Monday, 18 February 2019

Tidying the garden

The weather has been a bit mild recently and that has given me a chance to start tidying up the garden from last years work.
The gravel around the greenhouse has gone and the grass that was planted from seed is now well established and has had its first cut.
The top of the garden where three Leylandii were removed from is still a mess, with ropes pulling the trunks of the old holly hedge back to vertical, to enable the hedge to re-establish itself.
This area is now having the accumulated soil and debris removed to restore the ground to its original level.  About a third of the soil has been bagged and another third has been redistributed in the garden.
The soil has been used to raise the level of the ground at the back of the raised beds.  Eventually this will be grassed and planted to strengthen the ground around this area.  It will also provide a form of weed control.
Turf removed from between the raised beds has now extended the lawn around the back of the Tulip Tree to remove an area of course and wild vegetation and give a little more control in that area. 
The next task will be to dig over the raised beds and plant out seeds in the greenhouse in preparation for planting out in the next month or two.  Cuppa time beckons.

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Walking by the Water

Yesterday we went for a walk at Tittesworth Reservoir near Leek.  We decided to walk out to the hides across the road and then on to Merebrook to see the snowdrops in the churchyard.
The usual shots from the hides are with big lenses of things lurking at the other side of the water.  This is an egret in the reeds, waiting for its next meal to come along.
At the side of the small hide was a bird feeding station, with the usual garden bird visitors like robin, blue tit, great tit, sparrow and dunnock.  There were an unusually large number of robins around.
The first joy of this feeder was to see a willow tit.  This bird is one that I seldom see.
It was followed by a black headed gull in its winter plumeage - Not so much feeding as posing.
A more interesting visitor was a reed bunting.  We used to see lots of these when we lived in the Linconshire Fens.
There are lapwings (Great Creasted Plover) on the island, but my 300mm lens with a 1.7x adapter was not able to deliver enough sharp focus to do them justice.  The adapter soften the focus too much.

Friday, 18 January 2019

At Last.....!

I have seen many kingfishers flitting about on local rivers and lakes, but I have never been able to satisfactorily photograph one....
                    .......Until now.

Tuesday, 15 January 2019

The Crash cometh

I have been running X-Plane 11.26 on my windows computer with an i3 Quad processor and an Intel HDD integrated graphics card for some time, without too many issues.  The frame rate was at best 10 fps which is quite slow and the scenery definition was turned down close to minimum.
The result was OK - but that did not matter as I only use this computer for scenery design and checking the general results of scenery tweaks.

X-Plane 11.30 has now been released and all X-Plane 11 systems have been updated to this version.  The demand on the graphics card and processor was too much for this limited setup and the flight simulator froze on screen.  I was expecting this to happen as I have been testing 11.30 on my Linux machine for some time.

I have just installed a new graphics card, Geforce GTX 1050ti 4BG GDDR5, which is a mid range image processor.  My motherboard had 1 free slot and the power pack of the computer had enough extra output to drive this card.  A more powerful card would have required a bigger power pack.

The new card is running XP 11.30 at 30-35 fps which is far better than anything I have been able to run on this computer in  the past.  The processor is slower than the graphic card so I have had to increase the FPS setting on the sim to stop it stalling the image.
I can now see major landmarks at a greater distance than previously experienced on this computer.  This updated hardware has given the old machine a new lease of life.

Monday, 31 December 2018

New Year approaches

Sat 29th:  Went to open the garage and the up and over door collapsed on me.
Used a pole to prop the door up so that I could get the car out, had a cuppa.
Spent half an hour working the door closed and bolting it down to make the door secure - car on drive.
Rang around to see if I could get someone in to sort it out and got no-reply or ansaphone messages.  One company responded and said they could get someone out on Monday morning - Yes Please!

Mon 31st: Garage door technician turned up at 8:20 and took a look at the door.  His assessment went like this: "A replacement door would be too expensive, but a repair would be better as your door is better quality than any of the replacements on offer and I have the parts on my van to do the job."
45 minutes later and I have a working garage door, job paid for and door looking OK.   Based in Mansfield, Notts, with tradesmen registered in most cities and large towns, including Stoke-on-Trent.

Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Relaxing Christmas

 This year we are spending Christmas at home, with no expected visitors.  The decorations are sparse compared to previous years and all of the supplies were obtained a few days early, so no last minute rush.
 Breakfast was croissants and home made jam with a fresh pot of coffee.
 Dinner was cooked from scratch (with some shop bought puff pastry) - chestnut bake, roast parsnips,carrots, potatoes and steamed sprouts and chestnuts with a bread sauce, cranberry sauce and a good bottle of Chianti.  Christmas pud and cream to follow.
On boxing bay we donned wellies and went for a stomp over Berry Hill Fields.  There was a light mist and the air was warmer than yesterday.  Home to a lunch of crackers and cheese.  Leftover Christmas dinner with red cabbage for later.
Merry Christmas.

Sunday, 16 December 2018

Festivities Begin

 Traditionally, the celebration of Christmas is a 12 day affair starting on Christmas Eve.  Today we went up the road to Little Moreton Hall for a Tudor style pre-Christmas performance by Piva.  Yesterdays event was cancelled due to heavy winds and rain, but today was a different story.
 The jester was a key part of the entertainment with a string of well devised verbal jokes and trick performances of an exceptionally entertaining nature.
In fact he was as popular as the star performers, attracting and involving a large crowd for some hilarious moments of joy.

In the main hall, Piva were performing some of their well tried and tested routines, with some new hands on board.
This style of music is guaranteed to get us in a seasonal mood and with some audience participation, this is always different from the CD experience.
The rooms were decked out with seasonal Tudor treats - a sugar table with cakes, buns, jellies and delights was a costly thing in those days.
In the Hall, the refectory table was groaning with savoury dishes, pies, breads, eggs, and other finery.  It is good to see such historically connected foods and decorations.
Little Morton will be closing for electrical re-wiring over the winter.  This is the last event of the year.