ConservationPosted by Dennis Hopkins Fri, May 13, 2016 02:49PM
About 25 years ago I found a hawthorn tree growing from a seed, dropped by a bird I guess. I transplanted it into a border, and now the trunk is about 7 inches (17 cm) diameter, but it's not very tall. With pruning and training (I'm not sure how), it's become a low pollard at about 3 feet, with dense growth to 6 feet. In the photo, the trunk is about one third from the right, branches extend to the upper left along the trellis.
This thorny tree growth is popular with birds, especially with peanut/seed feeders nearby. It gives them some protection from cats and other predators. I just trim the "hedge" section once a year, wearing heavy duty leather gloves of course. Hawthorn is relatively slow growing at this altitude (850 feet), and can be shaped by severe pruning if necessary. It usually produces flowers and berries on the previous years growth. Another bonus, it doesn't spread by producing "suckers" or from bits of stem lying on the ground, unlike blackthorn and some willows etc..
MiscellaneousPosted by Dennis Hopkins Thu, March 03, 2016 09:10PM
After a few years one of my ceiling extractor fans wasn't working well, and I found that the fan and ducting had become clogged with fibres drawn in through the vent. It was hard work to remove and clean the fan and replace the ducting, so I decided to put a simple filter behind the ceiling vent to reduce the need for maintenance. For a filter, I used a couple of cable ties and some mesh similar to that used to package fruit (in this case the mesh packaging of a new duct section). The photo below shows the "press fit" filter in place in the frame of the ceiling duct - some fibres have been caught after a period of use.
Of course it's important to ensure that the "filter" cannot impact the fan blades - here the tension of the cable ties holds the mesh in place at the start of a 1 metre long duct. I made a second filter, shown in comparison with the partially clogged one in the photo below.
Shopping - FinancePosted by Dennis Hopkins Sun, January 10, 2016 10:38PM7 Jan 2016:
I ordered a washing machine and the recycling of the old one. I
was disappointed that a new machine was not delivered on 8th Jan., but Argos did achieve taking
the old one away. Their website does not make it easy to view order status, but
it became apparent that the order for the new machine was lost (while Argos retained
the money). After numerous phone calls another "order" of mine was
found, which was for two delivery charges of £499.96 (see photo), a bit excessive considering there was a special offer of free delivery! The help
line operator admitted there was a problem, and said they will deliver in a few
days. In the meantime I’ve made a note:
“DO NOT USE ARGOS ONLINE, DELETE ACCOUNT”
Update 19 Jan 2016:
The washing machine was delivered and works fine. However for the warranty to be valid I need an Argos sales invoice which they failed to provide. Argos customer services say contact the washing machine manufacturer. Now I'm trying to convince Argos that they should provide the sales invoice, this may take some time. The Argos website has very limited functionality, but it's possible to find an order summary if you know the order number.Update 23 Jan 2016:
I received a sales invoice by email today.
WildlifePosted by Dennis Hopkins Wed, October 28, 2015 12:55AM
I was surprised to find this very striking moth caterpillar (Pale Tussock, Calliteara pudibunda
) inside an inverted wheelbarrow in south east Wales (elevation approx 1000 feet, 300m). I only had an old style mobile phone with me, so it's a poor image. A Google search for information and photos is here
. This website
has very good photos, and the adult moth is also impressive. It seems the species is "fairly common" in England and Wales, but a sighting made it into a local newspaper (South Wales Evening Post, with incorrect adult photo). When moving, black markings can be seen between the bright yellow segments, along with what looks like an erect red "tail". I moved it to a safer place while wearing gloves, just as well because handling can cause skin problems.
HistoryPosted by Dennis Hopkins Mon, August 24, 2015 10:31PM
I recently visited an outline building ruin to the west of Pontypool (ST 24100 99720; Lat, Long: 51.691062°, -3.099337°). It was built of double coursed bricks, an approximate octagonal shape, with attached rectangular outline shaped walls. Please click the images below for larger versions (these open in a new window or tab).
I wondered initially if this ruin may have been a gun emplacement, or something to do
with a nearby old coal level. It's curious that it's not shown on any
maps I've found so far, except for the highest resolution of a current
online Ordnance Survey map.
The octagonal shape reminded me of Pontypool Folly, which was demolished
in 1940 to stop it being used as a landmark for German bombers
targeting Glascoed munitions factory. Was this a "replica" Pontypool
Folly built in WW2 to confuse German war planes? Perhaps the answer is
in a local history book I haven't read yet. 1 Sept 2015:
There is a platform about 120m away constructed of similar bricks and reinforced concrete (photo below). The commanding position at over 1200 ft ASL, with long range 360 degree view, suggests that this would probably have been a good place for a WW2 anti aircraft gun. 8 Oct. 2015:
Thanks to Phil Jenkins (website
) for making enquiries, and information received from a number of people, it seems likely that the octagonal ruin was a WW2 RAF watch tower / lookout post. Also that searchlight(s) and anti-aircraft gun(s) were located in the area in WW2, my guess possibly on the recangular hard standing. The octagonal ruin is a similar shape to a Type 27 WW2 pillbox, but I didn't see evidence of a roof. That may have been recycled, but having no roof would be useful for spotting aeroplanes! Differing from the pillbox, Phil pointed out that northern wall is in two overlapping sections, to provide a recessed entrance (presumably) - this can be seen on Google Earth images. Some photos taken of the views surrounding this site are available here
I hope I've summarised the information correctly, and would be happy to include any further comments (with credit). In that case please send me an email
MiscellaneousPosted by Dennis Hopkins Fri, July 31, 2015 10:15AM
In this thrilling installment I've included a couple of photos of my trial of a way of installing a straining post strut, based on a method described in the Forestry Commission online booklet "Technical Guide - Forest Fencing
" (60 pages, not fully studied yet). In this method the strut is not embedded in the ground. I placed the end of the strut on a flat stone, secured with a nail through the "thrust plate" stake. The stake is tensioned towards the straining post using strands of wire, but there seems to be an error in Fig. 5a on page 7 of the document - the wire should be on each side of the strut.
I thought an advantage of this method was that the strut may be less liable to rot, and the wire could help prevent the strut slipping laterally. I'm not sure about using a nail to fix the strut to the stake, but I used one having pre-drilled the stake to reduce any tendency for it to split. A possible disadvantage to consider is that animals may get caught in the straining wire, but a section of stock wire could be fixed to the normally unwired side. As usual, I failed to line up the struts on the straining post, but perhaps that may weaken it less.
Note: This was part of a relatively short fence (10m + 30m) which didn't require a very high tension, hence the small diameter straining post and short struts).
MiscellaneousPosted by Dennis Hopkins Fri, March 20, 2015 07:33PM
I snapped this image of the partial eclipse in south Wales on 20 March 2015 at about 9:14am. I held binoculars in one hand to project an image onto a garden bench, camera in the other hand - surprisingly something recognisable was captured!
Shopping - FinancePosted by Dennis Hopkins Mon, September 15, 2014 11:35AM
This isn't an advertisment, but I thought I'd mention the very efficient service and good prices obtained from the Wood Finishers Direct web site (www.wood-finishes-direct.com). Having seen the astonishing prices asked for decking oil and wood preservative quoted by better known retailers, I was pleased to find this supplier with more reasonable costs (other similar suppliers are available no doubt).
At present, spending over £50, there's free next day delivery and a 5% reduction off the current order price. The courier (DPD) delivered in the middle of a one hour slot, as notified by email and on their tracking web site. I've now run out of excuses for not doing some fence preserving!