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Saturday, 24 September 2022

You Never Know Who's Watching

 Mark Harvey is a clever chap and a brilliant photographer.   He has devoted years of his time to meticulously recording and documenting every structure along the 72 mile length of the Settle-Carlisle railway line.   The stunning results can be seen on his SCRCA* masterpiece online.


*SCRCA? I hear you cry.  Settle Carlisle Railway Conservation Area.  The longest Conservation Area in the land and perhaps the most spectacular.   The very survival of many of the S&C's structures is down to the existence, and enforcement of the SCRCA.   Maybe our water tower included.

Yesterday the weather was right for Mark Harvey to throw caution to the wind and climb to the top of Settle's Castlebergh Crag and see if he could get an almost aerial panorama of Settle station.  Here is one of the resulting images:

He would have got a fine view of the station were it not for the late summer trees in full foliage - and a certain enormous water tower.  Still, a fine view and  amazing detail of not just the station but also the houses and industrial buildings behind it.  A 'context view' in the jargon of the SCRCA, almost westwards.

Mark H is meticulous about not infringing anybody's privacy so he scans his images in detail before using them.  At first sight there are no such problems with that picture.  Is that a person on the footbridge though?  Any registration numbers readable?  Looks good.  But hang on, are we sure?  Maybe you can click on the pic and zoom-in to check.  That is what Mark H was able to do with his high resolution original image.  What he found was astonishing.

Not at all obvious at first but is that somebody's head between the roof room and the sloping roof of the tank-top but sunken wooden shed?  It was me, inside the tank, about to make my way southwards along the narrow and deep walkway inside the tank between the roof room and the eastern side of the tank.  Nothing to worry about in terms of Data Protection though.  That narrow sunken walkway was a planning requirement to protect the privacy of a neighbouring garden.  An unwelcome consequence meant that any later maintenance high up on that side of the roof room would involve climbing.  At height.

Zooming in on a slightly later image was this:

One foot on top of a near vertical ladder and the other on a narrow shelf inside the tank.  Hands free I am fixing sealant strip under the roof overhang as part of the campaign to keep flies from having access to the roof room (see previous post).  The operation is not as dangerous as it might appear, thanks to the slender but very strong horizontal continuous railing around the top of the tank.  The railing normally serves no purpose apart from creating a horizontal black line above the tank, one of the clever devices to conceal the roof room when viewed from the ground.   It was never intended as a safety fence but on this occasion (and others) it was - thanks to Settle blacksmith David Clements who did the vertical posts and to Jonathan Mounsey and his men who did the rails in between.  The posts were forged from tank bracing rods and the rails are of immensely strong tubular steel industrial electrical conduit.  Fortuitously.

I remember Restoration Man producer Melissa Mayne telling me that planning requirements and building control insistences could be a toxic mix.  How right she was.

Thanks also to Mark H for allowing me to use this set of pictures.  Bracing myself for thorough tellings-off from daughter Lorna and wife Pat.  Both far scarier than this carry-on.

Sunday, 18 September 2022

Flies Frustrated?

Some of you already know that we have had immense problems with cluster flies getting into and being unable to get out of our wonderful roof room.

Throughout the summer I have been investigating how the little perishers are getting in in the first place. Clearly, flies can get into an enclosed room via the doors when open - but not in their millions.  I took apart the roof overhangs and found 101 ways in to the flat roof space.  It need to be ventilated after all.  Once in there they need to find a way though the ceiling and there are gaps aplenty - most obviously round those inset little ceiling lights.  There is, in cluster fly terms,  a massive gap between the LED bulb and the lamp housing.  I abandoned all of those and replaced them with 500mm x 500mm square flush-to-ceiling LED panels, suitably (I hope) sealed.  That alone may have done the trick but I shall never know.  The lights are brighter and better anyway.

On the outside I have sealed every gap between cladding panels with backer rod (Google it) and roofing sealant.  That just left the half dozen or so round vents in the undersides of the overhangs through which flies could fly with their eyes closed on a near constant current of air if the vents were doing their intended job.

Each of those vents has been inelegantly but firmly sealed with minute stainless steel fly mesh and silicone sealant (lower).

The fly season will soon be upon us and I shall report further. 

Here is a reminder of the scale of the problem - dead flies surrounding the space in a corner of the roof room where a cylinder vacuum cleaner had been standing.

Wednesday, 14 September 2022

A Last Wave

 HM The Queen took her last flight yesterday when the RAF flew her coffin from Edinburgh to Northolt, London.  We sat in sunshine under a near blue sky and wondered if she would pass over us in Settle.  We were lucky enough to be able to connect to FlightRadar 24.  That website nearly became overwhelmed with more than 6 million viewers following the flight.  Our connection held good for the entire journey.  At just 23,000 feet the plane was not laying a vapour trail but the sky-view was clear.

Lo and behold, there it was, clearly visible, nearly over Settle.  My efforts at a photograph failed because of the position of the setting sun but here is a splendid one taken from nearby High Bentham:

And here is the FlightRadar 24 image as she almost flew over Settle.  We gave her a final wave.

