Thursday, 28 February 2013

Almost Spring like weather

Not only have we been continuing with hedging, muck spreading and mole catching, but this week Henry has been chain harrowing and tine harrowing. Spring work has started!

And the final proof it's almost Spring? Henry and James came in the house for a bottle of squash before going off to hedge!

P.S. I'm under no illusions that winter may return with a vengeance.

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

More old photos

Following on from yesterday's post, I've been scanning a lot of old photos (hundreds or even thousands to go). We have boxes of loose photos, and boxes of various albums. Most are full of miscellaneous snaps and studio portraits, but one contains just one set of photos. We don't know much (or indeed anything) about the people who took the pictures, so any information would be gratefully received. I have put these together in one pdf file. If you click on the link below you'll be able to see the file. I have tried to make the pages turn automatically, but that property doesn't seem to have uploaded. Must try harder.

P.S - any fuzziness is not down to me!

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Old photographs

Prompted by an article in last week's Westmorland Gazette, we've been looking at some old photos. Considering the price of cameras and film, the Robinsons took an awful lot of photographs in the late 19th/early 20th centuries. We have boxes and boxes of posed studio portraits of unknown ancestors (we're working on identifying them) and Weddings etc. There's also proud snaps of cows and children. Most were obviously taken around Strickley, but one at least seems to be somewhere completely different. Do you recognise anyone on this photo, or have any idea where it was taken? It's not the usual family snapshot.

P.S. The photograph in the Gazette article is among our boxes of photos, and Arthur and Jean have been busy gathering information about it. The expert waller at the front is Henry's Uncle Len, with Uncle Wilson wielding a hammer on the same side of the wall. More details to follow.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

It's not all play and no work

Reading the recent posts I may have given the impression that it's just party time and no work at Strickley. But of course, the fun and games are just fitted around our real lives. The improvement in the weather (dry and cold at last) has meant we can get on with muck spreaging and hedging. Muck is always with us and as well as needing to empty the pit and tower, we depend on it to make the grass grow. Ideally we would spread it at the optimum point for greatest benefit, but needs must when storage space is filling up. While David is working his way round the fields with tractor and tanker, Henry and James have been hedging (down the Old Lane for those who know Strickley). We reckon to do about a mile of hedging every year. I put a few photos of hedges in various stages on our main website a few years ago, so click here to see.

The classroom is still progressing well (though the stonefacers had a week off for half term!). There's a lot going on inside now; plumber, electrician, painter (James in his spare time!), and builder coordinating the whole. It's looking good, and blending in well (more so when the pointings done). The first school visit is in March so the clock's ticking!.

It might still be only February, but it's almost light enough after milking to do a few jobs - such as mole catching. Henry's been out this morning setting and checking traps, but has only caught one so far. Watch out moles!

And finally, back to fun and games. On Friday at nine o'clock I was poised over the computer ready to click. And we now have something to look forward to in the distant future - front seats to see Bellowhead at Blackburn in November.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Th end of the "Birthday Week"

Henry's birthday celebrations have finally come to an end. Since opening his presents last Monday, he's had a big family party (and more presents) and last night the icing on the cake - Bellowhead live on stage at Scunthorpe. It may seem a bit of an odd place for us to travel to (3 hours each way), but it was the only date in this short tour that fitted in with all the other stuff going on. We took a chance that we wouldn't be snowed in and booked tickets and a hotel. Even having seen Scunthorpe on a map I wasn't really sure where it was, or knew anything about it. I still don't know much about it (steel industry), but I know it's at the far end of bleak flat muddy arable farmland with not an animal in sight. We didn't see much of the town - only the streets we got lost in - and the Premier Inn, which seemed to be built in the midst of a housing estate, much of which was still being built. Having got cheap hotel deal we splashed out on a taxi into town (and avoided getting lost again). We had brilliant seats - front row. So close that when we stood up to dance I could hold onto the edge of the stage. The concert was everything we expected - high energy, amazing musicianship and great fun. I never took any photos (only of the set beforehand), but if you want to see what Bellowhead are all about, look at their website or search on You Tube. This video, whilst being shot for Roll The Woodpile Down, contains actions from other songs and tunes. So it's now back down to earth, but getting ready to pick up the phone and/or click the mouse on Friday to book tickets for the November tour.

Monday, 18 February 2013

Back to Reality

It's back to reality at Strickley today. All the visiting children, grandchildren and dogs have gone home and it's relatively quiet (apart from the builders across the yard and the normal farm sounds). We've taken down the Birthday Banners, though the balloons are still hanging from the beam.

This is just to say a massive Thank You to everyone who made the party such a success. A few special mentions, but thank you all for coming and joining in (or being coerced into joining in) the games. And from Henry, many thanks for all the wonderful (and inventive) presents.

And in no particular order thank you to

Jean for the amazing array of puddings (sorry I couldn't do them justice)
Victoria for the cake (which I know at least one boy had 3 helpings of)
Izzy for the Party Playlist (though I still think my Bellowhead tunes would have worked)
Elliot and Victoria for decorating the house
Elliot for fetching and carrying for me all day, and reaching places I can't reach
Izzy for the Amazing Magic Show, and her "lovely assistant" Rob.
Maisie and Murphy for hoovering up the crumbs.
All the children for being so good (though we never expected anything else)

So what do we do in five years time?

Friday, 15 February 2013

The sun shines on the righteous

I'm not sure if that's true, but it's certainly shining on Strickley today. It's even warmish and birds are singing (though I can't always hear them above the sound of builders cutting floor tiles for the new building).

Inside it's all go for the party tomorrow. First joint of meat (definitely beef from a reliable source) is cooked, first of several different savoury breads in progress and I'm about to start on a host of other wonderful offerings. (I'm nothing if not optimistic). Our first visitors arrive today and we're all looking forward to meeting up. We did a final shop last night so should have everything we need. The only thing I forgot to get was gin!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Party Progress Report

Bedrooms, landing, hall, sitting room tidied and dusted.
17 games and props prepared (why such a random number?)
45 amazing prizes wrapped
Music sorted
Timetable for cooking worked out
Final shopping list listed
Silver cleaned (why?)
Checked wine cellar
Wood for stoves sawn

Still to do
Clean kitchen and pantry  (Aga dust is a major hassle)
Cook everything

No slowing down

He may be classified as a Pensioner now, but life carries on as normal for a farmer. Henry was up at the usual (5.45 am) time yesterday on his Birthday and was in at the usual time (about 6.30 pm) to enjoy his supper. This was a selection of cheeses from James and Michelle, from a local cheese shop, including some made from the milk of some Strickley cows (which we sold to a local cheesemaker). Followed by a glass of birthday whisky, and a few pieces of homemade birthday fudge, it was a well balanced meal!

The last few days we have been doing some serious drain work down the fields. The ground was just dry enough for a big excavator to get on. Everything is now filled in and levelled out and as soon as it's dry enough we'll reseed. We need to know where these pipes and drains are (or at least the next generations will), so James drew a quick sketch.

I should have been down there taking photos, but it was the far end of the farm and I've started on my list of Things To Do before the Birthday Boys' party on Saturday. Three generations from 2 to 75 will (I hope) enjoy an evening of food and fun. Lots of games and lots of prizes!

Monday, 11 February 2013

Two more birthdays


Tuesday, 5 February 2013


I should know better - the next Big Birthday is next MONDAY (not Tuesday)

Another Birthday Boy


February is a month for Birthdays - The Big One is next Tuesday!

Monday, 4 February 2013

New week - problems fixed - new problems

One of the most essential pieces of kit at Strickley is my breadmaker. I've been making bread in it (or it's predecessor) for over ten years. Almost every night (depending on how many mouths there are to feed) when Henry goes out for a last look at the cows, I put the ingredients in the loaf tin, press a few option buttons and set the timer. The ingredients vary depending on the type of bread (for day to day loaves it's either white, malted wheat, or seeded or a combination), but everything is to hand - the flour (bought in bulk) in wheeled airtight boxes under the granite slab, jars of salt, yeast and sugar nearby and the correct weights on the scales. I can almost do it blindfold, and as long as I'm not interrupted I'm on auto-pilot and the results are consistent - a fresh loaf of bread in the morning. When Henry gets up to milk he takes it out and it's cool enough to eat when he comes in for breakfast.

But yesterday there was no well cooked loaf - just a solid mass of unmixed flour etc. I gave the machine the benefit of the doubt, maybe I missed a step out, and I had another go last night, being absolutely sure to get it right. This morning the result was even worse. So what do we do (apart from getting some backup buns out of the freezer)? Get out the Hot Spare of course. In 2010 when we had a lot of family to stay for our Ruby Wedding I decided one loaf at a time was not enough and bought another bread machine. When life calmed down I boxed it up and put it away. Today is it's time to shine again. It's plugged in and busy doing what it should be doing (I think) and there will be fresh bread for dinner.

And the "problem fixed"? The network adaptors are working again. About three in the morning (when I do a lot of my thinking), I thought of something I hadn't tried. I had to resist the temptation to get up then, but first thing this morning I put the plan in action and the television is "smart" again.

And another fix - small print is no more. Yesterday I got some new reading glasses and I'm astounded how big and clear text is. No more complaining about funny fonts and wrong colour pages, or holding the book up to the light. I can read!

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Happy Birthday

I didn't forget -

How come I have a 15 year old grandson?

The trouble with technology . . .

. . .  is that when it works, it's wonderful, and you don't even know it's there.

But when it doesn't work, life becomes very frustrating.

Since we got our BT Infinity problems sorted, we haven't really noticed the Internet. It works seamlessly. We can even access some programmes such as I-Player from the TV in the sitting room. When we bought that TV in December 2011 we said we didn't want a "Smart TV", but it was difficult to get the features we wanted on a not-so-smart TV. For the past 12 months we've ignored the Smart buttons. But with the coming of the superfast broadband we dipped a toe in the water. To put the TV on the wireless network needed a specific dongle (allegedly), so to try it out we connected the TV to the router with a very long Ethernet cable. Magic! We could watch I-Player and You Tube in real time without buffering. So we invested in two powered network adaptors. We plugged one into a power socket near the router, and a short Ethernet cable from it to the router. The other one we did the same in the back of the TV. Instant success! The overlong cable was wrapped up and put away.

For some time the DVD player in the kitchen has had a bit of a wobbly line in the middle of the screen, and as DVD/BluRay players are now relatively cheap we bought a new one. This one is also "Smart". So, to test it we moved the network adaptor from the sitting room PC into the back of the new BluRay player. An hour later after much pressing of buttons and twiddling of cable, we can get onto the home network but not the Internet. So, out comes the overlong Ethernet cable. We trail it from the hall to the kitchen, plug in and it's almost instant - I-Player etc on tap. So, our not-so-smart TV can pretend it's Smart! Now, it ought to have been simple to return the network adaptor to the sitting room PC - but now that's not playing. I've tried connecting a laptop into the adaptor about 2 feet from the router (which worked before). No joy.

It's maybe time to give up. The sun's gone down, so it's maybe time for a liquid restorative.

PS - if I start on the problems we've had with Outlook and email since BT's "upgrade" to their business email service, I'll be here all night.

So, farewell.

Friday, 1 February 2013

First weather report of the year

Click HERE to see the latest statistics from Strickley