Search This Blog

Sunday, 19 December 2021

Flying Scotsman on the Doorstep

 Saturday 18th December was foggy in Settle and right along the Ribble valley.  From Ribblehead northwards though it was brilliant sunshine.  Flying Scotsman was hauling a train from Liverpool Lime Street over the S&C to Carlisle.

In the fog zone photography was a challenge and there was only one brave photographer among the crowds at Settle station who was up for the challenge - Ian Lane.  I happened to be standing at his side and he was kind enough to show me this picture on his camera screen.   This was the stunning result:

And a little bit further on at Far Moor, Selside this was captured by Liam Barnes.  The same inversion ensures that the exhaust trail lingers as far as the eye can see.  Pen y Ghent is in the background.  Social media today is awash with stunning photographs of the S&C.

Those people on the Settle footbridge will remember being kippered in Settle.

Tuesday, 14 December 2021

Heating a Huge Water Tower 2 - What We've Done

 In the last posting I described our heating as-was.  In short a hideously expensive but ineffective 30 kw gas fired under-floor heating (UFH) system is in the main tower and two  electric radiators, total power just 2.7 kw, are in the new extension.

So, how ARE we heating the main tower?  It's a tower of two halves - ground floor heavily insulated and first floor with massively thick uninsulated stone walls.


The floor itself is solid - thick reinforced concrete laid directly onto the earth with impermeable water and radon barriers - sheets of plastic.  If we believe the rhetoric, ground source heat is a thing.  Not a lot but some.  The ground is bone dry after 150 years being sheltered by a huge stone water tower.  Whatever heat comes in is likely to stay inside this now insulated box.  On the experience of the insulated new extension might it be worth a try placing an electric radiator somewhere near the centre of the ground floor - and abandoning the ground floor UFH completely? 

That is what we have done.  The near-useless UFH manifolds, pumps, thermostats and so forth will stay where they are but boxed-in for future use if somebody invents an electric or other eco-friendly source of heat.  It all stays where it is - just out of use.  This, sitting in splendid loneliness in the downstairs office, is all that now heats the ground floor remarkably well:

1.  It's a DeLonghi Dragon 2 kw bog standard electric radiator.  I bought it years ago at a charity stall at Bentham Show.

But there are two more incidental sources of ground floor heat:

2.  The heat 'loss' from the gas boiler and hot water storage tank in the utility room mentioned in Part 1.

3. Heat from the ceiling above!  The main UHF loop serving the main lounge on the first floor (see more below) remains heated.  That UHF heating loop zig-zags its way under that very solid concrete and iron floor - from which hangs the CEILING of the ground floor. 

Between those three things the ground floor has maintained a steady 20C during recent sub-zero stormy weather.  


The first floor has a VERY high ceiling (the underside of the tank).  It has two sources of heat:

1.  Underfloor gas heated UFH.  This loop is now the ONLY ONE out of fourteen original UFH loops.  All the others are turned off meaning that ALL of the central heating output of the gas boiler is targeted at this one large floor which spans the whole building.  Right now the room is at a steady 20C.  The floor however is at varying temperatures between 23C and 30C - very cosy therefore in stocking feet or slippers.  However, heat rises so up near the ceiling it will be uselessly warm.  Hey ho.  The important thing is that the floor itself is acting as a huge horizontal radiator and the overall experience is comfortably warm.

2. We also have a gas stove in one corner of the room.  It has a catalytic exhaust into the very large room.  The stove is rarely lit but it does provide a heat source in the event of a power cut or as a boost in exceptionally cold weather.  It has two thermo-electric fans on top of it to propel heated air into the room.


1. This had a modern electric radiator which was seldom used and has been moved to the annex lounge.

 2. There is also a log burning stove up there.

3.  Being where it is, and with glass walls there is a fair amount of solar gain, greenhouse style.


Like most people nowadays we have a 'point and pull the trigger' thermometer.  It has two modes - body and surface.

