Catfight

So the cat got into a fight a couple of nights ago. We were merrily being couch potatos of an evening (as you do) when the cat appeared from the back garden. He sat in the doorway of the room we are temporarily using as our living room, looked at us for a moment with that expression of pity all cats are capable of, and started licking himself.

Nothing new there.

He didn’t stop, though. At some point we got up to check and noticed a trail of blood terminating at the cat and leading back to the bedroom. After checking him over (three claws have been damaged, one of which had been bleeding but had stopped by the time we realised something was up) we followed the drips of blood (splattered over our brand new floor, I must add) and it led us to the window the cat had clearly jumped in. There wasn’t anything alive (or dead, though looking for the corpse of something our cat had a fight with is giving the cat a bit too much credit) outside so we’ve no idea if this was the cat being a clutz or the cat being attacked, but our money is on the latter.

After a day the claw on his front paw hadn’t properly healed. He kept licking it, too, so suspecting infection we rushed him off to the vet. They confirmed our suspicions and gave him a shot and a cone of shame.

Poor boy

Since getting the cone he has become exceedingly affectionate. It’s kinda nice, maybe we should keep it on him all the time… just kidding, of course. His front paw is healing up nicely, though he has figured out that he can stretch his leg out, wrap it around the base of the cone, then push forward onto the floor or bed (yes, with his face) trapping his paw under the cone allowing him to lick part of it. He doesn’t do it often, though.

When The Wind Blows

When deciding to buy and renovate an older, run-down house the one guaranteed thing you have to expect is unexpected things cropping up just when you don’t want them to.

A fence in our back garden has just blown over in the high winds we’ve been experiencing.

The neighbours shed (top left) is the only thing holding it up!

It went over this morning and from what I can tell the posts have rotted and snapped in the ground. Looks like they’ll need replacing. Not too much of an issue in the grand scheme of the universe of course.

We’ve managed to spread out the cost of various things we’ve been doing in the house so we’re not hit in the financial balls all in one go, the fireplace and flooring being the most recent examples. But, of course, chance and nature don’t operate on a schedule.

Technically, it’s not our fence, so we don’t have to pay for it to be replaced/repaired… However there were some fat trees pushing on it for many years which have absolutely contributed to the current situation. I need to speak to the neighbours but I’m thinking we’ll at least contribute to the repairs on a moral basis let alone the fact that it may be partially our fault. Well, the fault of the people who lived here before us. Neighbours gotta be neighbourly and work together ‘n’ all that.

It’s a shame this has happened now. We’ve just paid out for a new floor (not cheap) and have a baby on the way, so we (read, I) are sensitive to unexpected outgoings at the moment. But hey, this is what the emergency fund is for!

The money is only one of two issues. In order to repair this fence, either the neighbours need to move their two sheds (one of which is holding the fence up right now) or we need to remove our horrible disgusting… shed… thing which you can see it on the very left of this pic. This is something we want to do, but we’re actually using it to store a load of trash at the moment (old carpet, ancient chest-freezer, broken lawnmower, etc.)

We need to pay to get the trash and the shed removed as there are some very large bulky things in there and we don’t have the transportation for it. Needing to pay for this stuff to happen is why it hasn’t happened yet. Other things to sort out. We’ll get to it eventually. Or soon, if the fence repairs demand it…

Oh, to make matters slightly more frustrating, I’ve just noticed that the opposite fence by the patio is starting to fall too. Great.

Floorless Victory: Epilogue

The final room has had the flooring fitted and the beading is done!

Shiny!

One last thing to do is the skirting around the fireplace, but that room needs to be decorated anyway so there’s no immediate rush.

Floorless Victory

14.5 months. That’s how long we’ve been living in a building site.

Well, that’s not quite true as for the first few months we had carpet. I’m sure the carpet was nice back in the 90’s when it was first installed but by the time we came to live here it was worn and stained. It had the delicate aroma of dog piss and cigarettes eminating from within.

We ripped up this carpet fairly quickly to remove the smell and found rotten underlay underneath, which we also tore out. In one of the bedrooms, directly below where a bed used to live, the concrete was still wet with the aforementioned dog urine. Yeah, months after moving in, we still had liquid piss in the house from the previous owners pet (and we’re clinging to the belief that it was dog wee and not human.) I love dogs and dread to think what kind of environment it lived in for it to crawl under a bed and piss itself so much that it stayed wet for months afterward. We cleaned the hell out of that floor and had a dehumidifier in the room for a good few weeks to suck out any remaining moisture. Eventually, and thankfully, we got it dry and the smell dissipated.

