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On Friday I took the day off work to go to Bath. Rachel had been really ill the day before so I felt a bit bad leaving her but that wasn't going to stop me going to the sporting event of the year so far...forget the Olympics, Chelsea v Barcelona or Arsenal's slaying of Real Madrid...The Powergen Cup Semi-final between Bath Rugby and Llanelli Scarlets at the Millennium Stadium topped everything else! Not only were the mighty Bath playing - but Wasps and Leicester also played before hand - two games for the respectable price of £18!!!
We dragged ourselves out of bed at 8am on Saturday morning after Friday night drinking cider until 1am. Jonny D had sorted the train tickets out and sent us via Swindon to Cardiff on the decent Great Western trains, rather than the crappy Wessex 2 car trains they run from Bath to Cardiff. It did seem like a stupid idea cos we went 30 minutes in the wrong direction then waited for 30 minutes, then travelled for 30 mins back to Bath!! We didn't care about the extra time bacause, as the train thundered back through Bath no-stop, we waved at the thousands of people crammed onto the platform from our comfy reserved seats, cans of Cider in hand!
When we finally arrived in Cardiff we made our way, via Burger King to a little pub opposite the entrance to gate 5. It was packed with rugby fans being forced to watch the Chelsea West Brom game - which naturally I was more than happy to watch. After 3 or 4 pints we headed over to the stadium for the first game. From here on things are a bit of a blur. I don't really remember much of the rugby, I remember shouting a lot, drinking a lot and feeling very very cold. The Millennium stadium is absolutely freezing - its incredible how an enclosed structure (the roof was shut) full of 50 thousand people can be that cold. Davey Scouse even went and bought a new Millenium Stadium jumper it was that cold!
At the end of the Bath game I went for a slash completely unprepared for the stampede to the station which was about to take place. As soon as the final whistle went about 20 thousand people ran, as if running from an al qaeda suicide bomber, toward the station. I just followed the throng of people staggering from side to side with a pint of cider in my hand. Luckily I managed to jump queues and get on a direct train to bath from the London queue (te he!) and was back in Bath to continue the liver damage by 8.30pm. The others however were not so lucky. Jim managed to get on the train behind but Ben, Jon, Helen et al didn't make it back until nearly midnight and, apparently nearly missed the last train along with 1000's of others stranded on Cardiff Station. I just don't understand why Wessex trains couldn't run more trains. They are so shit. Roll on First's new Greater Western franchise - National Express Group - Sort it out!
So that was pretty much my weekend - and pretty much the only bit of fun I've had for the last week. Things have been so busy at work (usual excuse for not posting i know!) but they really have. I shall try to find interesting things to post about this week - maybe I'll beat Morphy at squash, or maybe jonny will get attacked by some crazed bunny boiler wielding a blunt instrument??? We'll have to wait and see!
I'm sat at home feeling sorry for myself. Last Wednesday I triumphantly booked Sussex University sports centre to play 5 a side football with everyone from work, however, since booking it I have had developed the most annoying back pain ever. I've never experienced back pain before and for that I'm very glad! Last Wednesday, I came back from work with a tight chest which I put down to excessive drinking in smokey bars in Cardiff at the weekend. The chest tightness continued into Thursday with sharp pains down my left side, slowly migrating into my back. The pain isn't there all the time, just when I lift something or stretch it, so I have therefore had to pull out of the footy. At least there's a good game on TV for me to watch - probably safer judging by the last 5 a side football I played! I'm still pretty annoyed though. The doctor didn't even attempt to work out the cause, but simply put me on Diclofenac - a stronger anti-inflammatory than Ibuprofen.
I've got a busy weekend ahead of me again this week. I'm going to Portsmouth - that horrible south coast town full of Skates - to visit Rachel's Dad, then at 4.30am on Monday morning I'm going to Edinburgh - again - for yet another meeting! My air miles are certainly building up, as are my Carbon Emissions!
So nothing much else has happened for me to talk about. I don't know if its just that I've lost the will to blog or if there really is absolutely nothing worth blogging about, but I just can't think of anything to say! I've kind of decided to get my head down and work really hard during work hours so I don't have to stay late. Now that the summers coming I want to do away with my unpaid overtime as much as possible, so no blogging at work!
I've been working on my web CV which will complete the main navigation of this site - linked from my name under the image - which has led nowhere since I started this site. I'm not looking for another job or anything - it was always a plan to get my CV attached to the site - I just haven't had the time to finish it. So, once I have made a few tweaks, it'll be live and you potential employers who want to poach me with offers of large salaries and luxury perks can get in touch!
Over the last few weeks, things have been so hectic. I have been all over the country - Andover, Bath, Cardiff, Abingdon, London, Portsmouth, Edinburgh - The week after next I'll be going to Leeds with trips to Bradford, Hastings and more London also on the cards! As a result I get home feeling absolutely exhausted pretty much every evening and haven't really been eating properly. Its only my Multibionta Probiotic Multivitamins which are stopping me from getting ill. However - there are some things multibionta can't help you with - Fibre being one of them. On Sunday evening I had to strain so hard to relieve myself of a number 2 that I burst lots of little capillaries in my face which resulted in a red spotted rash appearing around my eyes! They need to invent a tablet that gives you your whole days fibre, multivitamins and minerals and freindly bacteria - in fact, why not a tablet that gives you everything. Well, maybe not fat, then we only need to eat Lard. Yum
Anyway, enough of my bowel movements, yesterday I went to Edinburgh for the day - again. I hate to think what all this flying is doing to my global footprint - 3 flights to scotland so far this year! This time we flew up at 6.30am - so I had to get up at 4.30. Very tiring day spent mostly sitting around waiting for things - waiting for plane, waiting for client to arrive, killing time after meeting, waiting for plane, waiting for train etc etc. If anyone is working on a new form of transport which takes seconds to get anywhere in the world, emits no carbon and costs very little (preferably nothing), please do share it with me.
By the way - Happy first day of spring everyone. Oh and Happy Birthday Grandma - not that you read this or even have access to the Internet - but hey - shows I remembered! Only 5 days til the clocks go forward - woohoo!!!
Starting tomorrow the big job starts - I've taken the next week off to damp proof my cellar, which I am anticipating will be the hardest job i've ever done. The cellar is only 4ft high - we're only going to use it as storage - so i'll have to crouch the whole time i'm in there! I am going to have to move all the junk we currently have rotting away down there, strip all the paint from the walls and pin back all the pipes, wires and bare boards. Finally - after all that - I have to plaster the walls with Vandex BB75 which I have purchased at a knock-down price.
Below is a picture of the cellar before I start the job. As I have the week off, I shall report every day (maybe with a picture too!) on my progress.
On a completely different note - Einstein. What an intellegent man he was. I've always been aware of his genius as a physicist and whilst at university I learned of his genius as a politician and worldly figure (A peace activist against the use of his theories for weapons and israeli first choice as leader!). Yesterday, someone quoted one of his many highly intellegent phrases - which I have since learned was incorrectly quoted. I looked into some of his other phrases and found them to be very profound. See a list here. The phrase which was misquoted was number 6. Which makes number 7 all the more profound! I like number 8 the best as I think it explains a lot about me and why I have given up on my intellegence ;-)
First day, first problem. How to remove the radiator. We started off by clearing the junk we've had rotting away for 7 months last night from our dank little cellar which has become my little project. Confronted by all this space I realised what an absolute nightmare this was going to be. Firstly, there are hundreds, if not thousands of miles of cobwebs hanging from the bare wooden beams. Then there are the electricity cables, gas and water pipes hung precariously with only rusting nails or small plastic clips as support. Then there is the bloody radiator mounted to the wall with similarly rusted screws - copper pipes turning green in the musty air. Why did the builders put this in here? I have absolutely no idea how to take a radiator off a wall. I almost admitted defeat last night - on the first night - but this morning brought new hope. One of Rachel's friends - another Dave - is a plumber (ok, trainee, but who cares!). Hopefully he will be able to come by this week and help me remove it.
Next problem - how to remove all the paint and dodgy render from the wall to provide a good key for the Vandex damp proofing render. I always knew this would be the most difficult bit - preparation. I called around the various tool hire shops this morning to try and hire a grit blaster or power sander. The earliest I can get a Hand Scaler is Thursday. Why did I not try to organise this last week!!!
Lets face it. This damp proofing malarkey had failed before it had even begun. I will only have 3 days to remove all the paint and old render from the walls, apply two coats of Vandex and a coat of standard render - plus place the damp proof membrane on the floor and concrete over it. Kids - if you fancy damp proofing your cellar for a bit of storage space - be prepared. REALLY prepare. Any ex-coal miners in the Brighton area fancy helping me out?
Today things have moved on. A little. I called Mark at Capital Plastering, a Brighton based damp proofing specialist, to ask if he could take a look at our cellar. It was a little fact finding mission to hear what a specialist thought of my plans and to hear if he had any of his own - as well as find out a price. Mark had a little damp measuring instrument which flashed orange or red depending on how much water was present (Any water conducting a small current across the two probes). To both our surprise, there was very little sign of damp. He went right into the back, chipping some of the render away on both sides and tested the concrete floor and found only a few patches of damp. He recommended that we simply stick a de-humidifier down there and it should sort it out.
Mark advised me to give that a go, but that if we wanted it seen to properly, that he would basically carry out the same procedure we would have - pull back the current render to the brickwork, apply a coat of mortar, 2 coats of cementitious slurry and a coat of plaster.
Just as Mark was leaving, Dave-o arrived to take a look at the radiator. Then came the second revelation - the radiator is not even plumbed in!!! Unbelievable! Why on earth would you go to the trouble of buying a radiator, attaching and welding all the pipes together in a tiny damp dark cellar - only to leave it unconnected to the water supply. Ridiculous! Anyway, the upshot is it makes my life a hell of a lot easier if we do decide to remove it - which I think we should just because we can!
So now I'm quite a lot happier - one less thing to worry about down there. At least an expert would do it the way I would, although now I have a real excuse not to be bothered - considering its not that damp! One last thing - went to see Ricky Gervais at the Royal Albert Hall last night - very very funny!
Work finally commenced this morning on the cellar. I spent yesterday doing other things - painting the garden wall and putting up an outside light, as I have been waiting for the heavy duty paint and render remover. This morning I collected the mean-looking machine - a hand-held scaler. It has a circular cylinder with rows of sharp teeth cogs which spin menacingly and chop into the wall. It removes all the paint and render which is good but is very hard work to hold and creates so much dust I can literally only use it for 2 minutes at a time.
I have a dust mask, goggles, hard hat and ear muffs all covered with a hooded top - and i still have dust down my back and going up my nose!! Here is a picture of the current state of the cellar!
I feel like a right odd-job man today. In with the manual workers! I have hired a van and have already been to the tip to get rid of some rubbish and to a merchant yard to pick up concrete, gypsum (plaster), sand and cement. I stopped off and had a hot dog and coffee from a burger van. Raaa - Manly!! Anyway, thats it - break over - back to the grindstone - literally!
This damp proofing malarkey is a bit tough. No, I still haven't started actually damp proofing the cellar yet - yes I am still preparing. I was really chuffed yesterday as I worked out we were still £35 under our £300 budget - but today, I just haven't been able to remove much paint from the walls, so I will have to keep the scaler for the weekend - adding a further £70 to the cost - therefore we are now £35 over budget. Damn!
This morning I removed the wooden shelving (see picture below) and continued with the paint removal. Tomorrow I have my friend Sean coming to give me a hand. Hopefully between us we should be able to remove the remaining paint. I still have the issue of various pipes and wires which need moving before we can apply the damp proof coating - including all 3 flats mains water pipes and our mains electric cable!
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