Borske Sklo

Many ancient monuments, such as Stonehenge, line up with the summer solstice sun, big deal! Our rickety old cupboard did exactly the same this week, and just see how sparkling our Bohemian glass looks and what amazing shadows it casts on the wall.



Snow Business

Seeing all the snow that’s fallen, and the inevitable panic that always comes with the unprepared, had me remin reminis remembering what it was like in days gone by.

This picture was taken in the Winter of ’63 when I was about 18 months old. I remember being so excited that I dashed outside without getting properly dressed, yes I am wearing a jumper, but no underwear and only my bootee slippers on my feet, but we were hardy and impervious to cold back in the day!

The next snow event I remember was when I was a teenager, we lived in a small village at the time about 5 miles from school and had to rely on buses to ferry us back and forth. When it snowed, the village was cut off and we were reet excited about not going to school…but the authorities had other ideas. We had a small hike to the main road where, surprise, surprise, the school buses were waiting. Damn. We drove through snow drifts almost as high as the bus, the country did not grind to halt like it does today. Life carried on pretty much as normal.

That was pretty much a localised snow event, the next one was not, it was the Winter of 1978-79. I was working in a department store at the time, and through the day the weather got worse…and worse…but it was an old-fashioned store who believed in being there just in a case a customer wandered in. By mid-afternoon it was quite clear that anyone with an ounce of sense had gone home, in the store however, we were all standing there looking at each other in an increasing sense of panic.

When they finally let us go, all the buses had stopped, so I had no option but to walk the 1.5 miles or so, home…in high heels…and about 6″ of snow…moderately uphill. I’ve no idea how long it took, seemed like forever, I was sobbing with the pain of the cold and the struggle to walk. At the half way point, my heel gave out, and I had to half limp, half drag myself the rest of the way home. I was so traumatised I have no recollection of whether I went to work the next day, but knowing me, I probably did!

I’ve been through many other snow events since, but thankfully I’ve been able to stay inside, which is what I’m doing now…and starving to death* in the process because Sainsburys cancelled my grocery delivery this morning!

*author’s artistic licence

How bad nuts can destroy good furniture

Today Shana and I dismantled an old double bed. I say old, but it was less than nine years old (I don’t recall its exact age, alas) and, on the whole, fairly well constructed.

The old bed had, however, developed an excruciating repertoire of squeaks and creaks, and, on finally taking it apart, we discovered what seems to be quite a common flaw in modern furniture.

Without getting too technical, the bed had a central ‘spine’ ie, basically a long plank, running from the headboard to the footboard parallel to the bed’s side rails. This central plank was attached to either end  with dowels. So far, so good.

Underneath the central spine were three shorter pieces of wood that stood upright, attached at one end to the underside of the bed by two bolts. These support legs had been troublesome for a long time, often just falling over and failing to stay attached below the bed.

Here is how they were held in place. Two bolts went into a pre-drilled hole in the topside of the central spine, through into a corresponding hole bored into the support leg.


The bolt had no problem fitting into the nut, like so…


But it eventually lost its grip on the place it should have fitted in the top of the support leg.


The white residue in the picture above is where we tried, quite a long time ago, to pack the fixing hole with filler, in a vain attempt to get those dratted bolts to hold.

The culprit, it turned out, was this little fellow.


Shana found out that this is called an ‘insert nut’. Some insert nuts are screwed into wood. This type though, is hammered in and grips fast with those barbs or teeth round the nut body.

Here’s the problem with insert nuts. If, for any reason, you need to dismantle any item of furniture containing these (and we moved the bed to a different room a while ago, and might have moved it just once prior to that) they can rapidly fail after being loosened and retightened. Those teeth, which are meant to grip, can actually eat away some of the wood they are supposed to be embedded in.

We first came across one of these insert nuts in a piece of furniture we bought for Smoky, our lunatic three-legged cat. It is a set of three steps and a round seat at the top (which we dubbed ‘the crow’s nest’). The steps are still fine and are in daily use to enable Smoky to reach a high window seat. But the round seat became wobbly, and we were so worried that he would fall from it that we decided to remove it. However much we tried, it just refused to tighten up properly.

The cat seat, which was made of MDF (commonly used with insert nuts) had the required hole underneath where the insert nut should have held firm. But it was clear that the chipboard had been eaten away after only a few small adjustments on odd occasions, and it was equally clear that nothing would hold the seat in place well enough for it to be safe for our cat.

So, if you have a creaky bed, you might be able to solve the problem with a metal angle bracket or some such improvisation.

But do take extra care if you are putting together any cat furniture, and watch out for these insert nut blighters. Your kitty, I am sure, will be most appreciative 🙂

Sunday Dinner

I had one of those deep nostalgia moments earlier, I remembered all the way back to the early 1960’s, specifically Sundays. We always went out on a Sunday, but not until the afternoon. Before then I had to endure the ritual of the cooking of Sunday dinner, it drove me nuts, and is probably why I still hate Sunday dinner!

As soon as we’d had breakfast, the oven would be lit, the meat and all the veg prepared. At the same time ALL the windows would be opened, sash windows so lots of cold air came rushing in. That was the problem, the house never had any heating, or running hot water, but I digress, back to Sunday dinner.

I would sit curled up in the chair, freezing to death, the smell of roast beef wafting through the house, my stomach growling like I hadn’t been fed for a month. It was torture. Starving, cold and bored to tears, I just wanted to go out on our Sunday outing!

When dinner was finally served, I then had to learn the art of balancing on a cushion while nit-picking my way around the plate. The only veg I would eat was peas and potatoes, didn’t like much meat either, Yorkshire Pudding was the best bit, especially as some were kept warm to have with syrup after dinner…but only IF I ate all my dinner!

And this is how miserable I looked after having suffered the Sunday dinner ritual!

Shana eating dinner
Shana eating dinner