Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Moving the bench

Having cleared the top corner of our garden and recently mown the meadow growth back, now seemed a good time to re-position our wooden bench.


The old path paviours were lifted and cleaned and some were laid as a base for the bench.  A path edge has been marked out with rope and a thin paviour path will be laid along that line. Eventually, when the flower meadow re-grows, the path and area around the bench will be mown to give a thin lawn edging to the meadow grass.

The view from the seat is down the length of the side lawn to the back gate.  When the rest of the old path has been removed and filled in, the view will be across a border of wild grass and flowers.  This looks like a good place to hang out on a Summers evening with a bat detector.

Saturday, 11 September 2021

Walking with Squirrels

Peak Wildlife Park at Winkhill near Leek gives visitors the opportunity to walk amongst animals and the latest project concerns Red Squirrels.  It is some time since we visited the site and liked the idea of seeing Red Squirrels close up.

The Zebra was the first notable encounter, not a "walk with" animal, but in an easily visible open compound.
The Lemurs are a star attraction and we have often walked in this compound.  These are Black and White Ruffed Lemurs and they share a compound with Black Lemurs and Ring Tailed Lemurs.  On this occasion there were a few pygmy goats sharing the compound.
Dragonflies are abundant at present and seen in larger than usual numbers around the park.  This one looks like a Red Darter
The Squirrel compound is across the bridge near the big bunnies and children's play area.  Red Squirrels in  the wild are notoriously difficult to find, but in this walk through compound you are guaranteed to see a few.

This one has a nut and is looking for a good place to cache it.  The visit is a perfect photo opportunity that just cannot be passed by.

The other main walk through compound is with Wallabies and there is a smaller walk through compound with Giant Rabbits.  The penguins are a "Must See" show and can be viewed from under the water.  Feeding time is smelly, but fun to watch.

Our shed is now consigned to a skip - all of the timber was showing fungal rot, so any chance of re-using the wood for an arbour seat was lost.  With the shortage of drivers and high demand for building skips, this one has been on the drive for several days.  We are hoping it will be collected early next week.

Sunday, 5 September 2021

Removing the shed

 Having started the shed clearout, now is a good time to finish the job.

With all of the stone age tools and electrical bits gone, the rest of the stuff needs disposing of or re-locating.

The tables were put up on FreeCycle and had gone within hours.  Metal objects were put out for the rag-and-bone and were gone within a day.  The remaining stuff was put into the greenhouse, now that the tomatoes are all picked, to be disposed of later.

Managing the roof sections, I pulled them off and over the shed using ropes to make the job easier. (Rosies picture)

The roof came off with some effort as I had sealed it to keep out the weather.
Then it was just a matter of removing the retaining screws and slicing through the impact adhesive at the joints and the shed was easily dismantled.

The final job was to lift the shed base and expose the foundations. They were full of slugs and dead snails, millipedes and the odd spider.  I think the foundations will be a job for another day........

Tomorrow I order a skip.  Hopefully there will be one available some time in the week. 

P.S.  I found my biological microscope in the back of the shed.  That has now been cleaned and serviced.  It still has all 4 lenses, including oil immersion and an eyepiece extension. Not sure what to do with it at the moment.

Thursday, 26 August 2021

Creswell Crags Donation

 Having contacted Dr Angharad Jones at Creswell Crags Museum and Heritage Centre. I offered my remaining stone age collection of skulls, flints, bones and antler, etc... as an unconditional donation.

 The collection was stored in my garden shed and it was easily a car full of material which had been checked for spiders and loaded in my garage yesterday.

Today, the material is at Creswell Crags with the potential to enhance the museum education program and provide some display elements as the staff see fit.
This has cleared most of my shed contents and as soon as I can find a new home for the step-ladders and a couple of tables, the shed will be broken down and skipped.

The collections at Creswell are well kept and represent a good section of stone age animals from the site excavations and other historically sourced material.  The storage is very well organised (compared to how it was kept in the early 1980's) with a new museum building and store room.

The heritage centre displays are well worth seeing and show a good representation of the finds from the site.  There are some informative video shows, also a shop and a cafe.