Surface mode shows the temperature of whatever it is pointed at.  It is fascinating to go round the house to find the hot and cold spots.  Some examples:

My computer screen right now: 28.8C

Inside the kitchen cupboard where the first floor UFH manifolds are: 46.7C (!!)

The wall of a WC room behind that cupboard:  26.4C

Hallway floor between kitchen and landing (where the cat elects to sleep): 38.3C (!)

Floor of main tower lounge: 29.2C

Main tower lounge wall thermostat reading: 20.5C

Inside of tower outer wall in main lounge: 17.5C

Those are just snapshots today, with an outside temperature just above freezing.  

So, the main source of heat for the original tower is the new concrete floor between the ground and first floors.  In effect it is a huge horizontal radiator.

*We have heat-recovery-ventilation (HRV) in both the main tower and the new annex - two separate systems.  Besides freshening the inside air this distributes air between rooms, so evening out the overall temperature.


- Insulation makes all the difference

- No need for heat sources in every room, especially with *HRV.

- Beware over-specification of 'central' heating systems.

A final thought - My childhood was spent in a big old Victorian six-bedroomed house, heated by one open coal fire in the middle room downstairs.  Its hot flue rose to the roof, heating the upper floors somewhat.  There would be ice on the insides of bedroom windows in winter.  People 'wrapped up warm'.  Certainly not recommending a return to that but this huge tower is being heated adequately using a fraction of the energy that was being put into it previously.

See you later insulator.

Sunday, 12 December 2021

Heating a Huge Water Tower 1 - a New Approach

 This old place was always going to be a devil to heat.  It is a huge volume, single glazed and with a massive iron water tank for a roof.   It was never intended to be lived in and the very idea of insulation for buildings was not on the Victorian agenda.

In a process that evolved during the prolonged planning process we settled on the following:

1.  A newly inserted steel and concrete floor would separate off a well insulated ground floor from an uninsulated first floor.

2.  There would be gas powered under-floor-heating (UFH) to both floors.

3.  In due course we would fit internal secondary double glazing to the main tower original windows.

4. We sprayed the underside of the tank with a thin coat of expanding foam to retain the shape of the girders but to prevent condensation.

5. The new-build small two-floor annex to the north side was heavily insulated to modern standards.

More than ten years on, the world has changed.  Gas is to be phased out.  Electricity is to be the thing.  Most importantly we have had ten years experience of a horribly expensive but (in the dead of winter) inadequate gas central hearing system which was found wanting.  To be fair, nobody knew how to heat a building with metre-thick outer walls, roofed by 250 tons of cast iron.  Heating costs have not been excessive, perhaps because the 27 kw (Worcester-Bosch) gas boiler could not supply enough heat.  Nor could a replacement larger 30 kw Worcester Bosch boiler.

As for underfloor heating using water pipes leading from no fewer than 14 outlets, each regulated by competing electric valves with thermostats, could not cope.   Some extremities never warmed up, the single source of boiler outflow hot water simply took the line/s of least resistance at 'balanced' water manifolds, one on each floor.

Here is the pair of manifolds (flow and return) for just the ground floor.  NINE separate loops of massively long underfloor pipes:

Expensive to fit, maintain and ineffective.  In retrospect, badly specified (by us) and extravagantly designed (by system suppliers Myson).  Every square inch of the heated ground floor had top-spec. UFH, quite unnecessarily. 

The utility-cum-boiler room was well heated by the manifolds and the gas boiler itself.  That UFH loop has NEVER been needed but there it is, expensively useless.  

Remember too, the ground floor is heavily insulated - floor, walls and ceiling.

Meanwhile on the first floor a five-loop manifold, located in a kitchen cupboard, supplies UFH to the huge main lounge / dining room (uninsulated and with the cast iron tank/ceiling) and the kitchen, a small WC and the landing.  The kitchen UFH loop was seldom on for the same reason as the utility room below - surplus heat from the manifolds and, in the case of the kitchen from cooking.

