Thursday, May 3, 2007

Village Carnival Float 2007

Well, it's that time of year again.

The Wood family are thinking of entering the village carnival with a float of some sort... see archive blog for details of our previous walking versions and last year's trailer effort.

I'll keep you up to date with our plans for this year (Carnival is in mid-June) as they happen...

Emma persuaded someone on the Carnival Committee to let us know what the theme is for this year, as they held their planning meeting last night. I was hoping for TV Programmes, as I had plans to create a working Dalek or two plus a r/c K9, but it isn't to be! The theme is...


Had lots of thoughts and found an enormous number of terrible nursery rhymes.

Here's my list:

One plan I like is 'See Saw Marjorie Dawe'... I have a vision of building a big seesaw from planks (I've an idea of where to borrow these), mount it on wheels with a big and a small son on either end, seesawing as Emma and I pull the thing round the village on ropes/harnesses.

Emma's not convinced.

We also liked the idea of 'Rub a dub dub, three men in a tub'... I could line the car trailer, fill it with water and have three boys at a time dressed as butcher/baker/candlestick maker (costume?!) with props, sitting in the water. Trouble is, for the past few years we've had water conservation issues in the village and I might get some stick if I did this!

Joshua (5) likes the idea of 'Hickory Dickory Dock', but mainly because he wants to dress up as a mouse. I can't quite see how I can build a grandfather clock that won't topple over, so I'll work on some mind control techniques with him...

'Flying Pig' is out (Pink Floyd we ain't); 'How much wood would a woodchuck chuck' might be a goer, if it weren't for the health and safety aspect preventing us from throwing lumps of wood at the onlookers.

More thinking needed perhaps.


I might be able to construct a house on Tim's toy electric Jeep... Lots of scope for fancy dress on us all...

This is the house that Jack built. (that's the main thing)

This is the malt, That lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the rat,
(Joshua could be a rat instead of a Mouse)
That ate the malt,
That lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the cat,
(that's Daniel sorted then)
That chased the rat , that ate the malt,
That lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the dog that worried the cat, (one for Tim - Oliver will be driving the house)
That chased the rat , that ate the malt,
That lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog , that worried the cat,
That chased the rat , that ate the malt,
That lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the maiden all forlorn,
(tailor-made for Emma!)
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog , that worried the cat,
That chased the rat , that ate the malt,
That lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the man all tattered and torn,
(that'll be me then)
That kissed the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog , that worried the cat,
That chased the rat , that ate the malt,
That lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the priest all shaven and shorn,
(or this, perhaps...)
That married the man all tattered and torn,
That kissed the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog , that worried the cat,
That chased the rat , that ate the malt,
That lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the cock that crowed in the morn,
(family carnival, so we'll skip this)
That waked the priest all shaven and shorn,
That married the man all tattered and torn,
That kissed the maiden all forlorn,
(hmmm... being the 'man, all tattered and torn' seems more appealing now)
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog , that worried the cat,
That chased the rat , that ate the malt,
That lay in the house that Jack built.
This is the farmer sowing the corn,
(That's one for Tim, rather than a dog - easier costume to make!)
That kept the cock that crowed in the morn,
That waked the priest all shaven and shorn,
That married the man all tattered and torn,
That kissed the maiden all forlorn,
That milked the cow with the crumpled horn,
That tossed the dog , that worried the cat,
That chased the rat , that ate the malt,
That lay in the house that Jack built.


We've decided upon 'This is the house that Jack Built'.

Our spies tell us that the village First School is doing 'Sing a song of sixpence' and someone said the village police are doing '3 little pigs' but, since they were year 8 Boys, I don't believe them.

Oliver decided to break his hand at school today, either in PE or punching Tim. not sure. He broke his arm last summer while we were float building so this was only to be expected. We're aiming for an ankle or leg next year.

Cleared the garage ready for building the float. Discovered lots of lost treasure. Ebayed some, which will pay for any costs involved in building the float.

