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Thursday, 31 December 2020

We've Moved!

 A lot of thought went into the design of our new extension (Terminal 2) on this challenging sloping site.  Among the reasons for doing it at all were:

1.  More bedrooms to enable family visits

1a. To create a retreat to make family visits even more enjoyable all round . . .

2.  To make use of an ungardenably steep slope

3.  To create a level, self contained suite of rooms should old age or disability arise

4.  To make use of modern efficiencies and so reduce our carbon footprint

5.  To add back-up to our reliance on gas for heating

6.  To invest in property in an era of sinking interest rates and economic uncertainties

7.  Should circumstances change, to have a workable 'retirement home' on site, with potential for resident carers

8.  For the challenge and satisfaction of doing a project from the ground-up

There are probably more.

Well, as the very final bits and bobs are happening* fate has intervened and forced us out of the tower and into Terminal 2.  The gas central heating has failed.  These things always happen to us at Christmas.  The Worcester Bosch nearly new boiler was overdue its first service and we have been on JD Mounsey's service list for weeks.  Our fault.  Man coming on Saturday to service and fix it hopefully.

Sooo, sooner than intended, we have done the obvious thing and moved in to Terminal 3 for now.

* An example of a bit and a bob is the second-fix connection of an outside light by the kitchen / fire-escape door, done today:

The wires had always been there but the actual fitting had to await the cladding panels.  The illuminated windows are from the kitchen, treated with sky-blue blinds.  Besides making the kitchen distinctly warmer they work well from inside - as you will I hope agree from the images which follow:

Cosy eh? 

Above- slightly cosier when the LED 'sky lights' are turned off

Farewell 2020


Little to show for it but I have actually been making great progress with the cladding panels, doing preparatory things which should ensure that the final results will pass inspection.   The severe frosts have been irksome though but the winter sunshine has been welcome.  I know you've seen all this before on this Blog but yesterday afternoon's sunlight was just perfect to get this glowing picture of the tower's west side.

2020 has been horrible for everybody but we've made it.  Among the Christmas cards was one of those letters from officialdom that rarely bring good or interesting news.  It was from surgeon Chris Newman to tell me that he had the results of a recent CT scan and blood tests which showed I was cancer free five-years-on from the operation that he couldn't personally do as he had a fallen off his bike!  Nonetheless he had been in charge of my ongoing monitoring

Glad to see the back of 2020 but glad to have seen it at all.   Actually looking forward to 2021.

Thursday, 24 December 2020

South Wall Cladding Beginning to Look Good

 Since the arrival of the final pieces of cladding the weather has been pretty awful with rain, extreme cold and high winds - not ideal.

Today though, Christmas Eve, has been bright, cold and calm enough to position the two lower panels either side of the kitchen outer door.  This is how it looked before:

The panels to be fitted are C2 and C3.  Why those panels first?  They and the lower panels alongside doors and windows have to fit the door and window frames precisely both vertically and horizontally.  The final positioning and spacing of the upper row of parapet panels can then match up precisely too.

Before the panels go on I go over the black Tyvek waterproof membrane seeing to any tears or fixing damage.  I mention this for your amusement and to reassure architect Stuart Green whose reputation hangs by quite a public thread here.  And I know he will come along and inspect!

Ignore the uneven gaps which will be sorted out in the final phase.

Friday, 18 December 2020

Christmas Comes Early and a Lovely Screenshot

Well Christmas this year is going to be different for everyone.  No family get-togethers, social distancing and lots of Zooming this year.  Hopefully Christmas 2021 will be back to normal?

Always one to adapt and to get things right our darling daughter Lorna brought Christmas to our doorstep this morning in the form of a bang-on-time delivery man bearing a wonderful and necessarily early gift for her lonely parents - Christmas Dinner in a huge and heavy box:

Impressively insulated and beautifully packed was absolutely everything - ready cooked!

We quickly stashed it all  away to the freezer drawer in the Fisher and Paykell BAAF*.  We shall report on or soon after Christmas Day but it is already clear that we shall eat well at New Year and possibly Easter too!

