. I can just squidge it down… It will eventually all be hidden under cupboards anyway; nobody will ever see it.”
  2. Me admitting it’s not really OK. “Alright. It needs fixing. But I’m not doing it now. I’ve had enough for the day. I’ll do it tomorrow. I’m going to get changed and then I need a G&T.” *Exits in a sulk*
  3. Me, having got showered and changed out of my work gear, standing there observing my handiwork in a more reasonable frame of mind, and realising that actually it probably wasn’t that hard to fix. The ski slope was just a bit wider than I’d allowed for and so I hadn’t mixed up enough gloop. And it probably hadn’t been quite runny enough…. Hmm. Maybe those extra trowelfuls were a mistake. So all it needed was one more bucketful…… Why wait till tomorrow?

One : Nil to the Harbinger of Doom…

So all showered and changed and no longer in my work gear, I mixed up another bucket of stuff – leaving it much more runny, and upended my bucket again.

IMG_1104Well this is probably not the most elegant photo of myself I will ever post on social media – but how else do you tell if wet cement is level??






IMG_1103It looked pretty flat to me. And when it had time to set hard enough to take a spirit level, this time it looked like the self-levelling compound did do exactly what it said on the bag. I love that stuff!

It needed to be left for 16 hours before it could be covered, so we’d have to wait until the next day before we could carry on.

But barring any disasters kitchen floor would be finished on Sunday……

Well what kind of disasters could we possible get up there? Waking up on Sunday, it was a grim grey day with a drizzly sort of sleet going on. It didn’t look particularly menacing.


But within about an hour the snow was coming down with a vengeance and suddenly it was couple of inches deep and showed absolutely no sign of stopping. Living in the remote middle of nowhere, there was a real risk the roads would soon become impossible to get through.

Change of plan. All thoughts of flooring and DIY were abandoned. It was time to leave before we were snowed in.

Maybe I’ll get the kitchen floor finished next weekend…


Topping out the wardrobe…

When people discover that I am taking quite a hands on approach to building a house, they often ask “How do you manage on your own??”

To be honest, I never give it much thought. The phrase “How hard can it be?” comes to mind. Apart from that I think it’s mostly brute force and bruises.

As an example, I ordered a couple of oak worktops for my dressing room. In what seems to be the usual delivery mentality of ‘We-are-not-insured-to-take-it-any-further-than-your-front-door-in-case-we-drop-it-and-damage-something-and-you-sue-us’, the worktops were dumped just inside the conservatory.

I needed to get them both upstairs. A 4-metre piece needed to be cut into three smaller pieces, making it easier to shift, but there was a 3 metre piece that needed to go up as one unit: Up a couple of steps, 90 degrees through a low-ceilinged doorway, up a full flight of stairs, 90 degrees round a corner up a couple more steps, another 90 degree turn along a corridor (which is only a metre wide and hangs out over a 12 ft drop into the Music room), another 90 degree turn up 4 steps to destination.

Easy. It’s only a 3-metre piece of wood, 22mm thick, weighing a mere 70kg. I mean, that can’t be too hard for a girl on her own to shift…


OK. Towel under one end to protect the wood floor. Lift the other end and drag up the couple of steps. Have a bit of a rest. Brace yourself. Lift the 70kg. Drag it a bit further. Until it reaches tipping point.

(I had the most boring physics teacher on the planet, and spent most of my physics lessons wondering exactly what kind of wildlife could grow in a beard like his, but some of the basics of Pivot, Lever, Tipping point, seem to have stuck in my teenager brain somewhere.)

Put down another towel. Change ends and push. Great! Have now successfully moved worktop up the first couple of steps. Go and have a cup of tea to celebrate…


Phase 2. Lift one end, swing it round and slide through doorway. Change ends and start trying to upend 3-metres of wood at the same time as dragging it round 90 degrees through low stone doorway. Somehow wedge yourself between doorway, worktop and stairs. Wonder, crucially, how much flexibility there is in 22mm oak boards. Learn a few contortionist moves, gain a few bruises and put half a dozen small holes in the plasterboard. Worktop is now upended at the bottom of the stairs = phase 2 successfully completed. Go and have a cup of tea to celebrate…

Phase three – getting up the stairs. Standing at roughly the midpoint of the length of the worktop, lift and drag the entire weight so the bottom edge of the wood is now resting on bottom stair. Brace yourself. Lift and drag. Stair number 2. Only 11 to go. Lift and drag. Stair number 3. Take a breather – with 70kg of wood resting on your thighs.

