News and comments from Arthur

Bricklaying

 Tuesday 30 Sep 2008, 8:38 AM

Arthur has turned his hand to re-pointing and bricklaying over the past few days.

He had some walls rebuilt in his front garden 10 years or so ago when he was redoing his driveway. Unfortunately the bricklayer (and/or his assisstant) were complete moinkeys when it came to mixing bricklaying mortar and generally made it far too weak and in some batches, clearly didn`t mix it very well, because Arthur`s walls are beginning to fll down already (his 75 year old house on the other hand is still doing perfectly well). Arthur can see where the morater has been washed away and some cricks have become loose. In some places Athur could even scrape the mortar out with his finger was it was just pockets of sand where it hadn`t been mixed proeperly. Thus Arthuyr has set about tidying things up before the whole lot falls down.

He started with some repointing. He used chisels, a grout scraper and an angle grinder to clear out the old mortar (although some places there was enough washed away to simply put the new stuff on, it is always best to ensure it is possible to put as much new mortar in as possible, hence why some of it was ground out). This was a pretty quicky, if rather dusty process. The repointing however was painfuly slow. The horizontal bits were easy but the verticals were a nightmare, not helped by the fact all the bricks were very low to the ground, making getting the trowel in at the correct anbgle somewhat tricky. In fact Arthur generally ended up rolling up little sausages of cement and putting them in by hand! He had rather sore, dehydrated hands afterwards though.

Arthur also had some bricklaying to do where some bricks had come off on his front wall. It was only a single layer of half bricks along the top of the wall - a stretch no longer than 1.5m - yet Arthur was very much surprised by just how much mortar he had to mix up to lay them, He started with 1/3 to 1/2 a bucket thinking it would be plenty, but ran out very quickly and ended up making neatly another entire bucket full to lay the rest. Altough not the nestest job in the world, it loked reasonable once it was done; rustic would be a good description! He also had 3 bricks near his front door where a previous occupant had buoilt a sort of plater thing attached to to the front doorstep. The bricks from this plantet were differnet, much less porous, and the morter set much slower meaning Arthur had to wait for ages before he could finish the pointing. He also had to cover it all with a bin liner as it was due top rain and he didn`t like the idea of his hard work being washed away because it hadn`t set!

Only time will tell if Arthur`s work is significantly stronger and longer lasting than the previous so called "professionals" attempt.

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Fixed Bike!

 Thursday 25 Sep 2008, 9:30 AM

The bike is fixed! Hooray!

Arthur managed to get his bike sorted last night. He set about things in a nice logical way and his first few attempts were still doomed to failure. Then his lodger, a abike expect, suggested putting it up on his bike stand so Arthur could see what was going on a bit better and make working on it easier (the bike expert too had previosly failed on numerous occasions to get it fixed).

With the bike up on the stand Arthur eventually discovered the problem; the cable routing when the cable was clamped to the front gears was preventing it from moving to the top gear - the cable was being bent and crushed between 2 bolts stopping them moving closer together. This was a bit odd as the only way to fix the problem was to send the cable via an alternate route avoiding a little spiggot on the clamp for holding the cable in place, which didn`t seem as well clamped but at least it actually worked. Arghur also did some general brake and gerar adjustment and, with a quick test, the clicking noise had stopped too, even with his new pedals (his testing was cut short by some heavy rain).

Artrhur was also happy that his day driving into work hadn`t been a total waste as, after months of waiting, Arthur finally discovered the bread maker he was buyiong his dad for his birthday, was back in stock at Argos (Arthur had loads of Argos vouchers to use). Thus having the car to hand at luchtime, he popped into town and picked it up and delivered it in the evening once he had sorted his bike problems.

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More Sci-Fi

 Wednesday 24 Sep 2008, 6:39 PM

Arthur finally got to book tickets to the mini Sci-Fi London film festival at the start of October today. He is going to see the all night anime which, unlike the main festival back in May which showed a load of stuff he`d already seen, is showing a good looking selection of new stuff. Arthur has also booked a few days off work before and after to help with any extra sleep required. October is a great month - Arthur is only working 4 day weeks for the whole month due to various days off (although the one for his allergy testing hospital appointment isn`t exactly going to be a barrel of laughs and Arthur would probably prefer to be at work)

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Broken Bike

 Tuesday 23 Sep 2008, 7:21 PM

Arthur`s bike had been making some very odd noises over the past few days - a loud clicking/pinging noise with every rotation of the pedals which would mean either a buggered bottom bracket or buggered pedal bearings. The latter seemed unlikely as he had only recently got new pedals although at the rate Arthur gores through pedals it wouldn`t surprise him if they`d died after only a few months.

