iTunes in my car

When am I going to be able to drive my car home at night, park it near my house, and have it connect wirelessly to my iTunes.

Then it could sync the music library in my car with my PC/Mac ready to go in the morning.

And while it is at it my car could connect to the Internet and download updates for the Satnav and maybe even the ECU.

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40,000 photos but something’s missing

When I look at my family photographs from the 1980’s I look a lot younger but the photographs look a lot older. So I feel ok.

But when I look at photographs from 2000 I look a lot younger but the photograph looks like it was taken yesterday. Why? because I was given a digital camera in 2000 and so at that point my photographs stopped ageing. Sadly I haven’t.

The disconcerting thing about looking at the photographs of a much younger me in 2000 is that it looks like it was taken yesterday. Which means I feel like I’m ageing very fast. Or put another way, when I see pictures of me looking much younger I don’t get the comfort of seeing this in a faded photograph clearly taken a long time ago.

So my request to Microsoft and Apple is you need to make a filter that overlays an aged photo look to the browsing of digital photos. The older the photo (you know when a lot of them were taken from the metadata) the more faded. I obviously don’t want the original altered but you could place a temporary viewing effect on the photo – please!

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Delivery of bad news

Andy, our postman, delivered some sad news today. His post round is being changed and he will no longer be delivering our post.

While this might sound trivial, the context of this news is that Andy has been delivering the post to Sennicotts since about 1982. During nearly 30 years of deliveries to Sennicotts, Andy has epitomised all that we think of fondly about the British postal service. He has been consistent, reliable, helpful, cheerful, flexible, trustworthy and friendly (even when Elo reversed into his van!).

I like to think of myself as someone who embraces change but I have found myself feeling all the thoughts of someone who wants to resist this change: for instance the injustice of the fact that his round is being moved so it will start two doors further down the road. Surely we could move the boundary for the round by two houses so we could keep Andy!

The truth is we will just miss him. He’s a very good postman and a very likeable person. The sort that gives you hope in humanity and community.

I’m sure his replacement will also be excellent but we will still miss Andy for the time being.

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New flowers on the protea

Our 15th Protea - still going and flowering again

In 2003 we acquired a selection of 15 Proteas, King Proteas and Lucadendrons. Sadly, despite following the advice, we systematically lost 14 plants over a period of two years.

However just before we killed the 15th plant we worked out the right soil, temp and watering mix and we have managed to keep one Protea going. Naturally we are quite fond of this lovely plant and of course it connects us with its wonderful floral kingdom home of South Africa.

Each year it rewards us with a couple of flowers and this year we were actually brave enough to cut the first one for the house – and take a picture of it!

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Deer frustrations

We have a real deer problem in the garden. Every time we plant something in the garden, outside the walled garden, no sooner is it established than the deer either eat it, smash it or fatally mark it.

This time it has been the cypress trees. As usual, they have been allowed to establish themselves for a few years. Then all of a sudden this winter the deer have decided to smash them to bits. Ripping all the bark and lower branches off one by one and each night finding a way to do a bit more damage.

Before Christmas I put up a security light hoping to scare them away. But it has made no difference and they have continued their destruction and have even got closer to the buildings.

Does anyone know how to stop deer destroying your garden?

We have tried every kind of smell and chemical to deter them but it really hasn’t made any difference that we can see.

The local pest control guy says the only thing to do is shoot them but down here it is too flat and populated for anyone to do this safely – although I wish our neighbouring farmers on the Downs would do their bit.

I am trying something new this evening. I have tied all the trees together with fishing line and then put some runs in the bushes where the deer push through to make their way around the garden.

The idea is that an unknown obstacle and one that can’t be seen might just give them a proper fright. It is safe because if they get tangled up the line will break easily but not before giving the bushes nearby a good shake.

I feel the benefit of something that can’t be seen is that the deer can’t jump it so easily which they have done with the high barbed wire fences we put up.

I’ll try and report back on progress and I hope this isn’t simply that I have tripped myself up ten times with my own hidden wires!

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Not so fantastic Mr Fox

The kids came back last night reporting they had seen a fox in the garden near the chickens. We put this down to imagination until this morning it was seen again hiding in the barn right outside the chicken run presumably waiting for us to let the chickens out (which we do most days).

We knew we had lost one chicken already but with only a wing to go on it was difficult to know when or how.

All credit to the fox which seemed happy to play the waiting game for one of our scrawny chickens but I’m afraid we couldn’t see a way of accommodating a fox with a taste for chicken so it sadly had to be escorted off the property.

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This looks like trouble

Water frozen in the downpipe
"I can't remember the last time I saw the water in the downpipes freeze."

I was going to post a nice white snowy scene however I thought this photograph was more indicative of this very unusual cold spell.

Like many, I’ve been saying, “I can’t remember the last time …” etc. (With so many of us saying the same thing I can already hear a Michael McIntyre sketch in the making!) but I really can’t remember the combination of heavy snow and the continuing cold conditions like this.

I do fear the attached photo is the sign of some real problems. We already have water coming through the roof which should have been sorted before Christmas except the roofer doesn’t like the cold. The ice initially gives us a break but if the snow on the roof starts to melt before the ice in the downpipe (our loft insulation is good but not perfect) I’m not sure where the water in the valleys is going to go?

UPDATE (16:35) I’ve just come down from the roof. It turns out that my fears about the downpipe being blocked wasn’t really a problem. Why? because the valleys are all full of ice so melt water can’t even get to the top of the downpipe! Sure enough the water has found another place to get in although only in very small quantities thankfully. So I’ve just cleared the main valley but even as I was working the water was starting to freeze again so no doubt they will be full of ice again tomorrow.

This game does tend to take the joy out of these beautiful conditions.

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The hedge laying is finished

The Crumblies Conservation Group on completing the hedge in Chapel Lane (Dec 2009)
The Crumblies Conservation Group on completing the hedge in Chapel Lane (Dec 2009)

After weeks of working every Thursday The Crumblies Conservation Group have completed laying the hedge on Chapel Lane leading to St Mary’s Sennicotts.

This has been the most satisfying, and as I reported before, ‘addictive’ process. The slow taming of a hedge which had not been touched for decades at times looked like an impossible job but through perseverance and methodical technique it was conquered.

Within two or three years the hedge will have re-established itself and will require regular cutting. For now users of Chapel Lane and St Mary’s will enjoy the regular pattern of stakes and binders, a technique developed to make hedgerows stock proof before the days of low cost barbed wire.

The Crumblies will now be returning to Brandy Hole Copse to complete laying a new hedge in the Local Nature Reserve (see links).

Here are some before and after photographs (click on the images to see full size).

the hedge line in Chapel Lane before work started (Sept 2009)
the hedge line in Chapel Lane before work started (Sept 2009)
the Chapel Lane hedge laid (Dec 2009)
the Chapel Lane hedge laid (Dec 2009)
Chapel Lane from the church before hedge laying
Chapel Lane from the church before hedge laying
Chapel Lane from the church after hedge laying
Chapel Lane from the church after hedge laying
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