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Here's my first torch, definitely older than me, and works perfectly well, on paraffin.


My next one is this, now converted to run off a led gell battery and fitted with a three watt Cree bulb. It gets charged via a solar panel. Both simple.



Now this. Modern technology, adjustable beam, an array of settings; high beam, low beam, strobe, and S.O.S flash mode.


What a pain in the @r$e. :angry:


I detect a certain degree of crabbieness at this time of year, so looking for a cure, I discovered that the term should be "lobsterness" as they seem to require more cheering up due to the wide variety of lobster tickle sticks available.


So any forum member suffering from lobsterness send me your coordinates and I shall endeavor to "post" a tickle stick.


U.K. delivery guaranteed same hour, and proven to be a satisfactory homeopathic alternative to proprietary drugs and alcohol.



Annual morning trip to the lochside.



Met up with good friends, and sadly reminisced about those who are no longer here.

This year, I have ordered some portable digital recording gear, and as part of the community collaborative I take part in, I am going to start a social history project, all recordings done with real people. We did a trial last year which was a great success. It's all about the history of reality of life, which all too easily gets lost and forgotten.


My first experience of work was delivering this stuff, at the age of 11.


Most of the households round about relied on it for heating, and some for cooking as well.

Paraffin ovens like this one were quite common.


The drums held 5 gallons / 25 litres, so a full one including the weight of the drum was around 26 kilos, and I used to carry two at a time. I remember there being a huge outcry when the price went from 1 shilling (5 pence) to 1 shilling and 3 pennies. A lot of the local households still relied on paraffin lamps as well. The old Tilley lamps were the best and brightest, but made a continuous annoying hiss. As did the Tilley heaters.



I've still got all this stuff, and it still works. Yesterday I was reading about all the household appliances that are now controlled via phone apps, but I can't find one for my phone that operates an axe.


The area I live in had no mains electricity before 1965. I still heat my workshop with a homemade indirect kerosene heater, so the fumes all go outside, and it doesn't suffer from condemnation like the old days. Simplicity does have it's benefits.:yes: Even if it means getting up at 5 am to get the stove going for hot water.


The secret society of the Scottish estate gardener is a little know subject that I shall now offer, at risk to my personal safety, a little insight.

  In days gone by, an apprentice gardener would be carefully vetted and chosen by the estate factor, more commonly known as the "wee laird" or " the lairds sooker". Once employed the new boy would be handed down a simple bonnet as uniform, from a previous worker. These bonnets always showed signs of wear and alterations as a result of being passed down over the years from employees with different head sizes. The bonnet would have to be worn at all times and failure to do so always resulted in summary dismissal.


During the first two years the new boy would be given such tasks as emptying the estate septic tanks by hand to prepare compost for the greenhouse hot boxes.



Once two years were in, the apprentice would then be handed down a uniform simple flat cap, again for another employee who had moved up the ladder so to speak.


No longer the new boy, the apprentice gardener would now be allowed to handle dung unsupervised, be taught the art of trampling and turning over the compost heap, and the luxury of staying all night in the greenhouse during winter, having to stoke the boiler every hour to ensure the correct temperature was kept.

  After completing his apprenticeship, the journeyman gardener would be presented, by the Lairds wife, a new, dark coloured eight piece cap.


This entitled him to be shouted at by the head gardener without delegation, and the privilege of cleaning tools and equipment, and the head gardeners wellington boots, (inside and out) and properly lining the insoles with straw during the winter months.

  Only after reaching the age of fifty five could the journeyman gardener reach the heady heights of Head Gardener. This involved a secret initiation, followed by a public celebration of the award of the "Scone Bonnet". This bonnet, always oversized and exclusively made from Harris Tweed, would be presented, almost like a Knighthood, by the Laird himself, with a speech in old Scots Gaelic.


Here is a quote from the history of Harris Tweed:

Waulking the Fabric



Waulking has two important effects. Firstly it cleanses the cloth and eliminates excess lanolin, oils, dirt, and other impurities. And secondly, it makes the material softer and thicker.

Originally this was done by literally ‘walking’ (i.e. treading) the fabric in water, perhaps treated with a proportion of URINE for its ammonia as a cleansing agent. But don’t worry, nowadays the process involves nothing more than pure water.


Because of the ancient preparation of the tweed, the head gardener would now always be affectionately referred to as " the big piss head "

  Many of Scotland's estate gardens open to the public still adopt this little-known practice, and tradition, so any of you who are lucky enough to visit these beautiful locations in full bloom, always look out for the man with the big Harris Tweed bonnet, and ask him " are you a big piss head" spectators will always find the response amazing.


For that final cut, first the leaves decending from my ash trees require collecting, there are various forms of equipment for the job, here is my preference. It has served me well over the years.


Next, the proper equipment for that low impact cut, and compaction to ensure perfect stripes.



Mrs Wrench is barely 5ft 2" and size 8, but she swings a mean axe. Apparently as an end of day therapy for anger management. Oak being her choice to split, but on inspection I noticed my vintage Canadian Black Prince axe head has been coming into contact with stones as I was unable to shave with it this morning. So it looks like more tool service tomorrow. Had a camera malfunction so no pics, as I was going to show "Roger" my mower.:wicked: New card ordered, and my diamond file and axe stone at the ready. Hopefully all will be working again soon.


Service day.

As I live off grid and the daylight hours are failing, reducing the reliance on solar power for the next few months, it's time to give the old diesel generator a service. So that's my job today. I made the genny 29 years ago out of a 1968 Lister LR 1 engine driving a 12 volt alternator, charging a battery bank, which in turn supplies the house with 240V a.c. via a step up D.C. to A.C. inverter, and 12 V D.C. with the huge jumps in technology over the past few years and the increase in L.E.D. lighting and usb powered equipment, it means my reliance on 240 volts is now almost nil, and instead of having a huge battery bank, I can now rely on two 120 amp leisure batteries working independently and charged via a split charge relay. When wind and solar charging is not available, I only have to run the genny for 5-6 hours every 3 or 4 days. It runs on recycled cooking oil, and burns about 5 litres every 18 hours of running. So that's pretty economical. I've just got a new digital radio that runs off a usb plug, and I've got some usb powered lights on test just now to see what the power drain is like over the period of a week.

Pic for reference.


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