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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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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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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We’re being painted

Post length: 133 words, about 0 and a half minutes.

At least I think we’re going to get painted. And at least the outside of the house.

We did notice recently that the fascias of the house have started to look a bit shabby, in fact on the two highest points on our house and the one next door have started to totally peel off. Given the note we received said that they won’t be using scaffolding and the decorators did indeed arrive yesterday with a set of ladders on the roof of their van yesterday, I’m a little skeptical that they’ll be able to reach, let alone effectively paint, the higher points on our house which stand at over 3 stories high.

It’s also interesting to learn, two years after moving in, that we have a management company for the mews. [read more]

Posted on Tuesday 3rd March, 2015 at 5:22 pm in Home.
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Daily Photo 2014 Review

Post length: 73 words, about 0 and a half minutes.

Back at the beginning of 2014 I started another year of taking one photo a day. It’s something I had done previously (from March 2009 to March 2010), and decided to do again for a full calendar year. I managed 348 photos meaning that for 17 days I failed to take a photo. The full collection can be seen on the daily photo page, but the following are 15 of my favourites from right through the year. [read more]

Posted on Monday 19th January, 2015 at 9:48 am in Blogging, Life & Love, Photos.
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Historical Family Photos: James and Doris Rose Grady

Post length: 460 words, just over 2 minutes.

For the last few years, on and off, I have been researching my family history. It started just after my grandmother died when we found a letter from my mother’s cousin asking her if she could fill in any gaps in the research he had been doing. Enclosed was a print-out of the research he had completed up to that point. That was a great starting point, although I was later to discover that there were a number of errors in his work. So I set off doing research of my own with the help of my parents, my grandparent’s belongings, a whole load of historical records, lots of logic and a good dollop of head scratching. [read more]

Posted on Tuesday 23rd September, 2014 at 9:00 am in People.
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Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013

Post length: 1,157 words, just over 5 minutes.

As I look out of the window and the clouds below us, and the mountains below that, I’m minded to think that saying goodbye to Romania and hello again to England bears a similarity to saying goodbye to the previous year and hello to the next.  Alright, so we did that just under a week ago officially, and of course the flight is from one known to another, but you see what I’m getting at. I would like to say something poetic like how flying makes me reflect on my life — so far above the world, and so personally helpless, that my thoughts are free to turn to how I can improve the things I do have control over — but in honesty that’s not true (besides, with so many screaming kids on this flight, it’s hardly conducive to poetic thinking). It does, however, give me time to write.

I didn’t go into 2012 with big plans which I can reflect on at the end of the year. I thought, perhaps, I might have changed jobs, but in the end things didn’t pan out that way; I suppose, in honesty, I didn’t try all that hard so perhaps the whole situation wasn’t as bad as I thought it might have been at some points in the year. I didn’t think I’d come so close to being upgraded as part of the British Airways Executive club; although I didn’t make it, one economy to business class upgrade on my last flight of the year would have tipped the balance. [read more]

Posted on Tuesday 8th January, 2013 at 10:39 pm in Life & Love, Obiter dicta, Work & Career.
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Finance: April 2012

Post length: 295 words, about 1 and a half minutes.

With April now done and dusted it’s time to see if I managed to keep to my plan to reduce my monthly spending and increase how much I save. I have turned April’s spending into the same pie chart as February and March’s spending with the same groups of outgoings. If you compare this chart to the previous months you can see that it’s quite different — housekeeping is (slightly unexpectedly) noticeably larger, as it travel. Purchases around half that of the previous two months, while food is higher than either of the previous months. Overall spending was roughly the same as the previous months so it makes a good comparison. [read more]

Posted on Sunday 6th May, 2012 at 2:51 am in Home.
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Finances: February / March 2012

Post length: 629 words, almost 3 minutes.

My housemate made a comment with regard to finances the other day and it made me think. She commented on how I should be able to put a certain amount of money into saving each month. While I do save money, and I have a salary-sacrifice pension too, I don’t think I am saving as much as possibly I could. I was also thinking recently about a possible future change to my outgoings and wondering what I could afford. So I decided to do some analysis on my spending over a few months in early 2012. The following is a break down of February and March, and I will take a look at April once the month is complete.

I have broken my spending down into 10 broad categories: housekeeping, basic outgoings for rent, electricity, home insurance, TV license, etc. (I think it’s worth noting that I don’t pay 100% of these expenses, they are generally split 50/50 with my housemate, but as they go through my account they are all included in this analysis); entertainment, including going out, books, DVDs, music, games, etc.; cash, as I have taken this information from bank statements I can’t define what cash is spent on, it is most likely a mix of the other categories; purchases, general material purchases such as clothes and camera equipment; [read more]

Posted on Wednesday 4th April, 2012 at 1:16 am in Home.
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