Cooking, Renovations and Fun Stuff

Friday, October 26, 2012

Word of the Day

Machicolation: A gallery or parapet built on the outside of fortified walls and towers of castles with openings in the floor through which to drop boiling oil or molten lead or to shoot arrows.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Water Under the House 3

We had two plumbers out today to deal with the problem we have with water collecting under the house.

Because the old cracked terracotta stormwater pipes run under the paved entertaining area and driveway (and we didn’t want to go digging those up), the most simple solution was to stop the flow of water out of those pipes and under the house. Well, I say simple, but we also had to account for future renovation work we want to do, which involves putting in support columns and concrete pads under the house, so the plumbers had to avoid those areas too…

So, the plumbers chopped off the bottom of the old stormwater downpipe, so it no longer directed the water to the underground terracotta pipes (white cap over old pipe connection can just be seen at bottom of photo, covered in dirt). They then put in a PVC connector, cut a hole in the bricks, and rerouted the downpipe through new PVC pipes under the house

drain in

The new PVC pipes are attached by brackets to the floor joists, and run along the back of the house…

drain 1

around a corner at the end of the house…

drain 2

and down to the downpipe near the front of the house…

drain 3

Then out of the brickwork and into another new PVC connector and down the stormwater drain…

drain out

Hopefully that’s the end of our troubles with water under the house. Now that there’s no more water leaking out of cracked pipes, the water under the house should dry up fairly quickly.

Word of the Day

One of the things I like about my job as an editor is that I’m always learning new things. Authors all use words differently, and sometimes use words that I haven’t come across before, such as Brobdingnagian, which means ‘marked by tremendous size’.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Water Under the House 2

Earlier in the week I blogged about the problem we have with water collecting under our house.

Today was a lovely sunny day, so Rob decided to do the food colouring test to see where the water was coming from.

He put blue food colouring down the stormwater drain at the back of the house and then poured lots of water down after it, to see if the water was going down into a cracked stormwater pipe that runs under the paved area near the house and out to the driveway.

After about half an hour Rob looked under the house but there didn’t appear to be any change in the water, so then he went and looked in the inspection hole in the driveway and voila, blue water. So we thought the water was passing down the stormwater pipe OK and that it was just surface water under the house.

About an hour after pouring the water down the drain, Rob went to shut the manhole under the house, and decided to have another look. He thought he saw something, so had a closer look, and there was blue water there too.

under house 14 Oct

So it seems like some of the water is going out to the driveway, but the underground pipe must be cracked and allowing some water to pass through the ground and under the house. Because there’s no drainage under the house, there’s nowhere for the water to go. So at least now we know where the water’s coming from and we can do something about it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Gluten drug could allow normal diet

Thanks to Dad who directed me to this article in the New Zealand Herald.

A new vaccine that could be the world's first cure for coeliac disease is being tested in New Zealand.

Clinical trials are under way in Christchurch to test the jab that stops the body reacting to a protein found in most breads.

Coeliac sufferers can't eat anything that contains gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. It is in in everyday products such as pasta, biscuits, beer and sausages.

Sufferers are at increased risk of osteoporosis, infertility and bowel cancer if they do not stick to a gluten-free diet.

But the experimental United States drug, which has had one clinical trial, could enable them to enjoy a normal diet.

Coeliac New Zealand development manager Sue Clay said a vaccine would change lives.

"We're very much keeping our members in the loop. It's a very credible, well-funded study that looks promising but it is only early days and there is a long way to go yet."

The vaccine is designed to "reprogramme" the body's immune system, restoring coeliac patients' tolerance to gluten and returning the intestine to a healthy state.

Coeliac disease

* An intolerance to gluten, which is found in wheat, oats, barley and rye.
* Mostly genetic. It affects 1 per cent of New Zealanders.
* Causes inflammation and damage to the lining of the small intestine.


Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Water Under the House

When we bought this house a couple of years ago we were advised that there was ‘substandard site drainage’. There was a lot of water sitting on top of the ground with nowhere for it to go, so Rob and his mates put some drainage in just before we moved in.

14August2010 002

That has really helped, but we still have a problem with water collecting under the kitchen end of the house, especially after a lot of wet weather. We’ve had a plumber and a landscaper look under the house and neither was sure what to do. Last week we had another plumber come out and take a look and he was much more helpful.

The pic below (where we are playing petanque) shows the kitchen window. Below that is where all the water collects under the house. We know the water isn’t coming from the household plumbing, as there’s no movement in the water meter when the taps are off.

new years eve 03

There’s a downpipe and stormwater drain to the right of the steps on the right side of the photo, so the plumber suggested putting some food colouring down the drain and following it up with lots of water, to see if the drain that runs under the paved area and out to the driveway (behind the gate in the left of the photo) is cracked and leaking water under the house.  If it is, then the coloured water will show up under the house. If no food colouring shows up, then it’s likely to just be surface water collecting under the house (we live at the bottom of a hill so it’s possible that the water runs down the hill and collects under the house).

If it looks like it’s the stormwater drain, we have a couple of options. In order to avoid pulling up all the pavers, the plumber can put CCTV down the drain to see where it’s damaged. If it’s badly damaged, he can suspend the rear stormwater drain and reroute the drainage so that it comes out near the front downpipe.

If it’s surface water, he suggested installing a sump pump under the house, which will pump out the water when it collects under the house, so that it will stay dry and we won’t have problems with rising damp.

So the next step is for Rob to put the dye down the drain and see what it does…

Monday, October 8, 2012


It turns out that the sore throat I had about a month ago (and which never really went away) was a tonsil infection. My tonsils felt so swollen on Friday that I ended up going to the doctor and getting some antibiotics. I think my body has been working so hard to make my lower back better that my defences have dropped in other areas, hence the infected tonsils.

I’m feeling a lot better since starting on the antibiotics and my appetite is coming back. I’ve been craving solid food rather than the smoothies I’ve been having for the last three months or so.

Do you still have your tonsils,  or did you have them taken out when you were younger?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A Little Visitor

Rob had the day off work today so we had a plumber over to give us some advice about the pool of water under our house. While we were outside a whippet came trotting down our driveway. It had a name tag (Jet) with the owner’s phone number so we left a message letting them know we had their dog. In the meantime we took Jet into the back yard and enjoyed watching him run around with TJ




He was a lovely little chap, very friendly and full of beans. I was sorry to see him go when he was picked up. Apparently it was the first time he had gotten out. He was due to be desexed later in the day. He must have had an inkling…