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Saturday, 30 January 2021

Two Little Pricks

 Today has been V Day.  Vaccinations, that is.  Both of us at the same time - 0900 - at our walking-distance local Settle Townhead surgery.   They had five or six vaccination stations inside the main building and another one in a posh new Portakabin  on the surgery car-park for the infirm or specially vulnerable.

We had to fight our way there against a biting northerly gusty wind with occasional snow showers for good measure through the near-deserted town centre.

Townhead however was a hive of superbly well organised and welcoming activity.  There were volunteer meeters and greeters cum ushers.  We had to join a socially distanced queue outside of ten or so people, then inside, peeling off our outer garments as we shuffled along in a jovial moving lesser queue.  Then into one of the familiar consulting rooms with three people already there - a nurse and two more volunteers.

Questions asked about our suitability then sit down, roll up sleeve and a totally painless injection of the Pfizer vaccine - the one that has to be stored at some amazingly low temperature.  They had warmed it up, thankfully.

In and out in no time at all then 15 minutes of socially distanced and seated recovery time in what is normally the waiting room.  The chairs were given a thorough antiseptic wipe as occupants left, one by one at a +15 minutes time which had been written on a slip of paper in the vaccination room.  Prompt at 0930 we were away.

This was the very first vaccination session in Settle and they were doing 400 * today.   Had it been earlier in January we would have had to travel to Skipton - and would have gladly done so of course.

* UPDATE they actually did 425.

Well done Pfizer and all the others who have developed vaccines in record time.   And well done Settle too.  A splendid community effort by the wonderful Townhead surgery, staff and volunteers.

Still with COVID, this notice is doing the rounds on social media.  It was taken on the Leeds-bound platform of the S&C's delightful Garsdale station.  You need to know that Garsdale is in the middle of nowhere with a widely scattered population of 200-ish.  And a dog.  It is unstaffed and does not have busy periods. Ever.

Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Underfloor Woes and War Stories

 Our light hearted recent posting about Crud stopping our underfloor heating from working properly sort of explains things. This morning we had a welcome booked visit from Rob Smith who had worked on our heating system before and knows it well.  Rob now works a plumber with the successor firm to Les Hobson Ltd who fitted the system back in 2011.

Rob agreed about the Crud being a problem and we talked through several options which may, or may not,  provide us with a long-term reliable system.  We agreed that the best port of call would be the system designers Mysons.  Particularly so as the 10 year guarantee period on the system expires later in 2021.

We I have just filled-in one of those awful 'contact-us' e-mail forms thus:

We have Myson full system underfloor heating which has never preformed consistently.  It was designed by Myson, drawing ref GHD 7319 dated 14/7/11.  The system is large (14 zones) and featured positively on Channel 4's Restoration Man.  

Conscious that the 10 year guarantee is running out we are anxious to get things sorted out properly.  It has more or less totally stopped working and appears clogged up in some way.

Please may somebody from Myson's come and have a look at it and tell us how thing can be fixed, either under guarantee or at our own expense.  Local plumbers have been contacted and agree that it needs attention via Mysons. 

We have asked via this 'contact us' system for details of recommended plumbers but have not yet had a reply.

We would like to send photographs of the apparently blocked manifolds but there is no  'attach pictures' option.

Not want ting to cause trouble - just for somebody from Myson to give us much valued assistance - as happened when the system was being fitted and filmed!

Please help us again in our hour of need.  Mark and Pat Rand

I shall keep you posted on that.

It was good to meet Rob Smith again and we exchanged 'war stories'.  He knew about my broken neck which was so expertly mended via the NHS and the Major Trauma Unit at Preston Royal Hospital.   Rob too had a lot to tank Preston's MTU for.   Back in the winter of The Beast From the East Rob had been run-over by his own laden van on Constitution Hill in Settle.   He had been trapped between his van and a wall, seriously injured - including multiple fractures of his pelvis.  He remembers little apart from impressive responses from the emergency services.  The fire and rescue service used inflatable airbags between the van and the wall to free him - a tricky operation as he was pinned at height and would fall when free.  The plan to catch him worked about as well as our underfloor heating and he fell to the ground as the air bags inflated.   Ouch!

The air ambulance flew him to Preston.

On a happier note, this;

Monday, 25 January 2021

Building Certified at Last

 When we became a building site we notified our buildings etc insurers NFU Mutual so that we were properly covered.  That was fine and the premium actually dropped slightly.  NFU asked that we notify them when we were no longer a building site, using the building control certificate on completion.  We have been trying to get a completion certificate from Craven District Council for many months since the building inspector's final visit but heard nothing - COVID / working-from-home etc.   Turns out that Bob Morris our very helpful building inspector had left CDC for pastures new.   CDC have something of a retention problem all round because of local government reorganisations . . .   Anyway we now have our completion certificate.

We also have blinds at all but one of the extension windows and very smart they look too.  This is the second bedroom:

The remaining unblinded window is the bathroom.  C'mon Blinds Direct of Wakefield.  Super blinds when we get  them.

And finally a couple of atmospheric pictures of Ribblehead by Peter Guy and one of Long Preston by Matt Stroh:

Friday, 22 January 2021


 Our underfloor heating (ufh)saga continues but we are getting close to solving it.   The answer, we believe is CRUD* - accumulated unwanted debris gumming up the works.  Local plumber Luke Tyler did the diagnosis and he was bold enough to say that ufh is not his mainstream speciality (and no charge for the diagnosis).   

Here is a picture of said crud:

The row of white thingies sticking upwards are transparent tubes on water, one per heating zone, containing a bright red spring-loaded flow indicator - totally invisible for crud!  This is the downstairs manifold.  The equivalent one upstairs is as clear as a bell.  That's gravity for you, presumably.  Below is how these little babies are supposed to look:

* besides meaning unwanted debris, CRUD is a computer programming acronym,  Create, Read, Update, and Delete (CRUD).

If that crops up at a quiz-night you might thank me for that one day.

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Christoph and Pipes

 That's the name of a heavy rainstorm affecting the area over three days.  The Leeds-Settle-Carlisle railway line has closed because of flooding during the course of today, Wednesday.  Enigmatically, Northern are saying 'flooding between Skipton and Carlisle' - which is a helluva long flood.  We shall see.

Meanwhile it is comforting to have so much of our rain-screen cladding in place.  Somehow Terminals 1 and 2 feel cosier but in fact the temperature in terminal 2 holds rock steady at 22 degrees C.

The central heating in the main tower is still not working well but thanks to a visit from plumber Luke Tyler yesterday we are hot on the heels of the cause some of the valves which control the fourteen! separate underfloor heating zones are stuck in the shut or not-full-open position.  Luke himself was not able to fix that as it is a job for an experience underfloor heating specialist - in hand.  Here are just 8 of those 14 zones, serving the ground floor:

Meanwhile upstairs:

Sunday, 17 January 2021

Cows and Cladding

 We are obeying covid lockdown meticulously but I can and am pushing on with the external cladding as weather allows.  It really is rather fun and I am taking great care to achieve millimetre accuracy. Today I finished off a rather tricky external corner.  Just one more panel to go (tomorrow) and that's the lower course of the rear wall done - to be finally adjusted when the parapet panels are all in place.

This is one of the two south facing walls today, complete 0n it lower level with a tricky corner.  I know it has been of some concern to neighbours who feared it would be a perpetual unfinished blot on their landscape:

The snow has gone for now down here in the dale but it is still there on the tops.   Here are a couple of lovely pictures of Ribblehead station and of the Settle Highland cattle:

That's a Relief

Back in May 2013 there was a post on this Blog where I made passing reference to having dug the first sod of the Bingley Relief Road.

 This was met with some disbelief at the time.  It was front page news in the Bradford Telegraph and Argus back in 2001.  Believe me, you normally have to kill somebody to get on the front page of the T&A.  I knew I had the relevant cutting somewhere as evidence.  Well, yesterday I was sorting through loads of rubbish in the garage loft and I came across this:

Why me digging the fist sod?  I was President of Bingley Civic Trust back then and the Civic Trust had campaigned for this hugely controversial road to be built on a route that would have to go right through the middle of the old town, there being no realistic alternatives.  There had been two public enquiries, the first of which had had to be abandoned because of disorder.  The second lasted for three months, chaired by a retired no-nonsense Admiral, Sir Stephen Berthon.  Pat had attended every single day and given evidence of the Civic Trust's surprising but highly significant stance.  The T&A had wanted her to pop along to the construction camp and to be photographed 'cutting the first sod'.  She had agreed to do a radio interview so I deputised.  She has still not forgiven me.  There was no ceremonial sod-cutting for fear of further disorder so the 'ceremony' was an ad-hoc affair by the T&A, using a shovel from Wickes.

Reminded me rather of that classic TV advertisement where an old man telephones a bookshop and asks if by any chance they had a copy of 'Fly Fishing' by J.R.Hartley.  The bookseller said that they had and that he would post it on.  "Can I have your name and address please?"

Ah yes says the old man. "Hartley.  J.R.Hartley"    Good old Yellow Pages.

Saturday, 16 January 2021

Ingleborough from Whernside

This absolutely cracking picture of Ingleborough taken from the taller Whernside was posted over Christmas by the bYorkshire Dales National Park.   The background  looks like sea and perhaps is in part.

Certainly Ingleborough is visible from Morecambe Bay

We Really Should Get Out More

 Like most of the UK's population we are under lockdown - confined to the house essentially - as the country, indeed the World, struggles on its way during the COVID 19 pandemic.  This is not too big an ask here at the now-extended water tower in winter.  We are in good health all things considered as as far as we know we have not had COVID.

Today there was hoar frost about which covered everything outdoors with glisten, not least a spiders web which straddled the space between the Shogun's front wheel arch and the wheel:

Proof if it was needed that the Shogun has not moved for a while.  The old girl is not forgotten though - she started first go today, cobweb or not.

Meanwhile this bitter winter continues to show the Dales in all their glory.  Below is the view from one of the accommodation rooms of the Station Inn at Ribblehead with the viaduct centre stage and Whernside in the background:

And here's one of Pen y Ghent with its winter coat on:

Meanwhile son-in-law emeritus Alan in Pittsburgh has done us the favour of recommending the water tower blog as a fascinating glimpse of life in the Yorkshire Dales.

And as cure for insomnia.

Friday, 8 January 2021

Diarlemma Solved

In normal years we pop along to Settle's Victoria Hall any Tuesday in November and get ourselves a page-a-day diary for next year but not this year.

We found ourselves diary-less quite a few days into January and the local place for such things had sold out.  We went onto E-Bay and bought a diary which arrived remarkably soon,  Only trouble was the pages were scrambled:

As Eric and Ern might have said "there's all the right dates but maybe not in quite the right order".

Not just that, the dates are on the insides of the pages - in the fold of the book - so they are invisible as you flip through!

We still needed a diary so took to Facebook's 'Settle Chat' group and, lo and behold, a Samaritan called Kenzie Forster came to our rescue.  She had a spare 2021 desk diary and she delivered it to us!  Remarkable.  Thank You Kenzie.   That's the sort of place Settle is.

The Settle Chat comments chain was amusing - why did we, or anybody else, NEED a 2021 diary the way things are!  Can't go anywhere, can't meet anybody and every day's the same.

Wednesday, 6 January 2021

The Old Vicarage Syndrome

The Old Vicarage Syndrome?  Yes.  When the CofE was rich they built vicarages in fine style and BIG.  Many survive but few still serve as vicarages.  They are the preserve of the secular rich who may be better able to maintain them or, most importantly HEAT them.  Hence the OV Syndrome - the vicar would retreat into a small self-contained part of the building while the rest remained unheated during the cold months of winter.  Then come spring the grander larger part would be re-occupied after 'spring cleaning' of course.

We are in a similar situation just now - the main tower is cold, both downstairs and above.  The underfloor gas-heated water pipes are getting no heat - possibly because their horribly complicated room thermostats have thrown in the towel.   The boiler is working fine, thanks to its service and is heating the Terminal 1 new annex - the kitchen, a WC and utility room.  The brand new bit (Terminal 2) is electrically heated and is warm as toast.   The rest, the stone tower is off limits for now.  Luke the plumber had seen there was a problem when he serviced the boiler and got it going.  We had a new boiler in late 2018 and he suspects that was incorrectly fitted, either in its plumbing or (more likely) its electrics.   He is liaising with electrician Steve Dinsdale and we shall try to sort it out but meanwhile the Combined Terminals 1 and 2 are proving an ideal winter retreat for the 'vicar', his wife and cat.

The room thermostats may be replaced with straightforward 'on/off and temperature' dial types.

Meanwhile it is cold.   Here is this morning's webcam image from Ribblehead station:

I've Invented a New Dish

 A Blog or three ago I mentioned the post-seasonal problem of eating up turkey.  Among the tongue-in-cheek suggestions was sweet and sour turkey.   From little acorns come giant oaks.  The other night we had, you guessed it, sweet and sour turkey:

Apart from the overall idea, my main contribution to this culinary breakthrough was a firm stipulation that the turkey pieces must be cut into cubes.

Turkey, let's face it, except when surrounded by the rest of Christmas Dinner, is frankly bland.  Cardboard would have more flavour.  It is a vehicle for topping up your protein and for making Bernard Matthews rich.  Jazzed up with a jar of sweet and sour + Pat's inspired secret ingredients it is another animal entirely.

To add to today's joy, the main tower's gas central heating has been serviced and repaired at almost zero notice via a local Facebook entry which announced the arrival in town of a new plumber Luke Tyler from Leeds.  Super chap who knows his stuff and has an empty order book - but not for long.

Finally, three post-Christmas pictures from online by Tom Nom Marshall.  Haworth Main Street, Keighley station and Saltaire, each a timelessly iconic Yorkshire scene

Saturday, 2 January 2021

Pictures Still Keep Cropping Up

I am sure I have mentioned from time to time in this Blog that few pictures exist of the water tower as it was in its day such a commonplace building barely worth the cost of film.  Yet a couple more have appeared today courtesy of historian Nigel Mussett:

Above ; a sad and neglected water tower with trees starting to invade the coal yard.  The electric street light is at least functional

Below:  the south end of Settle station showing the now re-located signal box then standing by the large goods shed.   The platform was the still gas-lit and the up line water crane, fed from the water tower, can be seen:

Pictures - WR Mitchell collection