Isn't the chemo sickening enough? You want a picture of a gravel
patch with a beat up old van parked on it too?
If you insist, the webcam can
So far they have scraped the
surface, dumped some gravel and levelled it. They have yet to sort out the
drainage and put in edgings. To the right of the first photo you can see
the ditch they have left as a temporary drain for the springwater. Had
they not done that the site would be underwater by morning.
The interesting part is they
uncovered the old Victorian drainage system, as well as several more modern
attempts in various states of disrepair. We had a bit of a history lesson
this morning. Not for nothing is the house called Springside House. The
800' contour line runs through the back cliff wall, about which I think I have
spoken before (or else see my website), and the spring line is just
At the rear you can see a
small stone building with three bricked-up doorways. This is the toilet
block for the three cottages that once stood on this plot adjoining my
house. In front of the foliage on the
extreme right of the pictures is a bus-stop lay-by of recent construction.
When they built this I diverted the springwater into the drains they laid around
it. (It did not seem to concern the contractors that they had just built across
a small water course.)
scraping the surface off we broke through a recent land drain, and just a bit
deeper found the old clay drains from the cottages, and up close to the quarry
face a dry-stone (well quite wet actually) culvert large enough to crawl down
and in excellent condition. From this we can see radiating various land
drains, some of the entrances to which had been lost.
The main culvert begins
under the otherwise rather pointless dry-stone stack to the right of and in
front of the privies and runs to the right, behind the foliage . It drains
into a smaller channel running toward the street, and has a branch which appears
to collect from the downspouts on this side of the house. When I bought
the house the springwater was running across the pavement into the street
gutter, a fun slide in winter. Now it is
clear that this should have been draining into the culvert somehow, but the
entry had become obstructed. We are now diverting it back to its original
This is part of a general street
improvement project which included sandblasting the front and side walls and
rebuilding the little boundary walls at the front, complete with cute iron
railings (2nd photo). We were supposed to get wrought iron gates, but as
yet they haven't shown up, although other houses have got them, so I guess they
Thank you. I love the way
your house looks. It looks, sadly, exactly as I had expected it to.
I adore row houses.
It looks so ENGLAND.
But England is made of
bricks. Stone building is a distinctly northern
Sorry. The resolution on the photo didn't let me see it
The colour is the give-away,
90% of English houses are red brick, made from soft red (Triassic) sandstone.
(For contrast there are three bricked-up doorways in the disused toilet block
in front of the van.) Only in places like the Pennines is stone
(millstone grit - a hard sandstone layer in the carboniferous, between the
'coal measures' and the limestone) the main building material. It is
creamy in Lancashire and more yellow in Yorkshire, but buildings went black
from pollution before smoke abatement regulations in the '50s. Most have
now been cleaned. Oddly the most famous type of brick is Accrington
brick. Accrington is about 3 miles from here and is entirely built of
stone. The famous brick was originally made as an engineering brick for
building the cotton mills. It was particularly suitable for withstanding
the vibration of weaving looms. Later it became popular in many areas as
an exterior finishing brick for houses because its high glaze made it very
weather resistant. Stone built houses have solid walls about 18"-24"
thick. These are not as good insulation as a cavity wall but they are
almost totally opaque to sound, and store heat for a long time. I
calculated the thermal time constant of my house at 43 hours. This keeps
it cool in summer and warm in winter. Of course if you ever let it get
cold (I let it go down to about 40°F once) it takes a week to get back
up to temperature. (After 24 hours continuous running of the boiler it
just about made 60°F)
Anyway I thought you were
interested in the gravel patch. It is progressing very slowly.
Are they putting some kind of plastic mulch underneath it to
They have finished it now. They stripped the topsoil off and
laid about a foot depth of rough chippings, then a couple of inches of
sand-and-gravel to make a firm surface, and finally a couple of inches of sea
gravel, round stones that will remain mobile. It seems to work OK for
other people. We don't have much topsoil anywhere in this area, so the
weeds don't go deep.
I have a garden area I made by shovelling about 2' of
clean topsoil (which had built up under the trees) onto an area which had been
weeds growing on demolition debris, after first excavating all the useful
stone and un-diggable debris. Despite comments by passers-by the
underlying willow-herb and nettle roots could not find their way through that
much smothering. Between the cultivated plants only came shallow-rooted
weeds and grass.
The contractors turn up now and
again and do a bit more. They have finished the drains and put in most of
the edging. Discovery of the culvert puts me in mind for another
earth-moving project. I always wanted to do fountains, simply because I
have springs about 20' above street level.
