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Saturday, 31 August 2019

Two Splendid Pictures

Facebook is a great source of local photographs,   Here are a coup[le which took my eye today.
First, one of the Malham Peregrines.  These magnificent birds seem to thrive in the Malham area, about seven miles from us as the crow (or the peregrine) flies.  Slightly Spitfire-like in shape and built for much the same purpose:

And a super panorama of Ribblehead taken by British Transport Police who had been alerted by a train driver of trespassers on the Ribblehead Viaduct.   Those particular birds had flown by the time the BTP got there but the took this stunning picture from above the Ribblehead - Ingleton Road.   The viaduct is centre right and the course of the line north is plain to see until it plunges into Blea Moor Tunnel under the foothills of Whernside.

Both pictures well worth enlarging

Thursday, 29 August 2019

Final Steels Made

Some very reassuring evidence of unseen progress being made off-site:

These are the massively strong steel columns that will support the southern end of the structure impressively aloft.

waiting for galvanising and bringing to site.

 On the experience of the earlier steels everything should be millimetre  perfect.   When these are in place - very soon* - we shall have a far better idea of the shape and size of things.   The floor and walls are also being made.  * Delivered to site next week in fact!

Tuesday, 27 August 2019


Interesting day yesterday (Bank Holiday Monday).  I had drawn the short straw and found myself at the microphone describing the sights of the S&C to 400 people on a seriously big double-headed 'proper' train from Didcot to Appleby (long story).

For once the mouthpiece and the PA system worked perfectly for 11/12ths of the carriages.  No dried spit and digestive biscuit crumbs in the microphone this time - Pathfinder trains efficiency.

Only trouble was the location of the apparatus.  It and I were in a cupboard in coach 4 with limited views to the right of the train only.  Imagination and recall were required for the views to the left!  Here is the train approaching Cragg Hill Farms between Hellwith Bridge and Horton-in-Ribblesdale:

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Police Humour

We were talking about social media the other day.  You can pick and choose what interests you so you get a just-about-personalised daily news bulletin.

Among my interests is Police Humour* - an essential ingredient of a sometimes distressing and dangerous job.   Here's an example:

Yesterday's suspect interview went exactly as expected - "No comment" in response to every question. As we were in the process of booking him out of custody he asked... Him
"What time's my next train home?" Me
"No comment." At least it made the solicitor smile!

BTP by the way is British Transport Police. SgtG is David Grant, the S&C's 'Sherrif'.

*Many examples of police humour are definitely not fit for this, or any other, public Blog!

Saturday, 24 August 2019

Emergency Rations

No, we are not stockpiling ahead of no-deal Brexit.  Pat has to have an operation on her right foot* when the waiting list has taken its course.  When that happens she will be laid up for some weeks with her foot in a pot which raises some practical questions, not least cooking and eating.   My culinary skills are limited to the microwave so we thought it might be good to try a test batch of those ready-meals for the elderly - the things that look so appealing in those whole-page advertisements in the newspapers.

You know full well that despite references to them being 'home cooked' they are made on an  industrial scale and the gloop comes out of an enormous vat the size of a concrete mixer lorry.

Well, our test-batch arrived yesterday - our own selection from an admittedly wide menu including Mediterranean, Indian and Chinese dishes.  Allegedly.

We shall report here in due course.

* It's not all bad news.  That's the one she kicks with.

Summer is Back

Busy day yesterday.   I have been working for a while with the Cotswold Line Promotion Group (CLPG) who are running a special train over the S&C on Monday.  The train will stop for 30 minutes at Settle whilst they unveil a plaque to their founder chairman, Oliver Lovell who was a source of valuable advice when the S&C was under threat of closure in the 1980s.

Oliver left a substantial bequest to FoSCL to be used on the S&C for the benefit of passengers which resulted in two new waiting shelters, at Settle and Appleby. 

Plaques will be unveiled at both shelters so somebody had to fix them in place.   That somebody was me, yesterday.   That involved a train trip to Appleby with just a 20 minute window before the return train from Carlisle for Settle.  I only just made it too!   The southbound train pulled in while I was tightening the final screw.  Then I had to scoop up the tools and bits and pieces before dashing from the shelter, on the opposite side from the train.

Fortunately, the driver saw and recognised me, put two and two together and held the train.   As it happened the crowded train made good time and when we got to Garsdale it had to wait for five minutes or so to keep to its slack timetable.   I had plonked myself on the jump seat in the guards lobby and the door was left open whilst the guard went for a stroll in the sunshine, enabling me to get this picture of Ruswarp, still loyally on watch:

A fraught morning therefore so I treated myself to a siesta in the afternoon, followed by a sunny sit-out on the roof with a well deserved cuppa.  Note the name on my favourite mug:

Must have been up there for a couple of hours, watching the comings and goings at the station and the sun going down over the Bowland Fells, by which time the tea had turned to wine.  Miraculous.

Thursday, 22 August 2019

The Green Green Grass of Home

Nature has a way of emphasising delay, especially here!  The inevitable first practical stage of our building work was ground clearance and bringing the challenging site to accurately specified levels.  Then digging foundations.

