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Out with the old, in with the new!

I have always been a self-confessed hoarder, but since I retired, I have gotten better at getting rid of rubbish that I don’t use.  Perhaps it’s because I am at home more often and the clutter becomes more noticeable, or maybe I just got wiser with my old age, but it’s great having a house that isn’t overrun with needless clutter!  The strange thing is when I was working, I literally couldn’t see it.  My wife was forever asking me to chuck out old magazines that I was never going to read again or clear out my cupboard by donating old clothes to charity – yet I was never bothered by it.  That is until I retired…

Now, I make it a regular habit to get rid of the old and bring in the new.  I love doing DIY jobs around the house, but it’s hard work if you are constantly clambering over things just to reach the photo frame that needs replacing.  I suggest that anyone who doesn’t think their home is cluttered to just take a good look around.  Ask yourself when was the last time you used the ten-year-old plastic cup on the kitchen side or how long it’s been since you last wore the willies with the holes in the toes.

I’m not talking about making big changes such as retiling the bathroom or painting the entire house.  I simply mean get rid of some things that you don’t use and give them to a good cause.  There are plenty of charities that would benefit from receiving anything from old cutlery to old clothes, so don’t just throw it out.

I am trying to live by the three R’s as much as possible in my new retiree lifestyle.  Not only does this preoccupy my spare time, but it also means I feel good at the end of the day, like I have accomplished something.  Reduce, reuse and recycle – try it and see how liberating it feels!


How to learn about compensation claims

A friend of mine recently had an accident – he fell down an unmarked manhole in the street and is now in the process of making a claim for some much-due compensation.  As I have a lot of spare time on my hands, I decided to give him a hand as neither of us knows much about the process of making such a claim.  The internet, as it often does, proved to be a great source of information, and I was shocked to find so many companies offering their services, including  During my browsing, I have found that you can tell a lot about a company from its website.  Important characteristics of a company, like how professional and capable they are, are often reflected in how well laid-out their website is, so I spent a few weeks checking out what was around.

My friend is lucky as he has a pretty clear-cut case thanks to his wife’s quick thinking and Blackberry that was on hand to capture the evidence!  However, making a claim isn’t always that easy, and after looking into it more, I found out that while some people can tie up their cases in a few months, others can spend years trying to make a claim.  Companies such as can help you to learn more about what the claims process for personal injury involves.  From my research, I soon picked up that the more evidence you have, the better chance you’ll ensure yourself a quick and easy-to-settle case.

My friend’s case is now going through the necessary avenues, and I would like to wish him a speedy recovery from the easily avoidable broken arm and bruised ribs that he suffered after careless workmen failed to put up any warning signs when they dug a hole in the pathway…

Start with online gaming

I’m an old-fashioned kind of person, and I enjoy gambling in a casino. Bingo is a favourite, and there are some casinos nearby that I drop into every once in a while. But the last time I was in my favourite establishment, very few of my mates were around. No big football match was on, and I wondered where they might be. Turns out, many of them have decided to start playing online casino slots.

The whole thing sounded a bit suspicious, but my friend Wendell said he’d been doing it for a couple of years now, and really enjoyed the freedom to play whenever he wanted. So I asked him about it, and he said the set up was simple. Of course, you need an internet connection, but that’s not a problem for me, I’ve become quite good at it. He gave me the website address of and I went there and looked at the games they have. There were a lot! They actually have more games than my local casino does.

They have a Fun Mode that doesn’t require money, and a Real Money Mode, which does. I started by creating an account, which I was grateful to see was at a secure website. I began in Fun Mode, which allowed me to try a bunch of different games. I’m more of a casual player, not one of those real intense guys, and it was nice to see that my membership didn’t have any time limit. Sometimes I only play for five minutes or so, which means I don’t get to the expert level very fast!

Anyway, I played for a bit in Fun Mode, but decided it would be even more fun to wager some money. I checked out the website for the deposit requirements, and once again saw that the website was safe and secure. I deposited a bit of cash and began to play. There are even more games available in the Real Money Mode than there are in Fun Mode, so my choices became even broader. I’ve tried a few of the other games, but I still tend to return to the movie-themed games. The graphics are good and the games are fun. The ability to play on a moment’s notice means I can play around my schedule, rather than my transportation schedule or other things.

I’ve recently discovered multi-player games, and also found out that this is where some of my buddies—including Wendell—spend their time now. We can ring each other up or arrange a time to play together, and then just meet up at, things have changed so much since I was a youngster. The online games allow us to set the speed of the games, which is something we can’t do with the in-person games. If we want more time to chat or get a pint, we just slow the game down until we’re back at it. This kind of game control is something you just can’t get when playing in person.

In just a few months I’ve gone from a doubter to a convert!

Replacement Windows

My little home was built some time ago, and last winter it was so cold in here, I was shivering in my slippers! This summer, when things got so hot, I couldn’t seem to keep the place at a reasonable temperature either. I did notice last winter that the areas around the windows were colder than the rest of the house, and this summer it was easy to see, or perhaps feel, that the window area had more temperature extremes. It was probably time to replace those old, leaky windows.

