Thursday, 17 August 2017

Suddenly we’re busy

The last couple of days have been so busy I’ve not had the time or energy to write a post. 

First the NBN (National Broadband Network) technician arrived early and set about installing our new hybrid fibre network connection.  This means we have fibre to the end of the street and a copper coaxial cable to the house.  Not as good as having fibre to the house, but certainly better than our previous ADSL.  We opted for a Tier 2 connection which means we theoretically should have 25Mbs down and 5Mbs up.  We’re actually getting around 20-23Mbs down and 4.7Mbs up.  That’s better than our previous ADSL connections which was 3Mbs down and 0.7Mbs up.  Of course the router had to be reconfigured which I managed to complete OK.  However the VPN isn’t working properly and I’m into a long email chain with the provider attempting to fix it.

We borrowed my brother-in-law’s trailer to collect some timber for the assembly table and our new bed base.  His reel lawnmower, strimmer and edger were already in the trailer so I mowed the lawns today.  After 66 years I finally got to use a motorized lawn reel mower.  Well I actually had to hang on for grim death whilst it attempted to sprint around the front and back lawns chopping up everything in its way!

We took the trailer to two timber merchants and purchased a mixture of dressed pine and plywood sheets.  Either I was lucky or have tougher hands because Jan tells me she has splinters in the palm of her left hand. 

I found an old saw horse behind the garage which I’ve repaired, saving us the price of a second horse.  These have been used to make a temporary stand for the combination mitre drop saw.

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All the timber for the table has now been cut to length but I couldn’t commence the assembly after discovering I needed an allen key.

Moving on to the next project I placed both the free-wheeling hubs I’d bought second hand into an old ice cream container full of petrol.  Then using an old paintbrush I gave the first one a clean before disassembling it.

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You might be thinking “Why didn’t he do the second hub?” Well I’m not 100% sure how to reassemble the components, so I decided to refurbish each hub separately.

Meanwhile Jan is using her new Remoska to cook dinner.  She is still experimenting with it.

I should really do more explaining about Perth.  Obviously you will have realised the photos on the blog banner are of our 4x4, Perth city skyline and the Roundhouse at Fremantle.  Ade, it’s not a castle.  The roundhouse is the original prison build by the first convicts as their accommodation.  It is the oldest original building in Perth (link to history here).

Perth is built on the banks for the Swan River.  Actually at its lower reaches it’s more of a harbour with a narrow exit to the Indian Ocean at Fremantle.  Whilst the lower portion of the river is quite wide, it’s also shallow, which is why there are no wharves inside the entrance. 

The area was first explored by the Dutch in 1697 who considered it unsuitable for a settlement.  The French explored the area in 1801 leaving with a similar perception. 

Captain James Stirling explored the area in 1827 forming a favourable decision about the quality of the soil, rainfall and vegetation.  If he had looked harder he would have realised 95% of the soil is actually sand.  Stirling’s exploration was also conduct during the winter which gave a false impression of the availability of water and the quality of the vegetation. 

Stirling’s report and rumours of a French intention to establish a penal colony in Western Australia led to a decision by the Colonial Office in London to establish a British colony without any further exploration.

In 1829, just two years later, the first settlers arrived.  No advance party had been sent and no survey work completed.  When the first summer arrived it dried up much of the available water and most of the native vegetation died.  Many of the animals the settlers had brought with them also died.  The settlers were fortunate the local aboriginals showed them how to live off the land thus saving them from extinction.   The British repaid the aboriginals in their usual way by giving them diseases for which they had no natural immunity and shooting them.  The aborigines did try to fight back against the invaders who were taking their land, but wooden spears were no match against muskets and cannon.

After 20 years the settlement hadn’t grown much and was in danger of failing.  The solution was to do what had been done in every other Australian State except South Australia; establish a penal colony.  This provided a cheap source of labour, thus enabling the settlement to grow.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

The Kiwi Shop

My sister kindly gave me a copy of the eulogies from our mother’s 2015 funeral service which had taken place whilst we were in the UK.  Like dad, mum wanted to donate her body to science, however my sister and niece felt they hadn’t had closure after dad died and pressed mum to accept a funeral service.  Mum rather reluctantly agreed but only on the condition there was to be no “weepy or sobby stuff”!  My sister agreed telling mum her opening words would be “DING DONG the witch is dead!”  Apparently mum laughed so hard her false teeth fell out.  So readers you now know I’m not the only one in the family with a wacky sense of humour!

Before continuing with this post I have an announcement for Australian TV news reporter.  The word is “hour”, not “ourwaa”.  And commencing almost every sentence with the word “Now” is superfluous.  Leave it out and I won’t need to grind my teeth!

