It's getting a bit chilly out, a few frosts and an annoyingly burst spray-head on the garden hose. My own fault for not bringing it in earlier.
Our cat Errol, here enjoying a spot of autumn sunshine, was recently watching the television which showed two fat and contented cats lying on their backs soaking up the sun. I doubt he understands pre-recording so he thinks it is real and after a while he yelled to be let out so I open the front door. When it became obvious it was foul, wet and downright nasty outside he decided to sit in the doorway until I did something about the rain.
I'm supposed to be a member of the most intelligent species on the planet (try not to laugh) but I cannot stop the rain. It's a problem. You might suggest I build a porch. I did, it's the outer porch door he was sitting at. The rain was making the floor wet. He complained about that too. If I were logical I'd push him out into the rain, shut the door and let him come back in through the back door cat-flap in his own time. But I am a compassionate cat owner / servant. My feet were getting wet and it was too gusty for an already impractical umbrella. I think he may have worked out that the television tells lies. Errol suddenly decided that outside was not an option, asked me what the hell I thought I was suggesting and walked back in. There's a thought though. Neither cats nor people walk out into a storm from a warm living-room for no reason, something made him think it might be a good idea. If it turns out to be less than the advertised elysian fields he doesn’t go. He turns around. He’s not very sophisticated, but he’s not stupid. There may be wonderful warm sunshine and free mice just around the corner, as on TV, but there isn’t any evidence to support that and it looked more like rain. Is it just me or is that a reasonable analogy for Brexit? A while ago I tried fitting a battery to the house, but the firm doing it were unable to make it work. Partly because they sent a heating engineer who could follow instructions but lacked training. He failed partly because there were defective components but mainly through the fact that the company were a load of lying cheating bandits. Later I discovered that there are a lot of battery systems ‘fitted’ but completely non-functional because they are not wired up. That is certainly how the first firm tried to leave me, asserting that it would be working perfectly once the sun came up. Basic banditry. Nothing new there, but lots of customers have them fitted in the loft and never check them, so the cowboy firms cut a rather obvious corner, it's a wonder that they put the rather expensive battery in at all. I have found similar business practices in house insulation where, for instance, the foam injected cavity wasn’t. I.E. Not filled, because there wasn’t a cavity! Fortunately I was able to make the bandits give the money back on the first battery, and I have just had a more reputable firm put one in properly. Obviously I was keeping an eye on the engineer, the previous one had genuinely tried to complete, but lacked several pieces of information. As a result I have seen most of the procedure and know what the ‘Approximate English’ instructions mean. I don’t intend to repeat the process myself, but it’s nice to know how to do it. If anyone out there wants to find out if theirs is working or not I can probably work it out over the phone. Now it is in, rather later in the year than I’d hoped, the solar panels managed to generate more than we were using for a few hours, and the battery charged up a bit. Then, when it got a bit darker, it successfully ran the house for a while, so all seems well. I’ve only put in one battery unit so far, and I’ll see how that goes before adding any more. The idea being that I can run the house through a power-cut, and can store my sunlight for night-time. It’ll never pay for itself in cash terms, but that’s not the objective. Apart from anything else it produces a small dividend, which money sitting in a bank at 0% doesn’t. Eventually I hope to link the electric car, the house circuit and the battery so that I can move the ‘commodity’ around, although I’d need some more batteries to optimise that. Nearer the equator I’d probably be able to run house and car on sunlight alone, in Scotland I’ll see how far I can get. It’s colder and not as sunny as it might be in winter but the days are longer in summer so the growing season, especially with a polytunnel, is better. As winter approaches I have to light the fire more often. However the wood is near enough free and, given an axe, and a little exercise it warms the house with little cost. We only use the fire when the outside temperature is below 5º C, as the insulation and passive solar heating keeps the house quite warm anyway. Well that’s the theory, but if Fiona and the cat start staring at the fireplace in a pointed manner, I usually take the hint. It has to be both because Errol likes a fire in mid-summer. Outside the house I’ve just discovered that two more of the trees in the wood are illegal immigrants (Sitka Spruce) so there’ll be no shortage of wood for a while. It’s a fast growing tree, which is why there are vast tracts of it in Scotland, and at the moment mine are collectively growing a bit faster than I can burn them. That’s not too bad all things considered, but I try to cut them down before they get too big or close enough to a power-line to warrant a professional tree surgeon. One of them has got to that point. Turn your back on a sapling and a couple of decades later it’s taller than the house. Unfortunately the last ‘professional’ put a tree straight through the phone line, something I could have done myself quite easily for less money. While not being an avid follower of fashion I’ve always liked the more useful kinds of new technology. Electric cars and house batteries certainly fall into that category. At the same time I want to reduce my environmental impact. That produces the occasional dilemma. The trick is not paying the full price for new kit. I managed to run on a basic not-very-smart-phone for a long time but it started to need charging too often, so I eventually ‘borrowed’ Bill’s old iPhone4. That worked well for a year, but the imminent conversion to electric car has pushed me into upgrading again so that I can find out where the car chargers are on motorways and such. (An app called Zap-Map that doesn't work on a 4), I noticed the new iPhones are costing in the region of a king’s ransom so I asked other EV users how much of an upgrade I needed. An ‘SE’ appeared on Gumtree for a reasonable sum, so I bought that. (I must remember to ask Bill if he wants his old one back.) I still find it annoying that gadgetry is so disposable, I’d much rather just upgrade the bits that need it, but I guess components would be more expensive that way as the manufacturers want to sell whole new ones. I was lucky enough to find some software which can use the iPhone4 as a drone control, so it won’t be wasted, although it was slightly annoying that they’ve changed the size and the connections just a smidge so I have to buy new cases. The display of Scotty Turnbull’s pictures in the Museum of Army Flying seems to have been appreciated by the public, so I’m leaving them there for now, although the museum is closed for a few months to allow refurbishment. We took the opportunity to swap the flowers for a boat or two.
Originally Mum’s idea, this was to be an initial two month loan starting last May, extendable depending on how long the museum found them attractive. That’s now up to to a nominal year, neatly coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the start of the RAF and the armistice. We’ll see how it goes from next July or thereabouts, as I assume that sooner or later the display area will be wanted for something else.
The more reminders of the cost of wars we have the better. Unfortunately there still seems to be a good profit to be made for a few at the cost of the many.
The moss seemed to be getting a bit enthusiastic growing between the monoblocks on the drive so I thought I'd better clean it off. I don't mind the moss as such but it stops the rain from draining, Time for a pressure wash, I'm certainly not going to try scrubbing it with one of those little brass brushes, the drive's a bit big for that. I had a pressure washer, but it was second hand when I got it, and although it is a proper industrial piece of kit, it has never worked well. I considered hiring one, it should only be needed once a year, but the charge for two days hire was almost as much as the one for sale at Aldi so I bought that instead. Now I'll need to find a home for the old one.
Have a happy one