Sunday 31 March 2019

Lisbon - Oriente

The station at Orienté is a rail, road and metro hub.  We went there on the metro and spent the rest of the day out by the waterside, enjoying the sunshine, a superb chinese lunch, the gardens and the architecture.  We took a ride on the cable car that goes along the sea front, just to get a different view.

I remember the London docklands,  and my memory is of a somewhat sterile homage to the god of high-rise office blocks.  This redevelopment in Lisbon is the business.  It's also, clearly, where the money is.

Thursday 28 March 2019

Lisbon - The Vasco de Gama monument & Belém tower

The first full day we had at Lisbon, we took a short tram ride to see the Belém tower.  This was constructed as a defensive gun emplacement, and ceremonial entrance to Lisbon.   There is much more in the general area than the tower, including museums, a monastery, a monument to Vasco da Gama, and parks.

There was more than we could visit in the time available, and we chose to go into the Belém tower and the monument to Vasco da Gama.   From the top of the monument, you get a spectacular view of the surroundings, and you can better see the ground-level mosaic map of the world showing the da Gama discoveries.

The Belém tower is much smaller, and has lots of twiddly stonework.  I'm guessing that the architect didn't expect too much in the way of hostile returning fire when the tower fired its cannons.

While in the Belém tower, I spotted a rather fast sailing craft on the river.  I assumed it to be a sailboard since it was so fast, but it had no wake.  I managed to get some snaps of it on full zoom and it turns out to be some form of sailing hydrofoil.

Tuesday 26 March 2019

Long weekend in Lisbon

Having a bit of a gap between clients, we decided to take a long weekend break in Lisbon.  A good time was had.  We were blessed with fine weather: cool mornings of 15°, rising to 20 or 21° by mid-afternoon, a cloudless sky and a gentle breeze.

Some impressions:  Lisbon is easy to get around; the public transport systems are efficient and inexpensive.  A day pass on the buses, tubes and trams is €6.50 - you buy a card (50 cents) and then you can top it up as you like.  There were adverts announcing a reduction in price for what I took to be monthly passes - €40 for an all-zone pass.  Not bad.

There are tiles everywhere - on walls, floors, on the pavements outside.  The pavements aren't flat, but undulating, which can be a bit of a challenge if you don't pick your feet up.

It took some time to notice, like a headache that you suddenly realise has been gone for a while.  There were no diversity bollards.  I guess Lisbon has not suffered the benfits of unfettered, vibrant, multicultural immigration, perhaps because portugese is not much taught outside of portugese-governed territories.  Despite this lack, I would describe Lisbon as one of the most vibrant cities I have visited.  Tourists and locals were enjoying the public gardens and open spaces, dining or taking coffee or beer in the many bars and restaurants.  The place was busy but not crowded, and people were friendly and polite.

Monday 18 March 2019

Bathroom project - Tiling

Tiling well is difficult.  Tiling is where any imprecisions in the horizontals or verticals, or in angles that are supposed to be 90°, all come back to bite your bum.  You can easily spot the mistakes, as the tiles that are supposed to be four-square, march in zi-zag pattern up the wall, or thin lines of grout widen to rivers along their length.

I don't claim to be expert in this.  On the plus side, grouting can cover a multitude of sins, and with this in mind I used a brilliant white grout, the same colour as the tiles.  Grouting in a contrasting colour is for the very brave or the supreme expert, neither of which description applies to me when it comes to tiling.

One of the things I discovered in the DIY shop, and which worked well, is a new kind of spacer.  It's designed not only to space the tiles accurately in relation to each other, but to make sure they are all at the same height so that they make a flat surface.  The manufacturer is Pavilift, and there is all the info you could possibly need on their website.

This photo shows them in action in the shower cubicle..  Tip: make sure there is no tile glue behind the black clamps, as it can scratch the tiles.  Also, make sure that the tiles don't move as you tighten down the clamp.

Sunday 17 March 2019

Not Champagne

These days, you're not allowed to describe fizzy wine made according to the method originated in Champagne as being made according to the Champgne method.  You have to say "traditional method".   This doesn't disguise the fact that champagne (the drink) is overpriced compared to the competition.

Last night we opened a bottle of fizz as part celebration of Anita's birthday.  It's one of the ones we bought on holiday in the Alsace region; a rosé, slightly off a hard brut in sweetness, and delicious.  And made, of course, using the traditional method.  I can't remember how much we paid for it, but I am confident that it was a lot less than a champagne of similar quality.


Later addition: I had a quick look on the Metz website; it looks like you can get a bottle of this fizz for a bit more than 8 euro.  Can't get a decent champagne for that.

Tuesday 12 March 2019

Bathroom project - Electrics

In the UK, you're not allowed to do your own house electrics - you are supposed to call in a professional, and you can't buy the bits in DIY shops any more.  They're less anal in France, and you can do your own work if necessary.

There wasn't much electrics to do in the bathroom.  I just replaced the existing sockets and light switches with new ones.  You don't need to have light switches operated by a pull cord (so the switch is away from any sources of water) and you can have standard electrical sockets on the wall, as long as they're not over the sink (or in the shower, or any other stupid place)

Sunday 3 March 2019

Bathroom project 4 - Plumbing

A renovation of a bathroom inevitably involves plumbing.   I've described the shower waste connection and the connections for the sink.    The toilet water supply pipe I had to send up vertically then out horizontally to the cistern.   This needed a bit of pipe bending and a 90 degree soldered joint, but the result is fine, even if the solder joint could be cleaner.   With the plasterboard in place and tiled, the effect is quite good.  I can do the cosmetic stuff on the pipe and the hole later.

For the shower tap I used a fitting that I've not used before.  It claims to make fitting shower taps easy, and it does seem to work.  You fix a metal plate to your wall, and two 90° connectors (hot and cold) slot into it.  You have to cut matching holes in the tiles of course, but if you do it right, you can take the connecting pipes out for inspection later if needed.   (The photo of the metal plate shows the water pipes that are to be connected to the 90° connectors.)

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