We begin to get too used to our technologically sound world of immediate solutions and delivery. In the last couple of days I have had the several different vans and cars pull up at the door with deliveries - none of which have been more than a couple of days since seeing them on the internet and purchasing via paypal or card.
I have in my living room a trestle table and benches ready to take to Germany. I was aiming to get a friend to pick a set up in a German Do it Yourself store as they are much cheaper out there, but then I saw a garden centre advertising on Ebay and for £64.50 the set seemed really good. I do not do "new" measurements though. Inches Feet and Yards are sensible things that I can understand. These centimetre things are just downright confusing. A little like Centigrade and Fahrenheit. Why we talk about hot weather in Fahrenheit and cold weather in Centigrade is beyond me - but zero degrees makes sense as freezing and anything above 64 degrees is quite comfortable ( I do not like the heat!) .
So I can handle temperatures in two languages - but centimetres cause me distinct problems. When I was planning the building of the Communications Centre at Carmarthen, I managed to laern how to think in "Mills" because desks were 720 mm long as I recall - but that just translated to desk lengths, not anything attributable to the real world. No - benches and trestles could be any size... So I checked with Google Convert and saw that they were indeed 6ft longat 176 cm
* Table size: 176(L) x 46(W) x 76.5(H) cm / 69.3(L) x 18.1(W) x 30.1(H) inches;
* Bench size: 176(L) x 23(W) x 46.5(H)cm / 69.3(L) x 9.1(W) x 18.3(H) inches;
* Steel tube: 27mm*27mm;
Needless to say - the bit I did not check was the width, which turned out to be 18 inches and not hhe 2ft 6 or 3 ft I thought I would be ..
But as I am not trading anymore - it will be an ideal size for the Bothy and for the Germany trip...so I am content - if mistaken!
Another delivery was canvass for a forthcoming mural for Crete... That was a lot larger than expected. 1.5 metres is actually a tad less than 5ft and not about 4ft after all!!!
But the one that annoys is the remote control fan that we had bought for my mother in law so she can adjust the amount of air in her room on her own without waiting for staff to attend to her. We bought one and it duly arrived a few days later and was broken. The casing was cracked!! Badly packaged we guessed. This was not a cheap item and it was a little annoying to say the least!!! Asking for a replacement, it was picked up and the next thing we know is that the fee was refunded and enquiry showed that it was no longer available as stock... A disappointment indeed !!
So a further search, and this time one is found - a little cheaper and ordered again. On arrival today, after opening the packaging, we find that the casing is cracked - in almost the same place. Different company - similar packaging.... really annoying as this will also have to be sent back.....
But while I have a quiet moan - I read that people have been disappointed for years... I read of the scandal of the Ulfberht Blades....
It must have been an appalling moment when a Viking realised he had paid two cows for a fake designer sword; a clash of blade on blade in battle would have led to his sword, still sharp enough to slice through bone, shattering like glass.
"You really didn't want to have that happen," said Dr Alan Williams, an archaeometallurgist and consultant to the Wallace Collection, the London museum which has one of the best assemblies of ancient weapons in the world. He and Tony Fry, a senior researcher at the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington, south-west London, have solved a riddle that the Viking swordsmiths may have sensed but didn't quite understand.
Some Viking swords were among the best ever made, still fearsome weapons after a millennium. The legendary swords found at Viking sites across northern Europe bear the maker's name, Ulfberht, in raised letters at the hilt end. Puzzlingly, so do the worst ones, found in fragments on battle sites or in graves.
The Vikings would have found it impossible to tell the difference when they bought a newly forged sword: both would have looked identical, and had razor sharp blades. The difference would have only emerged in use, often fatally.
Williams began to test the Ulfberht blades when a private collector brought one into the Wallace, and found they varied wildly. The tests at the NPL have proved that the inferior swords were forged in northern Europe from locally worked iron. But the genuine ones were made from ingots of crucible steel, which the Vikings brought back from furnaces thousands of miles away in modern Afghanistan and Iran. The tests at Teddington proved the genuine Ulfberht swords had a phenomenally high carbon content, three times that of the fakes, and half again that of modern carbon steel.
The contemporary fake Ulfberhts used the best northern metal working techniques, which hardened the metal by quenching - plunging the red-hot blade into cold water. It enabled them to give the blade a keen edge, but made it fatally brittle.
In the 11th century the Russians blocked the trade route, and the supply of crucible steel ended. Evidence is emerging that the swords from burials are the fakes, or the work of less prestigious makers. The genuine Ulfberhts have mostly been found in rivers. "I don't think these were ritual offerings," Williams said. "They are mostly from rivers near settlement sites, and I think what you have almost certainly is some poor chap staggering home drunk, falling into the river and losing his sword. An expensive mistake."
Their work has also proved that many of the Ulfberht swords in some of the most famous weapons collections in the world are fakes. The Wallace's is the real McCoy, but the one brought in by the private collector which started the hunt turned out to be fake.
Of course - Olaf would not be able to repackage his up and wait for My Hermes to pick it up ...
There may be some progress after all .... I'll drink to progress...
Picture of the day
Adverts of days gone by - that wouldn't happen today
Adverts of days gone by - that wouldn't happen today