Went to Homebase to buy a few bits of wood. Managed to get a discount as some of the pieces were straight. also got a few little metal brackets which I think will be needed if the house is to last the trip round the village.

Got the Jeep out and tested it. After being half concealed under a tarpaulin during the winter it worked first time (after charging the battery). Oliver test drove it first but is really growing out of it. Joshua and Daniel took turns driving it up and down the lane and had a great time. Shame I'm going to have it locked in the garage for the next couple of months!

Started building the frame. It all went rather well. I even bothered to pre-drill pilot holes in the wood to prevent it from splitting. It still split though.

Built the 'A' frame top bits surprisingly easily and stood back to admire my handiwork.

Spotted that it is too tall to get out of the garage. Bah. Still, I can lift the frame off the car (only held by nylon ties) and it should go out, to be assembled in the driveway on the day of the carnival (9th June).

I plan to cover the frame with the same rolled card I used for the Titanic 2 years ago, assuming the local Resource Centre still has stocks. I may also see if I can obtain some rolls of brickwork wallpaper from somewhere. Might try '' which has been great for offloading unwanted stuff without dumping it - check it out, it's great! About time I got something back from the network.

Got to work out how to build a robust fireproof chimney as I want to have real smoke coming from it. Now, do I use my disco smoke machine (not used before as it needs 240 volts, but with my inverter from last year and a 12 volt battery, it might work!), or plumber smoke pellets like for the Titanic...?

I plan to decorate the sides identically, so that there's a door and pair of windows on both sides, so viewers on both sides of the streets will get the full effect. Also need to work out how to put the sign on the house. Might do a 'FOR SALE' style sign saying 'THIS IS THE HOUSE THAT JACK BUILT' with 'THE WOOD FAMILY' as the agents.

Did a bit more work on the frame to make it more stable (but without the horses). Built the chimney and made sure smoke etc wouldn't enter the house and gas Oliver as he drives it.

I added a baseplate to help prevent Oliver getting
burning smoke pellets dropping down his neck.
Fortunately, the carnival is before July 1, so
I can happily allow smoke in the house.

Sourced some wallpaper...

They sent me a free A4 sheet to check it out and it's perfect! I need 2 rolls, at £8.95 each (less 10% for being a new customer). I wonder if I know enough people to order 273 free A4 samples to cover the house with...

Better idea. I've got some old Tube maps and Scout badges that I'll pop on Ebay and, in a week, perhaps they'll cover the bill.

My mate Dave suggested a nice finishing touch (eventually)... a wind turbine attached to the Chimney, a la Dave Cameron, would look great.

I'll enjoy building that, I think.

Perhaps I've got an old poundshop fan or motor knocking around somewhere...

Just about completed the frame... need to add a door frame now.


Built the door frame and started covering the frame with card. Need to visit the local resurce centre as I've run out. Badges etc selling well on ebay and so far have covered the cost of half a roll of brick wallpaper.

11th APRIL

Ebay items selling well... soon going to get enough money for the wallpaper... and hopefully the smoke pellets too!

16th April

Brilliant - made about £25 from Ebay selling to fund the wallpaper and smoke pellets. (£21 plus small profit on postage).

£8.50 for a Bear Grylls book (plus £2.50 postage)... but you can buy it at amazon for less... ho hum!

Found some smoke pellets on Ebay and bought them with my profits... £9 inc postage... want to check they are good enough... I'm sure the last lot I got lasted for 60 seconds.


Also bought these, as they seem much better, but more expensive. Will do field trials in the garden when the neighbour's washing is out:

EACH SMOKE PELLETS WILL BURN FOR APPROX 65 SECONDS (Light with match or standard lighter let the pellet do the rest) 25m3 of dense grey/white smoke

17th APRIL

Must start thinking about Joshua and Daniel's part of the float. I plan to build a shed or house onto the two-boy bicycle trailer we have. Emma can then cycle in the parade. Had a brainwave - Daniel still has a large cardboard house he got for Christmas and which he wouldn't let us chuck away (We persuaded joshua to lose his one by letting him set fire to it in the garden last month, but Daniel's more possessive!). The four boys are now going to finish decorating the card house themselves and I'll put a sign, on it saying something like "And this is the house that Daniel, Joshua, Timothy & Oliver built" - snappy, huh? Will save me heaps of work - just some Duck tape.

