DIY Sandbox: Sandpit Lid

Post length: 782 words, about 3 and a half minutes.
Completed sandpit lid

Back in June I wrote about the DIY sandbox which my father and I built in the garden over summer. As the sandbox is out in the garden we obviously needed to cover it to keep the rain out. At the time we used a standard tarpaulin held down with bricks. I always planned to get one cut to size and use hooks and bungee to hold it in place but never got around to it. The temporary solution had worked through summer, allowing a little rain ingress but nothing major. That was until a couple of weeks ago when the UK was hit by torrential rain. I decided it was about time I did something about it.

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Posted on Friday 1st November, 2019 at 8:30 am in DIY, Parenting.
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DIY Sandpit: Building a Garden Sandbox

Post length: 1,249 words, about 5 and a half minutes.

Our son is now 19 months old and as my parents were staying with us for Easter this year, and the weather was so nice, my dad and I decided to set to work building a DIY sandpit in the garden.

DIY Garden Sandpit.
The finished sandpit.

We initially spent some time looking at off-the-shelf sandpit options such as this square one and this large octagonal one but didn’t find anything which quite met our requirements. The commercial offerings were often too small and generally quite expensive for what, in effect, is a wooden box. So we decided to build our own.

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Posted on Tuesday 18th June, 2019 at 1:33 pm in DIY, Parenting.
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BBC Radio 2 Breakfast Show: What are the Options?

Post length: 2,449 words, almost 11 minutes.

Chris Evans will only stand down from hosting the BBC Radio 2 breakfast show to move to Virgin’s breakfast slot in December, but speculation is already rife about who might take over from him. Even the BBC themselves have got in on the act. So let’s join in and take a look at who might be in the frame.

Radio 2’s Big Names

Radio 2 seems most comfortable when it promotes from within. This is a pattern we have seen over and over. Chris Evans’ return to BBC radio, for example, started off with a series of one-off bank holiday shows before moving to a regular Saturday afternoon show, drivetime and ultimately breakfast. There are a number of names which regularly come up when discussing the subject who are all currently regular Radio 2 presenters.

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Posted on Wednesday 19th September, 2018 at 11:52 am in Arts & Ents, Obiter dicta.
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Does the Colour Your Team Wears Impact your Performance? (World Cup 2018)

Post length: 1,306 words, almost 6 minutes.

Two statements were made in the office after a few games had been played in the 2018 World Cup: “There’s a lot of (red team) vs (white team) matches in this World Cup” and “White is the easiest colour to spot on a football pitch, so those teams do well.” I thought these two statements required some further investigation so went about putting together some statistics to analyse them. [read more]

Posted on Friday 6th July, 2018 at 9:05 am in Obiter dicta.
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US Presidential Election Swing States

Post length: 1,081 words, almost 5 minutes.

As political observation goes I am nothing more than casual when it comes to politics in the United States of America. However I have been keeping an eye on this election and have, over the years, kept tabs on previous elections. I also know enough to understand the way in which the electoral college works to elect a president. With this in mind I have taken a look at the 13 so-called swing states — the states in which the presidency will be won or lost — in order to understand how the electoral college may look once the popular vote has been counted. [read more]

Posted on Monday 31st October, 2016 at 8:52 am in Obiter dicta.
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Tenancy Deposit Scheme: It’s Worth Referring the Matter

Post length: 3,191 words, just over 14 minutes.

In July 2016 we completed the purchase of our first home and moved out of a property we rented via Greenwood & Company. During the checkout process the agent attempted to retain some of the deposit for alleged cleaning oversights. We challenged the claim ultimately opening a Deposit Dispute with the Tenancy Deposit Scheme, resulting in us getting all every penny of our money back. This is how it played out for us. (If you want to just read the case we presented to the TDS — a summary of the dispute — rather than what went on in the lead up, jump down to here.)

We moved into the rented property back in 2013. When we’d first seen the property advertised the price was beyond what we were willing to pay so looked on despite thinking that it would suit us. A week or so later we noticed the price had been reduced and decided to view it. We viewed, offered and our offer was accepted. We moved in a couple of weeks after that. By this time the property had been empty for a number of weeks — it was empty when we viewed and remained so while we went through the usual credit and ID checks. When we moved in we set to cleaning the whole property from top to bottom — it wasn’t dirty but it was obvious it had been left untouched for a little while. [read more]

Posted on Monday 22nd August, 2016 at 10:33 am in Home.
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talkRADIO’s Launch Reviewed

Post length: 497 words, just over 2 minutes.

Note: this review was written before the Brussels attacks of 23rd March 2016.

There is no doubt that launching a radio station is a difficult thing to do, especially a poorly promoted talk station with no callers. That’s what Paul Ross was battling against yesterday morning on the launch day of Wireless Group’s talkRADIO. But the Paul Ross Full Set Breakfast really struggled to find its identity jumping from current affairs to gossip, staying with no topic long enough to do it justice. Backed by male-dominated, shouty idents, adverts clearly lifted from sister station talkSPORT and impeded by terrible sound quality from poorly tuned compression and the shoebox of a studio the station launched with a whimper rather than a bang.

The station’s lineup also leaves something to be desired: women. There is currently only one female presenter on the station’s weekday schedule, two on Saturday and one Sunday, although Katherine Boyle is not credited in the title of her “7 Days of talkRADIO” programme.* (Arguably this isn’t a problem unique to talkRADIO. The station’s closest competitor, LBC, also only has one female weekday presenter although they do have two on each of Saturday and Sunday.) [read more]

Posted on Tuesday 22nd March, 2016 at 7:48 am in Arts & Ents, Obiter dicta.
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Train Tickets Explained 2016

Post length: 459 words, just over 2 minutes.

UK train tickets were recently redesigned and are slowly being rolled out across the network. The new design, which has actually been floating around since 2014, has just reached the self-service machines in Farnham (although as of writing not the staffed ticket counter). The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) claim the new design is supposed to make tickets “clearer and easier to understand.” With this in mind I thought it was time I updated my previous post explaining what you see on the British train tickets. [read more]

Posted on Monday 25th January, 2016 at 9:03 am in Obiter dicta.
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Syndicate Out 0.9

Post length: 204 words, almost 1 minute.

More than a year after the previous release of Syndicate Out, this weekend I pushed version 0.9 to the WordPress plugin repository.  Work on this version started in January 2015 and it includes a range of improvements and bugfixes which have been the highest priority requests including transmission of featured images and fixes to improve the syndication of custom meta added by other popular plugins. The full changelog is as follows:

  • Added syndication of featured images (díky Jan at for the majority of this).
  • Added syndication of custom post types & new filter ‘syndicate_out_post_types’ (thanks Martin Burchell and Aptivate).
  • Bug fix to prevent old custom meta data being transmitted (thanks again to Martin Burchell and Aptivate).
  • Fix for API authentication failure when corrections are needed to remote site URL (thanks Brandon).
  • Made some improvements to error reporting when API authentication fails.
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Posted on Monday 11th January, 2016 at 8:04 am in Syndicate Out.
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House Hunting

Post length: 1,482 words, about 6 and a half minutes.

Monica and I have recently been looking to buy a house. We got a mortgage agreement in principal, set our budget and set about looking for houses.

Living in the south east of England house prices are notoriously high, so I thought I’d take a look at some areas I have a connection to and see what the same budget — £300,000 — would buy there. For reference, let’s see the kind of property £300k will buy in Surrey and Hampshire.

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Posted on Monday 14th December, 2015 at 9:29 am in Home, Uncategorized.
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