Monday, March 14, 2016

[jules pics] Yet more Blue Skies!

Windows done, James is making the most of the luxury scaffolding to practice his lime mortar pointing skills. Last week was too cold, then it was too wet, and now, apparently it may be too warm and dry, in which case I'm not sure quite which day of the year would actually be OK for this temperamental task! Anyway, he has no choice, as we can only keep the scaffolding up a bit longer. At least, with all this good weather, he can do some Blue Skies Thinking while he is up there... 

James up  ladder
Posted By jules from jules' pics.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

3D Impossipuzzles

In its own way, Yorkshire culture is as crazy as Japanese culture. Today's cultural exercise was doing an impossible 3 dimensional puzzle halfway up a mountain (Ingleborough), in the rain. It was also quite cold (the ground was hard with ice as we set off up the hill) although it did warm to a few degrees above freezing later on.

The game starts with a drystone wall. This is a wall of rocks which have been shaped by nature, and which contains no mortar. Clearly such a wall is physical impossibility but in Yorkshire these walls are everywhere and they magically stand up all on their own for hundreds of years. But sometimes the magic spell breaks and this causes part of the wall to fall down. The puzzle is to fully take down the wall and rebuild it using the pieces strewn around your legs so that it will stand for another 200 years or so. The original magic spells seem to have been lost, so modern woman has to achieve this using 3D puzzling. I was very surprised that most of the rocks are quite light so this is a sport which anyone who can stand the cold and rain can take part in. The main skill required is that of mental rock spinning. I've had so much practice packing our van with boxes in the last couple of years that I found this part came quite easily, but it was certainly tiring both physically and mentally. 

This photo was taken when we had almost finished for the day. Our section was not quite complete, but we seemed to have made fairly good progress, although one of the other teams had a much more difficult challenge as they were building on a very steep slope.

Picking up strewn rocks to put in wall... James works hard while the gurus give sage advice.

This is our bit of wall from the side. At the end of the day, our guru pointed out how it could have been done much better - there were many errors! But he also pretended that he wouldn't be out tomorrow to take it all down and redo it, stating that, despite all our errors it "would stand". That's nice - at last we've made a real contribution to something in the world!

The day included traditional Yorkshire feasting: sandwich and a thermos, at a slightly less windy spot.

Friday, March 04, 2016


Spent the week in the cat room. It has been quite exciting, especially on Tuesday afternoon, when, through the miracle of Skype, we were transported to a meeting room in Reading University to discuss paleoclimate research with some colleagues. Hope they enjoyed the occasional cat appearance. 

The reason for our retreat is windows, or rather, the hole created when a window is removed. Our house has a lot of windows, and all the topmost ones were all poor in some way. Some were cracked, some failed double glazing, some single glazed, and one was opaque for no reason we can comprehend. Rapid progress has been made. There are to be 15 new panes in total and just 3 still to go - the hard to access ones s behind the stove. Still, they have a nice day for it today with only a couple of inches of snow on the ground! The window peoples do just one window at a time, but one window-sized hole in your open plan living area is enough to make you switch off the central heating and retreat to the cat room with its electric storage radiator and supplementary electric heater. It's been quite snug. 

The scaffolding went up at the weekend, and we will keep it up for a while to repoint the upper levels (hopefully it will warm up a bit next week to make this possible). Here are the window peoples (Touchstone Glazing) working on a hole.

And here's a hole where there used to be a failed double glazing unit and is now a lovely new one.

Ten thousand pounds is a lot of money to spend on improved transparency. The previous occupants had done some not very good artwork as well as stuck some transfers on several of the windows to simulate stained glass, so we thought give ourselves something to remember and put leaded lights in the holes where that had previously been decorated windows. Ultimate vanity this, as the images are adapted from my photos. Left to right, top to bottom, Pen-y-ghent, Ribblehead viaduct, Scaleber Force, and Ingleborough. Pen-y-ghent with its bright sun faces east, and  Ingleborough is in the south at the west end of the building, where the setting sun catches the light - which is why we made a sunset image. It seems to work - it was glowing very nicely yesterday evening. These leaded lights are double glazed units, with a leaded glass pane stuck in the middle, so sort of triple glazed I suppose.