This Christmas I took a very big risk. I bought my darling wife a top of the range, induction hob friendly Paella pan. Made in Spain with Spanish instructions translated into hilarious English but that's by the by (or should that be bye the bye?).
I also bought a Paella pan for our darling daughter and son-in-law. Also risky as a present.
I compounded my crime by getting some paella rice and some saffron. I wrapped them as mysterious presents. Hints don't get much heavier.
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-scratch screen for a whiff of the Mediterranean
Have to say that the hints went down better with daughter than with wife so I sought wise counsel from daughter. Her legal advice was 'Leave it a few days'. So I did.
Yesterday I could stand it no longer but how best to raise the matter?
Then I caught sight of local supermarket Booths' Christmas catalogue in the kitchen. Before I could take time to reflect I blurted out "I wonder if Booths sell frozen seafood?" Subtle as a 3kg bagful of rice.
I got one of those looks which experienced husbands recognise on the instant. The usual wisdom in cases like this is 'when in hole stop digging' but, unable to stand the silence, I filled it with "I could go along and see" which did little to improve things. "If they do, I'll make it" I added pathetically.
That did at least provoke a response. Eyes, rolled towards the kitchen ceiling and with teeth clenched my darling wife hissed "Wait 'til tomorrow evening".
That was yesterday. Today is tomorrow. I shall report further. If I survive.
The water tower is high and dry by a very long way. If we ever flood the country is in serious trouble. Nonetheless the Christmas of 2015 has been disastrous for many people in the North West of England as Atlantic storm Desmond was followed by storm Eva on Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Many communities have been flooded for the third time in the month of December.
Settle has, so far, escaped the worst of it. Here is the river Ribble at Queen's Rock in normal times:
Queen's Rock is the massive glacial boulder centre left. It doesn't look like it but it is the size of a house. This Boxing Day the water was right over the top of it and the trees a little higher up the river were awash, as was the riverside footpath:
With the camera on a different setting, this is a side view of Queen's Rock:
And looking downstream from the Millennium footbridge:
What the pictures do not convey is the sound and speed of the river. All this water, and much more, is destined for the historic Roman town of Ribchester, many miles downstream, which was inundated by floodwater.
Our rooftop weather station recorded 117.8mm (4.65 inches) of rain during the last 7 days.
Full screen, sound on - enjoy. (I bet I know where this is leading)
It is clear that this is a no-expense-spared costume drama of the very highest quality which, if successful, will do wonders for the numbers of visitors to the Settle-Carlisle railway in general - and Ribblehead in particular.
All five apartments have been sold and we look forward to meeting our new neighbours.
Stationside was designed by Stephen Craven who did detailed design work on the water tower and the navvy hut so he was well able to consider the three buildings in the context of one another. I reckon he has achieved an excellent result.
Settle is really looking up so far as its large old buildings are concerned - ours included, in all modesty.
The latest is the former police station - once a very up-market mansion complete with its own ballroom. It was sold for a song quite recently and is presently being converted into up-market apartments. Here's the front - facing Duke Street, the main road through Settle:
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And the back:
Other places to have had the treatment are Marshfield House on Kirkgate:
and Settle Town Hall, simply too big for an adequate picture:
Sutcliffe Buildings, next to The Folly, are being restored and made into affordable apartments:
Meanwhile, right alongside the water tower new apartments are almost finished. I have posted some part completed pictures which looked promising but it can only be a matter of a week or two before they are finished. Watch this space and prepare to be amazed.
A weekend of disastrous flooding in Cumbria and Carlisle especially after the heaviest UK rainfall on record. All railway lines into Carlisle were closed including The Leeds-Settle-Carlisle, unusually.
But this morning our remarkably robust railway line re-opened to traffic. And to prove it here is the destination display on the rather weather beaten but bang-on-time 1348 train for Carlisle:
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The sun is shining and the outdoor temperature is 14C - very warm for December. The flags on the water tower are flying as our little gesture to the flood hit areas further north - Cumbria and Scotland.
Sorry for Blog-silence for a while, but happy to report that I am back home after re-admission to hospital because of a wound infection which seems to have been well and truly hammered with 'aggressive antibiotics'. I cannot speak too highly about the care and attention I have received at #Airedale Hospital - and at the #Townhead Medical Practice in Settle.
I was sent home with a pack of 28 injections, being administered daily by Pat with the utmost skill - hence the title of this post.
I shall spare you the details of my hospital stay, though I could write a book about it, be assured. Just two though:
1. Post anaesthetic / morphine hallucinations are frighteningly real. More power to the police for efforts on drug driving.
2. A gem from a fellow patient who had spent much time as a guest of Her Majesty. "It's easier to get out of prison than it is to get out of hospital". Smashing chap - the sort who would come to anybody's aid if in serious trouble.
I shall always remember one night in Bradford CID when I was with my detective sergeant at a night club 'cultivating informants'. Things got ugly and DS Harvey* removed his watch - always a danger sign. A renowned Bradford villain, built like the proverbial brick thingy-house, but with a sense of right and wrong joined us. "Don't worry Mr Harvey. I'm here with you".
Funny old world.
* Think Beverley Hill Cop. DS Gordon Harvey was the spitting image of DS John Taggart (left), alongside whom I was most definitely DC Billy Rosewood.
Gordon Harvey was a hard bitten detective but with a heart of gold. His hobby was breeding budgerigars.
The gateway to the water tower from the station drive is paved with very handsome granite setts which came from the Goods Yard at Paddington Station - the London terminus of Brunel's Great Western Railway - via Network Rail.
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I was intrigued by this and wondered if I might one day come across a photograph of them at Paddington. Well, I may have found it. The fine picture above, from the Science and Society Picture Library (ref 10442590) shows Paddington Goods Yard in 1925. It shows a GWR A.E.C. delivery lorry laden with Nestle's baby milk standing on what looks like acres of these stones.
Of course it is very unlikely that our actual stones are those actual stones - but they could have been.
Here, as a reminder is a picture from this Blog dated 1 November 2011 showing the then newly laid setts here at Settle:
A cross between Omar Sharif and Benny Hill, he specialises in lower bowel operations, hence perhaps for the wry smile on his face? Now, we've all got a bowel and mine was giving me pain. Those cardboard test sticks with which many of us do unpleasant things every year had been boringly negative for years but I just felt that things down below were not normal.
I went to see GP Bill Hall who, slightly to my alarm gave me a fast track referral for a colonoscopy, based in part on my age but also the half dozen or so tick boxes on his computer.. Good job he did too. It was performed in days by fellow surgeon at Airedale Mr Rajashekhar Rao. Not to put too fine a point on it (and who would?) it's camera and lighting up your bum time. Not many inches northwards Mr Rao said "Uh-oh" and could not get his camera up any further without difficulty. He took biopsies. Sure enough it was cancer and needed removal quickly. We needed to know if it had spread so full body CT and other scans were ordered.
Long story short, Mr Khan operated on me early on 10th November, removed a section of gut plus egg sized tumour then plumbed everything back together. He said it looked to him like a self contained tumour but they would not know until the results of histology tests next week. If not, it's chemo time.
I was out of hospital and home in three days, thanks to Mr Khan and his skill at keyhole surgery.
The whole line was closed recently for some pretty major works to be done (see earlier posts) among which was repair and re-waterproofing of Marshfield Viaduct in Settle. The water tower's water supply pipe which passes over Marshfield Viaduct was to be removed as part of the work.
Cheekily I asked if I might have a bit of the pipe. Contractors Story said yes, sure. Good as their word my slice of cast iron pipe arrived this afternoon - special delivery.
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Making light work of a very heavy pipe are (l to r) Senior Quantity Surveyor Tom Eccleshall, Site Manager Ezra Welham and Scheme Project Manager Dan Jones.
This historic length of pipe shall have pride of place here at the water tower - subject to wifely approval, of course.
Although a bit windy at times the decked area inside the tank proves to have a mild climate in terms of temperature. This year we had a good crop of potatoes and the occasional patio plants have flourished. So, we have decided to really go-for-it and to make this an enjoyable roof garden. Here are the makings:
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Taking advantage of the roof room's floor to ceiling windows we are placing plants right alongside so that they are seen from indoors and will hide the view of the inside of the tank walls.
Sorry about the sideways picture but you can see the effect outside. The plants are reflected in the windows, so doubling their impact. Vertical 3mm stainless steel wire ropes fixed to the slender grey uprights provide almost invisible plant supports.
This picture from 1967 shows the locomotive of a southbound gypsum train from Long Meg taking on water in the up loop at Blea Moor. Some climbing was involved as can be seen. In the background are the two water towers at Blea Moor. There is a freight train in the down loop as well. Busy place.
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The water crane is much plainer than the one now by our tower. Perhaps function was allowed to take precedence over form in the places where it didn't show?
A while ago I put this image on the Blog of the Hoffman Kiln at Stainforth and a close up of its water supply which also supplied the water tower:
Today I had a look to see if the very obvious rectangular water tank was still there - and it isn't. I suppose such a big, remote and open water reservoir would have been considered hazardous.
However, the supply itself is:
This is the approximate location of the old tank - now a fast flowing, plentiful and clear stream. A little way uphill the same stream flows through a couple of iron tanks, gently rusting away. The blue pipe indicates that it has had recent t.l.c. though.
Weather-wise an odd day today with quite dense fog morning and evening but warm sunshine in between. Removal of scaffolding has revealed our neighbouring building on The Sidings:
click image to make it a very big building
Still a lot to do - including guttering, hence the wet walls either side of the central gable but we begin to see that a very fine looking building is 'getting there'.
The end of The Sidings is a bit of a work site across our double gates for now but everything will be cleared in due course.
The cedar roof shingles on our summer house are finished and here you can see that the new building is quite a good way away from our boundary fence - also the stone facing to the buttress walls below our fence looks good. From this angle the new building looks to be taller than the summer house. In fact the top of the summer house is a good deal taller than the new building.
I have been championing the cause of the stone quarries in the Ribble valley connecting to the railway system. I have been something of an intermediary between Network Rail, the quarry owners and local pressure groups.
It has been an uphill struggle. The costs, which fall on the quarry owners, are horrendous.
But today has been a milestone. A physical connection has been made onto the S&C's down main line to and from Arcow and Dry Rigg quarries. Risking being told to go away I was allowed to photograph the points being connected:
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The site of the actual connection - the points are just behind the digger to the left of centre.
This gives an idea of the route the new line will take between the points and the railhead inside the quarry.
And here, inside the quarry, are railway lines and sleepers which will form the three sidings. The Dales roads will be far less congested and the Settle-Carlisle line will start to resume serving the quarries that it was, in no small measure, built for. The connection to these quarries was ripped up in the 1960s - when motorways were going to be the future. Remember?
The apartment block next to the water tower is nearing completion externally. The scaffolding is due to be removed next week so here is the latest:
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Our summer house can be seen top left. A very splendid looking building, stone built and with a slate roof is waiting to show its face to the world.
Meanwhile, the railway is closed this weekend for several major works to be carried out. This is the view from Settle station's up platform looking north. Marshfield Viaduct which crosses Kirkgate by the Victoria Hall is being strengthened and its deck waterproofed. Necessarily this involves lifting and replacing the track. The original Victorian waterproofing is being removed, as is the cast iron water pipe that used to bring water down the line to the water tower.
The big white crane is conveying mass concrete into the piers and deck of the viaduct.
Meanwhile bathed in sunlight Attermire Scar looks on under threatening skies:
I could not resist including this brief clip on the Blog. It shows grandson James (10) earning his corn by opening one of the gates on a gated road nearby when on a trip in the 101 year old Ford Model T Gladys Emmanuel this 'summer'. Turn up the sound if only to hear the magical noise of a Model T engine, sounding like a Singer sewing machine.
You may remember that our magnificent roof room arrived spectacularly under Police escort one December evening and was even more spectacularly craned into position the following day.
This was by far the trickiest bit of logistics in our entire build. We had to coordinate dates between CSi at Hull http://www.commercialsystemsinternational.com/, the crane contract firm, our own builders, the wide load hauliers and, most crucially the film production company, Tiger Aspect. The agreed date, just before Christmas 2011, meant that CSi especially had to work fast to finish the roof room on time. This had consequences for its fibreglass roof, put on in Hull in less than ideal early winter weather. Had it not been for the filming we would probably have delayed its arrival until late spring of 2012. Anyway, the die was cast and the deed was done.
Quite soon it became clear that the fibreglass roof was leaking in parts where the liquid coatings had not properly hardened - resulting in pinhole defects in some parts and exposing the glass fibre matting in others. This had let in water which had expanded the boards below. At the very edges of the roof where fibreglass had been bonded to the galvanised roof edge girders gaps had developed. Nobody's fault though and we faced the prospect of an expensive new roof for the roof room.
These show the sort of problems that were developing.
To the rescue came Polyroof - the national firm that had done the annex roof so very well. http://polyroof.co.uk/ They remembered the annex roof, prompted of course by repeats of our TV programmes. We explained our predicament. Bless them, they agreed to do the job and to supply the materials free of charge. Not only that, it would get a Ten Year guarantee.
Good as their word, the job was done last week by local contractor and roofer to the stars Paul Thornton, in what turned out to be a week of sunshine after this very wet summer.
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On a dull day so that the magnificence of the Yorkshire Dales does not detract from the finished roof, here it is
The edges of the roof have been capped with powder coated purpose made aluminium sections made by CSi in Hull so that the joint between the GRP and the steels is full protected all round the roof.
Both Polyroof and CSi have been exceptionally helpful to us and we feel very cosy underneath our new roof.
Have a look at the sort of work these firms normally do: