An attempt at writing – and losing weight…

I’ve not written anything for the sake of writing in a long time, so this is an attempt to start doing that. This won’t be a long post, just a bit on my current efforts to get a bit healthier.

I’m currently 95kg; well over what I want to be, and it’s all beer-gut. I’m aiming to lose around 10kg, ideally before I go to Australia in March (and put it all back on!). I’d already decided to “do dry January” as December had been a pretty heavy drinking month and beer definitely accounts for too much of my calorie intake, but for Christmas I handily got a new book “Lean in 15” by Joe Wicks. I’m a fussy eater, but I’ve gone through and marked all the recipes I’m interested in trying out and there’s plenty in there. It’s got exercise suggestions too, but I’ve got another plan around that which I’ll cover in another post.

I spent about an hour preparing a few meals for the week, so far the recipes I’ve tried or have read to try out are:

  • a simple meatball recipe – which really was as promised; 15 minutes for a tasty meal (well, 2 meals – I froze one)
  • Peri Peri fried rice with garlic prawns – albeit I couldn’t find peri-peri spice in Tesco so I Google’d and improvised something along the right lines with paprika, oregano, salt, chilli seeds and cayenne pepper.
  • A steak burrito – though I found this a bit flavourless; going to add something more to it when I try again
  • homemade burgers with sweet potato fries – I’ve prepared and frozen two burgers, I’ll actually try this on Thursday

and the highlight for me; the Build up Bagel. This is sliced roast beef, poached egg, baby spinach and sliced roast turkey on a toasted bagel, with chipotle used as a spread on the bagel. I’ve had this for lunch several days in the past week and it’s really good. I don’t eat greens typically, so the spinach is a “new adventure” for me, but it’s not a problem. No wretching or anything. Here it is (it tastes better than it looks):

Om nom nom, bagel

There you go, a short post, but a post all the same.

Nest v3 Install with Ideal Istor HE260 and HE325

Prime Day on July 11th saw a big drop in the price of a Nest v3 system to £135. I’d been thinking of getting one for a while, so this discount was too good to refuse – especially as I’d received a £20 Amazon voucher from work, so it ended up being £115 of my own money.

It arrived yesterday.  I had a quick look over the instructions that evening and searched Google for help setting it up for my boiler, but I didn’t find anything helpful.  I know they say it’s meant to be installed by a pro, but from reading it seemed it was quite simple once you understood what activates what on the boiler.  It took me a while to get that understanding – but once I’d looked at the back of the existing programmer that’s built in to the heating system it fell into place.

Given I’ve worked it out and successfully installed it I thought I’d share what I did for anybody else who struggles to find the help they need.

My existing system is an Ideal iStor HE260 and HE325 system boiler, and it turns out installation is pretty simple, particularly in my case as I’m using the Nest thermostat on a stand, rather than replacing my existing thermostat in the hall.

This wiring diagram from the manual shows how the thing puts power to the boiler, which is essentially what the heat link will do; it’s a glorified power switch:

The Link on the right brings in the mains to the Programmer.  The programmer then provides the power to the Central Heating and Hot Water as it’s a switch that activates according to the programmed schedule.

Remove the link and the programmer has no power to provide, instead your wire the Heat Link to the CH and DHW terminals so it controls the power provided.

As mentioned, I didn’t remove my old thermostat from the equation, so the caveat above is that the Central Heating power can still be interupted by the old thermostat breaking the circuit.  In my case I’ve just turned the thermostat to maximum, so it will never break the circuit.  The alternative is joining the wires that go to the thermostat, but it’s a bit awkward to get to so I didn’t bother; leaving it as is also makes it simpler to reverse the installation in future.

Tools for the job

Make sure you’ve got everything ready… you’ll need some additional 2-core cable as that isn’t supplied with the Nest system.

  • Everything from your Nest system’s box
  • 2-core cable to wire the heatlink to the mains, and to connect it to the boiler inputs which activate Central Heating and Hot water (DHW or Domestic Hot Water in the iStor manual)
  • Philips screwdriver for removing panels and attaching the Heat Link to the wall
  • Small flat-head screwdriver for electrical junctions
  • Small Philips screwdriver for electrical junctions
  • 55-60mm rawlplugs (they’re not supplied with the screws in the Nest box)
  • Drill with 55 or 60mm drill bit.
  • Wire cutters and wire strippers.
  • Pencil
  • Spirit level.

Installation Steps

  1. Switch off the mains fuse for the boiler and switch it off at the wall too, just to be sure!
  2. Take the cover off the heat link.  Using a pencil mark where you need to drill screw holes on your wall where you’ll be attaching the Heat Link.
  3. Drill the holes using a 55mm or 60mm drill bit and insert your rawlplugs.
  4. Fully-loosen the screws inside the Heat Link on the following junctions:
    – N (neutral)
    – L (live)
    – 2 (Common – the live in to Heat Link to control Central Heating)
    – 3 (Call-for-heat – the live out from Heat Link to your Central heating)
    – 5 (Common – the life in to Heat Link to control Hot Water)
    – 6 (Call-for-heat – the live out form Heat Link to your Hot Water)
  5. Connect the neutral terminal and live terminals on  the Heat Link.  Neutral goes to “N” while live goes to “L”, “2” and “5”.
  6. Connect the output terminals “3” and “6”.  I bought 10m of 2-core cable so used the same one.  Remember which you’ve wired to where, and it’s a good idea to label these at the other end as Live, given the blue isn’t neutral as it might be expected.  I used blue for the Hot Water here, because blue = water, so easy to remember.  I didn’t trim the cable at this point, so as to ensure there was enough to threat it into the boiler as required.
  7. Attach the heatlink to the wall.
  8. Wire the Neutral and Live cable from the Heat Link into your mains switch (also shown above).
  9. Open the top section of your boiler by removing the top two screws at the front on the left and right.  Lift it off.
  10. Unclip the bottom section of the boiler.  Unscrew the screw at the bottom of the plastic control panel, then push the panel up to unclip it and remove it.  (not shown here, as the screw wasn’t attached to mine so it just unclipped).
  11. It’s not necessary, but it simplifies the next bit of wiring if you unclip the plastic wiring clip that connects the panel to the boiler.
  12. Remove the loop wire (the red wire below) from the input terminals.  This was what took the mains feed into the built-in programmer.

