Sunday, 27 September 2009

Revelation Sculpture - Chatsworth House

Today we have been to Chatsworth house and for only the second time seen the Revelation sculpture working. It is a fascinating, beautiful sequence of movements. Unfortunately the engineer inside me immediately works it out and damages the effect. But that's me all over. The Emperor Fountain was short on height and so the water pressure, from the Emperor Lake, was either low or turned down. After so many weeks without proper rain this was not to be surprised at. Unfortunately this meant also that Revelation was slower and required more patience to see the full sequence than it normally does.

The petals are open and water bubbles over the top.

The petals rise gradually while the ball sinks....

and the petals rise while the ball falls..

until the petals are closed.

After a wait there is a gush of water and...

the petals start to open....

and continue to open until the petals are open, the ball has risen and the cycle will start again.

I apologise for the photo quality, but my poor 5mp camera had had a hard life before I gained possession and managed to bring it back to a form of life.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Steam Engine on the West Highland Line

While on holiday in Scotland we stayed at a cottage in Morar. At the bottom of the garden where you could watch from the kitchen window runs the west highland line. A daily service operates on the line throughout the summer that is hauled by a steam engine. Currently the name for this service is 'The Jacobite'. It runs once a day from Fort William to Mallaig and back and the current engine is 45407 - Lancashire Fusilier. Only it's not. When operating as a mainline engine in the days of steam, she had a different name and number but when rescued from the scrap yard she was restored as the Lancashire Fusilier which was one of her sister 'Black 5' engines. She is a glorious sight to see, smell and feel as she pounds past.
Lancashire Fusilier enters Mallaig station
The station at Glenfinnan

Lancashire Fusilier pulls the train from Mallaig back to Fort William through Morar station

Many people dreamt of being engine drivers as children, but do we really know what that meant? I met Paul first when he had a problem with his PC eating his accounts and through his mother-in-law, invited him to my retirement do. I asked Paul about this steam engine he had, that his mother-in-law had told us about. He invited me along to see it and it turned out to be a 5" gauge model engine . He leant me 'The Engine driver's Manual'. You would not believe, until you read, how complex driving an engine is. It seems straight forward that if you want more steam then add water to the boiler - yes, and cold water will cool the boiler and drop the pressure. Then add coal to the fire - yes, and adding coal to a fire 'blackens' it for a while and cools the fire down. Running these engines required a knowledge of the route, the train and the engine. These guys were skilled.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Social Networking - a good thing?

There has been said a lot lately about social networking - this new phenomena - and most of it has nothing good to say.

It is addictive - yes but like all addictions it can be controlled if the addicted individual wants to control it.

The recent case of a man killing his wife when she changed her status to single on facebook tells a very small part of their story as their relationship was already breaking down for many other reasons.

No, social networking enables people to communicate their ideas and emotions around the world to friends that they have never met and hardly know. Hang on a minute, that sounds just like the old pen pals of years ago? Yes, that's exactly what it is but much faster and to a wider audience. No one decried pen pals, although there was a degree of addiction to it. Having posted a letter one awaited eagerly the reply and pounced on it when it finally landed on the mat. Grabbing the pen while the envelope was still warm a reply on 10 sides of paper was scripted to be posted at the first opportunity.

So why all the fuss surrounding social networking? It is because it is so much faster and the habit can be fed 24/7.

But is it all bad? Consider those who have social connection issues. People like to call them Aspergic - I hate labels of that type as it makes it sound like they should be rounded up in some way! But what about them? In social networking they can connect to others without many of the barriers they feel about personal contact. Fetching kids from school can be a problem for them in case other people waiting want to talk - they can find it very uncomfortable and stressful, yet in social networking they can connect to others and chat openly and not feel any of that so could this be a good thing for them? Perhaps so but will increase the number of 'aspergics'?

Many sci-fi books used to project societies where people didn't leave the comfort and safety of their own rooms and maybe, just maybe, social networking is a step along that route.

Monday, 7 September 2009

End of school holidays

Friday marked the end of the school holiday and so we decided to go with SOC to Dovedale. Quite a while since we were all there but a SPLENDID time was had by all. We stayed out late and went without tea.

We started by Viator's bridge at Milldale and walked down the dale.
The view from Viators Bridge towards Dovedale

The dove at Milldale

Being a limestone rich area there are many fossils to be found.

The limestone gives rise to caves and this is a view out of one.

More of the caves.

SOC Told us about money trees, which to our shame, neither of us had heard of before.

Ilam rock is popular with climbers.

The Lion Rock. If you look you can see a lions face.

An arch form in the limestone.

Lover's Leap. (She didn't die, he wasn't dead, they met again and lived happily ever after!)

Approaching Dovedale.

The famous stepping stones.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009


While away we also saw dolphins. SOC caught this on her 5.5 megapixel camera with almost no zoom. We were REALLY close to them. It was magic!

There were that each day at low tide as the tide turned.

Back from holidays

Having got back from holiday, relatively unscathed, I now have to readjust to being home again. Next week school goes back so SOC will be out and I have to readjust again. Ne'er mind.

We had a slight issue with the car while we were away. I lost the fuel gauge when we got there and immediately we lost the power steering as well. By Sunday morning the car wouldn't even unlock without the key! Called the AA. "It's your alternator" he says as the engine stalls having been started on his box of tricks which it has now flattened. These modern cars use an electric power steering pump instead of mechanical and so everything - including the diesel injector pump- runs off the battery. I suggest we take it in to the dealer next day because I may get a courtesy car. "This is Inverness you are talking about." he says. Well I phone Monday and organise it and they will get it fixed next day while we are visiting Inverness. We arrive and they offer a courtesy car! They can't do enough to help and it's annoying. They check the battery and it needs a new one and we have them fit a new tyre at a very competitive price. The car is ready early - washed! They really can't do enough to help and it is annoying.

The car was due for service and MOT the day we got back - at the main dealer. They again did an excellent job (as always) and couldn't do enough to help (again) and again it was annoying!

Why, you ask, do I find it annoying? Well SAAB dealerships do a job like no other dealership I have ever known. I love driving my SAAB and she returns excellent economy. All this means it becomes almost impossible to consider driving any other make of car!