Sunday, 26 April 2009

An ungrand design!

This is not a Grand Design. Neither is it a job which the stalwarts of a Forum relating to old properties would agree with.
Not being able to DIY except for a bit of woodwork and decorating etc and even worse, not haviing transport has meant that most work has had to be paid for - not always as wanted so that an extra had to be brought in to redo a bit - properly.
Did you know that a bus driver can stop you getting on his bus if you are carrying a tin of paint that hasn't got the lid fastened on with sticky tape? My problem is getting the lid *off* not spilling paint all over the bus because the lid is loose.
The maximum length of wood you can get on a bus is 2ms.
Heavy stuff? Well you have to be able to lift it onto the luggage rack AKA the free newspaper recycling dump.
Old kitchen, during work and new kitchen. I'm scared to use it. There has also been a full central heating system insatlled which took ages and made more mess than I dreamed was possible.
Wall tiles and flooring need sorting still but that's the worst over.

Monday, 30 March 2009

The Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Society under threat.

A long rant.
Yes, after 216 years the largest independant Library outside London and one of the most beautiful places in Newcastle is fighting for its continued esistance.
How? Why?
Well, for 5 years we've worked with the next door North East Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineering. We had a Joint Development Committee which looked after things common to both Societies.
Suddenly that Committee decided it would be better if we were amalgamated/re-united/merged (the word cahnges) under one new Company whilst retaining our individual Society names. The over-company would be the Northern Society for Arts and Sciences.
In theory this all sounds fine BUT....
The new company would have 5 Board members from the Lit and Phil (membership 1700 and odd), 5 from the Mining Inst (membership 500 and odd) and 5 co-opted members. each society would have an Advisory Committee which would supply the Board Members - but the Board could refuse to accept any nominee from these advisory committees. Thus the Board would be able to be self continuing without any real input from members. Any criticisms from members to the Board could be completely ignored, decisions by Extraordinary General Meetings expressing a lack of confidence in the Board could be totally ignored. Democracy would be dead and the Independence of the Lit & Phil would go. We would be at the mercy of public funding and a lot of wishy washy-speak for undefined and buzz-word filled plans.
A minority of the Board voted (6 to 4) against this and are fighting to save the Society.
Yes we are in desperate need of funds but selling our souls to coporate external funding is not the way to do it.
The NEIMME only own a small a part of the Hogwarts-like building next door. The Northumberland Masonic whatever owns the rest and they have looked into selling their bit before now.
This is even more worrying as there is a nasty property firm nearby who would love it. They have kicked the Robert Stephenson Trust out of their building so are not people we want as neighbours.
A joint Board could even sell the Lit&Phil's building to them and rent it back from these nasty people. And the Members could do nothing to stop them.

Friday, 27 February 2009

A Tour around Cymru Gogledd.

This was a programme following a Victorian edition of a Baedecker guide and covered Llandudno (which as he says was very mild last autumn) Penrhyn slate quarry and my little railway - the Festiniog, travelling behind my favourite loco, Merddin Emrys, to my favourite station, Tan y Bwlch. What joy!

Richard Wilson also did a 1950s trip in a badly driven Ford Zephyr(? don't know cars) He went from Caernarfon via Dinorwig quarry (where my roof came from). He gazed awestruck at the views from the Llanberis Pass and proceeded to Beddgelert which has THE best ice cream shop in North Wales and I was lusting after a choc ginger double cone. Then he went into the shop and had two icecreams - curse him! He then went to Pwllheli and met up with some ex Butlins girls.

A good night from the Beeb but I still want that ice cream :-/

Thursday, 26 February 2009

Even on the Archers....

Listened to the Archers at the weekend and this character who has been having his house altered was asked "not gone for uPVC windows then?" He replied "No Timber".
Good lad!

Friday, 13 February 2009

TV time.

I'll be warching "New Town" on BBC4 on 14th Feb -- it's a murder story about developers in Edinburgh.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Grand designs?