*BAAF, for new viewers, Big Arsed American Fridge.

For a while now, in my capacity as FoSCL's media contact, I have been doing what I can to help a DVD production company with a new DVD about the Settle-Carlisle Railway.  Yesterday the finished item arrived in the post so I settled down to view it on the BA75"TV (work it out for yourself) - all 1 hour 48 minutes of it.  It is superb and will be a great addition to the dozens of S&C DVDs which have already been done of course.   It reveals for the first time film of the line taken during the 1980s when closure threatened and besides showing that old film it explains matters S&C in a better way than I have ever seen before.  That's fine of course but imagine my surprise and delight when the southbound story got to the end and this appeared among the credits:

Chuffed to bits doesn't cover it!!

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

Final Panels Delivered

 They're here!   Delayed on several counts, not least having been stove enamel painted the wrong colour by sub-contractors.  To be fair, they have worked overnight to correct it and first thing this morning the first of two final deliveries arrived, in pouring rain.  The remainder later today.

We have in fact been lucky to get them done by the splendid Burnley Central Sheet Metals Ltd. 

Central Sheet Metals

They were able to squeeze them in between urgent COVID related orders.  The latest is for hundreds or thousands of cubicles for patients getting COVID vaccinations - starting yesterday!


The plan now is to hoist the final top row onto the flat roof directly behind their eventual parapet locations.   The lower panels will be stacked at ground level.

That way the panels can be fitted gradually and accurately as the day-by-day weather conditions allow.

Sunday, 13 December 2020

Snow Lines

This stunning photograph appeared on Facebook today:


I thought it was far too good not to share it on Facebook and to Tweet it on Twitter which I duly did, entitling it 'Snow Lines'.  A bit of a play on words as the image showed two snow lines - the most obvious was the meteorological snowline - the line between the snow on the mountain and the green valley below.  The other snow line is of course the railway line snaking across the Ribblehead viaduct.

No sooner had I relayed the image my iPhone started to beep almost constantly as perhaps hundreds of people either liked or shared it.  I had done the proper thing and credited it to The Yorkshireman.  I still do not know the name of the photographer but would dearly like to know.

The picture has provoked a good deal of online comment and discussion.

As first glance it gives the impression of being an aerial photograph from an aircraft or a drone but hang on - the is snow in the close-up foreground.  The sun is to the right and we are high up on or near the top of Whernside looking almost south towards Pen y Ghent - the southernmost of the Three Peaks.  Ingleborough is out of shot to the right.  We are looking at the outer curve of the Ribblehead viaduct with scaffolding around the middle piers.  The Station Inn and Ribblehead station are just below centre.  To their right is the crater of the former Ribblehead quarry.

Saturday, 12 December 2020

Three Nice Piccies - and a 'Well Known Person'?

I love this one showing a Virgin West Coast diverted train crossing Arten Gill viaduct.  Nowadays they prefer to bustitute people down the M6.  Madness.

And here are a couple of our magnificent neighbour Pen y Ghent in the recent snow

How lucky are we?

I might have arrived on God's Earth.  Network Rail have asked me as a 'well known person' to contribute a short bit of  internal video aimed at NR workers who will be working over Christmas.  They have to put up with a good deal of abuse when the railways are only able to run a limited service because of engineering works.  Here, filmed by expert cameraman Mike Farrington is my effort.  Michael Portillo has also been asked so I expect I shall end up on the cutting room floor but anyway - 

That may well not work, in which case you are lucky.

Well I didn't quite end up on the cutting room floor:

Saturday, 5 December 2020

Gaskets and the Telegraph Front Page

 Our useful but old and small diesel tractor decided last winter it was not going to start.  I have just got round to tackling the problem which involved dismantling much of the engine, requiring a new cylinder head gasket.   Problem is that nobody stocks them anymore.  To the rescue though came Dobson's gaskets of Keighley who made on, which was delivered by hand yesterday:

Impressed eh?  I knew you would be.

We had snow yesterday and Thursday, to the newsworthy extent that this super picture of that viaduct  was the front page lead in the Daily Torygraph:

Wednesday, 2 December 2020

Working From Home with Zoom

 Our darling high powered lawyer daughter Lorna seems to spend much of her time in high powered international Zoom meetings.  Me too increasingly.  There the similarity ends though.  She is a real one for keeping up professional appearances but I just don't bother, appearance-wise.   Here she is in Zoom mode.

- in 'her' colours of green and blue.  

But all is not quite as it seems lower down:

Beautiful and sensible eh?

Talking of beautiful things, here are a couple of Yorkshire Dales pictures on Facebook this week:

There can't be many better views from a railway station platform than this of Dentdale from Dent station - now owned by The Friends of the Settle-Carlisle Line too!

And below is Littondale:

Thursday, 26 November 2020

Substantial Meal - ways and means and Warrendale Knots

 I was amused by this new beer on sale at The Plough at Wigglesworth, near Settle

and up and down the country I imagine.   I hope this posting will cause some head-scratching in years to come but for now it refers to COVID regulations where drink in pubs must accompany a 'Substantial Meal'.   Full marks to somebody for inventiveness.

On a more sensible note, here is a picture of Warrendale Knots, overlooking Settle and in full view from the top of the tower:

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

TV Aerial Fly-lead Troubles?

 I have made a discovery which I share with my viewer in the hope and indeed expectation that it will be useful one day and maybe an expensive repair visit.

Equipping the extension has necessitated a review and redistribution of TV sets around the place, now almost completed.  This has meant purchasing a number of new TV aerial fly-leads.  You know, those concentric cables that connect the TV's aerial socket with the aerial output thingy on the wall.  These things:

Conventionally the one on the left is called male and the one on the right is female on account of the shape of their central parts.  OK?  I did not know this but these connectors are called Belling-Lee connectors.  Thank you Wikipedia.   You will thank me for that bit of trivia if it ever pops up in a pub quiz.  Simple and obvious in their action.   One is a push-fit into the other.  

Nowadays and in foreign parts these are old hat, having been replaced by screw-type fittings decades ago - much better connectors and far more secure.  Perhaps too secure for the Elf n' Safety people who are paid fortunes to worry about what happens if you trip over a TV fly-lead.  The Belling-Lee type just parts but the screw type stays put, dragging you and the telly to the floor.  The UK and Australia are among the few last bastions of Belling-Lee TV aerial connectors

Where is this heading?  Well, our new tellies worked some of the time but at other times showed - 'No Signal - Check Your Connection'.  This problem was not confined to one or two TV sets either.  I can now report my discovery.

The problem was confined to brand new and expensively 'gold plated' male connectors.  They looked fine and impressively concentric  Shiny too.  But hang on, the phallus in the centre looked a bit on the narrow side to me.  Could that barely visible lack of girth really be the problem?  Well it was.  So perfect was the concentricity of the inner and outer parts that insertion into the female part was also dead centre, every time.  Note that the female part (right) is split longitudinally on both its inner and outer parts.   Over time and with continued insertions and withdrawals the inner part widens - especially if the inserted component is wiggled as part of the 'check your connection' process.  Stop sniggering at the back of the class.

Solution? a pair of very fine nosed pliers and carefully tighten up the female bit. Tweezers and a firm grip might do as well.  Just make sure the hole narrows visibly. Re-insertion of the male part meets with considerably more resistance but a satisfactory connection is made.  This sniggering will stop or I shall consider detentions.

Saturday, 21 November 2020

Boys Will be Boys

 Our darling daughter Lorna juggles a high pressure job with high pressure motherhood admirably.   But, as somebody very wise said 'Sometimes shit happens'.  Four days ago Lorna posted this on Facebook - sufficiently good to justify inclusion here:

"This evening’s sequence from approx 6pm:

- work 

- feed Ben and self

- quick FaceTime with much missed friend overseas 

- work 

- reward for 8 meetings earlier: watch I’m a Celebrity in front of fire with the boys 

- fall asleep in front of fire

- wake up - Ben still there so he’s really late to bed on a school night 

- head to kitchen - washing up needs to be done

- Ben goes upstairs - his bed (stripped this morning) needs remaking**

- dog piddles on carpet outside my bedroom

- clear up piddle 

- resume washing up.  Yells from playroom.  Yes, boys still up sorting bags out/generally procrastinating. There’s a mouse running around.  And no we can’t set the dog on it as she has stitches and we’re trying to keep her calm.  Mouse escapes to fuck knows where.  

- retire to bed, muttering.

** credit to James, he could see I was losing my shit and he made Ben’s bed and Ben to his credit for once didn’t moan ‘urghhh James is touching my stuff!!!’  "

Just like the home-life of our own Dear Queen.

Here are a couple of recent photographs of the above mentioned dog, James and Ben - blowing bubbles at the dog and James doing homework, with help of dog:

Friday, 20 November 2020

We've Been Vlogged

 Vlogged?  No I hadn't heard the word either until Monday at Ribblehead where I was Vlogged by a smashing and very talented video producer/ cameraman/ editor, 'Nodrog' whose Vlog has quite a cult following for his weekly Video Blog, or Vlog.   So good is this one-man-band that Network Rail had invited him to cover the Ribblehead viaduct repairs.

Here is his half-hour production - filmed on Monday in atrocious weather and cleverly edited together by late on Wednesday.

Ribblehead Viaduct - the Vlog

Best viewed full screen from a cosy armchair with a cup or glass of something warming.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

More Fluff and a Lot of Wind at Ribblehead

 Phil Bodmer's piece for BBC Look North got a good airing yesterday.  The BBC iPlayer only keeps local news for a couple of days so I cannot show you it in its entire glory but here are two of the stars featured and a giddying view from the top:

I look a bit happier than NR Regional Director Phil James who has to foot the bill.  The work will last all winter . . . . 

Monday, 16 November 2020

Thawing Out and the Fluffy Pole

 Just had a chilly morning at the Ribblehead Viaduct and am thawing out in front of a nice warm computer.   Fluffy pole? - I found myself at the speaking end of one of those 2m long BBC microphones at one stage.

Works should have started today on several months of repairs, delayed since April, not by CORONAVIRUS but by heritage planning delays to do with the colour and type of mortar to be used.  The Yorkshire Dales National Park planners had insisted on core samples being analysed to ensure that the 'correct' original mortar was used.  Nice thought but the fact is that mortar has come on a bit since the 1870s.  It is now far stronger and is coloured to match todays colour of the stonework, not the as-new colour.   Modern dark grey mortar was used in 1991 to rescue the structure from the jaws of demolition.

Today we were able to climb part way up the scaffolding of the two central piers and to inspect at close quarters how that modern mortar had fared during 30 years.  Answer?  Splendidly.  Not so much as a hairline crack anywhere to be seen.  Yet here we are, about to replace perished Victorian lime mortar pointing with lime mortar again. I also saw display trays full of colour samples from which a light sandy shade had been chosen as some sort of deferential homage to the original demonstrably inadequate mortar.  But it would match the invisible original. Seems to me a lose-lose-lose situation.  Wrong strength, wrong colour and the cause of a year's delay in getting this overdue work done in summer.  Perhaps now more than a year when winter weather is taken into account.  Lime mortar requires at least 5 C to start its lengthy setting process.   A reliable 5 C is a big ask over winter at Ribblehead.

The wind today was forecast to be gusting to 50mph - too strong for safe working on the viaduct in a westerly wind especially.  We were only allowed up two scaffolding stages and the workforce was literally grounded.

Here is an unfamiliar view of the Ribblehead Viaduct taken by Adrian Quine:

Sunday, 15 November 2020

The Ribblehead Viaduct Points North - Proof

 Early start tomorrow, Monday.  Must be at Ribblehead for 0900 to join Network Rail's special day for the media to cover the current £2m maintenance work on the Ribblehead Viaduct,  By chance this astonishing image of the scaffolding being erected was published today by star photographer Pete Collins, taken on the night before the month long COVID lockdown.

That's Pete and his dog in the foreground and The Plough above them.  The two pointer stars on the right on The Plough show the way to the north Pole Star above.  As if proof was needed, this image shows for sure that the Ribblehead Viaduct points north!

