Thursday, 30 May 2013

30th May 2013 - End of month updates...

Bertha update - lid now completed and drying on the stairs - by which I mean form the third floor to the first. Two sides completed though none of the attachments have arrived yet - in bungee and strap form, Clips for the interior tapestries arrived. Frame sits nicely in the Bothy, and still seems to be room for everything. Task today - take out the frame so I can go to Pontardawe to help set up for the medieval fayre this weekend. At least it is very close....

Boxes update - Actually getting on quite well with the basement. More boxes filled yesterday and the decision to put the remaining costumes into suitcases  to keep them clear seemed a good idea.
Task Today - possibly get one room in the basement clear...

House update - Got a call from Express the estate agents that want to sell the house for us. Still want to put it on at offers above £170K   and they say that they are confident that it would get £180K but still well below my target. Will have to see what the local Estate agents say next week when the basement is clear. That seems to be my target now - to get the basement so that you can see that there are rooms there and then see what the market holds.
Task Today - same as boxes...

Video update - managed to complete Tink & Jamie wedding video and posted it to an unlisted site for them and uploaded to Pigsmayfly for them to download. Still working on Photo galleries.
Tasks outstanding - Still have a video for Totugo to start, the Drunken Monk Teddies animation, video for the Best man Speech at Tink & Jamie, still got some footage for Sara and Harry that has never been looked at. Also need to think about some more 16 string lyre stuff... Probably not today !!!

Whisky Galore... It seems that in 1996 149 litres of finest Speyside Whisky was put in a cask up in Scotland - in what seemed to be a great investment, a couple of thousand pounds for free storage and then 10 year old Whisky by the bottle very cheap... but it also seems that this was a scam. The cask is there - though a certain amount will have gone to the angels buy now - but the company storing it do not bottle or transfer, and now only offer to buy it back for £429.
Task Today - find someone who would transport and bottle the whisky and work out what the Government wants to take in revenue and whether it is worth getting form the cask to the bottle  - may try Penderyn and see what they say...

Accounts  - yeh - they need doing too!!!

Breakfast today was home made bread and eggs from the chickens. Eggsellent deep yellow yolks, and though they were small, one of them was a double yolker....   yummm
So, sitting here trying to let the breakfast go down and get on with the tasks of the day....

Not really helped by youngest daughter posting that it was another week of sunshine and heat in Crete...   but if it was hot I would not want to do the work I need to complete....  

Glass of diet coke and then get on I think....

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

28th May 2013 - Guess what - Hailstones...

Getting to be a weather report these days, but I was just getting ready to walk into town and and the skies opened and the rain fell and the hail started. Bluebells are still flowering in the woods, and daffodils are still bright and full of life. Driving up towards Aberaeron the other day there were many trees just beginning to flower. And we are two weeks away from the longest day....

The Canvas for Berth's roof dried nicely - well it would - we had the central heating on again.
But it can be folded up again and put to the side so the remainder of the tent can now be constructed. We ordered the tags and bungees for holding it to the frame and should arrive in the next few days courtesy of Ebay.

The garden is beginning to grow now. Though it looks as though our main crop is Coke Bottles, they are all over the raised beds keeping off the cold and the buggly-wigs. The new trailer is proving useful to get rubbish and greenery to the dump.

Started doing video of Tink & Jamie's wedding. The camera is a little shaky so having to cut in backgrounds and fancy stuff - but is looking fairly good so far. Youtube insisted that the pages were upgraded to the new format - a bit of a pain - but is designed to show better on tablets and mobile phones so is a step in the right direction, but is linked to google+ and all the other google formats which is less good - but I don't use them so it matters little. 30,500 hits now - so going quite well.

Think I may need to have a look at the PIGSMAYFLY pages, as I will soon have to hand over the Crimson Moon as the main source of my photo galleries and music.  Plenty to keep me going if the weather stays bad...

Oh.. and boxes - need to fill some boxes....

Seems to have stopped raining - better walk into town.....

Monday, 27 May 2013

27th May 2013 - Bank Holiday Monday - Must be rain!!!

The day started quite well really. Of course yesterday with blue skies and sunshine, and warm weather, sunglasses and summer shirts was only to lull us into a false sense of security. Get all set for a warm bank holiday, the queues of traffic heading past Carmarthen to get to the holiday destinations in Pembrokeshire and all points west fell for the trick.. but we made the most of the Sunday with a Provincial Mark Lunch at Nant y Ffyn Hotel and restaurant at Llandissilio near Narberth. And a lovely dinner it was...

