Hogmanay approaches, 2013 almost gone, but not finished yet, there's lots to do and only a few short daylight hours to do it in. The ground in the poly tunnel is more or less ready, a few more loads of horse manure and a bit more levelling will have it ready for spring. Then, when the ground has thawed out and the air is a bit warmer, the plastic cover can go on. I have yet to decide on how to hold the edges down, but several methods are possible. I'm going to try to avoid the deep burial method, it takes so much work when the cover needs changing. So far the idea is to make a composite wood edge, and batten the plastic to that. Ideally the inner and outer battens will have polythene drapes to reduce their rot rate, as on the elevation view. You don't really need to know all that, but a few comments might be triggered, and it helps to draw it. I've got a feeling that it may produce a mess of bits on some computer screens.
The first poly-tunnel door is up, although I'll have to move the hinges to the other side, it's the original wood, but seems ok so far. I'll get the other one hung, and then stop till spring when the warmer air will allow the plastic to go on, it needs to be fairly soft, which it certainly won't be at the current 3˚C. I think it might look a bit huge when it is complete, I just hope Fiona doesn't decide that it needs to move somewhere less obtrusive, like underground.
The weather, while blowy, (it took the top 3 metres off the top of another Larch last week), and wet (another leak in the porch) but remains quite mild, rarely dropping below zero. The occasional frost disappears once the sun's up, and the cats are still going outside occasionally and Errol likes to sit in the West wing which is a bit cool for us humans. He's sitting rather cautiously at the moment as he had an accident with his tail which left a bump in it. That's reducing now, but he's been a bit careful this last week, and doesn't like people too close. Whether it was an infection from a bite or a misjudged leap onto a heap of loose bricks, he's not telling.
Out in the garden I made another platform for some logs that turned up as somebody's surplus, and discovered a small colony of Oyster mushrooms growing on a Rowan log. The type looks safe using the reference books, but we started very cautiously with a minimal portion, and suffered no ill effects, they were delicious. My first foray into wild food gathering, if you ignore the blackberries, blaeberries (scottish version of the blueberry, quite different) and brambles, apples, hazelnuts. Come to think of it, it's just a bit riskier looking than before, wild fungi gathering has a few exciting lessons for the incautious. Definitely tasty though. I'll try to encourage a few more by putting similar logs under that one for the spores to land on.
Well it's the 1st of January now, so I shall follow Rachel's lead and immediately break my resolution not to make New Year resolutions this year, though I'm not sure what effect is had by making the two elements simultaneous. One for Professor Hawking I think. We made a point of sleeping through the celebrations, but it happened anyway, and I didn't go collecting mistletoe with a silver sickle at midnight because it's much easier to buy it freeze dried at the local supermarket, or even fresh and organic from the internet. Hopefully the rest of you managed to get through the various celebrations without mis-hap, I've got a feeling that quite a few got a bit wet on the outside, which is not nearly as much fun. Father Christmas brought me a new fuel pump for my Green Midge, though he failed on the Venison steaks for some reason, and I'm hoping to go dashing through the snow as soon as the snow arrives. At the moment it's more a matter of splashing through the mud, which doesn't have the same ring to it. The Tarbraxian winter, normally an event to put the fear of a suitable deity into motorists in the area, has, as yet succumbed to global warming. We were told to expect warmer, wetter winters and windier autumns soon, but I was hoping for a couple more years yet. I've been recycling, generating energy from renewables and insulating as best I can, but I think some people out there are not doing their bit. I even made a plastic wind-turbine toy from a chinese kit, which served as an object lesson in why we need to get our manufacturing base back here. It was as ever, 'damned clever' in concept and price, but so badly manufactured that it was doomed to failure. Seriously though, Paul Camilli whose blog I have mentioned before, had a similar experience with a real one. If anybody out there thinks of buying a Yangzhou Shenzou, don't. I have noticed a few things, previously made in China, manufactured elsewhere, hopefully the beginning of a trend.
When Dad died, a while ago now, I inherited his DeWalt bandsaw. I've always tried to maintain it properly, but it's difficult seeing what it is doing on the inside, so it's largely a matter of clearing the sawdust out and listening for unusual noises. Yesterday it made just such a noise, so I took it apart to find out what was going on, thinking that it might be the end of it if a non replaceable bit had worn out. I'm pleased to report that it was just a worn bearing, parts 217 and 153, and that all the parts are still available on line, this bit being a few pounds. I'm replacing the guide bars as well (£5), so I think I should be able to keep it going for another 20 years or so, as there's only another two bearings in it. The old equipment just keeps working, given a bit of maintenance, and while most people keep looking for new stuff, I prefer to get repairable old stuff. At the moment I'm looking for a treadle type Singer sewing machine. The new one works fine, but it just can't handle the heavy cloth.
On the subject of new, some of my power tools went missing a short while ago, some enterprising lads hoping to make a bob or two before Christmas no doubt. The result was an upgraded security system in the workshop and extra Christmas presents for me from a very reasonable Insurance company (esure.com). I am sure they have made plenty of money from me over the years, but it's nice to have a quick resolution with no haggling and all the things replaced with the same or better in a couple of days. The house-breakers, a term that the police still use for such miscreants, will probably be able to sell the chainsaw, but the rest was well worn and the charger and batteries were the wrong ones for the hand drill. If they are clever they might get £40 for the lot, but I doubt they are, and there's a punishment for every crime. Not that I wish them any harm. Heh heh heh.
So, once I've put some oil in it, I should be able to get on with cutting logs with my nice new up-graded chainsaw, it was slightly annoying having just topped up the old one with the last of the special oil. At least it shouldn't leak petrol on my leg the way the old one did if you weren't careful with the iffy fuel cap. Husqvarna seem to be better than Electrolux at making them.
Heh heh heh.
Pity about the angle grinder though, still, everybody knows you have to be careful with them when they get worn with age. Same is true of chainsaws, come to think of it.
All in all we've had a pretty good Christmas, and if the jet-stream would get it's act together, we could have seasonal snow-drifts instead of vast puddles in the roads. It'll look nicer anyway. Surprising how many motorists just rush at them, only to stop half way through. Remember, if you have an old car, the fan will throw the water all over your spark-plugs. The green Midge has that kind of fan, but I don't take it out in that kind of weather, though I suppose I could take the fan belt off for a minute or two, if unsure of the depth.
My first Morris 1000 (Bluebell, donated by B&B in '72) had a few holes in the floor, so if the carpets started floating, you knew it was getting a bit near the fan. One of the blades, metal then, flew off one day and made a dent inside the bonnet with a rather loud bang. It worked fine once I'd re-balanced it by snapping the opposite blade off. The only other fault it developed that I can remember (apart from running out of petrol) was an odd clonking noise on acceleration, it turned out to be the coil bouncing off the bulkhead, swinging on the HT lead. A fine old motor, maybe I should get another for when it rains. There's one for sale at £470,000, which seems a bit steep, (I didn't believe it either, have a look), though they are selling new soft roofs for £350, only ten times what I sold my whole car for, a mere mumblemumble 38 years ago. Most are going for between 4 and 20 grand, hopefully in better nick than the ones I knew. Still, given a bit of care, it would go up rather than down in value, and doesn't need a tax disc, or (pre '62) an MOT. Granted the 0 to 60 is checked by calendar rather than a stop-watch. The one on the right is a bit younger than mine were, and is going for £3,950 I'm not sure about the new style front indicators though.
Bearing in mind what you'd get for that in a newish car, I can't see the advantage. It would take a while longer to get from Edinburgh to Winchester, and would use a bit more fuel than the Zafira, but I would expect it to be on the road, or a museum, in another 40 years. Actually I think I'd get a hard top, I have got two soft tops already.
Time for tea, have a happy 2014, (is it that time already?) and if you can't be good, then at least be careful.