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Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Settle Has a New Railway

Well, not exactly a railway in the usual sense - more of a cliff railway really.  Here it is:

Two 20 foot long scaffolding poles have been installed on the embankment to make a slideway to enable heavy or awkward loads to be raised aloft to a level with the new back door of the extension so that kitchen and bathroom components can be hauled up to the level where they are needed.

The outside stairs will very soon be in place so that smaller loads can be carried up but something safer and easier is needed for final building materials, then eventually furniture.  Also the components for the balcony and railings round the Wendy House.  There will be either a winch at the top or a block-and-tackle operable from below.   Maybe eventually a weee-e-e-e-e slide, which could be fun?

Necessity is the mother of invention eh?

Sunday, 29 December 2019

The Sky's the Photographic Limit

Lorna's cousin and our nephew David is an exceptionally good photographer with a very good eye for a picture.  Father Christmas has lifted his horizons dramatically with the gift of a drone.  I do hope he will bring it with him when next he visits.   This is his first attempt - 200 feet above the Lancashire village of Singleton:

 Talking of good pictures, how's this for a good'un by Pete Collins of Settle station at night?  Click to enlarge and you can see the water tower behind the station to the right:

Saturday, 28 December 2019

A Magical Christmas and Train Operator Comparisons

No Blog entries for a while - Christmas in Gerrards Cross.  My first visit there since my big fall so a personal milestone.   Trips on the Big Train to and from Kings Cross were an absolute delight - a seasonal treat in themselves.  In contrast, our local train operator Northern failed us.  Our train from Settle was quite simply 'cancelled' with no more explanation than 'it did not leave the depot' (earlier in the day from Leeds).  Hardly a reason to satisfy.  1 1/2 hours wait for a bus so our pre-booked LNER seat went to London without us.  Settle station's Lisa rescued a bad start by providing free coffee etc.

LNER train to London made up for the disappointment.  Here is my main course of roast beef and Yorkshire, washed down with three glasses of wine:

Then, Chiltern Line from Marylebone, clean, reliable and sweet as a nut as usual.

 and my first glimpse of daughter Lorna's new kitchen and dining room extension.  Took away with us some bright ideas too!

Back in Leeds and here is a Northern TWO car train for Manchester and Chester waiting, empty, for a platform full of people who were denied entry until it suited the crew or their rule-book, with standing room only for many.  An absolute disgrace and such a contrast with Chiltern's customer focused practice of letting people on to the waiting train in comfort and safety.

More people still squeezed on later . . . . 

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Christmas Cards and a Last Glimpse for 2019 of Flying Scotsman

No more pictures of water tower extension details until 3rd January at least after these two which show how far into the extension the sun shone on the winter solstice today:

 The solstice sun shining north and illuminating what will be the service duct at the end of the lounge area.  The window on the left is the former external window by the existing internal stair-well, now in the middle of the extension,   Below is the inner corner of the kitchen:

Found this wonderful Christmas-cardy painting on Facebook just now.  It shows Home Farm between Stainforth and Littondale with Pen y Ghent in the background.

And for those who expect to see either building sites or trains on this Blog here is a stunningly good picture by Katie Hopkins of Flying Scotsman yesterday leaving the north end of the Ribblehead viaduct and climbing towards Blea Moor.  Click either pic to enlarge.

Friday, 20 December 2019

It's That Time Again

Another frantic morning of activity before the builders left for a festive lunch at the Golden Lion to return refreshed on 3rd January.  Virtually all the plasterboard is now in place and the windows are well sealed.  I sealed up the trickle vents on the windows having thoroughly researched the situation you will be glad to hear.  Because we have heat recovery ventilation which works best with an airtight building the trickle vents were an actual breach in that system's efficiency.  The vents themselves are still there on the windows and can be easily reinstated at any time should the ventilation fail or be no longer wanted.

Three boring pictures just to illustrate the progress this week.


Now that the building is sealed and soundproofed it begins to feel really quite cosy, despite no heating just yet.   February half-term seems a very feasible target time for a furnished and carpeted completion of the interior.

The whole appearance and feel of the extension is way beyond expectations, even at this stage.

Had a lovely newsy Christmas card from fellow Restoration Man subjects Maj and Carol Nadry whose Pannal, Harrogate, hilltop former water tower (below) is simply magnificent - and surprisingly similar in design to ours - the original historic tower plus a fine extension.  Their planning problems much outweighed ours - which have been bad enough!  I do hope that Boris's New Golden Age for Britain includes a thoroughly good look at the planning system focused on encouraging the rescue of old buildings, especially if they are being turned into homes.

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

New South Entrance

How's this for a neat job?  The southern entrance to the water tower showing the new extension, awaiting its stairway (at the galvanisers) and its rain-screen cladding panels. The cleared, levelled and now topped-off parking / access area is just the ticket.  There is hardly a hint that at times during much of 2019 this area of the site has either been excavated for installation of extension services or used as a storage area for topsoil and other excavated materials from this challenging site.

