Interesting Times!!!

Well, that’s one way of putting it!! No, I’m not going to deluge you with floods of tears or waves of malcontent or even blow you away with forecasts of doom and gloom. For once I’m feeling buoyed up with the opportunity presented to the family by the weather that has caused such destruction across the country.

Although (thankfully) this quiet backwater in deepest darkest Dorset was spared the worst of the storms, there was some localised flooding and a fair number of trees have been lost. We suffered a little damage, some flashing around the chimney needed to be replaced. With that done, cheers Steve!! we thought we had seen the last of it, but no, the wind had one last blow. It took out it’s frustration on the garden, or to be a little more specific, Nikki’s Greenhouses!!

I’m not going to bother describing it, I’ll let the photos do the talking.

Part way through the clean up
Part way through the clear up
First site cleared
First site cleared
Some of the glass
Some of the glass
Scrap Aluminium
Scrap Aluminium

Surveying the damage and very quickly coming to the conclusion that both structures were write-offs Nikki and I have decided to clear the site and invest in a Poly Tunnel. This plan has two benefits. The first, Nikki will have 250 sq ft of growing space compared to the 160 sq ft of the combined greenhouses. The second, is that Nikki has suggested I can use some of that space for the storage of my machines and tools while my shed, which you will recall is in serious need of TLC, is demolished and a Workshop constructed in it’s place. Everyone’s a winner!!

The Chicken Run has not been forgotten or even relegated down the list of jobs needing to be done! But, we will have to sit down and work out a careful plan of action as I would hope that this re-modelling of the lower half of the garden will be the last one. My mind is buzzing with ideas and I have no doubt Nikki’s purse will suffer a cardiac. I am thinking about things that will help to make life a little easier. For example we already have power and water at the bottom of the garden and during the build of the Tunnel and Workshop both of these will need to be relocated. Perhaps putting a tap within the chicken run may make cleaning and watering easier. With the correct use of breakers and waterproof switches and sockets, Nikki can have power within the tunnel for lighting and propagators etc.

I’m looking forward to making a start. However I will admit (and this is a first) I am going to need help, I know there is great satisfaction in doing something yourself but I guess there is not much point in busting a gut, or in my case what’s left of my spine, to build something then not being able to make use of it!! Yes, okay Nikki, you were right, I heard you the first time!!

See!!  I’m being positive!!

I have not spent the winter months sitting idly by doing nothing. I have devoted some time to directing my prodigious cranial power toward finding the best method of creating the pens I will produce with the chunk of Victory oak. I will use the vacuum method to stabilize the wood with a form of resin. The wood becomes immune to the moisture and temperature of human hands thereby protecting the wood and giving it the lifespan of modern man made materials. I now need to look for the equipment needed for this process. Happy days!!

Chicken Run

No, sorry folks, it’s not a screening of the film. Just a couple of thoughts and pictures of the latest project for the Garden.

Right, firstly I need a new Shed/Workshop/Bunker. Secondly it needs to be bigger than my present hovel and lastly the chicken run is in the way. Ergo the chickens get to have some new accommodation!!

So,to make room for my new shed the present chicken run needs to go. I could just uproot it and move it but that would be far too easy, well, maybe not. Removing and then reusing chicken wire is not a good idea. Have you ever tried it? No? Then take it from me. It is not a good idea!!

A quick plan was worked out, not on the back of a fag packet this time, seeing as I am no longer a user of tobacco products I vape instead. (that’s another story).  A pile of goodies were ordered from a local Builders Merchant which arrived a couple of days ago. Guess what, half of it can go back!! When you order timber in 4.8Mt lengths 4.2Mts just won’t do!! I digress, The Metaposts are okay and the 1800mm X 75mm X 75mm timber posts are just as ordered.

Today the sun came out, Nikki and the kids went off to clip and ride a friends horses. No! Not at the same time … Anyway, I set to, using the patio table as a workbench I lined up the posts measured at least 3 times and then powered up the saw. Half an hour later I had cut the slots and the waste chiseled out … Yes!! stage one completed and surprise, surprise no blood!! I know that may come as a shock for those of you who know me and I must admit I had to take a second look as I didn’t believe it myself. RESULT!!!

As usual I forgot to take photos until halfway through and those I took are not good, but for posterity here are the ones I did take.

Framing TimbersTops of PostsLower slots in posts

Minor computer panic moment

My new computer a.k.a. ‘The Beast’ was treated to a RAM upgrade this morning, or rather, an attempt was made to insert another 8Gb. To start with everything went normally, until the time came to reboot … But to our horror it went into a reboot loop, meaning it started to boot then after a few seconds switched off and automatically tried again and again and again. Are you getting the picture?? PANIC!!! Powered the thing down and started a massive head scratching session. It’s the right type of RAM, in the right slots, Why then isn’t it working?? Then doubt set in. Were the RAM chips dead on arrival? (not unheard of) Were the Motherboard slots U/S? Single Channel or Dual Channel? Had we ordered the wrong chips?  More head scratching and reading of manuals. Marc shot off to his machine and promptly gave Google a serious headache trying to find every bit of information ever uploaded on Gigabyte Motherboards and Ram insertion problems, all to no avail. Each of the 4 memory chips were tested in a known to be working slot and all checked out okay. One more attempt was made with all chips in place and … YES!!! the Beast sprang into life without a problem and a quick bit of interrogation showed 16Gb present and correct. Where was the problem??? Don’t ask me, I haven’t got a clue. All I can say is that it’s working. I have noticed a minor downside though. My ubergeek son has suddenly developed an unhealthy desire to partake in some video editing, which, I am informed can only be accomplished using MY Computer. Is nothing sacred??

A New Year, A New Start!!

Oh well, 2013 came and went, here’s hoping 2014 will be somewhat more productive.

What happened to the latter half of 2013 I hear you ask? To be honest not a lot really, I failed to keep this blog going, I failed to achieve the targets I set myself and I failed to make an accurate record of the things I did do.

On the plus side, I did manage to produce some pens … most of which I failed to photograph properly before sending them off to their new owners, (another failure to add to the list).

I did make some pens though. I must admit, I am pleased with the results of my attempts to ‘cast’ my own pen blanks with the Corps and Unit colours encapsulated within. I even made a pen in the colours of the old Army Catering Corps for my friend Mick (a former slop jockey). I will have to find and upload the photo’s I did manage to take and save.

We, as in the family, managed to take a holiday. Nothing unusual there, I hear you mutter. Ah, but we went to France. There I’ve said it!!  France … but I don’t like France. Actually I’ve discovered I do like France. What changed my mind? I’m not sure I can explain, you’ll just have to accept it. We took the Caravan across the Channel from Plymouth to Roscoff and drove down to a campsite near Carnac. The campsite was good, the heads were immaculate, stacks of hot water, the kids loved the pool and the beach was less than 5 minuets away. The weather was unbelievably warm throughout and when it did rain it rained during the night. Loads to see and fresh croissants and baguettes. What more could you want!!

The Dartmoor Yomp, for those of you who are not familiar with this event, a quick explanation. You assemble a bunch of Old and Bold, Former Royal Marines and set them off on a sponsored 12 mile (19Km sounds better) Yomp across Dartmoor to raise much-needed funds for the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund (RMCTF) and when they have finished they do what Royal Marines and Former Royal Marines do … they have a few wets!! Or perhaps more than a few … Friendships are renewed, dits are told and retold, then they all go home and plan for the next one. Well we attended, the family yomped, including Tigger ( I wasn’t up to it this time) blisters were treated, wets were had, toasts were made and a good time was had by all!! I made a pen in Corps Colours which was auctioned off and I must (belatedly) thank Ronnie Stewart for handing the Kobi Reader he won in the raffle to Doobie, she was well chuffed, as they say.

Ah, Christmas (my favorite time of year … NOT!!!). As per normal, this event appeared to start on or around the 5th of September and by the end of Sept, well I’ll leave you to guess the rest. To be fair once Christmas Day arrived I became a dad again and enjoyed watching the family tear into the goodies that some fat old man had supposedly placed under our tree.

Considering my views on Christmas you may decide that I’m something of a hypocrite as I must admit I was chuffed with my pressies, I mean seriously chuffed!! Marc (my eldest and the family ubergeek) and Nikki had conspired between themselves to present me with a series of packages, which when put together became the basis of a damn good PC. A nice midi Tower (with green LED’s in the fans), a good power supply unit, a Motherboard running the Haswell chipset, 8 Gb of Ram and an i7 processor. Oh yes!! when the finances permit  I will supplement that lot with a nice Solid State Hard Drive, three 2 Tb drives (so that we can run a Raid 5 system) and a good Graphics card for my eventual 3 monitor setup . Nice or what!!

It’s WET!!! In case you haven’t noticed. It’s wet and I’m miserable, bloody miserable. I’m damn sure this little corner of Britain (You’ll notice I did not say Great Britain, more on that later, or maybe not!!) is set to have a greater annual rainfall than the combined total of all the Rainforests still existing on this damp planet!! To be fair, at least we haven’t suffered the flooding that has blighted the rest of the country. I can’t say I would be particularly keen to take up freshwater fishing from my bedroom window, but it may catch on if this weather doesn’t improve!

I can’t use my shed (workshop) at the moment as it has become a casualty of the weather. It’s just as wet on the inside as it is outside. The roof leaks, well what’s left of the roof, that is. I need a new shed!! There, I’ve said it!! However, there is a very small, minor, trifling insignificant problem. A new shed will have to join the list of other things this family abode needs. The tumble dryer is on its last legs, in fact its been staggering along threatening to die for ages, it just can’t make up its mind when to finally give up. The Chest freezer is making some very strange noises, somewhat akin to my stomach when it hasn’t been fed for several hours. The TV plays silly buggers every now and again (we must be one of the few houses in the country still possessing a CRT device and not some dirty great 90″ flat screen) and the Wii has died completely!! Oh well, I can always hope for a Lottery win, except I do not play the bloody Lottery!!