All togged up and Pillocks of Society..
So today was an "out of suit" day - forecast not looking good, but thinking we would have an hour or so to test Bertha now the lid was completed.  The back yard turns out to be 4 inches too small to set up the tent, so it was a trip across the road to the Masonic Hall Car Park once again. I am sure the neighbours there hate us as we made a bit of a racket hammering the frame together. The cold weather had caused a lot of the joints to be tighter than last time ... Will have to get the WD40 out.

We work on the old maxim
"If it moves and it shouldn't - Gaffa Tape ...
if it doesn't move and it should -  WD40 !!"

But it was a good excuse to check that the past time I packed the frame in the back of the Bothy it was not just an accident of Tetris-man,  and in fact it was too difficult to load first time - so I removed a little more of the bulkhead with the jig-saw to make life a little easier.

But across at the car park - the frame grew with ease, and we started getting the Lid of Bertha to drag it over the frame.... which of course is when the clouds got darker - the wind got up and the rain started!!!
Back in the Bothy watching the rain pass over for ten minutes and it looked as though we would have a small window in the weather so we went for it .....

Well we tried ... and we failed...
 The lid went on with no problems - well with minimal problems - well with a few options for doing it differently next time - but of course the rain started as soon as we were committed. When it would take us as long to take down again as put up - it started tipping down - so we will now find out if it is pre-shrunk canvass or not !! But the length and width were right and fitted and the weight was not too much to lift the central section - another worry that I had toyed with.

We don't have the straps there yet - so this was only clipped with large metal clips, and not tensioned properly, but we now know that the lid fits and we can get on with the next stage - the walls.
But I had thought that our days of drying canvas in the living room were over...
Not to be - 25ft x 20 ft of wet canvas is spread out across the living room - trying to dry, but it is cold enough to be thinking about putting the central heating on .. so it may dry quite quickly after all..

Nice hot cup of tea is called for I think......

Saturday, 25 May 2013

25th May 2013 - And sew to bed....

What an excellent day!!
The chickens were 17 weeks old yesterday, to the day. And three of the girls presented us with an egg. Small but fine!
Accepting the fact that with the building of the coop and the run, getting the chickens and feeding them, each of these eggs are worth a small mortgage, that is not really the point. They each have a fine personality and are now about to start laying their keep
Also, Bertha moves forward in leaps and bounds. After days of planning, the rolls of canvas were laid out yesterday and the two ends of the tent are now sewn. Just the middle section and putting it all together to go.

When put into the living room, it shows how big the tent really is going to be. But it works.
Bought the clips for the interior tapestries on line and waiting till next week for them to arrive.
Well, off to Bridgend now for a meeting so will see how things are when I get back...
Quick cup of tea methinks....

Friday, 24 May 2013

24th May 2013 - Preparing for the big Sew..

A couple of weeks off the longest day and the central heating is still on timer. Which means that the gas bills will still be through the roof - though normally they are very small while we gavotte around the country and close the house up. The gas man called a couple of weeks ago to do a "Safety Inspection". I know that they really want to get in and find out if my self readings are accurate or whether they can charge me some more for gas used...

Unfortunately our gas meter is in the corner of the living room. The corner where I hide the industrial sewing machine by piling up boxes and teddy bears all over it so you can't see it. Of course that piling means that it takes about half an hour to unravel the debris to get the meter to see it, so there was no real reason to let them know that they could come into the house.

But yesterday, I cleared the living room ready for the big sew. Therefore it seemed only fair to give the gas man a text message (I hate texting!) that the meter was now accessible. Sure enough, he was so keen to come that he called this morning. Now, I sometimes am up at about 8am, but this was not one of those mornings, so calling before 9am was a good excuse for the dogs to bark and run around in ever decreasing circles, but was no reason to open the door in a dressing gown.

The little card says that he will call back after 4pm. Chances are he will have to climb over 100 meters of tent canvass by that time but so be it.

But the room is cleared and the decks are ready for the lay out. Susie has a series of paper plans all to scale showing how the tent should go together. It is a mammoth task! I have done the easy bit - cleared the room ready!.
And so it begins....

Well, Rusty is ready anyway...

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

22nd May 2013 - 6.20 in the evening and too late for a nap ...

How did that happen?
There I was - minding my own business putting the finishing touches on a few photographs, and completing a video from last weekend at the Bison Farm, and checking the van and then look at the clock...
In the Crimson Moon it would, of course, be a quarter to eleven, but this evening it is bright and the sun is shining and we are two steps nearer the completion of the Bothy Bertha....

But first, a weekend wedding in Wiltshire in a Bison Farm. They make an amazing sound and thought they were a field away - they still look pretty large and woolly. Did not get near enough for photos, but managed to get a couple of steaks to bring home. Large and juicy, though a little overpriced in my view, and rather like a large sirloin steak with a hint of that earthy taste you get with venison...    Very tasty with fresh mushrooms fried in butter.
Managed to take a number of photos of the wedding party and placed into the gallery and onto Flickr.

Which brings me back to the Bothy.
I have managed to get the entire frame into the van now - by removing a little part of the bulkhead holding the bed up, and adjusting the walls of the kitchen cupboards. It is a little bulky, but means now that the frame will not need to be placed onto a roof rack after all.
And today, after many searches on the interweb and ebay and enquiries over most of the world, we find that good old Lee Mill Fabrics in Swansea has the sort of canvas that we are looking for - and now we have 100 meters ( actually 105 meters) of light green and cream canvas ready to start the big job of sewing it together.

Looks as thought the living room will be turned into a sweat shop again for a week or so - but can't wait to see the result.
the canvas - and yes - there IS a green one!
 So, back to the Bothy, the frame slides into an area from the back of the van, and though it is a little fiddly, all the pieces go in quite easily, and do not take up too much room. I prefer it this way as it will keep the weight low in the body of the van and the only inconvenience I can see is that the water barrel for the sink will have to be inserted prior to adding the metal frame. Once the frame is up - the water barrel can be easily changed as usual. 

 So the next stage was to try the new building method. Instead of balancing ion the top of ladders trying to get the 10 ft lengths into the 8ft high uprights, I fitted the whole thing at chest height and then added the top poles. Worked a dream.

Sad to say, however, it is clear that all the wall hangings I have are too short for the 8ft high tent. We will have to work upon a way of extending them - either at the top or the bottom. Will also need to get more clamps to keep them in place.

So the last stage for today, was to put the top frame together to measure the exact distances form the ridge to the edges. This could have been done at the top of the poles, but I am beginning to think out of the box in some parts of this project, and fitted the ridge onto the uprights on the ground and laid out the rest of the poles to enable the measurements to take place...    Seemed to work.
So that is it for one day...  all moving in the right direction, but could have done with a little nap!!

May have to have a G & T and think about dinner......

Sunday, 19 May 2013

19th May - Boxes Update

As hordes of people - well actually one - has asked me what has happened to the box situation, it is appropriate for me to give a quick update....

I have been away for the weekend at a wedding in Bison Country ....  yes you hear correctly - a Bison Farm in Wiltshire.. So it is enough to say that all the boxes from the house have been transported down to the garage/warehouse... Tomorrow, I may have to visit Morristons to get some more and start the next phase...

Photo evidence ?? Oh Alright...


room for lots more.....

Friday, 17 May 2013

17th May 2013 - there is a bright blob in the sky - I wonder what it is ...

.. and whether it will be friendly!!

As another weekend draws nearer, I can reflect that covering the Bothy is going to be a fair task.
It is 23 feet long and 6 feet wide, and the frame takes it to 25 feet by 20 feet. early plans were for a single or two masted structure attached to the van - pushing the canvas into the air and then pegging the sides out in a traditional manner...
The model makes it easier to see how it might work and where the difficulties may arise.
This method includes having the tent poles around the outside in a traditional manner similar in every fashion to the tent that we have been using for the Crimson Moon for the last 10 years.
The tent itself was cleverly designed to fold into a single section and get thrown over the structure, pegging out the sides to hold down.

Having thought this through, the option to have a self standing structure then presented itself. Using a Festival/Market frame structure, it would be possible to build a self standing frame all around the Bothy and that would remove the need for the guy ropes, and also allow it to stand on hard ground if required, perhaps for future trading if we ever decide to go back to market stall, but as important to make it possible to withstand weather and reduce the area it takes up. Even a 20ft x 20ft tent need another 4ft at each side for the guy ropes - using 28ft square overall.

