Category: Domestic

Compressed air distribution in the workshop (by )

Up until now, I've just plugged flexible hoses into my compressor to run tools.

I've got a bunch of things that need clean air (spray guns, tyre inflator, the plasma cutter, and a blow gun), and a bunch of things that need lubricated air (nailer, drill, impact screwdriver, sander, angle grinder, chisel, and impact wrench), so I've standardised on using PCL connectors for clean air and the ones that come with cheap air tools from Aldi and Lidl (what is that interface called?) for lubricated air:

Aldi/Lidl airline fittings

To convert from one to t'other, I have my handy compressed air tool caddy. On the front is a regulator, filter, and oil injector, with a PCL plug on the inlet, and on the outlet a springy hose with a shutoff valve and a socket for oiled air:

Air caddy front

At the rear is a storage box with my bottle of airline oil, the key for my air drill, the spanners for my air grinder, and a box with a pipette and funnel for putting oil into tools:

Air caddy back

Now, this setup is OK, but it's a bit fiddly to go the compressor and plug things in; and I've been making something that needs compressed air as part of the building infrastructure (there will be a blog post focussing on it later so I won't go into detail now, but it's a pneumatic vacuum ejector):

Vacuum ejector

So, it was time to run proper pneumatic plumbing around the place! I had a bunch of copper plumbing pipe left behind by plumbers as we've had a lot of building work lately, so I had some 28mm, 22mm, and normal 15mm tube lying around. I decided to use all the 28mm tube for the long run across the ceiling, all the 22mm tube I had to extend that to make the distance I needed, then 15mm tube for the rest, because larger tube means easier air flow - and because all that volume inside the pipes gives me an extra litre or so of air storage...

To combine them, I had to buy reducers of the appropriate diameters; I went for solder-ring fittings because I'm well equipped with blowtorches. Plastic pipe clips hold it securely to the ceiling beams:

15mm 22mm and 28mm pipe

And the 15mm plumbing terminates in things like this:

PCL Compressed air outlet

To convert between the world of plumbing (15mm copper) and the world of compressed air lines (1/4" BSP threads), I searched on eBay and found adapters with 15mm compression fittings on one side and 1/4" BSP on the other end:

The PCL fittings, ball valves, and other hardware came from Airlines Pneumatics.

Now, at various points, I needed to interface to flexible hoses - to connect to the compressor or the plasma cutter, for instance. To do that, I needed to get adapters between barbed hose fittings and 1/4" BSP threads or PCL fittings, as appropriate (all from Airlines Pneumatics). Fitting these correctly needs to be done with care, or they'll leak, so I've made a video explaining the process:

(you can also watch it on YouTube)

Although the fittings are depressingly expensive, it's been very rewarding setting this up - I love working on infrastructure, and now it's a lot easier to use my compressed air equipment 🙂

The Gardens a Mess but BBQ like Kings Anyway! (by )

To sort out our drainage (clue - there wasn't any) our garden has had to be ripped up - I am quiet sad about this but electrics and plumbing where the priorities for the building works and everything else is just added glam. But this does mean that the garden is a mess - half the deckings gone - the painted part mostly (boo!) and because I'm going to use it to make planters it happens to still be lurking in the garden along with the smashed garden ornaments and plant pots. I like to eat outside and would normally have started this at the end of March - the weather has been dismal too be fair but I was starting to get twitchy and take us out for picnics and stuff instead. This weekend having already picnicked and having spotted the dutch oven that my bro and fam had bought for us a couple of years ago and that had still not been used, I was was like... RIGHT! It Is Time. And so it was.

The girls helped me clean and move what is left of the garden furniture after snowaggedon destroyed most of it and builders demolished a significant proportion of the remainder.

first BBQ 2018

Camping chairs are in play and once I dig out the shed there will be the long table and benches which we normally use for parties - it will be our garden furniture from now until it falls apart (something I don't think is far off). Same with all the half gazebos we have ended up with - they will be steadily worn out as the replacement for our canopy that the snow broke.

Tricoloured peppers

Food wise I went simple and we had jacket potatoes and chopped veg - the kids ate the veg raw and I lit up the second BBQ popped the griddle on and cooked up the left over bacon from my parents visit - Al being veggie means I don't want meat cooked on the dutch oven set at all due to how you clean it i.e. you kind of don't.

tatties wrapped and ready for the flames

Of course the Dutch Oven needed curing or seasoning, I wasn't sure if it was already seasoned so did one lot of oil burn on it just incase. This is where you rub some sort of fat on it - veg oil, lard - what ever and then heat it up so it smokes off. This creates a protective layer that prevents the cast iron from rusting and also makes it a non-stick surface.

dutch oven in bucket BBQ

And yes these are the old bucket BBQs we bought when we first moved in and yes we have had to weld new bottoms on them and paint them with heat proof black metal BBQ paint and yes they are now really falling to bits... it's on the to do list to sort! But we really just need somewhere to light a fire and put the lakwan, cast iron pans, girdles and dutch ovens in - they work so much better than trying to cook veg burgers on a grill over the hot coals!

I also put frozen raspberries in cream soda which worked really really well.

Cream Soda and frozen raspberries

The potatoes cooked fine and we got to just enjoy the sunshine in the garden - Mary of course was grumpy because she'd wanted pancakes because the chickens have started laying again but we are still putting everything away in the kitchen and I haven't yet found were I stashed the flour!

Industrial Snow Poetry Walk (by )

Sudden Snow (by )

When we went to bed last night, it was raining hard. So I was pretty surprised when I got up in the morning to find the world covered in about ten centimetres of snow.

And even more surprised to find that the awning over the back door had fallen down, blocking it so I had to get out via another door to investigate:

Fallen awning

The weight of the snow had been too much, causing the bracket on the left to shear off:

Left-hand bracket

This, in turn, pulled the bracket on the right out of the wall:

Right-hand bracket

And the falling awning crushed our little table:

Ruined table

Jean and I managed to undo the surviving bolts and get it off the wall without further destruction. The wall is undamaged at the left bracket:

Left-hand bracket holes

But the bricks are cracked where the bracket pulled out at the right, and the mortar has plenty of cracking too, so this will need some work:

Right-hand bracket holes

Also, our outside light is mangled and just hanging on by the cables, and will need replacing:

Damaged outside light

Seasons (by )

I realised something whilst watching all the online banta and bitchin about Halloween verses Christmas. For me there is no real distinction as such, Halloween at the beginning of the darker, scarier but also conversely cosy and safe part of the year.

I see the festivities as flows and markers within the seasonal procession but they are the beginnings not the ends. I think most people see the fixed Western calendar dates as the ends of the festivities. Both me and Alaric see them as beginnings or markers and that is all. I think that is also how my Grandparents and that saw them as there was a steady ramp up and down to Christmas/Easter etc....

And from them I have also come to the conclusion that there is kind of only two seasons for me as well - Summer and Winter - Spring and Autumn are the transition periods. Autumn is the ramp up to Winter but though I used Winter as the name for the season in the darker part of the year I do not believe that the bit normally labeled autumn is less important it is more - that for me they blend and merge and are in essence one.

Looking at fiction produced for Children I find myself thinking that others feel the same - the groupings are always Spring-Summer and Autumn-Winter. Maybe this is because I think like a child?

For me "winter cosy" or the making of the safe place or creating the home nest, begins with Harvest - my seasons also do not entirely match our months. Harvest is a nebulous term as food can be pretty much gathered all year round if you know where to look but some times are easier than others and for many things there is a deadline for harvest i.e. before the bad frosts begin. Nature being nature and physics being physics the precise times for these alter ever year. There are variations within years, the Earth's orbit round the sun changes, climate fluctuations, sunspot activities and volcanic eruptions on other bits of our glob all affect it. But roughly speaking it is the end of September or beginning of October.

This is Harvest Festival time it is when I am still foraging but the fruits are getting less abundant and I'm winding down things like the tomato and squash plants. Now begins baking and making time snugged in my home. It is jam, wine - preserves time, I start planning in my head what sort of presents we will give at Christmas. I start to itch for long long walks in the low golden sunshine that bounces off of trees and clouds and seems to be a remembrance of the harsher summer light.

Of course this is also the time when I start to suffer from season light issues - but the thing is with that... it is only an issue with how our society is structured - it actually means I'm kind of more in tune with how things are - I am adapting to the changing light levels and getting ready for the northern reaches semi hibernation.

I start knitting and watching films with the girls, more board games are played, if our fire place was installed properly we'd light fires. We snuggle under blankets as Harvest melts seamlessly into Halloween with vegetables grown and picked (or selected) are strung up or carved into faces to keep the souls and spirits whipping around loose at this quarter turn of our globe away, marking our homes as safe spaces. I light a candle to remember those no longer with us - I think it is a Jewish thing not sure - my Welsh grandmother used to do it.

When I was a kid the nights from Halloween to Bonfire night were filled with listening to ghostly stories around a lit pumpkin until fireworks night sparklers were dumped into the beginning to moulder flesh.

