Yes, this is a post about compost, no, I’m not going to apologise for it – it’s probably the first of many.  I’m turning into a weird compost geek.  Today one of my colleagues mentioned his neighbour likes to cut other peoples’ lawns – “Oh,” said I “does he have a compost heap?” – because clearly I can see that sort of behaviour being totally plausible in the quest for more compostable materials.

So anyway, I built not one, but two, compost bins and I’m planning a third – so I can run the “three bin” compost system.  I’ve read a ridiculous amount of (often contradictory) information on such topics as hot versus cold heaps, how often you should turn your heap, how much water does your heap need and the correct ‘recipe’ of carbons (browns) and nitrogen (greens).

I built the first bin Easter weekend in an almost entirely Agile manner (to borrow a buzzword from my day job) and like the output of an Agile project I managed to make something which does the job for the limited materials I had (two pallets) but is not pretty to look at.  I got a couple more palettes the next weekend and added another pen to the side.  In an ideal world I’d like beehive style composters but frankly I wasn’t about to spend a fortune on wood just to make compost – perhaps I’ll upgrade in the future.

I’m boring myself now so here’s some photos (all over which were taken on my phone so apologies for the quality). Here’s compost bin number one:

one compost

I probably should have explained why I even need a compost bin – basically the garden is like a jungle – and I’m only succumbing to hyperbole slightly here, for example, I noticed a whole lot of little seedlings appearing in the grass like this:

sycamore sapling

How exciting I thought, I wonder what they are – a week of so later realisation hit me… they’re sycamore saplings.  If I did nothing about them there is a possibility the lawn would actually turn into a forest! I’m still generally leaving the garden alone this year to see what comes up and what flowers but there have been a few things which I thought I could fairly safely prune back – so I was ending up with piles like this (this is a small pile).


I bought a second hand garden shredder so I could make it into this:


Which I then added to my compost pen (yes, there are two now and I turned it so it is all in the second one).  All the stuff in that bin has come from the garden – I’ve not added anything.  The bins aren’t finished yet – once I’ve got the third one up I’ll makes some sort of front which lifts off and a lid to keep the rain off but in the meantime part of a pallet and some planks will do.

compost before

The above photo shows the pile on Saturday – and here it is on Wednesday!

compost after

See how much it has composted already?  It’s crazy – it’s super hot inside and there’s lots of a grey ashy substance which at first I thought was due to it burning – but it’s no way near that hot, it’s just the actinomycetes (bacteria) doing their thing 🙂

Honestly – compost… hours of fun!


April Showers

It’s been a while since I’ve posted – partly because my webhost made some changes and consequently I couldn’t upload any images but also because I’ve not really achieved much which warrants a post. I’ve been busy trying to get the plans ready for submission but when you’re dealing with so many different civil servants it all drags out a bit – nearly there though, hopefully…

Anyway – I thought I’d post all my various deliberations regarding the shower.

This is my bathroom at the moment:

existing bathroom

I’d like to knock down the wall separating the toilet and the bathroom and remove the airing cupboard and put a lintel in the wall between the toilet and the airing cupboard / bedroom so I can have a separate shower. N.B. that wall is load-bearing.

The width which the airing cupboard will give me is only 660mm so I will need to get a bit more from somewhere to make the shower wide enough. I will need to take some space from the bedroom to make it long enough, so I’m not very keen on taking width from the bedroom as well (it would probably mean I’d have to move the door too – ugh) – so it will have to jut out into the bathroom somehow.

I came up with three options (to start with):

1) A 760mm square shower which juts out 100mm. There’d be three walls tiled and a glass door.

760 square

I think visually it would look “out” of the bathroom so wouldn’t feel cramped but I’m a little worried about knee space around the toilet.  My designer said “760 square might be fine for you but it’d be far too small for me” – and he’s not exactly butch. Dad (who is decidedly more rotund) has a 760×760 shower and has no problem with it but I’m worried that it would feel small too most people with more modern tastes.

2) Perhaps a 900×900 quadrant might work better.

900 quadrant

Having held a tape measure out though I think a 900mm seems rather excessive. I’m also worried that it will make the bathroom feel really cramped (imagine a glass enclosure on top of that footprint)

3) A 760×900 quadrantoffset quadrant

I’m not sure a 760×900 quadrant shower would feel bigger on the inside than a 760×760 square and I think with the extra fuss of the enclosure making the room feel smaller it’s not ideal.

So then I went to B&Q to see if there were any enclosures of the above sizes which I could stand in to see how they felt.  They didn’t have many showers on display though, there were no offset quadrants and no 760×760 squares.  I had a go in each of the ones there and this is what I thought:

  • 800×800 square – felt about the size of the shower I currently use in my Dad’s house (I actually think that’s a 740 square) – it’s small but not uncomfortably so.
  • 800×800 quadrant – did feel too cramped even for me
  • 900×900 quadrant – noticeably larger than the others but didn’t feel spacious

Then I noticed something weird – although the sizes were given as I’ve described above none of the shower enclosures went anywhere near the edge of the trays. I borrowed the sales assistant’s tape measure and discovered all the 800×800 trays had 760×760 enclosures.

Like this:


Mad isn’t it? So a 760×760 tray in an alcove would be pretty much the same size as a ‘standard’ (800×800) shower.

I went to a couple more bathroom showrooms to see if a curved enclosure which is partly set into an alcove was even possible – the consensus was basically ‘no’.  Therefore a 760×760 square (option 1) looks like a my only viable choice.

Next, I set about trying to convince myself there was enough knee room.  I did wonder if the protruding part could be made out of glass rather than a stud wall to reduce the space used – but again, the salesmen weren’t convinced.  I considered switching the basin and the toilet (non-starter because of the pipes being on the front wall and it’s a conservation area etc) or a corner toilet (ugh).

So basically, I’m just going to have to go for it – if it feels too snug on installation day – I’m going to have to move it 100mm towards the basin – seems you can do that with one of these offset pipes.

Unless anyone else has any genius ideas?