Pallet buster

#100DaysToOffload – Day 30

Today's purchase is a Roughneck Pallet Buster. This is probably the most manly thing I've ever bought.

roughneck pallet buster tool (Excuse the stolen stock image)

Its purpose, if you can't tell from the name, is for breaking down wooden pallets. We've talked about having an extra bit of fencing above the 2 metre back wall for a while, as the neighbour over that side is a little odd to say the least. As we've been in the garden so much recently we decided to look into in properly but the costs of the wood to do it are out of our budget at the moment. So the plan is to collect pallets, break them down and make the fencing using the wood. Fingers crossed! I'm not that bad at DIY but my wife always moans at the cost of tools (as she rightly thinks I'm just buying boys toys) so we are always trying to do things on the cheap which makes it tricky. For this we'll borrow a neighbour's mitre saw to cut it all to length and a friend's cordless power screwdriver to put it all together. Fence on the cheap!


#100DaysToOffload – Day 29

One of the thing that seems to be sensible in this coronavirus days is wearing a face mask. It stops the spread of the disease especially as there's research to show the virus enters the body through the lungs into the blood stream. My wife made us all lovely face masks pretty early into lockdown as she's handy with a sewing machine and had a load of material knocking about. However for me masks a nightmare. I'm not on some weird Donald Trump tip worrying about my image or my freedom to choose. Instead I have bad hearing and having people's mouths covered up makes me really hard for me to work out what they're saying. Back when I was about 5 I had a really bad bout of measles. It's not that my folks were anti-vax but this was over 40 years ago and there just weren't vaccinations for it offered then. After this bad case of measles it was noticed I had bad hearing so was sent for tests. It seems the measles damaged my nerves from my ears to my brain. So it's not degenerative, it doesn't get worse at all. It's just bad hearing. The odd part is only certain nerves are damaged which means, in layman's terms, I have a bass ear and a treble ear. Usual bad hearing is a general loss of volume but for me it is just certain frequencies I can't hear. As a schoolboy I pretty much carried on and pretended I didn't have bad hearing (as being at school the last thing you wanted to be was “different”). Though as an adult I came round to it and am much more open about it. Then technology caught up and meant hearing aids were available that boosted just the frequencies I needed instead of being just a general volume boost. I even can control them using bluetooth from my phone to turn the volume up or down. I'm not really sure where I'm going with this or how to finish it other than if you're wearing a mask and someone is looking baffled at you it could be me. Also people that choose not to vaccinate their kids against measles are utterly despicable.

Movie Night

#100DaysToOffload – Day 28

Yesterday while trying to think of fun things to do for the kids I decided to put on a movie night in our backyard.

We watched My Spy which turned to be a harmless family blockbuster type film. Normally getting the family to agree on a film is a nightmare and we give up after 30 minutes but this time we jut let the kids choose and my daughter bullied her brother into watching that!

getting ready

I printed off some “tickets” and used a trusty popcorn recipe I got from the New York Times a while ago: ½ cup of oil to 1/3 cup of popcorn. It's a lot of oil but makes great popcorn every time. Then while hot toss it with some sugar/salt/whatever.

Then set up an old projector in the garden and arranged the chairs with a load of blankets on to keep the chill away.

settling down

Worked an absolute treat. The family loved it and have already asked to do it again next week!

I am taking part in the 100 Days to Offload blogging challenge set by Kev Quirk.

Lyndon Loaf

#100DaysToOffload – Day 27

If you've been paying attention you'll have noticed I like making bread. Generally I like easy and fuss free bread. When chatting with my step-dad he mentioned a method of making a loaf his nephew sent him so I tried it. The nephew's name is Lyndon so I call it the Lyndon Loaf though he didn't invent it.

Follow a standard white loaf recipe like this one. Mix it and knead it then after the first rise give it a 5 minute knead and put it in a lidded metal casserole dish (what Americans call a Dutch oven I believe). Put it in a cold oven with the lid on then turn the oven to 240c. After 35 minutes remove the lid and leave in for a further 10 minutes. Viola! An amazing loaf. Here's the one I made:

homemade loaf

*I am taking in the 100 Days to Offload blogging challenge set by Kev Quirk. *


#100DaysToOffload – Day 26

Oops, I forgot to post yesterday. Wasn't a “can't think of anything to post” moment of lack of motivation. Just straight up forgot. Probably related to the hangover I had after the drunken 4 and half hour Zoom chat with friends on Saturday night!

I've been an SDF user on and off for years and had a couple of accounts (mainly because I forgot the password to one and couldn't be bothered to try and retrieve it so made another). When the SDF/SDFEU split happened it pretty much ended my usage as SDFEU is like a ghost town. I'd go through spells of making a conscious decision to be very active and regularly post on bboard and their internal newsgroups but at most I might get 1 or 2 replies so would get disheartened. As an aside when I first got on the internet in 1994 it was newsgroups and IRC that really got my interest. Being able to interact with people from all over seemed amazing! Before that I was very into zines and zine culture so the internet seemed like a logical extension of that; people making content and sharing it. When the first tilde servers started getting popular back in 2014/2015 my first thought was “wow I've been using the internet so long that shell accounts are now retro”. I continued tinkering on SDF and never got involved. Things like neocities pages caught my eye but I always feel like I've not got any content worth sharing so had never gone down that route. However a few years ago I saw the tilde server mentioned on the fediverse and requested an account. Solderpunk kindly obliged and I enjoyed it a lot. There was a nice community there with a small federated message board and active gopher users. However a change of jobs meant regrettably I had a lot less time for engaging with it so decided to quit after a while rather than become one of those ghost accounts that just lingers untouched for ages.

Recently though there has been a bit of chatter about the new Gemini protocol being set up on some of the tildes. It is a bit like a modern version of gopher and has been implemented on several tilde servers. Of course being the curious type I wanted to try it out and was able to get an account on Early days so far and still trying to work out what content goes where (social media, this blog, my old blog, gopher, gemini, etc etc). Here's my gemini space:


Don't expect much though. Now back to the joys of the working week.


Not so easy jet

#100DaysToOffload – Day 25

Like many other people Covid19 messed up travel plans I had. Next weekend my son would have been playing in a big international football tournament in Düsseldorf. He played there last year (in fact all his international away trips have been to Germany, I think someone senior has shares in a German hotel chain!) and a few dads went out to support the boys in their matches. When I say support the boys I mean drink copiously for 48 hours; we were broken on the way home. This particular tournament is held over the Whit Sunday weekend in Düsseldorf which is a big public holiday and lots of bars have bands performing out in the street. It's a great atmosphere so the few dads that went before decided to book up in advance to get good prices. Then obviously lockdown happened and all youth football is cancelled.

Now despite Mrs Luke and myself having a joint email address for bills and purchases our Easyjet account has Mrs Luke's email address associated with it. I'd been regularly logging into the account to see if the flight was cancelled or to see what the options were for rebooking the flight. It's getting closer and closer and the rebook option looks like it going to have to be it. If you use their website you can rebook your flight with no admin fees and if the new flight costs more you pay the difference. Simple! Not so much in practise. Everytime I tried the process it tried to charge money despite the new flights being significantly cheaper. No way was I going to pay more for a flight I didn't really want or need so was considering just taking a loss on the money. Mentioned all this to Mrs Luke and she says “oh why didn't you just apply for a refund voucher like the email says?”. WHAT EMAIL? For some reason she'd assumed I'd seen an email in her inbox, which obviously I hadn't. She finally manages to dig it out and there was a nice easy process to get a credit voucher for the value of the flight. Just had to click 1 button. Which she did. Only to receive an email telling her she was a week too late to do so. FFS! This all became a VERY thorny issue in our household and was threatening to be the cause of a properly serious row. Just as this was simmering away and about to boil over another email turned up saying the flight is cancelled and would we like a credit voucher for the value plus £10 added on top for our troubles? Hallelujah! It was such a huge relief. Now I've set up a filter to forward any emails from Easyjet to our joint email so we can wait for the same fun and games with our flights for our summer holiday!

I am taking in the 100 Days to Offload blogging challenge set by Kev Quirk.


#100DaysToOffload – Day 24

Whilst collecting the milk from the doorstep and opening up the latest coffee delivery it struck me that as punters we're going full circle back to the days of wealthy Victorians. What am I talking about? I'm talking about how there seems to be a growing trend for folks, myself included, to subscribe to individual services/products instead of getting everything from 1 big supermarket. Of course loads of people do just get everything from the 1 source but there seems to be more and more online businesses popping up offering a delivery of product X every month. So what do I subscribe to?

  • Coffee, delivered once a week.
  • Toilet roll, big box once a month.
  • Milk, had milk delivered for yonks.
  • Printer ink.
  • Deodorant. Yes really.
  • Local paper.

Hmm that list doesn't seem that long so I'm sure I've missed some off. During lockdown I've also considered signing up for a chocolate club, artisan chocolate delivered every month, and local bookshop subscription where you tell them the last 5 books you enjoyed so they can pick new releases they think you'll like and send them once a month. In the past we also had a local egg farm delivery but my wife was convinced they weren't free-range so cancelled. From the adverts I see online there is no end of these “clubs” popping up: Japanese confectionary, notebooks and stationery, socks, beer, wine, etc etc.

I am taking in the 100 Days to Offload blogging challenge set by Kev Quirk. Follow me if you fancy subscribing to my posts

An unexpected consequence of lockdown

#100DaysToOffload – Day 23

Busy day today so a brief post. One of the consequences of lockdown I never anticipated is that I've worn through about half my pairs of socks. Admittedly they were mainly cheapo Primark or whatever stuff to begin with but I didn't think that 2 months of being at home would do that. I've never worn slippers and then closest thing I've worn and liked were some ankle socks with grippy soles I got given when i had to stay a few nights in hospital when I mangled my ankle. So whilst pottering around at home I just wear socks and as I say I've worn holes in about half of them. I can see myself in 50 years time when my great grandkids ask me what was lockdown was like and I'll be telling them it was tough on my socks. :)


#100DaysToOffload – Day 22

Today my daughter and I popped to the supermarket. Our nearest supermarket is Waitrose (we do live in Hove after all) and everyone has been saying how long the queues have been to get in. This is our 4th trip and the 4th time we've turned up and there has been no queue at all but by the time we leave there has been quite a queue. (There were at least 12 people waiting as left.). The one thing I've noticed about Waitrose is a big increase in the amount of items reduced to clear on the last day of the sell-by date each time we've visited. Seems they are maintain full stock levels but have a much diminished number of customers so items aren't selling. Which brings us to the title of this post: I can't resist a reduced item! I'll eat frugal whenever possible (though never battery eggs and always high welfare meat). Today's bargains were a pork belly joint reduced to £1.35 from (iirc) £4.45 and diced pork shoulder reduced to £1.40 from £3.20. The pork belly has been in the slow cooker for 6 hours already and I've just pulled it (ooh-er mrs!). The diced shoulder is in the freezer and will be slow-cooked soon with barbeque sauce and beans. Last week I got some bananas from the local co-op for 9p! (The co-op is amazing for bargains as they have a zero waste policy so need things to sell so they don't have to return them to their distribution centre.). They went in smoothies and banana bread. This habit often exasperates Mrs Luke as we do end up with some very random things in our freezer (current exhibit: M&S crabsticks for 20p) but usually it's all useful and gets used up eventually.

This is one of my 100 Days to Offload posts. It is a blogging challenge started by Kev Quirk. Check for info and then grab yourself a bargain by setting a free blog on

Sitting out

#100DaysToOffload – Day 21

Was thinking of skipping today's post but my son is playing Fortnite in the living room and listening to the running commentary of him shouting into his headset at his team mates was doing my head in. So here we are!

My neighbourhood has small back yards, as you'd have seen if you were paying attention but it also has even smaller front gardens. Nobody usually ever sits out the front of their house and normally most life takes place indoors or in the backyard. Which is a shame but we do it as well as everyone else. One thing I've noticed since lockdown is there is a lot more of life taking place outside. Gyms are shut so people are exercising outside. Can't visit people properly so friends are talking on their doorsteps. That sort of thing. I like it. My folks have got a holiday apartment in Spain in a small seaside town that is primarily full of Spanish second homes. So people from the interior of Spain decamp to the coast for July and August (bit like the Parisians famously all go to the south for the summer). One thing I notice there is a lot of life happens outside. Most of the holiday apartments are tiny so everyone eats their evening meal out on the balcony. As they're on holiday there is no gym memberships so they all exercise outside. You get the picture I'm sure. It's something I like. It means you see other people and interact with other people but also reminds you there has to be a bit of give and take. Some of the things you might do outside might annoy others and some of the things they do might annoy you. That's life and it is about realising that. Anyway bck to lockdown in Hove. Something a lot of the houses on the north side of the local streets have been doing is sitting out in their front gardens. We've been doing it too. I've seen neighbours sat out with their laptops working. People soaking up some sun. It's been really nice. Here's a few photos I've taken of the shift to front garden usage I've taken during lockdown. Just a few as I didn't want to look like a weird stalker. Hopefully this is something that will continue a bit even after lockdown is eventually lifted.

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