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Thursday, 21 July 2016

Thank You Mrs Park

Both our grandsons - James (below) and Ben have had a superb start in academic life as pupils at Gerrards Cross Church of England School.   The school is the most caring and conscientious that anybody could dream for.  Furthermore it is located right at the bottom of Daughter Lorna's garden so it is almost a home from home.

Ben's form teacher has been Mrs Park - a wonderful lady who is moving on to be a school head and who I have had the privilege of meeting.   Here is Ben with Mrs Park - and a lovely bunch of flowers.

click to enlarge

The school's latest OFSTED report says:

The Gerrards Cross Church of England School provides an outstanding quality of education for its pupils. The consistently high quality of its provision enables pupils to achieve outstandingly well. At the same time, they enjoy school life very much. 

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

We are Very Proud Grandparents

Grandson James is leaving primary school and, having passed his 11+, starts at big school in September.   Gerrards Cross is in the catchment area of several very good state secondary schools the very best of which is Dr Challoners Grammar School in Amersham.   Dr C's is always near the top of the UK's best schools judged on A level results.   Indeed in 1915 it was number 1!!

Today was an introductory day at Dr C's for the September intake.   Here is clever-clogs James in his new school uniform:

click to enlarge the collar size even more

and on his last day at first school.  Don't they grow up soooo quickly?

ANOTHER New Project

When I collected the little tractor I had to borrow a large enough trailer to bring it home.   It occurred to me that if I had a car transporter trailer I could cart the tractor about and, if big enough take the model T Ford further afield.   One approach to this is to get an old caravan and to take it apart to use its chassis as the basis for the trailer.

click to enlarge

I found this one time (1991) luxury caravan on E-Bay for just £30!   It had been stripped of its windows, lights and other re-saleable components but the chassis was fine.   I towed it home from Clitheroe and then told Pat. . . . . .

After a 'meaningful conversation' I agreed to dismantle it this week and so far it is going well:

The interior was stripped of everything on day 2

and by the end of day 3 the front wall was gone.   As a bonus I have found £2 in coins in various nooks and crannies so that brings the purchase cost down to £28!

And by the end of day 4 we are beginning to see the floor and its all important chassis.   I guess there is no turning round now:

The components are being sorted into wood, metal and plastic for re-cycling.
By the end of day 5 we are getting down to the chassis:

Only the flimsy roof now remains so the flatbed trailer should soon appear - today hopefully.

Having seen the extent of rotten wood in this caravan I am convinced they rot from the inside, probably due to winter condensation and lack of winter ventilation.   The actual wooden framework which rots is minimal - most of the strength comes from the laminated and glued sides.   It would cost pence to rot-proof the wood before construction but I guess the caravan makers actually want them to rot and need replacement.   Doh, there's me being cynical again.


Just a word about the method with this.   I have seen YouTube videos of people taking sledge hammers or JCBs to caravans and ending up with an awful mess of mixed rubbish.

I went to the local tip and had a meaningful conversation about it.   I said I would separate out the recyclables and bring them along separately.   That meant metal (1 1/2 trailer loads) and wood (three loads).   

The rest was plastic and fibreglass plus foam insulation (two trailer loads).   That way I had no difficulty getting rid of an entire caravan body.

I identified temporary sites for the three categories of waste as the dismantling took place.

I removed the inside first - mainly wood - after which the shell was quite wobbly.   Cupboards hold caravans together!   I removed the end walls then side walls, letting the very light roof cave in harmlessly at its own pace. The roof was easily taken apart when it was on the trailer bed.

I retained quite a lot of useful fixings - stainless steel screws especially.   And the chassis of course.

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Roof garden

The walkways around the roof room are proving to be near ideal patio garden climates.   Here is the western walkway showing the back of the Settle letters with flowerpot man Boris perched on the S.

The container plants below are coming on nicely.

click to make the plants grow even more

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

A Useful New Toy

Restoring things is a bit addictive.   We have no wish whatever to move from the water tower but I did think I had at least one more restoration project in me.   Don't ask me why but I have always fancied a tractor.   Takes all sorts.   I decided that to be sensible a full sized tractor was out of the question so I researched small ones.   They range from sit-upon lawn mowers upwards.

Yanmar (dating from 1910) made the dog's dangles of a small tractor in the late 1980s - the Yanmar YM 14.   They came in a number of guises but the top of the range was a three cylinder diesel beast - the YM 14 Power Shift.   The diesel engine is also used in canal boats for its rugged reliability.

Searching E-bay they go for £2,000-ish but I found one for sale with no reserve price and blow me, got it for £351!   It was on a farm at South Milford, to the east of Leeds and had been in daily use for levelling off a horse riding area.

I was lucky enough to be able to borrow a trailer big enough to collect it and did so today.   Trouble was my sat-nav led me up the remotest farm track towards the end of the trip and I found myself well and truly grounded with front wheels clear of the ground.   I could move neither forwards or backwards and was marooned in the middle of a field.   Fortunately my mobile had a good signal and I was able to ring the vendor who contacted the relevant farmer, Mr Batty.   It was stair rodding with rain when salvation came in the form of a gigantic tractor with all the bells and whistles.   Driver Lee Craven - a saint of a man - was able to first drag the trailer back to the main road, then the car (backwards).   He would not accept a penny in thanks.

When I got back on the right road I arrived to find my purchase ticking over chug-chug wonderfully and a cup of tea.   I had a quick drive of it then drove it onto the trailer.

The YM14 is back here now thanks to vendor Alison Spencer, farmer Batty and Lee Craven.   Quite a day.

Here it is:

 click to make it into a bigger tractor

The seat is the only part that requires obvious attention!

And it has now received it in the form of the seat off a broken bar stool:

Looks more like it already - and considerably kinder to the backside.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Flower Pot Man Sits it Out again

Our enormous Settle sign on the tank side has a significant accompaniment - a flower pot man (Nigel Boris Potamus) perched on the letter S to help promote Settle's hugely successful annual Flower Pot festival which runs throughout July and August.   Well over 100 flower pot people pop up all over Settle during the festival.

Anyway, here's Potamus, master of all he surveys:

Click to enlarge

Please be aware that clear blue skies are just typical of Settle in June.


Sunday, 12 June 2016

You're in Settle - For Sure

When we took custody of the SETTLE letters which had been displayed Hollywood style on Castleberg we fixed them to our fence for a bit of fun.   They got a mixed reception - favourable from most but grumpy people with little else to worry about made their feelings plain.

Also, they made it well nigh impossible to mow the grass below them and there was the ongoing risk if theft.

The upcoming Settle Flowerpot Festival prompted a re-think.   We have located them now on the south end of the tower's tank - very visible from the trains too:

 click to enlarge

The initial letter S might find itself with a flower pot man sitting on it  eventually.