I Have a Question - Volume 149 - Dynamic Dave

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Garden Gate locks - Chicken Vindaloo
I'm on the verge of having to replace my garden gate which is about to fall to bits. The current gate locks from the inside of the garden and I would ideally like to be able to open it from the non-garden side as well to bring out/put away the multitude of wheelie bins the local council has foisted upon me.

Does anyone know where I can get a weatherproof lock to use on the soon-to-be-manufactured (oh joy!) gate which allows locking/unlocking from both sides? I had in mind something like would be used on a shed door. A hole in the door to access a padlock would be a last resort if nothing else exists.

Thanks in advance,
Garden Gate locks - daveyjp
A rim lock should do the trick - assuming the door is timber. tinyurl.com/j88v5
Garden Gate locks - Chicken Vindaloo
Many thanks - that's exactly what I was after!

All the best,
Talk me out of this please? - PoloGirl
As of last week I am mortgage approved and ready to buy my first place. However, the amount I'm approved for, although it would buy me a four bedroom palace where I used to live in the midlands, will buy me a pokey, one-bedroomed starter home down south where I now live. Or so I thought.

I've fallen in love with a cottage!

Haven't even been to look at it yet but it's clear from the virtual tour on the website that it needs work inside (I get the impression it might be the home of someone who has died) but it's just the sort of project I want, and is habitable while the work is done.

The complicating factor is that it's an auction property and the guide price is only £10-15k less than I could comfortably afford and still have money to spend on it. Made nice, I know I could make my money back on it and then some, which is ideal as my partner and I want to combine two properties into one for both of us sometime over the next two years.

I have no idea about buying property at auction apart from watching day time TV! The estate agent has a legal pack that will cost me £30 to buy and look through if I'm seriously going to consider bidding. So any tips gratefully received there.

The first major thing I can see it needs, assuming it even has gas, is central heating - a ball park figure for putting gas central heating into a three bedroom cottage please? It does help when your dad is an electrician and plumber (and you know the right people to come and do the certification) but I think the central heating will be the biggest immediate expense.

Oh and it's thatched... I'm stupid aren't I? Realistically I know it will go for more than I can afford because I can't be the only one who has fallen for it... but I do love it and can't stop thinking about it!
Talk me out of this please? - Another John H
Oh and it's thatched...

See what the "bricks and mortar" insurance will cost before you get much older.

It'll probably tip the scales the wrong way for you.

If it doesn't, cost up having it re-thatched....
Talk me out of this please? - Altea Ego
Does the legal pack include a survey? Dont consider it without a good survey, A thatched roof will last 15-25 years but will require patching towards the end of its life. A thatcher is hard to get and need to be booked up months or years in advance. The guide price is likely to be exceeded, possibly by a big margin, if you have people who want it at auction.

Remember the estate agents mantra.....Location Location Location.
TourVanMan TM < Ex RF >
Talk me out of this please? - No FM2R
The following do not go together;

-Living in it

Horrible, nasty, lousy, frustrating, annoying, etc. I would never do it again. Everything dusty, nowhere to relax, etc. etc.

Also there is a substantial difference to what one will do to a house, how thorough, how extensive and resulatant quality depending on whether one will sell it for a profit (fix everything you can see, ignore what you can't, if possible convert things you can see into things you can't, assume condition needs to last 3 years ish) and one that you are renovating to live in (fix everythign, good quality, going to last a along time).

And two years is not much time - it seems like it is. It seems like you can get everythign done twice over in that time. You can't. Its not a long time.

re: central heating - wild ass guesses - £750 for the boiler, average £100 - £300 per radiator depending on style/quality, another £200 on bits, £150 per day per plumber assume 5 - 10 days depending on the house. Increase if there is currently no boiler. Increase if current boiler is in wrong place. Increase if you want the pipes concealed and its got stone walls. Increase if water pressure iffy. Increase if walls dodgy.
Talk me out of this please? - No FM2R
p.s. but if I loved it. really loved it, then I'd buy it, renovate it to last, and then rent it out after 2 or 3 years.

p.p.s. I know nothing about thatch, so goodness knows what that entails.
Talk me out of this please? - Pugugly {P}
Life is the real thng. Its not a rehersal.
Talk me out of this please? - daveyjp
Firstly find out why it's in auction. It could be someone who needs to get rid quickly, but it could also have problems which have been highlighted during a survey. This now means selling it in a more traditional manner is proving difficult. Many auction buyers are prepared to take on a challenge.

Buying at auction involves you doing all your surveys (full specialist structural for a thatched cottage i.e expensive possibly £1,000+) and also all your searches and solicitors work. You then turn up and bid - you must have a 10% deposit available as soon as the hammer goes down as exchange happens on the day. Completion is usually within a month, but can be quicker. Like car auctions there are people out there who will bid at auction on your behalf. Go to an auction to see how it goes - it's far more relaxed than a car auction - I've seen bidding take over 15 minutes!

You need a lawyer to look at the legal pack - more expense.

Budget on at least £3,000 for central heating, but don't automatically think this is the best option. There are very efficient alternative heating systems which cost less to install. The thatch will keep the property warmer than conventional construction.

I'd research thatched rooves carefully before diving in. Insurance is more and replacements are very expensive.

