O horror, horror, horror

This post is all about things not working as they should, along with some Halloween pumpkins that came out far better than expected.

When we had the house rewired last year, we also installed Cat 6 ethernet cables through the walls to take the internet from the attic space to the ground floor. We have always had issues with wifi in the house as it doesn’t go through the thick stone walls. The three Cat 6 cables, which come out in the dining room, sitting room and study, will also have Wifi Access Points (WAPs) to take the signal up through the ceilings to the first floor.

Since we moved back in June we have continued to use the 50 metre ethernet cable that we originally used to direct the internet next door while we were staying there. It comes out of the house at roof level, down the front wall and back in through the dining room window, along the wall of the corridor to the sitting room where the router currently sits. I have a further ethernet cable running into the study so that my Mac is hard-wired directly into the router. We also have a TP Link Powerline wifi kit that we use to boost the signal (through the electric sockets) in the rooms where the wifi cannot reach. So we currently have loads of ugly cables going between rooms that we keep tripping over, but it is only a temporary measure until we have the home wifi network set up.

As we have no mobile phone reception in the house (and do not own an analogue phone) we are reliant on ‘wifi calling’ on our iPhones, so without wifi we literally cannot contact the outside world. We also cannot move between rooms if we are on the phone as the wifi signal drops, so the call drops. A massive irritation of mine as you can imagine. Setting up a home wifi network correctly will (hopefully) fix this problem as we should have the same wifi configuration throughout the whole house.

My very good friend and old colleague of 16 years, Anjit – a technical genius and absolute legend – has been guiding us in the planning of the network and is visiting for the day to help set it all up. We have purchased three WAPs from Ubiquiti, along with a PoE 8 port switch (‘Power over Ethernet’ means you don’t need to plug the WAPs in to sockets) that will sit between the router and the Cat 6 cables, enabling us to fully manage and control the configuration.

Anjit folded himself into the small space in the attic room where the internet cable enters the house, and subsequently where the router and switch will reside.

One of the WAPs being set up in the dining room. There were mumblings of “I hate technology” from Anjit as it became apparent things weren’t going to be quite as straightforward as he had hoped… We all hate technology, especially those of us who work with it every day. I have always likened setting up any tech with watching horror films. The suspense and high levels of anxiety involved are very similar.

Setting up the WAP in the study involved moving the almost immoveable chest of drawers.

So it turns out that none of our Cat 6 cables work as they should. Two of them have data but no power, one has neither data or power… Poor Anjit has spent a couple of hours running up and down all the stairs, testing all the hardware and cables to discover that it is the cables that aren’t working correctly. At least we hope this is the case… If the cables are faulty that would be very, very bad, as they have been plastered into the walls of the house. We need to get Sam our Electrician back to take a look and see what he can do to fix this.

Cat has now finished an epic 12 month stint working in Cardiff on a film which proved to be one of the most challenging jobs she has known. As a result, she is utterly spent, physically and mentally. All she wants to do is plant flowers in the garden, walk Jasper the dog and bake nice things. Today she is baking chocolate chip and walnut muffins, made with locally grown walnuts. Sadly they didn’t rise and she won’t allow me to post photos of them. They tasted okay though!

Some of our locally grown walnuts from a tree in the middle of a field that we walk through every day.

Halloween is upon us and we have arranged to carve pumpkins with Laura and her son, Gui. We selected and picked our pumpkins from a local PYO in Kineton as Cat was after a very particular shape, one with a flat bottom and the stem on the side that she could use as a nose.

Massive pumpkins this year!

Laura setting a very high standard in pumpkin carving, naturally.

Cat getting stuck in. Why did I design one with so many bloody teeth to cut out? Not sure the wine was helping.

Gui’s pixelated Minecraft pumpkin. No humans were harmed in the making of these pumpkins (amazingly).

Laura’s cow-pumpkin, complete with horns and ears.

Left to right, my toothy, evil pumpkin, Laura’s spectacular cow, Gui’s Minecraft pumpkin, Gui’s vomiting pumpkin (minus the vomit), and Cat’s grinning pumpkin with cleverly pinched nose.

We set our pumpkins up on top of our two gate posts.

Colin has decided it is safe to cut the freshly grown lawn at the front. You need to allow the roots to get established before you mow, something Colin has learnt the hard way so we don’t have to… Cut it too early and it can get ripped out of the ground apparently. Luckily our grass was fine (it’s about 7-8 weeks since it was seeded) and will benefit hugely from being cut, the more frequently the better if you want a healthy lawn.

More shower trouble…

The shower is not getting very hot, it hasn’t ever worked correctly and we thought it might be the thermostatic valve cartridge, but after some tests we don’t think it is this.

After contacting the manufacturers (Crosswater), we carry out some further tests: while the shower is on we turn the cold taps on in the sink and flush the loo, which results in the shower water temperature getting hotter. We therefore think the issue is a pressure imbalance of the hot and cold feed to the shower. Annoyingly it is not obvious how to balance this, but from investigation we think it must be on our Megaflow water tank. To be investigated further…

Our shower niches have always collected water as they were never built correctly (they are flat rather than angled to enable the water to run off, and there is a lip at the front stopping water from running off due to the tile edging being too big…) so we are adding another layer of tile, at a slight angle, to the inside of the niches.

Colin has cut some left over tiles down to the correct size for the niches.

The tiles get glued in place with silicone.

Finally, all the edges get sealed with the grey silicone (to match the tile grout) making sure water cannot leak under the tile.

Colin’s silicone work is exemplary – silicone is a nightmare to use!

More silicone work, this time removing the old and adding new silicone to the skirting around the base of the shower tray. We had to remove this a few months ago when we had to investigate the first leak…

While Colin is there he tidies up the silicone around the bottom of the shower tray.

We have Glynn returning tomorrow to finish the attic cupboards, so Cat is painting all the wood for the skirting and architraves.

Cupboard doors getting painted.

We have been searching for the perfect trough for the front of the house for weeks and finally Cat has found the perfect one! It is a vintage, riveted, zinc galvanised steel animal trough from Smiths of Stratford and is the perfect size for our new grape vines.

Cat has bought a huge selection of bedding plants, ready to fill the trough.

We very sadly lost our old grape vine, it didn’t survive being above ground over the Winter. We don’t know how old it was, but we think it was at least 50 or 60 years old, probably much older.

We have found two different grape varieties as replacements. They both have edible grapes (our old one was also an edible variety), I am looking forward to tasting these strawberry flavour grapes!

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