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Saturday, 25 October 2014

The Family Fly Over - Literally

Daughter Lorna and grandsons James and Ben are, as I write, on a plane between Heathrow and Chicago, en route to Pittsburgh to meet up with Alan.

Being a fan of I decided to follow their American Airlines flight from Heathrow.  I saw it take off and gain height over the Midlands.   By the time it was over the Peak District it looked to be heading straight for Settle.   Sure enough:

click to enlarge

This remarkable 'screen grab' shows the route of AA99 flying up the Settle by-pass at 32,000 feet!   The red line is the actual flight path.

We did wave from the top of the water tower but there was some cloud cover and we did not see the plane.  But we heard it.

Transatlantic flight paths from Heathrow often come our way but this morning's AA99 scored just about a direct hit.   Lorna knew I would be following it.   Probably a coincidence but I wouldn't have put it past her to mention it.

Thursday, 23 October 2014


Two of our systems have had problems recently - the lift (Evo Lifts) and the rainwater harvesting (Kingspan Envireau).   Both had failed entirely.   Neither was a big problem as both had alternatives - the stairs and the mains water supplies of course.

Nonetheless here we were with expensive systems that did not work and they concentrate the mind on the whole question of servicing - very expensive if you go for maximum packages and not guaranteed in every case to avoid expensive repairs.   The dilemma is that of buying some peace of mind through service contracts or dealing with faults ad hoc as and when they occur.

The Lift
This has given problems from the outset.   The make is Aritco, made in Sweden and supplied by Southampton firm Evo Lifts.   The people who fitted it and who would be needed for service and repairs are in Sheffield, which is a long way from Settle.   

Lifts are complicated things with many electronic safety devices designed to fail quickly and safely when they detect the slightest error.   The risk of failure is high therefore and the opportunities for self help are limited.   Evo Lifts charge £202 + VAT for a service + £75 an hour + VAT for anything over an hour.   Steeper than our stairs.   Having talked me through various unsuccessful self-help options to get the lift going they withdrew telephone support saying they

"will not be able to give any technical support (to a local engineer) unless they are an approved distributor which I don’t believe they are.... so I won’t be able to assist him any further over the phone."

That, following a great deal of very helpful and much needed telephone support in the past didn't seem to me to be exemplary.   A pretty poor do in fact.

The lift has been most efficiently repaired by local firm Foulds Lifts (est 1907!).   Their annual service charge would be £60 + VAT   Happily therefore we have found a local firm with many Aritco lifts already on service contracts.

The Rainwater Harvesting System
Kingspan Envireau are based in Northern Ireland and their telephone help line is beyond reproach.   Concerned, friendly and effective.   What turned out to be a serious and fundamental problem with the system was diagnosed after a very detailed set of tests that I was able to carry out involving numerous telephone calls all handled with great patience and concern for the customer.   A service call charge of £280 + VAT would have applied had Kingspan Envireau insisted on that course.   That represents a lot of mains water before it is cost effective.

Well done Kinspan Envireau.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Pannal Water Tower Planning Decision

Remember Maj and Carol Nadry and their amazing water tower project at Pannal?   They bought their tower at auction just days after seeing ours on Restoration Man.

Our neighbourly planning hurdles were as nothing compared with theirs.   Pannal is a seriously posh and wealthy part of Harrogate which over time has spread into what was farm land.   The sprawl was getting ever nearer the water tower and the locals were troubled that people were about to live in what was an industrial eyesore within their precious view.   Specifically, an earlier planning decision called for the then rusty and rotting tank to be removed.

Work on their tower had been at a standstill until this issue was resolved.   Well, this week it was resolved when the entire planning committee heard both sides then, crucially, paid a site visit.

When they saw, as we have seen, what a magnificent job was being done at the Pannal Tower they approved the retention of the tank UNANIMOUSLY.

Building work has re-commenced.

A triumph for these lovely people who have been putting their hearts, souls and hard earned money into this stunning piece of built heritage.

We had just one neighbouring property owner to contend with.   Maj and Carol had to defend against an orchestrated campaign within an entire neighbourhood.   It would be good if their neighbours accept things with good grace and give support for this project, get round there and have a look for themselves.   Everybody will feel better.

You need to tune in to Restoration Man when the Pannal Tower episode is shown eventually.   Watch this space.

Sunday, 5 October 2014

Mike Harding on Trains

You really must have a listen to this week's episode of the Mike Harding Folk Show, only a click away:

An Hour of Mike Harding on Trains

Solid nostalgia on the trains theme.

Mike (the Rochdale Cowboy) Harding had a weekly show on Radio 2 until recently.   Now, he has a huge audience on the web.   He is a great supporter of the S&C and lives in Langcliffe, just up the valley from Settle.   At the time the line was under threat he was at the peak of his fame and did a super TV programme about the line and its seemingly inevitable closure.   He popped round to the water tower recently and gave me his own VHS copy - now safely housed in the S&C archive.   We now know that the public outcry and the publicity was a big factor in the decision to reprieve the line.