Bought some pearl barley for Tim the Farmer
to lob around as we walk around the village.
Oatmeal would've been cheaper but Tim didn't
want his hands to get dirty. These were 39p/bag.

18th APRIL

Got to visit the Resource Centre on Saturday as I've run out of card... Covered 75% of the house. Also, I hope the Resource Centre has some free paint - I need gloss brown for the roof to help it be a bit waterproof in case it rains on the day.

Tested the smoke pellets... the smaller ones last for about 40 seconds so 100 will do just fine. I wonder if I can dismantle them and stick them together so they last for 5 minutes...?

Built the main part of the wind turbine - it's GREAT! self-contained, battery-powered... ready to mount on the chimney when it's papered with brickwork paper. Then I've got to make the turbine's vanes - going to use plastic foamex display board... you cut it to shape and then, I discovered (by watching the doctors use a similar material for Oliver's broken hand splint), you pop it in hot water and you can mould it. It then cools rigid!

The card staple-gunned on easily to the perfect frame!
...then I ran out of card. :-(

Look - a door that really opens!
So Oliver can get in and out.

19th APRIL

Flogged some more old Scouting books on Ebay - there are some rich/gullible Scouty folk out there! Got another £60 in the float kitty! Might buy some more smoke pellets as I really like them...

20th APRIL

Yay! The Wallpaper's arrived - looks perfect... might start papering at the weekend.


Busy weekend but great weather, so hauled the house outside the garage for some serious work while Emma did some gardening and the boys fought.

Went to the Resource Centre and found a FREE 5 litre tin of Victorian Red waterproof masonry paint - absolutely perfect! That's the roof sorted out... and the doors. Also picked up another 20m of the card.

Also found a leftover can of high-tak spray flooring adhesive. Thought that might be more fun and quicker than wallpaper paste, and neater than staple guns for doing the brickwork. We shall see.

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Moved it outside for some working space as it was so sunny.

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Covered the whole thing in card.

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There's the door - Oliver can just about get in.

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Site of proposed window, with artist's impression of nervous Oliver driving.
I had spent ages trying to work out how to build a frame for the window.
Then I realised I should just cover the whole end and cut the window out!

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Perfect... the boys seem to like playing in it too!

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On goes the first of two coats of paint. Goes on like a dream!

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If only real wallpapering was this easy!

That spray glue was brilliant - really strong but let me position it before setting like concrete.
Only trouble is that doing the corners, you get streams of very sticky gob flying around, like that spray string stuff, only VERY sticky. The sort of stuff Spiderman probably uses.
Major issue is that the sticky gravel where it landed stuck to my shoes and I kept walking stones indoors... and increased my weight by a few pounds.
I hope next door's cat recovers from its, erm, roll in the gravel.

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Two sides took about 15 minutes to do.

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All done!

I need to add some fascia boards to hide the join between the roof and the walls. I've got lots of stiff white card strips from the Resource Centre which will be ideal.

I'll also need to add a skirt of cloth to hide the gap when the house is mounted back onto the Jeep.

Tested the chimney with a smoke pellet - seems to work!


Moved blog to this site as the title is a bit more descriptive! Spent the morning teaching a class of Year 8 kids at Tim's school all about magazine/newsletter production. Reminded me why I never became a teacher. Lovely little people. Found out that the school is doing 'Humpty Dumpty' in the carnival, but they're coy as to which teacher is playing the lead part.

Had an e-mail from someone confirming that we've entered okay for the foot party part of the procession so all seems to be in order.


Created an impressive smoke pellet holder thingummy in 5 minutes, using a glue gun and a length of board. This will sit in the chimney. All I need do is put my hand with a cigarrette lighter through the hatch and light one at a time... solves the problem of the lighter blowing out as happened before.

3rd MAY

Cut up some white card and started adding details - looks pretty smart really (in my opinion)!

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Did the sign...

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And got the wind turbine working...

5th MAY

Stuck on the windows - they look okay! I've one more to copy off and add by the front door. 'For Sale' type sign erected safely - that and the turbine are detachable so they fit in the garage.

Still not checked to see if it will fit in the trailer for transportation to the Carnival start point.

Minor problem on my patented smoke capsule board. Too big to fit in the chimney - I can't reach the top half! Cut it in half and popped one half inside. Rest will be in my pocket.

Re-did the chimney so it looks more authentic on the top with a round bit, made from a Resource Centre pot, painted. Tried it out and lots of smoke comes out of the gaps, so used some old bath sealant to fill the gaps. Had a family viewing of the thing so far...

Want to do a sign for the door... and pop a doorbell on. also, decided to have some music after all. It'll be 'Our House' by Madness playing on a loop. will use car battery and inverter from last year, placed in the Jeep with Oliver.

6th MAY

Had a brainwave... in previous years, the 12v battery for the Jeep has given out just as we finish. If I've got an additional 12V car battery running the inverter for the stereo, can I link up the batteries so that the car battery also powers the Jeep? I think it's called wiring it in parallel... anyone out there reading this able to give me a clue on how to wire this? My usual e-mail or thewoodfamilyfloat [at] gmail [dot] com (or Gaz me via B3ta).


Made a lovely sign for the front and back door...

ahhh... the joys of bronzeworking (ie Photoshopping).

17 May

Here's Joshua and Daniel's house... mounted on their bicycle trailer... I'll possibly add a similar skirt to it that I'm adding to the main one.

30 May

One week to go! Had the Carnival Programme delivered today... we're entered alongside lots of other walking parties and have our names down as winners of 'most entertaining float' in the main section for last year. We've never seen our name on the cup though - the carnival folk forgot to engrave it and took it from us in Feb/March to engrave it and that was the last we saw of it!

Anyway, I built a rather clever (though I say so myself!) method of lighting the smoke pellets and dropping them into the chimney through the trapdoor with one hand, rather than the fiddly two-handed affair last time... click the video to see it in action...

1 June

Found the long-range forecast for the carnival... bah!

3rd JUNE
Had a test drive this morning... works well, although Oliver has very restricted view from inside the house and practiced crashing very well. Realised it's too big to go on the trailer so the morning of the Carnival will be spent rigging some way of getting it to sit securely on top of the trailer!

Tried to site the music player on the back of Emma's bike but it interferes with her sitting down a bit So it may go in the front basket to really annoy her.

Grabbed a bargain Priest's outfit on Ebay for 99p. "One size fits all"... we shall see! Not sure I'll be able to walk quickly in it, judging from the pencil-skirt design! Hope it arrives by Saturday. (remember, I'm the 'priest, all shaven and shorn'!)

Made a corn bag for Tim to put his corn in. Tim (13) was concerned I had miss-spelled the word 'corn' on the bag as I guess he was looking forward to distributing something else...

7th June
Two days to go...Not received my Priet's outfit yet. got this e-mail though:

Hi David , I was supposed to have sent you a Priests costume , I did , the
problem is that due to my own labelling error the package has been delivered
back to the sender (me) and not to you , Do you still want this ? The
soonest i can send it again is tomorrow morning which i will do anyway
unless you instruct me otherwise before then .
Sorry Nick

I pleaded for first class special delivery posting Friday so might arrive Saturday, although our postman rarely bothers delivering post to us on Saturdays.

Weather forecast keeps changing from odd scattered showers to blazing sun all day.

GOOD NEWS: My chum and neighbour Bob bumped into Emma this morning and rashly offered to help transport the float to the start. I was straight on the phone and he's coming with his employer's long wheelbase van. We plan to pop the 'Jeep in first, then lift the house in behind it - avoids the use of ramps. He's a star - saves me a BIIIIG headache!

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