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Sunday, 25 April 2021

Bricks and Bats


Let's start with the bats. As part of the major refurbishment of our lovely old Folly in the middle of Settle the roof has been renewed, or at least re-laid.   Almost inevitably, evidence was found that bats used the roof space.  No actual bats, just 'evidence'.  The Bat Police insisted that the new roof would enable bats to return if they so chose.   Here is the rather clever solution to that - a very neatly crafted lead tile with a bat on it.  The bottom edge of the lead tile stand just high enough above the row of tiles below for bats to fly through.  Blind or not.

And bricks you ask?  Well, not bricks in the made-of-clay sense but stone bricks, from which the water tower walls are most elegantly made.   Here is a picture of the left side of the south facing stone wall.  Nothing unusual about it at first glance but look again at the course of stones more or less central in the picture.

There you see the daddy of all stone bricks stretching the entire width of the wall between the carefully detailed quoins at either end:

Few or none of the stones are of uniform lengths yet they fit exactly between the quoins without recourse to small fillers to make good any gaps.   Wonderful Victorian railway craftsmanship.

And an enlargement:

Notice too the minimal amount of mortar between the courses.  Just about impossible to re-point and not in need of it either, happily for us.

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Broken Neck Stories

 Pottering round clearing up a recent building site I heard a 'Hello' form the direction of the Sidings.  I looked round to see the snazziest of the wheeled and battery powered tricycles you ever did see:

"I heard you had an accident" said the rider.  The rider was a Giggleswick near-neighbour who turned out to be a fellow broken-neck survivor.  We spent a delightful half hour comparing war-stories.   We had met when he visited the water tower some years ago.  He was well known locally as he had a light aircraft, based on a grass airfield at Oxenhope near Keighley and frequently flew over Settle.  He had agreed then to fly me over the tower to have a look at it from above.  That never came about because his aircraft crashed on landing at Oxenhope in 2014 when its nose wheel dug in to soft ground and the aircraft flipped over.  He had broken his neck and fuel was leaking onto him when residents of a nearby caravan park raced to rescue him and his passenger.

Fortunately for them both, a fireman who was flying behind them had witnessed the crash and suspecting spinal injuries,  intervened, probably saving two lives.

My Giggleswick friend had indeed broken his neck and he and his passenger were airlifted to the Leeds General Infirmary where his C3 fracture had lengthy treatment very similar to mine. He too now has a neck full of titanium but, though avoiding total paralysis, is quite seriously and permanently disabled - hence £6,000's worth of electric tricycle.

Once again I thank my lucky stars.  And he his.

Friday, 16 April 2021

Two Jabs and Garden Progress

 Yesterday was J2 Day for both of us.  We had to travel to Skipton this time for another superbly organised military-style operation at a location with a recent history.   It is called Gateway House and it is a vast white-elephant of a green-field building on the Skipton By Pass.   Built by the financial sector (I am being discreet) very recently and now totally empty:

The ends of the building have massive arrays of solar panels which tilt automatically for maximum sunshine

The ten minutes of recovery time could be spent on the sun deck, overlooking Airedale

Garden progress?  Yes, big time.  With the help of two local lads, Connor and Jack, we have extended an existing but rather ectopic overgrown flower bed right along the top of the banking by our boundary wall to the rear of Terminal 2.

In some of the more barren and remote bits of ground we have transplanted self-seeded buddleia bushes which positively thrive on former railway land.  They spread too and the butterflies love them.  We shall see.

Wednesday, 14 April 2021

The Man From Del Monte He Say Yes

Maybe a couple of decades or more ago there was one of those really memorable adverts on TV: 

Today brought it to mind,   Unannounced, architect Stuart Green turned up for the first time since the latest lock-down.  I did not recognise him at first - a scruffy Herbert on a bicycle, his face unrecognisable with a beanie hat and the obligatory COVID mask.   He confessed that this was not the first recent visit to see for himself how the cladding was coming on.  He has also been following this Blog so he knew the cladding was due its final inspection by its designer.

We walked round eyeballing, prodding and shaking my months of cladding work.

Like the man from Del Monte (you HAVE looked the link above haven't you?) - he said YES!

Not perfect - it was never going to be with two different cladding systems being mixed and matched - but a definite YES from Stuart.  Phew!

Scruffy Herbert Stuart got back on his bike and sped off - battery powered of course to go with his Tesla motor car.

Can't  leave you without a picture - here another view the COVID sit-outside cafe behind Settle's Victoria Hall, with our 50th wedding anniversary tent-quee in the background.  It opens fully tomorrow.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Parapets Finished

 The parapets panels for the Terminal 2 Extension were delivered on 1st February and, winter weather plus COVID permitting I have worked on the rain-screen cladding on-and-off since then.   The walls are virtually finished but before the last few wall panels were levelled to perfection I needed to finish the parapet panels.   Today I can declare the parapets to be finished and the flat roofs are at last clear of tools and other gubbins.

Here is the top of the very long rear wall (wall B to those in the know).  The lighter panels are re-used from the original kitchen extension (Terminal 1).  The darker ones are new.  Both are RAL 7012 in colour code but the older ones have spent a decade pointing flat-on skywards.  The vertical panels below are a good match so this is a secret between you, me and the curlews.

Each parapet panel sits on 100mm or so of foam insulation left over from the main building work.  Besides filling the gap it acts as sound deadening in heavy rain and hail.   I am pleased as Punch with the straightness of the outside angle, to the right.

Here is the sticky-out bit at the south end, walls C, D and E:

Maturing Nicely in God's Own County


We are getting towards the exciting part of the rear extension / Terminal 2 and its surrounding garden area.  Thanks to some very expert planting a year or so ago by Settle's Lay of the Land we begin to see results.  Among the most delightful are the aubretia plants that are making themselves at home among the new dry stone retaining walls.

We're beginning to look less like a building site by the day.   There is immense satisfaction to be had in turning an erstwhile coal yard into  somewhere pleasant to live.

And in the big wide world beyond, the Yorkshire Dales make for a magnificent back-drop.   Courtesy of Facebook here is a selection from Yorkshire Life.  Enjoy:


Wednesday, 7 April 2021

Corner Panels and Brunfelsia Pauciflora

 Well, we're almost there with the second-fixing of the final cladding panels.  'Second-fixing?', I hear you cry.  Let me explain.

78 year-old me has been working alone on this cladding job, over winter.  I need not bore you with why.

First-fixing was to get all of the heavy and oddly shaped panels into place securely enough to withstand the winter winds.  That was an achievement enough, believe me.  Each panel has four sides so there are gaps all round between adjacent panels, top, bottom and to each side.  Necessarily, no one panel can be set permanently in place (or second-fixed) until its neighbours are accurately placed so that the gaps can be evenly spaced.

On flat walls this is tricky enough but at the corners of the building things get complicated.  Instead of there being six variable dimensions to get right (up, down, left, right, in and out), there are twelve corner dimensions (6 x 2) as there are two faces with which to jiggle about.  Vary any one and the rest vary as well, to a greater of lesser extent depending on the size of the panel.

Besides all that, the panels must fit exactly round window and door openings which have been created by fellow human beings who have aimed at getting them perfectly square.  So too the walls of the building itself.

Fortunately, the overall effect is generally seen from a distance so slight differences in the all-important gaps become less apparent the further away the viewer.

Here is an example of the sort of thing that has to be adjusted at this final stage:

Note the lower corner outside edge of the top corner panel.  Ouch.  Just about every fixing dimension is wrong.  Bear in mind there is another face to that panel at 90 degrees to it, round the corner. Today was just too cold to concentrate outdoors but tomorrow is another day.

How do we know which of the two corner panels is square to the building and which needs adjustment?  This is a picture from the top of the tower looking down on the top of the upper panel, showing it is perfectly square.  The top plate has been riveted to the adjacent parapet panels and to the vertical corner panel below, which must be square to the building - at least at the top edge.   Unseen from below this is how each of the corners have been dealt with at parapet level - an immensely strong and square joint.  Strong enough to hold a Spitfire together in fact! :

Talking of tomorrows, our 'Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow' houseplant (Brunfelsia-pauciflora)which has survived living with us for 30 years has put on a spectacular COVID lock-down show for us in 2021.  Each bloom lasts just three days, hence the name:

Monday, 5 April 2021

It's Daffodil Time Again and an Easter Present from Rail Cam UK

 The daffodils on the station  drive are spectacularly good this year:

Each morning we do a sweep-up of the fallen blooms and bring them indoors to enjoy them:

This year there have been fewer fallen blooms presumably because fewer members of homo sapiens are using the driveway.   Sad.  Nonetheless, the bulbs just keep multiplying and there are many, many more daffs to go at.

With these quantities of daffodils and a constant turn-over of them the smell is wonderful.

The Easter Bunny did particularly well this year with lots and lots of sunshine AND the replacement of the Ribblehead Viaduct camera which has been off line for many weeks.  This is today's morning view: