Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sotto Le Stelle 10 - Plastering and rendering

Since our last visit there has been significant progress in the reconstruction: we now have a concrete floor, the walls have been rendered with a mix of concrete and calce (lime) and the ceiling has been repointed - and looking brilliant.


Saverio did three test samples for possible finishes for the wall plaster top coat. The upper sample was rustic, the bottom very white and shiny and the middle somewhere in between. We went for the middle option.


The other big topic of discussion was windows and doors - what can be refurbished, what will be new, which will have shutters and mosquito screens, the type of glazing:
  • the front door will be refurbished
  • the street balcony doors will be recreated but re-cycling the ironmongery
  • the valley window will be replaced
  • the door to the terrace will be one big pane of toughened glass
  • the bathroom door we are postponing to allow further cogitation


The underfloor heating pipework has been ordered and due to arrive from Germany. By the next visit it should be installed and the top layer of cement laid over it. Then the original, salvaged floor tiles will be relaid. That means the kitchen fitters can come and take definitive measurements; the kitchen lead time is now the critical path. Only three weeks to go to the next visit.

Full set of pictures on Flickr:

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Cleaning the Wandle May 2013

Every clean up brings its own surprises. There is always a regular supply of carpet, shopping trolleys, bicycles, plastic bags and bits of corrugated iron. This time it was a ludicrous number of scaffolding poles (in the water), a dozen or more water cooler bottles (on the bank), a toilet and a scooter.

Water cooler bottles

We are so fixated on the river and its banks that is too easy to forget the Wandle Trail which is the more publicly accessible aspect of the river. It is the walking and cycling trail that follows the river for 15 miles from Croydon to the Thames.

Wandle Trail

Just before lunch my friend Paul took a tumble and filled his waders with water, yuck. Fortunately he is of similar build to me and I had brought a spare pair of jeans. So he was able to change into dry togs but he did keep to the bank for the afternoon.

At lunchtime we were offered copies of the hot-off-the-press Catchment Vision for the Wandle - the result of extensive consultation - to be followed by the Action Plan.  More on the Wandle Catchment Plan.

A vision for the River Wandle

At the end of the day I bugger off home but the dedicated few remain to load the rubbish onto the truck and the equipment into the van.

Loading the van

More photos on Flickr:

Thames Path 08 - Marlow to Lower Shiplake

Marlow, England. Sunday 05-May-2103

No team photo today - just the three of us: me, Mary and John.

Marlow is clearly a lovely little town but we had no time to take in the atmosphere. Sunday morning was a cereal-based, slow-release carb breakfast and an early-ish start for the second day - off at 9:15. (second part) (first part)

Marlow sundial
Sundial in Marlow

We soon left the town and were into the countryside - classic Thames with swans.

Swans a swimming
Swans a-swimming

Open country past Culham Court with views and charity runners and wild flowers.

Wild Primrose

Thames general view 1
Thames Path

Comfort break at Henley

After 9.5 miles we reached Henley and a chance for Mary to adjust her socks. Turns out her right little toe was blistered and she limped on for another 2.5 miles to the lunch stop at The Baskerville at Lower Shiplake.

After lunch we decided, reluctantly, to call it a day and caught the train home. Even so it was a good walk and a good start point for the next leg.

Garmin Trip Garmin track

More photos on Flickr:

Distance this leg 18.7 km
Previous legs 158.1 km
Total so far 176.8 km

Monday, May 13, 2013

Thames Path 07 - Windsor to Marlow

Windsor, England. Saturday 04-May-2013.

Seven turned up for the first half of the bank holiday weekend, two-day walk. (part)

Mark (me), Pete, Blanche, Andrea, Mary, Alan, John

Perfect walking weather, warm, sunny, still and dry underfoot.

St Mary Magdalene Church, Boveney

The path took us mostly through countryside with all manner of fascinating buildings to see.

Blanche, Andrea, Pete

Mary wanted to up the pace to 3.3 mph which meant we managed Maidenhead, where the A4 crosses the Thames, by 12:30 for lunch at the Blue River Cafe. Seven miles down, seven to go to Marlow.

Maidenhead Rail Bridge - 1838 The Sounding Arch.

I.K. Brunel designed this bridge. The brick arches are the widest and flattest in the world ~ each span is 128 feet with a rise of only 24 feet.

between Cookham and Marlow 1
Between Cookham and Marlow

After lunch it was another two and a half hours walking to our end point at Marlow where Pete and Blanche, and Alan and Andrea peeled off for the train back to Windsor to pick up their car home.

Mary and I checked into The George and Dragon for a relax in the bath. John had no reservation due to a mix-up but found accommodation nearby. Then it was out for some serious steak in The Chequers and a good night's sleep.

