Tuesday 18 April 2017

Not what it says on the tin

I don't know whether it's 'hats off' to Cuprinol (other garden shades are available) for being helpful or just a clever tactic on their part... ie their successful sale of fence paint to an unknowing me.  In a roundabout way I'm referring to the endless task of maintaining our home - more specifically, on this occasion, to the garden fence. Have Cuprinol been our rescuers? Please read on ...
       About 16 years ago I paid a lot to have the whole length of our garden refenced. Within a few years the weight of honeysuckle from the other side of said fence had eroded the tops and some panels had to be replaced. Since then even more have weakened but I rescued them - visually at least - by painting them - laborious panel by laborious panel - with an elegant fence paint named Cuprinol Holly. It was a dark green - it matched our garden furniture - it set off the flowering plants very nicely and looked so much better than the traditional orange freak-me-out wood stain which looked positively vile and was not easy to slap on.
        In the welcome spring sunlight I can see one or two sad panels have grown moss (now there's a shade) and they need recoating. Others are still splattered grey - cement having been hurled at them while the boys from Abergavenny replaced our old water pipes last November.They dug up most of our patio and there's more cement on the fence than between the replaced slabs. Can you imagine the scene when I tried washing the fence with soap and water? A freezing day made much worse by having my hand in cold water performing a fruitless task ie making the fence look super-important and me like something out of a back-to-back slum from the poverty-stricken 1930s.
       This week I decided to repaint the panels. We've had plenty of dry weather. Why delay?
Why delay indeed. Firstly no-one either in the flesh nor on-line had tins of Cuprinol Holly. It wasn't just our garden centre becoming shy of stocking that shade ... Even Cuprinol themselves don't have  it. Imagine my surprise when I heard back from my email to their 'helpline'. ( I didn't sign myself 'Desperate of Bath' but was trying to avoid days and days of painting our long stretches of fence with a new shade ...) The Cuprinol email was long, addressed my concerns, told me how to rescue the situation and sent me a voucher to buy a brand new tin of 'Cuprinol Garden Shades.' So pleased was I to learn that although  'Holly' was no longer made by Cuprinol two other shades mixed in a ratio of 3:2 was the new equivalent. I felt certain our fence would soon be elegant once more.
     Sadly the reality of DIY projects always makes me glad I'm not answering those questions on Desert Island Discs which begin 'If marooned do you think you could build yourself a shelter?'I planned out my strategy - what could go wrong? I had three tins :- 1) Remnants of Cuprinol Holly - the last cms of said stain on planet Earth 2) A free tin from Cuprinol called Ash and 3) Another tin from Cuprinol - paid for by me - called Sage. The lengthy email from the helpline told me that others had found three parts Ash mixed with two parts Sage = Holly. I must have looked a strange sight measuring and marking 5 cm on the side of an almost empty tin, and pouring the remnants - for colour matching - into the lid. An even stranger sight was my getting covered in Ash whilst trying to pour it into the old tin up to the 3 cm mark. Could I judge 3 cm depth of fence paint? No I couldn't. I managed to dip the end of of a tape measure in to judge the amount of stain I'd poured and found I was way over 3cm. If 3cm:2cm is the ratio 3:2 in a quantity of paint measuring 5cm depth, what the bloody hell is the same ratio for 4.75cm Ash to ...???... Sage? It took me aeons to do simple arithmetic. Eventually I poured in the almost-correct amount of Sage. The tape measure showed this time I'd added too little. And did the mixture look anything like 'Holly'? ... Of course not! Many pourings of stain and my coat, hands, hair in-a-state later I decided that was the best I could do. I tried painting the magic mixture on cement splattered panels and instead of looking a deep, rich green the effect was grey, thin and very messy. But I ( quite deterred) continued painting the fence. Even grey was better than cement encrusted panels.After half an hour of yet more pointless DIY the stain began to dry ... and looked remarkably like 'Holly'.
      I was coated in grey, green, near-black and various other shades but the desired outcome may have been  achieved. Now the old tin of Cuprinol 'Holly' contains Ash/Sage - not what it says on the tin. My hands were so covered in paint I couldn't get to a label to stick on said tin thus it still looks as if its full of anything but the newly homemade shade. It definitely isn't what it says on the tin. Bravo Cuprinol - I think - but it would have been so much easier to have bought a tin of 'Holly' - wouldn't it?? I really don't to remix tins in order to restain the whole of our long fence but ...

Wednesday 5 April 2017

What's a Ford B max?

Over the last few days the good people of Devon, my husband and my friends have all shown great restraint. Why, on sunny afternoons, have I, dressed fully in black, save for a necklace of multicoloured lozenges, been seen wandering around car parks? Why have I surreptitiously positioned myself to take the best shot of the rear end of a Ford motor car? Have I suddenly become fascinated by 'Top Gear' now Clarkson's gone? Am I a sex-starved voyeur? Am I in hot pursuit of holiday makers having a quickie, before ambling through the car park to the rear entrance of Boots for their painkillers and haemorrhoid preparations? And why am I wearing a long black, warm, woollen winter coat with the sun high in the sky and temperatures well above 65 degrees?

I haven't found myself short of things to do on this early spring holiday. That's not the reason. And it has been a cold wind out there - once we've got out of our holiday cottage for down-town Beer, Branscombe, Budleigh or Sidmouth - hence the winter coat. 

No the reason for this odd photograph-taking behaviour is this: There being a shortage of Ford B max motor cars on the road I was trying to take a piccie of one nestling between more well-known makes - thus enabling me to show our Devon-residing friends the car we're going to get. They'd never heard of the model. Since my aunts said we could have their hardly-used Ford B max, with full service,  immaculate within and without, I've been trying to see one 'for real'. There's such a poor signal here I can't google an image of said vehicle and the only other one I've seen was loaded with a family, all doors and windows open, wing-like, as if ready for take off, parked at the Donkey Sanctuary. My husband didn't want to drive round to the rear end of the car, once its inhabitants had eaten their sandwiches and locked up. He wanted to stroke wiry donkeys and talk to the poor beasts, not take photographs of a black Ford B max in a muddy, grassy field. 
Makes sense. (Although when I spotted the only other B max that I've seen on this holiday it was silver, like the one my aunts are selling us. The black one at the Donkey Sanctuary was rather smart.)
Beggars can't be choosers. 

Brand new the cheaper B max retails at £13K and we're having my aunts' silver one - two years old and only 14K on the clock. No point looking for a better deal than that - anywhere!

Now I have my piccie of a Ford B max - this one's in a royal blue finish - I'll ogle it until I can google it - and get back to receiving an internet signal. ( And I find I prefer silver or black car bodies.) 

After all the effort of wandering round car parks, suddenly darting down side streets and sitting at a pavement cafe just so I can see the traffic stop at the lights ( who me?) I have an image of said car. Ford B max. That's the one. You don't see many of them around. Why is that? They've only been available for a couple of years and the Fiesta, Focus and other models seem more plentiful. Are we buying a white elephant? No we're buying a silver Ford B max with superior upholstery and bleeping things to help with parking. Anyone seen one? What are they like? There don't seem to be many on the road ...