Saturday, October 31, 2009

In for a penny...

Well a richly deserved week off work is just coming to an end (richly deserved by my account at least!) and what, besides a bag full of refuge from Moel Famau, do I have to show for it? Well lean closer dear reader and I’ll recount to you the whisper of some possibly good tidings for myself.

You may well recount an earlier posting this week, “ A slight dilemma”, I was bemoaning the fact that I may have the opportunity to obtain a second mirror dinghy hull but would then be left choosing between the little lady and the usurper (if its condition was far better). Well once again the gods of good fortune seem have warmed to my plight. Whilst dropping off my friend Rob’s lame excuse for an air gun (Hungarian pea shooter more like) he brought up the subject of said hulls within my beloved Clare’s hearing. After the smallest moments of silence, about ten years by my reckoning, Clare failed in any shape or form of the spoken word to say no to the idea of having both hulls being lovingly restored by yours truly this coming winter, as long as I found room for my skip run trailer elsewhere for the duration! Yes I know that the pay back is going to be an absolute nightmare, I’ve already started planning the new corner shelving units in the study, but hey in for a penny in for a pound. I haven’t been able to inspect the new hull as of yet because it has not yet been dropped off at the sailing club. So I have to wait until at least this coming Sunday to see how this will develop.

Speaking of sailing, I managed to come away unscathed, physically and verbally, from Thursdays practice for the frostbite series and I’m really looking forward to Sundays first race. Before Thursday it’s been three years since I last crewed in a boat and I’d forgotten just how much pleasure and reward it can give.

Also another project was completed yesterday with the arrival and fitting of the spares for my MK5 BSA meteor air rifle. To be honest I’m more than a little surprised at how well the gun is performing considering its age and lack of prior care. At this point I’d like to give T.W. Chambers & Co ( a mention for brilliant service at an honest cost for providing spares for a thirty something old air rifle. Just goes to show how a little patience and care can return something, that others may think of as past repair, back to its former glory, now where are them rabbits…..

P.S. if somebody out there would as kind as to explain to me how to put links in my postings I’d be most grateful.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A little rant..

Just a little rant for this afternoon’ posting, not my usual style put needs must when the devil drives as they say (yet to find out whom ‘they’ are!). Ok to the point, I’d arranged this morning to pick up a new buoyancy aid for the forthcoming winter series that I’m crewing in over November this year from the near by town of Yr Wyddgrug. I had a couple of hours to kill so I decided to get my body systems ticking over a bit faster than usual by covering a few miles around Moel Famau taking advantage of yet another beautiful autumnal morning. I have not been on the trials up there for the last few months so I thought that it would make a pleasant change whilst also stretching my muscles more than usual on the steeper gradients.

Unfortunately it wasn’t the hike which affected my heart rate but more the amount of discarded litter on the early stages of the trial, the majority of which was less than a quarter of a mile from the car park. This area is very popular with many people who never really get to taste the outdoors, as well as the usual mountain bikers, horse riders and generally outdoors type, with out having to go far from the beaten track. What I find difficult to understand is that the people who discard this litter are going there to experience the outdoors in some form or another with out any thought or apparent care for the people who follow or the wildlife it affects. And the real laughable point is that all the litter was empty packaging of some sort or other meaning that it was heavier to cart up there for these wonderful folks than what it would be to bring back! I mean for heavens sake, a few hundred yards of carrying your empty soft drinks bottle is not really going to kill you, is it? But what it could kill is a whole host of smaller vertebrates and invertebrates perhaps affecting the food chain within the area as well as making it look like the local refuse tip. The struggle for wildlife survival is hard enough in this country with ever diminishing areas of ‘wild’ country side succumbing to the increasing over population without the selfishness of these uncaring people putting even more pressure upon it. I don’t claim to know the answers to this problem (well I know one answer involving an upgraded cattle prod and a bucket of water!), but surely some of the problem is down to people being uneducated over this issue and its affects upon nature?

Funny thing is if these people spoke to me most of them would probably be appalled that I’ll shoot a couple of fluffy bunny rabbits for the pot or take great pleasure in applying the priest to a fresh river trout to go straight onto the grill! But I stand by my belief that I care for nature far more than any idiot who carelessly throws away a wrapper or used drinks container just because they cannot be arsed to carry it a few yards back too their urban runaround. Maybe I’m generalizing a bit about these Muppets, but I think that the majority of people who seem to enjoy this blog would share my sentiments, in that something should be done to persuade people to appreciate and care for what they’ve got before it’s ruined for us all. Oh god I’m starting to sound like a home made hat wearing activist…..time to stop ranting and chill with some cider me thinks.

Monday, October 26, 2009

A slight dilemma..

Well a reasonably interesting week for me, problem is that I’ve been left in a bit of a dilemma by my mate Jim. We’ve arranged to go sailing this Thursday in preparation for the winter series at Gresford Flash sailing club. Well, when I say sailing what I really mean is that I’m crewing for Jim in his 14’ enterprise whilst he basically gets to shout obscenities at me for pulling all the wrong bits or not moving my butt fast enough (Jim only races to win). Whilst we organized Thursday’s berating, Jim mentioned that there might be another mirror dingy hull arriving at the club looking for a good home. He thinks that this hull may well be better condition than the one taking up residence within the hallowed walls of my garage and could possible be close to my favorite fee (yep free that is). Now here is my dilemma, this hull may well be in better condition than the little lady sitting in the garage, meaning an easier restoration job for yours truly. Also it could be purchased at a very reasonable price (yes I know, I’m cheap). But, having spent some time already rubbing down and getting to know the little ladies curves I am feeling a strange bond with her and a small measure of guilt for already thinking of replacing her if the usurper is in better condition. So I think that you may well understand my problem, because I don’t think that Clare would for one minute entertain two restoration projects in the garage! I think I’ll just see what happens on Thursday when I’m hoping to inspect the new hull.

On the up side however, the little lady is now sitting the right way up after I’ve finally completed the stand. This means that I’ll be able to start stripping her top decks and carefully removing the less than solid sides to provide templates for the replacements. For now I’m a little hesitant continuing any further until I decide which hull is going to receive my affections! Any words of wisdom would be gratefully appreciated, But until then I’ll keep you all posted as soon as a decision has been made. Ah well I guess I’ll butterfly over to the fridge and help myself to some cider, now then was that going to be apple or pear …….

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Twisting the sloe

Just a quick note whilst Clare is watching the glowing goggle box downstairs. On Monday I was discussing the merits of sloe gin with a couple of like minded work mates when the point was raised why sloe gin? Young Mr. Walker stated that last year not only had he produced copious amounts of the traditional winter warmer but had also tried a twist by using vodka instead of gin. He was adamant that this was a fine beverage on a par with the sloe gin! Well this started our somewhat slow and dull areas of thinking tissue mulling over possible contenders to try. I then raised the point that if I happen to have “any more vessels of alcohol and berries cluttering up our kitchen then my hemorrhoids' may well be the least of me problems” gulp! Well why don’t you use something Clare likes? came back the retort. Mmm good point but then I produced another feeble excuse that all the best sloes have gone now haven’t they? The conversation then petered out due to the fact that the bearing casing on one of the lines I was attending started smoking and a screeching.

Then yesterday Mr. Walker calmly accosts me with a fair portion of the wonderful sloes berries with the words, “get pricking and stop whining”. So yesterday evening Clare arrives home to find my good self (with a slightly sheepish look it must be said) putting the final touches to a liter of ‘sloe white rum’. Not really a happy bunny it must be said (rum bought for her weekend use) but like I say it’s the thought that counts and I did do it for her eh hem. I’ll let you all know how this turns out and whether or not that it’s worth a shot (certainly not worth the hard stares that I received all evening).

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The butterfly effect and other things,

Mmmmm well its ten days since my last post so firstly please accept my humblest apologies for my neglect in this matter. Secondly if you were expecting an update upon the progress of Carpe Diem then I must confess that this too has been the subject of some neglect these past few days with other items taking priority. Although some progress has been made with the supports now nearly completed (yes I know that they should have already been done!) but unfortunately there is little else to report on.

Basically the undoing of my good intentions has been a combination of the mild and dry weather we’ve been experiencing in recent days (or weeks for that matter), and what my neighbour, Irish Pete, has come to term “the butterfly effect”. This infliction happens when you start one job and then before any reasonable progress is made another job catches your eye so you flit to this job and so on. Before you know where you are you have ‘started’ several tasks without actually making progress upon any which in turn leads to an amazing sense of frustration and confusion, especially when Clare, upon coming home from a bugger of a day in work, asks me what have I done today and my reply can only be: - “er, well, mmm, er nothing actually, er cup of tea dear?”.

But why also blame the clement weather? Fair point, but this window of mild weather has enabled me to enjoy several walks on the Clwydian range and the fact that its allowed us to undertake the autumnal clear up of the garden, well I say garden but it’s more of a back yard about 25 yards square.

Nonetheless even a small suburban area such as this can attract a host of wildlife if you are willing to plant and feed sympathetically. For instance we’ve been feeding the local bird population with a combination of peanuts, sunflower seed hearts, niger seed (also known as thistle), fat balls and mixed finch seed throughout the year. This has lead to some spectacular displays and also quite rare sightings for a built up area. Visitors within this small area this year have included nuthatch, blackcap, and gold crest amongst the usually finches, tit mouse, wren, starling and black birds. At the moment we’re playing host to up to 40 gold finches in the early hours and a rather cheeky wood mouse through the day! We are also getting the occasional visit from sparrow hawks and earlier in the year I was fortunate enough to witness a peregrine falcon take a wood pigeon from the top of the boundary fencing, a sight that many outdoors men will probably never see even in the most isolated areas of Britain. As well as the feeding there is water in the form of a 6’ by 7’ pond which provides bathing and drinking water via its waterfall. This weeks tidy up also involved the cutting of a small leafed privet hedge to a height of a couple of inches over a distance of about 12’. Although the privet provided some cover I felt that it could be improved to attract more insect life to the garden. With this in mind the hedge has now been supplemented with hawthorn, broom, holly, cotoneaster and hardy fuchsia amongst others. So hopefully with some careful management over the next few years this length of hedge will be attracting a whole host of new insects to the garden which in turn will attract further wildlife. It is surprising what can be achieved in a small area with some effort and a little knowledge.

Also this week I picked up my old BSA meteor MK V air rifle from my parents attic (and yes I mean old – over 30 years old!), which I’ve started to strip down with the intention of returning it to a passable rabbiting tool once more. Ah you can see how the butterfly effect starts to take shape? The only concern that I have at this moment in time is a lack of finance that’s going to be needed for me to keep these mounting projects on the go. With this in mind it looks like that I shall have to resurrect my dreaded E bay account and start fleecing Joe public, I mean providing quality merchandise at a reasonable cost, to make ends meet!

Well that’s about it for now I’ll try to concentrate on one task at a time and keep you all updated a little more frequently, now that looks interesting, I’ll just start by taking the……

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A sloe week….

Well progress on Carpe Diem has been a little limited this week, ok to be honest nothing at all has been achieved apart from the fact that all the timber has now dried thoroughly and there is no sign of warping. This lapse in effort is through no lack of enthusiasm on my part, but the scoring of brownie points has to take precedence if I’m to become a garage hermit over the forthcoming winter months. I’m hoping to remedy the situation shortly and finish the supports next week enabling the little lady to sit upright and have her top layers removed (Oh er missus), that is to have the decking carefully removed enabling access to remove the rotten top panels. To be honest the lack of action on this front has probably been a good thing allowing time for me to ponder the next steps thoroughly and not make hasty mistakes!

But please don’t think that John the human sloth has been totally inactive over the past few days. On the last Sunday of September, whilst staying for a few days at the caravan at Llyn Brenig, we visited the Hiraethog country fair at the Brenig visitor centre. A small but excellent event for lovers of the country providing a variety of displays from chain saw carving (carving with chain saws that is!) and Celtic and Viking reenactments too birds of prey and the Barrow boys (it’s a British thing). Sorry for sounding like an advert pamphlet but it’s a cracking day out if you like the out doors, providing a chance to meet old friends and make new ones. Whist here we met Carol on the North Wales Wildlife Trust stand who’s enthusiasm for nature was a real heart warmer. As we enrolled with the NWWT Carol managed to sell us a raffle ticket without pausing for breath. I guess my luck must be running well though for once as when we arrived back home later that week Carol’s happy voice could be heard on the answer machine announcing that a chain saw carved barn owl was now in our possession. A quick trip to Tremeirchion last Sunday and ‘Barny’ was ours. I’d just like to say thanks at this point for the warm and friendly welcome given to us by Carol, her husband John and ‘Fly’, to be made to feel right at home on your first visit is a gift.

Also the foraging front has been fairly bountiful. Whilst up at Llyn Brenig we had a chance to scour areas usually several feet under water as the reservoirs’ level had been dropped considerably. This resulted in a priest and a Shakespeare folding landing net which some poor trout fishermen must have lost over board (bless, well another’s loss….). Both items in excellent condition, just required a little cleaning and TLC. Oh yes also resulted in a scary instant when yours truly miss read the silt and had a nervous few moments extracting himself from thigh deep mud, not big and certainly not clever! Managed also to get my quota of sloe berries yesterday from up on the Clwydian range, fortunately these little beauties are higher up in the hills and have had the first frost kiss them into condition, I can taste the sloes gin already.

So that’s about it for now, a sloe week (pardon the pun) but in-between work, earning brownie points, treating Barny the owl to several coats of Danish oil and recovering from the effects of cider induced hangover last weekend, a rather productive few days. Hopefully progress will soon resume upon the little lady as the brownie point bank is reaching bursting point and at the moment I’m Clare’s flavor of the month, you just know that’s not going to last don’t you…………