Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A New Bathroom for Wandsworth

plan for new bathroom
Plan for new bathroom

Our bathroom is small and a previous owner has not made best use of the space.

The "before" as it is now has the bath against the window wall, the basin top left and the loo currently where the basin will be, bottom right.

The door opens the other way so, if you are sitting on the loo you get knee-capped as the door opens. Plus the shower window-side means the sill gets soaked and all the paint peels off.

This "after" was designed for us by the team at "H2OLondon". Hanging the door the other way and rearranging the units as you see here will make a big difference. Plus new everything and tiles and accessories will make a transformation. Well done chaps.

We have a final visit to the warehouse on Friday to see the bath in the flesh and choose tiles and colours. Then a six week lead time on the bath so the work won't be done till the end of July. Fortunately we have a shower room downstairs otherwise that might have meant a week of showering at work.

Monday, May 28, 2007

A Weekend in the Cotswolds

This weekend was a long weekend in the UK as today is a Bank Holiday (public holiday). Mary and I worked at home Friday and made a fast getaway to The Lamb Inn, Great Rissington in the hyper-cute Cotswolds. We joined usual suspects Bob&Lynn who had gone up Thursday and had just done a 17 mile walk around Bourton-on-the-Water with 100 of Lynn's work colleagues.

John&Andrea, formerly in St Albans, have recently relocated to Cranham, 25 miles down the road, so they joined us for dinner at the Lamb where we were on a "bed and evening meal" deal. The pub's "signature dish" is a slow roast half leg of lamb that just falls off the bone.

Saturday was a gentle 8 mile walk into BOTW and round in a big circle. It was a beautiful sunny morning and the countryside round there is delightful with gentle rolling hills and all the Cotswold stone houses. We ended up back at the Lamb for another fine meal - eaten very slowly by me.

Sunday was over to J&A's via the farmers' market in Bourton for a short walk to the Black Horse for a pint of local ale (except me - boo!) After lunch we headed back to London so we could get up early today and crack on with odd jobs about the house and garden.

Friday, May 25, 2007

An extraction and two posts

Well that wasn't as painful as I was expecting but that was mainly because I was doped up to the eyeballs. The extraction of the molar was the part I was least looking forward to. The work was done under a local but I was also sedated with a drip feed into the arm. I don't know what was in there but three hours of my life disappeared down a chemical black hole.

When I came to Dad was there as the "responsible adult" to make sure I got home safely. I had an hour's kip, we strolled down to the chemist to pick up a prescription for antibiotics, then - duty discharged - Dad went back to Farnham. When the anaesthetic wore off it was not too painful, no need for more paracetamol this morning. Now it is a soft diet for three months while the bone grows in and bonds to the implants.

ct scan of jaw showing site of implants
CT scan of jaw showing site of implants

This is the CT scan I had done last week with the implants superimposed. The yellow is the implant and the green is the post that takes the crown. Number 36 is where the cantelivered crown was. Number 37 is where the extraction was and had to move close to the adjacent tooth because of the hole left by the split root. That will fill with bone over the next few months - the human body is a wonderful thing!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Street Life (New Kids on the Block)

Quite literally. Walking over Waterloo this statue appeared one day.

It was not for a couple of days that I noticed several more atop various office blocks and buildings of the South Bank Centre.

Then a couple of days later I spotted several more on rooftops on the North end of the bridge.

Turns out there are 31 of these statues according to the BBC. They are by Antony Gormley who did the Angel of the North and this work is entitled "Event Horizon". It tickled me.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Early May in Italy 07

Off to Italy *again* at the weekend. This time a free Alitalia flight courtesy of airmiles but the limited number of mile and availability meant we did have to catch an early flight. Up at 4am to catch a 6am flight and we only just caught it. The queues were horrendous and our flight got called forward twice: once at the check-in desks and again for the security screening.

As requested the gardener had started planting up the beds but has yet to start work on the automatic watering system. He has planted up the beds with typical Maquis shrubs plus some roses and iris.

flower bed with shrubs
Flower bed with shrubs

The weekend was spent doing a few useful things. Ordered a last couple of bits of furniture: a cupboard for the Lamia living room (storage is scarce) and a side table to put the small hi-fi on. We made another trip to Emmezetta (local hypermarket) and bought a giant parasol and an all-in-one TV and DVD player. We also bought a copy of The Blues Brothers to watch - in Italian of course - but I knew the lines so well that didn't really matter.

