Hello all
  Most of the country seems to have had a difficult winter, floods and rain, high winds and blocked roads. Usually Tarbrax has all of that and more, the wind often takes roof slates that aren't well fixed. The wind direction is the main factor, it's only when it blows from an unusual quarter that things come undone. Anything loose blew away years ago. One or two house-owners discovered the effect of patchy maintenance, especially sick nails, (slate-nails rust), caused in turn by the occasional missing slate which is quite often caused by people on the roof cracking one slate while repairing another. Our roof is concrete tiles, and although the wind had a few out just after it was put up, I'm glad to say it seems stable now. (fingers crossed, just in case)
    I can't say I'm a great fan of slate roofs unless they've been renewed with new slates and proper linings. Given the choice I'd use Solar (PV) panels. If the glass is strong enough for hail and snow-burden then you should have the lightest roof with electricity generation thrown in. Curiously I've not seen any with an overlapping bit to throw the rain off, it always drips down in between.

      There's an idea for a enterprising chap. develop a roof that is all solar panel and fixed or velux type window and get rid of a ton of concrete tile or slate. Put in decent insulation while you are up there, and you won't even have to re-decorate on the inside.

  However, getting back on track, we seem to have been rather lucky with the weather so far, although always anticipating some Spring gales. We've had a few broken tree-tops and the odd conservatory leak in the most extreme conditions, where the wind blew the rain uphill. That's a Scottish speciality, there are quite a few waterfalls where you can stand underneath them and stay dry, because the water gets blown back and sideways, eventually falling somewhere leeward. I can't say you won't get blown over though.

  The weather has been unpleasant enough to keep me in for more than usual over the last few months though, mainly rain, just wet - nothing too serious, so I've been doing a bit of decorating, well patching up damage caused by my other projects, and was pleased to find that the paint in the tins from 10 years or so ago had survived, so it doesn't usually need complete make-overs. The kitchen needed a re-paint, as I hadn't any of that colour left, and I took the opportunity of dismantling the air circulation trunking I'd put in a year or so back, it had worked, but not well enough and it made too much noise. I would have tried one of those blade-less fans by Dyson, but they are rather expensive. Perhaps if I could work out how they do what they do....

    On the small car front, avid followers of my scribblings will know I've been looking for a tonneau-cover for the red Midge. Well it is fitted now, and adjusted to include 'pockets' for the steering wheel and seat tops. It looks exactly as I had hoped, and since I lifted the engine out (again) to free off the clutch (again) the car is now running well. A bit of fine engine tuning might be worthwhile, but mostly it just needs some sunshine to go out in. 

Roll on Summer.

The green Midge may get a tonneau cover as well, soon, I'll have a word with the man who makes them on our next journey south for Mum's birthday in March. Most of his work has been on Cratch covers, i.e. The cover for the open bits on canal going narrow-boats. His plan is to specialise in Midges and see what demand there is. 

   There has been a little progress in the garden, what with the weather and all, I did manage to fit the door-frames to the poly-tunnel, and cleaned the bricks (excavated from under the poly-tunnel) seen on the right. I'll be using them, in two layers in the floor of the additional garage. It was a labour intensive task, but saves a few cubic yards of concrete, recycles a ton of old bricks and the resulting empty space was promptly used as an extra compost heap that Fiona has wanted for a while. Gardening seems to produce a vast amount of waste, especially when we don't have any grass cuttings, or, actually, a lawn. I suppose it is quite a big garden, the biggest source is probably path-weeds and snow-berry clearances, and we take the garden waste from a couple of our neighbours who don't compost because of a lack of room.
    There are three bays of about the same size on the left side of the new one seen lower right, all full, although the oldest one should be ready for emptying soon. The corrugated steel comes from the recycled chicken shed roof, I forget where it came from originally, I think Charlie, the previous owner, left it when we bought the house, possibly on the old wooden garage roof, so it has been recycled at least three times. It may look a bit home-made, but it has impressive green credentials and just costs time, and a bit of lateral thinking. Sadly I couldn't find a place where the right hand post would go any further in, but it's an eight foot post, so it should be ok.
     Fiona has being working at the north end of the Fern garden, we added a stumpery and a garden seat, a while ago and this tidied it up quite a bit. I was going to use the bollard to keep the coal lorry off the corner of my drive, but it seems to have put up with is so far, and it would only irritate the coal-man if I had his tail lights off. So the bollard becomes an ornamental feature. 
    I wonder if I could add a sun dial, I always wanted to make one with a summer-time adjuster. Though I'd rather just keep to summer-time all year.

    I realised last night (one of those odd thoughts that drift through your head) that I moved to Scotland in 1982 when I was 5 months short of 30. Since I am now 61 (if my late-night maths is correct) then I've been Scottish a year longer than I was English. Occasionally we think of moving south for the climate, but the extra space is good, the summer nights are longer, and warmer than you'd think and the population density, outside the cities, is lower. I guess I'm Scottish now, or at least, marginally more Scottish than English. Maybe I'm just me.  
    I would say the Scottish government is doing a better job of looking after it's electorate than the English though, and I definitely get miffed when the Westminster government applies a rule that the Scots don't want and can't stop. For that and a number of other reasons, I'm in favour of Scottish independence. My apologies if that offends anybody. It's not nationalism so much as a growing feeling that Westminster doesn't take much notice of us up here. Parking a load of nuclear weapons here didn't  endear  the Westminster bunch to me, I can't think of any reason to use a nuclear missile anyway, and the intended budget for a new Trident kit is just daft when you consider they say that flood prevention is too expensive.

The Government estimates £15 to 20 billion (2006 prices) for that bit of insanity, but haven't added vat, which has also gone up by another 2.5% so it's probably been 'adjusted' to make it look nicer, and I'm assuming that is for the 4 subs and its missiles. Which they don't even make in Scotland, they just park them here.

Greenpeace estimates £34 billion  thats £34,000,000,000, so, even saying that the government is as honest as Greenpeace, which is pushing it a bit, the mean is going to be nearly £26bn.

    That would pay for all the flood damage and prevention systems for a couple of decades, although a bit of common sense in planning regulations, growing a few trees and putting european beavers back in the rivers would probably reduce those costs considerably.

    For me, the tipping point was when the government got extra money back from the EU specifically for Scottish farmers, but decided to keep it, that and the fact that I can't think of an English politician I would trust in charge of a whelk stall. Now I'm never going to trust any politician absolutely, but at least the Scottish ones want nothing to do with any nuclear weapons, and put it at the top of the agenda. And, so far, the SNP has done what it said it would do.

    I don't suppose anybody's going to point my ravings out to Cameron, and if he read them he probably wouldn't  take any notice. He knows he is right, further education would require careful and methodical use of a baseball bat, and  I'm against cruelty to animals.

    I know why he wants to keep Scotland though, apart from the profitability, how long before Cornwall, Yorkshire and Northumberland said they were leaving too? The UK would still be the same really, but the Westminster government would be of Wessex and maybe Mercia. Smaller pond, smaller fish. The Conservatives all look a bit fishy anyway.

    There again look at the dear old US of A, in Arizona they've just decided that it's OK to discriminate against gays if you don't like them. 
    I think I'll just stop listening to the news, its always so negative.

     On a more positive front, I finally worked out why the cam-corder wasn't working, a bit of obstructive work by Samsung, now sorted, so I'll be able to put you-tube stuff up again, to the delight of all. My ordinary digital camera did movies, but it's a bit clunky in operation. The Mac computer has some good software for film editing, but it can't compensate for my erratic camera work. Still, I think a three reeler of the garden would find a ready market, just missed the Cannes Film Festival, but there's always the oscars.
see you next time