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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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.

Sweeping the chimney

Sweeping the chimney... another use for these face masks we’ve all got a stache of now. Soot is an irritant and the fine particulate dust isn’t good to breathe. The chimney is capped so unfortunately no photo of the brush poking out of the top. The temporary curtain across the fireplace is to contain the soot and dust which previous owners didn’t sweep out when they stopped burning coal here.
It’s a fine ornamental fireplace: I’m presuming all the rock specimens are local but it’s going to take some time and specialist help to identify them all
That’s an electric fire on the left - there is central heaing here though it’s only just about managing and is scheduled for urgent replacemnt.

Planting apple trees

Planting apple trees

Planting two apple trees in the garden I’ve taken over here in Keswick. This garden hasn’t had any fruit trees but it’s clear that apple trees do produce fruit in Cumbria, a bit to my surprise considering the climate. Acorn Bank has a renowned orchard not that far from here, the other side of Penrith. I’ve chosen varieties of the Pippins said to be tolerant of frost: one Fiesta and one Ellison’s Orange. M26 rootstock so they will grow as bushes for cropping without a ladder .

Read more: Planting apple trees

Stomping down the polystyrene transport base for the washing machine

The fun part of kitchen appliance installation: stomping down the polystyrene bases that the big appliances arrive on. I handed this task over to the Big Kid in the house, ie me. Fair enough after all the frustrations associated with deliveries and anyhow I don’t find it much fun crawling under the counter ferkling the plumbing, nor heaving and hefting the heavy stuff so good to have the fun bit too. Maybe my hiking boots aren’t particularly well adapted to this work but they protect the toes and for the moment they are what I have in Keswick.