Daughter Lorna besides conspiring with her mother to get me a new camera for Christmas, gave us an amaryllis bulb. Today, the two came together to produce this spectacular picture, with minimal help from me:
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The camera is a Nikon DS3200 and I am getting used to it. You do have to tell it what to focus on - in this case the flower rather than the trees. Everything else it works out for itself. Brilliant.
Definitely an early sign that spring is just around the corner - Black 5 locomotive 45407 Lancashire Fusilier with the Winter Cumbrian Mountain Express flew through Settle this afternoon en route to Manchester. Here it is passing through Long Preston, just south of Settle. Picture Matthew Stroh.
Nearly choked on my cornflakes so to speak this morning when listening to BBC Radio 4's Saturday Live programme.
Among the people in the studio was Restoration Man George Clarke who was asked if there was any Restoration Man project that had come in on budget and on time. To my astonishment George singled out our project as the one and only that had ticked those two boxes. He went on to say very nice things about which modesty prevents repetition here.
Click on the link below. The whole programme is well worth a listen but our bit starts at 17 mins 0 secs and goes on to 19m 30s
Given the opportunities presented by a big empty box of a building that needed to be made habitable and comfortable we decided early on to embrace what new technology seemed useful and affordable within our budget. Nowadays this often means energy saving devices which embrace emerging technology.
So, we built in
a lift * *
underfloor central heating *
energy efficient glazing where allowed
rainwater harvesting * *
a catalytic flueless gas fire
heat recovery ventillation *
computer wiring to most rooms*
balanced flue gas boiler * *
low energy lighting*
burglar alarm * *
All this is fine and dandy - when it works. Most are so useful that you don't half miss them when they break down.
Almost all of these things have at their core a computer - or computer like circuitry - hugely vulnerable to malfunction, much as your desktop computer. These are the ones with asterisks on the list. Often you just need to turn them off, have a cup of tea, then turn them on again. Re-boot them in other words. Those with two asterisks come with recommendations for periodic 'servicing'.
All in all we have come to realise that we have bought ourselves a lot of trouble and expense to keep this stuff running, let alone the capital and opportunity costs. If we indulged in all the service contracts we would be a good deal out of pocket.
Things came to a crunch a week or so ago when the rainwater harvesting system stopped working. The suppliers Kingspan Envireau wanted £292.96p plus V.A.T. to come and have a look at it. I have to say that they had been very helpful in the past with telephone advice and parts. Not this time though. £300 odd charge- take it or leave it. My pleading that it would pay me to abandon the system and switch to mains water cut no ice. It had been a similar story with the lift a few months ago. No more friendly telephone advice from Evo Lifts.
Well, the internet came to the rescue in both cases.
For the rainwater, I got in touch with the trade body and explained the dilemma. Within a couple of days the problem (with an ultra sound sensor) had been diagnosed and put right at a fraction of Kingspan's price. All credit to the UK Rainwater Harvesting Asssociation and to Edward Daykin at www.ecoserve-uk.com
The lift was fixed, again at a fraction of Evo's call out charge, by local firm Foulds Lifts of Colne http://www.fouldslifts.co.uk/
This is the mid morning train from Carlisle to Leeds calling at Settle at 1030 covered in snow. At this time of year you can tell what the weather is like on the mountain part of the journey. It was been snowing at Ribblehead today for sure.
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The driver has popped outside to get warm. The snow has just started to settle in er, Settle.
And sure enough, this was Ribblehead this morning:
Today was another strike day on the S&C. The trains ran like clockwork but without the benefit of refreshment trolleys, whose RMT members strike remains unresolved. Fellow RMT members, the conductors on the line, went thirsty and flap-jackless. Nothing is ever straightforward is it?
This time the flying picket line was at Appleby station where an angry mob armed with iced buns pressed home their grievance. The buns, sure to crop up on E-Bay soon, had RMT iced on them.
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Centre stage is David Sampson - formerly the trolley supervisor, whose redundancy has caused the fuss. He may have lost his job but not his sense of humour; he used to refer to himself as 'the tart with the cart'. The picture above is from the RMT's website
The shutter windows by Wonder of Wood Ltd of Settle are almost finished. They look splendid and just as importantly they work as intended.
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Now that the latches are fitted and the shutters and seals are airtight we can begin to test the effectivess of our system. So far is is obvious that:
- the whole house feels, and is, warmer
- the main room has become useable in the dead of winter
- condensation on the original windows is much reduced or eliminated as the trickle vents to and from the outside, top and bottom take effect. We can adjust the air flow later in the light of experience.
- the wooden floors extend into the window bays enabling a wider view of the world out there
- they blend in almost invisibly with the original windows
- the inside of the house is appreciably quieter
- the locking mechanisms extend the full height of the windows, exerting pressure against the seals along their entire length
Altogether an excellent result at this early stage.