Tag Archives: plumbing


I’m sitting at home feeling guilty. The soaps are on TV so PIL is destroying several million brain cells watching them. She enjoys mindless TV apparently and Morgan Freeman help anyone who speaks while they’re on.


So why do I feel guilt?

I have been away for a couple of weeks working.


I disappeared on the 13th May to start on a task on the 14th. It was scheduled to finish on the 29th. It didn’t. By 11am on the 28th we had finished and after a horrendous journey on the M25, I had returned home to my family by 4pm. This meant that I was able to watch the Play off final between Hull and Sheffield Wednesday and then swop channels to watch the Champions League final between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid while still being paid. I also spent Sunday the 29th poking around in the garden, the local garden centre, walking the dog, spending time with my family (except Greg who was at his girlfriends “revising”) and getting paid while I did so. Is this why I feel guilt? No chance!

No. I feel guilty because on the 16th the builders appeared to start work replacing the family bathroom, the en-suite and the downstairs loo and poor PIL had to deal with it all. It did not get off to a good start. Within 30 seconds of arriving, one of the builders had smashed a vase. It did not improve at all over the next couple of weeks. There were no major disasters, just a series of minor problems that started driving PIL nuts.

The builder sent an email stating:

“Get any shower you like for the bathrooms.”

assuming that we remembered a brief conversation we had many weeks previously where he said that the main bathroom needed an electric shower. We didn’t so PIL got the wrong showers which in turn meant there wasn’t any shower in the house for 2 days as a pump had to purchased and it had to be installed and because of that delay, the radiators haven’t been fitted. Not having a shower for two days is a major disaster in our house!20160530_150927

Then they installed the toilet for the main bathroom in the downstairs loo. Why? They didn’t ask and just installed the toilet closest to hand. Another morning lost. Each of the sinks is having a cabinet fitted underneath. The one in the downstairs toilet was going to be full length. So that’s what PIL got. Then it turned out that due to some issues with pipes, it needed to be a wall hung unit. So PIL ordered one. The following day she noticed they were installing the full length cabinet. So she had to cancel the wall hung unit but it had already been despatched and so on and so forth………..


Work has commenced in the en-suite and has been more involved than at first thought but at the same time, the tiling in the main bathroom hasn’t been completed. Why? No idea.20160530_150833

I explained to the guy that we have absolutely no issue with the workmen or the standard of workmanship but there has been a distinct lack of communication and he has made a very dangerous assumption that we understand what he is talking about. Neither of us is thick and we are very good at every aspect of our professional lives but we know absolutely nothing about building, plumbing or tiling middle-age-man-tools-18781280

so he needs to treat us like a couple of morons and use simple words of one syllable or less and not assume that we will remember a short conversation about showers that took place some weeks previously.

“In future mate, put on your emails; ‘any shower you like but remember the main bathroom needs an electric one’!”

The builders are back today and I have told their Boss to be here later today so we can thrash out all these niggling issues once and for all. The plan is that the bathrooms should be finished this week. We shall see. Until then I will continue to feel guilty about leaving PIL to deal with all this nonsense although I have to say she has done a bloody marvellous job dealing with the builders and a never ending series of hiccups while at the same time selecting all the units and tiles and showers and baths and bogs and basins. It’s looking good.

I think our new bathrooms may be the subject of another post real soon. Until then have a bloody excellent day.

More Dick soon.


Sex and Drugs and Eskimo Rolls

Back in the day when I was young, dinosaurs roamed the planet and Mars was inhabited by Donald Trump, Robert Mugabe, The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, Simon Cowell, Elmer Fudd and other strange, vaguely humanoid life forms I used to teach people how to paddle a kayak. My mates Omar and Norman were also instructors.

Possibly a visiting Martian but believed to be the dinosaur Ihateus Mexicanus (subsp. Iama Totalwanker)

Possibly a visiting Martian but believed to be the dinosaur Ihateus Mexicanus (subsp. Iama Totalwanker)

A couple of evenings each week we would teach people how to do an eskimo roll. This is a technique used to get yourself upright again if you capsize. Very useful. We used a school swimming pool for our classes – a nice, warm, controlled environment.eskimo_roll

All of our pupils were proficient kayakers. They could paddle in a straight line, use steering and support strokes and had capsized many, many times. They were of all ages and some were women which was splendid as there is no better sight than a woman in a wet tee-shirt! The terminology was great too although it may have changed since my day.

“Ok Janet. The Screw roll. Lean forward, grip the shaft firmly with both hands. Not too hard, you’re not trying to kill it! Tip over, sweep the shaft around, flick your hips et voila, up you come.”


The Reverse Screw. ¬†Lean back, hold the shaft firmly……Carol, your tee-shirt is awfully thin……”

God I loved that job.