Thursday, 8 September 2022

R.I.P. Your Majesty

 The Queen has died.  She has been part of most of my life.  I am proud to be able to say that for just ten precious minutes or so I was part of hers.

Saturday, 27 August 2022

The Folly Garden

 Facebook and the like have their critics but they give me and the World at large a daily dose of wonderful images.  Here are four from today.  These three are of the small but wonderful garden at the back of our old home, The Folly in Settle.  Great to see them now open for anyone to enjoy.  I built that deck and it is partly supported by a1914  Ford Model T chassis!

My one regret about that wonderful place was that you couldn't see the trains.

Heating with Haverland and Just 1500 Watts:

 Today it was announced that the winter energy price cap was way north of £4,000.  That is very serious indeed and people really are at risk of making the choice between heating and eating.  We are thanking our lucky stars that we built the super-insulated extension when we did.  We shall move into it for winter and, based on last winter's experience, we shall be warm as toast.

I have gone into some detail about our heating arrangements on this Blog before,  A huge Victorian unheated water tower posed heating challenges and we made early mistakes.  Biggest mistake was to go for gas fired underfloor central heating via some 23 heating loops.  Costly, impossible to balance and simply inadequate.  We reduced the number of heating loop to just one (the main lounge floor which proves effective in background heating the entire original tower).

We move out of the tower in winter and into the new annexe which is heated by just one single electric heater of 1500 Watts maximum consumption:

It's a neat little wall-mounted thing too (the picture is from their website:

The make is Haverland but there are many others.  1,500 Watts is 1.500 Watts whichever you use.

Set at 20C it spends most of its time 'off' having heated the ENTIRE two-bedroom annexe.

The following are key features of the annexe, thought about and designed in:

1. INSULATION - massive to all exterior walls, roof and floor

2. HEAT RECOVERY VENTILATION (HRV) - a dedicated system for the annexe alone (the tower has its own separate system)


4. SCRUPULOUS ATTENTION TO DRAUGHT ELIMINATION - you still need adequate ventilation but the HRV sees to that.

5. LOW CEILINGS - we wondered about this.  Would it feel cramped?  You don't notice it but you are heating a smaller volume of air.  Flat square LED ceiling panels mimic skylights.  All visitors comment favourably on them.  You can get these with pictures of blue sky and fluffy clouds on them but no!

6. ROLLER BLINDS on windows for use in extreme cold.

7. LED LIGHTS throughout

8. DRAUGHT PROOF INTERNAL DOOR between annexe and tower areas.  Kept closed.

There are also eco-systems or  devices  that benefit both the tower and the annexe:

1. RAINWATER HARVESTING (irrelevant to heating but huge savings on water bills)

2. SOLAR PANELS (16) on a south inclined roof

3. TRIPLE GLAZING to tower main windows

4. EXPOSED (HEAVILY INSULATED) HOT WATER TANKS AND PIPEWORK -  not boxed in to create 'airing cupboards'

5. ALL-YEAR CLOTHES DRYING RACK in the ground floor open-air space below the first floor annexe.  Reduces winter tumble-dryer use.

6. FULL HEIGHT HEAVY CURTAIN between unheated tower atrium and the rest of the tower.  A former set of theatre curtains via Ebay.  Opened in summer, closed in winter. Exceedingly effective.

Wednesday, 24 August 2022

C-errrr-ash in the Night

Things sometimes can go bump in the night anywhere.  The mind races and suspects the worst until the body and the brain agree to let things wait until morning to see if anything is amiss.

Last Saturday night was different.  There was an almighty cerrr-ash! somewhere close by or even inside the tower.  We both heard it and were alarmed by it but neither of us could agree about the location or the probable nature of the noise.  It certainly was loud and very metallic in sound.  It was windy outside but nowhere near gale force.  Triple glazing on the tower's main windows tends to deaden sound from outside so maybe it was inside?

I made an executive decision as befits my place in life and decided that the tower was still standing so it could wait until morning.  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Next morning I searched and searched but found nothing that could possibly explain such a loud crashing noise.   Then I found this on the main lounge floor:

Mystery solved.  One of our two heavy wrought iron chandeliers, suspended from one of the beams which support the tank on high had dropped to the floor below.  Luckily the thing had fallen vertically, not askew.  It had landed fair and square on its six downward projections, one below each light.  This had shared the impact among all six and even the floor was undamaged.    * Half of the light bulbs had survived too.   Luckiest of all it had missed the whopping great flat screen TV nearby.

One link in the suspending chain had failed.   The other chandelier, identically hung, was still in place, threateningly.

Mea culpa absolutely.  I had used plastic metal-look-alike black chain to hang them.  That, combined with the specially bought and strong electrical wire should have been adequate but wasn't.  There's no fool like an old fool.

Straight on to ebay and ordered 5 metres of steel chain, identical in dimensions.  Specifically manufactured for fencing and for hanging.  It arrived yesterday and both chandeliers will be re-hung  today.

* CORRECTION  All of the lightbulbs survived!  They are glassless LEDs and the plastic 'flame' tops of three of them had fallen off.   Simple push-fits so reassembled and now lit - see below