The free diy home improvement guide with answers to your questions on a wide range of do it yourself projects.


Making a Start on the Gazebo

Rain, rain and more rain – oh, and some wind, fog and frost. Sounds like a typical British winter then. It seems as though the rain has hardly paused for thought this week. Everyday has seen a little bit of rain or at the very least icy winds and I chose this week to make a start on the gazebo – bad idea.

Of course I have only been able to get out and do the work on the the weekend and a couple of sneaky afternoons, so I haven't made much headway. However according to Claire I have made quite a lot of mess. I have been digging out the footings for the base which, given the state of our soil, has meant slicing through thick clay which has the consistency of playdough and soaks up all the water.

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Martin the Builder (or Marty to you and me)

OK, I’m not going to beat around the bush – I don’t exactly agree with this whole “blog” thing. In my humble opinion, it is usually just a chance for someone to have a rant about nothing in particular, and who really cares what some individual from the middle of London is doing with their lives? So why this then? Well, my lovely wife in all her wisdom is pretty much forcing me to write down my thoughts. She says it is cathartic – I don’t even know what that means. She is fed up with me bending her ear with everything I want, no need to say each day and she reckons a blog is the way to go.

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Marty's Carbon Footprint

Well, the cold weather is well and truly setting in now and boy am I feeling it. I don't know what it is about me, but I feel the cold more than anyone I know. I blame it on my slow metabolism – my body just has trouble getting going. This week I have rechristened all my thermals and started wearing long trousers instead of the shorts. I have no idea what I will do when the cold gets much worse. How many layers is it possible to wear?

This little bit of chill in the air and the torrential rain has got me thinking about global warming.

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Marty's Quids In

Just half a pound this week. I have to admit I fell off the wagon just a little bit. Don't tell the wife, but I treated myself to a pub lunch with my mate Darren. He is a gas fitter and is the person I call on when I need a bit of gas work done. I should just go out and get qualified myself, but who finds the time to do these things?

Anyway, we went down the pub after he had helped me out with moving a boiler. I looked at the menu and I am sorry but the chips just called out to me. It was miserable outside and I needed the equivalent of a culinary roaring fire... and they really hit the spot. Sod the diet – for one day at least!

Darren is a laugh. He is a bit younger than me, single and carefree. I always hear about his dodgy weekends and how hungover he is. But boy does he work hard. He's never at home. I doubt he could keep a girlfriend if he had one!

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Maybe I Should Have Stayed Home

Well this week has been a difficult one – once again. I have been suffering with a nasty cold; although I swear that it is a flu. Claire tells me that if I had the flu I wouldn't be able to get out of bed. I told her that I am struggling on because of all the responsibility I have.

According to Claire's friend who is a doctor, the litmus test for flu is to tell the sick person that they have just won the lottery and see the reaction. If they can't even raise a smile, then they have flu... I am sorry, but I don't care how ill I am. If I knew I had won £7 million, I would be jumping around like a looney, regardless.

But even if it is just a cold, it has been the worst one I have had in a long while. Started as a serious sore throat, moved on to the super nasty cold and now I have the recovery period of feeling slightly sick, woozy and lethargic. I even lost my appetite, which is practically unheard of. I think I need to re-feed myself to get my energy back.

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Me And Paint Don't Mix.

Oh dear, I have had a bit of a disaster this week. I don't know what it is about me and paint but I have a long and quite depressing story to tell about my painting experience this week.

Well actually to be fair it isn't my story it is more that of my apprentice who has been mortified at how she has monumentally stuffed things up this week. But to be fair she is my responsibility and it is down to me to make sure things are right and in this case things went so wrong...

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Money or Morals?

Been another manic week. The middle flat needs to be finished by this weekend so the new tenants can move in. That is all well and good and I expect to have it all ready by Friday, but I have to admit that I am not really happy about the choice of tenants.

Chris has made a commercial decision which doesn't sit well with me at all. He has decided that two young students are appropriate tenants for the flat without thinking about poor old Eva who is living upstairs.

I had a visit from the two lads this week as they wanted to do some measuring up for their “massive TV”. Seriously...that was what they said! They were aiming to go out a buy the biggest they could get and needed to check the wall size. OK fair enough – they are young blokes, probably away from home for the first time, but honestly I couldn't think of two worse tenants for this place.

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More Cranky Than Usual

Well it is back to school time and don't I just know all about it. Gone are the quiet mornings in front of the telly and the easy drive in to work. In are screaming kids, constant yelling, running around, messy kitchens and traffic jams.

Our house has turned from a calm, relaxed environment in the morning to some sort of mad house. Claire is up at the crack of dawn ironing uniforms, making school lunches (and mine as well, of course) and getting breakfast on the table. I have reverted to getting up at the last minute to avoid the noise. And all this comes from just having one child at school. Who knows what awaits me when they are both heading off in the morning?

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More Work More Money

It is World Cup fever around here at the moment. Everywhere you look it is staring you right in the face. Flags on cars and houses, weekend parties at the neighbours, school “football” days and constant TV coverage....

Guess what? I am probably one of a very few men in this country that don't really like football. I think it probably stems from never really being very good at it at school. I was always the last picked for the team and would rather do something practical than kick a football around after school.

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Much More Than a 9 to 5 Job

Isn't it funny what a difference a day can make? Yesterday I was incredibly stressed out knowing that the new tenant in the top flat was due to move in that afternoon. I was up at 5.30am (I should have just stayed the night there!) and was cleaning and touching up walls and paint for three hours.

But I am thankfully able to say that the job is now finished and the tenant has moved in and she is over the moon with it. Obviously she came to look at the place when it was literally just a shell and now it has new everything. She didn't even complain about the stairs and pointed out that she gets the advantage of the view.

The funny thing is that I didn't even take a minute to appreciate that. The bedroom looks out over green fields, with a church in the distance. It is picture perfect and I failed to even notice. Typical. Wood for the trees is the saying, I believe.

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My First and Last Diet

I'm starving. I am deadly serious! I never in my life realised how hard it would be to give up my favourite white bread sandwiches and full fat milk. According to the lady at the Weight Watchers meeting I only have 2.5 stone to lose....and should be able to do that by around February. Doesn't she realise that Christmas and New Year fall right in the middle?

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Never Leave a New Worktop in a Damp Garage

You'll remember last week that I said I would be going to a mates house for a day to fit his new worktop and new kitchen doors. It was supposed to be a simple job, but it couldn't have been further away from easy.

The first thing I did was remove all the old cabinet doors, saved the hinges to use again and then set about measuring up the worktop. Of course he had just bought a length of worktop for me to cut to size. Fair enough.

Only he had decided that it was a great idea to store the worktop in the garage, sitting on its side for several weeks. With the ups and downs in temperatures lately and the fact that his garage shifts from a freezer to a sauna at the blink of an eye, it was fairly obvious to me at least, that the worktop would be ruined – and it was.

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G L Smith and Sons