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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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