Work on the media server has come to a halt.  The five 3.5 inch hard drives won’t fit in the 5.25” hole.  Yes, they are too small and a bracket is required.  The brackets are very expensive costing approximately $12 each.  Being an absolute cheapskate I decided to make my own from some steel framing strapping I found in the garage.  Google Sketchup was my friend.

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It looked OK so I made two and fitted them to the hard drives.

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The other side of the hard drives connects directly to the case.  It seemed like a great idea but I discovered having all the drives pre-connected prevented them from being inserted into the case.  PLAN B.  I’ve bought mounting brackets via eBay for $1.39 a pair.

We had the police helicopter hoovering over the neighbourhood in the early hours (ourwaas for the news reporters) the other night.  Apparently there had been a large gathering of youths which had turned into an affray.  Our temporary accommodation is located in “Old Ballajura”.  Local history has it that the estate was designed and built for a large American mining company, but the project didn’t proceed and the homes were all sold privately.  Immediately south of us is “Summer Lakes” where we once owned a house.  This area is slightly more “up-market” with more expensive homes.  To our South-east is “New Ballajura” which has cheaper homes and tend to have more social problems.  To our west are the suburbs of Koondoola Girrawheen and Balga.  In the short time we have been back in Perth there have been a couple of shooting in this area.  Some people who live outside these suburbs refer to the gangs of youths who live in these suburbs as the KGB (initials of the suburbs).  Southwest of us is the suburb of Mirrabooka which has our nearest large shopping mall.  We’ve heard Ballajura locals refer to it as “Little Somalia”.  This is a rather interesting place to live. Smile

This afternoon we drove 13km NW to Joondalup where I purchased a trailer plug adaptor from Jaycars (Maplin equivalent).  we have borrowed my brother-in-laws trailer and it has a round plug whilst our 4x4 has a rectangular socket, hence the need for an adaptor.  Next we drove to Dawson’s Nursery where Jan bought two thornless blackberry plants which will hopefully survive long enough to be planted in our new house.  After that we went to a special shop.

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I was after some genuine Kiwi red saveloys.  None of those insipid UK or Oz saveloys for me.  I want the big fat, bright red, spicy saveloys unique to NZ.  Well they don’t import them <boo hoo>!! 

Yes Ade,  that’s our new silver Isuzu MU-X in the middle of the photo.

Next project is to make a temporary stand for the compound mitre saw.  Once that’s complete I can start making the woodworking assembly table.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Back to the maths

Yesterday I purchased a metal file which enabled me to do some ‘fine tuning’ on the cheap snow foam gun bought on eBay and sent from China.  The recommended gun cost approximately $100 and the supplier was in the UK.  However the Chinese replica was $20 and I’m hoping it will do the same job.  This morning was all about the maths in calculating the ratios for car wash mixture in the snow gun bottle.

The first step was to fill the snow gun bottle with water.  When using the gun this will be a mixture of car wash and water, but it’s the ratio I wanted to calculate today.

I also need to use two buckets to catch the water that passes through the gun in order to calculate the total amount of water passing through the gun until the snow foam bottle is empty.  We have two new buckets but there is nothing on them to indicate capacity.  So my second step was to fill one of the buckets with water using a container with a known capacity.  The capacity of the buckets was calculated at 15 litres.

The third step was to empty the bucket and then refill it I used the pressure washer and snow foam gun.  The purpose of this was to establish the volume of water that must pass through the pressure washer to empty the snow foam bottle.  Actually this turned out to be a relatively simple task resulting in the snow foam bottle emptying at the same time the water filled the bucket.

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So the total water usage was 15 litres.  The snow foam bottle has a capacity of one litre resulting in a 14 to 1 ration.

Things became slightly trickier with the car wash.  It’s American and the ratio was provided in US imperial.  1oz to 1gal.  (Actually the instructions stated 1oz or 1 cap) This was converted to metric

1oz = 0.284131 litres

1gal = 3.785 litres

Calculate number of gals in bucket = 3.69 (14÷3.785)

Therefore the correct ration is 3.69 caps or 105mm of carwash to be added to the water in the 1 litre foam gun.

Why be so precise?

Using less than the required amount of car wash is likely to result in an inadequate density and coverage of foam on the vehicle.  Using too much is a waste (and the car wash is expensive).

Having completed that task I went on to crimp the terminals on the 12V fuse box I purchased from China.

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There are a total of six fuses divided into two banks of 3.  The box has two 12V supply input cables and six output cables.  I crimped male spade connectors onto the input cables and female connectors onto the output cables.  The logic behind this was I wanted to ensure any “live” terminal had an insulated female end. 

