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Exploring Solar Technology

With solar technology you can give your garden several moods in an environmentally friendly way. One of the most effective but most underused garden ornaments is lighting. The great advantage of using lighting means that for a small investment you get two gardens. As dusk falls and lights are lit, the familiar daylight garden is transformed into a second garden - a magical place full of subtle lights and da ...

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Tommy’s Foreword

Hi there. Welcome to another great-value issue of At Home with Tommy Walsh and Handy Andy Kane. I can hardly believe it’s a year since we last hit the news stands but for me, those 12 months have been packed with changes. As you may know, after eight brilliant years I finally decided to leave Ground Force - but you haven’t seen the last of me yet! I’ve a whole host of projects lined up for ...

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A Year in My Life

With the demise of Changing Rooms, life is on the move for Handy Andy - but he's got a whole range of new tricks up his sleeve that will guarantee his place in the public eye. Q: The death knell has sounded on Changing Rooms and you've been with the show since it started nine years ago. Are you going to miss it? A: All good things come to an end but I'm quite sad because the crew were so lovely and we got o ...

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The Loves of My Life

Chilled red wine, Sunday roasts, fast cars and cordless screwdrivers... Handy Andy Kane reveals his all-time favourite things. My favourite book I'm not really a bookie sort of person. However, I have just bought Underground London: Travels Beneath the City by Stephen Smith (Littlebrown, £17.99), which is about hidden parts of London. Did you know that in Eastcheap, in the City of London, there's an N ...

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Loft Living

As more and more people choose to expand their current home rather than go to the expense of moving, they are turning their dusty loft into a source of untapped living space. With house prices at a premium, and the cost of selling and moving home running into thousands of pounds, it can often make financial sense to stay where you are, and utilise lost living space by converting that spider-infested attic i ...

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Build Your Own Home

We've all got a dream home tucked away in our minds - that perfect house in the perfect spot - but it really is possible to make that dream a reality. Building your own home is the perfect way to have the house you've always wanted - at a much lower cost than buying a ready-built home. One of the reasons is that stamp duty is paid only on the cost of the land. You could, for example, buy a plot for under ...

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Trade Secrets

Plumbing is a highly skilled trade but there are some simple jobs you can do yourself and save money on expensive call-out charges. With charges running at between £35 and £75 an hour, calling a plumber to deal with something as simple as a blocked sink or a loo that isn't flushing properly can be very expensive. Luckily you don't have to be an expert to tackle simple plumbing repairs. Bigger jo ...

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Hit the Decks

© Redcover/Ken Hayden Our love of decking shows no signs of abating - and who can blame us? Not only does a deck work well in both traditional and modern settings, it is a great way to add interest to a plain garden. It is perfect for disguising an ugly paved or concreted area and what's more it is the ideal solution to problem areas such as sloping or tiered gardens where a series of raised or stagger ...

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My Life Changing Year

Although he resigned from GroundForce last year, Tommy Walsh is brimming with exciting plans for the future which will see him on our screens in all manner of guises. Q: What has been the highlight of your year? A: It's been a punishing year, but good nevertheless. My four DIY books are now out and they're doing well. I've also completed a DVD called DIY Survival, for GUT Records, which is the first time it ...

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My Favourite Things

Tommy Walsh reveals some of the pleasures in life that really tick his box. My favourite food It's the Irish way of cooking boiled bacon with swede and potato. You cook the meat and the veg together and the potatoes separately. Here's how to do it: Put the meat, which should be smoked or green bacon, to soak in cold water, to get rid of some of the salt. After at least an hour, take it out and put it into a ...

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Andy’s Foreword

Hello everyone! Talk about a year of changes. The first big one was Changing Rooms coming to an end after nine years, which I’m really sad about because everyone I worked with was so lovely. On the other hand, it will also be lovely to spend more time at home with my wife Geraldine and our four kids. Looking back, I can recall making some really wild and wacky creations for the designers. I can’ ...

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I Find Building so Rewarding

Tommy Walsh tells about his love of the job, his hectic life - and a chance meeting with the star of the Full Monty There’s a new generation of budding Alan Titchmarsh’s out there just waiting to get their own little plot - and it’s largely thanks to programmes like Groundforce. Since the last issue of At Home with Tommy Walsh and ‘Handy Andy’ Kane came out,Tommy has been on ou ...

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Create your ideal home

Do you like a cool, calm, clutter free zone and contemporary furniture? Or is a rustic environment with cosy sofas and masses of memorabilia essential to your wellbeing? To get the look you want, follow the tips given in our checklists to create five of the most popular styles around using basic DIY skills. MODERN MINIMAL Less is more for this look but you don't have to live in a city loft apartment to achi ...

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Tiling made easy

Where to start If you're tiling an entire wall or floor, it's usual to start as near to the middle as possible and work outwards.The experts have a complicated way of finding the exact centre by banging a 'chalk line' across it. However, you can get a much easier (although marginally less accurate) guide by drawing two diagonal lines from each corner of the wall or floor to the other. Where they cross is yo ...

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Make hay while the sun shines

Tommy walsh shorts and all, is the first to admit that he's a rather unlikely sex symbol. The much put-upon Groundforce builder has had letters from fans of most persuasions over the years, but the one he recalls with most hilarity came during a period when he was a bit more hefty than he is today. "I used to wear cut-down shorts, when cut-offs were in fashion, which I'd bulge out of," he explains ...

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Take advice from a cheeky chippie

When I use a saw it never seems to cut cleanly and the edges of the wood always seem to be jagged and rough. What am I doing wrong? What I always say is: sharp saw good job, blunt saw bad job, rusty saw ugly job! From what you say I'd imagine your saw is both blunt and rusty, so things are pretty dire and I'm not surprised you are getting rotten results. You either need to buy some new saws or clean up your ...

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Take your time with DIY

This series nobody hated it, nobody went mad.... 'Handy Andy' Kane is literally flying high. The Changing Rooms' chippie has been nabbed by CBBC Education, and has been jetting all over the world to make a series of programmes that will be watched by 10 to 12-year-olds throughout the UK. The Weather, the Place, the People is his latest venture, and it has taken him from the icy climes of northern Lapland to ...

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My planning nightmare

He's one of Britain's best-loved builders, but when it comes to taking on a local council planning department, Tommy Walsh has encountered a level of petty bureaucracy that's quite astonishing - and he's beginning to think it's personal. "For no apparent reason other than sheer bloody-mindedness they have withheld planning permission for over 18 months," says Tommy. "That's bearing in mind th ...

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In twenty years there will be no proper tradesmen

If he hadn't become the nation's favourite chippie, 'Handy Andy' Kane had another career up his cap sleeve. "I was always a confident kind of bloke but if I wasn't doing Changing Rooms and the like I'd have been a successful businessman running my own company," he explains. "I was on the verge of starting up a building company when I met Linda Barker, and the two couldn't run together." ...

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Tommy’s top tips for practical gardening projects

There's only one way to proceed when tackling any kind of building project, whether it's in the house or the garden, and that's to plan it all with lots of care and attention, says Tommy Walsh. For that you need just two simple items: a pencil and a piece of paper. They're the only tools you want while you're at the planning stage, because with them you can design, measure up, order up and cost out everythi ...

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