I also managed to clean out the pizza oven ready for my first attempt at real pizza cooking when we go out in June.

Edited post to replace camera photos with quality image from Mary's camera. [Tue 22-May-07]

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

CT Scan for Titanium Implants

Tuesday I went for a CT scan in preparation for a couple of titanium implants next Thursday. I swear I could feel the scan move down my head. The technicians said no-one had mentioned that before but I could feel a planar circular sensation rotating round and round and passing down my skull, most odd feeling!

Some while back I mentioned that I had 11 crowns (including 3 post and core) [1]. Here is the proof courtesy of the implant specialist Dr Ashok Sethi:

x-ray of whole mouthful of teeth

X-ray of whole mouthful of teeth

Below is the lower right 8 (on the left of the X-ray) that gave me such grief a while back [2]. But there will be no implant there. Raj will crown it and then wait till, one day, it eventually fails and then do two implants together.

x-ray of lower-right teeth

X-ray of lower right teeth (8 & missing 7)

No, the implants will be where I had the extraction last October [3]. The extraction was tricky because I had a "siamese" crown. The lower left 6 only had one root; the tooth having cracked the other root had to go. Half a root wasn't enough to take the strain of a crown so Raj crowned the two as a pair. See diagram below.
diagram of lower-left teeth

Diagram of lower left teeth (6 & 7)

Eventually the other half root went and so it took had to be extracted *from under the crown*. That meant separating the root from the cantilevered crown then easing the root out sideways - not as bad as it sounds. Now the extra strain on the remaining tooth has caused its root to crack so that too will have to go and two implants go in their place.

x-ray of lower-left teeth

X-ray of lower left teeth

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Charity Double Header

Sunday was all a bit hectic as we had signed up for the Stroke Association's Thames Bridges Bike Ride* and then Oddbins announced their annual wine fair** (all proceeds to charity) for the same weekend! What to do? Forget the bike ride? Start and wimp out halfway through? In the end Mary had a stroke of logistical genius: activate the Emergency Drinking Trousers (pat pending). So this it how it went:

Thames Bridges Bike Ride: Sunday morning we got up early so we could cycle to Clapham, got the train to Waterloo and cycled to the start line at Tower Bridge in order to be first away over the line at 8 o'clock. We were in the very first batch. We then cycled 32 miles over 16 bridges in 3 hours dead arriving at Hampton Court at 11:00.

Intermission: We then caught the 11:35 to Waterloo where we chained up our bikes on platform 16 and changed into our day clothes in the public loos. Lunch was a sandwich on the train. Hopped into a taxi and off to the Design Centre, Islington.

Oddbin's Wine Fair: As usual we started with champagnes; tasted about 17 and the Billecart-Salmon was this year's NV winner with an honourable mention for the Charles Lafitte. I cannot find my notes so cannot recall which was the vintage winner - ah found them - the Veuve Clicquot.

We then attended a master class on New Zealand Pinot Noir. Very educational and the best of the bunch was the Murdoch James "Fraser" Martinborough 2004. The rest of the afternoon tasting at will until it was time to stagger home with out friend John. Though, truth to tell, he was staggering more then we were!

* Previously:
Got the T-shirt
In Training for Charity Bike Ride 2
In Training for Charity Bike Ride

** Previously:
"Oddbin's Wine Fair 2006"
"Drinking for charity - It's a dirty job but..." (2004)
"Amethystos (under the counter)" (2005).

Monday, May 14, 2007

Street Life (Counting Cars)

We live on the edge of an area of Wandsworth known as "The Tonsleys" (Street, Road, Place, Hill and some other streets). A half kilometer square of modest three bed-roomed Victorian terraced houses bounded by Fairfield Street, East Hill, Trinity Road and Swandon Way.

On Saturday we went to the Guinness Cup final at Twickenham with Bob and Lynn and afterwards went for a curry at The Chutney in Alma Road. In the short five minutes it took us to walk the 400m to the restaurant we counted 6 Porsche, 2 BMW Z4, 2 Mercedes SLK/CLK and a Maserati.

