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Saturday, 21 July 2018

Strings Attached

We are lucky enough to have two sun decks on top of the tower; north and south.   This enables us to bask in sunshine or shade right through from sunrise to sunset.   That's OK but summer 2018, so far has been hot, hot, hot and there is more to come so direct sunlight is simpy too hot, as well as too unhealthy.

Each sun deck has a table and chairs - and a parasol to enable instant shade if required.   They are those huge parasols which are fine on still days but in the slightest breeze they threaten to take off.

I think I have solved the problem by equipping each parasol with four guy ropes and tensioners which hold the whole parasol and table system solid as a rock:

We  have very strong railings round the top of the former water tank onto which the distal ends are secured so the guy ropes are well above head height.   You could not do this without four tall securing points near to the parasol - as with a walled patio maybe.  The umbrella has to be raised underneath the guy ropes.  The actual ropes are parachute cord - 4mm diameter, strong and with a slight 'give' to them.   I got a 100m drum of it from a military surplus site on Ebay for about £8.

On the top of each parasol is a large plastic boss with a long bolt beneath it - ideal for fixing the guy ropes centrally and strong enough to take the strains.   Today's parasols have easily replaceable  covers in all diameters if the originals rot or fade.

I have abandoned those winders which are meant to raise the parasols.   They never last.   I did however retain the small pulley at the top of the mast for use with a bit of dangling para cord to assist with raising the canopy.

Obviously, out of season the parasols and ropes will be stored under cover.

This shows the system in action on a cloudy and slightly windy day.   The guy ropes not only hold the central pole rigid. they act as steadies to the erected canopy:

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Place Names

Found this on a curious little website dedicating to drinking tea:

they have captioned it "I think we're in Settle"

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

POTUS Has a New Perch

Our modest contribution to Settle's annual Flower Pot Festival is POTUS (Google it if necessary).

Here's POTUS on his 2018 perch, involving less ladder work than previous years:

Settle's annual Flowerpot Festival is in full swing - see today's Times, no less. Flowerpot POTUS is paying a non-state visit amid allegations that Settle Town Council interfered in US elections. "Why would they?" POTUS told the Craven Herald in an exclusive. He later changed this to 'wouldn't', claiming he had misspoke. "Settle is, and always will be a valued part of the US" he said, later correcting this to Seattle.

Long Delayed Job Being Well Done

The south facing end of our tower has always leaked somewhat when there is a strong south or south westerly wind and heavy rain.   The problem is with holes in the pointing between the roof parapet stone overhang and the tops of the tower wall.   The gaps may be small but the effect is big when air pressure outside exceeds that inside so rainwater draining off the parapets get sucked in.  There appear to have been attempts to cure this in the past with painted on tar but this has failed.   The fix is to scrape out the joints and to fill with modern sealant.

In a gap between illnesses and operations (!) I put up our scaffolding tower over the front door for access.   Then it rained a lot and my succession of medical problems intervened.   The scaffolding has therefore been in place uselessly and unattractively for a year or so.

To the rescue has come faithful and fearless ex-Royal Marine paratrooper Steve (Scouse) Roberts - once again.   He spent yesterday morning fixing the area accessible from the tower:

 He's a bit of a poseur sometimes.   Here he is afterwards having a vape and taking a selfie wearing his 'parachute harness':

Saturday, 14 July 2018

'My' Ambulance Has Been Nicked!

Much excitement os the Dales yesterday.   The (singular) Settle ambulance was stolen from Settle late yesterday - 'my' ambulance!

Details are sparse (sub judice) but it apparently set off southwards towards Skipton, Keighley, Leeds / Bradford with police in hot and noisy pursuit, soon joined by the West Yorkshire Police helicopter from Carr Gate.

Settle really is a barmy place from which to escape by road - connectivity is not its strong point, distances being great whichever direction is chosen.   Tractors, cows and sheep form de facto routine road block risks.

The noisy convoy went through Long Preston, disturbing the natives according to social media reports, then presumably on to Hellifield which since last winter has been pot hole hell, as I well know as an ambulance passenger with a sore neck.   I am surprised its suspension survived.

Then on to Skipton (15 miles) and presumably down the by-pass and on towards Keighley.   At Kildwick there is a big roundabout where the Aire Valley dual carriageway starts so the naughty men would have had to decide between that (and near certain risk of detention) and the old road towards Airedale Hospital.   Maybe the ambulance had homing instincts because that is the route it took.

Maybe the naughty men were strangers to the area and were unaware of the railway level crossing at Kildwick but that is where their joy ride ended in what could have been a terrible disaster if a train had been passing on the very busy Airedale railway line.

They were arrested thanks to the eye in the sky directing ground units.   I do hope 'my' ambulance did not suffer undue damage.   I hope not to travel in it again but I do owe it, and its crews, an awful lot.

Monday, 9 July 2018


Nearly four months since my #neck I can report a couple of milestones;

My #left wrist is coming on nicely to the extent I no longer need my food cutting up into bite sized chunks.   I can also turn the pages of the newspaper without help.   This is broadening my horizons no end.   Thank you, thank you, thank you my dear wife Pat.

I can actually lift light things with my left hand.

I still find raising my head sufficiently to see overhead planes impossible but am grateful to Planefinder for letting me know what is up there.

Walking safely without fainting (now believed to be why I fell down stairs) is still a problem but we are on the case with that one.

A Toot from Flying Scotsman

There is a steam ban on the main line railways because of the lineside fire risk.   Many many people who have paid huge sums of money for main line steam train rides stand to be disappointed.   The ban does not mean that steam locomotives cannot be used at all though;  they must not be used at power.

Operators are putting steamers with minimal fires in their grates on the fronts of trains, with diesel locomotives doing the work from behind.

Yesterday there was The Waverley steam special from York to Carlisle, over the S&C - 'hauled' once  again by Flying Scotsman, no less but actually propelled by a diesel immediately behind.    Here they are passing Ribblehead station on their return journey:

A little later they flew through Settle where I was taking the evening air on the top of the tower.   I raised my glass of red and was rewarded with a famous toot.

(photo Paul Jackson)

and here she was heading north at Settle station:

a bit of black smoke but no exhaust steam despite the uphill climb.   Nice fluffy summer clouds though.