As for the Turnings’n’Toys bit … I do have a Rocking Horse to make (Cheers Tom & Fran) which despite the weather and my own failings IS on target for completion, so it will be ready!!

I have also acquired a nice lump of Oak to make some rather special pens from. Oak? That’s not very special, you say. Well this bit is!! It comes from H.M.S. Victory and I have the certificate to prove it. I will also provide certification with each and every pen. If you would like to own a real piece of our proud Naval History, form an orderly queue please.




and that’s putting it mildly, VERY mildly!!! This great time-saving wonder machine that is supposed to help folks with their everyday life is (very shortly) going to get a good kicking. For some obscure reason, known only to ubergeeks and those with the brain the size of a planet, my PC (pile of CRAP) has decided to download some files, again and again and again and again!! Are you getting the picture? I have rebooted, deleted programs, rebooted, reloaded programs, stopped processes, stopped services, used third-party cleaners etc etc etc etc etc etc ….. and STILL the bloody thing insists I need an inordinate number of copies of these pdf’s. WHY????????????????



I hate Mondays …

And so far this one has lived up to my expectations. For some unexplainable reason my Facebook, Gmail, PayPal and Twitter accounts have all been ‘attacked’. fortunately no access was gained anywhere, so I have spent the last couple of hours changing passwords. Okay, so I am not using 256 bit encryption, but the chunks of gobbledygook I have set should deter all but MI6 and the CIA!!

Yesterday I had a look at my pile of logs to see if I could locate my motivation, as it appeared to have gone AWOL again. I found a bit and so attacked a lump of Walnut with the chainsaw, (which miraculously started first pull) I admit I was pleased to find some decent wood inside. I think some nice Wine Bottle Stoppers may come out of it and I will try to get a few pen blanks as well.

I can hear the coffee machine calling …

What will today bring …

Well, it’s Saturday, the sun is out (makes a change) and I feel a whole lot more motivated than I did yesterday. I am looking forward to meeting an old friend, Richard again after far too many years. He is a photographer, and knows what he’s talking about whereas I don’t have a clue about F stops and exposures … Umm let’s not go down that road. I do need photographs however, lots of them. Nice, as my kitchen island is, I’m sure you would prefer to see the things that I make (and you would like to own) in a better setting.

Yippee it’s Friday.

BUT,  I hate overcast days … they are just so depressing. I have no idea where my ‘get up and go’ went but if anybody finds it please send it back a bit sharpish!!

Okay so how was the Devon Show? Not bad at all, It’s a permanent site so there are tarmac roads, paths and signposts everywhere. It makes life so much easier for everyone, not just those of us with mobility problems. I still have hideous memories of the Dorset show a couple of years back, ankle-deep in thick cloying mud. Wheelchairs and kiddies buggys’ were next to impossible to use, it was bad enough with crutches!! Anyway, my reason for going to Exeter in the first place was to support St Loyes, a charity that does a great deal for people with disabilities. They run a course called Transitions, aimed at helping former service people move back into civilian life. I attended a course last year and for me at least, it was a great success.

I have spent the morning hunting for turning supplies to build up my stocks of Pens, bottle stoppers etc. Why oh why are all the real quality products made in the USA????  Regardless, I will be getting my stuff from the States, I would rather explain the reasons and pricing for using FDA (American Food and Drink Administration) standard Stainless Steel fittings over cheaper chrome plated ones  than have people complain that their stoppers are rusting!! You get what you pay for springs to mind. I intend to supply the highest quality products that I can.

Exeter here I come …

Well the kids lunches are done, I have the miniature horse packed along with a few other odds & sods ready to go. Weather here is dull and overcast, I’m hoping it’s going to be a little better at the show.

What a day!!

Okay, it started out reasonably well, the kids went to school and I settled down to sort out a Facebook page, a twitter account and get them linked to everything else … I am not a geek, php,cs and whatever else was involved did not ‘just slot in’ I was sweating blood!!

I hate interruptions. Apart from this one, the guys have turned up to sort out our wonderful Solar panels … Oh yeah!! cheap(er) electricity. They will be back with some scaffolding in a couple of days. I can get the guttering sorted at the same time.

Did the school run, Oh boy where did these people learn to drive or more importantly park or not park? “Oh I’ll stop right about HERE” seems to be the order of the day. Good grief, I could get 3 cars, an arctic and a safari of great white hunters in the same space you have just used to ‘park’ your Corsa.

My webmaster/resident geek (or is it nerd? I can never remember) Marc, fixed all my IT problems with consummate ease and a couple of mouse clicks. Thank you and no I’m not paying you today!!

The little ones are off playing Hockey for the last time before the Autumn season begins. Nikki is back from playing in the mud, or whatever she does at the allotment and my stomach tells me I’d better get dinner ready.