What about a spring-fed goldfish pond? Or is it too cold
I have thought about it. There is a Koi farm across the valley,
and they do have some outdoor pools, but I don't think they are
year-round. (It's probably the only farm not worried about
foot-and-mouth!) I am sure the spring water as it issues is too cold, it
hurts to put your hand in it. I discussed it with some people and the
consensus was that it could be done but would not be very successful - you
would have to breed fish specially to withstand the temperature and you'd have
to lose colour variations etc..
I tried it in the back yard, but
the pressure was far too high and it was very noisy. And it blew around
and made everything wet all the time. I did build a pressure regulator
which worked for a few months, but it is difficult to avoid debris and lifeforms
getting in the works, and anyway it ended up getting vandalised. Now out
front where the culvert is the noise wouldn't matter, and fountains could be
sited on its roof, which is higher, so less pressure in the first place, and
draining away the water would be no problem. It is covered in a few feet
of earth of course, but this is probably the result of landslips, it looks as if
it was originally exposed. I already built an about 8' high dry-stone retaining
wall above it (completely by hand, over several years, mostly for
exercise. I have put on weight steadily since I stopped doing that.), so
the landslip is no longer a problem. From previous excavations I know the
earth is mostly leafmold and silt washed down by the spring, mixed with
demolition materials from the cottages that used to be there, and other
garbage. I once dug up an intact 1950's milk bottle. They had rather
ornate silk-screened health advertising slogans ("To health via milk") on them
in those days, and the paintwork on this one was in perfect
Where is it now? Sell it on
I gave it to the local dairy farmer who delivers my
History of the house:
exactly a normal 'row' (terraced) house, our block is a pub and two
Well the general situation is pretty convenient. What is
convenient is being five minutes walk from school, bank, post office, shops
etc., the bus stop outside serving the express bus to Manchester, and a slip
road opposite straight on to the bypass and so to the motorway network.
I used to reckon I could get my MG to 90mph in 90 seconds from a standing
start on the parking area.
Over the years the pub has had a chequered
history and has been a mixed blessing. When I arrived in 1985 it was
closed and boarded up. Its last incarnation had been as a biker pub, and
after the landlord did a moonlight departure, the bikers kept on running it
for about six months before the brewery noticed that no-one was paying the
bills and withdrew supplies.
Then a family I knew bought it and did it up
and that was quite nice for my (single) social life. They found that the
disco was the best money spinner, so it drifted into being a disco pub, with
the son and daughter-in-law of the family running it. This was noisy
rowdy and 'interesting' (as in "May you live in interesting times").
They had riots, one night I had friends to dinner and there was some ruckus
outside. I looked out of the door and saw a bunch of regulars faced off
in the middle of the road against a gang from (probably) Bacup, ten miles down
the valley. While the atmosphere was hostile, it was temporarily quiet,
so I got their attention, explained that they were upsetting my guests and
asked them politely to move their fight down the road a bit. The locals
laughed and said "Sure, no problem, we were just seeing them off that way
anyway." It only worked because at the time I drank in the pub two or
three nights a week, and had occasionally done defence duty with the local
heavies when violence threatened. I even got to hospital once for a
quick suture occasioned by a blow to the head from a studded belt. I got
£100 for that one when it went to court.
They played it well, filled the
place to an unsustainable level then sold out at a great profit on the basis
of the recent turnover. The day it sold we had a party that went on
pretty late and we forgot to lock the doors. About midnight the police walked
in and wanted to know what was going on. They eventually left, accepting that
it was a private party and no-one was buying drinks, honest.
say the suckers who bought it did not do well and it declined. The landlord's
wife left him and one day he went out leaving the chip pan on.
Unfortunately for him the neighbour across the road spotted the smoke and the
fire was out before any major damage, or insurance claim, was done.
were a few more half hearted short lived and unprofitable attempts, then an
elderly Italian chef and his son took it on. They turned it into a successful
Italian restaurant, still keeping the pub side going too. That was fine
for a few years until the boss retired, and his son wasn't so good a chef or
so keen on the business and last year he decamped to Italy, possibly to avoid
creditors. There was another brief interlude if nondescript and
unprofitable beer-selling, and it has just been reborn as a traditional
English restaurant, run by a former customer of the disco pub. At least he
remembered me from there, I can't say I remember him, but then I was probably
drunk at the time.
Just a little aside from this story, yes I used to drink
quite a lot, and no I don't now. This was not a gradual transition, more
a sort of burn-out. On my 39th birthday I rather wildly celebrated not being
40 yet. I ill-advisedly bought a drink for everyone in the pub.
(Yes I was richer then too). Why ill-advised? Well of course I
didn't; have to buy many more drinks after that, everyone was trying to buy me
one back. Official closing time was 11pm, but this tended to be
'honoured in the breach' and around 1am there were still a dozen or so drinks
'paid on' for me. The pub's policy was that about an hour after the law
said they should stop selling, they would restrict purchases to spirits
only. Some bright spark thought that would be a laugh and got all the
credit as a half pint of brandy, which I blearily then attempted to drink,
with predictable results. Yes, I awoke face down in a pool of
vomit. That was Saturday night. Sunday was just one big hangover,
and Sunday evening I had to drive down to the Midlands for a job on Monday
morning. I checked into the hotel and went to my room to freshen
up. When I bent down in front of the mirror to rinse my face I caught
site of a cartoon face drawn in lipstick on the bald top of my head! How
embarrassing! Anyway that episode put me right off alcohol for some
time. It was six months before I felt like a beer, and two years before
I could touch cognac again, and I have never since drunk to
The two houses were built as one house in 1865 for the manager of the
(long gone) neighbouring brewery which supplied the pub (using the spring
water). When the original owner died (sometime around 1900 I think) his
widow divided the house into two and sold off 'our' half to a doctor who set up
a practice there. The two halves are almost equal in floor area (about
200m²) but ours looks much bigger because they are L shaped and we have the
double front. The way I figure it, we have the main entrance and main
stairs, servants room and reception rooms, next door have the servant's entrance
and 'back' stairs, kitchen etc. There is all sorts of historical evidence
lying around, e.g. there are bell-cranks and gas lighting pipes in the roof
void. My family doctor's practice (now in the town centre) is the one
which started in my house, he was very interested in the house when he came to
visit Lyudmila. I use the rooms which were the doctor's waiting room and
surgery, for my office and
About 2 years ago a guy ran into my
van in London. Not an accident, a road-rage attack, he rammed me. I
saw him coming, decided no way his little saloon car was going to intimidate my
3.5 tonner and stood my ground, presenting a 'hard point' to his approach as he
cut me up. The corner of my front fender hit his passenger door, then
scraped down the side of his car as he tried to drive off and eventually was
hooked under his rear wing. After some shouting of abuse and calling the
police, who didn't want to know, we went out ways. I had a scratch in the
paintwork so slight it didn't even break the paint, and it is still there to
this day. Shortly afterwards I got letters from his insurance company and
uninsured-loss recovery company saying he blamed me, which I sent back with my
version of the facts, saying he had no witnesses because if there had been
witnesses I would have pressed criminal charges, and they both dropped it.
"Hot potato" springs to mind. Now, on Friday I have to go to court
to defend myself, he is accusing me of having rear-ended his
What took him so long? Here you have a year to take
people to court for small-claims insurance
What took him so long was probably coming around to insurance renewal
time and finding out that his insurers thought it had been his fault. I
think you get three years here to make such claims.
What he is claiming for is the £100 'excess' on
his insurance that he had to pay (on his around £1000 repair). The reason
is that if he doesn't recover that he will lose his no-claims bonus from his
policy, which will cost him a couple of years' premiums over time. The guy
is a complete asshole. Sounds like it.I even have a copy of a
body-shop receipt from his insurance for replacing a door, so how he squares
that with being rear-ended I do not know.
It certainly will be
edifying and entertaining to watch. But I still have to take
the time to go to court. He even tried to get the case moved to
London. I said OK as long as he was willing to pay £500 costs if/when he
lost, and that went quiet. Oh Bother! Bottom! Knickers! Spit! (Who
said that anyway? I've forgotten. Some kids' story.)
WELL! It certainly doesn't
sound like Rumer Godden, Noel Streatfeild or A.A. Milne. OR the
Water-Babies, for that matter.
I keep thinking it was Violet Elizabeth Bott from Just William, but she
was the one who said "I'll scream and scream until I'm sick". It was some
young girl said this when she was annoyed, demonstrating the worst language she
Yesterday I had to go to a customer in the
south of Scotland, in Hawick. This meant driving through the small market
town of Longtown (near Gretna), which was where the Foot-and-Mouth disease
outbreak was first found. It was horrible. The whole area was under
a layer of acrid smoke. There were columns of smoke based by small orange
flickers of flame dotted around the landscape. In roadside fields I saw
half a dozen pyres, long 10foot wide trenches filled with dead cows and
burning. Also one film crew recording the carnage. At one freshly
lit one I drove under an arch of thick black smoke, rising from the heat of the
fire, blowing across the road in the light wind, and descending again in the
cold air into the field opposite. All the livestock farm entrances have
Keep Out signs, and/or a band of straw soaked in disinfectant across the
road. Farmers park their cars and trucks on the road outside the farm so
they don't have to decontaminate every time they want to go to town.
Everything smells of burnt cow, an acrid and clinging smell, but not too
offensive - I think it is mainly acrylic acid if memory serves. I wonder
how much virus there is in the smoke.
shudder. That does sound horrible, and my shudder was not sarcastic. I
have nothing against cows, and this all sounds ghastly to me, plus it makes me
think of certain relatives of mine about sixty years or so
ago. I believe the technique is quite
There's no medication for
hoof-and-mouth? Do the farmers have insurance, or is there some kind of
compensation from the gummint? (I think farmers are often compensated too
much here, but I don't mind it when it's a public health thing like
What a grisly thing to drive through. Too bad the Good Taste
Euro Police couldn't see THAT.
Yes the farmers get compensated by the gov. for the animals
destroyed. Of course there are a lot of other losses that are not
compensated. The problem with the virus is it is highly infectious and takes
about two weeks to show symptoms. So once you know your cows have got it,
it's too late. You need to trace all the other animals they have been in
contact with, and destroy the cows because the virus can even be carried on the
wind to the next farm. Given time the animals would recover, but if the
disease ran its course the whole of Europe would get infected. Some
animals (eg sheep) can carry it undetected.
Yes. When I was in high school in Round
Rock, which was then pretty rural, I dated a guy who was in FFA. (Future
Farmers of America.) (I primarily dated him because they wore cool
jackets, and I'd get to wear it if we went steady. Which I steered him
into, because I wanted to wear his jacket.)
What strange reasons high-school girls have for dating a
guy. Did he know that you only fancied him for his
Of COURSE not. What kind of skank do you think I am?
I allowed him to think we were Romeo and Juliet, then dumped him when a person
with a cooler jacket became available, and broke his heart. I'm a good
girl, I am.
You never chased jeans or shoes
or whatever? Only jackets? I heard of guys chasing skirts but this
is new to me.
Well, it was a way of advertising to all the other girls that there is a
guy going steady with you.
To this day I am still attracted to tall
guys with long legs wearing boot-cut Wrangler jeans and, of course, cowboy
boots. But that's strictly
FFA project was raising two heifers, and I heard a lot about
foot-and-mouth. But it was always presented as a worst-case scenario, and
not something to worry about much.
Well we seem to have bought the worst case scenario here. New
outbreaks are running about 10-15 farms per day. Well, not quite the
worst, at least the gov. is taking what seem to be sensible steps and there is
a general consensus between min. of ag., farmers and the rest as to what needs
to be done. The worst case scenario is a cover-up like they did with
BSE. One weird thing is that last time we had an outbreak they buried
the carcasses. Now they are banned from doing that by a Euro-regulation, they
have to burn them. This means that they lie around putrefying and
infecting for a while until a pyre can be built and fired. This seems to
take a whole lot longer than digging a hole and throwing them in. I
guess its best in the long term, but it makes it harder to halt the spread.
Hey, in one district the police impounded all the farmers' shotguns in
case they do something stupid in a fit of depression over their loss of
income. I could just see that happening in USA. I don't know how they
are going to protect all the people employed in rural tourism, who have
probably lost half their income for the year and get no compensation. Or
those who provide livestock transport or feed or trading
Do not make
fun of FFA.
Would I do that, even if it does sound like a bunch
of stockbrokers reaping the benefits of reselling wheat that does not yet
exist? (I guess those are the Futures Farmers of America). In one
of Terry Pratchet's 'Discworld' novels he has a pork futures warehouse full of
In the unexpectedly funny movie
"Space Truckers," they were hauling genetically engineered hogs that were
cube-shaped, for easier packing.
The FFA kids
then entered their livestock in the Fat Stock Show in Fort Worth and/or the
State Fair in Dallas. The prizewinners were auctioned off, presumably for
college money. I had a girlfriend whose turkey (what a pathetic project,
raising a turkey) took the grand prize at the State Fair and sold for
$13,000. And that was in 1979, when $13,000 meant something.
$13,000 is some turkey. Did the kids chose
their projects or were they assigned, like "You do horses, you do sheep, you
No, they chose them.
That's why everyone thought a turkey was so pathetic. Kids who wanted to
show their chops as REAL farmers picked things like cows and
bought a fully-loaded baby blue F250 pickup truck with most of it instead of
saving it for college. But OH, did we envy that pickup as we jounced along
in the school bus.
Aloha, Catharine (who now would not be caught DEAD in an
F250, even if she COULD climb up into one.)
What the heck, she probably enjoyed the looks of envy far more
than she would have enjoyed gloating over her peers unrepaid student
Yeah, she said
with a disgusted look on her face. Hey, I got my master's degree seven
years ago, and I just paid off one loan from that! I only have $2300 on
the other loan left to go! :b
started with student loans on a serious scale a few years ago so it hasn't
worked its way through the system yet. When I was a student we got a
government grant that was enough to survive on if you weren't dependent on any
strange substances. We have
that -- the Pell grants -- but you have to be direly poverty-stricken, on an
Appalachian or inner-city level, to qualify for them.
finally abolished a few years ago as part of a policy of allowing everyone to
get a university education whether they had a brain or not. If everyone
goes to university then you can't expect the taxpayer to fund them I
suppose. The people who were in the first years of student loans are just
getting jobs now, so the extent of repayment times has not hit home yet.
Just wait until it does. I did my undergraduate stuff on a
combination of scholarships and working, so I didn't owe anything when I
finished that. Did my MPH on savings and loans, so I only owed around
$18,000 when I finished. My sister is about to finish her dissertation
for her Ph.D., and has figured out that she will owe about $80,000. I
think that's horrifying, as the only thing she will be able to do with it is
teach, and she will not ever make that much money. Wow. But she
loves being a student, and I think she loved being on the dole, so to speak,
for many years. Now she has to worry about getting
That's what's scary about the
system. It establishes a sort of debt culture. At least with
grants there was a stop point, you had to make the grades to keep getting
paid, and of course the higher you got the higher the qulaifying grades
were. This way there is no inbuilt limit - as long as someone is
prepared to lend you money and someone is prepared to take the money to teach
you the don't care whether or not you can benefit from it. And the monthly payments are so small, and
start so far in the future, it's very hard to worry about them.
This is pretty much what Artyom is doing, I don't know if he is
really benefiting from his education, but it is an easy option for him to get
enough money to live on now and not have to work but do what interests him. It
is hard to make people think ahead when they don't have
Aaaaaah (disgusted, cynical camel-like noise). No one
benefits from their education right away. The only immediate benefits I
got were finally discovering how much alcohol makes me sick, how to do a Bunny
Dip while serving cocktails, how to deal with obnoxious drunks, and how to get
the kind of stain that nearly brought our government down out of various types
of material. Oh, and I did write a nice paper on the Black Death's
effect on labor policies in the fourteenth century. I was quite hurt
years later when watching The Day The Universe Changed or Connections or
something like that to discover that James Burke had had the same thoughts,
and I was not nearly as intelligent or original as I thought.
I don't think anyone takes their education seriously until they're
really paying for it themselves. And I was a LOT more serious about it
in grad school. I learned a lot more, too. Of course, YOU were
doing technical/scientific stuff, where you do benefit immediately.
I guess if you go on to
postgraduate studies on the same scheme it can wind up that you spend the rest
of your life repaying your student loan. Yup. See above. I don't think we are doing that
yet (** below), and I think most are paid for by research grants and low-grade
temporary staff positions in the university. When I was a postgrad I had
one quarter of a 'Demonstrator' job, which paid about 2/3 of the undergraduate's
grant, and nominally obliged me to supervise undergraduates in the labs once or
twice a week, although I was never actually asked to do it. I did get to
supplement this with the odd one-off teaching session - briefing students from
another dept to whom my research work was incidentally relevant - which paid
incredibly well. It confused hell out of the admin office though, they
couldn't quite get the hang of the idea of hiring an outside lecturer who was
actually already on their staff. However they persisted and on about the fifth
attempt they managed to produce a 'revised retrospective agreement' which
actually allowed them to pay me.
** No-one has yet had the bright idea of
guaranteeing postgraduate education for all; I'm sure it would be popular.
Also in this politically correct egalitarian society it has not yet occurred to
anyone in authority to prosecute or persecute mothers of thick children for
depriving them of their rights to participate fully in society.
I don't think
you could prosecute, but I would love to persecute. Especially since I
think a lot of thickness is caused by poor diet, staying up too late and too
much TV as a child.
Or smoking while