Sunday, August 8, 1999

08/08/99 Yet more DIY ...

A very busy couple of weeks since last I ranted, so here goes.

My estimable friend and partner Renaud has finally got his house finished - at least there are walls, a roof, and a floor - so last weekend we shifted house. Four burly gentlemen (one of them, the least burly, being myself) took a day to move their apartment into the new house. Sophie had been very organised and had boxed everything except the kitchen sink, each box being numbered, indexed (Dewey decimal) and destination coded in plain-text just in case. With the exception of the house-hold cleansers (still un-accounted for as I write, a complete mystery to all) I think everything arrived. A right pain shifting the white-ware, as we had to take them down a 45° slope of unsettled earth to get them through the front door without apparent damage, but we seem to have managed.

Since then I've become an expert on fitted kitchens, as I've been helping out in my own little way by setting his up. First you put the modules together (one small error where I banged a hole in the side of one with my fist trying to set the dowels in place, happily it's hidden), then you stick all the different modules together side by side, check the level, stick the wall oven in its slot, put down the workbench and cut out an enormous hole to fit the gas hobs in ... I have to go back on Tuesday to cut out and attach the cornice and mouldings to cover up the raw particle-board edges, but with any luck that should go pretty quickly.

Meanwhile Sophie is painting over the gross marks we've left on the walls from all this, Bruno is pulling all the electric cables through their pipes, and Renaud is doing heroic things like sticking up the hot water cylinder on the wall and hooking it up to the pipes using only string and chewing gum.

So I took this weekend off to make a start on the decking. Borrowed Hervé's big van on Friday to shift the wood, then spent yesterday running around getting all the screws I'd need (640 of them) and the bricks to lay the beams across and the felt stuff (they call it "géotextile here, it's basically a waterproof plastic cloth you put down under your bricks to stop rising damp and above all weeds) and then today was spent laying all that out and getting the beams down and level. Hervé also lent me a handy dandy spirit level with a laser beam integrated - you stick it down, get it level, then switch on the laser and your level is extended for a useful distance of about 20m, which was perfect - and that helped a lot. The bricks are now laid, the support beams are across and all levelled, I just have to slice and screw the planks in place. All for next weekend, because I foolishly promised Jeremy that he'd have his last year's birthday present ( a sandpit) out there on the terrace for this birthday.

And Jeremy doesn't forget things like that. Never mind, the worst is out of the way and if I take a day off during the week it'll all be done - thanks be to Heaven for circular saws and electric screwdrivers.

During this time I also have a major database application to design for someone who, as an intermediary, manages JIT delivery for his clients. He has his clients, their suppliers, and the warehousers to keep track of, and the stock at the warehouse has to be kept track of at the palette level - plus there's all the billing side of thing to handle. I spent Friday installing SQL Server at the office (much to my surprise, I didn't have to reboot the machine during the process) and then started using the database design tools to start designing the thing. Fair takes me back about 20 years to Computer Science 58-203, fourth-order normalisation and all the rest. Except that back then normalisation and table relationships were things that you scribbled down on grubby scraps of paper, at least one of which would be missing when you came to write the SQL code to set up your database, whereas now you can do it all graphically.

Given that it's Microsoft, I still wouldn't put it past the beast to forget one or two electronic equivalents of grubby scraps of paper and get the entire architecture screwed up, but at least the diagrams it produces look pretty. Gives me something to show to my client tomorrow to make it look as though I've been working for him.

Our friends Magali and François and their three girls came round last evening to camp in our garden - idea was to check that they could get their super new tent up in the requisite 15 minutes etc before trying it out on a real holiday. We all dined and they went off to bed, us too - and about 4am, when Margo went down to check on how Tess had managed to get inside given that all the doors were closed, she found them all camping in the living-room. Can't say I blame them - the wind was up to about 70 kph, and it was raining a dog's breakfast horizontally. Not really the night to choose for camping out.

At least it was better than Friday night: we had the same thing, only redoubled in spades, and I spent rather more time than I wanted sawing up fallen branches and generally getting rid of bits of dead tree. Much to my surprise, the old apple tree is still with us - it's old and looks rotten, but there's life in the old thing still.

Margo of course spent most of the week at Pesselière with Ian & Marie and various other frog family members - probably Malyon's last chance to see this set of cousins before heading off to NZ on or about the 10th September. I'd sort of planned on heading up on Wednesday night to be with them, but realised that it meant that I'd have all of Thursday to spend with them before heading back on Friday, and consequently gave up the idea - especially as SQL was calling. So I missed out on all that, but never mind, I'll make it up later. Don't know when.

Jeremy came back and naturally enough he and Elise had made friends with some horses in a paddock down the road. The proof is the enormous masses of horse-hair coming out of his pockets in the wash. Yucky stuff, horse-hair. Long and stiff and springy and well, horse-coloured.

That's probably enough from me, you're doubtless tired of hearing about how the temperature is up in the 30°s most of the time and the weather (apart from the cloudbursts around 3am) is more or less perfect - so I'll say goodnight for this week.
Trevor & Margo

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