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Brian's Repair & Reuse Diary: Lockdown, April-May 2020

Updated: Oct 5, 2020

April 10: Soap Saver

Fed up with soap dissolving and going to waste on all of our soap dishes. Modified a bamboo dish in which the draining holes blocked up, by putting in 4 short lengths of 5mm dowel to keep soap above the wet surface. Result: Dry soap not becoming gloop in the dish (Await results of controlled experiment on soap lifetime in dish with and without the modification).


April 12-15: Plants

Problem: Nursery delivery delays and prices for herbaceous perennials not acceptable

Solution: Split and replant 8 herbaceous perennials from last seasons. Liberate neglected Delphinium from garden of next door [unoccupied] cottage. Replant part in situ and replant remaining 6 root sets in my garden and neighbour's garden.


April 18: Repair security locking on back door

Problem: Security lock wouldn't engage when the door is pushed shut or slammed so was perpetually blowing open.

Diagnosis: The striker plate [or whatever you call the bit that the lock engages with] was loose and not engaging.

Solution: Reposition striker plate and tighten retaining screws. (Note: Callout fee for last locksmith's visit for something similar was £80).


April 20-21: WhatsApp

Taught my 83 year old sister to make and receive WhatsApp calls so she can see and be seen by her grandchildren. [I rate this as a major personal achievement. Anyone who has seen my sister interact with a PC would understand].


sending photos with whatsapp
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April 20-21: Paving

With my neighbour, I paved a previously weed-infested section of front garden. We used remains of slabs left over from a professional slabbing job in another garden, plus a few bits I found lying around. Also, cement which I had kept good for 6 months by double wrapping in pre-used polythene bags and sealing. For sand we used a sand/pebble mix taken [with permission] from the farm. This had to be riddled to remove pebbles and make suitable for mortar for slabbing.

I think this was a useful activity as my neighbour is unemployed following a serious injury many years ago and needs encouragement to get out of his house. One way I feel I can offer some support is by involving him in activities of a kind that he is capable of doing well and actively enjoys.


April 23: Roller Blind

Problem: Repair roller mechanism of French blind in our sitting room.

Diagnosis: The gizmo designed to rotate the blind drum wasn't engaging with the square shaft on the drum.

Solution: Remove roller mechanism, cut 3 mm off the metal casing of the blind to allow the mechanism to engage and reassemble.


Approx twice weekly since lockdown started: Make wheaten soda bread Mother's old Irish recipe but since no buttermilk, use home brewed semi-liquid yoghurt instead. Recently tried Hovis Granary flour [the word Granary is patented] which made excellent, tasty bread but on research turns out to be a deception of sorts. It is actually white flour with some added grains and malt. When I couldn't get wholemeal flour recently I experimented with making “granary” using very strong white flour [Allinson], adding some mixed seeds and nuts and a tablespoon of treacle.

Result: Delicious, very slightly malty brown loaf. [Note: This is ridiculously quick and easy. Happy to share recipe if anyone wants to try it].


April 23-28: Repair Garden Seat

Problem: It has been out in all weathers for about seven years and was disintegrating. Two legs fell off and half the seat collapsed. Arguably this was a project to avoid. However....

Solution: Repaired – at length – by dismantling, gluing what could be glued and adding supporting struts – lots of them.


May 2-3 Recycled Yoghurt Maker [Hot from the press, as it were]

Problem: Plastic yoghurt cartons accumulate and limited number of uses.

Solution: Make yoghurt at home. Make yoghurt maker from disposable or discarded bits. I have to say that this is the first prototype and it probably fails a dozen or so electrical safety standards. Refinement is needed, but I have successfully made good yoghurt with it this morning.

Materials: 2 x 2 litre milk containers, halogen bulb and light socket from discarded IKEA table lamp.


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16 ene 2021

An update to my April - May repair diary. The patched up garden bench did service for another summer. In October, the bits I had repaired were stiil robust enough but most of the original joints were disintegrating. Sawed into small bits, it will keep us in kindling for the winter. Does this qualify as Carbon Neutral?

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