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Monday, 31 December 2018

Little Darlings

Enjoying the delights of grandchildren this festive season.   The place will not seem the same without them when they go.

Perhaps our re-submitted planning application for two extra bedrooms will find favour.    Please.

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Christmas in Settle

The small town of Settle does Christmas exceedingly well but there comes a time well after midnight  on Christmas Eve when Santa is going about his business and everything stops, relaxes and ebbs away to total peace early on Christmas Day.    We have had the near unending joy of having the family here with us at Christmas - after quite an eventful year.   Early on Christmas Day whilst taking the dog for what is euphemistically called a walk we (me, Lorna, James and Bess) had the normally bustling Settle to ourselves.   Not a soul to see anywhere - really rather eerie if you let it be.   No more words.   Just a few (out of chronological order) Christmas pictures.

The only one requiring explanation is number three which is a bowl of the most delicious sprouts that ever broke wind - sprouts, leeks and bacon lardons.   I did tell Lorna that we managed to bring her up without using words like lardons.   It wasn't all that well received.

click any pic to enlarge

Sunday, 23 December 2018

Flying Scotsman Flies by Again

There was just one passenger train through Settle yesterday but what a train it was!

Flying Scotsman Flies Through Settle

The weather was pretty awful - but atmospheric.   Sound on.

Saturday, 22 December 2018

Google Earth Pro View

Some time ago I downloaded Google Earth Pro - it's free incidentally and I suspect it is just an updated version of Google Earth.   Grandson James tipped me off that the Google view of the tower was recent and you could actually see the name SETTLE painted on the roof.   He wasn't wrong either.   These screen grabs show the tower very clearly and were taken on 30th June 2018, obviously a sunny day.    Looks like early afternoon judging by the shadows:

and yes, if anybody up there is unsure of their whereabouts . . . .

It was a Saturday and there is a rail replacement coach parked alongside DCC Concepts, thanks to the RMT union's ongoing strikes.   The top image shows the out-of-line boundary fence between us and the Stationside Apartments next door.   Not particularly bothered but it does look odd.

Friday, 21 December 2018

Ribblehead Viaduct - Two Facebook Views from Yesterday

This one by Tim Hancock is entitled 'Chasing the Storm'.   A northbound train is seen approaching Blea Moor with Ingleborough and the viaduct in the background.

And here's one by Matt Young, taken from the top of Ingleborough yesterday.   Matt fell and may have broken his wrist when descending but reports that he saved his precious Nikon!

Tuesday, 18 December 2018

I've been Busy (2) - the Explanation

A few days ago I mentioned that I had been busy writing what will be a six page feature for RAIL magazine but I could not say what it was about.   Well, now I can.   The Ribblehead Viaduct has been voted by RAIL readers one of the Seven Wonders of the Railway.   The Ribblehead Viaduct is what I have been writing about - and researching.

Tomorrow's issue of RAIL carries the list of the Seven Wonders and they are:

The Liverpool and Manchester Railway
The Great Western Railway, London to Bristol
The West Highland Railway extension, Fort William to Mallaig
The Forth Bridge
The Ribblehead Viaduct
St Pancras International Station
The Channel Tunnel

We (or Network Rail as owners!) shall eventually get a plaque for display on the viaduct if appropriate or elsewhere.

We are certainly up there among good company.   There was a shortlist of 42 nominations from which the seven eventual winners from which the seven were voted.   Also on that list of 42 was 'the Settle-Carlisle Railway' and 'Blea Moor Tunnel'.   The S&C votes were therefore at risk of being split three ways.   At the final count 'the Settle-Carlisle Railway' almost beat the Ribblehead Viaduct apparently.

Here is a stunning image of the viaduct taken by Bill Lowis a couple of years ago when Tornado was hauling Northern scheduled trains at normal fares.   The crowds on and off the train were phenomenal.   If you click on the image and enlarge it you can see the cars parked on the Ingleton-Hawes road, behind the train.

Saturday, 15 December 2018


At first glance this is an unremarkable picture from the Horton in Ribblesdale RailCamera:

But look at the trees on the left - that is not frost - it is frozen rain, as forecast.