I think I might have found a location for this fuse box under the 4x4 steering column.

Another small task was to assemble the switch assembly which has been made up of very cheap components purchased from China via eBay.

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The three switches will be for the LED Light Bar on the front of the vehicle; the Tyre Pressure Management System and the Two-way radio.  The Dash Cam will be permanently on and therefore won’t require a switch.  I think I’ve found a location to hide these switches.  There is a small, flat cabinet with a lid on top of the dash.  Each switch has an LED which will illuminate when on but because the switches will be inside the cabinet almost no light should escape.

Friday, 11 August 2017

A Day of Mixed Feelings

It’s been a very emotional day for us.  Our lovely Waiouru was sold today and whilst we earnestly hope her new owners love her as much as we did both of us grieve for our loss.  Jan believes the five years we spent on board were some of the best in her life and it’s hard not to agree.  The canal community can best be described as a genuine caring community and we both miss it.
We treasure both our memories and photos and what great times we had!  But there is little point in spending all your time looking back and dwelling on the past.  That’s how you walk into lampposts! Smile
One thing I have done is to change the blog banner to reflect our new direction and future. There are a few things on the ‘bucket list’ and time is starting to get tight.  Shortly I’ll commence the modifications to the 4x4 which I will include in the blog posts.  I’ve also started more detailed research into outback camper trailers.  The cheap trailers don’t meet my criteria and the expensive outback trailers are……… just too expensive.  My latest plan is to complete some major modifications to a basic Chinese manufactured 7x4 trailer thereby keeping the cost down.
This morning I checked the Araldite repairs to the damaged bread maker and everything looked fine.  Reassembling the appliance was considerably easier than disassembling it.  Obviously because I knew how it went back together!  The attempted repairs to the headphones hadn’t gone as well and consequentially I’ve done some further work on them.
There was yet another quick trip to the local hardware store for a further five 3 pin plugs.  these were fitted in the afternoon and completes the changeover from UK to AS plugs.

Thursday, 10 August 2017

More Rain and Repairs

We’ve been experiencing more rain, thunder and lightening, hail and local flooding.  The local primary school pupils were observed playing outside in the hail.  There must have been 2 centimetres on the ground and I guess it must have been the nearest thing they have seen to snow.  We are fortunate our house is on high ground and so avoided being flooded.  It’s also been cold, but then you would expect that during winter.

I’ve been back to the hardware store for more 240V 3 pin plugs and some Araldite.  I’ve used the latter to repair the bread maker with the broken foot.  It’s a two stage repair and it glued the larger broken portion yesterday.

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The second, smaller part was Araldited in this morning.  I used one of the long screws and duct tape to hold the piece in position whilst the Araldite set.  The red arrow marks the small white plastic chip.

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Hopefully the Araldite will be sufficiently strong to repair the foot.  If not I’ll make another foot.  I used the remaining mixed Araldite to start the repair of the head phones.

I also replaced another ten 240V 3 pin plugs on appliances and power tools.  They were the cheapest plugs I could find and I’ve discovered it takes some force to assemble them after the wiring is connected.  Consequentially I have sore hands.  There are another five appliances requiring replacement plugs but that job might be left for a couple of days to allow my hands to recover.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Reason for the delay – Christmas came early

All those good intentions of writing yesterday came to naught when the Pickfords truck arrived at 1pm instead of the advised 5.30pm.  Fortunately we hadn’t gone out and were present to take delivery of our fourteen UK boxes.

The boxes are looking considerably more “worn” than when we last saw them in Manchester.

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Our plans of unpacking the following day were set aside and with the afternoon free we promptly got to work unpacking.   I knew the two large boxes contained the Kipor generator and the Engel freezer but discovering the contents of the remaining boxes was a pleasure.  Particularly now our wardrobe has increased. Smile  We had purchased ten AS/NZ style 3 pin plugs for the appliances however we’ll need another nine plugs after incorrectly calculating the number of appliances we had purchased.

Breakages have been relatively minor.  The two crockery side plates with colourful canal scenes on them are smashed.  That would be my failure to adequately wrap them.  The securing bracket on one earmuff of the TV wireless remote stereo headphones has broken and Jan’s Aldi bread maker has a broken plastic foot.  It took me some time to work out how the clever Chinese had assembled it, but I got there in the end.

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I’ll need to visit the hardware store for some Araldite to glue the foot back in place and fix the headphones.  Whilst there I’ll buy another ten 3 pin plugs.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

The Black Bar

Yes I know the blog header is a black bar.  Please bear with me whilst I endeavour to fix the problem!

