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Saturday, 28 July 2018

Thunder at Last

Towards the later days of the 2018 heatwave we have seen news reports and pictures of spectacular thunderstorms elsewhere in the country.   Thunderstorms do tend to be rather isolated and showery so it is all a bit hit and miss.   This afternoon we had our very own thunderstorm so daughter Lorna and I decided to go and sit it out in the roof room, in the middle of the action so to speak.

We were not disappointed and had a lovely hour of daddy and daughter time whilst savouring the storm and pestilence.

Then the sun shone so we went to the cool of downstairs.

Bess the dog obliged with this lovely 'after the storm' picture.

click to enlarge

Since my brush with death I spend happy morning hours in that chair doing the Telegraph crossword and watching the world go by.   The dog appreciates the ceiling to floor window too and has become quite a local talking point.

Besides doing a heroic amount to work around the house for her ageing parents and doing a 10km run Lorna has taken some super Settle photographs on her iPhone.   Here are just two:

Did somebody mention the word walk?

This has been a parasol free post.

Friday, 27 July 2018

Simply the Best Perch in the Dales?

The heatwave has been tamed with the successful installation of the orange parasol to the south end of the tower.   Within reason it is immune from the effects of wind gusts.

It is undeniably visible from The Sidings but not when, most of the time, it is furled shut.   Even when open the sheer bulk of the tower dominates the view and distracts the eye:

Parasols on an industrial estate?   Whatever next?   Neighbours DCC Components have created an oasis of relaxation in what used to be a pretty unlovely area.

From the station drive the parasol is invisible.

Tuesday, 24 July 2018

Neck Surgeon Happy

First post operation outpatient appointment yesterday with my neck surgeon Mr Ansar at the Royal Preston Hospital.   He will keep me under review for two years and yesterday ordered a neck x-ray.   I shall try to get a copy to satisfy the curious (me included).

He showed me the post-op x-ray on his screen - lots of metalwork but very neat indeed.   He secured a metal hook to the topmost vertebra, the Axis or Cervical 1 - not to the base of the skull.   That left the Axis vertebra to do its job of enabling the skull to rotate on it so I have a good deal of head movement now - and increasingly so.

There was essentially nothing left of C2 below so wires connect C1 to C3 and 4 which are plated together.   Clever, delicate and life saving stuff.   He was at pains to convey to me that I had been 'very seriously injured indeed'.

I shook his hand warmly and shall see him again in three months.

With all her visits to see me at the Royal Preston Pat knew her way around.   She pointed out to me the Emergency entrance where I had arrived at the dead of night on April 10/11.   I don't remember a thing but perhaps its design explains my recent obsession with parasols!

Saturday, 21 July 2018

Strings Attached

We are lucky enough to have two sun decks on top of the tower; north and south.   This enables us to bask in sunshine or shade right through from sunrise to sunset.   That's OK but summer 2018, so far has been hot, hot, hot and there is more to come so direct sunlight is simpy too hot, as well as too unhealthy.

Each sun deck has a table and chairs - and a parasol to enable instant shade if required.   They are those huge parasols which are fine on still days but in the slightest breeze they threaten to take off.

I think I have solved the problem by equipping each parasol with four guy ropes and tensioners which hold the whole parasol and table system solid as a rock:

We  have very strong railings round the top of the former water tank onto which the distal ends are secured so the guy ropes are well above head height.   You could not do this without four tall securing points near to the parasol - as with a walled patio maybe.  The umbrella has to be raised underneath the guy ropes.  The actual ropes are parachute cord - 4mm diameter, strong and with a slight 'give' to them.   I got a 100m drum of it from a military surplus site on Ebay for about £8.

On the top of each parasol is a large plastic boss with a long bolt beneath it - ideal for fixing the guy ropes centrally and strong enough to take the strains.   Today's parasols have easily replaceable  covers in all diameters if the originals rot or fade.

I have abandoned those winders which are meant to raise the parasols.   They never last.   I did however retain the small pulley at the top of the mast for use with a bit of dangling para cord to assist with raising the canopy.

Obviously, out of season the parasols and ropes will be stored under cover.

This shows the system in action on a cloudy and slightly windy day.   The guy ropes not only hold the central pole rigid. they act as steadies to the erected canopy:

Thursday, 19 July 2018

Place Names

Found this on a curious little website dedicated to drinking tea:

they have captioned it "I think we're in Settle"

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

POTUS Has a New Perch

Our modest contribution to Settle's annual Flower Pot Festival is POTUS (Google it if necessary).

Here's POTUS on his 2018 perch, involving less ladder work than previous years:

Settle's annual Flowerpot Festival is in full swing - see today's Times, no less. Flowerpot POTUS is paying a non-state visit amid allegations that Settle Town Council interfered in US elections. "Why would they?" POTUS told the Craven Herald in an exclusive. He later changed this to 'wouldn't', claiming he had misspoke. "Settle is, and always will be a valued part of the US" he said, later correcting this to Seattle.

Long Delayed Job Being Well Done

The south facing end of our tower has always leaked somewhat when there is a strong south or south westerly wind and heavy rain.   The problem is with holes in the pointing between the roof parapet stone overhang and the tops of the tower wall.   The gaps may be small but the effect is big when air pressure outside exceeds that inside so rainwater draining off the parapets get sucked in.  There appear to have been attempts to cure this in the past with painted on tar but this has failed.   The fix is to scrape out the joints and to fill with modern sealant.

In a gap between illnesses and operations (!) I put up our scaffolding tower over the front door for access.   Then it rained a lot and my succession of medical problems intervened.   The scaffolding has therefore been in place uselessly and unattractively for a year or so.

To the rescue has come faithful and fearless ex-Royal Marine paratrooper Steve (Scouse) Roberts - once again.   He spent yesterday morning fixing the area accessible from the tower:

 He's a bit of a poseur sometimes.   Here he is afterwards having a vape and taking a selfie wearing his 'parachute harness':

Saturday, 14 July 2018

'My' * Ambulance Has Been Nicked!

Much excitement os the Dales yesterday.   The (singular) Settle ambulance was stolen from Settle late yesterday - 'my' ambulance!

Details are sparse (sub judice) but it apparently set off southwards towards Skipton, Keighley, Leeds / Bradford with police in hot and noisy pursuit, soon joined by the West Yorkshire Police helicopter from Carr Gate.

Settle really is a barmy place from which to escape by road - connectivity is not its strong point, distances being great whichever direction is chosen.   Tractors, cows and sheep form de facto routine road block risks.

The noisy convoy went through Long Preston, disturbing the natives according to social media reports, then presumably on to Hellifield which since last winter has been pot hole hell, as I well know as an ambulance passenger with a sore neck.   I am surprised its suspension survived.

Then on to Skipton (15 miles) and presumably down the by-pass and on towards Keighley.   At Kildwick there is a big roundabout where the Aire Valley dual carriageway starts so the naughty men would have had to decide between that (and near certain risk of detention) and the old road towards Airedale Hospital.   Maybe the ambulance had homing instincts because that is the route it took.

Maybe the naughty men were strangers to the area and were unaware of the railway level crossing at Kildwick but that is where their joy ride ended in what could have been a terrible disaster if a train had been passing on the very busy Airedale railway line.

They were arrested thanks to the eye in the sky directing ground units.   I do hope 'my'*ambulance did not suffer undue damage.   I hope not to travel in it again but I do owe it, and its crews, an awful lot.

* footnote.   It turns out that this was not in fact 'my' ambulance but a predecessor.   "my' ambulance is still going strong - see posting of 7th September 2018.

Monday, 9 July 2018


Nearly four months since my #neck I can report a couple of milestones;

My #left wrist is coming on nicely to the extent I no longer need my food cutting up into bite sized chunks.   I can also turn the pages of the newspaper without help.   This is broadening my horizons no end.   Thank you, thank you, thank you my dear wife Pat.

I can actually lift light things with my left hand.

I still find raising my head sufficiently to see overhead planes impossible but am grateful to Planefinder for letting me know what is up there.

Walking safely without fainting (now believed to be why I fell down stairs) is still a problem but we are on the case with that one.

A Toot from Flying Scotsman

There is a steam ban on the main line railways because of the lineside fire risk.   Many many people who have paid huge sums of money for main line steam train rides stand to be disappointed.   The ban does not mean that steam locomotives cannot be used at all though;  they must not be used at power.

Operators are putting steamers with minimal fires in their grates on the fronts of trains, with diesel locomotives doing the work from behind.

Yesterday there was The Waverley steam special from York to Carlisle, over the S&C - 'hauled' once  again by Flying Scotsman, no less but actually propelled by a diesel immediately behind.    Here they are passing Ribblehead station on their return journey:

A little later they flew through Settle where I was taking the evening air on the top of the tower.   I raised my glass of red and was rewarded with a famous toot.

(photo Paul Jackson)

and here she was heading north at Settle station:

a bit of black smoke but no exhaust steam despite the uphill climb.   Nice fluffy summer clouds though.

Flying the Flag

Sadly, St George's English flag has been devalued over the past few decades so it rarely makes an appearance on either of our flag poles.

Right now though World Cup Fever has swept the country so I thought I should show support for the lads in Russia:

To stick with protocol the Union Jack is flying from the other flag pole.

If England win the World Cup I shall fly St George from both poles.   So there.

The Brown Dales

Here is a picture of the hills around here yesterday showing the almost total lack of green grass on normally verdant pasture land:

Inevitably, no sheep.   Worrying.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Under Attack from the Air

As is occasionally my recuperative habit I was asleep on the lounge settee yesterday afternoon.   Zzzzzzzzz.   Not much wakes me up at these times.   Not the dog barking her 'welcome' to callers.   Not the sudden sound of Eurofighters dry-stone-wall hopping the Dales.   Not even thunder.

Yesterday afternoon was different.    I was woken by the sound of jet engines (plural) coming from the north and getting louder, and louder and LOUDER.   We ofter get low flying jet noise here.   The Yorkshire Dales as a thinly populated rural area are designated as an area where very low level flying can take place.   People, sheep and cows get used to it - a sudden blast of noise which soon fades.

This though was exceptional - the noise kept increasing to the extent that I was genuinely worried that something was deliberately targeting the tower (had Trump finally flipped?) or was about to crash into it.   Regular readers will know that we have SETTLE painted invitingly on the tower roof:

Just when I was about to duck and say my prayers (any other suggestions?)  the noise reached an earth shattering crescendo and changed - as though the missile had overshot.

Relieved, I looked southwards through our huge entrance windows towards The Sidings.   Nine jet aircraft in perfect formation filled the field of view.   Your eyes take something of a still snapshot as you blink don't they?   My snapshot froze the planes just over David Stubbs' garage - perhaps 100 yards away, no more.

It was the RAF's aerobatic display team - The Red Arrows en route to Southport Air Show.   Not many get a full-on rear view of them.   But I did.   Quite made my day.

Facebook later lit up with local reports.   Did anyone else see the Red Arrows?   I sure did!

Image result for red arrows planes

Just three days later they were at it again - this time targeting Buckingham Palace as part of the RAF's Centenary:

Perhaps were were just practice?

Sunday, 1 July 2018

A Crackling Good Weekend

Lorna and the boys have been here again this weekend, all the way from Gerrard's Cross.   Lorna has worked her socks off on jobs that are still beyond me, mainly around the garden, despite the heat.   Here is an example:

These steps had become almost impassable with weeds and brambles, cleared to perfection.   Lawns  mowed, beds weeded and all manner of household chores zapped.

Lorna's talents include cooking.   In honour of the Mediterranean weather she conjoured up the most fabulous paella, taken outdoors on the knoll at half past eight on a brilliant midsummer evening.   Memorable:

 That's me - still stiff around the neck, shoulders much less hunched but best of all alive!
I am now on weekly physiotherapy appraisals, with body strength recovery exercises now the priority.   It definitely feels like progress to what should be back-to-normal.   Physically at least.   Outlook on life - who knows?   Probably better than before!

Lorna and the boys had a hot and tedious car journey north - their air conditioning decided to fail.   Fortunately the garage in Settle was able to fix it on Saturday morning on a while-you-wait basis.   Settle's that sort of place.

Settle, it turned out had been victim to an illegal midsummer rave overnight.   We heard nothing of it with our triple glazing but Facebook postings told a different story of disturbed sleep in this haven of tranquility.   North Yorkshire Police will have been stretched but were clearly still here in force.   As the family were leaving three police vehicles arrived at Settle station as if on a mission.   Lorna asked to be updated:

Prison van, dog vehicle and supervision BMW.   One arrest.   One stolen bicycle recovered.   These were out-of-town reinforcement 'no nonsense' police officers.   The heavy mob.   Part of a bigger story, likely.

To add to their exciting weekend the family had driven northwards through the smoke plumes from fires on Saddleworth Moor and Winter Hill and  will have that pleasure again as they travel south.

Our television comes to us from the transmitter on Winter Hill.   Hope it is not involved with the fire - Austrian Grand Prix this afternoon!

and finally, Saturday lunch in the treetops: