The extra bits...(Under construction).

Monday, 30 November 2015

A need to simplify my life ...

      Well it's already the eve of December 2015 and I don't know whether it be an age thing (listening to Pink Floyd 'Animals' as I type) but this year has flown by, blink and I would have missed it me thinks! I guess it did not help matters with the first quarter of the year having my mind being closed off by the Black Dog for a few months, and a few 'lighter dips' since. It is funny how sometimes when referring to depression it can almost seem 'off the cuff' comments are used as if it is not such a serious thing, 'lighter dips' indeed. But for all intense purposes if I'm low but can just about function these are the times that I consider to be 'lighter dips', not to say that they are not hard to cope with for myself or for my family. 

     But even taken those lost months into account the year has still sped by as if it had a jet propelled rocket up its very arse. The shift rota at the Fun Factory does not help I feel, what with its 2 twelve hour days followed by 2 twelve hour nights and then the supposedly 4 days off (finishing at 6 am on the morning of the first day off does not constitute a full bloody day off), the weeks just hurtle by. So faced with the end of the year already looming it just seems that life is passing me by with nothing being accomplished apart from more grey hairs adorning me beard. Especially at this time of the year when the daylight is limited, the weather can at best be described as temperamental and Christmas adverts are blighting the bloody airwaves! Maybe I suffer from S.A.D. as well as depression? it wouldn't bloody well surprise me.

      I feel that I need to get back on track, simplify things a tad, get a routine that allows my mind and body to rest and stop over thinking things so much. Tis difficult to change track, for a start my work rota plays havoc with eating and sleep patterns (not to mention the pressure of an understaffed and unappreciated engineering team), sleep is not forthcoming easily of late and healthy eating is but a distant memory at the moment (these 'Yorkie' giant chocolate buttons are rather moreish). I also suffer from what is, and I'm positive about this, scientifically termed the 'Butterfly effect'. This is when, with all good intention, I set aside a time for starting and completing a task but then swiftly I'm distracted from said task by another and whilst addressing the new task something else grabs my attention, for example......   Today I was going to measure up what remains of the space in Compromise garden to allow the planning and drawing up of a lean-to for me to construct in which to shelter old Rusty from the elements and allow me to start stripping her down. Simple enough you may think? err no... I steps out of the back door and notice the large amount of 'dog daises'  that require clearing up (I swear those two can crap for Wales) so I fetch the dog poo shovel and clear up said daisies taking them, in their highly engineered waste disposal and odor nullifying device (a plastic bag to you lot) to the bin which I then discovered required taking out to the street for collection day tomorrow. So I trundled the bin outwards to discover that the back gate latch was a tad loose which led me to decide to fetch a screwdriver from the Wendy house workshop to repair said gate. Whilst on route to the workshop I noticed that there was some garden moss that had been flung out of the house gutter by some creature or other so picking this up I changed tack and headed towards the compost bin but before reaching it (a total journey from moss deposit to bin of 6 steps) I had the idea that the moss would actually look rather good upon a piece of bogwood that stuck out above the water level in the aquarium. Ah the aquarium thought I, tis time it had a water change.... now you perhaps have an idea of the 'Butterfly effect' upon my life. 

    So yes I need to slow down and simplify things for sure. I really need to begin to address one task at a time and complete it before the next one is taken on. I guess that having a myriad of hobbies and interests does not help matters but I really do need to prioritise and bring some order to the tasks that just seem to pile up and whittle them down so that they do not seem such a formidable mountain of things to do. Well for a start the allotment is to be placed upon the back burner until Spring is in full swing (well once the two mature trees are pruned), Compromise garden can sleep for a while now (once its final tidy up is sorted that is), the aquarium is ticking over nicely and just requires minimum of care to maintain its slow and steady growth,... 




      ... work on Rusty will have to be put on hold until the yet to be measured lean-to is up and also for me E bay account to be healthy enough to purchase a mig welder,...



     ... work? well we will just have to see how that pans out over the next few months but I feel a change is needed here and for anything else that I've missed out? well they cannot be that important so I'd best stop worrying about em.