Thus Arthur set out to try and discover the source of the problem by replacing the right hand pedal with an old spare on to see if the noise stopped or carried on (the noise only happened when pushing down on the right hand pedal). Arthur was rather annoyed to find that the noise stopped which meant it was the pedals. or was it? Because at the same time, possibly by coincidence or possibly not, the front gear cable had snapped. Could the gear cable have somehow been causing the problem?

Thus Arthur popped down his local Halfords, grabbed a new cable and attempted to fit it. And that`s when his problems really began. He just could not get his gears to work properly. No matter what he tried, he just could not make it shift to all 3 gears. Arthur seems to remember doing something odd the last time he adjusted his front gears but couldn`t remeber waht it was. Even the internet was of little help. So Arthur just gave up (it was cold and dark outside) and resigned himself to drivinmg to work the next day in the hope that a solution would magically present itself the next evening.

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Cinnamon Cereal

 Saturday 20 Sep 2008, 3:49 AM

Not only is Arthur stuffed full of Opal Fruits at the moment, he also recently discovered the delights of Seriously Cinnamon breakfast cereal (previously known as Cinnamon Grahams). These are little toasted wheat squares (or long oblongs if the machine that cuts them up hasn`t quite worked properly) with a sugar and cinnamin coating and a various nice little patterns printed on one side.

Arthur doesn`t eat them for breakfast (nothing is ever likely depose Weetabix and his breakfast of choice) but simply munches them out of the box as a snack - they`ve got tot be better for you than crisps, seets of biscuits! Arhtur was being relativlet sensibel about eating them as they were £2.20 a box but then Asda decided to put them on special offer - £2 for 2 boxes. It was cheaoper to buy 2 of them than just one! So, Arthur found himslef with 8 boxes of this cereal at home and started eating. Less than a week later Arthur diwscovered he had consumed 2 boxes of the stuff - this was not good. Whilst they are a cereal and supposedly good for you, eating that much sugary, wheaty stuff is porbably not a good ideas, so Arthur has had to go cold turkey and leave the remaining boxes on his side in the kitchen, sitting there tempting him all the time with their cinnamon goodness...

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The new washing machine

 Saturday 6 Sep 2008, 8:03 AM

After several nights of hunting around the same shops again and again plus some new ones (Makro and Costco) Arthur has finally got a new washing machine. It was a bit more than he wanted to spend (£280) but at least he can do his backlog of washing now and won`t have to go to work next week amid taunts of "smelly Arthur".

He could have got it a bit cheaper (£30- £35 less) had he bought online but that would have meant waiting for delivery which, given Arthur`s previous experience with white good deliveries, could have taken weeks. And whilst Arthur could have gone round his parents to do some washing it wouldn`t exactly have been convenient.

Anyway, his new Hotpoint washer is busy doing its first load having been through its first cycle to clean it all out. Arthur got a bit worried as it totally filled up with foam and he had visons of being ankle deep in a white frothy kitchen, the sort of thing he`d expect to see in a Home Alone film. But he adjusted the cycles to get it to drain and all was well. It makes a few odd noises - the motor may be crackling a bit and the door lock mechanism makes a short, loud hissing noise (at least Arthur assumes it is the door locking bit). He will see if they get any better/worse in the next few weeks.

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Deceased washing machine

 Wednesday 3 Sep 2008, 7:54 AM

Arthur`s Ariston washing machine has died (atually it was a washer-dryer byt the drying bit stopped working just over a year after he got it). Either that or his cack-handed lodger broke it; it was his load in the machine when it stopped working so it is more than likely his fault!

The drum had stopped turning and a quick investigation by pulling the back of the machine off and poking around a bit, revealed that the motor was not behaving - it was making a funnuy clicking noise when it was turned by hand. Plugging the machine back in and setting a cycle going, the motor made a half-hearted effort to turn and did so for 5 or 10 seconds but this was accompanied by a lot of crackling and some bright flashes of sparks. Thus Arthur decied the motor had had it and it was time for a new washing machine.

A quick look round the shops and some online sites revealed that all the cheaper models (Arthur isn`t going to spend over £400 on a washing machine) weren`t held in stock that reliably and finding a budget machine was going to be tricky. This was further complicated by the fact that Arthur had limited depth to work with due to some awkward plumbing in the gap where his washing machine lived. Arthur also discovered that all new washing machines are only cold fill these days (yet for some reason washer-dryers are hot and cold - why? Drying doesn`t need a supply of cold water???) And thgus the great washing machine hunt began...

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