Sunday, 14 April 2013

fixing the ice dispenser

we've had an 'American-style' fridge-freezer/ water dispenser  since 1990. At the time there was one distributor for imported White-Westinghouse  freezers  and delivered them around the country . At the time  finding someone who could fix things was  impossible , so i ended up doing it all myself.
These fridge-freezers are more common these days, but i still fix things myself - they are rare enough that when we havc had service  engineers they've been a bit non-plussed and ive ended up paying for them to learn how to dismantle things.

The flap valve to the ice dispenser broke. So I ordered a replacement  and then set about fitting it . I've got a note that i had to do the same in 2007, but didnt record how to do it , so I have now

 Remove the water tray and then  remove the 2 torx screws.

then you can remove the cover by lifting it off, which exposes the  ice maker . remove the  screw at the side that  is holding the front panel in place

move the slider across  and remove the screw on the other side  ( I removed the screw holding the slider in place , but its not necessary)

you can then pull the front panel of the dispenser forwards.

bend the water spout   out of the way, and you can then remove the old flap from the  plastic clip - the other side will have broken off, and replace it with the new one  , being careful to engage the lugs  on the flap into the plastic clip

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Oh dear, Virginmedia

For the last few days, perhaps a week or two, we have noticed that the broadband speed falls off in the evening - to the degree that at times the internet is unusable.
There is no point ringing them - you just end up having a conversation with someone sitting in a   call  centre , who seems to just be reading from a script.  And  seems to have little understanding of how to troubleshoot a problem .

So this is our problem this evening

~$ ping -c 10
PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from ( icmp_req=1 ttl=47 time=1323 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_req=2 ttl=47 time=1499 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_req=3 ttl=47 time=1089 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_req=4 ttl=47 time=1193 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_req=5 ttl=47 time=1371 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_req=6 ttl=47 time=1429 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_req=7 ttl=47 time=1367 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_req=8 ttl=47 time=1252 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_req=9 ttl=47 time=1496 ms
64 bytes from ( icmp_req=10 ttl=47 time=1486 ms

 this is on a wired connection  and the   router is OK 

$ ping -c 4
PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from icmp_req=1 ttl=64 time=0.255 ms
64 bytes from icmp_req=2 ttl=64 time=0.229 ms
64 bytes from icmp_req=3 ttl=64 time=0.227 ms
64 bytes from icmp_req=4 ttl=64 time=0.233 ms

--- ping statistics ---
4 packets transmitted, 4 received, 0% packet loss, time 2997ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 0.227/

and then there is this
$ traceroute
traceroute to (, 30 hops max, 60 byte packets
 1 (  0.218 ms  0.224 ms  0.267 ms
 2  * * *
 3 (  1465.281 ms  1469.270 ms  1469.262 ms
 4 (  1476.920 ms  1490.733 ms  1490.724 ms
 5 (  1509.384 ms  1484.456 ms  1491.203 ms
 6 (  1490.964 ms  1371.411 ms  1371.430 ms
 7 (  1377.432 ms  1423.079 ms  1423.177 ms
 8 (  1379.349 ms (  1383.191 ms (  1384.781 ms
 9 (  1430.788 ms (  1430.983 ms  1430.890 ms
10 (  1392.536 ms  1396.961 ms (  1396.330 ms
11 (  1398.300 ms (  1731.120 ms (  1460.492 ms
12  * * *
13 (  1465.257 ms  1464.891 ms  1465.134 ms
  So the problem  seems to be 'out there'
I'll find out if anyone else in the area is having similar problems

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Kitchen flooring fail - but which bit and why ?

17 years ago we had our kitchen extended and fitted out and this included Amtico floor tiles .  We've been very happy with them - when the floor is stripped back and redone it comes up (almost) as new. Its a solid floor , laid on a DPC - I know because I saw the builder do it- and then flooring laid on top of that.

But we've noticed a problem recently ( perhaps the last couple of years). It started at the edge  of the room but is now affecting some tiles not at the edge.

The tiles are  curling and lifting.

Ive gently prised back a couple of the most affected where the tiles have already lifted s and here are  the photos.

 it looks like self-levelling compound that is cracking and/or disintegrating .

But why ? and what to do about it ?

Thursday, 3 January 2013

I dont believe it !

Last year there was a planning application by Shepherd offshore  to put a whole host of housing on the site of La Sagesse School. Details and links and stuff is available on the Jesmond Action Group website . The Council came to the correct decision and rejected it.  I  haven't been following this obsessively closely - but I think The original Application from October 2011  is  this one  for 60  dwellings.

As expected, Shepherd Offshore came back with another  application which I think is this one- the  headline number on the application if for 59  dwellings .

There is an extra meeting of the pLanning Committee tomorrow ( 4th january) .
 See this - its my dormer , erected in 1995.

Hmmmm. I bet they didnt even think about putting an a special meeting for me when my rear dormer had to go to planning twice before getting approval. What has Shepherd got that I havent ?  

The decision from the planners to approve this 2nd application seems perverse to me. There are only a few cosmetic  changes to the application , it still puts a load of  un-needed housing on an attractive site , detracts from Jesmond Towers building  and will be an ugly blot in one of the most densely populated Wards in the City.

 And Jesmond Action Group  are on to it . They too think its perverse , but their advantage is that they have a couple of lawyers involved.  So there has been some correspondence with the Council  - I'll watch out on the JAG website for them to appear .

But  there is acopy of the email that has gone to councillors

Dear Councillors

I am unsure whether you will have received a copy of the letter from Kath Lawless sent to our Group dated 3rd January 2013.  I attach a copy .  This letter is in response to our letter to the Council dated 31st December 2012.  I attach a copy of that letter too for ease of reference.

