Government Gateway or Government Barrier

For me the Government Gateway is more like a Government Barrier since there is no way at all that I can use the online services that it’s meant to offer… seriously NO WAY. And to boot I’ve been told that this might be the case forever.

No way in
No way in

Basically I’d forgotten my password and so went to look for a “reset button”. This actually isn’t on the main page but instead linked to from a deeper page (I infact had to pretend that I was wanting to apply for a new driving license!!!). Once I’d found the link I had to enter some basic personal information and was then prompted for 3 (yes 3) pieces of memorable information… these were a name a place and a date. Now maybe it’s just me (I hope it’s not) but there are a few choices available to me for all these items. I’ve tried all the combinations I can think of but to no avail.

Hope was not lost at first though as there’s a telephone number to call if you’ve forgotten all the information. I called that I got through to a lovely understanding lady who sadly told me that they cannot reset my password either unless I gave them the same information… they have no greater power (i.e. telling me which pieces I might have got right) than the website! I asked what I could do next and was told “nothing”, “there’s no more that you can do”. The lady did mention that there was talk of a “fix” being put in place to fill this ‘gap’ but that proabably won’t be in place until next year at the earliest and that’s if they do anything at all.

I can’t believe I’m the only one in this boat so please please fill in the feedback form on their site asking for this feature to be added.

I want: Pixel Sofa

Now I saw this originally some time ago, in fact I think it was at some point in 2007 but I thought now with the blog going full steam I could share it.

This sofa is the design of Cristian Zuzunaga who I believe was a student at the royal college of art and I think is (or was) being sold by a Danish manufacturer Kvadrat.

I want: Very cool Pixel Sofa
I want: Very cool Pixel Sofa

I don’t know really why I like it so much but I can guarantee hours of fun playing the “You’re colourblind, what colour is this?” game.

Nushka Pt 5: Chilli is a Nutter

As you may have read in part 4 of this series I’ve had real trouble trying to get the locking wheel nuts off of my mini. I’d tried hammering on impact sockets, using a special locking wheel nut sockets and even taken an angle grinder to them! All had failed and I now new there was just one thing left for me to do… get a man in.

I mailed Chilli in the week and lured him (and his more hardcore tools) over with the promise of lunch. Thankfully he agreed and yesterday he turned up with a powerful dewalt drill and a huge toolbox of other manly instruments… oh and he also bought his beautiful daughter Charlotte along to oversea the works.

There were three nuts that needed removing and one of those had already had the butcher treatment from me and my angle grinder. After a quick pizza break he set to work trying to drill out the mashed nut while Charlotte kept me distracted so I wouldn’t get in Chilli’s way.

Charlotte make sure Chilli does it right

The nut (or what was left of it) finally gave up and came free… to say I was happy would be the understatement of the year.

He then moved onto the next two nuts which he made swift work of by hammering on an impact socket (yes I know I tries this) and applying some brute force. They didn’t give up too much resistance and we now have a mini which can have the wheels removed easily.

The Butchered Locking Wheel Nut
The Butchered Locking Wheel Nut

I’m eternally grateful to Chilli for helping out with this and just hope that one day they’ll be something that I can help him with.

So what’s next you ask? Well I now plan to remove the rears wheels and service the brakes (not sure if they’ll actually need replacing or not) and also check out the handbrake. Stay tuned for the update 🙂

Nushka Pt 4: Getting the wheels off

Following on form my previous posts on getting my lovely little mini back on the road this one relates to the first 3 attempts I’ve now had at getting her wheels off.

For most people removing wheels from cars is not something to write home about (or blog about for that matter)… but for me and Nushka this has turned into something more than a five minute job. The reason for this is simple… I don’t have the key-socket for the locking wheel nuts! I need the wheels off so that if (or when) I get a flat and am where a lot of mini owners time is spent (i.e. on the hard shoulder of motorways) I can very easily replace the wheel with the spare. Oh there’s also the added necessity so that I can service the brakes, replace the ball joints and correct the steering.

The Blasted Locking Wheel Nut
The Blasted Locking Wheel Nut

Attempt 1 – Impact Sockets

Well to start with my locking nuts had this tasty little metal collar on which span freely around the outside… this would have put stop to any attempts at just hammering on an impact socket over the top. So this was, and quite hastily at that, removed using a screwdriver and hammer combination. Next up I hammered an undersized (is that a real word) impact socket over the top of the locking wheel nut. Of course with this firmly in position I just attempted to unscrew the nut as normal. Sad to say all that happened was the locking wheel nut with it’s once perfectly cylindrical exterior now hexagonal returned to it’s circular shape and my impact socket just came free. Blast!

Attempt 2 : Special Tools!

Thanks to my boss I was able to get my hands on a special set of sockets which were specifically designed for removing locking wheel nuts. These had a fluted interior with a very sharp reverse thread. The idea being that you hammer them on and then as you turn the socket they ‘claw’ into the nut and eventually cause it to turn free.

Sadly this attempt achieved similar results to the first… the end product being a wheel nut with a smaller diameter due to the outer few millimetres being shaved off!

Attempt 3 : The Angle Grinder

Fair play, perhaps I was really looking for an excuse to buy such an exciting power tool… but nevertheless I was hoping that by cutting a nice grove lengthwise through the nut I could then use a long thin tool (such as a beefy screwdriver) to finally free up the nut and get it off (there are in fact 3 nuts I need to remove).

The cutting went fine… in fact more than fine as I had great fun as there were loads of sparks 🙂  Unfortunately once again, due to the softness of the nuts, this did not work. As I was pulling up on the lever (in this case a screwdriver) half of the nut – down to the depth of the slit – snapped off! The inner part of the nut is still attached fast. Attempt number 3… FAIL!

So What’s Next?

Well, I currently have 2 more options that I can think of:

  • Drill out the stud
  • Use a cold chisel to snap off the remainder of the nut

These will be explored in later posts.. wish me luck!

Homegrown Garlic: Pt 1

Back on the 19th of October The Badja and I planted 10 garlic cloves into a modulated potting tray following the helpful guide in Carol Klein’s Gorw Your Own Veg book. To be honest all we did was plant a single clove in compost in each module and kept the tray watered well.

And now, only 18 days on they’re all pretty much on the way. We’ve kept the tray on our bay window cill and as you can see the majority of them have not been put off by the chilly last couple of weeks.

Newly sowed Garlic
Recently Sown Garlic

7 of the 10 cloves are certainly making progress and are looking pretty good. They will be translanted outside into our raised bed (to keep the rhubarb company) just before Christmas.

I plan on sowing another 10 cloves at the start of December to hopefully give me an ongoing crop.

I’ve also ordered some broad bean and Iglo cauliflower seeds from the web so I hope they turn up soon so we can get them on the way too.