Mary's Mum once asked if we were not worried about having to park our 6-year old BMW 3 series on-street to which Mary replied "no" because there were lots of nicer cars for thieves to steal.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Dudok's Town Hall, Hilversum (1930)

Originally uploaded by markmclellan.
A fabulous building. It was closed to the public but Ian chatted to the security guard and explained the cultural nature of our visit. The guy then very kindly not only let us in but also gave us a guided tour of the interior. We saw the concert hall, the registry office (where civil marriage ceremonies are performed) and even the mayor's private office. The detailed inside was gorgeous, gold tiled columns in the main hall, decorative tiles and stuff.

Duiker's Zonnestraal Sanatorium, Hilversum (1931)

Originally uploaded by markmclellan.
We took the train to Hilversum to see two buildings, this sanatorium and the town hall. We haggled with three taxis to take the twelve of us to see this, wait for 20 minutes and then return us to the town hall. It was a beautiful, sunny day - we were very lucky with the weather.

This was built for TB sufferers, partly to help them recover with lots of fresh air and partly to isolate them from others so they did not spread the disease. The believed lots of fresh air was essentlal so there are plenty of balconies and windows - all very light and airy.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Reitveld's Schroeder house (1924)

Originally uploaded by markmclellan.

Team photo outside a house that looks like a Mondrian painting in 3-D (Reitveld was part of the same group as Mondrian). The upper floor inside was amazing but we were not allowed to take photos so you'll have to make do with the outside. A Unesco World Heritage Site


Architectural Tour of Amsterdam

Originally uploaded by markmclellan.

The reason there have been no posts over the week end is that I have been in Amsterdam on an four day architectural tour lead by Tim Bruce-Dick (in the hat).

Jane has accompanied Dad (in the grey jacket) on a couple of previous tours but this time Ian and I decided to join them to make is a "siblings spend quality time with father" event.

This is also a test of my new flicker account to see how seamless, or otherwise, they are.

We left Mum at home but rang her every day.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The First Growths Tutored Tasting

Monday night was an extravagant tasting at BBR: eight first growth clarets.

To quote the BBR website, "Technically the term 'First Growth' should only be applied to the properties identified as such in the famous 1855 Classification of the Médoc, namely Châteaux Lafite, Latour, Margaux and Haut-Brion, subsequently joined in 1973 by Ch. Mouton-Rothschild. However, as the title is synonymous with the apogee of excellence in Bordeaux, we will use the term more informally here to include the other truly great names of Bordeaux - Châteaux Cheval Blanc, Ausone and Pétrus - which are felt to be unequivocally of First Growth quality.

Mark Pardoe MW will discuss each property in turn, explaining and unravelling the nuances that distinguish each of the First Growths from one another, while illuminating the intrinsic seam of quality that runs through all these eight great wines. The wines will all be from 2002, thereby filleting the distractions of vintage variation and also allowing some contemplation of this fine and classic year which deserves greater credit and admiration.

After a delicious aperitif of vintage Champagne, you will be guided through the following wines, served alongside a selection of cheese and canapés:"

These were the wines and my notes on the 'nose' (wine speak for 'smell'):

Wine 1: 2002 Ch. Cheval Blanc, St Emilion - soft cherry, bonfire.
Wine 2: 2002 Ch. Ausone, St Emilion - purple, blackcurrent, woody root / leaf.
Wine 3: 2002 Ch. Pétrus, Pomerol - clean, redcurrant, chocolate, vanilla.
Wine 4: 2002 Ch. Haut-Brion, Pessac-Léognan - cooler/warmer?, murky.
Wine 5: 2002 Ch. Margaux, Margaux - tall green (grassy) fruit, warm.
Wine 6: 2002 Ch. Lafite-Rothschild, Pauillac - redcurrant, sweet.
Wine 7: 2002 Ch. Mouton-Rothschild, Pauillac - mushroom, cheese, soap.
Wine 8: 2002 Ch. Latour, Pauillac - clean deep fruit, cajun spices, coffee, deep.

My fave was the Latour (concentrated, stunning, "gobs of fruit") followed by the Cheval Blanc with the Margaux and Mouton-Rothschild in 3rd and 4th place. My least favourite was the Haut-Brion (muddied, not clean). As Bron observed I am in alignment with Mr Parker's ratings as regards best and worst in this group though I can safely say my palette is not up to Parker's standard.

The Petrus was the most complex on the nose but at GBP 750 a bottle (that is correct, not a typo, USD 1,490) I will not be rushing out to buy a bottle let alone a full case. A most educational tasting to confirm that we were well beyond my "VFM" point of diminishing returns.