Talk me out of this please? - adverse camber
If gas isnt installed then try and get an estimate for a gas supply - could be anything from a few hundred if there is a main close by up to a couple of grand if it has to come say 50m.

Assuming its an old property ignore anything from damp/woodworm companies - they are in it to make money not to provide the best solution. www.periodproperty.co.uk is a good resource.

If you get a survey make sure you choose a specialist familiar with old properties. I think RICS recently appointed Stephen Boniface as head of some sort of old buildings specialism department. He does know what he is talking about.

What is the construction ? Stone (with or without render) / brick ? cob ?

I would echo everything NoFM2R says - it will take ages to sort if you are doing a job at the same time. But then given the choice between modern box and an old house I would alwasy go old.

Talk me out of this please? - Rebecca {P}
A couple of years ago my Mum found it hard to get insurance for her thatched cottage, there were about 2 specialist insurers who had the market sewn up.

But, she has since found Liverpool Victoria will insure the house with apparently no increased premium compared to her non-thatched neighbours. She couldn't get a quote or buy the cover online however. I suspect some of the other 'majors' would quote too.
Talk me out of this please? - PoloGirl
Thanks everyone so far. I'm going to find out one way or the other and go and see it in the morning.

Just noticed on the details it says it was rethatched 3 years ago.
Talk me out of this please? - Pugugly {P}

People say don't let your heart rule your head, but its never that simple. PU Towers has been a nightmare from start to finish - we got it cheap and we now know why, but I wouldn't swap it for anything on the planet. Its a home, its in a village and the quality of life is unbeatable. I could never live in anything other than a "individual" property. If you fall in love with it when you see it its probably right. I am a pragmatist in most things apart from this house. Its not like buying a car.
Talk me out of this please? - Stuartli
You know if a property is for you within a very short time of walking into it.

That's why we've been in our property for 41 and a bit years. Victorian (mid 1880s), superbly built and more than enough room to swing a cat.

If it's right you won't have any doubts.
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What\'s for you won\'t pass you by
Talk me out of this please? - Martin Devon
If it has been re-thatched that's good. Thatchers can be got in north Devon easily. There are quite a few of them now and i think prices are cheaper than they used to be. A full renovation, new plaster, (possibly in traditional lime), new ceilings, floors maybe? heating + open fire/woodburner, new windows, bathroom/s, kitchen, on and on and on. I do it for a living and believe me, if you do it properly it will hurt the purse. I can assure you that 50K is VERY small beer in renovation these days. By all means tart it up if you seek a quick turnaround, but not if it's yours to keep........Oh! and no way will you live in it at the same time, not if you are doing it 'properly'. Good luck.

Talk me out of this please? - Mapmaker
What you will need is a survey & valuation for mortgage purposes before you start. Your mortgage company may well be prepared to lend you £100,000 (or whatever) for a brand new Barratt box. When it coms to old houses, unless you have a large wodge of deposit, they can be much more reticent. They might insist on having it (say) re-roofed/re-wired before you get the last say £10,000 of cash from them. So of course they'll need a surveyor's report before they'll give you that.

You may need a specialist lender. I've read that the Ecology Building Society (?) will lend people money for self build. Or a private bank that is not constrained by check-boxes but has real people dealing with you - Messrs Hoare & Co on Fleet Street spring to mind, but be warned they will be a shade more expensive than a High Street Bank - expect e.g. to be charged 50p for each cheque you write and £50 per quarter banking fees.

Why do you want to be talked out of it? You will never regret it. (well, you will regret it often, and curse it a lot, but it will be a source of joy.)
Talk me out of this please? - Happy Blue!
I know I'm a chartered surveyor, but you need your hand holding big time. You really really need a well qualified local surveyor to have a good look around. He will also advise you of the best local contractors and the best methods of renovation (lime vs cement mortar for instance).

If it is lovely then have a go but be prepared for much more money that you anticpated and a long period of pain. It will be worth it though!

Talk me out of this please? - andymc {P}
Gas central heating? I wouldn't, not with the way gas prices have been rising. I wonder how costly geothermal heating is to install these days ( ... ) dunno, haven't looked in detail but as a starting point you could give these people a ring; www.nibe.com/heating/default.asp

Although as a green-ish sort of person the idea of thatch appeals to me, as others have pointed out there are practical issues to consider around maintenance, insurance costs, etc. You really need to look into that and know what you're letting yourself in for, before committing to something which could become a soured dream. That would be worse than missing out on it - there will always be other properties, after all, even though it doesn't always seem that way when you think you've found "the dream place". Best of luck with it, whatever you decide.

Vroom, vroom - mmm, doughnuts ...
Talk me out of this please? - PoloGirl
It wasn't for me.

We picked the day to go and visit when the M4 and all surrounding roads were either closed or gridlocked, and it turns out that the cottage is right on a main route (as in, you step out onto the road with no pavement between you and the lorries). It's waaaaay smaller than it looked - I'm kicking myself for not spotting some wide angled lens poetic licence! There were also all sorts of wires and pipes hanging down all over the place, and looking closely at the photo you can now see where there has been some Photoshop at work!

Overall, the location was wrong, and the site too small, but I'm so glad I went because I would always have wondered "what if" if I hadn't.

Back to the drawing board then....the one thing I know I don't want is a Barratt box!

Thank you so much to everyone for your words of wisdom.

Talk me out of this please? - Nsar
PG - have a look on the PeriodProperty.co.uk forum. I posted a question there a few weeks back about how to track down a property that is suitable for renovation (do a forum search under posts from Nigel S) a few people replied with sites that can search for you for a small(ish) fee. I haven't tried any of them yet but some of them give a one-off demo search.

Good luck - if you do find somewhere, that forum is a good place for advice even if some of the regulars there are very snooty about only using "authentic" materials (although they go very quiet if you ask them if they've ripped out their central heating and wiring to enjoy the 'authentic' experience of living in an 18th century cottage).

Elton again - Martin Devon
Pug. Did you e-mail your mate at the beeb??

Very best regards..............MD.
Elton again - Pugugly {P}
Yes, no reply yet.
Elton again - cheddar
On NOW on BBCi, a rolling loop through to 9:00pm.
Elton again - Martin Devon
Help.....To Sjb. I would love to be able to see the whole thing Sir.........Geddit?

Very best regards.....................................MD.
Pianos - Adam {P}
I'm probably getting ahead of myself here what with me not actually having a job yet but I want a piano and I've decided that it shall be one of my first purchases. However, I'm a bit lost.

More than anything in the world I'd like a Steinway upright in black but that isn't going to happen unless somehow someone decides to employ me as the CEO. So that's out. But I'd really like a nice, rich sounding piano ideally in black veneer or a dark wood coloured veneer. I used to have one when I was 6 in a sort of walnut veneer but I was much too young to appreciate it and it was only dead cheap off a mate so for all I know, it probably was never in tune.

Two questions really.

1. Where is the best place to look?

2. What should I look for?

I had a brief look on eBay but to be honest, the lack of effort in the descriptions is putting me off although picking one up myself would not be a problem from wherever. The next question is, what make should I look for if I have a choice? There are loads I've never heard of and it's a bit of an unknown. I know Yamahas are a bit mass market but they sound pretty nice. But maybe I should get something special. I don't care how old the piano is as long as it's not very tatty. There's no way Mum will let me have one unless it looks nice so bear that in mind. Am I asking too much for what is surely going to be a limited budget?

Price wise - well it's a bit difficult for me to say really because at the minute I have no money and have no idea how much I'll be earning. I'm definitely getting a piano though so this is just putting the feelers out but I was thinking of less than a grand.

Any help or advice on this would be, as always, greatly appreciated.

Many Thanks,

Pianos - deepwith
Adam, there have been quite a few very good pianos for free on our local Freecycle site (look up your local one on google) given by people who did not want to bother of selling. We gave away our original piano(very good, ex-school so double-dampered) after we got a pianola for £60 from the local paper. These by the nature of player-pianos have to be a very good piano - with the double bonus of making your neighbours think you are a concert pianist when using the rolls while enabling you to cancel any gym subscription!
Don't go for a pretty one with candle holders - it will be very aged and need work. Don't be put off by manky keys - the new covers are not too expensive and only need a hairdrier to remove old and stick on new.
Another route is to chat up local piano tuners - they will often know of good piano's needing a new home. And you will already know a tuner for when you get your own piano - it will need tuning after moving it.
Have you thought of an electric piano - look nice, feel right, don't need regular tuning and are portable if you move out of home? We would have one if we did not have the pianola.
Pianos - Stuartli
Yamaha may seem "mass market" but it is a highly respected instrument manufacturer and one of the reasons why its computer sound cards were so popular.

Some info here:



Both my offspring loved playing the piano from a very early age (plus the violin, flute and many other instruments) as music runs in my family which boasts several professional musicians.

We were fortunate in that we were given a good piano and the kids learned on it but, round our way at least, there are people who would be glad to offload them to create more room.

I'm sure it's the case in your area. Try advertising in the local "freebie" newspaper or have a look at this Google link:

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What\'s for you won\'t pass you by
Pianos - henry k
>>round our way at least, there are people who would be glad to offload them to create more room.
I'm sure it's the case in your area.

Try the obvious . Talk to several piano shop staff about S/H pianos.

When I last investigated prior to getting rid of my father's piano I was told there are two types of frames in an upright, only one is good type.
To refurbish his piano was priced at about £2K.
Pianos - artful dodger {P}
>>Have you thought of an electric piano - look nice, feel right, don't need regular tuning

My daughter plays on an electric piano - it certainly is not portable, but it is in black. The sound is very good and the touch is very similar to a normal piano. She uses a normal piano at her teaher's home.

Personally I would keep an eye on ebay, good pianos do turn up quite regularly and do not seem to make vast sums. Most people selling have had children who have either left home or given up learning.

I read frequently, but only post when I have something useful to say.
Pianos - PoloGirl
Stupid question first, Adam - can you play the piano or are you intending to learn? If it's the latter it might be better to learn on a keyboard and then progress to an upright piano when you're sure it's something you want. Ignore me though if you're already a player.

We had an ancient thing when I first started learning, and it was only after I'd passed my Steps and Grade 1 (and had a temper tantrum which resulted in middle C no longer working) that my parents bought me a new piano. It's a Zimmerman - I have no idea where that sits in the grand scale of things but it gives a lovely sound, holds its tuning and is still played regularly over 15 years since it was bought. I'd second the recommendation to ask the piano tuner - ours knows all the best teachers and pianos that are coming up for sale.

There wasn't room for a piano in my flat when I moved out so I bought a Roland digital piano. I am supremely fussy about things like sound, resistance of the keys and the general feel of playing, so was sceptical about being able to find a digital piano which would actually behave like a piano. I am totally convinced by the Roland though. It was just over £1000 in 2004 so a similar one would be within your budget. Something to bear in mind if you're planning on flying the nest anytime soon.

Pianos - Adam {P}
Thanks for all the helpful advice. I knew you wouldn't let me down.

I can play the piano PG - or at least that's what I like to tell myself! I've got a keyboard at the minute (a Yamaha as it happens Stuart!) and I love it. I'd definitely be keeping that for all the sequencing and track type stuff but I miss playing a proper piano. I used to always be on it at school but I can't really get a go on it anymore. Keyboards are great but pianos are just...well...pianos!

With regards to a digital piano, I had actually considered one albeit briefly but I was put off by an (oldish) one I had a go of once - the keys were nice and weighted and it looked nice but it didn't sound very nice at all. I'm willing to accept that could have been a dodgy one. If it meant buying a new digital piano, then I'd probably save up and pay a bit extra....but then again, I could say that about a decent piano!

I'll follow everyone's advice and keep my eyes peeled on eBay along with finding a decent piano tuner and asking them. I'm definitely going to get one - it's just a matter of when.

Oh, by the way - I plan never to move out. Ever.

Many thanks again for all the help,

Pianos - artful dodger {P}
>>I plan never to move out. Ever.

Great idea, cheapest hotel in town. It will probably be better once your sister leaves!

I read frequently, but only post when I have something useful to say.
Pianos - Altea Ego
I bet your parents are weeping with joy.
TourVanMan TM < Ex RF >
Pianos - Adam {P}
That's what I'm banking on Roger!

RF - if she didn't make such nice food then she wouldn't be faced with this problem.
Pianos - lordy
Adam, I can can heartily agree that the digital piano route is the way to go. I have a Yamaha Clavinova, and it is far superior in every way from all the uprights I have had previously. The action of the keyboard is perfect, the sound quality superb. Plus the fact that, I can plug headphones into it and not disturb anyone else. you won't regret it.

let me be the last to let you down....
Pianos - cheddar
I agree with PG re digital pianos, when I was a kid my dad, who is an excellent musician, had three pianos, two uprights and a grand, the latter took up a whole room. More recently he has replaced them all with a Technics digital piano, it must be 10 years old now though he still rates it even though he plays other, real, pianos regularly.

One of my sons has been playing for a few years, we bought a highly rated Yamaha digital piano / keyboard about two years ago, around £450 with stool and stand IIRC. My dad also highly rates this and enjoys playing it when he visits.

If you are used to playing a piano and get a digital piano / keyboard make sure it has at least 76 keys.
Pianos - Adam {P}
I'm going to further investigate digital pianos then. They seem to get good reviews on here.

One of the (minor) reasons for getting a piano is so I can have 88 keys. That's one of the down sides of my keyboard.

I'll look into it and get back to you. I've got to be honest though, part of me wants a proper piano but if a digital one sounds just as good...
Pianos - Statistical outlier
Adam, what's your budget?

My Dad is a *serious* pianist and some years ago moved from a Steinway upright to Steinway grand. We sold the upright for about £3k I believe, although I think this was about 15 years ago, so probably would be 5 now.

If you do need the number of a piano-tuner who can source you something , then we've used the same guy for ever. He can probably only find you something decent (read £4k plus) tho. Might be over the top.

Digital ones are good, superior to a cheap real piano, but not a patch on a decent one. If you've not got the budget for S, Yamaha have pretty much copied Steinway in grands, and probably (tho I don't know) in uprights. They are very good indeed for the price.

Also remember, a piano takes about 10 years of average use to 'run in'. A 10 year old piano that's been looked after (read tuned regularly and kept away from radiators in a dry environment) will be superior to a new one of the same model.

Pianos - Adam {P}

Dreadully sorry but I missed your reply earlier. It's been pretty hectic today!

I didn't know that about pianos aging well - that's good to hear. With regards to digital versus real - I'm not sure. My heart says go for a real one but it probably depends on what's available at the time.

I'll be honest, no matter what job I get, 4 grand would be too much. I'd cherish the piano but it would be the outright payment of it that would be crippling. When I get a job I'll be in a better position to decide what I can spend on one - I'm fully willing to spend as much as I can on one - like the car, my keyboard is probably my most treasured possession.I know I can't afford one yet but I'm really looking forward to getting a piano!

Thanks for the advice and sorry I missed your post earlier,

Pianos - cheddar
One of the (minor) reasons for getting a piano is so
I can have 88 keys. That's one of the down sides
of my keyboard.

You can get 88 key keyboards, many are only 61, our Yamaha is 76 though there is an 88 key version.
Pianos - Adam {P}
Yeah I know but it's not the same as a piano is it?
Pianos - cheddar
As I said my dad had three pianos, two uprights and a grand, since replaced with a Technics digital piano, he also highly rates our Yamaha and enjoys playing it. He knows about pianos having restored a grand for the Yehudi Menuhin school about 20 years ago.

A keyboard, no, not a piano though sounds like one.
Pianos - Adam {P}
I've got a keyboard now C - and it's not a bad one at all. I'll be keepint this in my room and the piano downstairs so I can use both.

I'm not ruling out a digital piano but I'll definitely end up with a piano of some description.
Pianos - cheddar
One advantage of digital is headphones and not sharing all of your tinkling with family and friends.
Pianos - Adam {P}
I thought of that but they're locking me in an isolated room so I won't be a pest to anyone.

Much like they do now but they've said if I'm good, they'll feed me too and replace my cardboard box with a chair.
Cleaning up an old horseshoe - L'escargot
During the removal of a 70 year old hedge we unearthed an old cart-horse size horseshoe. I guess it had got buried (at the latest) when the hedge was planted. It is heavily corroded and encrusted with soil. I've tried a wire brush on it but got nowhere. Any ideas as to what might be used to clean it up? (Cillit Bang didn't work.)
Cleaning up an old horseshoe - Altea Ego
NOt much will touch this. When it left the farriers forge it was at best a poor mild steel, Corrosion has ensured it will now be deeply deeply pitted and it may be turning back into ore, A chisel or angle grinder may be required to get it back to horseshoe shape. As its probably mostly solid iron oxide by now, then using a chemical dip will disolve it completely,
TourVanMan TM < Ex RF >
Cleaning up an old horseshoe - adverse camber
The only use for Cola imho is cleaning old metalwork. fill a suitable plastic container and leave the horseshoe in it. apply an old toothbrush and replenish the acid from time to time.

for max benefit get children to help. If one happens to have a spare tooth even better - stick it in and take bets on how quickly it will rot away
Cleaning up an old horseshoe - L'escargot
........ and it may be turning back into ore .....

I think you may be right.
M4 underground cables - Peter
For the last few years, cabling has been taking place in preparation for the new overhead information signs.

How do they install the cable?

I see no trenching, so I assume tunnelling is employed and bearing in mind that the cable pipes are about four inches in diameter, what method is used over such long distances.

Thank you.
M4 underground cables - daveyjp
A mole plough was probably used. www.sitaf.com/cl/ploughing.htm
M4 underground cables - Altea Ego
well, all the places I have seen it, its been done by trenching, the cables being laid in blue or orange ducting.
TourVanMan TM < Ex RF >
M4 underground cables - cheddar
its been done
by trenching,

Twas just going to say the same, also crossing via existing gantries.
M4 underground cables - Duchess
Almost always trenching. Sometimes done by a specialist trenching machine, sometimes done by a normal JCB, and sometimes done by a man with a trowel. (If you think I'm joking with the last, I'm not - it's the only safe excavation method where there are existing services, such as cabling for the street lights already in place).

An underground directional drill is incredibly expensive to use so not cost effective for use alongside the carriageway, only for going under crossings such as railway lines or rivers. Again it's not appropriate where there are existing services.

For what it's worth the trenching will be done in the verge wherever possible, rather than hard shoudler or carriageway.

M4 underground cables - Duchess
Also for safety reasons the cable can't be laid in the ground without a protective duct around it. So if there is no available ducting already in place, the trench has to be excavated, then ducting laid and then the cable pulled through it.

However if there's a duct already in place, it can be possible for the cable to be pulled through existing lengths of duct without needing any excavation. What you see on the M4 might simply be cable pulling which would explain why you aren't seeing any evidence of digging as it would only be necessary to access the duct at points along its length.

Lurchers - Gromit {P}
In IHAQ, Nsar asked about the difference between a greyhound and a lurcher.

AFAIK, a lurcher is a greyhound crossed with any other breed of dog. When a greyhound is crossed with another sighthound, such as a deer hound or saluki, the offspring is known as a long-dog. Lurchers tend to be less greyhound-like in their behaviour than long-dogs or purebred hounds as the 'other' dog parent's traits show through.

- Gromit
Lurchers - Gromit {P}
That last post should have started "in IHAQ 148..." Oops!
- Gromit
Lurchers - Mapmaker
AFAIK, all sight hounds are long dogs - they are long in the back, hence long dog!

Lurchers are often a greyhound/collie cross.
Burning grass - roy38
Help Needed With My Allotment

I've lots of couch grass (most of my 30m allotment was covered this time last year), which I've been digging out. I'm now creating something of a 'couch mountain' which I need to be getting rid of, before it starts blocking out the sun. Now, it's a combination of grass, roots, and soil (I do try and remove as much of the soil as possible), and the surface is dry, but beneath it's damp.
Ideally i need to burn it; I have an incinerator, but for the amount I've got it's not big enough.

Try as I might I cannot get a decent fire going.
Someone out there must have a tip on how to get it burning in these circumstances.......

(I missed out on Boy Scouts I'm afraid).

Burning couch grass - Gromit {P}
Check the bye-laws in your area before you start burning anything: there are restrictions on lighting bonfires during nesting season, and there may also be restrictions on creating smoke and ash as these could be a nuisance to your neighbours.

Watch out, too, that you don't get hedgehogs (or other wildlife) hibernating in your prospective bonfire. To that end, if you do burn the grass, it would be a good idea to turn over the mound first - which will also help dry it.