Brace, lift, drag. Stair number 4.

At stair number 6, take another breather. Contemplate life, love and the universe. With thigh muscles now shaking in protest, idly wonder how much damage would be caused if you let go at this point.

Keep going – only a few more steps to go. By this time, each ‘brace, lift, drag’ action was accompanied by the kind of roaring and swearing you hear from sweaty, macho weightlifters in the gym. Brute force, prayer and swearing. Works every time.

Fortunately, when the bottom of the worktop has reached stair number 9, the laws of physics take over and the whole thing tilts safely up on to the floor above. Getting it round another couple of corners and up a couple more steps was easy.

IMG_0949But at this point the whole operation came to a grinding halt. The only way to get the work surface into the dressing room from there was for one end of it to be swung right out over the edge of the landing. I thought about whether I would be able to lean out far enough to manage. But I decided that trying to manhandle a 3-metre/70kg bit of wood while hanging over the edge would probably result in either me dropping said bit of wood and it smashing down onto the piano below, or me falling over the edge and splatting onto the slate floor below. Or probably both. Maybe not worth trying….


IMG_0948So then I contemplated trying to manoeuvre the worktop from the top of ladder. My largest step ladder is just about level with the floor of the gallery. But again, I decided that would probably have the same result re smashed piano and broken bones; single leg squats with a paintbrush are feasible, single leg squats with a 3-metre/70 kg piece of wood probably aren’t.

So in a rare admission of weakness, I called in the cavalry. Or at least – I went and knocked on my neighbours’ door. I should probably have done that from the start; it’s so much easier to move a 70kg piece of wood when there’s three of you….

After all that effort and all I’ve achieved is getting my bit of wood into the right place. Now I have to fit the thing.

I hate sawing wood by hand. a) I don’t think I’m good at straight lines b) it’s just such bloody hard work and c) I get really bored after the first 10 minutes.

But in the absence of anyone else to do it for me…….

When it was all in place and finally fitted, just one more job to finish the whole thing off – create a fancy routed edge. As a rule I quite like using my router. But if you’ve not used your power tools for a while, always best to check they’re all in proper working order before you start.

As I learnt to my cost when I realised the bit in the router wasn’t quite fully tightened. Half way down the length of the wood, it worked loose, gouging a chunk out of the worktop and went spinning off to the other side of the room.

Fortunately it missed gouging a large chunk out of my leg as well, which probably would have been a bigger issue and quite a bit messier.  Nothing I can do about the damage to the worktop without replacing the whole thing. So it’s become just an extra ‘decorative’ effect….

A whole weekend just to move and fit one worktop. I decided to leave the other one to another weekend.

And what better weekend to wait for than one where your Dad is on hand to do all the hard work!!


I had to put that photo in – my Dad thinks I’ve been misleading people with his DIY “Don’t Involve Yourself” theory of house-building. He would like me to point out that is a choice not a capability mantra. And I have to admit, when he does involve himself, (which is every time he comes to visit) he’s far more precise, and much more of a perfectionist than I am – as long as somebody else is doing the spatial awareness thinking…!

So whilst Dad’s doing all the sawing, I can just play around with the (properly tightened) router again.

But there was also that Wonky Wall issue again, so I just need to trim a bit off the end of the last bit of worktop I installed. Another helpful little hint here – moving the bit of wood so you can get to it properly is quite a good idea. If you try sawing it while weirdly contorting your saw, chances are you’ll end up sawing the edge of your thumb off.


Trust me, that’s quite painful……


Totally guttered!

Minging! The Scots have such lovely ways to describe their weather. And ‘Minging’ is, frankly, the only way to describe my weekend.

Storm ‘Abigail’ swept through Scotland, battering the West Coast with 90mph winds and torrential rain. And whilst she may not have reached the Central Belt or East Coast with the full force of her fury, she still left some pretty squally weather in her wake.

Perfect weekend to be working on the outside of the house then…..

This is entirely self-inflicted misery – I could have done this when the weather was fair. It’s another long overdue job that I’ve been putting it off because a) I kept forgetting to buy the bits I needed to do the job, b) I was dreading the thought of trying put the ladders up on such horribly hilly ground, and c) well frankly gutters are boring and there are plenty more interesting things to do indoors.

Unfortunately gutters may be boring, but they’re necessary – creating all sorts of problems if you don’t fit them properly. I should know – ignoring my gutter problems has led to saturated walls, washed out pointing and water seeping inside the building. And with all the pundits promising the worst winter ever, I need to get it fixed before the snow arrives.

So I’d decided this was the weekend to get it sorted and not even Abigail was going to stop me! I’d even remembered, when I was passing B&Q last weekend, to nip in and buy all the extra brackets and things I thought I’d need. Not like me to be so organised, but at least it meant that whilst it wouldn’t be a particularly pleasant job given the weather, it shouldn’t take more than an afternoon to get done. After all, bit of plastic guttering – how hard can that be?

Well under ordinary circumstances, not very. But my barn is never that simple. I have to factor in the phenomenal idiocy of Mr Incompetent Builder – who, even though I sacked him about 8 years ago, has left a lasting legacy of shoddy workmanship.

Whether by design or accident the external walls of the building slope inwards slightly. Since some of these walls are a couple of hundred years old, and have shown no signs of collapse that doesn’t seem to be a major issue.

Or at least it wasn’t until Mr Incompetent Builder got involved. Having unintentionally demolished large sections of the back wall by screwing up the foundations, he compounded the problem by not rebuilding those sections in line with those slightly sloping parts of the wall that he’d left standing.

As a result I have a lovely wavy wall and an ‘undulating’ roof line – which may be very artistic, but is completely impractical when the planners have stipulated cast iron gutters. So I have had to defy them on this one. Cast iron doesn’t bend, so cast-iron gutters are physically impossible unless I take down the lovely wavy walls Mr IB has left me.

In an ideal world you put the slates on the roof to overhang your nice straight walls, so rain water runs down the roof into the gutters and away. Simple. Unfortunately since the ‘curves’ of my newly rebuilt stone walls protruded in some places so far from the original walls creating that overhang wasn’t possible either. The slates stopped on the edge of the stone, so the water just ran down the walls.

So when I had the back of the house repointed I’d asked my contractor if he could to do something to fix the gutters properly for once and for all. His answer to the problem was to fix plastic gutter to a wood fascia, and where there wasn’t enough overhang from the slates, to put an additional piece of waterproof membrane under the bottom slate to direct the water into the gutter.

Well that should work. In theory.

And it would have done if he hadn’t then handed the job over to a couple of labourers whom I shall lovingly refer to as Bodgit and Fudgit.

To be fair it was never going to be a simple job. Even before you worry about whether slates do or don’t overhang far enough, there’s the challenge of fixing a piece of wood to a wavy stone wall, whilst precariously balanced 20ft up a dodgy ladder – that’s why I didn’t want to take on the job myself.

But simple or not, if I’m handing over my hard earned wodges of cash to somebody to do the job for me, I expect it to be done properly. Bodgit and Fudgit didn’t seem to get that idea. To start with, plastic guttering, whilst the only option with such wonky wall lines, is nowhere near as strong as cast iron. And in an environment where winter can dump a few feet of snow on your roof, plastic gutters need twice as many support brackets to ensure they can take the weight. Bodgit and Fudgit decided on half the number, not twice the number. That was in part my fault, since I’d ordered in the materials and I’d miscalculated. But rather than get some more and add them to the bill, my lovely labourers just ‘made-do’ with what they had.

As a result, at the first sign of snow last year, half the gutter came down.


I’d decided it was easier to just get up there myself and sort it. Since the wood fascia was in place it was just a matter of adding a few extra brackets and putting the gutter back. How hard can that be? Which is why I found myself precariously balance atop aforementioned dodgy ladder in the wild, windy, squally ‘post-Abigail’ weather with a dozen or so plastic gutter brackets and a screwdriver in hand.

And that’s where I discovered the true qualities of Bodgit and Fudgit.

What is it about some builders and the concept that ‘Water doesn’t flow uphill, or over obstacles, or through wood?’

For on the part of the wall that Mr Incompetent Builder had so spectacularly mis-aligned, those two muppets had fixed the wood fascia higher than the level of the slates. So not only did I have the problem that the slates stopped on top of the wall, which would cause the water to run straight down the outside walls, I also had a piece of wood in the way that meant the only place the rain could now go was back inside the walls and into the house. Pure genius.

I spent a few hours putting back as much of the missing gutter as I could. And then I phoned Bodgit and Fudgit’s boss.

To me the real test of a good contractor is when things go wrong. In an ideal world it’s great (and depressingly rare) to find someone who’s reliable, honest and good at what they do. But you know you’ve found a contractor to hang on to when he can deal with a cold, wet and thoroughly hacked off female having a right royal rant down the phone on a Saturday afternoon, and he turns up a 9 o’clock on the Sunday morning to sort the problem.

