Thursday, 19 July 2018

Tea Thyme Sage

Given we regularly make mint tea from the fluffy mint in the garden, I thought I'd play with some of the other herbs and made fresh, sage tea. Very nice it is too. I wonder if a slice of onion would add anything to it, perhaps with a few breadcrumbs?

Apparently it will mitigate my menopausal symptoms.

Next I'll try thyme tea, which will apparently relieve my menstrual cramps.

Wednesday, 18 July 2018

Relative e-Bay Fairy

Apparently bonobo chimps are our closest relatives. Not sure about you, but my brother and my kids are my closest genetic relatives, and none of them look even vaguely like a bonobo.

Look what the e-Bay Fairy found for me.

A genuine English scythe with a steam-bent, ash snath and a reasonably solid bramble blade - only £30 from the other side of Cirencester. Chap who sold it wasn't aware of its true worth and got a bit of a shock when I told him.

The handles were a bit loose and the bolts had seized, but a bit of judicious force and they came free. A touch of oil of the threads and a nip here and there was enough to have them as good as new. The bolts on the clamp that keeps the handles in place is reverse thread due to the way your hand rotates when scything - it took me a bit to worth that out. Then a quick blade change to the 3 foot blade that belonged to Hay's great-uncle Sid.

Et voila! It works perfectly - the attack angle is just right.  I also have 2 spare blades now of varying lengths.

Tested it and I must have the meanest scythe in the area and can start entering competitions. Might paint a go-faster stripe down the blade, or a flame motif. Could go the whole hog and strap a pair of stereo speakers to the snath.

Digging through a box of old ironmongery brought Hay's great-uncle Sid's cigar stone to light too - bottom left in the photo - so the blade and cigar stone have been reunited.

No more scythe posts - I promise.

Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Continuity Brexit Waistcoat

Do you think men's clothing emporia up and down the country have been left with lots of waistcoats that will now remain unsold?

Spotted a continuity error on Poldark on Sunday. One scene showed poppies waving in the wind, meaning it could only have been June or early July. The scene then cut to an image of a character pulling an apple from a tree and eating it - which could only mean somewhere between August (the earliest maturing varieties) to October.

Heard Sir Bernard Jenkin on Radio 4 yesterday morning saying, in reference to the Brexit customs issue, that many countries trade across borders quite adequately, an argument that is intellectually bereft when one considers those countries are not currently in the EU, nor have ever been so. The unspoken corollary is that they never had the benefits of frictionless borders. It's like saying some people never inherit anything from their parents and do OK - yes, but those that inherit do much better, like paying off their mortgages a lot earlier.

Here's an interesting thought - if Scotland seceded from the UK and remained in the EU there would have to be border controls and customs checks. Would that impede and add cost to trade between England and Scotland? Of course it would. If Scotland seceded from the UK but didn't stay in the EU, would England and Scotland initiate a customs union? Almost certainly.

The levels of deceit prominent Brexiteers within government will go to to persuade people that Brexit is a good idea is mind-boggling. They make totally fatuous, not to say fallacious analogies and then generalise them - like Rees-Mogg and his feigned concern for 3rd World farmers. The fact is that the world’s 49 poorest countries can export tariff free to the EU as part of the “anything but arms” initiative, but JRM, for reasons best known to himself, won't tell you that. The only concern JRM has is for making money through speculation. Jenkin was a bloody expenses fiddler too.

We were watching Simon Reeve's programme on TV on Sunday about his travels across Russia, a country that's very rich, but where most of the people are poor. Putin engages in building projects that are totally unnecessary, ensuring the contracts go to his cronies and, of course, he gets a kick-back. I fear Britain is heading the same way under the Brexit Ultras - Brexit will benefit the few, not the many. Speculators and those in government with their hands on the levers of influence and patronage will do very well, thank you - not that this is any change from the current situation. Many go into politics with public service uppermost in their minds, but a number go into it to make money through influence, both during their tenure and after, with lucrative board positions.

Monday, 16 July 2018

A Good Read

My latest read - and I wish I'd read it years ago. Fascinating book, I kid you not. It's incredible to think it was written in 1970.

I'm wondering whether I'm conforming to a patriarchal, male stereotype...

Sunday, 15 July 2018

The Invisible Man of Pop

We were watching some old pop videos on Vintage TV last night and I swear Alicia Bridges is Pam Butcher off Eastenders.

Ever heard of Rod Temperton? No, me neither. He was the keyboard player for the 70's band Heatwave, wrote all their songs and was behind much of Michael Jackson's Off The Wall and Thriller albums. Listen to this Paul Gambaccini radio broadcast about him - fascinating. He died in 2016.

Most people believe Michael Jackson wrote his own songs, but nothing could be further from the truth. This makes one realise how much more of a musical genius Prince was, as he did write all of his music, and a lot for other people.

Saturday, 14 July 2018

Boy Racers

Overheard while listening to JRM on the radio:

Hay: "How old is Rees-Mogg?"

Chairman: "About 150, I believe - could be older."

The other day a hatchback passed me with rap music blaring out of the open windows. For a start, it was one of the very hot days, so the owner must have been baking, unless he had his aircon on with the windows fully open, which is a severe waste of power.

He also didn't seem to realise that all those decibels were going to waste on the outside environment when they would be more usefully employed on his eardrums, if his windows were closed. Decibels also cause an electrical drain, which again uses power - power that slows down his boy-racer car.

