Recycled compost bin

compost bin

A friend offered me some crates recently which came with a delivery of garden slabs, suggesting that I could make my own compost bin. So I said yes, of course, and the image above is the finished item. Thanks Mike!

I’m quite pleased with it. It’s rustic and functional, and is made from the crates along with some old broken lap panels from a fencing reclamation project. The panels would have ended up at the tip, so finding a new life for them was satisfying.

Originally, I had planned to make a hinged lid, along with splitting the front panel into two horizontal slotted pieces which could be removed when taking the composted material out. Mike tactfully suggested that I was over complicating things. Why not just tip it over when you need to? He had a point – sometimes simple is best. So I screwed up the sketches I’d made and got to work.

I hadn’t realised how liberating it can be to cut wood without worrying about accurate measurements or using a try square. Perfection wasn’t my goal, and trusting your eye and lifting one piece to judge against another was quite relaxing. Too small? Cut another piece, or live with it. Too large? Cut off a little more. I re-used as many nails as I could, and wood screws where necessary. Making the outer cladding was like a jigsaw, as some pieces were warped, or wider at one end than the other. The inside is clad with lap panels, and some were also used on the makeshift lid.

The hardest thing was disassembling the original crates: whoever put them together had done so skillfully, and with no intention of them ever coming apart. Wrecking something is easy. It’s a more delicate job when you plan to re-use everything.

It’s great to make things with your own hands. Even better when you are recycling stuff. So after I’d finished and taken the picture, I treated myself to a nice cup of tea. Ok, I lie. It was a cold beer.




Lemon juice


I read a while ago on the internet that keeping citrus fruit in the fridge keeps them fresh and juicy for longer.

Tried this out the other day and it’s accurate. Kept some in a bowl and some in the fridge*. Then I did the squeeze test, and guess what?
Pretty obvious don’t you think? Maybe you do, and maybe it is, but I didn’t think of it.

*What a great word fridge is. I know it’s an abbreviation, but almost better for it: somehow it’s very human. According to Collins, it’s usage peaked in 2004.


Not shiny…



saw…but reliable and effective.

I needed to cut some fence panels the other day and was thinking of buying a new saw. We had an old one in the shed but I had written it off as it looked rusty and tired: I assumed it wouldn’t be good enough to do the job.

I was wrong.

It did the job perfectly. Then I noticed how well the handle fitted my hand, and looked at the shapes a little closer. I love the fact the handle is made from wood (not plastic), and also the attention to detail guiding where your thumb will sit and be best positioned depending on the force required.

I think it’s about time I cleaned and polished up this old friend as there is life in him (or her) yet.

There’s a moral in this somewhere…


The perspective of the picture looks a little strange as it was shot from the handle end

The perfect Chapati?

Puffed_up_chapatiI’ve been trying to make the perfect chapati for a few years now.

I remember watching a documentary years ago showing Indian people make them. It looked so simple: some flour and water into a bowl, some mixing and kneading then rolling them out. And there you have a big pile of about 20, ready to feed the family. It’s not that simple though…

There’s an ongoing debate about the best method and ingredients. Some say to put oil in, some say no oil. Others say that you need to add yoghurt (or curds as it is often called in India), some say not….

The first batch I tried (ok, the first few batches) were like cardboard, some were more like shoe leather – some an unpleasant combination of the two. Aside from reminding me of the Charlie Chaplin film where he eats his own shoe like a delicacy, it was an unpleasant experience.

The batch I made last night went better than some of the ones before. Will post the recipe if anyone is interested. Don’t get too excited, but there’s a link to the movie of the chapati puffing up if you want to see it here. It’s a proud moment for me!

Just a shoe brush?


These days we seem to live in a disposable world.
‘If its broken, just buy a new one’ is the new mantra.

And perhaps understandably so when fixing things, a year or two after buying them, is often more expensive than a replacement.

So for me, it’s great when you come across something that reminds you how things used to be made. Something that has lasted and doesn’t need fixing or replacing any time soon.

This was made in 1940. Made to last I’d say: 73 years old and still going strong. Look at how well used it’s been.

I often wonder who used it before me.
Was it their favourite too, or were they more interested in it just doing its job?
I feel as if something is missing when I use another one.

Why is one end is worn more than the other? Maybe it’s always been used one way around?
What sort of person uses something the same way every time?

There’s something comforting about routine. We always know where we are relative to a fixed point; whether passed or due. It’s automatic, unchallenging and comfortable. Sometimes I like comfortable.

That reminds me. Where did I put my slippers?