He’s promised that Bodgit and Fudgit wont be coming back….

Single leg squats with a paintbrush…

Some of my bits of ‘finishing off’ last week meant that I could finally get round to painting the walls of the steps by the kitchen – the last job that needs doing before the kitchen floor is laid.


I admit, this has been another one of those procrastinating ‘I’ll do it next week jobs’. Not because I don’t like painting; I do as a rule – it isn’t difficult or fiddly, and it’s quite rewarding in the sense that the results of your efforts are immediately visible.

In theory. But of course, with my barn nothing is ever that straight forward.

Anyone who read my last blog about painting will remember the issue I had with how to reach the top of the 5 metre high walls and the vaulted ceilings. The answer was a 12-rung stepladder balanced on some boxes of slate and a paintbrush on a stick…

This time it’s the same high ceiling, but with the added issue that stepladders don’t work on stairs.

Or at least, they don’t work without a bit of creative ladder work…..

IMG_1069A ladder needs a flat surface to be be set up safely. Stairs aren’t flat – obviously. The answer? A folding builders bench, a some left over bits fence posts, and a few random lengths of decking with which to build yourself a level surface.


We are only talking about six steps up into the kitchen. So by constructing two different platforms, one at the top and one at the bottom of the stairs, I could set my step ladder up in a way that pretty much allowed me to cover all of the walls.

Pretty much…. But the top edge of the wall/ceiling was still out of reach. Which left me no other option – I would have to stand on the dreaded ‘top step’; you know – the one that all the ladder manuals say should not be used other than for resting your paint pots on…

Actually, I’ve never really understood why not. If you’ve got a reasonable sense of balance and your stepladder is safely set up on a flat surface (which mine was – albeit a flat surface created from aforementioned folding bench, leftover fence post and bits of decking) and you’ve got something to hold on to, I can’t see what’s wrong with standing on that top step – carefully. Admittedly it’s probably not an option for anyone who suffers from vertigo.

IMG_1068Fortunately I have no fear of heights. So duly armed with loaded paintbrush I made that final step. Up on to the dreaded top step so I could get to the top of the walls. It wasn’t quite enough. Even from the top step, and leaning backwards as much as I dared, there was a 15cm strip at the top of the wall I couldn’t reach. The paintbrush on a stick had to come out of retirement.

At last every inch was painted. All I needed to do now was get back to solid ground safely. You see the problem with the ‘top step’ is not the getting up. It’s the getting down. Surrounded by pristinely painted but still very wet walls, and with your hands full of paintbrush, there is nothing to hold to keep your balance as you manoeuvre your way back down the ladder.


The answer is all in the thigh muscles. Take one foot off the ladder and standing on one leg, execute the perfect single leg squat. Until your free foot finds the next rung down. Repeat the exercise a couple more times and then you’ll be able to get your hands on the ladder too. The rest, as they say, is history….

Thank god for the personal trainer and his single leg squats, that’s all I can say. (So grumpy as I can be at the gym – I love you really!)

Bits, Bobs, Odds & Sods – the confessions….

This was supposed to be written yesterday – sitting in an airport lounge with a G&T in hand, doing the ‘Confessions of a self-builder’ thing. Unfortunately the fog intervened, my flight was cancelled twice, and so I’m now stuck on a train – hey ho, the joys of the 500-mile weekly commute.

Anyway, confession time – did I spend all weekend prevaricating, or did I get any of those odd jobs done?

Well one thing I did realise this weekend – there’s actually only a few reasons that jobs don’t get done:

Excuse #1.  I hate sawing wood by hand…

… so the steps leading into the snug have been put off for quite some time, because I need to trim a whole length of oak flooring that I was using to finish the steps.


This weekend, I thought I’d discovered a crafty alternative to the  hand saw – a router with a flush trim bit. A whole lot less effort than sawing. Unfortunately I hadn’t really bargained with the amount of sawdust it creates and since it had to be trimmed in situ, the wood trimmings scattered far and wide into the music room below. It probably took me longer to clear it all up than it would have done to saw by hand!

Excuse #2. It’s just too fiddly

I put so many jobs off because I know they require time, patience, and attention to detail – 3 things I don’t have much of!

Having trimmed the oak floorboard and secured them all down, the steps needed some sort of finishing edge. Cutting the trims to fit isn’t difficult, but getting the corners to mitre properly isn’t just fiddly; as far as I’m concerned it’s Mission Impossible. Which is why wood-filler can be a girl’s best friend…

Still, one thing to be said for this kind of job – it’s not messy and there’s no heavy lifting involved. So as an expert in the art of procrastination, putting off some of the less palatable alternatives, I went on a bit of a mission to finish trimming everything I could find….