Actually saw a Grand Design that I like today! It was a repeat (missed it first time round) of one in France where they built a house with wood frame ad straw bales. Most of these porgs show pretentious pratts (I said MOST - not all) including one which was obviously a hospitality area/advert for an architectural practice in an old piano factory.
But this one was a prog where you ached for it to go right for the guy building it and it was so lovely when it was done. They seemed to float far above the surrounding countryside.
Compare it with the new one after it on the other Channel where it seemed money was no object. The old folly was lovely, I wanted it. Then they built a horrible white box container thing onto the side of the old building and on top of a completely out of scale kitchen which apparently was just a Chain company's off the peg one - oh, yes? I've got a cheap one of B&Q's cheaper line and for a space the size of their island bit it's costing me £4 grand. To me it spoilt the whole site. It jarred.
What a contrast between the two projects.

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

A good idea...

As was excellently mentioned by Nemesis on her blog-

The Robert Stepehenson Trust has been evicted by way of impossibly high rent demands.We suspect that Doves Builders Merchants in the adjoining bit of the complex will be closing soon - either bought out or priced out.
However, thanks to a brain much younger than mine ie my son's, I will be writing to the NRM and at least one Rail and Transport historian to at least inform them of what is happening. Such an obvious thing to do really.

Meanwhile I am curious as to why builders are so incompetant. Do they have training in it or is it a genetic condition which means they have to join the building industry?
Against all principles and desires I had to have a small sash window replaced in what was the scullery - repair was going to be almost double the cost of a new wooden sash and I am upset at having to go down this road but I have too much to do and a reducing income due to ridiculously low interest from my Building Soc.
Any way, the joiner came round and took pictures of the window and, yes, it would have the horns and sash lifters etc.
So, it came and looks decent enough till I started "looking" at it and realised that the horns are a completely different shape from the ones on the old sash and every other sash in the house. So what were the pics which he took for ??? Why put a fancier and bigger set of horns on?
The guy in charge of the job is coming to recitfy a job done wrongly* by a previous builder tonorrow, so I will point this error out to him. I have kept the old sashes so Booo if they try to say they are the same .... I am learning.
(*this first guy had, despite being told each day that I wanted a raised door step inside so I can have a door mat to save having to clean the floor everyday, gave me a door step so flush with the floor that a sheet of newspaper is too thick - and that's before I get any tiles or whatever down.)
Perhaps someone will say "sorry" and then it will be alright .........
Meanwhile I have lots of central heating in the house. Poor old place doesn't know what's happened to it!
I can't afford to run it but that's a different story. Still I wanted radiators with a little bit of style
"not bog standard Wickes things - the boxy things with grills on top that look like electric heaters." So when the 2metre long x 600cms high radiator was carried in for the passagewayI could have wept - it is a double convector radiator ie "bog standard Wickes things - the boxy things with grills on top that look like electric heaters."
Except they don't use Wickes and had to order it especially because of the length. It is (according to the Web) "suitable for the larger room" and it is in a metre wide passageway ... so even on the lowest setting is too hot to walk past or linger by. Did they not hear what I said? It was only said several times and they took the grills off because I'd said I didn't want them so they heard that bit.I won't have the money to get it replaced either.
It's all so frustrating - doubly so because I can't DIY things.

Meanwhile on saturday there was a volunteers meeting of the Ffestiniog Railway Society - the loveliest place there is.
If you've never been - go! If you have been - go again!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

THIS is snow

This is snow - not those pathetic few centimetres in the south east that have brought the whole of the northern hemisphere to a halt (as it has according to the southern-centric news.) Using centimetres makes it sound worse than it is eg 15cms cf 15 inches Big difference - same figures.

Which design idiot decided that the best place for Caps Lock is beside a very commonly used letter?

I got my Certificate of Regularisation (say that after a drink or two!) for the work done in the kitchen - what a relief. The moral is to take detailed pictures at every step just in case. Without them I'd have had to have had a lot of work undone and then redone. A dozen digital images cost nothing either.

And speaking of a drink or two - HAPPY BIRTHDAY LIGHTBULB!!!! :-)))))
130 years ago today Joseph Swan demonstrated his incandescent light bulb in our Newcastle Literary and Philosophical Society's 800 seater lecture theatre where there was standing room only. It is heartbreaking that the lecture theatre was removed in the 1960s but what would we do now with what would have been a Grade 1 listed 800 seater Victorian, tiered semicircular lecture theatre? Tonight we had a lecture to 40 and the Society was presented with a plaque recognising the event. We'd have had a listed white elephant and no rooms to lease out so less income. It was probably uncomfortable anyway. Heartbreaking though -we sold the Assyrian slabs brought back from Ninevah (Mosel in Iraq) by Williaam Loftus in order to pay for the destruction - just as he destroyed archaeological sites in order to find things.
Of course Swan was a Mackam ie from Sunderland which is even better ..... However, we quaffed a glass or two of wine and afterwards partook of a drop or two of Ale in the Head of Steam.
I suppose 130 years isn't too bad for a piece if technology. 78s, LPs and CDs din't last that long.
Steam power has lasted though.....
There's nothing like the smell of coal fired steam locomotives ..... ahh.
I was going to write something else but have been chatting on fcebook with my son who lives in Essex now.
So Nos da.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Practice at putting proper links in...

Not really that intuitive but I know for the future!

Greed greed greed.....

The Robert Stephenson Trust members has spent a massive amount ot effort and money on restoring the Stephenson Works in South St behind Newcastle Central Station. Ask a lot of people "what was the first steam engine?" and they will erroneously say "Rocket" which of course was nowhere near to eing the first. However - the works where this iconic loco was built was in South St.
The rent paid by the Trust for this site was £5K it has gone up to either £140K - that is one H*** of a rise..
They can't afford that "commercial" rent and have to be out by the end of Feb.
Watch the news for a dramatic fire one day as this listed building gets in the way of Silverlink's expansion plans. The area has been named "the Stephenson Quarter" for goodness sake and they have been forced out for sspurious commercial reasons - the property is unsuitable for use as anything other than what it is.
I'm really spitting blood over thiss crass, greedy and pointless form of bullying .

Saturday, 31 January 2009

echoes from an empty vessel!

I think this is what you do.... I may have been an IT Advisor at the Uni but stuff a child can do on the Web beats me.
After a sleepless night the awaited visit from the Building Regs man was anticlimactic as he glanced at the plater round the new beams said that there weren't any cracks so it was passed as OK.
After all my worry I actually felt a bit let down.
The central heating is in and is probably well over what is needed. The first night was pure hell as the system had to be run hot for the first 12 hours - consequently it was 70Degs F when I went to bed and over 80 degs F when I got up next morning - sleeping wasn't really possible. Still, it's easier to turn it down than it is to throw another radiator on the fire when it gets cold.
Exciting day today as - agroup of us always have lunch in a caff on Newcastle Station but today Tornado came with it's first charter train.... I knew an embarrasing no of people there - people I never thought of as gricers.
I usually prefer narrow gauge, North west Wales narrow gauge but have a soft spot for Tornado as I saw it in several stages of it's build.

Tuesday is another big day - 130 years since Mr Swan demonstrated his electric liight bulb in the Literary and Philosophical Society's lecture theatre - We were even mentioned in the Guardian today. Celebrations will be held, wine poured (by me) and nibbles nibbled (by me too).

Monday, 26 January 2009

Errr well......

I know the blog is called a Bear of little brain and the picture is of a cat but perhaps that proves the lack of brain. My other picture is of my old teddy bear (Bronco) who was 50 on Christmas day however I realised that to call him a BoLB would be an insult as he's more intelligent than me.
I haven't a clue what I'm doing here....
Call it a reaction to having the house in chaos due to getting full central heating system installed and now having to clear the most congested corners for an electrican.
And discovering that the builder who knocked the kitchen chimney breast out somehow managed not to apply for Building Regs cert.
And I'd like to be able to cook a meal but the kitchen doesn't exist
And the tv is on the blink
And the new Bruce Springsteen cd wasn't delivered today.....
And I am very annoyed that a certain Forum seems to have one rule for some and another for the rest so my dummy has been ejected from my pram.