This produced a good deal of spoil in the form of massive boulders, clay subsoil and topsoil.   These three elements were skilfully segregated and stored on site awaiting planned replacement to create what we hope will be a very beautiful garden.

Meanwhile mother nature has rolled up her sleeves and the topsoil mound especially has blossomed:

I had a nightmare last night during which Triffids had taken over the site.   I may just tackle the topsoil mound in the way that farmers do so that Jim the digger driver can at least see it! then put it, and the boulders back on the banking.   This, besides restoring my sleep pattern will enable access to The Sidings entrance for large deliveries of construction components.

Those heavy and bulky items need to be got into place on top of the steelwork somehow.   I have a cunning plan . . . . . 

Tuesday, 20 August 2019


Indebted to our daughter for introducing her parents to Facebook and Twitter - and so much else of course.   My daily routine involves checking through the latest personalised news first thing.

To give a glimpse here are some pictures from today:

This is Settle practice nurse Lesley Wilson - quite the most skilled blood-taker in town - with her son Tim.  Tim look at all familiar to long-time followers of this Blog?  Soldier Tim was the hard working apprentice builder during the main works on the tower.  I shall find a picture of Tim at that time and re-post it here. What a change since then.   Not sure who is prouder of whom in the picture.

And here is Tim in that previous life:

Then there was this super picture of Flower Pot Man POTUS driving our little tractor as part of Settle's annual Flowerpot Festival.  I know it is recent because of the Klaxon horn just fitted.

And here's one of today's steam train - British India Line hauling The Dalesman.  Another steam train tomorrow too.

How lucky are we to have this sort of thing on our doorstep?

Saturday, 17 August 2019

We are a Settle Treasure

A Settle tourist map has just been published which aims the visitor towards Settle's 'Treasures'.
And yes, the water tower is accorded a mention!

https://Settle Treasure map

Verily our cup runneth over.

Friday, 16 August 2019

Starlit Settle Station

This picture was taken by night sky specialist Pete Collins late on the evening of Tuesday 13th August 2019.  It is well worth clicking to enlarge it for the detail.   The bright star above Pen y Ghent is Capella - 43 million of light years away.  Carlisle is just 72 miles.  You can see the water tower on the right, just.

Thursday, 15 August 2019

A Duff Jack from Pittsburgh

I am now the proud and grateful owner of a proper Model T jack.  Jacking up a rear wheel on a Model T is a frequent and tedious business.  Jacking up the back end when cold starting lessens transmission drag and makes success much more certain.  It is not easy though.   The back axle is high up by today's car jack standards.  I have used either a heavy and oil-leaky trolley jack, an extended screw jack or a Ford Transit van scissors type of jack but none has been ideal - or indeed absolutely safe as once the engine fires there is a tendency for the car to creep forwards via the rear wheel which remains on the ground, energised slightly by the drag in the thick and cold differential oil.

Should the jack topple over and both rear wheels are on the ground the driver-less car will shoot forwards of course.

A Pittsburgh firm with the nowadays problematic name of Duff made a range of 'automobile' jacks back in the day with the Model T firmly in mind.   They worked with a ratchet mechanism, levering the car up almost effortlessly with each stroke of a short wooden handle.  A small lever reversed the process for lowering.   Furthermore the top of the jack was curved to fit round axles.

The Duff Jack actually came to us via an occasional local resident Peter Yates - a teacher, indeed Principal of a school in Namibia.  Some commute that!  The jack had been in his family since forever and he was disposing of his late mother's effects.   He had wanted to see the jack put to good use and local enquiries led him our way, I having a bit of a reputation for appreciating old things. . . ..

These jacks are highly valued in the USA, where something from 1914 is truly ancient.   They fetch $$$ silly on E-bay.   Peter knew this for he had done his er, homework on it.  He had even tracked down a 1914 catalogue where the jack was listed:

Ours is the one in the middle.   They were made in the UK by a firm of Barretts under licence from Duff of Pittsburgh.  Duff's specialised in jacks for the railway industry and later, automobile jacks.

We jacked up the back of the car and it worked an absolute treat.  Gladys was in need of a road-test as it happened so Peter and his wife had a ride round Settle as part of a deal which was quickly done.

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Cat's Pillow

Our cat Purrcy is a self willed creature.   He adapts to circumstances quite well though.  The ongoing building work provides plenty of opportunity for Purrcy to try new things and to explore new places.  Here he is fast asleep on the landing at the top of our annex - trying out a hammer to explore its possibilities as a pillow:

click to enlarge

Wednesday, 7 August 2019

Watching Butterflies Flutter By

The summer of 2019 is proving memorable, for reasons good and bad but one phenomenon that seems unquestionably good is the apparent dramatic increase in the number of butterflies.

Our garden appears to be planted just right for them.   This little lady (or is  it?) obliged me when it tired of dodging my advances and settled on a bush near the top of the knoll.  There it sat, wings folded defiantly until this: