Leopards spots

Anyway, we did get a bit snowed in, as can be seen from the photographs, but as Monica was recovering from her op., she was going nowhere anyway. I got all the snow toys out of the shed and spent the week skiing, snow-biking and trudging about looking tuff.

Have you read “The Selfish Gene” or “The Extended Phenotype” by Richard Dawkins? Once upon a time, in the middle of the South Australian outback, I met a young, disillusioned biologist who was giving it up to become an accountant. After a night around the campfire, discussing Dawkins’ ideas and Hoefstadter’s in GEB, with a bit of memetics for good measure, she changed her mind. She called by our house a few weeks later to get the references and, as far as I know, has since gone on to save the world.

We were in Bristol last weekend, showing the flat. Not many turned up but we had a wonderful time, wandering about Clifton. I haven’t stayed in the town since we left and I loved the way it crept back into my affection with good food, jolly Bristolians, interesting architecture and sunny vistas. We waved to Tony’s old flat, in passing. Monica was well enough, just, to walk across to Kitchens on Blackboy Hill where we bought a coffee pot to replace the ones we’ve worn out in the past year. Brazed seams don’t seem to stand up well to the Aga’s hot plate so the new ones have one-piece bases. It’s amazing that they can blow such thick stainless steel into shape.

In another trip south, I collected a large and small anvil from an eBayer plus four stout, welded steel trestles. The printer for all of the Harry Potter novels was assembled using these stands so I’m expecting them to work magic in my smithy.

I spent Monday dodging snow-showers, loading ten tons of lumber onto the truck and delivering it to the yard of my tree-planting, coppicing friends. They’ve suddenly cottoned onto the capabilities of the Transit pickup and it looks like I’ll get regular exercise from them in return for firewood. In related news, they’ve been offered a cheap mobile saw-mill and we’ve proposed lending their co-op some of the money with the interest paid in firewood—enough to meet our needs each year until our coppices start producing. Lots of good karma, there: another friend manages 1,000 acres of woodland and can supply timber; they mill it and dry it; I get access to the product and maybe work for my cabinet shop producing marketable shapes and sizes. I’m a woodsman!

Monica has just shot off on a mercy mission: a family relationship explosion; a secret of which she’s just become custodian. So I’m on my own for tea but happy to know we seem to be doing some good here. 

I’m currently reading “Measured and Drawn” by the National Trust, learning to survey and record the historical detail of the farm before I move on to design the new buildings in detail. I’ve just received my Leica Lino and Disto laser tools which I hope, along with a theodolite app on my iPhone, will be sufficiently accurate for an amateur job. The barn conversion has been re-rough-drafted in Google’s Sketchup while we were looking out over Clifton. We’ve changed the balance to give more room to the hostel part and less to the apartment; plus, we might be able to model the hostel on The Howard Assembly rooms in Leeds to create a mini-venue complete with stalls, circle and gods! I’d love Tony’s input so, when I have a decent draft with proper measurements, I’ll send him some views. We have a competition to name the structure, too. There’s already a “Warland Barn” behind us; I’ve suggested “Warland Great Barn”, “… Mickle Barn” and “…Grouse Barn”. The last should confuse the visitors because the word means good/great in Australian slang. Any ideas?

Tonight, I’m settling down to read the UK Building Codes from cover to cover. Yummy.

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