Saturday, January 28, 2012
We have a plague of Roadwork Pixies in this area at the moment. These creatures descend on our roads, dig holes, and then disappear, leaving road traffic and pedestrians alike with the most amazingly intricate hazards to negotiate.
This is what a trip between my house and Waitrose currently looks like...
Bottom of my street:
Outside the Co-op:
Opposite the walkthrough to Waitrose (note the newly filled in hole in the foreground as well as the new hole further down the road on the opposite side):
Proof that the Roadwork Pixies do eventually creep back and fill the holes in again... In this case, during the time it took me to get my groceries. :-)
They are sneaky little critturs these Roadwork pixies. Just for fun they like to occasionally take their Mini Diggers and use the buckets to mangle stray cables that happen to be in the hole they dig.
A while ago you may remember me mentioning that works at the other end of our road resulted in a power outtage of some considerable size and duration when a digger went through both electricity cables and Virgin's media cables.
This time the Roadwork Pixie at this end of the street (see pic 1) put his digger bucket through our electricity cable. Sadly, this was not a very smart Pixie. He sat on his digger trying to ring the electricity company as one by one, local residents went down to ask if he was the reason for the sudden cessation of their power.
The reason I say he wasn't a very smart Pixie was not so much that he sat there for all to get aerated at, but that he only managed to take out our side of the street from number 2 to number 26 (my house!) I mean, if you are going to do the job, do it right and take out half the town for goodness sake! ;-) If you don't do a thorough job of it chaos and rivalry ensues! As in this case. :-)
Instead of total cameraderie in our street, I had the dubious honour of having the neighbour on one side as bereft of electricity as me, and the neighbour on the other side happily using his power tools and washing machine, oblivious to the chaos just the other side of his fence. LOL Not to mention the gloaters across the road, smug in the knowledge that they could still watch TV and play on their computers, while waving their nice warm cups of tea at us. LOL
But once we had established that the Roadwork Pixie was at fault, by dint of going down and asking him ourselves what he had done (he must have got heartily sick of us all by the end of it), Tara and I toddled into town for a bit of a mooch, hoping that the cable would be fixed by the time we got home.
This was particularly important to me because I just happened to have a load of Just Dance Bingo's to dance and claim - the largest number in one go that I'd ever had! Five Bingos! Quite the collection! But unless the power was restored I couldn't dance the dances to claim my bingos.
We had a good time. I was broke, but Tara had pocket money, so we strolled around, she bought a couple of CDs and we came back via Castle Park, and were delighted to see the swans close to the footbridge:
And on the way back past the railway lines, I was struck by the amazing red of these branches:
Not to mention that the gorse is in flower - in January!!!
And one of the neighbours had these crocuses nestling in her front garden:
Sadly, we came back to find that we were still power-bereft, and indeed, were settling into the kitchen where we could have the benefit of heat from the gas cooker, and a table for some candles so that we could at least see well enough to play Monopoly in the rapidly encroaching darkness, when the power finally came back on 5 1/2 hours later! So, a mad dash to the TV and the Wii and I did my dances, and was lucky to only lose one Bingo because of the delay. :-)
So that was Friday! :-)
Well, it is late, and I must away, before the hot water bottle loses its heat. It is a pretty cold night tonight.
Enjoy the rest of your weekend. :-)
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Well, I'm back at the Big Garden. Yay!
We closed for a month over the Christmas and New Year period, and started back last week. Unfortunately I wasn't able to be there last week thanks to being unwell (you may have noticed I wasn't here much either), but yesterday I walked up to the garden, eager to see how it had fared over the break.
The garlic I planted has started peeking up from the soil! :-)
The polytunnels cleaned up beautifully from the vandalism, thank the gods, so no lasting damage there. They also survived the gales more or less intact.
Not everything escaped though. Some of the hazel fencing was bent at angles not conducive to a state of uprightness. :-) So the work was on to replace the sections that were beyond repair.
This is the sort of thing we were woking on:
They had started the work last week, when new stakes for the upright supports were created and hammered into place.
When I got there yesterday morning, Wayne, Bill and Billy were already hard at work coppicing Hazel, stripping the suitable branches back, and sizing up pieces for the weaving. Never having done anything like this before, I was eager to learn, so I dropped my bag in the shelter and grabbed a pair of secateurs before joining Wayne who was stripping the side shoots off suitable large branches with a lopper. Wayne making the thicker sticks for the large fencing panels, so I started trimming his offcuts for use elsewhere.
After creating a number of thinner and willowier sticks, Jo came up and suggested I use what I'd made to get a little practice at weaving by working on the low pieces that surround beds before trying to assist in tackling a large fence, which requires a fair bit of muscle.
She showed me where a row of stakes had been placed ready for a fence around one bed, and described it as being rather like putting a jigsaw puzzle together, and we all know how much I love jigsaw puzzles! :-)
A few sticks had already been put in, so grabbing an armful of the sticks I had already prepared, I completed the section all by myself.
At this point the rest of the Monday gang arrived, and we soon had another willing pair of hands lopping side branches off. Leaving him to it, Wayne and I went for a well-earned cuppa, during which he told me about a free course concerning waste-busting.
I hope it pans out. I've contacted the organiser for details. Apparently you do a one day course on waste-busting
Then you commit to spend at least 30 hours in the next year passing on your knowledge to others at shows and sucklike. Wayne thinks they are doing their next training session on 18th Feb. And the course is held practically behind my house! Talk about a convenient location! :-)
Once Wayne and I finished our cuppas, we went back to work, me still trimming branches and helping Craig, while Wayne went to the big pile to find suitable sticks for the large fencing panels.
I wandered over there a short while later to get a lesson in the building of a large panel.
It is hard work! Apparently, coppicing hadn't been properly managed before the Big garden came along, and as a result we don't have as many of the optimally bendy sticks to use at the moment as we'd like. This means you can have quite a wrestling match weaving long sticks that are up to 1 1/2 inches in width in and out of the upright stakes. You also have to be very careful not to let the stick snap back and whack you. Wayne still had a bruise on his chest from being whacked last week!
So, there were three of us working on this panel. What you do is...
You choose a stick, measure its length, saw off any excess, then begin the weaving process. You start each stick on the opposite side of the first stake from the previous stick, and bend it to and fro round each stake in turn, taking care not to let it slip off any of the stakes you've already wound it round! :-)
Once you have wrestled it into position (and one or two needed a fair bit of wrestling) you push it down the stakes as far as you can, then use a lump of wood to bash it the rest of the way down until it sits snuggly on top of the previous stick.
Then you select your next stick and repeat.
My arms and shoulders are aching this morning, and my right hand too, Can't imagine why! LOL
Hopefully, you can see in this pic the half-built fence panel right in front of the green shed. That is the one I helped with. :-)
I had a chat with Bill about my bramble problem as I was packing up to come home. Looks like I have my work cut out because the only way to get rid, apparently, is to dig it out. He suggested that I work to get it to ground level while the weather is still cold, and once the soil warms up in the spring, rescue my herbs from the space, and then dig the bramble roots out as best I can. Apparently, one of his allotments had previously been used to grow cultivated blackberries, so he knew what he was talking about, having had to clear the space himself before he could use it! :-)
I suspect that I may be lucky enough to have a couple of willing pairs of hands to assist with the digging part in the spring, in return for my assistance on their allotments! :-) Chores like digging out persistent root systems are much easier when done in good company. :-)
I was still on a high when I got home, and as the recycle trucks were due to pick up garden rubbish this morning, I grabbed my gardening gloves and secateurs and filled a couple of sacks with bramble cuttings, while rescuing chairs, a table and tools from the overgrown and intertwined bramble in the process. :-)
I hope you all have a lovely day. I'm going to take it easy today. The weather isn't conducive to further bramble chopping, being as it is raining rather persistently. In any case, bits of me are moaning somewhat after yesterday's hard work. :-)
Catch you all later!
Wednesday, January 18, 2012
DRILL PRESS: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room, denting the freshly-painted project which you had carefully set in the corner where nothing could get to it.
WIRE WHEEL: Cleans paint off bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprints and hard-earned calluses from fingers in about the time it takes you to say, 'Oh shih-tzu'.
SKIL SAW: A portable cutting tool used to make studs too short.
PLIERS: Used to round off bolt heads. Sometimes used in the creation of blood-blisters.
BELT SANDER: An electric sanding tool commonly used to convert minor touch-up jobs into major refinishing jobs.
HACKSAW: One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle ... it transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.
VISE-GRIPS: Generally used after pliers to completely round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.
OXYACETYLENE TORCH: Used almost entirely for lighting various flammable objects in your shop on fire. Also handy for igniting the grease inside the wheel hub out of which you want to remove a bearing race.
TABLE SAW: A large stationary power tool commonly used to launch wood projectiles for testing wall integrity.
HYDRAULIC FLOOR JACK: Used for lowering an automobile to the ground after you have installed your new brake shoes, trapping the jack handle firmly under the bumper.
BAND SAW: A large stationary power saw primarily used by most shops to cut good aluminum sheet into smaller pieces that more easily fit into the trash can after you cut on the inside of the line instead of the outside edge.
TWO-TON ENGINE HOIST: A tool for testing the maximum tensile strength of everything you forgot to disconnect.
PHILLIPS SCREWDRIVER: Normally used to stab the vacuum seals under lids or for opening old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splashing oil on your shirt; but can also be used, as the name implies, to strip out Phillips screw heads.
STRAIGHT SCREWDRIVER: A tool for opening paint cans. Sometimes used to convert common slotted screws into non-removable screws and butchering your palms.
PRY BAR: A tool used to crumple the metal surrounding that clip or bracket you needed to remove in order to replace a 50 cent part.
HOSE CUTTER: A tool used to make hoses too short.
HAMMER: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate the most expensive parts adjacent the object we are trying to hit. It is especially valuable at being able to find the EXACT location of the thumb or index finger of the other hand.
UTILITY KNIFE: Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on contents such as seats, vinyl records, liquids in plastic bottles, collector magazines, refund checks, and rubber or plastic parts. Especially useful for slicing work clothes, but only while in use.
SON-OF-A-B**** TOOL: (A personal favorite!) Any handy tool that you grab and throw across the garage while yelling 'Son of a B****!' at the top of your lungs. It is also, most often, the next tool that you will need.
Friday, January 06, 2012
I was in Waitrose today, scouting for ingredients for a slow cooker bolognese sauce. I turned to the Portabello mushrooms to grab a couple but was stopped in my tracks by this beauty!
Makes the orange pepper I put beside it for perspective look positively puny, doesn't it! It weighed close to 300g! The mushroom, not the pepper. LOL
It put the finishing touch to my bolly sauce, and I had a plateful tonight. Om nom nom!
In other photo news, it is snowing in Wii Fit Plus Land:
Incidentally, Mr Randomator, how am I supposed to open up the levels in Wii Fit Plus if you keep giving me the same levels I've already done? Sheesh! :-)
I am also loving Just Dance 3. I'm still finding my way around it. Not only does it have something like 45 songs instantly available, but there are other you can unlock by earning stars. You get up to 5 stars per performance, and for every 20 you accumulate it opens up other things, such as new songs, and mash-ups. It is also exercise-friendly, with a good section devoted to Sweat Points, and some of the mash ups are exercise related too. :-)
On top of that, there are some routines that are quite tricky to master, making me want to come back again and again, and unlike JD2, there are duets where you can actually choose which dancer you want to be, instead of only being able to do that if you have someone dancing with you. Plus they have a number of songs with four dancers to choose from, making it even trickier to master the dance moves when they do different things. It is SOOO cool! :-)
All in all, I think this is the best Just Dance to date. I do have a couple of things I'd improve on however.
For instance, I'd like to be able to have my own profile. The way the game is set up, everyone contributes to the same star count and medals. I'd much rather be able to accumulate my own stars and medals, and follow my own progress.
The other thing I really think they should have done is have a top ten scores list, instead of only having the top score available.
However, those niggles aside, I love it! :-)
Well, it's late, and I need my bed. I finally got a good night's sleep last night after three nights of disruption with the gales. I struggle to sleep when it sounds like my roof is being pulled apart. *shudders* Fortunately, the roof stayed put, unlike the fence panels between myself and my tricky neighbour with the dog issues. Three panels blew out. One may be salvageable, but the other two are basically matchsticks! In some ways I'm lucky, in that they aren't my panels, so I don't have the expense of replacing them. However, if J can't afford to (and I doubt she can), we have a problem, because the council only run a couple of strands of wire between the concrete posts. It is hardly conducive to stopping dogs from wandering off.
Oh well, at least the other side of her garden is still intact, which means there is a limit to how far the dogs can get, and Sophie isn't the type of dog to go wandering off in any case. She has been looking through the gaps but hasn't attempted to go into J's garden. She might get excited if Chuckie is out there though, and forget and go through. Time will tell I guess. :-)
Right, I'm off to bed in a min.
I leave you with two thoughts.
The first is...
If you want to brighten your day first thing, buy a Barbie-pink kettle for your kitchen!
I love my colourful kettle! LOL
The second is this:
Bryony gave me this for Christmas, and I love it. I have it where I can see it as soon as I walk into the sitting room, and it puts a smile on my face every time I see it.
And so does the Bobby McFerrin video:
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