In the Gorge, there is an opportunity for visitors to walk around the site and see the location of the various caves.  It is also possible to book a cave tour by one of the museum guides to get a closer look in the rock shelters.

On event days and heritage days, other activities are available.  Here is a picture of John Lord knapping fling tools for visitors to the Heritage event day in July 2007.

Creswell Crags is an excellent centre for research and education about the stone age hunting site and well worth a visit.

P.S. I have just looked at Creswell Crags on Google Earth and you can zoom close and then away in aerial view, and the layering will currently show the old buildings and the new buildings

Zoom out - new buildings......

Zoom in - old buildings........


Sunday, 15 August 2021

Building the Fence

 The next stage in sorting out the top corner of our garden is putting up a short run of fencing to support plants.  We chose a 1.8m high V-Defence 3 panel fence.

Job one was to remove the old "Heath Robinson" fence and level the ground.  A few tree branches also needed trimming back in order to remove any obstructions to the fence assembly and a small barrier needed to be placed across our neighbours garden to contain their dog.
The fence is a bolt together system, the hard part of the job being to dig the post holes in  compacted heavy clay soil.
It did not take very long to install the first panel, which was levelled using guy ropes.  Postcrete was used to fill the holes and that was hardened in less than an hour.
Day 2 saw the fitting of the other 2 posts and panels and then the edge of the garden was banked up for planting out a variety of plants that will grow up the fencing.  Rose of Sharon, Honeysuckle, Fuchsia and other flowery and smelly additions.  The flower hedge will also show a display on our neighbours side of the fence. Wild grass seed were sown on the bare ground to give the start of a wild flower meadow.
The next job is to remove the shed, once its remaining contents have been re-homed.  Our wooden bench which was moved to make way for the new tool shed will be placed in this area.

Wednesday, 21 July 2021

Stone Age Tools and Skulls

 One of the main tasks this week has been clearing out the old shed.  The main content was garden tools and they are in the new metal shed now.  The residue of stuff was Flint, bone and wood tools with a few boxes of model skulls - left over replicas that I created when I was teaching Stone Age Tools courses.

There are antlers which have been used as exemplars and also used for making tools.

A harpoon shaft and bow, with a quiver full of arrows and assorted arrowheads and shafts.  The fletchings are somewhat decayed and need re-doing.

A selection of hand axes and a few scrapers and burins include a Mousterian point and a polished axe head.

Another box of flint tools includes some knapped flint flakes re-assembled and glued to show what was removed in the making of a stone hand axe.

My demo toolbox, which I used to take to talks and fairs contains a wealth of tools and materials, including ox bones and bone harpoon points as well as a few composite tools.

A favourite of mine is the yew handled and leather strapped flint butchering cleaver, seen next to a deer antler digging tool.  The two big flint cores at the bottom of this picture show a recent one in natural grey and a pattinated core from a site at Henley on Thames, dating back to the late Palaeolithic.

This box of modelled skulls shows the progression of features from Homo erectus to Modern Man.

Another set of skulls shows Ramapithecus, Australopithecines and a test model for a Gigantopithecus jaw.

There are more skulls, including this Australopithecus afarensis skull based on specimens from the Afar Valley in Ethiopia.

And at the last minute, I found this resin cast of a mediaeval jaw in a plain white box with no further information.

It is 15-30 years ago since I made these tools and models.  Many of the older tools were tested to destruction.  I have worn out at least 5 bows and endless arrows.  There are a few more skulls and artefacts in a secure location which I need to check out.  This is becoming a bigger clear out than I expected at the start of the project.

Tuesday, 20 July 2021

The Build

The first job in erecting the new shed is to assemble the roof.  This is a simple task to complete on the ground and a light structure to lift into place on the shed.  It assembles just like a Meccano kit.

The corner panels next - they need to be the right way around in order to fit with the run of side panels.  The roof is then placed on and secured with screws.


Fixing the panels is an overlapping run around the shed, screwing each panel into place at the top, bottom and middle.  The door edges and door frames are then assembled and hung from the inside.

 Line the top runners with silicon grease and the job is done.  Now I need to get a padlock before I can fill the shed with garden tools.