If you have not already had an opportunity to do so, I urge you to read these 2 letters side-by-side.  Once you have done so, I hope that you will reach the same conclusion that we have, which is that Kath Lawless's letter simply brushes-over the specific legal arguments that we raise, and does not even begin to address them.

I do not know what qualifications Kath Lawless has, but she has many years of experience, and is clearly highly qualified in Planning matters.  However, I do not think that she is a lawyer. (my apologies if she is)  I  am dually qualified as a barrister and as a solicitor.  The arguments that we raised in our letter, were legal arguments that will give grounds for Judicial Review.  Kath Lawless has responded with the best intentions, but she has not addressed any of the legal arguments.  Crucially, neither has she argued why, in the opinion of the Council, our legal arguments should not apply.  As a lawyer, I am happy to have my opinions swayed by persuasive legal arguments.  In this case, I have to confirm to you that our legal arguments remain as strong as they were when our letter was drafted.  With the greatest respect to Kath Lawless, she is wrong in her interpretation of the law and planning policy; the Council should have engaged a barrister or a solicitor to respond to our letter.

My conduct as a solicitor is regulated by The Solicitors Regulation Authority. (SRA)  The SRA rules specifically prohibit me from raising spurious legal arguments if it is plain that those arguments have no foundation.  If I were to raise such arguments, the SRA have the power to bring disciplinary proceedings against me, and apply sanctions.

If the Planning Committee are minded to grant this application tomorrow, the Council will still face the litigation and costs risks that were set out in our letter of 31st December 2012.  Those risks remain undiminished.  You have an opportunity to reduce that risk by amending the application in line with paragraph 33 of our letter.  You have an opportunity to extinguish the risk entirely by voting against the applications.  The applicant can still come back another day, with a fresh application that complies with the relevant planning policies and legislation.

 I cant get to the meeting tomorrow ( if i wasnt working i would have gone ) , but I'll watch with interest.

And  a few more thoughts.

- I'm happy to chip to a 'fighting fund' to take this to Judicial Review  if necessary
- If approved, Labour   must have a death-wish as far as North jesmond Councillors are concerned.  They will get as big a well-deserved kicking locally as the LibDems will nationally  in a General Election.

And i'll happily do my ( non-party) bit to ensure that the ruling Labour Group get well and truly kicked.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The first decorator

im re-decorating  one of the rooms . I f i do it myself then all the stuff just gets moved from side to side as I work my way around.  Probably a bit less work than having to empty it all  to let someone come and do it all i one go. Ive been stripping off the wallpapers down to the plaster the bottom layer of wallpaper is this. I don't know enough about it to date it

and then above the door there was this
And closer inspection showed some writing in pencil

Ive had a play with GIMP to try and enhance the writing .
The top writing is "Easter Monday  April25 1886" and the bottom writing is '1892' . I've no idea if i can find out who did the writing .

Sunday, 19 August 2012


Motto : don't have your roof stripped to be fixed just before an enormous downpour

And in better times :

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Jesmond/Shepherd Towers

I've been watching with interest the planning application concerning the development of the old La Sagesse school.  There is a short video showing some of the buildings when it was  about to close as a school( 2008) , on the BBC news website.

A google search also has quite a few pictures of the house and the site

The Jesmond Action Group  website has updated information  about the  planning application to build 60 houses  and convert the building to 10 Apartments in a gated community.

The Chairman of Jesmond Action Group has written an open letter to the Councillors.
As its open and its been sent to the local paper , I m sure he wont mind it begin reproduced here

Dear Councillor

Let us imagine that I,  along with others, participated in local fund-raising, and that the money I helped to raise was used to entirely fund the successful election campaigns of a number of independent local Councillors.   Let us further imagine, that  some of those Councillors are now on the Planning Committee.  If I were to now submit a controversial (and highly profitable) planning application for an extension to my house, would those same Planning Committee Councillors have a conflict of interest?  Should they declare that interest, and decline to participate in that particular planning meeting?  I think that 99% of the population would agree that the answer to all of those questions must be a resounding, yes!

As you are aware, the Shepherd Offshore Planning application for the development of the La Sagesse site in Jesmond is due to go before the Newcastle City Planning Committee on 10th August 2012.

The Planning Committee consists of 8 Labour Councillors and 4 Liberal Democrats.  5 of those Labour Councillors received all of their funding for their 2011 or 2012 election campaigns from The Labour Party in its various guises; the majority from local Labour Party sources.  The records from earlier elections have been destroyed, so I am unable to comment upon the other 3 Labour Councillors who are on the Planning Committee. No impropriety is suggested by this; two of the Liberal Democrat Councillors on the Planning Committee had their campaigns funded by the Liberal Democrats!

However, you will be aware that it has been widely reported in the press that the Shepherd family are local Labour supporters and have had involvement in fund-raising for the Labour Party.  If funding by benefactors, even indirectly, has assisted you to win your seat, surely you should not take part in a process that could bring a financial windfall of many of millions of pounds to one of those benefactors. 

I therefore urge you to consider your own position.  The quorum for the Planning Committee is 4,  so a decision can still be made by the Committee even without your presence.  It is therefore an easy decision for you, if you feel it appropriate, to declare any prejudicial interest , and to leave the meeting at that point.  The democratic process will continue seamlessly without you, and your absence will cause no harm.  

I would be grateful to learn your intentions, and whether or not you feel that you have a prejudicial interest.