Bone Fire Night contained the mission of checking for hedgehogs in the prepared fires to be - they were normally constructed from someones old wardrobe and a couple of pallets no one wanted anymore. When my dad worked at the timber yard along with a few of our other neighbours lots of wood was found along with scavenge from the local out crop of trees - our "wood". Everyone would bring a few fireworks and we'd go behind the houses, eating burgers and sausages cooked on peoples BBQs not yet packed away from the summer. Sometimes apples and potatoes were cooked in the fire embers for a later meal whilst we toasted marshmallows and drank hot chocolate. In some ways it was the beginning of the dark part of the year but also the transition and halloween/bonfire week would be the last major use of the outdoor spaces for gathering and eating as the cold began to strike.

It was packing away the remnants of summer time.

The first painful to be outside and true winter event was/is less than a week later - Armistice Day or Remembrance Sunday when we would march and sing and lay wreaths and think on war and the horrors within and the making of heros and the breaking of their families hearts. Blood red drops of flowers and later white contrasts mingled and mixed. I used to collect the remnants of poppies with conquers that lay strewn on the ground, one was strung to play multitudes of tournaments, the others were used to repair and create new flowers as the forgotten mutilated remnants of flowers hurt too much - it was as if people forgot what it was all about as soon as the service had finished.

Mists and fogs and frosts, sometimes together, would swallow up our little out crop of London - this still happens here in the Cotswolds too though there are more frosts and the fogs and mists are in patches depending on the ground layout.

Being part of various Choirs and Sunday School meant that most of November was spent in prep for Christmas and now as a workshop leader and crafter this is still very much true and so the seasons slide seamlessly.

Frost makes the air taste of tin and smell of electric sparks, I would make stories up about Jack Frost and how he made all the patterns as I walked to school, I'd tell of the ice dragon who lived under the railway bridge and prove it's existence by the plumes of breath that arose from us in the chill.

Sometimes I got into trouble for scaring my brother and little cousins but that was more with my Mad March Hare at Easter.

Gloves would be sown on strings and hats labeled. We'd feed the goats at the top of our road our playtime crisps so that their breath would warm our fingers.

For a few years which seemed like every year it snowed and settled but that was generally after Christmas Day.

Christmas involved ADVENT and NATIVITY and stories and songs and making things, making so many things and also at my school the Christmas play my favourite being a Chinese story about dragons in the moon and sun.

Glitter covered everything and lights lit up the dark night and candle processions filled the streets and one of my favourites - Santa on a sleigh would come round collecting for children's charities, you'd get a sweet weather you dropped a coin or not, I was often too shy to go up to Father Christmas so a Carole Singer would have to rescue me and give me my sweet.

We'd learn about why we put apples on trees and eat lots of food - the festivities meant visiting family and friends and staying inside with them whilst the world was dark and miserable outside.

There would be Christmas Bazaars and Fetes and Rainham Village would turn into a Christmas Village complete with stag men and a rag-a-tag men dancing and fake snow drifting across the streets. We would have to help at the sausage sizzle. They did a similar thing in May for the Summer but that involved a Maypole and no baskets of fruit.

Later on whilst working on the campsite I discovered the joy of catching the silver dawns often gently tinted of new year mornings, of seeing the trees silhouetted against the weak but trying sun, watching it burn off the mist and reveal subtle rainbows in the dew drops. The barren woods are not that barren and little birds and scurrying animals would say hello. When we lived at The Mill deer would come at dawn to drink, breaking ice in the streams shallow edges.

My uncle would do insane races in water on New Years Day after his epic parties with streamers being set off at mid night and New York and Auld Lang Eye sung badly. Often the parties greeted the dawn with all ages in attendance and left over curry for breakfast.

Christmas for me will always continue to twelve night but it doesn't really end there... there would be little bits of the story still unfolding through January until the beginning of February. Especially as I have a January birthday and we'd have some decorations left for my celebration (yes I'm aware some people consider this bad luck). But then the wise men didn't finish their journey until well after my birthday and they still count as Christmas!

And then for me the change over occurs February 14th with Valentines Day - flowers are peeking, the birds are beginning to change places again. It is transition time to the Lighter Part of the year where I crave the outdoors and make my family live in tents and eat BBQ food and sit in gardens and dig allotments. Feb. is when I start potting seeds up to germinate on the window sills. For me it is the beginning of Spring-Summer I know that for most people it is not.

So that is my seasonal divide - how do others view the changes of seasons?

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