Talking of boy racers, Mr Trump seems intent on giving us a masterclass in The Art of Anti-Diplomacy. Firstly he says Boris would make a good PM (which is nonsense anyway) when he was invited by the current PM, who is not planning to stand aside, and then he says Mrs. May's Brexit plan would scotch any trade deal with the USA (since retracted - you can imagine his advisors continually slapping their collective foreheads in disbelief), which is a perfect argument for staying in the EU. All he seems to understand is force, and the EU is a much larger force than the UK alone.

We seem to have Trump wanting the UK isolated and becoming the 51st state and Putin wanting the EU and NATO fragmented so he can pick off former Soviet states with impunity. The incredible thing is that we're helping both of them.

There again, it might be his revenge for people flying a baby Trump blimp over Parliament. Revenge is something he does understand but, unfortunately, he usually makes a mess even of that. It's just pure theatre and all part of his 'Art of the Deal' persona. Never take anything Trump says at face value.


Friday, 13 July 2018

Grim Reaper II - Friday the 13th

I ordered an Austrian scythe clamp off Amazon, thinking it would be of a suitable size to clamp the blade for my English scythe, but, alas, it was too small by a midge's nudger, so I effected a temporary bodge with a couple of exhaust clamps. 

Not the most elegant solution, but it works - I'll see if I can get a couple that are a tad smaller to make it look more aesthetically complete. I tested it on the field and it now just requires some proper sharpening, following which I'll dismantle it and paint the snath in a suitable Farrow and Ball country colour - French grey, or something similar. I did the blade edge in a silvery grey and the chine black.

Here's a photo of a man outstanding in his field...

It does have a tendency for the point to dig in, but that is just a matter of practice and the fact it's what we experts call a 3 foot blade, which is the longest (and hence heaviest) you can get. It's good to see Hay's great-uncle Sid's blade back in action after what must be at least 50 years out of service.

The bad news is that the grass in our field has flattened in many places and that makes cutting it very difficult. It has formed a thick, dense mat and hand scything is perhaps not the best method of cutting it. Even the sharpest blade would have problems. Cutting young grass isn't a problem at all and I could easily use the scythe as a (slow) lawnmower.

Unfortunately, one of the cats decided it would be a good idea to make a hidey-hole from the cut hay. I must be careful when pitchforking the hay not to spear a cat or two.

At least I managed to scythe the common before midday and then bale the hay in the afternoon...

Obviously, the common was cut by a tractor with attachment - the whole thing was done in a day. they usually leave the hay to dry for a few days, turning it a couple of times, but it's been so dry that this wasn't necessary this year. Also, there wasn't as much hay this year as usual, by a long chalk.  Would have liked them to come into our field and save me a job but, due to the size of the equipment, there's simply not enough room to manoeuvre the equipment down the lane and into the field.

Next on the fixing list is the peat cutter, but we don't have much in the way of peat hereabouts.

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Hay Fever

I won't mention the football...

Here's a handy tip for hay fever sufferers - don't hang your washed bedding outside to dry in hay fever season, it just gets covered in pollen.

The match started out so promising with that early goal though...

Never mind, there will be a 2nd referendum in another 4 years at the next World Cup...

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Cornish Tea Plantations

Overheard while watching a local news item about the Somerset NudeFest:

Hay: "Isn't it funny how you never see fit young people being nudists - they're always saggy, baggy pensioners."

Chairman: "Perhaps it's about time we joined then."

So, if we win against Croatia today, we face France - our oldest enemy. I thought the EU was designed to avoid this kind of thing...

Yesterday we called in at a tea shop and I spotted this on the teapot:

Around the rim was the legend; "TEA GROWN IN ENGLAND." Naturally my interest was piqued and I looked it up - and yes - tea is actually grown on the Tregothnan Estate in Cornwall and, believe it or not, Scotland. I guess it's eminently feasible given tea is a member of the camellia family and camellias grow well here. Makes you wonder why we spent all that money going to China for the stuff and then transplanting it to India. Poldark could have made a killing by growing tea, rather than scratching a loving looking for tin.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

The Grim Reaper

Managed to find myself a scythe over the weekend for £15 on Facebook Market. It has a curved, metal snath (or handle) and is somewhat rusty, but I'm sure that a little TLC will bring it up looking fine. Will have to get some phosphoric acid (Jenolite or similar) to neutralise the rust before applying some paint.

Collected it from Weston-Super-Mare yesterday from a bloke who said it had belonged to his grandfather and he'd brought it down to the South West when he moved here from Congleton in Cheshire. At least it's in the hands of a decent northern lad now.

I released all the seized bolts with some easing oil and brute force; luckily nothing snapped, although I had to grind the clamp off. It takes an edge very well, although it needed adjustment for the correct height. While the blade is very short, it seems capable of doing the job, but I decided to put my long blade on it anyway so as to get a much longer sweep and hence a greater cutting length, which is needed with tougher, hay-like grass.

Now just for an exhaust clamp or two to lock the blade into position, a coat of paint - probably Hammerite for the snath and a coat of bituminous paint along the blade rib - and I'm ready to go. I'd like a wooden snath, but needs must. I can always keep an eye out on eBay.

Once the cutting season is over, it will be a very nice decoration on one of the oak beams in the house till next year.