November 2016
Getting a bit colder now, some sleet in the rain, although I was surprised to get snow on the 8th of November. It melted within 24 hours except in a few sheltered spots and the north side of some hills. Nothing serious, but decidedly early and, who knows, maybe the papers will be right this time. Some of them come up with the same story every year. It's going to be the hardest winter for 5, 15, 50 years. Since the serious meteorologists say you can't tell more than a few days ahead I wonder at their disregard for evidence, proof or even a well rounded theory. 
The actual forecast says 'Wintry showers later on Thursday and overnight into Friday will lead to some ice, primarily on untreated surfaces but perhaps also where grit is washed off by frequent showers. Additionally, 1-3 cm of snow may accumulate on hills above around 100-200 m and more than 6 cm above 400 m. Some of the heaviest showers could produce slushy conditions even at low levels'.
There's no doubt about it, it's a sight more accurate than it was. According to the forecast for the village - they are quite precise - we can expect snow around 7pm. Being at 1000 feet (300 metres) it might be bit earlier, we shall see. Our main unknown is the combination of wind and snow, I guess it is for most people. If it blows in the right direction and snows at the right time you can get 6' drifts or a flat 6" of the stuff. For people under 30 ' means feet and " means inches. Here's an old picture of me having some fun in the snow of 2013 Having a lot of trees means the snow tends not to drift, so it is easier to get through. Those of you who haven't been concentrating may now be wondering where the people over 30' are.
    Referring back to the weather forecast, I don't mind working in metric or imperial, but I do wish they'd either update the road signs or go back to talking in miles. You keep getting news items like there's a five mile tailback three kilometres out of the Blackwall tunnel. Well OK I made that up, but you get the idea.
    Anyway, as the weather approaches the wind is picking up and blowing the remaining larch needles into my gutters (roans here) and blocking them. I cut down a larch or two every year, but they just won't take a hint. The needles are very thin, so you can't block them, but only one has to stick in a down-pipe and the rest hide behind it. Before you know it the pipe's blocked with a yard of natural fibreglass.
    The local Villages recently got together for an energy meeting promoted by WATIF? I think I've mentioned the organisation before, I've always been interested in saving money, so the ecologically sound and money saving projects are just the thing for me. one of the bits I did was a lighting display, if that's not too grand an expression for it, showing the difference between Incandescent (40 watt), Compact fluorescent (7 watt) and LED (5 watt). I couldn't find a more yellow LED (right side) in time but they all give out approximately the same amount of light. The incandescent gets very hot, and the Compact Fluorescent takes a few moments to warm up, but the LED does the job best. Sites that compare cost like this one show that a household could save hundreds of pounds (and hundreds of kilograms of CO2) each year and the LED bulbs can often be found for a pound each. The one on the right came from Poundland.
    I managed to get a bit more (recycled) slab laying done before it got too cold. Not the best colours but nearly free, so no complaints there, and one less area for weeding. Since I had the washer out for the decking around the summer-house I pressure washed the other bits of decking and their balustrades. The device is a bit savage, and you have to watch where you point it, but it does well handled with care, and took the old layers off ready for a new coat of preservative.
    It doesn't look as though I'm going to get too much Midge work done in the immediate, plenty of Midge Club though. I ordered up a batch of shiny new Brass Badges, so shiny in fact that it's difficult to photograph them. All part of the service, and probably good training if I ever wanted to run a small business. Car badges have the advantage of going into small padded envelopes as 'Large Letters' I think replica antique AA and RAC badges would do a treat, though I'm not sure the motoring organisations would see it that way. The originals are certainly expensive, so I imagine the replicas would have to be very well made, quite apart from any copyright.
    If you want a badge I can sell you a pair for £4,022, which might seem a bit steep, but you'd get a working Midge which a member is selling as part of it, the badges and membership of the club thrown in. You will have to find your own flying helmet though.
​   As I indicated, what with one thing and a dozen others my Midge work is well behind. Although the garage can be heated, and I've replaced the old and somewhat inefficient fluorescent strip lights with LED lamps it still seems cold and dark. If I was starting again I'd extend the heating into a properly insulated garage so that it stayed as warm as the house. I did think of converting the dining room, but I don't think Fiona was too taken with the idea. I may have to rebuild the east wing conservatory one floor higher and tuck a small workshop garage underneath. The trick is to keep the smell of petrol out and not burn the house down. This is specially relevant as one of the trickier bits is making up new mudguard mounts. I know what I want, and can make most of them, but I need a forge, or a small equivalent furnace for heating bits of iron red to yellow hot. Then I can bend them to my plan. First I think I need some kind of heat reflective brick or shield. Maybe the slab lining of the new wood burning stove, or rather something like it. I remember the supplier said it was easy to replace. More on that later perhaps. Here's the beast at its current point of progress New wire wheels, Red Midge body on the 3rd (blue) Midge chassis. Mudguards, interior trim to finish, and bolting the body down, hopefully before Christmas.... well actually I'll be happy if it drives safely so the trim's not too important, but it'll need mudguards for the MOT.
​    Ah well, enough blethering, it looks as though the snow has been delayed until 10pm, although it has become more definite, and so a fire will be required. Both Fiona and Errol the cat look somewhat askance if there isn't something burning by 7, and I admit to liking it myself, especially on one of the low calorie days. The house holds a constant 18 centigrade in the morning and evening, so it's not as though it gets cold. We let it drop a bit at night, and in the middle of the day, there being less need for it. It's cosier in the evening, and doesn't use a lot of wood as the new one is more efficient, and burning trees in the living-room counter-intuitively seems to generate brownie points. 
    I've got another six large trees to come down before I can build the tractor shed, so I have to get burning the stuff soon or I'll have nowhere to put it. This (right) is about a third of the two small trees that were in the garden purportedly threatening the power line. They were actually cut up by a local company that adjusts trees for the electricity board, and I managed to get five Sitka Spruce removed from the woodland where somebody had 'padded' the delivery of young trees a few decades back. They were supposed to be 'native' i.e. arrived just after the ice age, which certainly excludes Sitka. Global warming may be a bit of a hurdle for some of the ones less able to deal with rising temperatures. With that and the various tree diseases that seemed to start with Dutch Elm Disease, we may be down to Willow and Eucalyptus in a few years. Challenges abound, it's a hard time to be a tree, probably not least caused by worrying about my wood burning stove as the time for woodland thinning approaches. Although it'll be another decade or two yet, I wouldn't want them fretting.