Weeknotes by Mo Morgan

Weeknote 0032

  • Moving these notes from Friday to Sunday. Strictly speaking, weeknotes were supposed to wrap up the working week. But this is a looser interpretation since most of the work I do in the week can’t be just dumped into the public domain. The fun stuff happens on the weekends.
  • HBO is showing one more season of the excellent How To with John Wilson. I discovered this show having dosed off in front of the TV one evening and then woke with a start. Next morning I assumed I’d dreamt it. Then that evening I was still wondering and went crawling through the iPlayer to figure out what it was. Now it’s one of my go-to antidotes to a bad day.
  • The garden. There’s a back gate onto a lane, but I’d not managed to reach it. The previous owner was elderly and I expect even the small garden became too much. Then when he passed there was a period of months while the house was sold. The garden itself did not observe this interim period: it just went nuts.
    • My sense is the old fella was security-conscious, so found the spikiest of all plants and arranged them at the end of the plot. I lopped them right back and then attacked all the other plants, flowers and shrubs that had been overenjoying their independence. As I lopped, a hot-air balloon drifted overhead, because Bristol.
    • I stacked the trimmings in a pile in the lane; it was the size of the garage door. The following day, I forced the lot through a chipper and got it down to about a wheelie-bin and a half. I chose the best cuts to get some garden compost going, before wondering what I’m doing with my life. The rest went out for the council to collect.
  • It’s strange to think that all this was once a deer park.
  • Spent much of the weekend on the garage roof.
    • Rainwater comes in through the ash-block walls, particularly on the side that faces the neighbours’ garage. the gap between is about eight inches, so that ruled out anything straightforward. Over the edge of the corrugated steel roof is a right-angled flashing. Typically these would stand off the wall a bit, but any rain off this one ran straight down the wall. Worse still, the neighbours’ garage was there first so this one was built from the inside. That means the blocks weren’t pointed on the side facing the other garage, and mortar sticks out in places. So, rain runs straight off the side of the roof until it hits mortar, then makes it way in through the porous blocks.
    • With no obvious answer, I came up with several mad ideas, as is my way. The only way to access the wall is from above, like the rain does, so I put planks on the roof and got up there with a paint roller on a pole. With the flashing removed, I had a go rollering masonry paint down the wall. Ash blocks are difficult to paint, especially when you can’t see what you’re painting, so I didn’t hold out much hope. But this helpfully cut the leaks down to about three distinct places. So I slapped more paint on those areas and then broke open the thin, milky-white water seal stuff.
    • Then, the secret weapon. If the flashing stood off the wall a bit, the rain wouldn’t run down from one to the other. I had a couple of 4m lengths of self-adhesive electrical trunking, which I stuck inside the flashing before it went back on, so as to stand it off the wall by 20mm or so. It also has the effect of tilting the flashing slightly back towards the roof.
    • Can’t really predict what the outcome will be. If all this doesn’t work, there may have to be some wilder ideas. But it won’t take long to find out given how wet this summer is proving to be.
  • Tedious work going on indoors.
    • With all the wallpaper down, there’s a lot of wood to be stripped of many layers of paint. The lowest layers contain lead so it’s all got to be chemically removed before the cat has a go herself. It is an arduous process.
    • But, two nice discoveries. The porch would have originally been open but, as with every other house in the street, has since had ugly PVC doors put on the front. In this awkwardly-enclosed space there were tiles to waist height, which had been painted a gloopy terracotta. The floor had horrible carpet sitting on horrible plastic laminate. Under all this, though, were the original tiles. Black and white checks on the floor, and shiny original yellow-brown tiles on the wall. It’ll take a bit more work to bring them back to life, but I’m delighted they’re all there. A bit battered and bruised from the PVC installation, but rescuable.

Weeknote 0031

  • Went to London this weekend. Because of the train strike and coach company weirdness, I found myself in town very early on Saturday morning. So I took myself to Kensington for a mooch, as it’s been a long while.
    • I thought I’d find breakfast at Whole Foods, but the whole first-floor food court seems to have gone: another victim of covid, perhaps.
    • The Japan Centre was an obvious calling-point. Interesting contemporary art exhibition in the basement. I also spent too long lurking around a not-for-sale glass-cased model of a Shinkansen. This was either a crushing disappointment or just as well. Or both.
    • Next, the Design Museum: the final weekend of an exhibition of works by Ai Weiwei. It was pretty expensive to rock up on the day, but worth it for the entertainment value. Just before I walked in, a visitor had stumbled over one of the works and sent little ceramic balls skitting and bouncing all around the gallery. I wondered why they’d been arranged only three feet behind the entrance to the exhibits. Perhaps deliberate on the part of the artist? Creation and destruction? A means of stimulating a visceral reaction, even if it’s public shame? Or just poor curation. Who knows.
    • Then onto Holland Park. I like the idea of the new plot drawing upon Japanese garden themes but without being a pastiche. So I took a look around the Kyoto garden which uses traditional and non-traditional planting to capture the essence. The weather was turning pleasant so I lingered a while and watched how people interacted with the space. Adults would slow down. Children would grizzle. Serenity is not their thing.
    • I caught the tube into the centre and went to the new Present & Correct shop in Bloomsbury, where I spent too long looking at everything before buying a couple of bits. I like interesting stationery far more than I need it.
    • Later, met with friends with whom I’m in contact almost every day but had not seen in person since The Beforetimes. We went to see the Groundhog Day musical at the Old Vic; perhaps my favourite show. I was delighted when I found it was returning to the stage and booked immediately.
    • The following morning, met with another friend I’ve not seen for ages on account of them selfishly living in San Francisco. Lovely brunch. Entirely too much brunch.
    • Even with the train strike over, it took an amazingly long time to get back to the Midlands. I probably should’ve treated the day as a strike and chosen a different route back.
  • In the week, took almost the entire contents of a garage—tools, offcuts, the lot—down to the new house in the van. Garage-first is a weird way to move, but the idea is to sort the garage out so it can host storage etc. while other things are done. The floor is being sealed but the rainwater’s getting in through the ash-block walls so more work is needed. I’ve always wanted a big working space like this.

Weeknote 0030

  • I’ve finally conceded, and increased the text size on my phone. My eyesight got noticably worse last year. I had new lenses made and so I see pretty well with glasses. But without them I couldn’t see the time on my phone. Even with them, at the beginning and end of the day (i.e. the points where you really need to) I still couldn’t really see it. So, one notch up on default text size.
  • The new house is hard to live in at the moment. No washing machine, no fridge, no oven… you forget how fundamental these things are until they’re unavailable. Living on tepid Deliveroos loses its novelty pretty quickly. But good progress on the house is being made.
  • In London this weekend. No place like home.