Sunday, 17 April 2016


Why does it always happen at one o’clock in the morning?

Last night, our upstairs smoke alarm went off and we were woken from a deep sleep. 
In the absence of an obvious raging inferno and still three quarters asleep, I was soon stood on a chair on the landing, my groggy mind set on replacing the battery. The stupid thing would not come apart. ‘Insert screwdriver and slide forwards,’ The instruction label tells me. Fumbling desperately I finally managed to separate the battery compartment without actually ripping the whole thing off its mounting, something that was becoming more attractive as a solution.
New battery from the battery drawer inserted and after a few sullen beeps it settled down again. Just about enough time to get back to sleep and it was complaining once more BEEP BLOODY BEEP!

I know that all sorts of different things besides a fire can cause these things to go off, a few molecules of perfume, hairspray or butane gas will do it, so we searched the house for gas taps left on, smells of burning, spills of perfume or anything else, but nothing was amiss.
Thinking I would try the scientific approach, before resorting to a large hammer, I got my test meter and compared the old battery against another new one. The old one read 9.07V, not that low. The brand new one read 9.6V but both were off load.   I then, slightly more proficiently this time, removed the battery compartment without resorting to violence and checked the battery I had optimistically put in it.  On load, it showed 8.4V! Not what I expected from a new battery, so I put the good one I had just tested in and It read 9.2V on load.
The unit complained a little more feebly, but then remained silent. Confident I had cured the problem I replaced it and went back to bed once more. 

BEEP BLOODY BEEP again just as we were drifting off.   A stray bit of inspiration filtered into my tired brain. Perhaps just stuffing a new battery into it wasn’t enough for the thrice damned designers of this particular device, maybe having the right voltage again was not enough and you need to tell the system it has a new battery. The only way to do this, in the absence of any other control buttons, is to press the test button. Any thought in a storm and so I did and ears ringing after standing directly under the 90 decibel BEEPs this produced, for the remainder of the night we were able to sleep undisturbed. Well, I was. Unfortunately The Better Half was now so wide awake she could not get off again for another hour. But here we are now on a bright new sunny morning and not a peep from the smoke alarm. At least, not until some unspecified date in the future, when no doubt, it will wake us up again and like a tiny baby demanding to be fed with a cry you cannot ignore, it will demand another battery, no doubt, at some future ungodly hour.

Friday, 1 April 2016

A work of art

I love this photo of Robert Glen's Mustangs, you can almost see them running. 
Mustangs at Las Colinas is a bronze sculpture by Robert Glen

I have never seen it in the bronze, so to speak, never having visited Irving, but I think Robert Glen’s sculpture is one of the best pieces of artwork I have seen. I am not a fan of abstract sculptures, there seems little skill in bending something into, admittedly on occasions, an interesting shape, but I see real skill in making metal look like something realistic.
In contrast, hidden away in one of Swindon's back streets is this large LED studded thing.

Spot the sculpture.
It is supposed to buitify the town.  Not sure how and as you may have guessed, it is not one of my favourites.

Not only does Glen’s sculpture give a sense of realism, it is the largest equestrian sculpture in the USA, but not because it is over sized like Andy Scot’s the Kelpies, which is incidentally another sculpture I rather like. Glen’s horses are twice normal size, but it is the largest sculpture because it covers a lot of space, just like real herd of wild mustangs. The effect of the fountains giving the appearance their feet are kicking up spray is a touch of genius. Robert Glen has won a number of awards and quite rightly because it is amazing.

 He is just an ordinary looking guy, but his work is extraordinary and I wish he had done something for my local town over here.