For our pupils it was an essential skill to have as most weekends they would load up their cars and go off to tour rivers or paddle along the coast and there is nothing quite so embarrassing as capsizing and watching your dry kit float off into the sunset. I wish everyone was as sensible.eskimoroll1

I remember Omar and I were preparing for our Advanced certificate. Mostly this was a practical exam carried out on a river with rapids graded at III or more. However, there was also a Leadership and Organisation element to the test as well. So we planned a trip to the River Wye. We were leading a group of 15 from a touring club and they were a bunch of old fogies. Some of them were in their thirties but worse, most of them were in their forties and fifties. Positively decrepit in our eyes. None of them had seen a rapid let alone paddled down one so we decided to forgo the pleasures of the Upper Wye around Builth where there were some honky-tonk Grade IIIs until the second day. Day one was spent further downstream but it did have a dinky rapid called The Hell Hole. Smashing. It was summer, water levels were not too high so it shouldn’t be a problem.

So we set off. There were a few bumpy bits and some rocks that got them excited. We got them trying out various types of support and steering strokes. We rafted up and got them to take it in turns to get out of their kayaks, run along the front decks, run across the stern decks and get back in without falling in the river. Some did but they all had a hoot. It has also got to be said that the Wye Valley is one of the most beautiful places on Earth and taking a slow paddle down it is far and away the best way to see it.

The Wye Valley

The Wye Valley

Eventually we arrived at The Hell Hole. Omar and I got everyone out onto the bank for a look-see and to explain what to do.

Once all the

“It looks jolly rough.”



“I say Dorothy, you DID pack toilet tissue didn’t you?”

had died down we explained what they had to do:

“Right. Dicks going down first ok? Watch what he does. Then I will send you all down one at a time and I’ll come down last.” said Omar

“Yeah guys, you see that ‘V’ shaped tongue of smooth water leading into the rapid? Yes Tarquin?… Your bag’s full?… What again?… Ok mate but be quick please. Just paddle down that ‘V’ into the rapid and keep paddling hard, especially when you get to the little waves at the bottom.”

“Did he say ‘little’? They look awfully big to me.”

“I think he’s on drugs. I’m sure I could smell margarinewana earlier!”

“Oh! Now you mention it, I’m sure I saw them sharing a reefer before we set orf.”

“Yes. I thought I saw them rolling some hay or straw or whatever it is these beatniks do.”

“You know, I DID say they looked a bit rough but I must say I’ve had a jolly marvellous time.”

“Yes but those waves are NOT little I tell you!”

I will say now that Omar and I NEVER smoked grass when we were instructing or leading expeditions. We smoked hashish as it’s much easier to light if it gets wet.

“Pay attention please people. Once you have paddled through those little standing waves….

“He said ‘LITTLE’ again!’

“Giles! Hush please. Once you get to the end , raft up over there on the right hand bank. Clear?”

“Yes” they all said.

“I’m just saying they are NOT little waves.” muttered Giles.

They were probably 2-3 feet high which, thinking about it, made them about head high when you’re sitting in a kayak, Little then!

The Hell Hole. A dinky little rapid on the River Wye

The Hell Hole. A dinky little rapid on the River Wye

“Just remember, keep paddling and don’t lift your paddles up into the air. That raises your centre of gravity and you may capsize.”

With that, we set off. I shot the rapid, burst through the LITTLE waves at the bottom and broke out to watch the next one down.

“That’s it Tarquin! Keep paddling, well don….NO, don’t lift your…Aw Shit.”

A swimmer! I went over, emptied his kayak and was putting him back in when the next one came down.

“Brilliant Giles. Keep going. Paddle hard. NO! Don’t…..Aw Shit.” Another swimmer. Same procedure.

“Well done Dorothy. Power in your strokes girl. NO. Don’t raise….Aw Shit.”

There were 15 “Aw Shits” as everyone one of them raised their paddles above their heads and capsized. Not one knew how to do an eskimo roll. So we made them do it all over again and again and again and soon they all were managing to say upright. Once they realised they were unlikely to die, they had a bloody good time.

I’ve wandered slightly off topic again.

Meanwhile back at the swimming pool. Once they had become proficient at the eskimo roll some left the class although we would often bump into them at various rivers around the country. For some however, it was also a social thing and they attended week after week, developing their skills so that eventually they could do a roll using one hand and no paddle (it’s all in the hips) followed by a trip to the pub. One of these regulars was a guy called Ralph. Ralph was very well off, (In fact he was disgustingly rich) and lived in a huge house in a very expensive, leafy suburb in London.

Now Omar, Norm and I were only part-time instructors. We had day jobs. I worked in the print industry, Norm had just finished the second year of his plumbing apprenticeship and Omar was a gigolo I think.plumber_plunger

Knowing this, Ralph asked Norman to install a brand new central heating system in his house. He would pay for the equipment and give Norm a great many tax-free pounds. Norm readily agreed. Omar and I looked at each other then shrugged. Norm knew what he was doing didn’t he? He knew his onions (or olives) from his elbow. What could possibly go wrong?

Find out soon.

Have a lovely day.