Dubious?   Well here are pictures of east facing and south facing windows of our roof room with frozen rain on the outsides:

.... and for an encore you have to run the gauntlet of ice falling off the tower.

Friday, 14 December 2018

Christmas Cards Season

We've got ours done and the annual 'we didn't send them one' dilemma returns.   I have noticed two developments this year.

1.  Most of the cards we have received have vertical hinges enabling them to be displayed on horizontal surfaces without recourse to the clothes line approach.   This is most welcome.

2.  A minority of cards wish us a happy 'Winter Season'.   I understand and respect the inclusivity but it's JC's Birthday, for Christ's sake.

Our lovely neighbours at DCC Concepts have chosen to use a view from our roof for their corporate Christmas Card:

Being clever at such things they even put Santa and his sleigh in the station car park.    The middle of the three snow covered roofs on the left is their very posh showrooms.    As a thank-you for the photograph they modified a batch of cards just for us, without their logo and with our contact details inside.   Who knows, you may get one!

The world's best model train layout is still work-in-progress at DCC Concepts.   I reported on the arrival from Australia of an 18 feet long Ribblehead viaduct ages ago.   Here it is now:

The string along the bases of the columns is the ground level to be followed when they get to that stage.   Behind the viaduct will be a photographic backdrop of Ingleborough and Whernside mountains.   Already impressive, this will soon be another visitor attraction for the line in its own right.

Monday, 10 December 2018

I've Been Busy

I have spent the last week or so working against a tight deadline to pull together a six page article for RAIL magazine about a subject I cannot yet disclose.   I shall tell all when it is published.   Promise.   I have rather neglected this Blog as a result

Meanwhile I have been toying with an idea for our main, indeed one and only bedroom.   As we were not allowed to extend the tower windows downwards our three bedroom windows are at ceiling level and the effect is rather prison-cell-like.   Doesn't awfully matter as we spend most of the time in that room asleep.

When we were designing the place we hit on what we thought at the time was a bright idea of setting the wall-thick window bottoms at 45 degrees and putting mirrors on them so that a viewer in the bedroom would look right up those tall windows and as a bonus more light would enter the bedroom.   There was a flaw in that plan.   The mirrors, difficult to access and clean, soon got covered in dust, dog hairs and toffee papers.   Instead we covered the lower parts of the windows with frosting film and all has been well.   We got more light into the bedroom but still no views of the outdoors.

So, what is this bright new idea?   During our six years of residence here TVs have become enormous and cheap too.   Meanwhile CCTV cameras have improved beyond belief.   Might it be possible to mount three CCTV cameras on our roof, pointing in the direction of the three windows, each feeding a big HD TV mounted over the frosted panels?   That way we could almost re-create the window views but on TV screens.   As it happens we have four spare CCTV cameras presently doing nothing so just for fun we have placed a spare huge 4K TV below one window and connected our existing CCTV camera which overlooks the station approach to it.   It doesn't just work - it works superbly:

We could be on to something here.   Mega TVs are actually cheaper than windows and a damned sight more heat efficient.   Watch this space.   Our bedroom could soon have electronic windows!

Nobody spends all their time looking out of the windows.    In between times there are HD TV channels to be viewed.

Watch this space.

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Beginning to Feel a Bit Festive

Settle's Christmas kicks off with a bang on Saturday - lights switch on in the Market Place, Father Christmas and fireworks from the top of Castlebergh.

Our old home at The Folly does Christmas well these days, especially now that the north downstairs is an exceedingly posh cafe.   They are using this lovely seasonal picture of the old place:

Off tomorrow to see the surgeon who fixed my neck, for an x-ray and three monthly check up in Preston.

Monday, 26 November 2018

CSi's New Website is a Must-See

The new elements of the water tower were designed and built by Commercial Systems International Limited of Hull.   They are an amazing company which prides itself on its ability to cope with engineering and architectural challenges.   Their facilities in Hull mean they can construct very large things for reassembly wherever needed.

I have only just discovered that they have had a splendid new website, since September - and we feature on it as a case study along with some mightily impressive other buildings and structures. 