     It all seems like plain sailing don't it? But take it from me although such order and organisation would seem to be easy to attain, and it would certainly help me with the dog, it is truly something that is so very hard for me to get a grasp on and put into action. I talk of taking small steps and the journey will take care of itself but sometimes even the smallest of steps require tremendous efforts for me to take. But the thing is as I have opened up more and more about my state of mind others have come forward to talk of theirs, so if you're reading this and can identify with the dog, don't worry you are not alone in this as myself and many others are out there willing to help you.

       I wonder if any of you good readers (reader?) out there have ways to organise your work/hobbies/tasks so that they don't become a mountain that just dominates your lives?, tips and advice are always welcome.

Til the next time take care,

John
      

     

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

The Morris Minor Chronicles II ....

     My father has a rather wonderful if a tad Anglo Saxon term of "shit and damnation!!" which is commonly used when things are not going to plan. Now being the ...ahem... reserved gentleman that I am it would take a day containing events of enormous magnitude to wrench such an exclamation from my delicate lips, well today was bloody well such a day.....

     Today I took my newly acquired and yet unnamed Morris Minor to a local garage for her mot. Now I am a realistic sort of person and the thought that my already beloved Moggie would pass inspection had not even entered my head. Indeed not, I had booked her in for the sole purpose of learning the state of her and to give me some notion of the tasks ahead, especially regarding her undercarriage. Now the bastard gentleman who had sold me the Moggie had assured me that the underside was solid with just two "little patches" required to wield and in a moment of foolishness, nay madness, I took the twat's gentleman's word for this as he seemed a 'nice guy'. Oh foolish mortal that I be for as the Moggie was lifted to the heavens upon the tester's ramps the unbearable truth became apparent.... there is more rot on her undercarriage than there be on the bleedin' Titanic!!.... yep I have been most royally shafted up my rear passage and it is still stinging as I type my rant here, shit n damnation indeed.

     Oh but the day gets better, next door but one to my garage of choice there operates a conning bastard gentleman who restores VW beetles and the like. So whilst the Moggie was still showing her all together to all and sundry I asked him to come around and give me an estimate. You know that moment when you realise that the person you are talking to is perchance talking excrement from a male bull's anus? well when he said "well I can wield but...." was my moment of enlightenment. I did do him the courtesy of letting him ramble on about specialised  equipment, parts for cars this old being "oh so terribly hard to come by" (which, by the way, happens to be complete and utter bollocks) and I even allowed him his wonderful moment of plucking a completely random price containing several zeros out of thin air before I reverted to type. The upshot of the discussion that followed was that he will not be doing any work for me "even after Hell freezes over!" his words not mine (I cannot really publish the discussion as it would be entirely made up of crossed out script on my side of it....oops).

      The past laid plans of mice and men eh? So thoroughly  disheartened I drove the Moggie home with my mind going over how I could salvage at least a little of the outlay already incurred. From stripping her down to nuts n bolts to be auctioned off bit by rusty bit to selling her as a job lot or just taking her to the scrap yard and Pontius Pilate like wash my hands of her and being done with the whole sorry episode, shit n damnation indeed! Abandoning her at what some might describe as a 'jaunty angle' on the drive, what I would rather describe as 'couldn't be arsed parking straight' I stomped into the house and promptly  sulked, bottom lip jutting out!

     It was time for some therapy thought I, so trundling off to the fair city of Deva to seek out my friend Chunky and engage him in conversation of my latest dilemma was my next move of the day. A journey well spent indeed, finding the grumpster Chunky as per usual at his motor cycle workshop the conversation was light, at times full of profanity but very black and white and as always Chunky's down to earth look upon the world helped immensely. After the expected piss take about me being duped by an old git selling bangers we discussed options including selling her, breaking her up etc. but Chunky reminded me of the reasons for my initial purchase which were to work on a project, put my stamp on it, have something at the end that was 'different' and, most importantly, have some fun. Yes I thought that the Moggie would be a rolling project, one that would be still driven whilst undergoing work to make her mine, hmmm best laid plans and all that twaddle. The task, if undertook, would be far more daunting than previously thought and over a much longer time frame before a wheel was to roll again (if ever), but if completed the rewards would be that much more fulfilling. 

     I arrived home and gazed upon the Moggie with some fairly mixed thoughts but as Chunky says if I ever managed to scrape enough money to buy another Moggie at probably twice the price I'd only be buying somebody else's failure. At least with this one it may take a bloody long time but everything done on her would be one hundred per cent spot on. Oh double bollocks, shit and bloody damnation! I may be a fool but at least a happy fool be I, so welcome home 'Rusty', now let the swearing commence.....




til the next time take care,

John

Saturday, 21 November 2015

The Morris Minor Chronicles I .....

     Well that was a hair raising journey back from Crewe this morning, even if I do say so myself. It was probably the most thrilling 50mph that I have known, ever! To say that old classic cars don't compare to their modern counterparts is the biggest understatement since Noah said "I feel a spot of moisture in the air"! Forget all things like brakes that will bring you to a stop quickly and safely, forget pinpoint accuracy from your powered steering, forget doors that actually don't let daylight in, forget a myriad of sensory inputs allowing you to monitor every miniscule change in your automobile, powered widows? pah!, fingertip controls? you are joking? 

     Not for the faint hearted is the driving of classic cars m'thinks but there is one thing to be said about driving the Moggie home and that is "bloody hell that was one hundred percent fun". No it doesn't have brakes, steering, suspension, nor handling like a modern car, in fact I'm not sure it has any of these full bloody stop! Yes it has holes in the floor, funny bangs from god only knows where (one very, very loud one that keep cropping up to scare the proverbial crap out of me!) and a ton of things that need fixing, replacing and sorting. But one thing she does have that proves that I was right in buying her and that is character!This little wreck of a car is absolutely packed with the stuff, yes many would baulk at taking on such a project but for me the little Moggie is a dream come true...... my first classic car restoration. 


So the paint is crap and the panels don't fit.....
...... she has her own micro climate ........
.......she is basic and that is being very kind.......
......she is no sleek sportster....

...... but she is mine and she has come home.


     So there we have it, the Moggie has landed and I can now look forward to being covered in crap, lots of cuts and scuffs on my ...er.. delicate?... skin and a vocabulary that will turn a Irish dock worker scarlet with embarrassment! I am truly looking forward to this, and I hope that you will stick around for the journey.

Til the next time take care,

John

Friday, 20 November 2015

Aquarium stage 3 ....

     Quite a time gap between stages 2 and 3 and if you remember stage 2 had the initial planting done and the expected algae bloom had just started as the tank began to cycle. Stage 3 is the aquarium just about three weeks ago and it has changed considerably. 

     Firstly the algae bloom became quite severe and I decided to take some steps to help combat this whilst the tank matured and the bacteria levels increased in the external filter. Firstly I increased the number of plants including some relatively fast growing Aponogeton Natans bulbs, a couple of Nymphaea Lotus bulbs, Java moss and finally some Eleocharis Parvula. Because of the aquariums window ledge situation I also added floating plants to help filter out some of the sunlight, these being common Duckweed and Amazon Frogbit. I cut my artificial lighting down from 10 to 9 hours and finally I have introduced carbon dioxide at a very low level to increase plant growth. As in life an aquarium is about achieving balance through trial and error. After just a couple of weeks the algae was almost non existent and the aquarium had started to shine.

     Also the aquarium is now stocked with fish and shrimp but these I shall leave for a later post. As the Acer tree in Compromise garden shed its leaves the other week I added a few washed ones to the aquarium as the plants, invertebrates and fish I have chosen all come from forested waters and leaf build up in the water is part of their world. I shall leave you with a few pictures of the aquarium, further updates will focus more upon specifics and hopefully with more detail.












Until the next time take care,

John

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Just a Minor purchase....

     Well I have been a tad busy of late at the Fun Factory so not much time for posting but just thought that I would share a minor purchase that I made this weekend upon the dreaded Ebay.....



     .....now all I have to do is name the little lady.

Til the next time take care,

John

Thursday, 5 November 2015

Aquarium stage 2 ....


     Ok so onto stage 2 of my 'Restful project' as it now become known. So a week or after the picture in stage 1 was taken the tank then looked like this......

Not the best picture....damn that mobile phone camera, damn it to Hades!

      .... I kept the design simple but at the same time wanted to incorporate something that reminded myself of the reasons for taking this project on. The base layer of substrate is a blend of aqua soil (none fertilised) and baked clay on top of this is a layer of river washed slate fragments (no hard edges). The wood formation upon the left of the tank comprises 4 pieces of reclaimed bogwood plus a 'bought on a whim' carved asian wood group of fungi (takes all sorts I guess). Out of clear view behind the fungi is a small Victorian clay vial providing a hidden cave, which was found whilst clearing an area in Compromise Garden. On the right hand side of the I have used sandstone blocks to create some 'small steps', which are the reminder that with my mental issues to take each tiny positive for what it is and that anything can be accomplished with just small steps.

      Filtration at this stage is provided by a Fluval 206 external filter, with a Protemp heater/thermostat combo providing a stable temperature of 24 degrees centigrade and lighting is provided via a Aqua One 'Plant Glo' LED controlled by an electronic timer set for 10 hours. Oh just a word about this light from Aqua One, the aquarium is an Aqua One 620T (with original cover dispensed with) so one would have thought that an Aqua One overhead LED set up would just slot on to the top edging strip of the aquarium wouldn't one?   Well bollocks it didn't but after a good half hour of slicing the edging strip with an extremely sharp blade the LED could be said to be made for this aquarium, arse. 

     I think that the overall hardscaping is pleasing to the eye and blends with the 3D rear panel reasonably well. Also added at this stage were the first plants which were chosen not just on their aesthetics but on them being easy to maintain in the aquarium. On the left of the aquarium attached to the wood are small clumps of Java fern whilst behind the wood attached to a piece of broken brick is Java fern 'Windelov' and on the right hand side of the aquarium the initial plants are Crypto Wendtii and Crypto Legroi. 

      And that is about it for stage 2 apart from to say that the Aquarium was then left to cycle for a few weeks and in the picture you can perhaps see the beginnings of the algae bloom that was starting to take hold at this early stage. As for the black art of water chemistry more shall be said about this in future stages, well if I learn anything about it that be!

Til the next time take care,

John

Monday, 2 November 2015

Aquarium stage 1 ....

      Good evening gentle folk, whilst I am in the midst of cooking tonight's meal (chicken curry) I thought I would show you my latest project. It has a dual purpose, firstly I have always enjoyed aquariums and secondly it will provide a certain calmness which will sooth my mind.




     This picture was actually taken back in August and since then the aquarium has been cycled, planted, stocked with fish and shrimp. My inspiration for the interior comes from a book entitled 'Nature Aquarium World' by the late Takashi Amano whose influence upon the thought processes of aquarium design resounds today upon a global scale.

      For those of you interested I shall be running a series of posts upon the stages of my aquarium project which hopefully be educational and enjoyable at the same time.

     For now I shall just leave you with my basic thought process regarding this aquarium. As I mentioned earlier the aquarium is also there to help sooth my still sometime troubled mind and I hoped not just to have a 'fish tank' but to create a micro biosphere internal and external to the aquarium. This means extending this 'biosphere' further than the glass tank itself. With this in mind I chose the South facing window in our Victorian house's study to position the aquarium which would allow the use of natural light not just for the aquarium but for plants external to it in an effort to give the area a more natural garden feel, time will tell if this is successful. After choosing the location and taking the first picture (I already had the glass tank) I wanted to really take my time over the whole process and not rush anything, hopefully allowing it to evolve and thus slowing down my previous mindset of wanting everything done asap. This has so far proved rewarding within itself, allowing my thoughts to become more ordered and not the swirling mess that often happened when I undertook processes before the Black dog came to visit. 

     Besides the situating of the aquarium one other step was included before this picture was taken and this was the introduction of the first external plant to the whole area. The plant to the right of the aquarium is Aspidistra Elatior  also known as the 'Cast Iron Plant', a name which I much prefer. This plant was chosen not just because it is a firm favorite of mine but because its jungle like foliage suits the 'feel' that I am trying to achieve and also it was a firm favorite in Victorian times and so seemed appropriate for the house we call home.

 Aquarium Specs....

      The aquarium is a Aqua 620T which a volume capacity of 130 litres or, if like me you prefer 28.6 gallons. Originally it was fitted with a lid that held both lighting and a trickle filter but I decided to do away with these for something a little more in keeping with my thoughts and vision of what I wish to achieve. The background is a textured piece designed to resemble stone or rock. To be honest if this had not already been in place I may have been tempted to just paint the rear panel black when setting up the tank but hopefully I will have successfully blended this in with a natural look.

     Further specs will be added as I expand upon the project's progress.

     So there it is, just one of the things that I have been up to that has keep me away from blogging but as the nights are now truly drawing in I am sure that many more posts will be coming your way. 

Til the next time, take care...

John