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.