My dental hygenist introduced me to her new toy last week. ‘Are you alright with the water jet?’ she asked. ‘Try me,’ I said. ‘See how many times I jump.’ Though I said introduced, I have come across these things before and I remember not liking them very much. That was some time ago, and this time I managed to convince myself that last time a) it was a different hygenist in a different surgery, b) it was probably an older machine, and c) I was probably feeling particularly wimpish on that day. Five minutes later (I actually handled a whole five minutes of the thing), she had pulled me off the ceiling and reverted to the more traditional teeth-scraping techniques which, after the jet, felt remarkably gentle and painless.
I have it on good authority that the water pressure at the tip of these plaque killers is over 6 bar (90 psi). This is around three times the pressure in a car tyre and more than the working pressure of Jennie’s boiler. I know that, because I was trainee fireman at Amerton for a few hours the other week.
Note the size of the tin of Brasso. Now I remember why my arms hurt.
Whitmuir the Organic Place is making a wildlife garden. Forget any preconceived ideas you may have about square or rectangular plots because Whitmuir’s fields are separated from one another by shelter belts around 20 metres wide, and a length of 1.5km of these is being transformed into the new garden. The belts already have avenues of mature beech trees, which look to me to be about 200 years old. These will soon be supplemented by additional native trees, shrubs and woodland wildflowers. Areas have already been cleared and seeded with varieties from ‘Scotia Seeds’. Hundreds of native wildflowers have been grown in plugs and pots, and over the next few months many more will be raised this way and planted out.
The photograph shows the new pond, made by restructuring old boggy land and damming a small burn. The pond will encourage wildlife and provide educational opportunities, including a platform for ‘pond dipping’ (it’s a long time since I did that. I used to catch newts in the River Frome. Not sure I’d be allowed to do that now…)
If you thought tractors were dinky little things made to be driven by Bob the Builder lookalikes, think again. There is no scale – but I’m about 6′ 1″ and my eye level was around the same height as this thing’s headlamps.
Hans Fallada’s anti-fascist novel Alone in Berlin is no bundle of laughs. I suppose that is to be expected, considering the book was originally titled Every Man Dies Alone (Jeder stirbt für sich allein). Fallada, who was declared an undesirable author by the Nazis, wrote the novel shortly before his death in 1947. This is another book that has been hanging around on my bookshelves for some time (though not as long as Catcher or Brideshead). I found it gripping – I read it in three days – but it contains some harrowing passages. If you read it, don’t expect a happy ending.
Just as you sit down in a cafe to eat, the four-year-old wants to pay a visit. ‘You’ve just been,’ I said. ‘Okay, come on.’ So off we went to the toilets. ‘I’ll go in on my own,’ he said. Again, no problem. He’s old enough. ‘That’s alright. I’ll wait outside. Just don’t lock the door.’ I waited. And waited. ‘What are you doing in there? Are you okay?’ No response. I opened the door.
I’m sure you know how it is. If you tug on a toilet roll, it unwinds. A point is reached where the weight of the paper hanging down is sufficient to cause the roll to keep rolling, a kind of lavatorial perpetual motion machine. The FYO was making bold but futile attempts to roll the paper back onto a roller tucked up inside a plastic security cover. He was looking at me hopefully because papas, as everyone knows, can put such things right. I looked at the pile on the floor. There must have been several metres of paper. ‘Come on,’ I said. ‘Better leave it…’
If you think you are hard done-by then spare a thought for the long-dead drivers and firemen of this narrow gauge engine. It was built in Kilmarnock in 1923 for Edinburgh* gasworks. It had no cab and a short funnel because it was designed to be driven beneath the coke retorts so that red-hot coke could be dumped into the hopper wagons it pulled. I’m guessing the drivers and firemen didn’t live to see old age. If the smoke from the engine’s chimney didn’t get them, the gases from the hot coke did. Click on pic for larger.
My camera worked overtime at the weekend, so more small engines soon…
For now, more here
*I have just been reliably informed (as they say) that engine ‘Jack’ worked at the Provan Gasworks in Glasgow, not at Granton in Edinburgh.
Some of the ducks at Whitmuir have deserted the lower pond for the peace and quiet of the new pond at the top of the proposed wildlife garden. I’d have thought there was nothing there to interest them (apart from water), but the upended one in the middle of the picture proves I’m wrong. The ground surrounding the pond looks quite bare, but that will change soon. The path around the pond has been seeded with grass and, lower down the strip of woodland, wildflower seeds of species native to Scotland have been sown.
I’m hoping the ducks will return to their real home before nightfall. Judging by the pillow-load of feathers and the pigeon remains I saw today, the woodland ain’t such a safe place to be.
My brain did a double-take when I saw this on the side of a building in Dunfermline.
Surely there can’t be many of these around?
Another crash at Le Mans. Safety there must have improved considerably, because this time nobody was killed. In 1952, 120 people died after Juan Fangio’s Maserati left the road and ploughed into the crowd (120 possibly. Amazingly there was no official record of the number of deaths). Ironically, Fangio survived. Then, in 1955, another 83 died when Pierre Levegh’s Mercedes did the same thing. Levegh wasn’t as lucky as Fangio, he died at the scene.
Scary, isn’t it? 200 spectators killed by two out-of-control racing cars within a 3-year period.
Ever had the feeling you are being watched? I have. I was doing a bit of work at Whitmuir Organics recently when I heard snorting. It definitely wasn’t MI5 or the CIA (because I’m sure they would have made a much better job of sneaking up on me – and hopefully they don’t snort), it was this lot. By the time I scrambled up the bank of the burn where I was working and got my camera out, they had largely lost interest and were wandering away.
When they had all gone I had the strange feeling that I was trespassing.