Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Pool maintenance

The swimming pool needs emptying and cleaning about this time of year, and I took the opportunity to replace the filter pump with a new one.

The old pump started leaking (at the bushes) about 4 years ago, after about four years' use, then it quickly siezed up.  I got it repaired, but the price of the fix plus the guy to take it away, repair it and re-install it came to about the price of a new pump.  So the plan was to get a new pump as a spare so that I can do a quick swap to fix things in case of future problems, then repair the failed pump at lesiure.

When the local pool shop had a special offer on some new pumps I got one of about the right power - it was a quarter of the price of the current one: too big a bargain to pass over.   I have just installed it as part of the pool cleaning project.  It didn't have quite the same dimensions as the old pump, but there is some slack in the connecting pipes; enough to be able to fit it.  I had to get an adapter too, since the "in" hole is slightly smaller, but it seems to do the trick.

And  I still have the old pump to use as a spare in case of emergencies.






Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Crémant de Bordeaux

Well, here's something a bit out of the ordinary: a fizzy rosé wine from Bordeaux.  Very pale pink, brut, 80% Merlot, 20% Cabinet Franc, it went very well with the chorizo and scallop skewers on rice that Anita prepared for Valentine's.  Brand name Balard, winner of a gold in the Bordeaux competition in 2016.

Even better, it was under 6 euro a bottle, possibly even less than 5, we can't quite remember.  Got it in Lidl, we think.


Sunday, 12 February 2017

DIY

Well it seems to happen about this time most years, that I get talked into doing some kind of new exciting, life-enhancing  DIY project.  This year is no exception, the project this time being sliding doors for the wardrobes.   This will, of course, also involve painting the walls, installing new carpet, and new shelves, racks, hangers, etc for the clothes.

To be fair, I never liked the hinged doors; shirt sleeves tended to get caught in the hinges, and the sleeve buttons get crushed.



The old internal walls were constructed in some kind of lightweight brick/biscuit material, that I cut with a big angle grinder.  It made a LOT of dust, and the dust got everywhere.  It's uncomfortable working with a face mask, ear defenders and safety goggles, but I figure it's a good idea.


We have reached the point where the wood surrounds to the door frames are in place, and I have made a sliding door to check on the size.  There will be eight doors in total, four each for two separate wardrobes in the corridor.   Then we have a similar project to do in the bedroom.  Whoopee.

Friday, 3 February 2017

Moving air

My ears are not what they used to be.  I remember going fishing with my Dad one evening and remarking: "Listen to those bats".  His response: "You can hear the bats?".    I could, but no more.  This leads me to the conclusion that my hi-fi needs no improvement on its current set-up, which will doubtless save me considerable sums of money.

However....

Good loudspeakers are difficult to design and build.  Their purpose is to move air, and yet for the best sound reproduction, you don't want the speaker cones to move.  As an example, imagine that a speaker cone is flapping back and forth generating a bass note.  Now mix in a higher frequency.  The back-and-forth movements of the cone will create a Doppler effect, blurring the pitch accuracy of the higher note.   This dual requirement to move and not move is one of the many things that make design difficult.

The science of speaker design has improved greatly during my lifetime: the little battery-powered Bluetooth things you can get are astounding for their size and price.  But still, if you want to buy a pair of speakers that gives a realistic concert-listening experience, you have to spend upwards of £15,000, and the same order of magnitude for amplifiers to drive them.

On the other hand, if you are using headphones, the price is much lower.  You can get a pair of headphones that represent the state of the art, plus a matching amp to drive them, for less than, say,£4,000 all in.   Of course they don't give the same effect as free-standing speakers, especially since deep bass notes are felt as much as heard.  None the less, the "user experience" is very satisfactory.  The main reason for the lower price is that they don't have to move as much air as free-standing speakers, so they can be made much more precise.

Going on to moving the minimum amount of air possible, you can buy ear buds.  About twenty years ago I bought a top-of-the-range pair that cost me a couple of hundred quid, that served me very well until the left transducer packed up.   But recently I came across a rave review of a pair of earbuds that you can get for under 12 quid - Ollivan KZ-ATE.  I bought a pair, mostly out of curiosity. They're astonishingly good.




Thursday, 26 January 2017

Frozen river

I popped out this morning for a quick coffee with a friend from the village.  I noticed in passing, the river has frozen over, just before the bridge.  Downstream, the other side of the weir, the river was flowing smoothly, unfrozen.




Thursday, 19 January 2017

Chocolate tools

When we were in Wimbledon just before Christmas, we came across this outfit selling extraordinarily realistic tools made out of chocolate.  I thought they were very impressive, and the chocolate samples tasted good, too.   I don't know how they get the finishes, but they include very good brass, steel and rusty iron effects.  I got some for my brother-in-law who is a gifted mechanic, amongst other things.


It struck me that if they could get around to making a decent teapot, it could make an ideal leaving present for that useless departing colleague.


Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Breaking news from the outback

It's getting rather wintry here, the ground is starting to freeze, and there is a limit to how much gardening work that can be done.   I did manage to pressure-wash the fat filters from the septic tanks the other day, but I didn't take any photos of the process.  It was a bit messy.

The compost heap subjugation project is proceeding.  In the early afternoon, when the day has warmed up a bit, I am shredding the top layer of the existing heap and putting the result into the new enclosure, where I hope it will rot down properly.  The old compost revealed by this process is going onto the veg patch.  Should be finished by Spring.



In other news, a big dead tree down the road by the restaurant was blown down in the recent storms - good job that the car that is often parked beside it wasn't there at the time.  And the restaurant, open again after the Christmas break, has some new classy signs up.





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