Here is our bit:

It is well worth a look-see at the other case studies too:

They put our little job into context!

Saturday, 17 November 2018

Monday, 12 November 2018

Sixties Power at Settle

This wonderful picture dates from the early 1960s and shows one of the powerful Black 5 locomotives of the time about to depart northbound from Settle station.

click to enlarge

The Black 5 has a full head of steam in anticipation of a tough climb up to Blea Moor and beyond, evidenced by the excess steam blowing from the safety valves.   Black 5s were the standard workhorses for stopping trains over the S&C and can still be seen hauling special charter trains to this day.

This particular locomotive was scrapped in 1967.

And a picture of Settle station in 1964.   No footbridge but the water tower looks on:

Saturday, 10 November 2018

Colonoscopy Time

Colonoscopy is one of those things one knows about and which, hopefully, happens to other people.   One of life's medical indignities and if ever needed  buggerations.   I use the word in its most well meant sense.

As colonoscopies go, this morning's was a delight.   This was the final one (I think) to be certain that cancer had not returned and, in full 4K HD I was able to take a trip up where the sun don't shine and see for myself that it had not.   Clean as a whistle, as it were.   Not only that the procedure was done by my friend and saviour Mr Khan - the surgeon who operated on me three years ago.   Bless him, he remembered me and my late sigmoid colon.  A lovely man and a delight to meet him and to thank him again.

Just about everybody who attends the Endoscopy Unit (they look at both ends) is worried about it for all sorts of reasons.   In Airedale's case the tone is set even before you get to the door. 

Finally, not for those of gentle upbringing or a delicate disposition, this is Billy Connolly on the preparation for a colonoscopy: 

Friday, 2 November 2018

Planning Permission Refused

Our application to extend the annex at the rear of the tower has been refused:

To be fair this is not unexpected as both the planning officer and the Conservation / Heritage person had both said they thought the extension was, in two words, 'too big'.

Clearly, we do not want to waste more money on designing something smaller which might still be regarded as too big so we went back to the planner to get some guidance.   The key words are 'in its present form'.   Frustrating though this is, we hope to satisfy the concerns and to achieve what maybe an even better result.

Architect Stuart Green is going to draw up some options that address 'scale, size, location and massing' and then we shall meet with the two planning people to discuss it further.   He is not renowned for letting such things defeat him.   Here are his pods on top of Bradford's Listers Mill:

Thursday, 1 November 2018

Another Furniture Find

Deep within the furniture pile was a set of bedroom furniture in stunningly good condition but slightly out of fashion in that it was brown.   Its quality though is outstanding so we have decided to keep it for the new extension (planning decision day today incidentally).   Two wardrobes (his and hers*) and a dressing table.

Turns out they were made by the London firm of Harris Lebus (1840-1969).   They bear a 1960 British Standard kitemark - remember those?

Here is the smaller wardrobe:

Those shelves bear neat little labels, pyjamas, underwear, shirts etc.

Turns out that Harris Lebus have a fascinating history.   During WW2 their London factory, said to be the biggest furniture factory in the world, was used to make the wooden Horsa D Day gliders and the Mosquito fighter bomber aircraft.   I believe the Mosquito was the fastest thing in the sky for a time because of its light-weigh but incredibly strong wooden construction.   More useful at the time than luxury furniture for sure.

Not just that, they invented and produced Utility furniture, nowadays appreciated and sought after.

* Why are his wardrobes bigger than hers?   That flies in the face of 3/4 of a century's experience of volume of clothes accumulated by the sexes.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Furniture and Effects

For the past year or so we have been host to almost the entire contents of the seven bedroomed Well House, where we lived whilst the water tower was being restored.   Family circumstances have dictated this situation and we await the planning decision on our extension, which will absorb some of the items but by no means all.

The stored items occupied
- one entire bay of the garage / navvy hut, floor to ceiling
- the entire volume of the coal truck
- the summer house
- almost the entire garage loft
- some of the interior of the main tower, especially the utility room and the atrium

Altogether, a big invasion of 'stuff'.   During last week we had a serious onslaught on this stuff, ruthlessly categorising it into keep (for the extension), ship to Pittsburgh (a family outpost), sell, take to charity shop and take to tip.   The ship to Pittsburgh category was in the event nil as shipping costs are absurdly high and the actual number of items in that category was actually low.   The biggest category by volume was 'sell' and it has worked out incredibly well in these social media days.   The Settle Sell and Seek Facebook facility has worked a treat and we have been able to reclaim an enormous amount of space - the garage bay in fact.

Such decisions can have unexpected results.   The dining table below was in the 'take to tip' category as it was so scruffy.   It fell into the 'sell' category when a £10 offer was made online, later upped to £20, unseen.  Then I sought advice from Simon Byrne, who has a flourishing restoration business.   He pleaded that we did not scrap it so I spent a couple of hours wax polishing with Fiddes 'stripped pine' blend of waxes - just right for use on almost any colour.   The first picture below does not do justice to its scruffiness but it does show potential:

click to make that enormous table leg even bigger

and here is the result of waxing the frame and legs only:

The top (which extends) remains to be done but already the results are remarkable.   A quick Google search reveals these things at £600 upwards.   Seller beware eh?

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

George is Back

Lovely meal at The Talbot last evening with Restoration Man George Clarke:

George's busy schedule enabled him and two of his children to revisit one of his favourite episodes after six years.   Off for a trip on the S&C today and to see some of the local sights.   By happy coincidence George's children and our grandchildren are the same ages and the grandchildren are here for half term.   They did not know George was going to drop in, which was a nice surprise for them.

RM relaxes on the sundeck, pretending the sun is shining, after a very hard morning riding on the S&C.   A far cry from paddling about in our wellies inside a rusty old water tank eh?

Bless him, on the way back from Appleby to Settle George put this on Instagram, Twitter etc:


I can’t even put into words how beautiful the Settle to Carlisle Railway Line is. The community volunteers are nothing short of amazing! Add the journey to your bucket list because it’s simply breathtaking. And say “hello” to Mark and Pat at Settle Water Tower if you get a chance #settle

To Appleby and back on the train I was amazed how many people not only recognised him but asked  variously for a photograph / a selfie / a kiss / just to say hello.   I have met people in the public eye who are dismissive of such requests - sometimes quite hurtfully.   Not so George.   He is unfailingly polite, friendly, obliging and modest.   Here is a smashing picture from Twitter during our journey:

Requested by a total stranger but resulting in a picture to treasure.   With selfies George takes charge of the camera '"My arms are longer than yours" he says.


Sunday, 21 October 2018

Now It's a New Boiler

Our Worcester Bosch gas central heating boiler decided it had had enough - just months out of its warranty period of course.   We now have a new one, quite a bit larger, hopefully to cope with the worst of winters in reasonable comfort.   This despite annual servicing.   Its heat exchanger was leaking and possibly had been leaking from the start - we were always having to top up with water as the system pressure dropped.   One wonders why the annual servicers did not pick this up.

The new one has a ten year guarantee, which should see us out, conditional though on having an expensive power flush:

Just about every single electro mechanical device in our 'future proofed' home has needed replacement:

Kingspan Envireau rainwater harvesting - main pump early on and controls not long after

Solar Panels Inverter

Worcester Bosch central heating boiler

Windows - a number of spontaneous breaks

Ethernet wiring - simply not used as wi-fi and Bluetooth have taken over

HDMI TV wiring - not used and by-passed.

TV aerial wiring and sockets constant problems.   Thank heaven for the BBC iPlayer and other channel equivalents

LED bulbs galore.   Fine for energy saving but nowhere near as long lived as the hype would have it.

Aritco Lift - a Godsend when it works but it has let us down (get it?) too often, despite annual servicing.

Vent Axia heat recovery ventilation - still grinding on but expensively troublesome.

The details are in contemporary Blog postings.

A common factor with a number of these items is the lack of an adequate user manual.   Yes, I know you can download them.   If one exists at all it tends to fall short of fault correction user instructions.   Clearly it is better for manufacturers and 'service' industries to insist on call-outs.   Instructions often tell you how to clean something but not how to clear faults.   YouTube can sometimes come to the rescue though.   A good example is the heat recovery ventilation whose air filters need changing quarterly.   A 'change air filters' message appears on a screen.   You change the air filters, a simple matter.   The screen still insists 'change air filters' but nowhere in the manual does it tell you how to cancel the message.   A mere irritation but symptomatic of a common problem.   It is exceedingly irritating for a gadget to stop working, for a screen to read 'Fault Code xxx', for an 'engineer' to travel from Sheffield or somewhere, to press a couple of buttons beep-beep-beep and everything works again.   You pay up and feel stupid.  The lift is a particularly good or bad example of this.   When it gets too many confusing commands it gives up and becomes in need of a re-set.   You can look until your eye balls ache to find an unambiguous statement of how to do that.

As we embark on a substantial extension (still in the planning balance) we are determined to keep things simple, not to fall for sales talk about future proofing and life changing new gadgets.  

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Prawn Layered Pasta Salad - literally

One of the many joys of living where we do in Settle is the proximity to very posh supermarket Booths - a short walk away.   Today we were both busy with this and that all morning so Pat had bought a Booths own-brand 'Prawn Pasta Salad'.   I have had and enjoyed them before.

Imagine my dismay therefore on (with some difficulty) opening the PLPS to find no prawns.   No, this cannot be I assured myself.   They must be buried under the lettuce, pasta and so forth.

I dug and I dug but no.   No prawns.   In a rush for a quick lunch I batted on and after a few disappointing forkfuls I discovered a prawn.   Singular.   Maybe that was it - it was a PLPS, not at PsLPS.   So delighted was I, I took a photograph of said prawn:

There he is - centre stage.   His name is Edwin and he looks lonely don't you think?

I bottomed the plastic dish and have to admit that I discovered another 1 1/2 prawns (Ethel and Wil.)   So that was it - 2 1/2 prawns.

I promise I polished off the lot and my prawn count was thorough.   Pleased though to read that it contained responsibly sourced prawns.

For now I am blaming Brexit for this outrage but in fairness I shall give Mr Booth the opportunity to make amends.   Watch this space.

This Space

I did what it said on Booths receipt and filled in a long questionnaire.   Then, nothing.   No acknowledgement.  No thank-you.  No 'we'll take it up with our supplier'.   Just nothing.

So, we took the documentation to the Settle store and were refunded the purchase price.   

Well Booths, the Co-op do these things better and cheaper y'know.   There's more than one fish in the sea - and more than 2 1/2 prawns in a Co-op Prawn and Pasta Layered Salad.

Sunday, 14 October 2018

Happy Birthday to Me

I was born on the 15th of October umpty tum.   The year is a secret but there was a war on.   This birthday is precious as I nearly didn't live to see it.   It is now six months since my big fall and I feel really well along the supposedly 12 month recovery period.

Six months is quite a while yet the remnants of the Get Well flowers from the Restoration Man producer Melissa Mayne are still giving pleasure:

Here they are in the lounge with the Restoration Man black book and a water tower postcard in the foreground.

Bless them, daughter Lorna and grandsons James and Ben came all the way from Gerrards Cross to visit us this weekend.   Not the best picture in the world but here they are tucking in to my pre-birthday dinner:

Later we all enjoyed a super coffee icing birthday cake 75% covered in candles.   Damn, that may have given the game away.

Monday, and now it really is my birthday.   The sun is shining too.   Loads and loads of social media messages.   Pressies too.   What can you get for a 75 year old hoarder who has already been given everything?   The challenge was well met:

 a bunch of coins including a 1943 half penny.   You would have thought they might have used the copper for Spitfires in 1943 wouldn't you?

an i phone charger and lead.   You cannot have too many of these especially when you have grandchildren.

a bumper box of 4 x 500 piece jigsaws of scenes from the forties.

and an exercise cycle.   This is the very latest type with presumably magnetic resistance to the pedals, it really does simulate the real thing.   It has electronic read outs showing your pulse, mileage, calories expended and probably the FTSE 100 Index if you know what buttons to press.   I spent much of the morning assembling it.   Any born-again child knows that the best gifts are the ones you can actually play with.