They’re all single-pane, double-hung windows with the sash and weights. Quite attractive, I think, and they go well with the older home, but they were clearly draining my pocketbooks! So I began looking into replacing some or all of them with newer windows.

I didn’t realise there are so many on offer! Aluminium, wood, vinyl, white frames, black frames, horizontal sliders, vertical sliders, double pane, triple pane, argon gas filled, etc. It was quite overwhelming when I first started looking around. The salesperson at the store told me about the R-value of windows, meaning how much thermal resistance the window offers. Some of that thermal protection comes from the frame, but a lot of it comes from the glass as that is the majority of the structure. The higher the R-value, the less loss we’ll experience of heating and cooling.

He also showed me how much money I was losing by not replacing the windows. Even assuming heating costs stay the same, new windows will pay for themselves in less than ten years. If heating costs rise, which most people assume they will do, the windows would pay for themselves in less than that time.

I signed up for new windows and the work crew appeared on time to install them. It took two days and was a lot of hammering and sawing, not to mention dust and debris. But when it was done my little home looked almost new. One thing that surprised me was how quiet the new windows make our home. I ended up choosing double-pane windows without the Argon gas inside. But just that second pane of glass and the insulating air between keeps the sound down amazingly well. No longer do I hear road noise, even when the neighbours are returning home from work.

The other advantage, of course, is that my energy bills have been reduced. It costs much less to heat and cool the home. The heating system doesn’t cycle on nearly as often as it used to, nice little money saver!

The quiet is the greatest prize, if you ask me, and the energy savings will be an added bonus. I would recommend looking into new windows for anyone frustrated with their energy bills.. Or cold feet.

How to choose new bathroom tiles

It’s no secret that I love doing DIY and redecorating, but when my wife and I decided that the bathroom needed retiling last week, I wasn’t sure where to start!  Do I choose plain tiles, patterned tiles or a mixture of plain and patterned tiles?  My old tiles were off-white and about as simple as they can get, so we didn’t have to go through this fiasco last time we decorated! However, we both decided that it was time to spruce up the bathroom, and the tiles were the first thing to go.  I had a look online for some new bathroom tiles and found some really affordable options.  But I still had to decide what colour scheme to go with and whether or not to throw in some patterned tiles as well.  I decided to do some online research, so I had a look around for some bathroom design ideas and ended up choosing to go with a mixture of patterned and plain tiles. But the fun didn’t stop there!  We spent the next four hours trying to agree on a suitable bathroom theme before choosing which patterned bathroom tiles to go with.  My wife wanted to use a nautical theme, while I was more tempted with a flowery garden idea, and needless to say, we settled on her choice.  After all, a bathroom is (and I quote) “a place where water is a prominent theme”! After deciding to go with a nautical theme, we picked out some plain blue and plain white tiles, then placed some tiles with anchors, ships and fish randomly throughout the design.  Well, I say it was random, but it was actually well thought out, with each anchor spaced out by exactly eight squares from the last!  So, what is my advice when it comes to choosing modern bathroom tiles?  Agree with whatever your wife suggests from the outset, as this will help you save hours of your time doing online research and comparing different designs! All joking aside, the bathroom looks great, but the starfish-painted clear toilet seat lid was quickly sent back, as there was something very strange about sitting there on a fake beach scene…

Finding a good plumber

Well, try as I might, I just can’t make that £4 tap stop leaking. In an effort to help my son out a few months back I told him I could put my mechanical skills to good use and fix the leaky tap. I found a tap at a boot sale and managed to install it. I’ve mucked around with cars, but they’re all mechanical, right? What I discovered was that not all mechanical things are the same. It started dripping within a couple of weeks, so I had a friend look at it. He couldn’t figure out how to make it stop either. So now it’s time to pay the piper—or, the plumber.

Once again it was back to my friends to see if any of them had called a plumber lately, but the answer was no from everyone. One of my old football buddies had needed a handyman though, and he told me about City Visitor, a free online referral site. I checked it out and found it very easy to use. I can search by speciality (for example, plumbers), by location or postal code, or by area, like Swansea.

I wanted someone close to my home who wouldn’t take all my money—since I don’t have much—and by reading the reviews on the website I was able to narrow my choices down to three plumbers. All of them had excellent reviews, which had been placed quite recently. Several reviewers also described in detail the work they had had the plumber do, so I felt pretty good that the contractor had experience with what I wanted. That gave me a much more secure feeling.

So I rang all three up and found that one was booked out weeks in advance, but the other two could fit me in. One suggested a specific tap that he said he has used for several years with great success. I could find it at the local home improvement store, or he could buy it with his discount and add it to the bill.

I decided that I would take him up on his offer, and about four days later he showed up at my son’s door, tap and wrench in hand. He set to work straight away and within just a few minutes had the water off, the old tap out, and the new one installed. He didn’t waste time to bring up the bill, and the tap he recommended suited the space quite well. And it doesn’t drip endlessly all night!

So now his home is quiet and the water bill has been reduced by quite a bit. The tap looks wonderful and I have the added assurance of knowing that it’s installed properly. And really, with the money I saved by using the City Visitor site, I could have bought a gold-plated tap. But I’ll be careful in the future to quit promising things for my son that will end up costing me money!