Normal service will resume shortly......  I hope!

Friday, 4 August 2017

Facebook

Readers you will know how concerned I get about protecting my personal data and today I finally had enough of Facebook to take further action.  I rarely post on Facebook and primarily use it to keep track of friends and relatives.  I never click ‘Like’ on shared links or articles knowing Facebook use the data to build a more detailed profile about me.

Years ago; before Facebook tightened up their requirements; I declared my year of birth as 1901 and my status as single.  Consequentially Facebook displays Ads for viagra and meet young Russian ladies looking for love on my main page. 

When I logged into Facebook today I immediately realised they had been “harvesting” the browsing data from Chrome.  I then went into the Chrome setting and deleted all the historical data and blocked the cookies.  That prevented Facebook from access my history.  Consequentially Facebook now refuses to allow me to login until I reactive their access to cookies on my browser.

The ****** don’t defeat me that easily.  I have both Chrome and Firefox on the computer so I’ve configured Firefox to only have Facebook and will only use it to look at Facebook.  All my other internet browsing will be done using Chrome.  That seems to be working!

Actually I’m starting to get annoyed with Chrome and Google.  Google is really starting to concern me.  They appear to be getting very selective about the order in which the results of any search appears.  Moreover they are also “harvesting” my personal data, albeit slightly less intrusively than Facebook.   I may shortly start using DuckDuckGo instead of Google and Opera instead of Chrome.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

More rain

The temperature nearly reached zero at dawn yesterday and the locals we met considered it was freezing.  Probably was for Perth.  However we are still sleeping under a summer weight duvet and haven’t turned on any heaters.

Reading boaters blogs today made both of us quite nostalgic looking at photos of Gloucester, Tewkesbury and Liverpool.  This wasn’t helped by Facebook displaying some photos I’d taken of lovely canal scenes during the previous 5 years.  Oh well…. life moves on!

I rummaged around in the 4x4 engine compartment and think I might have found a small space for the Voltage Sensitive Relay (VSR) and relay for the LED bar.  There is a small gap behind the left headlight.

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The VSR would be better located on the other side of the battery, closer to the bulkhead where these is more room.  But vacant space is at a premium so I’m attempting to squeeze everything into the smallest of spaces.

I’m thinking of using the larger cavity on the other side of the battery for a secondary fuel filter.

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Some of the fuel available from outback tanks is of questionable quality and I think a secondary fuel filter is probably a good idea.  Fortunately I have small hands which will (hopefully) fit into these confined spaces.

I also need to consider fitting extensions to the differential, transfer case and gearbox breathers.  that’s a total of 4 breather requiring extensions.  Why extend them?  After the vehicle has been running for 30+ minutes the oil in these gets hot and expands.  If the 4x4 then fords a stream the differential/gearbox might be immersed in water and rapidly cool.  This will cause the oil to contract and water could be sucked into the differential/gearbox through the breather.  I plan to extend the breather hoses so they terminate higher.  Probably on the bulkhead in the engine compartment.

Some good news.  Our UK boxes are scheduled to be delivered on Monday.  No longer will we have just one change of clothes! Smile

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

It’s official

Since we arrived back in Perth it has experienced some of the worst weather since the 1970’s.  You can count the days it hasn’t rained on one hand and the weeds are certainly making the most of it!

Yesterday I arrived back from a walk to discover a van parked on front of the house and a man walking around on our lawn with a probe.  The neighbours had reported they could smell gas and it appeared our lawn was the problem area.  Late in the afternoon a large truck (lorry) arrived with a digger and gas leak repair crew.  The beautifully manicured front lawn had a deep trench dug across it before the crew discovered the precise location of the crack in the pvc gas main.  The roots from one of the large gumtrees in the front lawn had pushed the pipe to the point where it had fractured.  I’m guessing the growth in the tree was a consequences of all the recent rain.

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Of course our house is at the end of the gas main so no other house was affected when the supply was isolated.  However the crew were cheerful and quick completing the repair by 8.30pm.  We now have a large bare sand patch in the middle of what was a bowling green lawn.

Both my brother & sister-in-law and my sister and brother-in-law have separately headed to Bali Indonesia for a seven day holiday.  My guess is they wanted to escape the cold and wet weather here.  We’ve been dog sitting for my sister.  Well actually it’s dog lying when it comes to Jan.

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Jan is now on first name basis with the postie.  Our eBay purchases are arriving daily and the postie on his electric bike has the job of delivering 90% of them.  the remaining 10% are delivered by contract courier.  Jan’s pan arrived poorly packaged and with a broken handle.

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I’ve written to the seller asking them to send a replacement handle which I will fit.  Most of the items for the 4x4 have arrived however I’m still waiting on my tools before I can commence the modifications.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Project Parts

WARNING  boring technical post

Australia Post has been delivering more of the components I’ve purchased for one of my projects.  Many of the components are coming from China via eBay.  I did look at sourcing the same items in Australia, however it didn’t take long to realise the cost usually increased by approximately 500%.  We frequently hear the expression “Purchase locally and buy your children a job!”  But, like me, the local sellers are purchasing from China and then adding a massive margin.  I’ll buy local when it’s value for money or the quality is superior.

This particular project is to add a number of components to our new Isuzu 4x4.  They include:

  • Tyre pressure management system
  • CB radio
  • Trailer electric brake controller
  • LED light bar
  • Dash camera
  • 2nd battery charging system
  • 12V charging power to a camper trailer
  • Additional usb charging ports

The power supply for the trailer electric brake controller must be directly wired to the vehicle starter battery without a fuse.  Not having a fuse is unusual, but the logic is you don’t want the brake controller to fail when towing a heavy trailer because a fuse ‘blew’.  The purpose of any fuse is to protect the cable from overheating or failing, so I’ll run a high capacity cable between the battery and brake controller in an effort to ensure there are no safety issues.

Apart from the dash cam, the remaining components will only be able to be turned on if the engine is running or the ignition key on and turned to Accessories.  The dash cam will be powered 24/7.  This is because the dash cam has an automatic ‘bump’ recording mode. (ie, it will automatically start recording if the parked and unattended vehicle is bumped or knocked).  It’s unlikely the dash cam will draw enough power to flatten the started battery during the time the vehicle is unattended.  However to avoid the possibility any of these “accessories” might flatten the vehicle starter battery I am going to fit a voltage sensitive relay (VSR) between the starter battery and these additional components.

Essentially the VSR is an automatic switch which engages when the starter battery voltage reaches 13.3V and then disengages if the starter battery voltage drops below 12.8V.  So the VSR serves two purposes.  It ensures the starter battery is charged first and then it protects the starter battery from being discharged below 12.8V.  So using the VSR will prevent my accessories from inadvertently draining the starter battery.  Obviously I don’t want to be stuck in the middle of the Great Sandy Desert with a flat battery.

The TPMS and dash cam arrived from China last month.  I have yet to buy the CB radio, LED bar and brake controller.  However the plan is to install all the wiring and then fit these three items later.

So what items have I received.

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From top right clockwise

  • 125A circuit breaker which will fit between the starter battery and the VSR
  • Two 20A circuit breakers for the main power supply to the accessories
  • Voltage Sensitive Relay (VSR)
  • Soldering jig and magnifying glass (old eyes and shaky hands)
  • 1m of flexible curtain cable to act as a ‘draw cord’ to feed the wiring through the back of the dashboard
  • Range of cable terminals.
  • Switch holder (below VSR) which will hold four switches.

Yet to be received

  • 12V fuse panel
  • Switches
  • Cable and lugs

I remember the first car I owned.  It was a 1967 Vauxhall Viva and there was oodles of free space under the bonnet.  After looking under the bonnet of our Izuzu I can see it’s going to be interesting trying to squeeze in some of the above components. 

My tools haven’t yet arrived so at least I have time to think through this problem! Smile

The media server project has also come to a halt whilst we wait on our UK boxes.  One of these contains the computer hard drives.  The boxes also contain my woodworking tools which means no progress on the bed project.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Compounding Fines

  Another “loose end”!  Upon entering our Adelaide house I found a large pile of mail.  Before leaving for the UK we arranged with the post office to redirect all our mail, but obviously that wasn’t 100% successful.  Once I started examining the mail it was apparent most of it was semi-junk mail.  However I was somewhat  concerned when I started to open letters from the State government informing me we were in default and had been fined.  Moreover, as I continued to open mail the fine increased in size with each consecutive letter.  Unfortunately none of the letters mentioned the reason for the fine.  The final letters had a compounding fine amount of $482.50 for each of us.  The last letter stated that because we hadn’t responded or paid the fine our driver’s licenses were cancelled and the case handed (sold) to a commercial debt collecting agency.

At the bottom of the pile of mail I finally found a letter with the reason for the fines.  We hadn’t voted in the 2014 State Election.  Voting at State and Federal level in Australia is compulsory.  Part of me thinks compulsory voting is a good idea as it compels eligible lethargic citizens to exercise their democratic responsibilities.   Another part of me thinks compulsory voting is undemocratic.  People should have the right to decide whether or not they want to vote.  The cynical part of me believes this is a revenue stream for political parties as they receive a financial return for each vote their party receives.  Anyway, I now have the additional task of having the fines withdrawn.