There will be a lot more scaffolding there by now and I hope to be allowed to climb up it -with due supervision and regard for COVID rules of course.  It's TV in the morning and other invited media in the afternoon.

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

That Chapel Across the Valley

 Everybody who visits Settle sooner or later asks about the mysteriously isolated hilltop domed building across the valley from us.   Here is a picture from this Blog in 2017 of it from our rooftop:

Stunning enough from the outside but the picture below popped up on Facebook today shows the inside of that dome:

One of Settle's less visited sights the chapel of Giggleswick school may be off limits just now with Covid and all that but when it reopens it is a must-see.

Monday, 9 November 2020

Clear-Up Interlude

 Nothing terribly interesting has happened since my timely haircut (below).  We are waiting for the very last batch of external cladding panels to be delivered and there has been a window in the weather, enabling outside work to be done in reasonable comfort as Novembers go.

This has enabled a great deal of tidying-up, including piles of scrap wood which had been destined for the tip, which on arrival was closed!  I took that as an omen.  It was November 5th too!

Note the letter-box air inlets about 60mm above the base of the burn barrel.  Four of them, they work very well indeed as they keep working despite the build-up of ash.  Far better than holes knocked in the base.  Also, you can light the contents from the bottom, through the letter-box holes.

Saturday, 24 October 2020


Today we both went for our flu jabs - more important than ever this year.  We are so lucky to have Townhead surgery in Settle.  Being so far from the nearest big hospital and occasionally cut off in bad winters it is important that they can turn their hands to most things.  The flu jabs were being done in what is normally the waiting room.  It had been most cleverly converted to four or five stand-up numbered nurse stations.  Utmost Covid precautions as you might expect - and in-and-out in no time.

En route back home via the Market Place we passed Settle's one and only proper mens' barbers shop.  Not only was it open and adorned with 'No appointment necessary' notices, there was nobody there apart from barber Ian.  When the last proper haircut was nine or ten months ago you cannot pass up on a chanced like that.  Only trouble was no money between us and proper barbers don't do cards and soft nonsense like that.  "Oh, it'll be right" said Ian.  Nonetheless Pat scurried off home and back with the necessary (£9 in Settle).  I had it cut and confessed that Pat had seen to my 2020 tonsures.  Ian was well accustomed to that scenario and declared that he had had very few disasters to rescue.  Pat had done a good job, for a radiographer.

Saturday, 10 October 2020


The pictures below are of Upper Ribblesdale and show drumlins.  Drumlins? I hear you cry.  Yes drumlins, typically low rounded hills in the bottom of a broad valley.  They are formed by glaciers as they melt.

This is from a video clip on Facebook yesterday of part of the Ribble Valley Drumlin Field:

And a wider view.

Those are on the western side of Pen y Ghent.  The drumlins are the near and middle distance hills - looking somewhat like upturned spoons or buried eggs.

Some drumlins can he hundreds of feet high.  Lower ones in this part of the world may be called 'sykes':

The link below is well worth seven minutes of your time.  It explains drumlins perfectly.

I do so wish such teaching aids had existed at the time I was failing O Level geography (my only O Level failure, before you ask).

Particularly relevant to the land around the water tower, now our 'gardens'.  It all goes a long way to explaining the rounded boulders which now form the dry stone walls of our new  garden area at the southern end of the site.

Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Facebook Fame, a super Picture of the Tower and a Couple More

 It was a delightful surprise when doing my daily Facebook catch-up-on-the-World to find this stunning and unusual picture of the water tower staring back at me.  It was taken by Ronnie Allen, presumably  from the High Road to Langcliffe with a telephoto lens or a very good iPhone:

The FB post can be seen at

It has prompted loads of comments, mostly favourable!

The original Restoration Man programme from 2012 is now on YouTube:

Talking of lovely pictures, how about these of our lovely daughter Lorna, bonding with the family's new dog Darcey:

Finally, it's that time of the year again with the North Atlantic salmon leaping  here at Stainforth Foss on the river Ribble: