Saturday, 21 February 2015

Units of measurement

When did the football pitch, a London bus, Nelsons’ column and the Eiffel tower, become the official standard unit of measurement?
As long as four football pitches
Why do news stories always tell you it is about the length of so many football pitches or so many times the height of the Eiffel tower rather than giving it in some kind of recognised measure like the metre or the yard?    I believe they are still currently used when actually planning and building such things as football stadiums and such.
I personally have no idea how big a football pitch is. I avoided sport at school as often as I could get away with it, being rather puny, and have done so ever since.  My knowledge of football extends to subbuto or those machines where the players are all on metal rods, so to me a football pitch is about six foot long at most.
 OK, so if you are really interested you can look up the height or length of the thing used to describe whatever it is in the news and then do the sums but, if they only have such a vague way of describing things, why not say, ‘it is yay big’, stretching out their hands, or it is humongously tall, it would be just about as meaningful.

  ( apologies to the Telegraph Newspapers whos ship picture I have used)

Thursday, 19 February 2015


A couple of years ago, we had some trouble with our neighbour over a piece of our front garden that he claimed should be a part of his garden. As far as we were concerned the builders had clearly intended it to be a part of our property, since it ran continuously across the front of our house up to his driveway. We could have fought harder but we had other things on our mind. Firstly we were away in the states for a few weeks immediately after he first raised the issue and then just as we were returning, I discovered that my brother-in-law from my first marriage had died. Apart from my two sons, his nephews, I was the only surviving relative and had to take care of all his affairs, which unfortunately had become rather complex. This meant travelling back and forth to his property for several months, dealing with banks, solicitors and all the paraphernalia involved in an unexpected death. So we had delayed dealing with the boundary for as long as we could, despite several threatening letters and unacceptable demands. We decided in the end to accept his claim, rather reluctantly, since it was cheaper than disputing them in the courts which is a really really expensive thing to do. For a few square feet of ground it was just not worth going for such a pyrrhic victory, so we then fought a prolonged rear action whilst we organised our tactical withdrawal from the battlefield. In the end we built a fence exactly along the boundary he had claimed was the correct line. In the front it was a an ornamental metal fence but, between the two houses a big six foot high wooden fence. Sadly in the process we had to dig up a lot of nice plants and a flowering tree.

As it was originally but, all the shrubs to the left of the tree and the tree  had to go
So the front garden has been a bit sad since and we decided it could do with a makeover. There were good reasons to change the driveway where we park our cars. We had become fed up with the drab tarmac drive, which was getting a bit crumbly and shedding its surface, whilst gravel we had around the edges was always scattering. We were forever kicking and sweeping the pebbles back into their proper place and removing weeds and animal droppings, so we decided to get rid of the lot and put down block paving, leaving a most of the original grass with planted borders against the new fence.
So day one out with the tired old tarmac.
Day one
Day two it snowed so they could not do a lot, so they left it as it was and we stayed indoors.

Day three, the snow had gone and the ground was levelled off and prepared.

All the tarmac and paving slabs gone

levelled and a base put down

A delivery of paving blocks arrived

Day four and blocks were laid.
The blocks marched across the prepared base
 I would dearly have liked to make a stop motion sequence of this process, but it was done so rapidly, I did not have time for more than one shot of it happening.
and that part of the job was done.
We were able to park our cars on the drive that night.

Day five and the ground has been cleared for the new lawn, the old turf removed and fresh topsoil put in to build the level up to the top of the edging blocks.

Day six the planting. Day six came and went and due to the ground being frozen solid, nothing happened. This continued not to happen for several days including a weekend and some prior engagements by The Better half and yours truly.  So it was not for another week that the turf finally arrived and was laid.

The final prduct,  The grass has yet to establish itself and we will need to keep it watered for the next few weeks, but soon enough, it will require cutting.  Oh well I will sharpen the blades on the old lawnmower...

It was once said that the United Kingdom and the United States are two great nations divided by a single language. This is clear in this kind of work, because if I said 'sod the garden', in the USA, grass would be laid whereas in the UK, it would be taken that I was annoyed with the garden and did not intend to do anything to it.  That word is not considered very polite in this country and is used more often than not as a swear word, derived from sodomy. The word is also known as meaning a clod of grass and soil here, but rarely used in that context.  So our friends in the USA, should never be surprised if UK residents are taken aback by an American using that term and UK residents, take note your American friends are not being rude about your garden.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015


It looks like spring is on its way. It still is a way off but hints are appearing. Snowdrops are blooming and the birds are setting up home.

We had an old nest box which had great tits nesting for a couple of years, but we never saw any chicks. Eventually the box started to come apart, so I built a new one.

At first a blue tit investigated it coming back and forth for a while but stopped calling after a few days. Now a great tit has been flitting back and forth for more than a week.  He is alternately poking his head into the box or sitting nearby chirping loudly. No doubt he is telling the world that he has found a nice nest site and any suitable female bird would be welcome to come and share it with him.

So winter may be on its way out soon and more spring flowers will be showing themselves quite soon.