The landing by the stairs:

The shelf in the snug:

The edge of the bedroom flooring:

I know there’s a few I’ve missed, but they’re the extra fiddly ones. I’ll get round to them next time. Promise.

Excuse #3. I hate cleaning the cement bucket


So I never actually bother. Whenever I’ve finished a job requiring cement or grout or any similar kind of goo, I dump all the tools in the bucket, fill it with water, and ‘leave it to soak’. Well it used to work in university days on the burnt spag bol pan – most of the time.

Unfortunately, dried cement is a bit more persistent than even the best student cooking efforts, so cleaning it takes considerably longer – which is why I keep putting off any jobs that involve ‘the bucket’.

But this is non-procrastination week – so the bucket got cleaned and a few long overdue jobs got done.

The steps in the kitchen need some plasterboard and plaster filling, so I’ve been
putting them off because of ‘the bucket’.

But unfortunately, until I get them finished, I can’t paint the walls either side, and I can’t put the kitchen floor down. So there’s a couple of major jobs dependent on getting that bucket cleaned!

It may not look much different to most of you, but it was a couple of hours work with my bucket of cement and a tub full of plaster skim.

I also had a bit of plasterboard to cement to the wall on the cupboard I’ve built to house the heating manifold. Most of the board was screwed onto a wood frame – a nice, easy job that creates no mess and doesn’t require ‘the bucket’. But there was one small strip that had to be cemented in place – which means it’s been left hanging randomly ever since I first built the cupboard (quite a few months ago!)

Another job to cross off the list – and I think I can put the bucket away again (without cleaning it). Though I think between the kitchen steps and the cupboard, I’ve now let myself in for a fairly major painting job next weekend…

Excuse #4. I really haven’t worked out how I’m going to do this…..

I think I’ve mentioned wonky walls before. Well one of the issues this created was a huge, irregular gap between the string of the staircase and the walls. I hadn’t really worked out what to do with it. A few weeks ago I got a bit trigger-happy with a can of expanding foam:


And not knowing quite what to do with it next, I ignored the giant slug-like protuberance growing out of the side of the staircase.

But since it’s ‘finish the job’ week, I decided this was probably a good one to tackle.

So I attacked the slug with my trusty Fat Max knife, sanded it to within an inch of its life, covered it in layer of plaster skim, and finished with a coat of paint. IMG_1012

It seemed to work out OK. And it’s definitely another job I’m really glad to see the back of.

Excuse #5. I just never got round to it…

For the wall between the bathroom and the stairs, I’ve painted (or at least base-coated) one side, and tiled the other. But I never quite got round to finishing the end of it. But in the spirit of ‘just get on with it’, a couple of bits of plasterboard, an edging strip for the tiles, a bit of plaster skim, and a lick of paint….. jobs a good’un!

This next one’s a good one. I made the steps up into the dressing by building a frame and buying some stair treads which I cut to size. But I never quite got round to securing them. Which meant that if anybody stood on the edge of the tread, it could have tipped up and pitched them down the stairs. Well there’s only three steps, so maybe that wouldn’t be too catastrophic, except that those three steps are directly opposite the edge of the gallery, which doesn’t currently have a balustrade. So a tilting step could have pitched someone down the stairs straight over the edge of a 10ft drop onto the music room floor. Oops – possibly a bit of a health and safety issue.

Well you’ll be pleased to know they are now all secured:

(Though it will probably still be a good idea to get the balustrade installed…)

And the last job of the weekend? Well remember that rat-trap I mentioned a couple of weeks ago – the one that was being shunned by the mice because of its lingering aroma of BBQ mouse? It appears there was an intrepid Dangermouse in the house who decided to explore. A flash and a bang, and Dangermouse was no more. Unfortunately, I’d been away for a couple of weeks; I don’t know when he was zapped, but he’d been dead in there long enough to become a bit ‘sticky’. It couldn’t be put off any more – the trap had to be blitzed. It was a job for latex gloves inside the Marigolds, but I do now have a shiny, clean, odour-free rat-trap.

At this point, frankly, I think I deserved the rest of the weekend off. Actually I think it’s been quite a productive weekend; lots of irritatingly small jobs done. But I don’t think I’ll be doing the whole confessional blogging thing again – much too much like hard work!