raspberryfool: (Decorating)
In March, I wrote about the impending loss of our beloved Fishmarket. I have many happy memories of it and shall be sad to see it ripped down - another piece of Northampton's heritage will be lost and although it wasn't listed, English Heritage recommended that it be spared the bulldozers.The building is still there, though it's due to be demolished very soon. I've been photographing the building from an unusual perspective; by poking my camera between the bars of the shutters I can see reflections of the building's environs - Cromwell's Cafe, the bookies across the road etc - the shutters themselves and the contents of the building, especially the huge, old, three-faced clock that hangs from the roof girders. So we see three layers of detail, which I find quite interesting. It's part of an ongoing series about the changes in Northampton; the buildings and structures we've lost to so-called progress.

Anyway I digress. I've been helping NAC to smarten up their new home at No. 9 Guildhall Road; since August I've been part of a group of volunteers who've been removing old fixtures and fittings, and painting the walls and woodwork of this former Victorian hotel. It was most recently used by the County Council for their offices and vacated in 2009, and it's a beautiful old building. They're planning to house artisits' studios, a performane space and workshop spaces. I've really missed the huge, open and airy art space of the Fishmarket, but things are looking more positive for out local arts scene now.

I've also been painting my bathroom. it was previously lemon yellow, which was quite nice but a little gloomy and was starting to flake off in places. I've painted the walls pure white and it now looks much better; the woodwork will be poppy red and the door panels white. It's part of my plan to smarten up the house for potential buyers; I'm not planning to move next year, but maybe soon... Anyway the hallway, landing and small bedroom all need decorating, so I think I'll be busy next year!
raspberryfool: (Raspberryfool)
Facebookers will know that I've recently been slowly getting my darkroom back into working order. Just in case you missed it, I've made a nice new bellows for my enlarger to replace the old, cracked, ripped and pretty-much-useless one that came with it; okay I've no right to complain because I was given what turns out to be £1800 of photographic equipment.

Making the bellows was much easier than i'd imagined, and also very cool. I have some black cloth, which I think is cotton, that I bought for use as a black backdrop but I didn't use it. It isn't lightproof but that doesn't really matter in this context. The sections are formed with strips of cardboard cut to a precise shape and glued to the fabric. Four sets of strips are laid down and one overhangs the edge so that the seam doesn't form on the corner. Once the strips are laid, a second sheet of fabric is glued over the first, the join is made and the bellows collapsed in a concertina. I was pleasantly surprised that the collapsing stage went so well, even though one corner ended up thicker than the rest. Here's the pictures on Facebook - this has saved me over £100!

I've also made a new negative holder - something else Pcad forgot to give me - which is made from thick card and glue and finished with black paint. I still need to finalise a method of keeping the plates still but that won't me much bother as I'm almost finished now. I've fitted the new bellows and it works very well, except that I had to cut off several folds because the 50mm lens wouldn't focus properly. I'm pretty close to being able to make prints again, although i can't properly finish them without a decent print dryer or a hot mounting press. Although it's been slow, I'm very pleased with my progress on this project.
raspberryfool: (Decorating)
This week, work has returned to its previous lull. I'd been hoping to grab more regular shifts but that doesn't look likely now, and rumours of the firm I was pimping for's impending demise don't bode well. So i'll keep looking for something permanent and non-agency in my limited skills range.

In between bouts of idleness I've been finishing off the tiling in the kitchen. The windowsill now looks much better than the ungrouted, crazed and lifting mess that I removed. I've plastered around the base of the tiles and I need to fill a large area directly above the sill where I removed some dodgy-looking cement. It wasn't that bad really and took some bashing to get off, so I could have left in in situ. Ah well, what's a little more work matter eh? :-) My next job is to drill holes in two tiles so i can screw the water taps back into the wall securely; that'll be fun because I'll need to set some rawplugs in cement and they must align perfectly with the taps' mounting holes. I wonder how many of these houses still have descending water pipes in the kitchen - not many I'll guess!

Outside the back door, I had fun last night cutting back the hedge between the gardens that had sent new shoots high above my head. These need removing before the winter, when the go woody, so out come the loppers and off they came. My neighbour, a nice Vientnamese fellow, surprised me and lent me his pair of loner, meatier loppes which made short work of the acsending shoots. The grapevine had even gone mad, sending runners into the sky. When I'd finished, my neighbour handed me an opened bottle of Carlsberg Extra - what a nice guy! :-)

My potato plants have been looking sad for a while, and yesterday i thought 'twas time to harvest those where the foliage had died. They're a 'second early' variety called 'Estima', so the timing is about right. My trowel discovered plenty of tubers, some having a decent size and some smaller ones that are ideal as new potatoes. The 'Maris Piper' volunteers from last year didn't fare as well, producing small tubers gnarled and pockmarled with Common Scab diease. They're still edible though, and were very tasty steamed with a little mint.