The E.R.France docked in Fremantle port on 19 July and our container was unloaded and removed from the port the same day.  We have received an email advising there is a $88 quarantine clearance fee and delivery to us will take 10-14 days.  Not quite as fast as I was anticipating.  My guess is the container is in a bond store (ie, compound) awaiting inspection by Customs and the Dept of Agriculture.

The severe itching and swelling from my contact with the Bougainvillea is slowly dissipating.  I’m now sure it was the Bougainvillea as the itchy lumps have now appears all over the top of my head and my face.  I was sprayed with Bougainvillea when I used the chainsaw to cut the overhanging vines and the cuttings fell down on top of me.  Hopefully I’ll be over the worst of the swelling and irritation by the end of the week.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Itchy itchy scratchy scratchy

Armed with secateurs, pruning shears and a small step ladder I returned to our house on Wednesday morning.  The real estate agent was due at 10am and the plan was to have the curtains rehung before he arrived.  Well that didn’t happen because when I climbed the stepladder I realised all the plastic eyes on the curtain rail had been broken.  Obviously someone had pulled on the curtains breaking the eyes.

Thwarted over the curtains I decided to cut back the native tree which had grown through the bottom and top timber decks reaching the roof of the upstairs pergola.  I’d almost completed that task when the agent arrive.  His advice was very informative and help set my priorities.  His observation was structurally the house looked good but that the new owners would likely redecorate.  Therefore I should forget about the curtains.  Actually his advice was to remove them as they “dated” the house.  I should also forget about replacing the carpet with the patch as any new owner would likely replace the carpet.  He gave me the name of a good handyman/gardener who could prepare the house for sale.  Also, an empty house is hard to sell and we should have it temporarily furnished with selected modern furniture to highlight the positive aspects of the property.  Again he gave me a contact.

I spent another four hours with the secateurs and shears battling the jungle.  It was apparent to me I wasn’t going to make much of an impact with the tools I had and that evening I mentioned the problem to Trevor asking if I could borrow the small battery powered saw he had mentioned the previous day.  After describing some of the trees he produced a petrol chainsaw.  for the mould on the deck and joists he produced a pressure washer.  Obviously I was going to be busy on Thursday!

Next morning I was at the house for a 7.30am meeting with the handyman.  We agreed I would do as much as I could then he would return to assess the size of the task and give me a quotation.  The first task was to remove the tree from behind the water tank.  The tank stand has been pushed out of shape by the growing tree but it can be repaired.  Next I pressure washed the lower deck, timber ramp and roof joists to remove all the mould.  Of course I got soaking wet and covered in mould.

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The deck can now be painted.  All the rubbish and vegetation from the house and ground floor area was piled into the paved clothesline area awaiting removal.

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The next task was to cut down all the native trees in the backyard with the chainsaw opening the area up to light.  The bougainvillea growing over the steel arch on the lower path received a very close haircut with the chainsaw.  I even used the chainsaw to cut back the lavender bushes.  All this vegetation was placed into three piles for removal.

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I decided the Jacaranda tree was too nice to touch, however the fruit trees got pruned in an effort to get them growing in the right direction.

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The handyman will have his work cut out removing all these cuttings up to the road for removal. 

After a short break I tackled the front yard, again with the chainsaw.  All but one of the tall native trees were cut down.  The large gum tree on the verge beside the letterbox receive a ‘short back and sides’.  The cuttings went onto two large piles. 


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It’s now possible to see the house from the road

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By now the sun was starting to set and I was exhausted.  It was a tired and dirty old man who arrived back at Trevor and Carolanne’s after the sun had set.  I was so tired I couldn’t eat all of the lovely meal Carolanne had prepared.  You might think I would have slept like a log but for some reason it didn't happen.

Friday morning I had another meeting with the real estate agent handing over the keys before leaving for the airport.  My return flight was with Jetstar (EasyJet equivalent) and it’s fortunate I’m only 4’6” tall otherwise I wouldn’t have fitted into the seat .Smile

Jan collected me on arrival in Perth and took me home for a light dinner.  I was too tired to eat a normal sized meal!  That evening I had to take off my wrist watch and fitness bands as my wrists were starting to itch.  Lots of scratching during the night and I woke to find both arms covered in a red itchy rash.   By Saturday night the right side of my face and neck had a lumpy red rash which itched.  Another restless night!  I think this is “The revenge of the bougainvillea”.  I was wearing gloves, safety glasses and a long sleeved shirt but it obviously wasn’t enough.

On reflection I became so engrossed with the work I failed to take a photo of my very kind hosts, Trevor and Carolanne.  I also failed to take a photo of the panoramic view from the upper deck.  Rather than disappoint you I’ve placed some photos taken in 2011.

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The house won’t go on the market until Jon (the handyman) has completed the maintenance and tidied the grounds.  Angela (decorator) will then temporarily furnish the house.  It was quite interesting to hear Charles and Harry (real estate agents)  tell me they had sold five adjacent properties, all with the same floor plan and views.  They only furnished one of the houses and every time that was the house that sold.  Buyers weren’t interested in the unfurnished homes despite them being exactly the same.  They did eventually sell all five homes, but had to move the furniture five times! 


Saturday, 22 July 2017

Indiana Jones

This time the gap in blog posts has been caused by too much work rather than a lack of things to report.  We had made the decision that something needed to be done about our house.  The tenant had left (without paying the rent) and our assumption was there would be numerous minor maintenance tasks.  The property manager was chasing the tenant’s bond money and also arranging the insurance claim.  We really needed to take steps to get the property on the market.

After searching some of the flight websites I managed to get a cheap flight from Perth to Adelaide with Virgin Australia.  It’s not my preferred airline; but needs must.  My impression is virgin hasn’t yet decided whether it wants to directly compete with Qantas at the top end of the market or stick with being a budget carrier and compete with Jetstar and Tiger.  Anyway the flight from Perth to Adelaide is 3.5 hours with a 90 minute time zone change.  I’d allowed 2 days to do everything and then added a 3rd day just in case something happened.

I was fortunate with the Virgin flight as the middle seat was empty giving me slightly more room.  Adelaide was experiencing some bad weather which made the landing slightly rough.  Fortunately the showers had passed by the time I exited the terminal.

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View east from the Adelaide Airport Terminal towards the Mt lofty Ranges which I used to regularly walk in the days when I was fit.

I’d booked a small cheap (relative Australian term) car from Firefly.  They appear to be affiliated with Hertz with the Firefly vehicles possibly being ex Hertz.

The first task was to visit the office of the property manager and collect the house keys.  On the way I was reminded that Adelaide suburban roads are a mosaic of patches.  The only person in the office was the receptionist however she was able to give me the house keys.

You can possibly imagine my consternation when I couldn’t find the house.  All that could be seen was a jungle.  Bob Geldof could have used the site for the next episode of Survivor Guatemala!  Just like Indiana Jones I managed to push my way down through the undergrowth to reach the front door.  In relative terms the interior of the house was in better condition.  I noticed the floating timber floor I laid in the foyer is desperately in need of sanding and another coat of varnish.

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The curtains in the main lounge room were hanging down.  I erroneously assumed all that was required was to connect the hooks back into the eyes on the rail.

2Another shock awaited me in the family room.  Our expensive heavy duty commercial carpet  was stained and had a rough rectangular patch.

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In 6 years no one had mentioned this!  Over in the bottom far corner of the room was a hole in the wall which had been roughly stuffed with stainless steel scouring wool.

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I’ve subsequently been informed this is how you block a mouse hole!

Both electric roller doors in the garage have been replaced during our absence (we paid) and I noticed the door closest to the house doesn’t lock leaving a gap at the bottom. 

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At the rear the house has large upper and lower timber sundecks with magnificent views of the city and gulf.  Well they would have views if it wasn’t for the jungle.  We have paid $000’s for gardening since vacating the house in 2011 and it looks as if nothing has been done.

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The lower deck was covered in green mould and we have one rotten plank.  At the other end of the deck the shrubs have grown so high they have pushed the water tank off it’s stand causing it to collapse.  The same shrubs have grown through the lower deck and up through the upper deck and then into the roof of the pergola.

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You had to crouch to get underneath the branches when walking down the ramp to reach the lower garden. 

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All the trees and shrubs in the lower garden have grown wild.  The native trees have particularly thrived drowning out the fruit trees and lower shrubs.  Australia is a dry country and the native vegetation has to be hardy to survive the long droughts.  However our garden has an automatic water reticulation system which has provided the native bushes and trees with ideal growing conditions.

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I’d arranged a meeting with a Real Estate agent for 10am the following morning and given the state of the property I wondered what he would make of it.  It was with much consternation I drove away thinking of the work (and expense) required to get the property ready for sale. 

Our very good friends Trevor and Carolanne had very kindly offered me accommodation in their lovely home located up in the Adelaide Hills.  I thought I might be able to borrow a small stepladder from Trevor and re-hang the curtains.  I hadn’t brought much clothing with me having anticipated finding the house in good condition.  Not only could Trevor provide a ladder, he also had secateurs and heavy duty pruning shears.  When I protested I didn’t have any clothing, he willingly provided an old shirt and long trousers.  Obviously he was determined to ensure I wasn’t bored! Smile

Well that’s enough for you to read today.  I’ll explain what subsequently happened in the next post.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Busy…. but only sometimes

The last few days have been a combination of very busy and total boredom with nothing to write about.

The media server project has come to a halt whilst we await the arrival of the hard disk drives which are in one of the UK boxes.  Using the laptop has become easier now I’ve connected the big monitor and full sized keyboard to it.

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I’ve also ‘nobbled’ the only table and sole chair.   There was one small thing I could do to advance the media server project and that was to fix the Raspberry Pi to the router using velcro.  It’s an idea I copied from our youngest son.  The Raspberry Pi will eventually be powered by the router and I will replace the existing blue ethernet cable with a short cable we have in one of the UK boxes.

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I could connect the Raspberry Pi to the router wirelessly but I prefer using ethernet cables believing they provide a more reliable connection and are also more secure.

Yesterday I washed and polished the Isuzu for a second time.  I’ve become very technical with my washing technique.  During the last few years on Waiouru I adopted the ‘two bucket’ method using a microfibre mitt and a leather chamois to dry.  I now realise drying with the chamois wasn’t the best option.

My new technique is:  

  • Initial high pressure water wash to remove surface dirt.
  • 2nd high pressure wash using a snow foam gun to cover the vehicle with a layer of foam which is supposed to ‘lift’ some of the more stubborn dirt.
  • High pressure gun rinse.
  • Two bucket hand foam wash using micro fibre mitt.
  • High pressure rinse.
  • Dry with micro fibre towel (this is easier and much faster than using a chamois).
  • Polish.  I’m trialling Meguars Wet Look polish.  Apply with a sponge pad and remove with micro fibre clothes.  so far I’ve managed to avoid those swirl marks in the paint.

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I’m not sure this expensive ‘wet look’ polish is making much difference!

The snow foam adapter that came with the Gernie pressure washer proved to be a failure and after some research I identified the ‘purists’ were using a $120 snow foam gun.  More research indicated I could buy a Chinese copy from Ebay.  Of course it arrived the morning after I’d washed and polished the car.

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I’ve now discovered the brass fitting on the gun is slightly too large for the Gernie connector.  I need to file it down…. but of course I currently don’t have a file!

The courier also delivered a package for Jan.  It turned out to be the cast iron pancake pan she has ordered from Ebay.  Unfortunately the overseas seller had made a very poor job with the packaging and the handle had been broken in transit.  hopefully they will send her a replacement handle.

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I got a hell of a shock yesterday when I went to the website to check on our 240V electrical consumption.  There was significant usage between 1.00-3.00am.  That’s when we are asleep so why so much power consumption.  The only two Items I could think might be using power were the fridge and freezer.  Checking back through the consumption historical data revealed it was occurring every night.  Then I went right back to the day prior to our arrival in Australia and discovered the high consumption was still occurring!!!!

Finally it dawned on me……… I hadn’t logged into our data and was looking at the website demonstration data.   What an idiot….. what a relief! Smile

We appear to be averaging approximately 6.5kW daily.  I entered a budget of $150 and so far this month we have consumed $28.96 (plus the monthly service fee of $14)  That is approx $2 daily or £1 which is less than we would have spent in diesel on Waiouru.  Although I acknowledge the fuel on Waiouru was also being used for propulsion and hot water which means I need to factor in the cost of fuel for the 4x4.

After being introduced to sloe gin by Jan and Alistair (nb Qisma) Jan has decided she would like to grow some sloe bushes.  They are as easy to find in Perth as the end of the rainbow.  After several hours of internet searching she bought some seeds off Ebay.  Hopefully they don’t arrive broken. Smile  She also wanted some thornless blackberries which resulted in us driving to Guildford which is not on the River Wey.  It’s beside the Swan River.

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The garden centre didn’t have any in stock “Next weekend”.  Someone at the centre is a mini minor fan.

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I did check on the location of the ship conveying our container to Perth.  It left the tip of Peninsula Malaysia and called onto Singapore before heading south towards Australia.  The website doesn’t show the location on the live map to non paying subscribers.  However the latitude and longitude was shown so being sneaky resourceful I copied and pasted it into google Earth.

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It looks to be on track to arrive on 19 July.