Build That (Garden) Wall and Back in the Workshop

I am an excellent procrastinator. I hold modesty as a virtue the majority of the time, but when it comes to procrastination, I’m up there with the greats. I can achieve anything as long as it’s unrelated to the thing I’m currently trying to achieve. Procrastination is the force that has been keeping me from making any rings for the past number of years. That same force is preventing me from finishing any videos. No longer! Well, sort of.

The New Newforge Rings

The Newforge Rings Plymouth workshop is up and running, though not finalised. I’m still figuring out the right position for my equipment, and trying to stop filling the workshop with junk. I picked up where I had left off some time ago with a Tunisian brass coin with a funky design around the rim. I’ve made a number of these rings in the past so it was a nice one to get back into things. My technique is rusty but it came back pretty quickly and I achieved quite a nice result.

The ring making process has been documented in a few previous videos on my YouTube channel but in brief, the centre of the coin is drilled out, then the coin is gradually bent through different methods until it becomes ring shaped, then sanded and polished. My plan is to restart the Newforge Rings store, and start supplying coin rings once again.

Build That Wall!

Unlike President Donald Trump, I managed to build a wall. I know, I surprised even myself. As part of garden renovations I removed the fencing panels so that bamboo could be extracted from one of the beds. That was a big enough job, but it revealed a very unsightly stretch of wall at the boundary of my garden. Cables, snots (mortar that hasn’t been cleaned off bricks/blocks), and stray bricks galore. Having to look at it wasn’t great, and even worse it was set back from the rest of the wall so the whole thing looked rather naff. I’m not a brickie (that much should be obvious) but my next door neighbour has had a thousand and one jobs, and he taught bricklaying in the local college. He had the tools and the knowhow but our interactions had been limited in light of the coronavirus pandemic, and the work was delayed.

Initially my plan was to render the walls and paint them, but rendering was going to be a rather massive job. To make the whole thing more manageable, my neighbour suggested instead sealing the wall with PVA, then painting with masonry paint. The final stage will involve planting fruit trees along the length of the wall and training them to make a (hopefully) attractive display.

The first step was digging out the old fence post and soil around the short section of wall and concreting it to make a foundation for the new blocks. Another new skill! I also learned out of necessity the difference between concrete and cement. Cement is a binder, and when mixed with sand and stones it is known as concrete. Pre-mixed concrete has all the ingredients in the right proportions and only requires the addition of water before it’s ready to use. And mixing. A lot of mixing. There’s a reason cement mixers exist. I used a couple of bags of pre-mixed concrete for the foundation and tried to get it close to level. It wasn’t quite level enough which came back to bite me later.

Things started to look a lot neater once I’d cut the errant brick and knocked the snots off. The foundation tidied it up considerably. Now to the bulk of the work. I was waiting for a stretch of decent weather so I could build the wall without the mortar getting too wet. There’s also a limit to how many courses (horizontal layers) of blocks you can lay in one go. In this case I laid four courses before giving up. Lay too many blocks at once and the mortar can be squashed out of the lower courses.

The supplies were gathered from Palladium builders merchants close to my house, and Travis Perkins. I felt rather out of place at the builders yard, not really knowing what to do or where to be, but the staff were very helpful and loaded up the Fabia with 250 kg worth of materials. The blocks and cement were delivered directly to the house to save some hassle.

Getting the first blocks level was tricky, and though it could’ve been better, I’m quite happy with the finished structure. Some of the blocks are a little funky but as long as it stays up I’ll be over the moon. A whole new skill set – laying foundations (sort of), mortar mixing and block laying. My pointing (tidying the joints) still leaves something to be desired but I’ll get there.

Until Dawn

“But where are the games?” I hear you cry! Yes, games have been played recently in between the DIY. The weather has been stunning this weekend, but there have been a number of foul days recently spent inside on the sofa with the PS4. We bought Until Dawn last Christmas and only started to play it a few weeks ago.

Described as an interactive survival horror game, Until Dawn follows a group of teenagers who are vacationing in their sickeningly rich friend’s ski lodge. The bulk of the game takes place one year after the tragic and mysterious disappearance of the rich friend’s sisters, and as you can expect, horror ensues. It may be a corny premise but the story is really captivating and takes you on a rollercoaster of twists and turns. The gameplay is primarily third person with lots of cutscenes and constant decision making. The choices you make could end up killing off a character, and feel pretty weighty as a result. Do you want to have their blood on your hands? Should you help the friend you’ve just had a fight with?

We were both captivated and terrifed, and would definitely recommend this one. I won’t say much more as I went into the experience semi-blind and enjoyed it more as a result. It’s five years old now, cheap to buy, and well worth playing. Go get it!

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