I'm not much of a firestarter, though, so I can't help there. But if you leave the grass stand awhile first, it'll dry out and rot a bit, after which the volume will reduce significantly, making it easier to dispose of.
Burning couch grass - helicopter
Roy - The key to starting a any fire is dry , easily combustible material and a good through breeze to get it going.

Watch Ray Mears blowing sparks into birch bark to see how it is done.

As your mountain is damp I am not surprised you are having trouble .

You need to ensure that you start a fire with good dry materials - try and get old fence panels or creosoted wood pallets or scrap wood from your local builders merchants and then prop them together so you have a shape like a wigwam , underneath have plenty of dry cardboard or similar and kindling and then start your fire by placing balled newspapers at the bottom of the pile.

The idea is to light the balled newspaper where the prevailing draught will send the flames on to the card to the kindling to the pallets and then place your couch grass on the blaze a bit at a time so it is dried out and will burn.

Wet grass will produce a lot of smoke so beware any neighbours with washing on the line.

Do not use petrol - have buckets of water or a hosepipe on standby - I speak from experience as I once burned a couple of old garden fence panels - unfortunately they were still in my neigbours fence........
Burning couch grass - Stuartli
If the smoke isn't a problem, old engine oil will do rather than petrol...:-)
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Burning couch grass - roy38
Thanks Chaps.
Am now on the look out for palletts. Also going into the garage - there's a whole rake of old timber in there!

Been advised that fires are OK at the allotment, as long as we 'don't all light one at once', and that it's done as near as possible to dusk.

My first task is to turn it all over......
Burning couch grass - Nsar
If you've got a fair bit of timber use it to build a rudimentary frame to dry your grass out from underneath for a day or two. Your neighbours will thank you if the grass is as dry as poss before you bung it onto a roaring fire.
Burning couch grass - Nsar
Oh and a bit of diesel splashed on from time to time via an old yard brush dipped in it will gtive the fire a bit of oomph now and then without blowing your wig off.
Burning couch grass - DP
A good use for brake fluid that's been opened for too long as well.

Got my incinerator going a treat.

Burning couch grass - artful dodger {P}

Why not bag it up and take it to a recycling centre. That way you will offend no one or annoy none of your neighbours. It may take a few trips if you have a mountain of couch, but you may be able to combine these trips with another activity.

I read frequently, but only post when I have something useful to say.
Burning couch grass - roy38
Good point Roger.
But I wonder that the number of trips I'd need to make would produce more harmful emissions than the burning process....

Neighbours won't be a problem as it's on the allotment, as long as its pretty dry (and so burns quickly), and I do it at dusk.

Which reminds....my neighbour usually has a fire once a week in his back garden. Unbelievable what he finds to burn....the latest being plastic bags.....
Burning couch grass - Altea Ego
The mind boggles about what other activity you can combine down the dump!
TourVanMan TM < Ex RF >
Burning couch grass - deepwith
Nothing to do with the disposal but here is a brilliant tip I was given by an elderly gardener - and it worked for us - plant turnip seed where you want to eliminate couch grass. No idea why it worked, but the area we planted with turnips has not had a return of the dreaded grass in at least four years(so far).
Burning grass - L'escargot
You should have used a total weedkiller like sodium chlorate on the whole allotment and resigned yourself to the fact that you wouldn't be able to plant anything on it for 6 months or so. Then you wouldn't have needed a bonfire.
Soviet Union National Anthem - Adam {P}
Good Evening folks,

Does anyone know where it would be possible to obtain a video (preferably to download) of the Soviet Union National Anthem being sung by (again preferably but not essential) the Bolshoi Orchestra and Choir please?

It really needs to be good quality if that's at all possible.

Many thanks,

Soviet Union National Anthem - PhilW
This any good?

Sound only
Soviet Union National Anthem - Adam {P}

I very much appreciate your help and I've saved a few of those vids but it's not really what I want. (Sorry!)

What I want is the Soviet Union National Anthem (the 1977 version when they started singing words again) and where they mention Lenin. The ones in that link are the ones that Russia adopted in 2000 with different lyrics.

Sorry to be picky and thanks very much for your help,

Soviet Union National Anthem - Stuartli
Have you bought a Lada Adam?

Still looking for videos, but here's an MP3:


A .wmv file with vocal at:

president.kremlin.ru/sdocs/appears.shtml?type=82634 download at media.kremlin.ru/2005_12_31_01.wmv



Download www.wladimirputin.de/Videos/hymne.asf (Orchestra of the Honour Guard of the Moscow Garrison)

Also see:

video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4451549967320430...m (Sveshnikov choir)

Also see:


Don't seem to be any videos of the type you require but only brief search (Guinness calling).

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Soviet Union National Anthem - Adam {P}
Sorry for that reply disjointed reply - I half typed it and then went for tea and posted it when I got back!

Thanks for that Stuart - no I haven't bought a Lada but I'll look at those links now. At the very least they should point me in the right direction.

Thanks guys for your help - much appreciated.

Soviet Union National Anthem - Robbie

Is this why you want a piano, so that you can play the Russian National Anthem?

Can you bring your piano with you to the next North West meet so we can se how you've progressed musically?
Soviet Union National Anthem - Robbie
Or hear, even.
Soviet Union National Anthem - Adam {P}
Sorry Robbie - no can do. I can sing it for you in Russian but if I played it for you I'd need to charge and I couldn't do that to you.
Soviet Union National Anthem - andymc {P}
Come on Adam, we have to know why you want this!
Vroom, vroom - mmm, doughnuts ...
Soviet Union National Anthem - Adam {P}
Nothing interesting I'm afraid Andy!

It sounds crazy but I just love the song - always have done. Don't worry, I'm not defecting to the East or anything like that. It's just one of those pieces of music that sends the hairs on the back of my neck standing up.

It has to be loud though otherwise it doesn't work. (God knows what the neighbours think!)

DAB Radio with timer ?? - Petel
Could anyone please advise if there is a DAB radio available which has a timer ? When I say timer, I do not mean an alarm clock ( though if a suitable unit has this function then all well and good ) what I want the radio to be able to do, is to switch itself on, on the hour, every hour, for about five minutes each time.
Any input much appreciated.
Thank you.
DAB Radio with timer ?? - Chicken Vindaloo
If no such unit exists, how about a digital timer plug? I've got one for my downstairs light and it works a treat - eight (or is it seven?) on and off settings which can be set to run daily, weekly etc.
DAB Radio with timer ?? - PoloGirl
Or one of those timer switches where you pull out the little stops when you want it to come on - I think they're in 15 minute intervals though, so it may have to be 15 minutes per hour.

I'm resisting asking the obvious question!

DAB Radio with timer ?? - Altea Ego
Its to keep the dog happy?
TourVanMan TM < Ex RF >
DAB Radio with timer ?? - Stuartli




Plenty more.
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DAB Radio with timer ?? - Dalglish
Plenty more

do these radios you have linked to provide what the o.p. requires? : " ....what I want the radio to be able to do, is to switch itself on, on the hour, every hour, for about five minutes each time. ..." ?
DAB Radio with timer ?? - Stuartli

Well I looked them up and posted them fairly rapidly based on the request - just checked the first one (a Pure) again - and the features include:

"EPG for up to date programme information and scheduled listening or recording"

which is the method used for such purposes.

it's exactly the same with my Freeview digital tuner PCI TV card...:-)
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DAB Radio with timer ?? - Altea Ego
it's exactly the same with my Freeview digital tuner PCI TV card...:-)

No its not ,The card does not do this. The software(s) programes you have installed does that, and even that does not turn the PC on from cold.;)
TourVanMan TM < Ex RF >
DAB Radio with timer ?? - Stuartli
>>and even that does not turn the PC on from cold.;)>>

Apart from the usual pedantic response (obviously the software plays a key role as in any other aspect), you are quite incorrect about "turning the PC on from cold".

This is catered for in the Twinhan configuration by using Hibernate - the PC switches on five minutes prior to a programme commencing for recording purposes.

You can also Time Shift as required if, for instance, someone comes to the door or the phone rings.
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DAB Radio with timer ?? - No FM2R
A PC cannot switch itself on from cold. If it remains awake enough to know it will need to awake, then its not cold. The difference would be the word "Hibernate".

So, much as stumpy may be pedantic, he is also correct.
DAB Radio with timer ?? - Stuartli
>then it's not cold.>>

I'm puzzled as to how any equipment can start itself from cold (i.e. without power) for such purposes?

Whether it's a VCR, computer system etc it's done from Standby, Hibernate or whatever the appropriate term.
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DAB Radio with timer ?? - cheddar
A PC cannot switch itself on from cold. If it remains
awake enough to know it will need to awake, then its
not cold. The difference would be the word "Hibernate".

There is a way.

A PC can be fitted with a PCi timer card, this incorporates a clock that is set via the software so that once swithched off the PC will switch itself back on at the programmed date and time, this is not hibernation, the PCi card is literally connected to the on/off pins on the motherboard in place of a standard front panel switch. The applications are diverse though generally relate to PC controlled capital equipment that requires an element of warm-up time, the PCi timer card will switch the PC on allowing it to control and monitor the equipment's temperature etc perhaps some hours before the operator is on site. The functions of the PCi timer card are similar to a domestic central heating / hot water time switch allowing each day to be programmed seperately so the machine does not switch on at the weekend etc.

DAB Radio with timer ?? - Stuartli
>>There is a way>>

Thanks for that info cheddar; something on the lines of those mains plug security timers used to turn lights on and off and other equipment at certain times if you are away.

Only snag is that it would be a somewhat long winded way for my use of the Twinhan PCI TV card...:-)
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DAB Radio with timer ?? - Altea Ego
It is in fact not normally done that way. An RSA card is fitted. This is a Remote Support Adaptor card, and can control the pc remotely even if the main CPU is not running, The RSA card has its own network connection, power supply cpu and memory. It will power up the machine via the bus, when told to do so by another machine elsewhere on the network which then in turn uses the RSA card to monitor the condition of the now no longer slumbering machine. This enables remote power up from cold to a number of specific responses, not just time,

TourVanMan TM < Ex RF >
DAB Radio with timer ?? - cheddar
It is in fact not normally done that way. >>

It is in fact commonally done that way within the kind of application I describe above, I know, I have installed and set up these cards, sometimes a pain to integrate though once set up they work fine. To be clear, the PC is switched off cold, all it has is a mains power supply to it's PSU in the way that any PC has when switched on at the wall though not at the front panel. The timer card then simply shorts the "on" pins on the mobo in the same way that the front panel switch does, the PC then boots.
DAB Radio with timer ?? - Altea Ego
your solution is in fact a bodge. It provides little control, feedback or flexibility,

Which is why 99% of all remote PC operations are via an RSA card.
TourVanMan TM < Ex RF >
DAB Radio with timer ?? - cheddar
your solution is in fact a bodge. It provides little control,
feedback or flexibility,
Which is why 99% of all remote PC operations are via
an RSA card.
TourVanMan TM < Ex RF >

RF, er TVM, I am not talking about remote PC operations, re-read my last but one post, it is I think fairly clear.
DAB Radio with timer ?? - Altea Ego
Indeed turning on a PC other than by a warm digit stuffed in the switch is by definition a "remote" operation

If having a PC turned on in a "pre warmed" state, at a preconfigured time, and at a known state of operation is such a business critical requirement then your solution is a bodge.

TourVanMan TM < Ex RF >
DAB Radio with timer ?? - cheddar
Indeed turning on a PC other than by a warm digit
stuffed in the switch is by definition a "remote" operation

No its not remote, the card in the PC is not "remote" from the PC, it is self contained, does not need to be networked though can be, the PC is cold until the card sticks it's proverbial warm digit into the mobo.

If having a PC turned on in a "pre warmed" state,
at a preconfigured time, and at a known state of operation
is such a business critical requirement then your solution is a

OK, so dont read my earlier post again then.
DAB Radio with timer ?? - Altea Ego
The applications are diverse though generally relate to PC controlled capital equipment that requires an element of warm-up time, the PCi timer card will switch the PC on allowing it to control and monitor the equipment's temperature etc perhaps some hours before the operator is on site.

does this not then equal?

,at a preconfigured time, and at a known state of operation is such a business critical requirement

Or shall we say, PC does not turn on due to fault inyour 3 quid timer, therefore capital equipment does not turn on, no one has any idea if its on or not, and when operator turns up on site he does so to a cold, quiet still peice of capital equipment.

A bodge I tell you, should never have passed Quality Assurance.

TourVanMan TM < Ex RF >
DAB Radio with timer ?? - Altea Ego
The software(s) do not play a key role, they play the primary role.

1/ I can have working software(s) waking up the machine without a working card (indeed with no card at all)
2/ I cant have the card waking up the machine without the working software(s)
3/ I can use a vast number of alternative software(s) with any card combination, not just the software(s) supplied with the card,

Therefore Its the software(s) that are/is doing it

TourVanMan TM < Ex RF >
Job Interview - what to ask? - BobbyG
I currently work for a large retailer but have an interview with a small company that is still at the growing stage. With my current employer I have all the job security etc that comes with the size of the company.

However, for my interview, what sort of questions should I be asking about the "finances" of the company. everything so far seems very positive but how do I know if they are on sound financial footing etc? I am a wee bit wary, if I get offered the job, as to what security I will have if I move. However a big attraction of the position is that it is still at development stage and I could be part of its future growth.

It is a plc and on The Companies House website it states that the accounts were due 30/07/06 but are overdue. Is this something to worry about?

Any pointers for what questions I can ask or what info I may be able to find?
Job Interview - what to ask? - Altea Ego

You have in fact answered your own questions and you go along the lines of

" I am interested in your company, and as a consequence have been researching it. I see it has potential for growth, could you explain to me what the growth projections are and how I may help your company grow"

"As part of my research for this postion I notice that company records have not been filed on time, do you know what that might be"

Shows a keen healthy interest. And hey lets be honest, you have NO job security in any company in the first 6 months under law.

TourVanMan TM < Ex RF >
Job Interview - what to ask? - Mapmaker
>shoudl I worry?

This shows, potentially:

1. A copmlete lack of control in the accounting department; they cannot work out what the accounts are supposed to show. In which case, what confidence that next week's salary will be paid?

2. The auditors are disagreeing with management as to what the accounts should show. Think isoft.

3. They have a healthy disregard of their legal requirements to file accounts. What of their attitude to legal niceties of employment law?

4. They are incompetant, not paying attention to the boiler plate issues of the company, more driven by growing etc. etc., but are likely to run into trouble with their bank if they cannot produce audited accounts.


Who knows?
Job Interview - what to ask? - Mapmaker
5. there was nothing for the swear filter, I'm sure.

I said that the person who prepares the accounts has been
off sick for six
months and the accounts
will be prepared
when they are back
from sick leave.
Job Interview - what to ask? - artful dodger {P}
If it is a retail company then it should be quite easy to have a chat with existing employees to see what they say about the company, check several stores or use the telephone for those out of area. Do this before the interview as this may help you raise other questions that show you have an interest in the company as a whole, rather than just receiving a salary.

As to Companies House, at present I would not really worry. This is a quite common situation and could be due to a query from a tax inspector, so finalised accounts cannot be lodged at present. You state it is a plc, so it has quite a number of legal requirements to meet - far more than a private company. For this reason it is more likely to remain in business, usually through taking tough and sometimes unpleasant decisions. They are more likely to close unprofitable shops at the drop of a hat and loose staff, but you state it is a growing company so this is less likely than a company that has lost direction.

Best of luck with your opportunity.

I read frequently, but only post when I have something useful to say.

Ask Honest John

Value my car