So onto the next project - the frame stands 8ft tall at the sides - which is practically the height of the Bothy.
The frame came with uprisers for a Banner as shown in this picture, but in practise we decided that we did not need to go this high. As the 8ft sides are almost the height of the van - we only needed to go another 3 feet or so - making it more practical to build. 
Of course - as we experimented we missed the obvious, and connected the uprights at the top of the poles - making it difficult to balance and lift, putting the supporting struts afterwards.
In this model, done after the experiments, all the structure is built by adding the support struts at waist height giving the strength to the frame. The plasticine and pins ion the straws were not strong enough to complete the model - but gave enough insight into how best to put the frame up. 
Of course, the original idea was to keep the weight down - but this frame is heavy but should withstand bad weather. Still have to work out how to get it into the Bothy for travel. Tending to veer away from the idea of the roof rack if possible. Better to keep the weight low if we can, Looking at sliding it in from the bulkhead and under the sink....
So, to start with - we laid it all out to see what would work... I had planned it on paper and worked out that we would be able to leave half of the weight behind, but in order to give the frame strength it actually needs almost all of the pieces.
But the frame goes up around the Bothy. Here you can see the size of it - also the fact that we did it the hard way - putting the top pieces on first and balancing on ladders!!
Which brings us to the completed structure, with the extensions in the middle. 11ft high in the middle with a central span of 15ft.  
And of course it will have the advantage of being a self standing structure if we decide not to leave the van inside.  So - we named the Bothy, or rather my granddaughter named her Buffy - the Bothy, so it seemed only appropriate to name the tent as well.
I thought that if we are going to berth the Bothy inside a tent then the tent must of course be called Bertha!!
So Bertha it is...

Which brings me back to the round blob in the sky. While writing this blog - it seems to have disappeared and large dark clouds are looming.. so I had better run down and put Bertha back in the garage before she rusts...

Thursday, 16 May 2013

16th May 2013 - the Weighty issue of Chicken Poo

I thought that when we decided to raise chickens I would learn most of the key issues in the first few weeks, like "eggs don't travel very well through the post", "don't try to raise your chickens in the spare bedroom", "chickens in a brooding box can create more white dust than a nuclear winter", "cockerels that are not meant to crow until they are at least 14 weeks are likely to be precocious"...  but yesterday I discovered something new.

Once the chicken pen was cleared of the straw and accumulated mush from the bottom, and placed into one of those useful bags that you get from the builders merchant - the one that says "no deposit but you can return if you want", it seemed like a simple idea to pop it into the new trailer and zip it around to the local recycling point.

Yes, it would have been nicer to use it all for compost - being high in nitrates and smelling like it ought to go into the compost bin  but we are limited on space at the moment and the compost bin is almost full. So the plan was to head for the centre, and not even needing to choose the day for the barriers to be open as we could take the car. Then the problem - though only half full, the wet straw ( did I mention that it has been raining recently - I have plans for an ark and was very tempted to start with the axe and hammer !!) weighed so much that the bag had to be dragged along the ground. A quick heave I thought - but no- I could not lift it over the sides of the trailer!!!

Luckily, the back comes off the trailer so with combined effort we dragged it onto the trailer back.
So, Chicken Poo weighs more than you would expect...   Something to place in the annals of history for future generations to ponder on....

So, finally got some boxes moved. It was sunny and cold, and though there was not a cloud int he sky above us, it rained as soon as I put a box on the sack truck... Oh well!!  Managed to move my scheduled 20 boxes into place. Started ion the top room and managed to bring another ten boxes down to the living room before exhaustion finally kicked in. There are 34 stairs from the top room to the living room and three landings!

I know. I counted them each journey. And there are still more steps down to the garden and then the trip to the garage. Still. Another ten today will be fine. So dodging the rain, at least wee didn't have snow!. There was snow in the Midlands and Devon. What is happening to the weather. It is so cold it must be global warming if that is not too Irish. Needless to say that the central heating is back on again.

So, today we will try the new tent frame out.
In the meantime - how it looked at LARP Aid at the end of March...

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

15th May 2013 - the problem with planning

My last post was entitled "back to the Grindstone" and was full of good intentions, as full as the pathway to Hell it seems. There was no problem with the intention, only the ability of the weather to completely change any plans made by popping a little bit of December into May.

When I say a little bit, I am mainly referring to the wind, nay howling gales, the driving rain and winter temperatures. Had I only been watching Game of Thrones I could happily state "Winter is coming..." and know what it means. Having read the books I have a good idea, and to be honest the last two days would have been a good opportunity to catch up on series one, by watching them back to back....

