about JohnH

Sorted, fit. Current activities are photography, hiking, motorbiking, trail biking, music, geology/geoscience, dinner-at-home, travel and more.

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Taming my Cumbrian cloud forest in Keswick

The wet days are back with us in Keswick and the cloud forest growth season continues. Snipping is not enough. Previous efforts at untangling this garden resulted in a two car loads of fifteen bags of cuttings plus two fabric bins, all to be taken to the council tip; that’s as well as filling the green bin the Allerdale council lorry collects once a fortnight.
It seemed a good idea to hire a skip to make more progress. Friends suggested a garden shredder and indeed a big electric shredder plus the safety equipment (PPE) worked out as much the same cost as one skip hire. The ear defenders plus the visor put one in a happy place, very focussed.

Taming my Cumbrian cloud forest in Keswick

More photos: Revealing the Lost Garden - Taming my Cumbrian cloud forest 2

At the summit of Latrigg, Cumbria

Birthday sports walk up Latrigg (368 m.), the bump of dark grey Skiddaw slate that I see through my windows here. Keswick and Derwent Water below, and the fells are atmospherically wreathed in cloud which gives the panoramic view more depth than a boring blue sky!

View from Latrigg, Cumbria

Sunset at Kewswick

Gardening at the foot of Skiddaw

The garden growth season continues in the Cumberland cloud forest that I have inherited; the voluptuous Rhododendron flowers have now finished but smaller flowers are attracting bees and other pollinating insects. Untangling many years of neglect is exposing plants that have been strangled and revealing the planting plan of whoever designed this garden at the foot of Skiddaw (931 m.). The birds are even more numerous now there are perches and cover they can use, the field rabbits continue to enjoy the grass. The apple trees I planted back in March have taken fine. And a stupendous sunset at the end of the day.

More photos: Taming my Cumbrian cloud forest

Fixing the bean-to-cup espresso machine

One of the joys of being an engineer is fixing things. Espresso coffee machines are a socially acceptable form of steam engineering which you can operate without ever knowing of the mathematic horrors which the phrase “Steam Tables” evokes in an engineering undergraduate’s mind.

Fixing the bean-to-cup espresso machine

I have inherited a non-working bean-to-cup espresso machine, stated to be intermittent although I only ever had one coffee from it before taking the covers off. Beautiful miniature engineering from Italy, satisfyingly visual, even the steam pipes are transparent. But broken.
Simpler than rocket science, it seemed to me that the water pump was making the noise but not pushing the liquid through. No obvious obstructions. A replacement pump was an available spare. The water circuit was a bit fiddly to dismantle but I was encouraged to find the old water pump was jammed solid. I’m guessing that the previous owner had been ignoring the message to descale.
Substitution of a new motor worked a treat but hot pumped steam was almost immediately followed by messages requiring descaling. Once the descaling cycle was completed I was able to enjoy with satisfaction the best coffee yet here. Now for some experimenting to find which blends and beans taste best with Cumbrian water.

Insulating the loft

Another unglamorous job with taking on this place: insulating the loft. It’s a notoriously messy job, so protection gear is called for, which makes working a sweaty as well as dusty proposition. But I’m expecting a noticeable improvement in room comfort and maybe a reduction in heating bills as a result.

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