  13. Now connect the Central Heating and Hot Water live feeds from your Heat Link; in my case blue was Hot Water, brown was Central Heating.  I’d threaded the cable into the boiler so cut the cable to an appropriate length as I did this.
  14. Reconnect the panel to the boiler wiring clip, then slot the panel back into place.
  15. Reattach the boiler panels.
  16. Attach the front panel to the Heat Link.
  17. Turn the boiler socket on, then flip your mains fusebox switch to power up the boiler.
  18. The Heat Link should power on.  Push the central button to “boost” both Central Heating and Hot Water to confirm it works.
  19. Now set up your Nest thermostat following the instructions on screen.







Alkoholfrei and diet donners

It’s coming to the end of the first weekend of my Dry-A-PhLong month for Cancer Research UK.  So far I’ve had £40 of donations to my JustGiving page – so a good start; thanks to everybody who has donated so far. I’ve also sampled a couple of alcohol-free beers and tried my hand at the Hairy Dieter’s Donner Kebabs.

The Drink

On Friday I had a couple of firsts.  Coke Life (the green-canned lower-sugar Coca Cola) made from liquidised elf, to make it more Elfy. It’s alright actually – nicer than diet-Coke and Coke Zero, though more calories.  I’d have it again.

Erdinger's Alkoholfrei
Erdinger’s Alkoholfrei

The second first (hmm) on Friday, was Erdinger’s “Alkoholfrei” beer.  It was really pleasant – fairly wheaty like Erdinger’s Weisbeers and it had a good beery-taste to it.  I only had the one (rest of the night was cordial and water) but I’ve got three more in the fridge as Tesco had a four-for-£6 “deal” and I figured I was likely to like it as I’d heard good things about it before.

This evening I tried Bavaria’s Alcohol-free “Premium Wit” which turns out to be more to my tastes than Luxury Comedy.

Bavaria Premium Wit
Bavaria Premium Wit

It’s another wheat beer, but much later than the Erdinger; I think it’s much closer to Hoegaarden than the Erdinger.  It’d be a great alcohol-free choice for summer I think; I found it really refreshing.

The Food

I got The Hairy Dieter’s second cookbook from Santa for Christmas and I’ve got about half-way through putting page markers in on recipes I want to try.  I’ve already tried the five-minute pizzas (tortillas, passatta, cheese, pepperoni, season and grill) which was brilliant, and for New Years I made the jerk chicken which was also great.  This evening I tried the Diet Donner Kebabs.  They were delicious, however I’m not sure I’ll make them again – my food processor found it very difficult and much as I love the nostalgia of the smell of Scalextric, I’m less enamoured at it coming from my food mixer; clearly it was struggling with the meat.  I’ve put a couple of them in the freezer for the future though – so at least I will get to have them again; they went really well with some chilli sauce and the Bavaria Premium Wit, actually.

The Mithering

If you haven’t already, please support my fundraising efforts and donate a quid-or-two on my JustGiving page.  Thanks!

New Year, New Connection

I started the migration of my Broadband from Zen to Plusnet a couple of weeks ago – to make sure it was sorted before my employment officially terminates, so I don’t have to pay for the Zen connection.  Well, today the Plusnet connection went “live” – albeit a day early and with a minor hiccup.

I’ve been impressed with the communication from Plusnet – nice and clear emails and text messages with progress updates and clear instructions with the router they provide which arrived earlier this week.

This morning (barely morning really – my body clock is a bit skewed after New Year’s celebrations so I didn’t sleep well and then woke up late) I opened my laptop and there was no connection.  I checked my router and it was an authentication failure.  I tried the bt_test_user@startup_domain username and received a BT IP for DNS – so clearly I’d moved from Zen’s LLU equipment to BT Wholesale’s equipment.  Next up I tried and that had the same result, so BT were all setup for me to connect, but trying the Plusnet details for my own account failed.

The router from Plusnet is a TG582n, with TR.069 used to automatically configure it.  I swapped my old TG582n for the Plusnet one and saw it established a connection to Plusnet, which it would be using to pull down my connection details – sure enough after about 5 minutes it was populated with my new details but wouldn’t connect.  The same thing would happen at Zen if a connection was activated early – everything is set up up apart from the username and password on the ISP’s systems.  A couple of minutes on live-chat via their website on my iPhone and they added the details and I connected without a problem.

Early impressions continue to be good – a nice and fast response to an initial problem and the connection is working fine and at the same speeds (sync’d about 100 kbps higher than Zen, but it’s daytime so I expect it to drop a bit in the evening).

Plusnet connection summary
Plusnet connection summary

I watched the Bojack Horseman Christmas Special on Netflix to test it out, and no problems there – so altogether I’m happy so far.  I’m paying £2.50 per month for an unlimited Broadband service plus £12.99 (paid annually up-front which saved me a few quid) for the phone line which is due to migration on the 16th.  Total of £15.49 a month.  Not too shabby as the equivalent (500GB limit, rather than unlimited) from Zen would have been £48.04 a month, though I could probably have shaved a tenner off that by going for the 200GB service as it’s more than enough for me.