I’m back today after a short break in a little house tucked away in the Wye Valley. I thought I’d get some blogging done from the place and, indeed, that did happen on the first day. However, for the next three days, the Internet connection was a bit flaky so I decided to just get on enjoying the holiday.
I’ve enjoyed a few walks, done some art and music and visited some interesting places. Today, we are back to civilisation and blogging resumes; some pictures from the week are likely to turn up soon.
We ticked off another National Trust property today – The Kymin near Monmouth. It was a venue for gentleman’s picnics in the late 17th century (possibly rather debauched affairs but I’m only inferring that from limited evidence) that ended up being protected by a purpose-built structure with fantastic views. It was also one of the first properties purchased by the National Trust, so historic for a number of reasons.
The only fly in ointment is the road up there – single track with passing places, up a steep hillside. Fortunately it wasn’t too busy on a weekday in mid-September and, with limited opening hours, it probably isn’t a busy attraction even in high summer.
It isn’t the grandest of the National Trust’s property by far but, if you are in the area and can cope with the drive up there, it is worth a visit for the views and, if you are lucky enough to have the same host we dd, the enthusiastic lecture he gave was wonderfully informative.
It is probably a bit to late to mention tonight’s jazz jam at the Red Lion in Brightwell, since it finished a couple of hours ago. Whoops! You missed a good one, including a couple of chances for me to break out some of the wacky organ simulation sounds from my Electroharmonix B9 pedal.
On top of my previous labour, it took most of yesterday and today but the bookcase is finally installed and full of books, even if not yet properly set in order. Frustratingly, the mini shelf at the top is just a bit too close to the ceiling to fit small paperbacks but I’ve got other bits and pieces that could usefully find a home up there. The small paperbacks will be taken care of by the second shelving unit I’ll build to the right above the radiator… but not just yet!
The photo makes it suggest the case bows out at the top but that is just photographic distortion. There are some less than perfect bits of joinery – for example, some of the shelves got cut a little too small – but, overall, it is square and satisfyingly solid.
I’ve certainly learned a lot from the building of it. Putting together a pre-packed bookcase from somewhere like IKEA is a lot faster but this one is custom fitted to the space. I’ve also had to solve numerous conundrums along the way. For example, I discovered that I don’t have the right tools to readily cut lengthways down a board with a distinct grain and the blade is prone to wander off (or, with a jigsaw run along a guide fence, the blade will bend from top to bottom, which is possibly worse. However, I’ve also worked out solutions – although the ideal solution would be a circular saw or table saw, I found that could also do in in a few passes and with a bit more sawdust waste using the router (which has been an invaluable tool in many ways).
Although I might take a short break before the design and build of unit two, I won’t leave it too long as I think I’ve got a bit of the woodworking bug!
Yesterday I got the news that the Churchbass email list had been shut down. It had been on the cards for a while but the hosting service ended up pulling the plug earlier than expected and so the mailing list is no more.
Churchbass was a community of Christian bassists that was formed in the mid-1990s as an email list. I was an early member and active contributor and became one of the triumvirate of list moderators. It spawned the Deep to Deep events I helped organise in the UK and, as well as online fellowship, there were plenty of face to face meetings generated out of it as well – I met quite a few visitors to the UK and also had a trip the US where a lot of the itinerary was “… and today we’re going to meet a bass player I know”.
The email list had been moribund for sometime. In the 21st century, it is so much easier to connect with people of specialist interests and there is a wealth of material you can browse to learn about all manner of topics. I still fondly remember when the email list was thriving (including the period before I got online at home and used to save message digests onto floppy disk at work to take home and read).
The 21st century is full of bad news, such as increasing pollution, rampant climate change and certain political leaders on domestic and global stages. However, it has to be said that, as far as guitar amps go, things are highly bodacious.
I’d been eyeing up the Vox Adio GT amp, with a particular eye on (a) it’s guitar tuned models and (b) the Bluetooth functionality but it seems to be in quite short supply at the moment. Searching out alternatives, I came across the Blackstar ID-Core BEAM. It has a range of models including some decent simulators to make electric guitars sound like acoustic ones. Furthermore, it is designed to handle a range of inputs – guitars, acoustic guitars, keyboard and even bass.
The online videos I checked out were good and I popped into a local branch of PMT tonight to give it a try. I wasn’t very impressed with the ‘red’ finish (+ £50 on the cost for what looks to me like a an undistinguished brown vinyl that isn’t even particularly well stuck down) but I think the basic black model could be in my near future for times when I need a bit of amplification combined with a high portability and the further option to double as a full range Bluetooth speaker.
In the polytunnel, the tomatoes have been ripe for a few weeks now and I expect they will be going for another month or more. However, mid-harvest is a good time to get on with seed collection to get ready for next year.
My method for tomatoes is quite simple and seems to work well. I select two or three good tomatoes from a particular variety and scrape the seeds into a glass jar, half-filling it with water. That sits for two to three days and then I strain the liquid and place a neat grid of seeds on a piece of labelled kitchen towel on a plate. After another day or two, when that is quite dry, it can be folded up, sealed with some masking tape and put in my seed box for late winter or early spring.
So far, I’ve got 144 seeds of ‘Golden Sunrise’ drying and I’ve just started soaking some seeds from ‘Legend Bush’. That is far more seeds than I need, as germination rates are generally quite good, but, since all it costs is a bit of time, it is worth keeping a wide safety margin (and it also potentially leaves me with enough to give away or swap too).