Double glazed secondary glazing was installed after a couple of years and that was very successful in terms of enhanced insulation, noise reduction (not much in Settle anyway) and elimination of window condensation.

The inadequacy of the heating in the main tower was part of our decision to build-on the two-bedroom virtually self-contained annex at the back of the tower.  It is very heavily insulated, draught proofed and heated by one 1.5 kw electric radiator.  That is occasionally supplemented by a 1.21 kw electric radiator for more even heat distribution if needed.   Its footprint on the ground is bigger than the tower itself yet a mere 2.7kw of electric radiators heat it!  

This compares with a 30kw gas boiler which fails to heat the main tower!!!!!!!  30 kw vs. 2.71 kw.

This is the modern single 1.5 kw electric radiator which heats the massive extension most of the time:

Stylish, small and never needs servicing it is located in the lounge, approximately in the middle of the  extension.  Heat-recovery-ventilation and natural movement of air distributes its heat output to other rooms.  Here is its makers plate showing its maximum output - just 1.5 kw though is is rarely on fully, depending on thermostat demand:

and the makers plate of the back-up radiator:

Total 2.71 kw.   Electricity is dearer than gas - but not ten times dearer.

The figures seem absurd but that's not the whole story.  This posting has been long so - to be continued.

Friday, 10 December 2021

Stunning Ribblehead

 Like many others these days the Yorkshire Dales National Park have a daily advent calendar on Facebook.  Today, Day 10, is this incredible picture of Ribblehead viaduct with Ingleborough peak in the background and the Irish sea somewhere by the far horizon. 

Well worth clicking on to enlarge.

The picture is by Wend's Photography and was taken from an altitude of 2,800 feet in April this year.

Saturday, 4 December 2021

Get Well Cards and Letters

 Having an overdue clear-up of cupboards I came across a most welcome bundle of what turned out to be get-well cards and letters received after my near-visit to my Maker back in April 2018 when I had broken my neck.

There were 52 of them which must have overwhelmed the capacity of an NHS bedside table by a long way.

I spent an hour reading them afresh.  A few I remembered but most I did not so it was a delight to revisit them all and to take in the good wishes expressed - for which renewed thanks.  Those which mentioned a speedy recovery must have been a great boost at the time when things could have gone one of only three ways.

Belated thank-yous!  I opted for near total recovery but am fairly sure I did not send thank-yous at the time or in the weeks and months that followed.

Collectively they are a splendid example of the effectiveness of the Settle-Carlisle grapevine and of the Police Serious Rumour Squad.

 One included some happier days photographs.  These were new on me and made me smile.  This one shows me driving an unregistered, untaxed and uninsured vehicle which does not comply with most of of the requirements of the Motor Vehicles (Construction and Use) Regulations.  The photographer promises not to tell the cops.

and from the same source:

Monday, 22 November 2021

Only a Rose

 Glancing at the subjects covered in this Blog recently I decided it could be time for a re-focus.  We've had rainwater harvesting pumps, shirt collars, electric heaters and flies.  There has to be more to life than those.

How's this then?  The last rose of summer maybe, picked from the garden yesterday before overnight frost:

Not sure why but rather than using my iPhone's usual 'camera' app I thought I would try PhotoScan, an app more usually used to photograph documents.  Seems to have worked.OK.

Sunday, 21 November 2021


 Yes, flies.  MILLIONS of them in the roof room this year. Not normal houseflies - much, much smaller than that.  Cluster flies they are commonly called.  Very small indeed but under the microscope they look like normal houseflies.  Wings, big multi-faceted eyes, head, thorax, abdomen.  Flies alright.

Each autumn we get them inside the roof room but the problem has increased year on year.

The roof room sits in what was a water tank.  Over time a layer of pond-like vegetation has accumulated on the flat fibreglass surface of the roof inside the tank.  It drains only slowly towards the south west corner of the tank, then down the tank's huge outlet pipe.  In effect we have an increasingly tempting pond in which flies will thrive in due season.

As winter approaches they seek somewhere sheltered and warm.  Wouldn't you?  Conservatories, greenhouses and roof-rooms are ideal.

We are careful to keep the sliding glass doors and the window shut to  minimise fly access in the autumn but still they get in to what amounts to a very well sealed box.  This astonishing picture illustrates the scale of the problem this year:

It shows the roof room floor at its north east corner.  The circular clear area is where a vacuum cleaner had been standing.

Two possible solutions came to mind:

1. a fine mesh fly-screen over the sliding doors.  That could work IF that was the entry route taken, which seemed unlikely for flies in such numbers.  Expensive too - the salesman's price fell from £3,000 to £1.500 as there was a special offer on.  Quel surprise.  The salesman admitted though that he had never seen anything like this.

2. call in pest control people.  £200 upwards, guaranteed for three months.  'Easy' they said 'We'll  smoke them out'.  Hmm.  Most were already dead!

For the fifth time this autumn we vacuumed the room and its surfaces clean of flies.  Yet overnight a few more dead flies appeared on the floor areas - mostly below windows.  Towards the tops of the windows cluster flies were dancing about.  The ones on the outsides seemed to be dancing upwards, towards the flat roof overhangs.  Those inside were also dancing, or desperately trying to escape maybe?

By then I had taken the pest controllers' hint and bought half a dozen smoke bombs - small stubby fireworks, 11g size.  I measured the volume of the roof room and landing which called for two of them - simply put them on upturned plates or baking trays, light them, impressive smoke, lock-up and leave for three hours.

In fact I left it overnight.

Next morning the floors had collected more flies, all dead.  NO remaining flies dancing on the insides of the windows but still plenty dancing outside.

Conclusion? Flies are desperate to get in.  Once in, and with a life span of just two or three days anyway they are doomed.  

Question?  How are they getting in to a sealed box? I got a clue when changing the battery on the roof-top weather station.  Inside was jam-packed full of mainly dead cluster flies that could only have entered via an incompletely sealed cable access hole.

Conclusion? The roof room may its own openings, small or even quite large.

Sunny Sunday today and I decide to sit and do the crossword in the greenhouse warmth of the landing area of the roof room. Crossword completed and feeling smug but with thoughts of flies and apertures I decide to have a poke and a feel around the seams between huge glass windows, steelwork frames, and the flue through the ceiling above the solid fuels stove.  Et voila:


Two of the more obvious (and inelegant) holes through which desperate flies on a mission could enter.  Both big enough for a finger, let alone a fly could gain access.  Not only that, a heck of an inwards gale was howling!  A curious fly would get SUCKED in whether it liked it or not.

Operation seal-it-up commences forthwith

Tuesday, 16 November 2021

Where's Me Shirt?

Ever since my brush with death in April 2018 I have never worn a shirt - at least, not a shirt and tie.

My neck has widened to the extent that none of my (many) existing shirts would fit to the extent of buttoning-up to the neck.  Fine for laid-back or day to day open-necked wear but not for funerals and such.

Perhaps it's the titanium hardware holding my head on.

I have managed to navigate life's niceties by and large but a recent funeral brought me round to the need for a proper shirt that fits.  Not being one to splash out unduly I turned to my good friend E-bay to see what there was out there in size 18 (46cm) collar.  The first item on the screen was

Brand new, still in its wrapping and with a starting bid price of £1.80p.  Throwing financial caution to the wind I placed my bid - £1.80p - and not a penny more.

The auction took its course and mine was the only, and therefore successful bid.

It duly arrived and today was try-on day.  It fits.  Perfectly.  It is hung up in a wardrobe, ready for action.

Just one trouble.  I need to re-learn how to tie a tie.

Monday, 15 November 2021

Rainwater Harvesting Pump 3 !

 There is a lot in this Blog about our rainwater harvesting system (RWH).  If you use the search facility just below the title picture, the tale of woe is well recorded,

Good for the planet and saving a good deal on water bills, RWH is expensive to install and, it turns out, to run.  We found that Kingspan Envireau's controls were complicated and ineffective.  We replaced them with something much simpler and reliable.

At the heart of the system is a massive underground tank with a submerged high pressure Ebara Multigo M40/08 water pump:

It doesn't look much in the picture but it is a big and heavy beast at 17kg.  Expensive too with a RRP of £780!  We are now on pump number three - which easily negates any water bill savings and calls into question the economics of RWH.

The idea of possible repair rather than replacement is now being explored.  If repair is not possible we may at least get some answers on why these amazing (when working) pieces of kit are failing.

Nobody nearby repairs such pumps but I filled in one of those 'contact us' forms online to Whisper Pumps in Nottinghamshire.  On a Sunday I had a reassuring e-mailed reply from their General Manager offering to take a look and repair if possible.

Watch this space.

Saturday, 30 October 2021

Mica Heaters

 It's a while since we did a post about an apparently very good buy and this one seems too good to be true, so here goes.

Our Terminal 3 - the insulated and double glazed shed-on-the-hill, cruelly dubbed our Wendy House by architect Stuart Green, has been almost useless in winter as it is unheated.  Conventional electric heaters take so long to heat up that it is just not worth the bother.  Yet it is a gorgeous man-cave.

Casting round for a solution I came across this little baby:

Not the prettiest thing on God's earth but in heating terms it seems like a break-through to me.

The make is Duronic but there are others out there.  It is a mica or mica-thermic heater.  It is light in weight so can be moved from room to room with ease.  Inside a metal cage are four flat mica panels through which pass electricity, 100% being released as heat, as with most electric heaters of course.

What is remarkable though is that the output of heat is almost instant - partly as convection and partly as radiation.  There is no fan so it is silent.  Ours is 2 KW and there are two very obvious controls.

The top one is on/off and power. The lower is a thermostat.  If it is knocked over it turns off.

Result - instant local heat and comfort for short time use - a quick read of the Sunday paper maybe - or for more general space heating longer term.

The Wendy House seems to have become a year-round option.

The current issue of Which? magazine has a feature on electric heaters.  Mica-thermic heaters do not get a mention.

Usual disclaimers of course.

Monday, 11 October 2021

Settle from the Air in the Fifties?

 This has cropped up online in the last day or two.  An amazingly detailed aerial picture of Settle which actually gives a view of the water tower from the east, before it became obscured by trees.

There it is near the top left:

click picture to enlarge

Note the near absence of almost  anything on the far side (above) the railway.  Exceptions are Settle gas works and a few houses along Bankwell Road, Giggleswick.

Date seems to be late 1950s or early 60s by the look of vehicles.

Here's a bit of a zoom-in on the water tower and immediate area. The tank is full of water and the footbridge across the top can be seen:

Friday, 8 October 2021

Life's Good

 We have just spent an hour on the sundeck in front of the Wendy House / Terminal 3.  Tipped off by our local weather app that the sun would be shining until sunset and with higher than average temperatures we have been able to:

-watch the vapour trails and look-up on  Planefinder where they are, what they are and where they are going (way out over the Irish sea and destinations ranging from Inverness to Miami)

- watch the commuter trains coming and going and thanking our lucky stars we are not on them

- putting the World to rights


The sundeck never fails to deliver something.  Here's some blue sky, sunset and impending doom!!

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

Toys and Trailer Tucked Away

 It's been raining. Lots. This has meant that the cavalcade of Toys and the big trailer had to get wet for a couple of days.  Yesterday though, I was able to get them all sorted.  Both big toys were running sweetly for the first time in ages and with the help of the tractor I have been able to tuck away the big trailer in the area that used to be occupied by the tin shed - now at the station.

For the benefit of the best-daughter-in-the-World. there's still work to do but the-best-dad(dy)-in-the-World is getting there and it keeps him out of mischief.

Friday, 1 October 2021

Big Boy's Toys Running Again

 My two Toys are a Yanmar 2 cylinder diesel tractor and a Geest three-wheeler truck. Neither has run for two or three years.  The tractor had a blown head gasket as it turned out.  The Geest truck just wouldn't start.  During the time we were doing the extension they were both sources of background worry at a time they could both have been useful, had they worked!

I actually had the diesel mini-tractor engine in bits for ages but admitted defeat.  Would I be able to find somebody to mend both machines, including an engine as a box of bits.  On a local Facebook page I found Graham Fawcett machinery and plant-hire at nearby Bentham.  They revel in challenges and came up trumps - firstly with the tractor and now with the truck, collected today and both vehicles are back home.

The tractor's engine is on top form now and runs like a dream.  A deep, low, slow, chug-chug-chug is almost soporific.  With tow balls front and back it enables me to manoeuvre the big trailer (another toy) with ease.

The truck now starts first-pull and runs beautifully.  Graham Fawcett had clearly fallen in love with it and was most impressed with its 'good as new' Villiers engine.  The truck had not been a total success on our extensive yards, covered as they are in stone chippings, quite deep in parts.  The single front driving wheel tended to rotate then dig in.  The truck would be stuck.  At Bentham we decoded that a factor was the front tyre - a smooth road-going type which could have much more grip with a tractor type of tyre so that is what it now has.

Here are the toys on arrival at the water tower this afternoon;

And here is the chunky front tyre on the Geest:

Tomorrow I shall DRIVE it off the trailer and we shall find out if it all works,  I might even seek to get it road registered.  Wouldn't that be real fun for trips to the tip?

Monday, 27 September 2021

Satisfied Customer

 Since the easing of COVID restrictions I have resumed my voluntary role as an On-Train-Guide on the Settle-Carlisle Railway.  It is my only remaining contact with the Friends of the S&C besides being a member.  I enjoy it immensely and it is spiritually rewarding when people go out of their way to say thank-you when we reach our destination.  Sometimes they force money on me which I reluctantly accept.  It gets spent on S&C related things around Settle.

One kind lady went a step further and put a lovely public 'thank-you' on Twitter this weekend.  Not sure which train she was on - I have done three return trips this week! 

As posted it showed a cropped picture of the On-Train-Guide and I couldn't resist clicking on it to enlarge it.  Lo and behold it was me:

Happily she had chosen my best side.  The band round my head is for my face-shield.  I use a hand-held microphone and wireless loudspeaker which enables an entire carriage full of people to hear my commentary without me spitting COVID at them.  I wander up and down the carriage so that I don't block the same people's views all the time.

My repertoire, developed over a couple of decades, tends to be light hearted and participational.  Not too technical but ensuring that passengers get to see those sights they would almost certainly otherwise miss.

This is what the kind lady posted.  Modesty almost prevents me from posting it on this Blog.  Almost.

Friday, 24 September 2021

Not Just a Lift - Now a Goods Hoist Too

 Among the advantages of living in a former railway water tower is that your ceiling is among the strongest ceilings possible - it consists of the underside of a massive water tank built to hold 43,000 gallons of water.  That tank rests on absolutely massive cast iron beams at just 4 ft centres.

The ceiling easily supports our 13.5 tonne roof room and, potentially, much more besides.

We could, if we so wished, suspend enormous weights below it, not that we would particularly want to,

Some years ago in a moment of weakness I bought a rope hoist from Bretton Lord, as a youngster the star of the wonderful funny/tragic film 'Lad'.   I really DO recommend you view it

Lad - A Yorkshire Story

It was useful for a while to hoist stuff to and from the garage/navvy hut loft but it was frankly too long for that lift so we had to deal with many metres of thick and heavy coiled-up spare rope.

Nonetheless it was a fascinating piece of yesteryear and useful kit.

As part of operation-clear-up we were worrying what to do with it when inspiration struck.  We have occasional need to lift or lower heavy items between the three floors within the tower and our atrium at the south end runs the full height of the tower.  So would Bretton's (very heavy) rope hoist fulfil that occasional need?

Yes, if we could devise some means of securing it to the 'ceiling' by its massive upper hook.

Well, this week the Last of the Summer Wine gang from the signal box came to the rescue.  They were able to firmly wedge a section of scaffolding pole between two iron beams high above the atrium and to hang the immensely heavy block-and-tackle from it.  The 68m rope turned out to be of perfect length for the lift.

Not the sort of thing everybody needs or would want in their home but perfect here.

Also in the picture are harness hangers from the days when the tower served as wartime stabling for heavy horses and an incredibly useful and capacious industrial chest of sixteen drawers.  In harmony with it surroundings too.

Awesome and useful.

Monday, 20 September 2021

North End Platform

 Finally got round to finishing the small deck area outside the sliding window door of bedroom 1 at the north end of terminal 2.  The ground slopes steeply and it is almost sunless.  A shady outdoor retreat therefore on one of those rare very very hot days.

Frame made from scaffolding parts with decking boards bolted to them with stainless steel chunky U-bolts.   Covered in that green stuff that fruit and veg men use to display their wares.  The cast iron corner posts for the railings are original Midland Railway ones that once held railings onto the bridge that crossed the water tank,  It finishes off that bit of the garden neatly:


I should add that the deck is not connected in any way with the main building.  It is free-standing.

Talking of the Midland Railway, Pat is now its Chairman.  Yes really - The Midland Railway company no longer exists since the railways were nationalised 100 years ago.  FoSCL's astute solicitor, Edward Album, bought the MRC Ltd when the line was under threat of closure all those years ago - 'just in case' it might be useful one day and to prevent scallywags from buying it.  It has been resurrected and Pat is its Chairman!

Saturday, 18 September 2021


 Just found this for sale on E-Bay:

click to enlarge.

I doubt it will be a best seller.

Friday, 17 September 2021

Gardening the Modern Way

 That's my excuse anyway.  The steep embankment below the Wendy House / Man Cave / Terminal 3 and its amazing sun terrace is only safely accessible by abseiling down and hanging on to heavy duty chains securely anchored into the ground.  Gardening it is a problem.

The plan is to encourage the carefully chosen shrubs to spread and cover it.  Meantime we would have unsightly bare areas of rocky soil and clay.   One answer nowadays is to let nature decide what should grow there.  This has been remarkably successful this year as what might have been deemed to be weeds have flourished and allowed to flower - attracting bees and butterflies galore.  Roses too have appreciated company.

Not at all bad actually.  Because of the slope, you cannot get very close to the planting so what matters is the overall effect.  You can see the roll-up sun shade over the terrace in the top picture and retracted in the lower one.  An exceedingly good buy which shades from the sun and protects from any rain, much extending the usefulness of the terrace.

The fence that runs along the middle of the banking is made of 3 x 8foot long scaffolding tower panels, formerly parts of Gordon the Gondola, camouflaged by trellis.  For the history of Gordon the Gondola do a search for Gordon using the line below the Blog's title picture.

The slope has gone from wilderness / problem area to most attractive and useful part of the gardens, full of interest and varying textures.

Tuesday, 14 September 2021

Water Crane Magnificently Repainted

 A prominent feature in front of the water tower is our water crane.  I had painted it soon after it was installed and I confess I did it in something of a rush.   It looked OK for a while but has got into quite a state, as can be seen in the title picture to this Blog.  Members of the Last of the Summer Wine gang of volunteers at the signal box had most expertly repainted the identical crane alongside the box which made ours all the more shabby in contrast.

My scaffolding-climbing days are numbered or over so I was reconciled to just living with it. Then, lo and behold, I was told that the Last of etc ganged had decided to paint ours too!

Every detail absolutely perfect.  Special thanks to paint brush maestro Chris Clarkson.

Wednesday, 1 September 2021

Nephew David is a World Record Holder

We are immensely proud of our wonderful nephew David Kay .  Yesterday he entered the Guinness Book of Records for the longest Space-Hopper bounce - fourteen miles from Rossall to St Anne's pier to raise funds for the local hospice.  It was invigilated by Guinness scrutineers and received well deserved TV coverage too.  At the end David was 'knackered' (his word) and never wanted to see a Space Hopper again in all his born days.  Several burst beneath him, pitching him backward with ignominy.  He started at 8am and finished at 1am next day.  In practising he had only completed one mile.  An amazing feat of endurance and dedication to a cause.

Well done David - you DID IT! 

Typical of the shy little cousin with whom Lorna grew up, David has blossomed into a magnificent adult of whom any family can be proud.

Monday, 23 August 2021

Tim's Tandem and Russian Vine



Tim's amazing Kew House in London

for the story of Tim Lucas - top London architect and engineer who designed the supporting steelwork below Terminal 2.  On Saturday he and his daughter Alex (12) stayed overnight in T2 as part of a coast-to-coast tandem ride between Bridlington and Morecambe.  Tim had not seen the finished Terminal 2 and pronounced himself delighted.  Head-on is the least impressive aspect of a tandem bicycle but here goes:

Believe me, it is an impressive machine from sideways-on!  It actually folds in half so it can go on trains or in a car.  It was built in Holland where they know a thing or two about bikes.

The picture was taken in the open bay at the west end of the navvy hut which is quietly becoming covered in the much maligned Russian Vine, at its floriferous best just now:

Friday, 20 August 2021

Another New Photograph

 This cropped up on Twitter, I think.  It is said to depict a 'Peak' locomotive and train at Settle en route to Leeds CENTRAL station.  I wonder if that can be correct.  Anyway, there's the water tower in the background.  Date unknown but maybe 1960s?

Tuesday, 17 August 2021

Buddleias Update

 Here's a picture of our spectacular buddleias now that the flowers are coming good.  It's a bit too windy for butterflies but the bees are doing their bit.

Thursday, 12 August 2021

Well Done Sixth Former James

Grandson #1 James got his GCSE results today and he has delighted everybody - not least himself.  He has been at the amazing Dr Challoner's Selective Grammar School in Amersham since leaving primary school in 2016.  Along with his contemporaries he has had to home-school for months and months during COVID lockdowns so GCSEs have been a worrying time all round.

Mainly to confuse grandparents the results nowadays are on a numerical scale 1 to 9, 9 being the highest.

Here are James':

English Literature 6

English Language 6

Religious Studies 7

Maths 7

History 7

Physics 7

Geography 8

Chemistry 8

Biology 8

  In terms of the A B C grades, a 6 is equivalent to a strong B, 7 is an A and 8 is an A*.  Present intentions are to do Geography, Biology and Politics in the 6th Form.

Here's the bright boy looking very smart on his first day at Challoners:

For our American family and just to make your jaws drop, Challoners was founded in 1624.

And a week or so ago in Norfolk with his revision tutor Darcey:

Sunday, 8 August 2021

A Flag and a Jag

 I have been busy finishing off the sun terrace in front of Terminal 3 / Man Cave / Wendy House but have resisted postings about the work as the family are here this weekend and I wanted to surprise them.

Here is the building in front of a threatening August sky but it shows

1. A shortened and relocated (from the water tank top) flagpole

2. A lengthened set of balcony railings now running almost the full length of the sundeck

3. An extendable canopy / sun shade on top of the west window

Overall, this bonus building, combined with  the access stairways and nicely maturing embankment creates a very pleasing addition to the whole site.  And the views from the sun deck are stunning.  Believe it or not, architect Stuart Green actually approves of the Wendy House, describing it as 'very good'.

Daughter Lorna meanwhile had her own surprise when she rolled up with the boys in their snazzy new Jaguar F Pace.  Eight forward (automatic) gears!