Spring may not have sprung yet – but its definitely in the air..


The weather these last few days has been truly gorgeous: ice cold, fresh, still and sunny. The perfect type of Winter day on the cusp of Spring.  The perfect days for pottering about, tidying stuff up and chopping stuff down.  The perfect type of day for pottering about in the garden.

Cerdyn Villa is showing signs of new life and fresh activity.

I’ve been pruning and tidying and Hubby has been putting his new Christmas present to the test and is chainsawing up the trees we had cut down in Autumn, ready for stacking and drying.  In Winter 2019 they will provide our central heating.

New hens have arrived.  The two older girls, Tammy and Heather (the white one) have settled in and are free roaming alongside all the others in our clutch.

The four new Ayam Cemanis (our Goth girls and boys) are a tad too young to put in with the rest of them.  They’re not yet old enough to lay.  Only 13 weeks old.  One is definitely a cock and that’s fine – he can have his own hareem , but if there’s another cock he’ll need re-homing otherwise all hell will break loose.  I’ve got a few weeks before I’ll know and a few more before I need to worry, but just in case, I have a new home lined up .  In the meantime they’ve got their own playroom to explore

So…this conifer.. it was dying anyway…..I lopped off all the branches and then Hubby got out his new Parker ... we all love a good power tool and according to him this is an exceptionally good power tool..

Note : this post is neither affiliated to or sponsored by Parker Brand products, or anyone else for that matter ; all comments and opinions are, as always, my very own.
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Sometimes it pays just not to have a plan for the day…

So, I thought John was the best person for this issue and he agreed to have a go at posting on my blog today…  Here’s what he’s been doing:

I try not to have any fixed plans for my day, as whenever I do, something always happens to scupper them.  That’s not to say that I have no idea what I am going to do when I wake up in the morning, just a vague notion of what I might get done if the universe doesn’t get in the way.  I feel that if my preparations become too concrete, the world picks up on this and throws a spanner in there – so I try to keep things sort of just in the corner of my mind’s eye, if you get my drift.

Anyway, there are two examples of this from the last three days.  Firstly, after making detailed plans to spend Saturday helping Jason weld up his car exhaust and replacing the throttle cable on Berni’s car, we get a last-minute booking for the B&B and we have no rooms even slightly ready…  and I mean still-full-of-decorating-crap not ready.  Cue the last-minute booking panic procedure!  As it turned out we still also managed to fix the cars, but it wasn’t at quite the leisurely pace I had envisaged.

Today I had big plans to make a massive dent in the remains of the afore-mentioned decorating, until that was, I heard what sounded like a truck crashing into a massive metal tank from outside the back door.  I couldn’t see anything that might have caused this, so put it down to the military messing around on the range again and carried on with my morning chores (albeit with a small section of my brain still trying to work out what that sound could have been).  A little later there was a strange whooshing noise from outside which once again I could not identify.

Stepping through the back door I was assailed with the stench of gas and immediately looked towards our propane gas tank.  The cover seemed to be missing and there was a fountain of liquid propane squirting out of the pressure relief valve.  Eeeek!  Straight onto the emergency hotline and a technician was despatched – in the interim I was advised not to strike any matches, flick any switches or create a spark by any other means.

Once my saviour arrived it became evident that the last gas delivery man had over-filled the tank and the 10 degree increase in temperature since that delivery, along with the fact that the sun was shining, had caused the liquid to boil and the gas pressure to increase until the valve let rip to release the otherwise very dangerous pressure.  This was something that just didn’t happen in winter he had great joy in telling me.

After he vented a large amount of liquid into the air the pressure dropped sufficiently for just gas to be escaping, so that he was able to set light to it and flare off the excess.  It turns out that this excess is at least 150 litres and it will take several hours to reduce the pressure to safe levels.  As I am writing this, the sun is setting and the massive flame is starting to look quite pretty – shame about the horrible roaring sound that goes with it.

So, after two hours or so the gas pressure has been normalised and the tank and all connected systems have been checked for safety.  Life may now go on as before, except without any firm plans!

Here are some short video clips that give a better idea of what was experienced today:

Venting the excess liquid

Burning off the gas

Better as it got dark!

D I (Here’s) Why!

John and I are very make do and mend.  The idea of throwing something away because it’s old or for newer technology does not sit well with us.  And if something breaks our first thought is to fix it not replace it.  It’s saves loads of money (of which we have little) and its far more eco-friendly to fix something then scrap it and replace it with a new one.  That’s why our (touch wood) washing machine is over 20 years old and working just fine (Ok we’ve replaced parts a couple of times); and why we still have a cathode ray tube TV (that my dad was chucking out 15 years ago because the colour definition had gone – but we fixed for £30); and why John just had to have a go at this…

We bought a Toyota Prius from our wonderful local Toyota dealership in Builth 10/11 years ago.  Second hand 2005 model.  Despite its dents and scrapes its been fine. The garage service and MOT it annually and fix any niggles and problems.  they’re a fantastic team and should we ever need a new second-hand car we will get another Toyota because of their customer service.

Our trusty Toyota Prius
Our trusty Toyota Prius

A few weeks after the last service which includes a battery health check we went away for a few days in our Imps.  On return john went somewhere in the Toyota and by the time he returned every warning light was on ; glowing red cars with exclamation marks VSC and break warnings… it did not look good.

Popped to the garage and were told it would be one of two things a faulty start-up which made the computers think the hybrid battery was failing; or the hybrid battery was failing.  They reset the warnings and said if they don’t come back on then all is well.  sadly they all came back on.

Now I know nothing about electrics/electronics/engineering or cars but the hybrid battery, I’m told is made up of a series of cells that together make up 220V and although the car is petrol and electric, once the hybrid battery fails the car dies, it will not continue to work on just petrol.

A new hybrid batter fitted by a dealer is £1200 (that’s one and a half hours of labour (£125) and the battery.  The car is maybe worth scrap value without a working battery.

We don’t have £1200 or access to it in any way.

New Hybrid Battery Cells
New Hybrid Battery Cells

John researched refurbished batteries and they were around £300-400 but were in places like Cambridge and Coventry.  Plus our wonderful garage agreed they would fit it for us at the same rate but would not be able to offer a guarantee.  all fair enough, but one big problem,,,, We didn’t have a car to go and get one.

After much research and YouTube video watching our very own handyman, my John, decided he would give it a go himself.  He purchased two new cells at £56 delivered and allowed himself 2 days to dismantle the car and attempt the repair. (Two cells with the thought being that the car might have managed with one failing but two it would be unlikely coupled with the garage previously assuring us that in most cases the cars are scrapped well before the hybrid batteries fail – they’d only ever had two fail in all the years…now three)

So, how did John get on? Well here’s his Vlog about it.  Basically £56 and  four hours and we have a working car again!  Plus he only needed to replace one of the cells, so we still have a spare.

I think I’ll suggest to our Dealership that they offer this service.  For £350 we’d have probably have let them do it and I bet they could do it in an hour.

But for us, here’s a better example of why we DIY… We just saved ourselves £1100!!!