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Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Treats from Down Under

We get ever so many visitors from Australia, most of whom have seen our programme on TV there.   Most sign the visitors book and have a chat if we are about.

Imagine our delight when the postman delivered this to us today:

 click to enlarge

All the way from Tasmania was a box of chocolates, made in Tasmania and a pouch of 'kangaroo strips' doggie treats for Bess.

No, seriously I kid you not.   The number one ingredient is er, kangaroo.

Inevitably, that too was made in Australia.   Bess has sampled one and has been jumping about the place like mad.

I shall not embarrass the senders by full name but their covering note said this:

"Dear Mark, Pat, Bess and Boss*,
 Thank you so much for showing us your home when we visited Settle in August.   It was truly the highlight of my visit I even bought the T shirt.   You have even rekindled Steve's interest in model railways.
Please find enclosed a small token of our appreciation in return.
Very kindest regards for such wonderful memories,
Gwyn and Steve

*Boss - the cat, of course

Thank you Gwyn and Steve.   What a lovely gesture.

Monday, 18 September 2017

"One of the Greatest Restoration Projects I've Ever Seen"

Spurred on by the deterioration of the DVDs of our TV appearances on Restoration Man I have been doing a bit of web surfing to see if there is anything out there which might address the situation and fill some gaps.

In the process I came across this, a compilation of the best tower restorations covered by Restoration Man.   Somehow we missed it first time round, or had forgotten about it.

Do have a look at:

which covers four tower restorations - ours being the first, as it happens.

Presenter George Clarke is generous enough to describe ours as "One of the greatest restoration projects I've ever seen".   That is mighty high praise considering the dozens of projects that Restoration Man covered.   I am not at all sure it is fully deserved either, considering the magnificence of so many others.   Not least the three other towers covered in the link, some of which encompassed human tragedy and setbacks that we, mercifully, were spared.

Saturday, 16 September 2017

Tornado Blasts By

One of my self appointed jobs in Settle is to use social media to tell the local people, and visitors, about the steam trains passing by.   Today it was Britain's new-build A1 Pacific locomotive Tornado hauling a Birmingham - Carlisle - Birmingham train.

It screamed through Settle at full speed at 1620 today.   This superb black and white picture freezes the speed but the body language on the platform reflects it.

click to enlarge

The trail of white steam betrays the whistle of recognition for Settle.

The Water Tower from Above

This link gets you to a quirky but fascinating short film about the Settle-Carlisle railway from very different viewpoints, not least above and around Settle station

Use full screen, sound and HD if you have it.

The first minute or two has you flying over Settle station - and the water tower.   For the first time you can see the enormous SETTLE  letters on the roof of the tower.

There are some stunning shots of Arten Gill Viaduct and delightful glimpses of a small child experiencing perhaps his first impressions of a wonderful railway from the privileged vantage point of his father's back.   You'll see.

Friday, 15 September 2017

DVDs Don't Last Forever

Discovered to our dismay yesterday that DVDs do not last for ever.   The makers of Restoration Man, Tiger Aspect, had kindly sent us DVDs of our two episodes - the original restoration and the re-visit.   Neither will now play, sadly for us.   Googled it, like you do nowadays, and it appears this is a well known problem - especially if DVDs are left exposed to light.

But all was not lost, our re-visit programme is still on the Channel 4 website at

The link itself may eventually go so I must discover how to create copy DVDs - which will be kept in a dark place for posterity.   Maybe.

All is not lost - far from it.   Right up there on our third floor - the roof room - is a Personal Video Recorder  about which I had quite forgotten.   It makes no noise or fuss.   It just does what it is told.

I looked at its library today and, lo and behold, there was our original Restoration Man programme, and our re-visited programme,safe, sound and very viewable.   In fact it has recorded every single Restoration Man episode - and every Father Ted, and every Foyles War and much more besides - 350 hours of television in all and there are still 117 hours-worth free.

I expect if I r.t.f.m.* I shall discover how to put our programmes onto clean DVDs - to be kept henceforth in the dark.

* r.t.f.m. read the f-----g manual.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

A Slo-o-o-o-o-o-w News Day in Settle

Well, most days are slow news days in Settle actually.

Todays slow news is that we have an energetic slug on a first floor window of the annex.   Outside, fortunately.   Here she is:

enlargement not recommended

Slug photography is not my strong suit but you get the picture.   Anything on windows poses problems of focus for 'intelligent' cameras.

For the record, her name is Slimonella.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

The 4x4 Ferrari's Engine Leaps into Life

Regular readers will know that during the past couple of years I have had three vehicular projects on the go, punctuated with cancer and a busted Achilles tendon.   Both are now history but they have slowed progress on the three vehicular projects.

Today they all met meaningfully for the first time:
click on pic

First there was the four wheeled trailer, made from a caravan chassis.   Today I towed it to the far side of Preston to collect the 4x4 'Ferrari' three wheeler truck from Paul Child - wizzard with Villiers engines and boss man of Meetens Ltd.   Here is the man himself, basking in the glory of having got the 55 year old engine back to life:

40 years of this sort of thing enabled him to diagnose a faulty ignition coil, new HT lead and the wrong carburettor jets, all fixed to perfection.   The engine was, he declared, otherwise good as new with very little wear at all.   His firm has a mountain of genuine Villiers engine parts along with the factory's records of every engine they built - including those supplied to the makers of our Geest auto truck, seen here sitting on said trailer.

The third of the triumvirate of therapeutic wheeled vehicles is the Yanmar diesel mini tractor.   I have equipped this with a front tow ball - a push ball really.   This enables me to manoeuvre the heavy four wheeled trailer to the millimetre - much as you see those airport tugs positioning jumbo jets so delicately.   Not only that it sounds like a canal boat - chug, chug, chug.

Anyway, the three wheeled 4x4 Geest-Ferrari is now very much a going concern, though presently stranded on the trailer whilst I sort out its gearbox:

I think these three projects have been occupational therapy with big boy's toys as a theme.

Our local fish and chip king, Richard, happened past this afternoon and casually enquired "Mark, what the heck's that?"

"Ferrari" I replied, which seemed to impress.   I shall expect Ferrari sized fish come Saturday.

The final drive chain fitted this morning and the gear box works!   It had probably gummed up a bit with standing unused for so long.   Her maiden voyage was a couple of circuits of the station car park.   Great fun.