Saturday, September 22, 2018
This morning, Keith and I set off to Tattenhall, near Chester. Why? Well, a trip for the Flying Scotsman had apparently been planned. It has been showcased on various trips around the country during the summer and today it was travelling from Crewe to Holyhead and back, via Chester. When these trips are broadcast, they are always rather cagey about the details of the route and exact times and places it can be seen, apparently because they think that people might be stupid enough to stand on the rail track in order to get a better view. (Sigh!)
However, they reckoned without Keith. He knows the area very well and soon pinpointed a certain bridge just outside Tattenhall as a good vantage point, so off we went.
The day was overcast, but at least it wasn't raining, and these photos are stills from the video which Keith took from his tripod which he had set up on the wall of the bridge. Nothing if not organised, but it was just as well as my camera failed me miserably and the Flying Scotsman, despite its great age, showed that it was still just as capable as it ever was of travelling like a bat out of hell. It could certainly give our ageing diesels in North Wales a run for their money. In fact, we would probably be better off with it than with the 'new' (second hand tube trains) that we are soon going to be using round here. (But that is a whole other rant for another day.)
The last time I saw this engine was in 1969 when I was travelling back to college in Hull from Bristol. It still looks just as impressive, having been through a lot of ups and downs in between, of course.
Some day, Keith and I would love to treat ourselves to one of these trips on the Flying Scotsman, but tracking them down before they're fully booked is harder than one would think. So if anyone knows of a website where we can actually get to book a trip, do please let me know.
Thursday, August 23, 2018
Nipsa 7,5 OHV Four Stroke 9
Yes, go on, click on the link. You know you want to. Take advantage of following Keith in his journey of making two stroke and four stroke engines out of his own head.
Proud of him, I am - even if I don't understand more than one word in six of his explanations and am overcome by a feeling of intense nausea when I look at the incredible mess in that shed ...
So if you are at all interested in this sort of thing, or know someone else who is, please visit his YouTube site and give him a thumbs up.
Monday, August 20, 2018
Lately, by which I mean over the last few months, Keith has developed an unhealthy interest in trolleys. When I say trolleys, I mean tea trolleys. Think 1950s housewife tripping lightly into the living room, pushing a tea trolley piled high with cucumber sandwiches, tea pot, rattling crockery and, of course, cakes, lots of cakes. I think it's probably the healthy eating diet that we've been following that's got to him, with the result that he is rapidly becoming obsessed with cakes of all shapes, sizes and calorie content and the problem of how to access them.
"Wouldn't you like a nice tea trolley to wheel in the supper every evening?" he queried hopefully.
I left him in no doubt that hell would freeze over before I appeared before him pushing a trolley of cakes or delivering cakes by any other means, for that matter, apart from the fact that we don't have supper and that, I thought, was that.
Cue Keith's next idea - an internet trolley.
This, he explained, as its name suggests, would be connected to the internet so that if we ran out of cake and er, cake, an automatic order would be sent to the nearest supermarket to replenish supplies.
He's threatening to start work on designing it imminently ...
Friday, August 17, 2018
(Note that I am talking here of people who are voluntarily cutting back and 'downsizing', not those who unfortunately have no choice.)
Some have only two plates, mugs and sets of cutlery.
What do they do when they have visitors? I wonder.
One woman only has enough food in the fridge AND freezer for a week. By the time shopping day comes round again, the cupboards, fridge and freezer are bare.
What does she do if she's ill or something crops up and she can't go shopping that day? These things happen. And does it mean that she has the same menu week in, week out? Not like my system at all. When asked what I am cooking for the evening meal, my reply is usually 'Whatever falls out of the freezer when I open it,' to the amusement and/or horror of friends who pride themselves on being a little more organised.
In the meantime, I am thinking of doing my own YouTube video on Keith's desk ... Now there's a challenge!
Monday, August 13, 2018
I haven't been down in the valley with Toby for several weeks now, but the other day, we did pay a quick visit. It was a lovely day, there were plenty of mallards squawking and squabbling, as they do, and a few coots but no moorhens.
Most of my photos are taken on an iPhone 6 plus, one handedly, as I have Toby's lead in the other and let's face it, Annie Leibovitz et al really have nothing to worry about. But maybe I should look at some instructional videos on YouTube - although they would probably begin with something along the lines of 'Ditch the dog and use both hands.'
Or, perhaps I could train Toby to take them ...
Monday, August 06, 2018
It was probably back in the eighties that Dad bought a new wooden bench for the garden. It replaced the one he had built himself, which had been there since we were children, and always sat under the dining room window to provide a vantage point from which to survey the rest of the garden. Mum used to sit there often in the summer and Dad too in later years. So when he moved up here to live near Keith and myself, it came with him and provided another vantage point in another garden.
After he died, it came to our garden and being by then in need of sprucing up, I sanded it down and coated it with Osmo oil, which according to Kathy, would be better than varnish.
"Make sure you put several coats on," she said, after I'd put the first coat on and thought I'd finished. So I did.
So there it is, in all its glory, in our garden, where I can sit on it and survey our garden - and Keith's shed, of course!
Saturday, August 04, 2018
Regular readers will probably know that Keith is a man of many talents and is always 'fettling'. Recently, this has mainly involved doing things with pieces of metal and lathes and mills in the shed - sorry, his workshop. Every so often, he emerges to tell me what he has been doing, scattering tiny shavings of metal and plastering door handles and walls with black handprints in the process. I do sometimes think back with great sympathy and understanding to Thora Hird's character in 'Last of the Summer Wine' as she refuses to let her husband in the house before she has laid down copious sheets of newspaper. I'm just not quick enough!
Anyway, this week, he has discovered a webcam focused on Trondheim port and has spent many happy hours watching the comings and goings there. Actually, that's not strictly true. Ships not generally being fast moving, he can spend hours watching very little, so then he progessed to www.marinetraffic.com, which he has used a few years ago when he was tracking the journey of the Delica which he had bought from Japan. (Yep, don't ask. I can't believe I didn't blog about that!)
However, he can now follow and identify the ships and ferries that travel up and down the Norwegian coast. Remember Slartibartfast of 'Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy' fame? He spent a lot of time designing the fjords and coastline of Norway and, looking at the map, he could be justly proud of his efforts.
So, from there, we progressed to another site which shows air traffic and Keith had just identified a Virgin plane on its way from USA to London, when, hey presto, we heard it outside and managed to catch sight of it as it passed overhead. I kid you not! Big Brother is watching you takes on a new meaning when Keith's on the case.
Of course, he didn't do anything useful, like book us a Norwegian cruise, but maybe he'll get round to that tomorrow ...
Tuesday, July 31, 2018
Toby and I walked past the horses' field the other day and these two were peacefully surveying the world and all passers by. The photo is poor quality I know, but you try taking a photo with one hand while trying to restrain an energetic, impatient small dog with the other! The field is quite large and houses about a dozen horses and it's the one which is currently under threat of being covered with yet another housing estate. It isn't really the horses' field, of course, but is owned by the university and rented to a nearby riding school. However, the university have decided that they need to sell various pieces of land around Wrexham in order to fund their fancy new projects, and that's why I'm pretty sure that, in spite of all the local objections, and we have objected very strongly, although I still haven't had to resort to chaining myself to railings, they will end up selling the land with outline planning permission for 127 houses, which is their current aim.
Of course, we have just endured six years of building noises and disruption on the land behind us, the local primary school is over-subscribed and has nowhere to expand to accommodate growing numbers of pupils, the local surgeries, well they are not really able to meet current requirements, let alone an ever increasing local population, and the roads are more country lanes than roads and busy enough at present.
Maybe the council will listen to our objections and refuse planning permission, at first anyway. But as we know from past experience, applications will be re-submitted two, maybe three times, until eventually, permission is granted and we shall lose yet another piece of green in our area.
Monday, July 23, 2018
Actually, it's the best few hours of the year, for teachers at least. The summer term is nearly at its weary end. If you've been lucky, these last few weeks have been sunny and dry, but not too hot, just pleasant enough for the children to be able to have outdoor playtimes and maybe a few extended PE lessons to boot. After all, that excited, pent up energy has to have an outlet somewhere (and that's just the teachers!)
The days are being counted, then the hours. Parent evenings, reports, special end of year assemblies, tearful goodbyes (or not) to Year 6, with a brief consideration of next year's oldest class waiting in the wings - however nice they are now, by September, the hormones will have kicked in and they will quickly transform into the worst Year 6 ever - all are done for this academic year.
And now come the best moments of the year, driving home, knowing that six weeks of child-free time (other people's, that is) beckon like a welcoming oasis in a hectic life. Yes, there is always lots of preparation to do during the holidays, both in school and out. (DON'T let me hear the faintest whisper of teachers getting longer holidays than anyone else!) However, putting in the hours at home or working in school with only colleagues, caretaker and cleaners for company, is an extremely welcome alternative to the normal school year, just for a few weeks anyway.
I think back to my working years and immediately I can conjure up that end of year feeling. But now, the joyful feeling comes from knowing that I don't have to do any of it any more. Getting older means getting a little creakier and having a little less energy, but it certainly has its advantages!