So, a simple decision that the garage /warehouse was now clear enough to start loading boxes and clearing parts of the house, particularly after getting a little enthusiastic and letting an estate agent see the place, and a late Sunday idea that 10 boxes a day would soon clear the place without killing me.... leaves me on a Wednesday morning with the prospect of clearing 30 boxes out of the house.

Of course it is quite manageable, just more in one day than I was aiming at...  and of course it is now a quarter past nine in the morning and rather than start I am getting around to writing this blog, a task that could have easily been fitted into the last two days spent hiding in the computer room uploading photographs. My only foray from the desk was to get a cup of tea and to put out a bag or recycle rubbish as the "Bin Men" come this morning.

But no, a set of photos from the wedding came out rather grandly, and the inclusion of a silly picture frame led me to adding a whole series of self portraits.

The frame idea was a brilliant thought as it provided a number of people with photographic inspiration and there are a number of pictures on the web, though I am proud enough of my camera that I enjoyed the series I put together.

Of course sometimes you have to relinquish the camera to get a photo of yourselves.. 

Which brings me back to the task in hand .... Getting out and starting to move some boxes....  Maybe I should take a stop photograph video of the task in hand.... that will probably take a few minutes to arrange..   procrastination rule ok......

Well - maybe a cup of tea first .......

Monday, 13 May 2013

13th May 2013 - Back to the Grindstone...

Another weekend goes by, and on this occasion my first weekend without the Moon, while the
Tavern visited Cow Pie in Dorking - the Surrey Young Farmer's Agricultural show..
Why would a medieval Tavern be at an Agricultural show you may ask - well it is a long story -
but mainly because a small medieval village with story telling, juggling and ferret racing seemed to be appropriate and therefore a place to whet your whistle was needed.

Of course the last time we were there we outsold the field bar - so they decided that a Mead Emporium and Winery would be our restriction - so that is what they did.

Meanwhile, we had a wedding to celebrate.
The weather proved glorious - for almost the whole day, and though the temperature is still low, the drive up to Reading in the Bothy was a delight. Our Green and verdant lands seem to have been transmuted into yellow lands - with the Gorse flowers out and field upon field of Rape stretching for miles.

The Bothy once again proved a great success - a nice flat car park at the wedding venue, near to some woods ideal for the dogs.

A home from home which allowed us to fall into bed at the end of the day, rather than looking for taxis and hotels, the nearest of which was a few miles away down country lanes.

Morning found the sun shining - so a good portent, and the woods were full of bluebells, so an early walk through the trees started the day.
Of course the dogs enjoyed - made up for spending the whole day in the Bothy - though somehow Delft had managed to wangle herself into the front seats in the middle of the night and got a little confused as to where she was. Not half as confused as I was trying to find her and wondering if I had shut her outsuide accidentally without noticing - I didn't think I had that much to drink !!!
But the Berkshire woodlands were enticing and being able to pop back to the Bothy for a cup of tea was a joy.
And so the journey back was uneventful and bright - until reaching the Severn Bridge where wales decided to welcome us back with rain, cold and mist...   But all in all a good trip.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

9th May 2013 - 5 down and a house viewing

So the daily blog has drifted into a weekly and occasional blog - but then it has been a busy time.
Just finished our 5th event of the season and first Curious Pastimes event, the biggies of the year.

However as I sit at the desk and start this blog I received the following from my sister in America - which sums up something about the Brits I suppose..

I was at the bar the other night and overheard three very hefty women talking at the bar.

Their accent appeared to be Scottish, so I approached and asked, "Hello, are you three lassies from Scotland ?"

One of them angrily screeched, "It's Wales, Wales you bloody idiot!"

So I apologized and replied, "I am so sorry. Are you three whales from Scotland ?"
And that's the last thing I remember.

So - the house is not ready for a viewing - the collection of boxes is increasing and I have been away for ten days on and off but after seeing one of those "get a free evaluation of your house" on the intertweb and clicking on the connections - thinking that it would pop up with a valuation - we ended up with a nice gentleman by the name of Russell who cam e and looked at the house and took a few photographs.
As we expected form the reputation of the company, they pitch the price low and ask for "offers Above"  and we would not be bound to take the low offers - but sadly they pitch the house at about £170,000 which is too low for what we want at the moment.

We will see what happens when the rest of the "clutter" gets into boxes and the floor can be seen. The best part was that he thought the house was saleable - but then he was trying to get us to sign up with him.

But at least we have swept around the corners and the done the hoovering and it is raining outside, so we can't go and play with the chickens.