10806 10789

More photos on Flickr:

Distance this leg 24.4 km
Previous legs 133.7 km
Total so far 158.1 km

Sunday, May 12, 2013

My commute to work

“Isn’t it dangerous cycling in London? I wouldn’t fancy doing that” is the most common response to learning that I commute by bike.

The answer is “Not if you choose your route and don’t cycle like a plonker”.

The first part of the journey is along the Thames Side Path and through Battersea Park; the second half is through the quiet residential streets of Pimlico. And I stop for red lights

This is where I join the river just three minutes from my house.

At the nearer end of the Grade II listed Battersea Park is Albert Bridge - my favourite of all the London Bridges and very pretty at night all lit up like a spider’s web covered in dew catching the sunlight.

Once inside the park I pass the Peace Pagoda - usually the chosen location for personal trainers putting their clients through their paces.

Then it is over Chelsea Bridge and a fine view over my shoulder of the iconic Battersea Power Station the largest brick building in Europe.

After a few hundred yards I enter the tree-lined streets of Pimlico which takes me most of the way to my destination.

On the way I pass Tachbrook Street Market although I am usually there before the traders have begun to set up their stalls.

Distance 4.9 miles, time 28 minutes. Faster than public transport and far pleasanter.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Urban Gardening - Raised Beds

We commissioned our gardener to make us a raised bed out of some recycled hardwood lab bench tops we bought at an architectural salvage yard. However we completely failed to convey our requirements and what he built was nothing like the picture in our heads.

The wood had a variety of tap and sink holes. We intended that he cut a number of long thin planks that ran the full length. Instead he cut across to get the full width where he could. The result is a shorter, taller bed with a single-sheet slab side instead of a longer lower bed with more attractive planking sides. Ho-hum, it’s done now.

So we moved it out of sight down the side alley and planted potatoes in it.

Next it was a trip to Home Base to buy some substantial, commercially made, assemble-it-yourself beds. That took a lot of drilling and screwing together - thank goodness for the power screwdriver.

Mary wanted them to be moveable so that meant wheels and a base to support the lining. That meant more trips to Home Base and more sawing and drilling and screwing.

The result, although I say it myself, is two fine, sturdy and smooth moving beds. Mary loves to rearrange furniture (it’s a girl thing) so that suits her just fine.

Now they are all planted up with herbs and we just have to find names for them. I’m favouring Torvill and Dean.

Previous namings:
Compost bins: Tom, Dick and Harry, Gertrude, and “The Bin With No Name” 
Big shed: Jabba the Hut
Small pair of sheds: Arthur and Jackson

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Jazz Brunch at The Wharf, Teddington

Teddington, England. Sunday 28-April-2013.

The Wharf in Teddington does a Sunday Jazz Brunch so off Mary booked and off we went on the train. The Wharf is right on the river, as you might guess from the name, and has a nice, bright conservatory suitable for a sunny day. We ate well whilst listening to Tracy Ray and the Mojos.

Mary is keen to get in as much walking practice as possible ready for Bob and Lynn's Coast-to-Coast in August. So we decided to augment our Thames Path walk with a little post lunch stroll as far homewards as we felt like.

Unfortunately we added to our journey by walking about a mile in the wrong direction due to some confusion as to which side of the river we were - caused in part by the way the river twists and turns.

Then at Richmond the path was flooded due to the high tide so we took a detour inland as you can see on the map.

Unfortuately where we rejoined the river it was still flooded. Nothing for it but to take off our socks and shoes and paddle round the corner.

After nearly 9 miles we decided we'd walked off the lunch and it was starting to get toward dusk so we switched to the train at Kew for the rest of the jouney home.

Friday, May 03, 2013

Mum's 86th Birthday

Normally we just send a card and telephone and sometimes visit depending on the day of the week. This year Mum's birthday fell on a Saturday and, seeing as how she is recovering from her hip replacement, we decided a full gathering was in order.

Pete (BIL), Ian (bro), Geri (Mum)
All three siblings and partners plus Jane's youngest with girlfriend all went down to Farnham for afternoon tea.

Leoni (gf), Tom (nephew)
There was a bit of a cake theme going - all three housholds brought cakes. Leoni is practising for a bake-off which is apparently in preparation for Chris (Janes's middle son) and Hannah's wedding next month - delicious.

Almond and Pear Cake with Raspberry glaze
Sarah baked scones (with strawberry jam and cream) and Mary dispatched me to Konditor and Cook in Waterloo for a Nine Magic Cake set.

Cakes and Scones
It was only just over two weeks since Mum's hip replacement so there was progress but don't expect a Cossack Dance anytime soon. Up and down stairs is OK and leg action is definately "walk not shuffle" but pain management still requires a steady diet of codeine and paracetamol at the prescribed level.

Jane (sis), Mike (Dad), Sarah (SIL) and (off camera) Mary (SWMBO)
There was present opening and general chat. Then we went home again. That's all folks...