 The steel plate in the picture below temporarily covers a vulnerable manhole underneath.


Heroic efforts these last two days by digger driver Jim (right) and his mate Matt have seen the pile of subsoil that had been partly blocking The Sidings gateway removed, the topsoil distributed onto the embankment and the parking area most thoroughly reinstated.

A thorough job - a sub-base of quarry waste, whacker plated and about to be top dressed with Horton Quarry aggregate

above - that embankment has been tamed, topsoiled and is ready for planting.  There will be a walkway right round the hut on the hill - unkindly called the Wendy House by architect Stuart.

Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Topsoil and Even More Insulation

A very welcome arrival out of the morning mist was Stephen Hall's digger and Jim its driver:

They were here to remove the remaining piles of subsoil from the site and to populate the steep embankment with topsoil which involved heavy  lifting and shifting as well as careful spadework.

Our embankment preparation with dry stone walls and timber terracing seems to be just the job.  Tomorrow should see The Sidings site entrance topped up and levelled and a top dressing of Horton Quarry blue gravel.

Meanwhile the inside stud partition walls received their sound-proofing insulation:

The kitchen is now plaster-boarded bar for the window and door reveals in readiness for kitchen fitters to do a final measure-up tomorrow:

Monday, 16 December 2019


Progress galore today with walls and ceilings being plaster-boarded.  Little for me to do other than sit back and admire the transformation.

I am giving Facebook and Twitter some attention and came across this absolutely charming clip of a little boy on a railway station platform waving and jumping for joy as one of the final High Speed Trains on the East Coast Main Line flashes by.

I do most strongly urge you to look at the link with your sound turned up.  You will see and hear the train approach then you will hear the little boy shout "Daddeee!"  Daddy sounds the horns and waves back

A moment in time that little boy and his daddy the driver will both remember for ever.

Now dry your eyes.

Sunday, 15 December 2019

Wonderwalls Now Paid For Too!

Champion dry stone waller Simon Morphett called by this afternoon having seen the last Blog entry which reminded him that we had still to pay!   I was about to remind him.   Paid whilst he was still here via the wonderful BACs system.

Simon's walling is the subject of almost constant favourable comment, unsurprisingly.  He does not have a website as such but he and his fellow waller have a Facebook presence at
J Kidd & S Morphet Stonework.  Just pop that into Facebook to see some stunning examples of their work.   Click on this link to see 80+ amazing examples of dry stone walling done by these two:

Those walls may still be there in 1,000 years, perhaps long after mankind has gone the way of the dinosaurs.

Here are a few of the pictures to whet your appetite:

Winter Wonderwalls

Proper snow overnight and this is the view on our rooftop camera monitor:

and from the side door  of the tower:

Forgive the building materials in the passageway but just look at those dry-stone walls, looking like dozens of iced buns:

Saturday, 14 December 2019

Bathroom Boarded and Main Line Steam Trains

Our new bathroom has had its ceiling and walls plaster-boarded and the effect is, well, smaller than we had supposed.   To the extent that I had a walk, in hail and pestilence to Timberworks in Settle through whom we have bought our bathroom fittings, to find out their measurements.  There, I met our actual bathroom awaiting collection.  Tape measure out, dimensions recorded and now drawn out on the bathroom floor.   Everything fits with room to spare.  Daylight picture threatened.

Another fly-past by Flying Scotsman today in atrocious weather.   This one Liverpool - Carlisle - Liverpool.  Another one next Saturday too!   It really is astounding how much main  line steam activity there is nowadays and how popular it is despite the high fares.  Can only be a matter of time before some enterprising operator makes a fortune with a regular main line steam service somewhere in England.  I cannot think of anywhere better than the Leeds-Settle-Carlisle or better still London-Leeds-Settle-Carlisle-Glasgow / Edinburgh.   Trouble would be water supplies en-route though.  Nothing would give me more pleasure than for our water tower to resume its intended purpose.  With us living below of course!

Here is a splendid picture from Railcam of TWO steam engines at York  Station today, from the camera mounted on Network Rail's Regional Operations Centre.  Clun Castle and Tornado.

click to enlarge (recommended)

Boris needs to make a real fuss of Scotland I reckon and there should be railcams like this at all main stations.   Why not Network Rail?

Friday, 13 December 2019

David Bellamy R.I.P.

The only real certainty in life is death.  We all know that but just now and then someone dies who is well known and whose death comes as a particular shock,  One such was naturalist, broadcaster and larger-than-life character David Bellamy.

Perhaps a strange thing to post here but hey, it's my Blog, I can post what I want within reason and I think DB would have approved.  The BBC sacked him when he cast doubt on global warming.

I just love this story among hundreds that have appeared on social media since his death, some poking fun at his hugely individual style of delivery.   He is said to have been driving on the A1 and was tuned in to BBC Radio Lincolnshire.  Much to his amusement he found himself listening to a phone-in competition to find the best David Bellamy sound-alike.  Using an assumed name he rang in to try his luck.  He came third.

Wednesday, 11 December 2019

Massive Delivery of Plasterboard and Plaster

Much of today has been spent finishing off the outsides of the windows to get the frames fully waterproofed and parts of the floor sealed tight against the tower external wall.

We also took delivery of a vast weight of plasterboard, skilfully craned onto one of the concrete pads that will take part of the mass of the stairway.  All is safely gathered in to the dry building.

Stair builders John and Shane paid a final measure-up visit this morning to see how long the staircase supporting legs needed to be.  The staircase and platforms have already been built.  Handrails still to complete, then off to the galvanisers on Friday with a view to fitting next week.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Doorways Boarded and Plasterboard on its Way

Now that we are fully windowed and the place is becoming gradually airtight this morning was one for talk about plaster-boarding and plastering.   Builders Hopleys have a slight lull before their next big job so they can drop straight onto our internal walls.  Indeed the plasterboard arrives tomorrow!

We had to wait to be sure we could ventilate, heat and dehumidify before the plastering stage started.

Through many projects now I have come to appreciate that builders, and other trades cannot be in two places at once so opportunities like this are most welcome.

I have also learnt that builders are inventive people well used to problem solving. They need two essential creature comforts as well - tea and a loud radio.  Unfortunately our tower provides a massive metal and stone shield that gets in the way of good radio reception.   But where there's a will there's a way:

I wonder if the radio station being picked up is Builder's Band?

Monday, 9 December 2019

All Windows In and Stairs Next Week

Busy day today with visits from Building Inspector Bob Morris and architect Stuart Green.  Both were highly satisfied with what they saw and had good advice for the next stages of construction.

The last of the seven windows are now installed - and most welcome after Storm Atiyah over the weekend blew a good deal of rain in from the south and west.

Here if the south end from the inside.  Window number seven is still a big hole in the wall to the right:
The mop and bucket towards the left tell their own story after the weekend.

And here is a closer view of the kitchen windows:

An here are the completed windows from the outside:

The entrance door is still boarded awaiting delivery of the external doors.  Good news though from stairs maker John Robb who is confident of being able to install the stairway next week, subject to how busy his galvanisers are.

Next inside job is wall boarding and plastering.

Friday, 6 December 2019

Three Windows In Already

Here is the first window fitted this morning.  Fitted like a glove too.  Slightly tricky because of the the need to cut and drill steel angle irons all round each opening, mainly because of the eventual rain-screen aluminium panels the go on the outsides of the walls.  The external cills project for 80mm so that they shed rainwater well clear of the eventual 70mm cladding.

It looks a bit odd at this stage because of the protective white tape on the vulnerable grey surfaces.

All windows will be fitted by the end of Monday.   The doors are under way, after which we shall be fully airtight.  Then we can get on with plaster-boarding and plastering.

Below are joiners Trevor, left, and Jamie fitting the top pane of bedroom 2's window.  The lower pane is an opener for building regulations fire escape purposes.

Narrating Gigs - a New Career?

Not quite sure how but I got 'volunteered' to be the narrator for the first public performance of a new CD entitled 'Lives on the Line' by singer-songwriter Karin Grandal-Park at the Victoria Hall in Settle.  It was part of the hugely successful annual Settle Folk Festival.  The main catalyst for the event is one of Settle's famous residents, Mike Harding.

The gig (see, I am falling into the jargon) has since been repeated twice and I seem to have got myself a job.  Last evening the third such gig was in Saltaire at the home of (coincidentally) long time friends of ours Chris and Nigel Schofield.  And a right good do it was too - with a cosy audience of just 22 - plus Karin and three super musicians.

Settle is hugely lucky to have such top class talent of people glad to do sessions at local watering holes for all to enjoy - not least the performers.  Here is a video of Mike Harding and Karin Grandal-Park doing their thing at Settle's Golden Lion;

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

Flying Visit from Scotsman

During the last two days the lads from Blok Build CNC who actually built the floor and walls of our extension did the finishing touches.   They were rewarded for their labours by a surprise visit through Settle of Flying Scotsman en route from Manchester to Carlisle.

These three fine pictures appeared soon afterwards on the Visit Settle Facebook website:

Interesting to compare the picture above with that below.  Notice that the black smoke starting to blast out of the chimney is a great deal bigger in picture 2 below, a split second later.   The momentary black puff of smoke indicates that a shovelful of coal has gone into the firebox.   Northbound at Settle it is a 1:100 uphill gradient - hard work for firemen.

Our three Blok Build heroes insisted on viewing from the over-bridge despite my advice that they risked being kippered in smoke.  You can just see one of their heads in picture #1!