Sadly summer seems to be on hold again, and reports of flooding are, well, flooding in as we return to a more average amount of rain. Several month's worth all at once though, which isn't great. Still it does clean off the roofs and solar panels. Then of course the roans get clogged with the needles that recent winds threw around. Larch are particularly good at blocking down-pipes (as I may have mentioned before) being deciduous and shed their leaves for Autumn. Humans and other animals have their own uses for the various firs, larches, pines and spruces and it's fairly easy to tell them apart....The trees that is....Pine needles for vitamin C for instance and Spruce roots for cordage. Unfortunately I never have the right Wikki page available when in the woods. It seems to be down the how he needles are mounted. Pine needles come in bunches and Spruce are prickly. Fir needles are notched at the distal end and the soft larch needles fall in fall. You should remember those, as most likely I'll have forgotten again and will have to ask you.
Anyway, it means that when it rains heavily I have to go out and clear the over-spilling gutters. Carefully of course as I, like most men, have fallen off the odd ladder. No permanent damage as yet though.
The rental house is now ready for occupation. The last adjustment was the extraction of the old oil tank. That was easier than I expected as I happened to have a trailer of the right size and ramps to slide it on with. There's a manual winch at the front. The trailer worked for this job, but I'll have to decide whether to scrap it or repair it soon as the visible blue wheel is a bit wonky and needs a new suspension unit. It is a heavy and awkward beast to manoeuvre, to turn it manually I have to wind down the jockey wheel until the front pair are in the air.
The removal was made slightly easier because the oil had been largely used up. I'll donate the residue to a neighbour as trying to sell the relatively small amount is more trouble than it is worth, probably 30 gallons in old money. As to finding a use for the old tank I'll have to get creative. The one that held oil for our own house became, after some cleaning out, a rain water store. Ideally I'd like to get it a few feet in the air so that it could gravity feed the poly-tunnel sprinklers, but once full that is going to need a really solid base.
Fiona has discovered a seasonal nesting site for sand-martins in the top edge of the shale bing. I think they come up from Africa. Hopefully the shale extraction won't happen during the nesting season, this year the Covid restrictions meant they had a quiet time of it and they all seem to have moved on now.
I tend to use my iPhone for photographs. The tech has developed quite well and, for internet snaps quite adequate. I reduce their size quite a bit so that they don't take up too much space and load quickly. The downside is a lack of optical zoom, so I must remember to take a better camera for the more obscure corners of the landscape. Here's the latest view of the village from the top of the bing.
I was thinking I'd have to take the phone in to get it repaired as it wasn't charging. Fiona found the solution on the internet, impacted pocket fluff in the charging port. It must be a common problem, although perhaps most iPhones are traded in before they get clogged up. I found some dust covers which can be left in until it needs charging. Why Apple don't provide a little plastic bung is beyond me, maybe I have more lint in my pockets than most.
We heard a clatter a few nights ago and the cats came in from the garden at full speed. I didn't think much of it but noticed eventually that Custard was more twitchy than usual. I thought of checking the security footage a day or so later and was surprised to find we'd had visitors. No wonder Custard was a bit nervous. I don't think the owner was aware of the dogs excursion, but they will be on a lead when passing the house from now. The cat has always been a bit careful outside, probably from previous experience of dogs. I must see if I can build a refuge or two as my garage doors are a bit of a barrier. There is the cat-flap visible in the main doors, but it wouldn't be easy to get to quickly.
Other recent activities have been quite local given the ongoing pandemic. A minority of people don't seem to be taking much notice but I think there will be a resurgence of the first wave which should kick in around the middle of August. Hopefully the majority of the villagers being careful will prevent an out-break here, we have quite a lot of elderly and many have underlying co-morbidities. I don't count myself in that group although I suppose my recent 68th birthday will have some effect on my risk factors. I don't think the majority of the low risk population have really thought about it, but I know that about 95% haven't been contaminated and don't have any obvious cause for immunity. As Dr John Campbell says to those who don't seem to understand, 'don't worry, you'll probably never know the people you kill'. The link above takes you to an early you-tube video but he does one most days. He is quite polite about government pronouncements and official statistics, but is also cynical as he knows considerably more than most politicians. The thing on the right should show you the latest at the time of writing.
The village has been quite organised with food supplies and other support for the elderly, infirm, and financially challenged. I know of some locals who have seen their income significantly reduced, and few families in the UK keep more than a week's supply.
I think we'll need to support a few for quite some time as there are many at risk and I don't think there's going to be a vaccination option for several months. The benches I assembled have non perishable food in and there are two village halls with fridges and freezers. We also started up a small garden of raised beds, seen here early on, because vegetables are not always thought of as urgent and although we have good supplies at the moment, there are a few months to go yet. And that's not forgetting the approaching Brexit effects and Winter. I've noticed several new poly-tunnels and greenhouses, a few flower-beds have turned into vegetable plots and the fridge and freezer supply in the area was snapped up in a few days. I even bought a bigger fridge for us and replaced the small rental house ones with the mid sized one we had before. Fiona invested in a food dehydrator for surplus stock. I was quite surprised how it reduced beans (reaching their sell-by date) to tiny blackened sticks.
I don't know if we are more cautious here and I'm not expecting the food supplies to run out, but it's worth a bit of preparation just in case. Most of our imports come in through England and we noticed that the PPE we ordered was diverted before it got to us.
In practical terms the whole pandemic has had very little effect on us, beyond a little charity work delivering and similar, so it has been quite restful being isolated. The cats still bring mice in, which we would rather they didn't, and I don't think that's likely to become a food source. So with a bit of luck we'll come out into the Spring blinking but unharmed. Of course there will always be down-sides. More time to write news-letters for one.