A very good afternoon to you all! It is a little while since I offered you any advice, which is very remiss off me because some of you may not be living life as fully as you might without me here to help you avoid any little pitfalls and stumbling blocks along life’s rocky road. Today I wish to discuss domestic problems – not that I have any problems, of course, because I am a living Domestic Goddess, but I have come across a ‘Help’ page in a Sunday paper which answers readers’ questions about household/domestic problems. I felt that the ‘experts’ didn’t necessarily address the problems appropriately, so I felt I should offer alternative solutions. Here are some of the questions that were raised, with a brief version of the experts’ answers (because they did tend to ramble on), followed by my much more succinct and useful answers:
1. My indoor aloe vera has root rot. What can I do?
Expert: Aloe vera dislikes excess moisture or watering. Take your plant out of the pot and remove any soil residue from the roots. Cut any rotten bits with sterilised scissors. Gently tease away any unaffected pups (baby plants growing off the mother plant). Clean, wash and dry the pot. Add a new mix: half soil, half sand. You may add a teaspoon of perlite to absorb excess water. Repot the mother plant in this new soil. Repot any pups with the same half-soil, half-sand mix. Do not water too much.
LSG: Throw it out.
2. I used to have a good relationship with my neighbours, but in the past year they have built an enormous bike shed and a storage shed against our low boundary fence — right under my kitchen window. Then, last week, they built a large bar within a foot of the fence. It’s positioned so that all of their guests can stare into my garden. Is there anything I can do?
Expert: Generally speaking, there is no right in English law to the enjoyment of a view (the expert then rabbits on for ages about tort law, nuisance and a lot more).
LSG: Build a bigger bar that overlooks their bedroom and invite more guests.
3. I recently had the moss removed from my roof. How can I stop it coming back and preserve the tiles?
Expert: Most mosses thrive in moist, shady conditions. Reducing overhanging branches or removing trees to allow sunlight onto the roof will inhibit regrowth. Any work on a roof should be risk-assessed, with appropriate measures taken to prevent falls.
LSG: Get the roof thatched and then the moss will blend in perfectly. Any work on a roof should be risk-assessed – make sure your ladder is long enough.
4. My washing machine stinks.
Expert: Liquid detergent (even biological) used at low temperature does not seem to kill bacteria, which builds up. Washing powders for whites contain bleach, so do a hot white wash (60C) every week. Run a very hot wash with laundry powder once a week. Dry the rubber seal. Use the hottest wash with bio powder. Spray rubber seal with anti-mould or bleach. Keep door open.
LSG: Buy a new washing machine.
5. My wife and I often forget to turn off our bathroom tap. We are 79 and 82. Sometimes we leave the water running for hours. It is a single mixer tap: to turn it on, we lift the handle up, but we forget to push it back down. Is there a device that can remind us?
Expert: The best suggestion I can make is to fit a self-closing “non-concussive” tap, which you press to turn on — the sort you often get in motorway services. They only run for a few seconds unless you hold them down. My only concern is that, as you get older, a push-button tap may be more difficult for your hands to manage. If you can use it, however, it would certainly solve the problem.
LSG: My only concern is that neither of you can cope with remembering to push a tap handle down when you must be able to see/hear the water running, but more especially when your water bill arrives. Book yourselves into the nearest residential care home while they still have double rooms available.
First world problems, eh?