Another reason for harvest is that I need to remove dead and dying potato foliage. I've been hearing reports of Late Blight appearing which, although south of London, is enough to start me implementing my blight strategy. My tomato plants, although under cover, are still vulnerable and although they'll succumb eventually, the potato foliage will provide an ideal springboard for the spores.

I havested some whitecurrants which I'm surprised the birds haven't gobbled yet. Next door's cherries seem to have distracted them and I've a large crop waiting to be picked. Whitecurrant jam ahoy!
raspberryfool: (Decorating)
Continuing the work I did earlier in the year, I've been knocking the old ceramic tiles off the kitchen windowsill and the wall beneath. Most of the windowsill tiles were lose anyway, and the cement had decayed, presumably caused by moisture. The cement was beginning to push the tiles away from the wall, leading to cracking and odd gaps which would let in more moisture and insects.

My kitchen has a Belfast sink, at least 40 years old, directly underneath the window. The water pipes descend from the bathroom and aren't attached to the wall. The taps were screwed into the wall through the tiles above the sink, which i needed to remove before I could knock off the tiles and cement. Again these tiles were cracked and plastered with filler, a bodged council repair from years ago. Behind these tiles, instead of solid brick, I found a large hole had been filled with a block of wood, now rotten, into which the taps had been screwed. Obviously the previous taps bolted directly onto the recessed brickwork, but I don't really remember how!

The decayed cement was soft and easy to knock away with a large screwdriver and mallet; most of it came off with the old tiles. But some cement remained sound and was awkward to shift, but I managed it. So now, with the dust and debris removed, I have a rough mortar windowsill, a bare brick wall and a flipping great hole to deal with. I won't be re-tiling the wall, except above the sink, so I'll plaster the brickwork and cement the windowsill before re-tiling with the 'new' ceramic tiles I found in the shed!
raspberryfool: (Decorating)
Oh well, it's four in the morning and i'm sitting here staring at the screen and sipping Ruddles County. I'd grab another can, but that would mean going downstairs, reaching the back of the larder and coming back.

Work has been slack again this week, but at least I've had one night. So I walked down to B&Q to purchase some more floor tiles for the kitchen (yess, Facebookers, I mentioned this earlier!). Those things are bloody heavy you know, and I could only manage four packs; I estimate I'll need ten. I ogled a few kitchen units and lusted after some granite draining boards too. Quite when I'll actually get anything done is anotherr debate; should I paint the woodwork first or wait until the washing machine is replaced? Just wish I could get the motivation to sort the bloody house out!

Oh and I forgot to welcome Tessa, Karen and Steve. Hello you :-)
raspberryfool: (Decorating)
This morning, I began stripping wallpaper from the last corner of the dining room. All was well until I stripped the paper from the window area. The few bits of loose plaster didn't concern me much, but when I was able to dislodge whole slabs of it with my fingers, i began to worry the whole lot woiuld flake off. It must have picked up dampness before the double-glazing was installed and been loose ever since. Luckily some areas remained intact, but I'll now have to re-plaster it and re-seal the window-frame. Fun times ahead...

Meanwhile, Peter Mandelson's Foot-in-Mouth award proves what we all knew anyway: politicians speak crap. If anyone knows what the following means, please tell me:

""Perhaps we need not more people looking round more corners, but the same people looking round more corners more thoroughly to avoid the small things detracting from the big things the prime minister is getting right."

Pure poetry, Mandy!
raspberryfool: (Default)
Been slapping more paint around tonight, having sealed and whitewashed the main part of the back wall. I'm confounded by a dodgy roller; the circlip holding the core in must have pinged off and I've replaced it with a melted wallplug. Eventually I managed to roller the ceiling and the wall, making the room look, well, different. The old wallpaper is now a minor feature.
raspberryfool: (The wind changed...)
So, the year has turned and once again we've turned our clocks back, which some would say is a step backwards. However, I spent the extra hour downstaris, putting the finishing touches to the painted panels on the sliding doors. It's not as easy as one migght think to 'detail' them; first one has to paint the outside of the panel and let it dry properly, then paint the edge of the inside. I tried using tape but the paint can dribble and accumulate underneath it, causing a messy line around the edge. No, the only way is to wipe the excess paint from the surface with a cloth. The doors are looking really good now, in fact they look rather 'period'.

And I see the sky is brightening an hour early, which means I'll be walking to work in the dark. Huh.