Saturday, 18 November 2017

Autumn Walk

 Trentham Gardens Lakeside is looking very autumnal at present.  The beech trees are currently at their best,
 The low Autumn sun is making the leaves stand out.
 Photographs are OK, but they cannot show the ever changing intensity and glow that makes the live experience so scintillating.
The hare in the grassland maze is a fabulous sculpture by David Meredith.  To my mind, this is his best sculpture to be displayed this season.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Aeroporto Seymour

Today, I have completed the initial simulated version of Baltra Airport on the Galapagos Islands.The night lighting was a challenge as I have had to generate the lighting towers and illumination from scratch.
A shadow of one of the lighting towers can be seen in the picture below.
Unless you are flying a big jet, you may have to wait for an airliner to taxi down to the far end of the runway and take off.  Aircraft on scheduled flights have priority.
The terminus building was constructed using Google SketchUp.  This took two days of fiddly work to complete.
The final addition was the ferry ports and car park.  The airport sits on Isla Baltra which has no facilities outside of the airport perimeter.  For hotels and shops, the ferry crossing to Isla Santa Cruz is the only option.  Mini bus and ferry access will transfer passengers and staff to Santa Cruz, where the airport car park is located.  This is an unusual arrangement for an international airport.

Sunday, 29 October 2017


 Cut a lid from the top with a 45 degree slant to the cut, big enough to get your fist through and scoop out the seeds and fibre.
 Use a sharp and thin bladed knife to cut out the shapes in the pumpkin.  Scoop out any excess flesh and put aside to make a pumpkin pie (you will need about a pound of pumpkin flesh).
 Mark the position of the lid to ensure that it fits well.
Butterfly eyes and fangs are the theme of the day.  If it's dry on Halloween, this one will go on the garage roof, otherwise it may end up in the window.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

Last Cut

The Garden was full of leaves and the lawn was looking ragged, but with a couple of dry days behind us, I decided to give the lawn a last cut.
We raked as many leaves as we could onto the top lawn and gave it a mow.  It is looking good at present.
The side lawn is always easy to mow as it is better drained, and has more fertile soil, and it is flat.
The problem is always with the far lawn, where the poorly drained clay soil means that it is wet for most of the autumn.
Then there is the challenge of the grass between the raised beds.  The power cable is always in the way.
The greenhouse is now clear of crop plants and is becoming a protective receptacle for the tender potter plants and seedlings.
We had a voucher from Sainsburys this week for a free pumpkin - Watch this space!

Monday, 23 October 2017

San Cristobal Airport

The Galapagos Islands second airport was rebuilt a few years ago.  These islands are the territory of Ecuador and they are not well represented on the flight simulator X-Plane 11.  This is the start of my work to address this omission.
When the runway is placed at the exact geographic coordinates, it sits out of place on the scenery mat.  The placement of large antennae gives me a position for the runway, and also where the relative position should be in relation to the set scenery.
By much the simplest solution is to place the runway 400 meters out of line to fit the existing landscape.  The locator's and instrument landing patterns will all fit this position and it will appear visually correct.
It took about a week to construct the scenery buildings for the airport, using Google SketchUp 2017 and converting the files to X-Plane objects  The most challenging task was to get the ramp lights to shine at night.  That requires a programming addition to the .obj files.
Using X-Plane World Editor (WED) it was quick to assemble the scenery items and add ground markings to the airfield.  Library generated content was used to add static aircraft and equipment.
The nearby town of San Cristobal is an important part of the overall effect of the scenery.  Existing streets were located using antennae models and buildings were positioned to give a representation of the town.  Some did not sit well on the terrain, so a tweak would be needed to disguise that fact.
Better, but only to be seen at a distance, so detail is kept to a minimum to save on computer memory.
Still some way to go, but the airport is now a functional flight simulator model that can be used.  It will be available on line before Christmas.

Paul's X-Plane Pages

Monday, 16 October 2017

Pending Storm

Today started with a strange dull appearance as the high atmospheric humidity and sand from the Sahara made the sun look very orange.  The forecast is for a storm to hit this part of the country by mid-afternoon.  The winds are building.
Having stubbed my toe a couple of weeks ago, I have been getting occasional swelling and pain.  I think I may have a cracked toe bone.  The classic treatment is rest and restricted activity of the foot concerned.  Rosie had the ingredients for Nigel Slater's wonderful leek soup, that would do for lunch.
Having lost my first adult tooth (top left molar) last week, I need smooth comfort food at the moment.  The tooth came out in 3 bits after a 30 minute exertion by my dentist.  Surprisingly, I have had no trouble since - just a bit of discomfort in the surrounding jaw as it is healing.
The winds are starting to pick up and the lawn which was cleared of leaves this morning is back to its earlier state as our tulip tree is buffeted by the gusting wind.  Sounds a bit rough, but nothing that a paracetamol and a warm lap cat cannot cure when added to a tune or two on a Walkman.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Autumnal Fungi

Having been suffering with a really irritating head cold for some time, a bit of fresh air is needed to aid recovery now the thing is past its infectious stage.
A walk around Tentham Gardens lakeside and we came across this fine sculpture of two deer leaping over a log.
We spotted a Fly Agaric fungus on the lawns.  This is the textbook pixie mushroom stool and one of the UK's few toxic fungi - most are non-toxic or edible, but you need to get the identification right to avoid problems.
Mycena galericulata, the bonnet fungus is common in mixed woodland.
These little fungi look like Honey Fungus.  If so they are common on dead wood and are a known parasite of living trees, causing damage and sometimes killing trees.  It is a dangerous parasite to woodland tree species.
Clitocybe rivulosa grows in rings in the grass and is another toxic fungus.  It may be confused with the fairy ring fungus Marasimus oreades, which is harmless.
The Panther Cap, Amanita panthera is related to the Fly Agaric Amanita Muscaria.  It is also a toxic mushroom which can be confused with the Blusher, a very nice edible fungus.  This fungus is rare, so I was pleased to be able to find one.
It is now the season for many mushrooms and fungi. Most are harmless and some are edible and tasty, but you do need to know what to look for.  A few types are very toxic to humans.