Since the floor came up all those months ago we’ve been living on concrete. Not the polished stuff you find in modern fancy houses, we’re talking the giant slabs of rough cheap stuff the building actually sits on. It was freezing cold, uncomfortable to stand on and always dirty. The friction from walking on it would pull up tiny stones and dust. We rejoice, however, as of this weekend that is no longer the case. We’ve finally had our floor installed!

The first few boards are down
Ta-da! Oh adequte flooring, how I have missed you so…

We initially wanted to get LVT but ended up going with a good quality laminate instead due to the cost. A family friend installed it for us – doing the door frames and edges is something that I couldn’t do without a lot of trial & error and a lot of time. Plus repairing all the damage I would undoubtedly cause would cost a lot of money, so we decided to get professional help. We’ve still got one room to go, plus the beading around the edges (we didn’t fancy ripping out the skirting) but once those are done we’ll actually live in a house rather than a construction yard!

It’s odd living somewhere with a floor. It feels much cleaner, warmer and comfier. More like a home. I certainly appreciate it more now than I had done in the past.

Next few items on the list: finish painting the livingroom, repaint some walls, buy some furniture. Maybe then we can start unpacking some of the boxes we had when we first moved in!

Homemade(-ish)

I am not good at anything food related. I love food and am a willing assistant in the kitchen, but if I’m in charge of the salad, I’ll burn it.

Enter my partner. She isn’t a professional cook, but her food equals and exceeds that of the nicest restaraunts I have ever been to.

We’re both eager to spend less money and are always reviewing our purchases. One regular slice of our expenditure cake that we are actually very happy with is our food. We regularly buy individual food components and build a meal from them, rather than buying something pre-made and ready to cook. There are exceptions to this, though. For example, we don’t buy the ingredients to make bread (…yet) we just buy damn bread. It’s cheaper to buy it than make it in our case anyway. There are other instances of this, where it’s easier and/or cheaper to buy pre-made than make from scratch. Often, these pre-made things become one ingredient in a bigger meal, the rest being home made (and even home grown in some cases!) and quite often the leftovers of the meal or ingredients form part of the meal for the next day. For example, slow-cook a whole chicken, use the breasts/legs in a meal then use the rest of the meat on a delicious pizza, with the carcass being used to make a delicious soup!

Homemade(-ish) Chicken & Sweetcorn pizza

We’ve found ourselves with quite the collection of go-to meals. Meals that we can recreate easily and cheaply that taste great and are healthy. Well, healthier than the store-bought versions anyway. And yes, occasionally we’ll have chicken a few days in a row, but when it tastes as good as it does, you really don’t care.

We should probably share these recipies… Rather than having 100% home made food, which quite frankly is more effort than we’re willing to put in right now, perhaps we should publish our homemade-ish food recipies with the focus on taste, money, health and simplicity. I’ve found it can be difficult to get all four of those into the same meal, and sometimes we don’t (just check out that pizza above) but we try.

As we grow more food in the future, hopefully we’ll be able to experiement more and come up with some even tastier, healthier, cheaper and simpler meals. If we do, we’ll post them here.

Fortinet Wireless, NPS & Called-Station-ID – can’t connect to SSID

Image not my own, I pinched it from Amazon

We’ve created a new SSID at work for our IT staff on our Fortinet (previously Meru) wireless network. Using Radius (through Microsoft Network Policy Server) we couldn’t connect even though it was set up in the same way as an existing, working network. It took us a while to figure out the issue once we thought we had everything configured correctly, but the TL;DR is, essentially, if you use the “Called Station ID” field (not “Calling”!) on the NPS box to specify which SSID the user is connecting with on a Fortinet wireless network, it doesn’t actually use the SSID of the wireless network, it uses the profile name of the ESS profile on the controller.

On the Fortinet box, we have an ESS Profile called “TECHS” within which sits the configuration for the “ITWIFI” SSID. In NPS, setting the “Called Station ID” to “.*:ITWIFI$” doesn’t let you log in, however setting it to “.*:TECHS$” does. This goes against any documentation I could find online.

We ended up just changing the SSID to match the ESS profile name.

Lofty Goals

Unfortunately we’re not lucky enough to be living somewhere clean and comfortable whilst we work on renovating the house, we have to live inside the house. Due to the amount of work needed, we have only unpacked the bare essentials. Most of our belongings are still in boxes (we’ve been here for over a year – just goes to show how much stuff you need) and none of our furniture has been rebuilt yet.

As we have been decorating, we have found ourselves frequently moving furniture and these boxes into different rooms depending on which one we’re working on and living out of at the time.

We’ve got to the point now where we only have one room to paint, and then we need to get flooring sorted. The flooring will be an issue for us as we will need to have most rooms empty for it to be laid quickly. To make this much easier for me (as my significant other is pregnant I can’t really ask her to help me move heavy furniture around when the flooring goes in) I decided to take advantage of our relatively large loft space.

The main struggle with the loft is lighting. Unfortunately we don’t have any sockets up there for power, so hauling an extension lead up there to power our only lamp was the (poor, awkward) solution to this issue. This is also why some of the pictures aren’t too great – single light source.

The floor of the loft is already boarded which means storing our boxes is nice and simple. It is by far our biggest space, but the main issue is access. We have a ladder with a loft hatch, but the opening is quite small. In order to get our stuff up there, we’re going to have to unpack it all, shift it awkwardly up the ladder, then repack it. Not too much of an issue, but it sure makes things that much more time consuming.

I’ve not really spent much time up the loft so before making a start on taking stuff up there I decided to take a good look around. I’m glad I did, as I found that not only was the floor covered in fairly fresh bat droppings, but we had a wasp (or hornet!) nest too.

Guano! Makes great fertiliser by the way.

The immediate concern was the wasp/hornet nest. I would normally assume it was a wasp nest by default, however during the summer we had a regular hornet visitor that would somehow find its way into our livingroom and chill out on the window. That said, you can hear an active nest from quite a distance and we had no idea that this one was here before this point, so I am assuming it has been dead for a while. Perhaps even before we moved in.

I very carefully edged close but still couldn’t hear anything, so ended up taking it down. You can leave them where they are as nests are not reused (as far as I know from research online) but we decided we may as well remove it.

As for the bat poop, this was easily vacuumed up. Bats in this country (UK) do not carry disease and are also protected, preventing their removal. I quite like the idea of having bats in the loft, though their poop is a bit annoying to deal with. It does make great fertiliser, though, so if we get any more we’ll collect it up and use it. Unfortunately we don’t have much growing at the moment so it just went into the bin. Moving forward we may need to figure out how to keep the bats isolated somewhat, or we will suffer from bat poop covered belongings, though from what I’ve read this can be really hard to do. We have loads of little openings to the outside world up there, sealing all but a couple could be tricky, and bats can fit through tiny gaps.

Whilst cleaning up the loft I came across this message on the side of the chimney stack, left by a mystery individual (possibly) over 60 years ago:

I’ve edited this to try and make the text more readable but didn’t want to mangle the image too much

It says:

ENGLAND

FOR THE

CUP

EN

ENGLAND 4

W GERMANY 2

1966

Pretty cool. I’d like to say it was a prediction but chances are it was done after the event.

After cleaning everything up and changing the TV aerial we use (for some reason we have three aerials, with the livingroom on the smallest one. It’s now on the largest, highest one, resulting in perfect signal strength) I grabbed our extra wood logs for our new fireplace and a couple of items that needed storing, stuck it up there and had had enough. It’s worth noting that you shouldn’t store firewood in the house for too long, but I know we’ll work through this tiny pile pretty quickly.

One half of the loft. The writing from above is on the right side of that chimney stack

All I need to do now is get all our unpacked stuff up there. There’s a lot of it, but once it’s done we can get the floor installed

A Fireplace Appears!

After dreaming about having this in my life for decades, I finally have a log burning stove.

Hello flames my old friend

We went for the Hunter Aspect 4 with a granite hearth. We both liked the Aspect stoves as the window is large, letting you see more of the fire inside it.

In our case, a log burning stove isn’t necessarily 100% for heating the home, it’s partially decorative, but I can’t imagine we’re ever going to use the radiators in this room ever again.

We need to decorate the livingroom and sort out somewhere to store wood and we’ll be set!

Of course, when I say “set” I mean “set to get furniture and begin making the house a home rather than a building site.” One step at a time.

Videos not loading in Google Drive

TL;DR: Check that Third Party Cookies are enabled in Chrome and/or G Suite Device Management user settings.

We use Google Drive a lot at work. We are also beginning to use video as a method of training or recording information that you would typically write down. We do still write this stuff down, but sometimes a video is easier to create and consume alongside a document.

We’ve had an issue recently where, seemingly randomly, some people wouldn’t be able to play any videos through Google Drive. They’d open the video and the youtube video player would load, but the video itself wouldn’t start.

Right clicking and downloading the video worked, but that’s not really a suitable workaround to the issue.

We weren’t really able to find anything online about this issue either, but we did find out what caused it so if someone else searches, here’s what we did to resolve the issue.

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Plastering a Popcorn Ceiling

With the exception of the livingroom and the hallway, all our rooms have plain, smooth plaster for the ceiling.

The hallway has a textured wallpaper which, now we’ve painted it, doesn’t look too bad. It works well enough for us to keep it for a while at least.

The livingroom, however, is a different story.

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