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Entry Number 17: Voluntary Work. I've always believed in the power of ordinary people to shape society for the better. Simply relying on other people, councils and governments to arrange everything for you is laziness, and will probably leave you disgruntled. My advice is, get involved!

The school which my son attends were short of a parent to sit on their Local Advisory Board. It takes a little time for regional and central government to get things done, but I am now the owner of a completely clean DBS Certificate. This means that I can now take that position on the Local Advisory Board.

As a parent, I think that it's extremely important that I play some sort of role in the running of the school. I'm very surprised that so many parents don't want to get involved.

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Entry Number 17 continued.

Something else that I've just become involved in, on a very local basis, is taking the voluntary position of Flood Warden.

I live on a small peninsula just to the Southeast of Sheppey Bridge. While the dozen or so houses on the peninsula are unlikely to flood, as they were built on high ground, there is a danger that the area may become an island for a few days after coastal flooding in North Kent. It's all rather unlikely, but it's better to be prepared.

I was the only one from Swale who attended the Environment Agency 2 hour seminar on Monday evening, which is a bit of a poor show really: I'm sure they'll be plenty of people demanding that someone should do something in the event of a flood!

Get involved, people. It's your society: be part of it!

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Entry Number 16. The Beast From The East.

I hope you all started safe and warm over the last few days. I was certainly kept busy getting my son to and from school every day: his was one of the few in this area with staff dedicated enough to make their way in regardless of the weather and the condition of the roads. So a very big thank you to all the staff at Lansdowne Primary School I guess I had it easy really, driving through two miles of (thankfully) deserted single track country lanes! I 100% recommend that you purchase a pair of snow socks for your car if you need to drive on ice and snow.

Anyway, I got to all my clients to do what Is been hired for, and cleared a few driveways of snow too! Pushed a few stuck cars, and made some new friends along the way too. Funny how the worst weather always brings out the best in people!

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Entry number 15. New Year, new aspirations.

Happy New Year everyone. I hope you all had a good break; and those of you who had to work over the holidays, doctors, nurses, carers, people looking after our energy and water supplies, the emergency services and military, hope you get some time to relax soon!

I've grabbed 2018 by the horns, and I'm swinging it around my head. This is going to be my first full year in business, and I'm going to succeed. I've used Bark for some time to source work, guage what's going on and check my pricing. in fact, I started using Bark before I was in full time self-employment, mainly for research while I was working out my business plan. I have formed closer ties with Bark, and am now one of their Elite Professionals. So I'll be expecting a lot more business from them this year.

Also this year, I've decided to renovate a large shed, in my spare time, (I do sleep, honest) and convert it into a fully functional woodwork shop. I decided over Christmas, that it would be great to have some products to sell, and it would be fun to make those products myself. Of course, I'll have to learn how to add a shop to this site, but, ever the optimist, it can't be that hard, and once it's running it's easy.

So that's just a couple of things that I'm excited about already this year. I hope you all have great plans, and this will be a great year!

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Entry number 14: Merry Christmas

Another year coming to a close. I must be getting old: time seems to be passing a lot faster than when I was a child.

This year, as an experiment, I thought I'd have a go at making a trinket box. Of course, I will be adding trinkets before presenting it to my wife. I'm quite pleased with the result: not a bad first attempt.

The main body is an off-cut of gravel board; the lid and base, off-cuts of plywood; the lining is several layers of a very cheap throw, which was far too thin for its intended purpose, but it's perfect as a lining material.

I joined the four pieces of pine by cutting box joints (also known as finger joints) using my jigsaw. I know I could have done it a whole lot quicker using my router or table saw with a wide blade, but for me, this was about enjoying the process.

The joints fitted together beautifully. I finished them in the usual way, by rubbing sawdust all over the joints. This fills the gaps, and soaks up any excess glue, making it very easy to clean up with sandpaper.

The base of the box is held in with four wooden dowells. The lid is fitted with two tiny hinges, recessed with the help of my Dremel. I also used the Dremel to inscribe a message on the top of the lid. The lining is glued in with wood glue, spread really thinly so it doesn't soak through.


So now it's Christmas Eve. There's nothing more for me to do but sit back, relax with a pint of my own recipe homemade beer, and wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Have fun, but stay safe everyone!

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Entry Number 13: patching up a door.

I got a message from a new customer. She asked me to board up her back door, just temporarily, to keep the weather out and the heat in. She insisted that it didn't need to be anything special, as the door was going to be replaced next year anyway: just a quick patch up will do. From the photo she sent, it was obvious what the problem was, and how I was going to fix it.

I cut 2 sheets of 9mm plywood to fit inside the moulding: one on the outside of the door, the other on the inside. I used adhesive silicone sealant to glue the two plywood panels into position, and a few nails to hold everything in place while the sealant set. This prevents any draughts and water from getting through the patched up area.

Finally, I slapped a coat of varnish on the bare plywood, paying particular attention to the edges; it may only be a temporary patch up, but it's worth protecting the repair from the elements in case it turns out that it's going to be there for more than a few months. It only takes a few more minutes, and makes the repair job look great.

Needless to say, the customer was very pleased with the job, and has told me that she will be contacting me in the future, as there's always something that needs doing around the house. I'm happy to be of service, and it's great to have regular customers!

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Entry Number 12

Did a deep clean yesterday. It's hard work, but always rewarding.

This was a one bedroom flat, oddly, with 2 showers. That caught me off guard a little: showers are always encrusted with limescale, and take far more time to clean than any other room.

I've done a few of these cleaning jobs, so I now have a methodical approach:

1 Spray the oven with cleaner;

2 Spray anti-mildew and anti-limescale in bathrooms;

3 Wipe dust off the tops of doors, door frames, switches, power sockets, radiators, window sills, skirting boards.

4 Vacuum every room, starting with the cobwebs on the ceilings and walls, and then the floor. Also vacuum inside kitchen cupboards;

5 Return to bathrooms to clean.

6 Return to kitchen. Clean oven fridge freezer and cupboards.

7 Shampoo all carpets, mop all hard floors.

Job done!

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Created by Gary Newson