Friday, 27 December 2013

Why Split Logs?

After sawing a few logs today (with my very good new Husqvarna chainsaw), I started splitting them down to some vague approximation of a 3 x 2. (That's pronounced threebittoo, if you're in the trade). Splitting those logs gave me time, and cause, to ponder on the Why? of it. Well, here goes:


If you've a regularly shaped rectangular block of wood 9" long and each side is 6" wide, and you throw it into your woodstove, four sides will probably soon be burning. (Yes, and the ends, but, for ease, forget them for now). That's (9" x 6" x 4) 212 square ins of burning wood surface.

If you split an identical lump of wood into 3 pieces lengthways, the surface area of each log is 9 x 6 twice and 9 x 2 twice (plus the ends, but, for ease, forget the ends). That's 144 square ins of burning surface x 3 (because you split that big log, didn't you). In total that's 432 sq ins of burning surface, slightly more than twice as much burning surface as the unsplit log you started with. That's why I split logs.

The total surface area of the ends of the logs is neither increased nor reduced by my splitting, is it. No, it's not.

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Midnight on the Winter Solstice at Cairn Holy, near Carsluith, Galloway.

 
A scrappy shot of the waning moon a little after midnight on the winter solstice (21st December), at Cairn Holy, near Carsluith, Galloway. It took a little presence of mind to set my alarm and to be up and about for midnight (00.16 at that location), and to sit alone in what's described as a burial chamber, but I don't think ever was, and to hold the camera still on a bendy legged mini-tripod while strongly gusting winds sent clouds tattering past like delinquent bedsheets.
 
 
 
 
About ten hours later from the west end of the long barrow.
 
 

 
 

Monday, 9 December 2013

Life's a Beech.

Yesterday for a couple of hours I was working with a friend in Greaves Park, Lancaster. A beech tree had been blown down across the cycle track alongside the A6. Serious tree people had removed a 6ft length of the trunk thereby allowing passage along the cycle track, then they'd cleared off! Leaving all of the rest of the tree! (And some horse chestnut branches and some pine that might be larch).

Jackal-like we swooped on the injured limbs and at one stage there was a bow saw, six little Stihl's and
my new Husqvarna all buzzing away like fury. I was glad to see that most of the fellers seemed to prefer big wood, because I like roughly 3" x 2"-ish logs - better calorific value and much less work than splitting those great hunkeroonies. I guess my friend and I got about 1¾ tons of very good quality wood between us and, come xmas 2015, it'll be just right for burning.

An hour later I cycled past the park. All the fellers had gone leaving a scenario which put me in mind of a beached whale stripped for its meat, but in this case we'd taken the skeleton and left the rest behind. And a lot less work for the professional tree people.

Wouldn't it be good if Lancaster had a great big forest of its own. Do you remember "Plant a tree in '73"? And the wits who very quickly came up with "Buy a saw in '74"? If only we'd taken trees very much more seriously then. And now.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Cry of Love

Last weekend on the Saturday market on Market Street, Lancaster I saw a favourite LP on that good secondhand book and record stall. And I bought that LP. Yes, vynil. Yes, gatefold sleeve. For £20. It was on the Track label, a first pressing, of the first posthumously released album by Jimi Hendrix, Cry of Love. And it's in far better condition than you could possibly expect of any such document more than 40 years old.

Long ago, or so it seems, I owned Cry of Love on cassette, but I wore it out to the extent that its s
parkle had long since departed, stuck to the heads of tired old players in long ago houses, flats and cars. (Rory Gallagher's Live in Europe was another similarly exhausted recording).

In more recent years the ten tracks were reshuffled, and added to, re-, re- and re-released amongst the apparently endless barrel-scrapings of Jimi Hendrix' recorded legacy.

I am so very happy to have acquired the real Cry of Love. Now every time I see it - the cover's upright on the kitchen table and facing anyone who might pass that way - I feel as if it must already be xmas day, probably 1971, and that all subsequent xmases were, are, and ever shall be, of relatively less importance.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Getting to Bled.

In September 2013 we drove from Calais to Bled on our way to Croatia.

 

 
 
 


Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Snot and the Sunday Dad

There I was on Sunday in the Oxfam bookshop (looking for OS maps of Scottish islands), while two metres away a Sunday Dad with his 7yr old son was searching through children's books. Dad was sniffing loudly and often, but seemed determined to be cheerful.

After feeling chilly all evening, I found next morning that I had caught that cold, so now I will battle on with a letter to my MP (with whom I never agree), proposing that people with colds should be required by law not to enter any workplace, nor any public place, therein and thereby spreading germs and making their friends, colleagues, and total strangers unwell and, even worse, likely to spread infection further.


N.B: Defences will include being a Sunday Dad.
 

Looking around Hay-on-Wye & Brecon

 

A three night stay and some looking around.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Great Motor Highways of the Alps.

 
 
 
 
 
Two days ago I was talking about doing a trip this year in the van along the Route des Grandes Alpes, and doing it alone probably because my wife / navigator doesn't cope well with great heights and steep drops.

Yesterday in Ulverston I bought a few items in Appleseeds on Market Street, then went into the Tinner's Rabbit bookshop, a narrow place with an open coal fire and tiny rooms and fixed ropes on the very steep and narrow stairs.

On the second floor in amongst second-hand mountain and adventure themed books I found "The Great Motor Highways of the Alps", a pretty good coincidence, don't you think? First edition too, not that I was bothered, apart from the expense.

I walked away, had a very good vegan lunch in no-meat Gillams, returned and bought the book for 25% less than the marked price. It has many very good b&w photographs, maps and profiles. Routes to and from Channel ports are all pre-autoroute and remind me of family holidays in the '70s when we travelled through towns Brits nowadays visit only on those odd occasions when we might be dawdling home avoiding pĂ©age at the end of a holiday. 
 
 

 
 
Despite the intervening decades of road improvements and tunnel building, I'm now very much looking forward to finding a few exact locations at which I might replicate some of those 1958 b&w images.
 



Thursday, 28 February 2013

From Hippies to Lobbyists

Tin Soldiers and Cameron Running

Yesterday a friend was talking about going to Ohio and since then I've had Neil Young's enormously powerful song in my head....

 

Tin soldiers and Cameron running,
We're finally on our own,
This summer I hear the drumming,
Come home to Avalon.


Gotta get down to it,
Tories were cutting us down,
Should have been gone long ago.
What if you were one,
But turned your head right around,
Too late to say you don't know.


Gotta get down to it,
Tories were cutting us down,
Should have been gone long ago.
What if you were one,
But turned your head right around,
Too late to say you don't know.

Tin soldiers and Cameron running,
We're finally on our own,
This summer I hear the drumming,
Come home to Avalon.

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