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I had a birthday recently and went off to the seaside for the day with my sister and brother in law.  For some reason I have a passion for being by the sea and on the sea.  Clearly some Viking blood trying to emerge. Most of my birthdays growing up involved either going to the cinema or being on a boat, or preferably, both! Anyway, it was a glorious day, blue skies, hot sunshine and the very best of an English summer.  We were headed to the East coast, just at the south end of the Humber estuary, so facing onto the North Sea.  The sea there is muddy rather than blue or green because of the huge amount of silt coming from both the Humber itself and also washing down southwards from further up the coast. As we came onto the foreshore we noticed the haar, or fret as my brother in law called it, hovering over the sea. cleethorpes beach in the frethaar 003   In fact it first appeared as swirling wraithes of smoke twirling over the water and the wet sand while we stood in bright, hot sunshine.  Then it rolled up the coast to us from the south, getting thicker and thicker.cleethorpes beach in the frethaar 011 The oddest effect was that people’s feet were vanishing out of view cleethorpes beach in the frethaar 002  as the haar swirled and eddied and gathered on the water’s surface:the groyne’s appeared to be like lost teeth or castellations sitting in water whereas they were sitting in in mist.  The higher patches of sand were clearer.  Then the pier itself lost its feet. cleethorpes beach in the frethaar 004.jpg 1 Both edifices and humans were insubstantially supported.  I do wish I was a good enough painter to catch the effect because it was actually rather magical.cleethorpes beach in the frethaar 009 I have often seen the haar on the East Coast but hitherto it has always been as a complete, solid sea mist often reaching onto the land and sometimes staying for days at a time.  But in this instance it was alive, moving and eerie: one could understand the old myths of wraithes and marsh spirits.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In meteorology, haar is a coastal fog. Haar is typically formed over the sea and is brought to land by wind advection. This commonly occurs when warmer moist air moves over the relatively cooler North Sea causing the moisture in the air to condense, forming haar. Sea breezes and Easterly winds then bring the haar into the East coast of Scotland and North-East England where it can continue for several miles inland. This can be common in Summer when heating of the land creates a sea breeze, bringing haar in from the sea and as a result can significantly reduce temperatures compared to those just a few miles inland. The term haar is used along certain lands bordering the North Sea, primarily eastern Scotland and the North East of England. Variants of the Scots term include har, hare, harl, harr, hoar and the origin may be probably from a Low German or Dutch dialect word akin to Dutch dialect harig damp, misty, Middle Dutch hare sharp wind, piercing cold, Frisian harig misty, Old Norse hārr gray, hoary.”

My brother in law kept using the word ‘fret’ which I had never heard before, just as he had never heard the word ‘haar’.  And we were both talking about the same thing!  Talk about divided by a common language.  I also discovered on the internet that, “In Yorkshire and Northumberland it is commonly referred to as a sea fret”.

On this beach quicksands develop as the tide comes in, and because it is such a shallow incline, one can very suddenly become cut off by rivulets cutting across the beach. A Beach Safety Team patrols every hour along beach when tide is coming in to both warn people and help those in difficulties.

http://i.thisis.co.uk/275583/article/images/2507779/1718471-large.jpg There are notices and flags all along the beach but still I saw people wading out despite the warnings.  Several people were stopped by the Patrol but as soon as it had moved on they continued to walk out: this was so irresponsible, especially one man I saw accompanied by two tiny children, walking out to the sea through the thickening mist and incoming tide.  By this time the mist had become fairly static and really thick. The foghorns were sounding their plaintive, rather scary moans, and a chill ran up the spine.

cleethorpes beach in the frethaar 011.jpg 1I’m all for individual responsibility but when it puts others’ lives at risk by causing them to have to rescue one, it becomes sheer selfishness and stupidity.

By mid afternoon the sun had burned off the haar and we sat on the beach having a picnic at 6.0 pm with good visibility. We could see massive container ships leaving the end of the estuary and heading out to sea through the old forts  from World Wars I and II which still guard the entrance.

A lovely day out, with sunshine, good air and lots of interest thrown in.

For those interested:

Humber Forts  From Wikipedia.

    Haile Sand Fort  – not my photo –  (Original uploader was Jpacarter at en.wikipedia)

Bull Sand Fort – not my photo – (Original uploader was Neoskywalker at en.wikipedia)

The Humber Forts are two large fortifications in the mouth of the Humber estuary in northern England: Haile Sand Fort and Bull Sand Fort.
The two forts were planned in 1914 to protect the entrance to the estuary. They stand 59 feet (18 m) above the water and have a diameter of 82 feet (25 m). There was accommodation for 200 soldiers. Started in May 1915, they took more than four years to build and construction was not finished until December 1919.
During the Second World War they were reactivated and modernised. The forts were regularly attacked by enemy aircraft. During this time, they installed a netting to prevent enemy submarines from travelling up the estuary to Hull or Grimsby. The forts were finally abandoned by the military in 1956.

 

Up in the hills

There has been strange activity up in the hills near us recently.

For months roads have been being resurfaced, not that they were the worst near here by any means.

Brand new white lines perfectly drawn.

Rumours abounding.  Money from the EU.  All Sheffield roads to be repaired. And believe me they need to be, the potholes need to be seen to be believed.

Then – “The Tour de France is coming to a village near you”

And those last rumours proved to be quite right.  Last Sunday, Stage 2 of the Tour de France came through a village very close to mine.

Neighbours had parking places booked in farmers’ fields at £150.00 for the day: they had to be in place by 7.0 am and not able to leave much before 5.0 pm.  Burger vans, camp sites, ice cream vans, memorabilia vans, you name it and they were there.  You could not move in the small village for strangers and food outlets.  And all the local pubs were cashing in with special weekend beer festivals.

We decided we could not afford to spend so much for parking, but neither did I feel I had the energy to walk the few miles which were nearly all up hill, to watch.

The cyclists were due to come through at about 3.30 pm we were informed.  So at lunchtime we decided to take to the back roads and see how close we could get to the action.  After all, we would not have the opportunity again.

I drove up one lane to find hordes of perspiring people toiling their way up a very steep, and hugely long, hill.  No other cars were driving up so I feared that I would be stopped near the top and have to back all the way down through the crowds.  Not a happy thought.

However, the stars must have been in alignment for us, because we were allowed right to the top of the hill, despite all the side roads being closed to cars, where a farmer had opened his field to cars for just £10.00.  We drove across the field, parked and only had to walk about 25 feet to be at the side of the road, in a clear space from which to watch.  You can just see the cars on the right behind wall.

 

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The sun was shining and families had come with pushchairs, flags, sunshades and picnics.

 

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There was a very spread-out five mile cavalcade of police cars, motorbikes, advertising vans – (all with scantily clad dancing girls on top and many throwing out free gifts), Tour de France vans, and every type of French Policeforce in evidence.  Most of the French police were hailing us in strongly accented English and some were blowing kisses!

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There were no crowd control barriers or police enforcement which was a nice change!  One police car did stop and warn us that the Tour de France would come quick and fast and stop for nothing so we should stay behind the white lines for our own safety, but after that we were left to our own devices.  Some of the Police stopped and gave children a ‘sit’ on their bikes and ‘high-fived’ people as they came past but it was all jollity and fun and music, no sense of constraint at all.

We were standing at 1,000 feet elevation so the cyclists had a climb up to us, and then were descending away into Sheffield.

Here they come, just over the top and coming down.

 

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Right in front of me and now at speed.

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Then in the flash of an eye they were past and going downhill

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We thought it was all over but then several more groups of cyclists came past, clearly not the front runners but still working hard

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All followed by the back-up cars with extra bikes and spare parts.

 

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And that was it.

We gradually dispersed – drove back down the hill to a burger tent selling locally farmed meat and home made cakes, plus strong cups of tea.

Bliss!!

A fun day.

Later we went to a local pub for our evening meal where the talk was all about who had been where, and how they had got there, and what they had seen.  Just for once Yorkshire has seen some of the action even though we are not near London.

Mind you, on the local news later it was only North Yorkshire which got the real mention: during 30 minutes of Tour de France news we in South Yorkshire only got 30 seconds!

 

 

A flock divided

And subdivided!

I told you the other day about the goose, young Chi, that I found to be broody when I came home from Poland.

Well a few days ago I found the other Chinese goose, young Tai, who I used to think was a gander (!), was trying to share Chi’s nest.  Two geese on two eggs was just not working: either one had both eggs and the other was unhappy, or both eggs got left on the edge and became cool, or the jostling for an egg was looking decidedly dangerous for the survival of either egg.

Three days ago I shut the door on Chi,

broody geese 004

and let Tai sit just outside on the hay, close beside her, but not on any egg.

Tai put up with this with a lot of gruntling, but by this morning she just would not stop shrieking and shouting.  Did I ever mention how vocal Chinese Geese are?

So I put her outside wondering if she had had enough of sitting on no egg and now wanted to be out with the others in the field.

Oh no, that was not what she was trying to tell me.  She just carried on shouting and complaining until we could stand it no more: I took a goose egg out of the bottom of the fridge and went outside and showed it to her, from about 25 yards.

It took a couple of seconds and then she realised what I was holding: she came running at full speed and followed me into the run.  It was very touching actually.

So I put the egg in some extra hay in the run and shut the run door.  Tai spent a happy half hour making a nest, and is now sitting tight.

broody geese 001.jpg 1

She is in the run, outside the box with Chi in.

broody geese 005

 

Semi-detached brooding.

But then the calling began again: only this time not from either Chinese goose.  It was Gandalf and Debra who were upset that the flock was divided.  They  are hanging about on the step wanting to come in and sit with the others.

broody geese 010

Honestly, there is never any peace around here:)

We have had a couple of enquiries about the mirror we made for use after my eye operation.  So I wondered if it would be helpful if I posted the details here for anyone to see who may be trawling through the net looking for such a device.  If you are one such person and need any further explanation please feel free to ask in the comments section at the end of this post. I will be notified by email.

There are some photos at the end but they are not of the best quality I’m afraid.

The dimensions of the device we made are as follows, to fit on the chair we hired,  though the only critical thing is the angle between the two mirrors: the mirror sizes can be altered somewhat to suit your own needs. You may wish to draw pictures, or if you need to email us for further clarification, please do.

Imagine a sheet of paper folded in half along its longer dimension – so that it forms a long narrow shape – and then allowed to open again partially, so that the two strips are still joined along one long side but their other long edges are well apart. Viewed from the end, the paper now makes up two sides of a triangle with the third side missing: the two sides of the triangle formed by the paper should be of equal length, and the missing side – the gap between the free edges – will be shorter in the finished article. The mirrors will be fitted on the inside of the imaginary paper, reflecting into each other, and you will look through the (shorter) open side of the triangle.

To make the device you will need to use wood or sheet metal instead of the paper: we used plywood as being easiest to work.

Our pieces of mirror were each 7 inches (7”) wide and 14” long. Get the glass cutter to smooth off the cut edges – that makes everything a lot safer!

We used six pieces of plywood altogether, some nominally 6mm thick (quarter of an inch, ¼ ”) and the others nominally 10mm thick (three-eighths of an inch, 3/8 ”). These thicknesses are not critical: they were convenient, and we had the plywood already. Whatever you use, the thicker pieces need to be thick enough to accept the screws which hold the whole thing together.

The six pieces for our version were:

two pieces each 8” x 15” and ¼” thick – let us call them pieces A and B

and

four triangular pieces each with two sides 7” long and the third side 5¾” long, all 3/8” thick – let us call them pieces C, D, E and F. It is important that all four of these pieces have the same angle between their two 7” sides.

Set pieces E and F aside for the moment: you will need to cut them down later on, so that they can be used to hold the mirrors in place, but you will have to assemble the rest of the device before you can do that trimming.

First of all, screw piece C along one of the shorter sides of piece A, one of the 8” sides, so that if piece A is lying on the table piece C stands up vertically at one end. Position piece C so that one of its 7” sides lies along one of the 8” sides of piece A, with most of the extra one-inch width of piece A sticking out beyond the apex of the (vertical) triangle formed by piece C. This will leave the rest of the ‘extra inch’ – say about ¼” – sticking out beyond the broad end of piece C. Thinking back to the piece of paper, that means that about ¾” sticks out beyond the fold, and the other ¼” sticks out beyond the point at which the missing side meets one of the real sides.

Now screw piece D onto the other 8” end of piece A, to match. You are going to take the screws out again later so that you can put in some glue, so they do not need to be screwed up very tight yet – just enough to keep everything steadily in place.

Next, screw piece B onto the ‘free’ sides of pieces C and D, but this time positioned so that one long edge of piece B butts up to the sticking-out strip along piece A – the strip that is about ¾” wide, running between the apexes of pieces C and D. This should give you a neat joint, still with a strip sticking out, and at the same time some spare wood sticking out beyond the broad ends of triangles C and D. One of the broad end ‘spare wood’ strips will be almost one inch wide, the other only about ¼”: this does not matter for the moment.

It should now be possible to slide the two pieces of mirror in neatly along the inside faces of pieces A and B, butting the mirrors together along the inner joint (what would be the fold in the sheet of paper model). Depending on the way you have cut and positioned the pieces, and how thick the mirror glass is, the outer edges of the two mirrors should reach almost – but not quite – to the corresponding edge of piece A, and towards the edge of piece B. If need be, try butting the two mirrors together the other way round, to see if that fits more neatly. When you are satisfied, mark up the edges of pieces A and B and trim them so that each has just a little edge of plywood left to protect the edges of the two mirrors: exact dimensions are not important. You may need to unscrew the four pieces so that you can trim the edges: if so, make sure you know which pieces fit where, so that they can go back in the same places!

If everything fits OK you can now glue the edges of pieces C and D to pieces A and B, and tighten up the screws for the last time. We did not use any glue or screws along the butt joint between sheets A and B – there is no need.

You will eventually need to glue the two mirrors to the inside faces of pieces A and B, but before that cut down pieces E and F – the two that you set aside earlier on – so that they will fit neatly along the inside faces of pieces C and D, and will hold the mirrors in place: you will need to cut off the apex ends of pieces E and F so that they can fit in, and also cut down their broad ends to leave a neat match alongside the edges of pieces C and D when everything is in place. We held pieces E and F to pieces C and D with a single screw each, put in from the outside (through pieces C and D, screwed into pieces E and F: use screws that just do not stick out beyond the plywood on the inside faces). We did not use glue as well as those two screws, in case a mirror has to be replaced in the future. However, we did use spots of glue between the backs of the mirrors and the inside faces of pieces A and B: pieces E and F will prevent the mirrors from tipping or falling out, but the spots of glue are needed to make sure the mirrors cannot slide out. We also put adhesive tape – what we call duct tape over here – along the outside edges of the mirrors, to protect the edges and as a second defence against sliding out. Take care if you run your fingers along the duct tape when sticking it down – that’s when you will find out how well the glass cutter smoothed the edges! The duct tape shows silvery-grey in the photos: we did not bother to paint any of the woodwork.

mirror 2

 

mirror 4

mirror 1

mirror 5

 

 

 

A very happy day

Yesterday eldest grand-daughter graduated with a Law Degree from Durham University.

We were lucky enough to be given tickets to attend the Congregation (The Degree Ceremony) which was held in the Cathedral.  The Cathedral is opposite the Castle and the whole environ is a Unesco World Heritage Site.  Durham University is a Collegiate University and the College she attended was St. Chad’s which is in an old Georgian Building, right beside the Cathedral!!  Lucky, lucky girl.  Actually, not only lucky, she worked extremely hard to get there.

The sun was shining, the College put on a splendid buffet and all was well with our little world for the day.

Here are a few snaps from the day for those who may be interested:

Taken from the train just before we arrived at Durham, showing some of the countryside:

 

Durham and Saska's graduation 001

Walking up to the Cathedral and Castle, crossing one of the bridges.  Lots of boats lined up waiting.

Durham and Saska's graduation 025

Graduate- in- waiting and her proud mother in the garden behind her College Building

Durham and Saska's graduation 009

Buffet lunch in St Chad’s Dining Room: lots of meat, prawns and salads, in elegant surroundings.  I waited until most people had left before taking the photo, it was packed just a few minutes ago, with proud relatives and College Dignitaries in all their regalia!

Durham and Saska's graduation 013

Waiting to go into the Cathedral.

Durham and Saska's graduation 015

A huge marquee set up on Palace Green, just beside the Cathedral.  (For more pix and stories about Durham go to my blog posts in July 2010).

Durham and Saska's graduation 016

Still waiting, but what a day to be outside.

Durham and Saska's graduation 017

The Castle opposite the Cathedral and the marquee in the middle of the Green.

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I had to grab a shot of the Music Department for old times sake!

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A nice touch:)

Durham and Saska's graduation 020

After the Congregations, the relieved Graduate.

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Leaving Durham with the evening sun catching the hilltop.

Durham and Saska's graduation 023

 

 

OK then, for those who want to see the dreadful extent of my gardening shame!

The sorry pictorial story of the consequences of taking your eye off the ball in an early, warm Spring, when your soil is fertile and organic.  But to be fair, I could not garden when J. was so ill and then I went away.  But still I am mortified!

The herb corner: the only things left are the chives.

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The front garden:

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The strawberry bed:

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The fruit garden: oh my, a disaster and I weeded it only two months ago.

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A ‘rescued’ bed down the side of the house:

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The poor ‘lawn’ in the orchard after ‘hay-making’, but it was 18″ high and the rain will help it green up I’m sure.  Again in my own defence, it is full of daffodils so we always leave it until June to cut it so that they have a chance to die down first.

garden 007

As I get round to the beds in the earlier photos I will post the ‘after’ photos.

At least I hope it makes all you other gardeners out there feel good about your own plots:)

 

Home again

And to face what can only be described as chaos.  Out of doors at least.

The hot weather has seen a growth spurt that would rival the tropics and when a passer-by asked my husband if anyone lived here I decided that I must tackle the ‘garden’ before anything else.  I am too ashamed to show you the scene but things are improving albeit with a rather drastic slash and burn type of gardening!   More accurately I should say, ‘a pull out and compost’ type of gardening, but you get the idea.  No way could I burn all this lovely greenery which anyway is simply packed with wildlife.  I pull out handfuls and then leave them on the path for an hour for the beasties to crawl to safety and then get husband to carry all to the overflowing compost bin.

Now we can walk along the back path without being stung by triffids and where the hayfield stood a kind of lawn is visible under the fruit trees.  But that is just the tip of the iceberg.

I have been home for five days: day one involved taking grandson out to the cinema and catching up with ex-daughter in law, day two was washing and ironing, day three was a lovely barbeque with family. Day four was getting new tyres for the car and taking dog and gecko to the vet, collecting grandson, overseeing tutoring, making supper and then family chat with quick catch up with grand-daughter. Each day I have tried to weed part of a flower bed but day five has been gardening, gardening, gardening.  Shortly I am going out to meet a friend to see Manon Lescaut on live screening from the Royal Opera House.  So I’m afraid that blogging has been bottom of the list.

But I had a fabulous trip!  I am totally in love with Poland:)  The photos are downloaded but I need to weed them a bit before putting them up here.  I cannot remember a time when I was just so happy all day long for two whole weeks, except for the Auschwitz/Birkenau day.  And neither can I remember when I last laughed so much.  Several people on our trip said that they could see P and me as schoolgirls and what trouble we must have been.  And the irony is that that we weren’t!

However, I think that I will first post the rest of my pictures of my trip to the Netherlands from last Autumn because the rest of the Villa was so astonishing, even though events have superseded the story.  I will try to get on with that in dribs and drabs over the next few days.

Oh, and I forgot to say, I came home to a very broody young goose.  She is sitting very determinedly on two eggs.  I tried to dissuade her but she has obviously been allowed to sit while I was away and is now firmly in brooding mode and there is no breaking it without causing great distress both to her and us.  We could not stand the noise of her cries as she frantically dashed round and round the house trying to get back in to her eggs.  After 40 minutes I gave in before she died of exhaustion and upset.

I feel as if I have been away for months: I expected to hear the news that the government had fallen, a general election had been called, and that world peace and the abolition of hunger had finally been achieved.  And of course people back home felt as if time had flown, all except grandson who said it had felt like weeks, bless him.  Einstein was definitely on to something where time and space are concerned.

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