Category Archives: Irish life

Taking a break

Mrs S and I elected to take a break recently, mainly because I’ve been so busy working myself to a frazzle that a whole host of old health problems have been cropping up. You know the kind of thing, all the old injuries deciding that they’d like to get together for an old school reunion and say “Hi, remember us you careless bastard.” to the point I’m having to seek medical assistance. So I’m having to wind back my physical activities and rest these bones a little before launching into hanging gates and moving on with the next phase of workshop upgrades.

So I’ve been hobbling a bit, and had to resort to the use of a walking stick. Not terribly dignified, but there you go. The pain has been that significant, and chewing painkillers has become tiresome. However, a nice spa hotel break has taken the edge off the worst, and I’m now seeing a physical therapist. (but only platonically, Mrs S would have my guts for garters- heaven forfend!)

One thing amused me while I was in a pharmacist purchasing a few necessary items to mitigate my plantar fasciitis was an official sign telling people that in order to avoid suffering the worst of a SARS/COV-2 infection, health advice now recommended a daily dose of 3000UI of vitamin D3 to help boost ones immune system. Something I have been advocating for since 2020. Although to be absolutely accurate, I have written that 2000UI of D3 is a more than adequate prophylactic dose, and further note that the studies from the early 1980’s that highlighted possible kidney problems were associated with high calcium content supplements. Ergo that the 640UI maximum was significantly outdated.

It’s nice to feel vindicated. Now the narrative on masks and lockdowns that could not be questioned is being questioned, although somewhat belatedly. And I am standing by my comments about cancelling all ‘COVID fines’. It’s over. Let’s move on with the next self inflicted crisis, although I’d rather be feeling a bit fitter and getting on with putting my bees in. However, that’s a job for over the weekend.

Regarding my bees, I’m quite looking forward to the spate of UFO sightings that will follow my first public outing in a Bee Suit. Could be fun.

The law of sausage

According to lawyer-poet John Godfrey Saxe in 1869 (Not Bismarck) that “Laws, like sausages, cease to inspire respect in proportion as we know how they are made.” This law should be firmly applied to building work.

Our house has been stripped to it’s very bones, exposing many grievous sins. Said domicile now looks more like a 1970’s Dr Who set than a once habitable building. Old wiring and heating stripped out, new wiring dangling like a jungle of ersatz creepers, it is quite depressing. Places where damp has rotted wood, spawning filigrees of fan like fungal growth spreading across long hidden wallpaper. Gaping holes for windows. Frankly me deario’s, it looks awful.

However there is hope; our plumber and sparky are working in concert. The builder and his merry men have sent in their first invoice which will be paid by Friday next. Said payment will cover the first tranche of new windows, lintels, wall and subfloor insulation. Then the pipes and manifold for the ground floor underfloor heating go in, followed by a fine screed and floor tiles.

Despite the possible threat of having our home confiscated to house ‘refugees’ for ‘the common good’ (Whatever the hell that is) we are ploughing ahead, working on the premise that it will take the powers that be a while to work their mendacious way down to our level. By which time we will be so well established and secure that they’ll have a serious legal fight on their hands. Besides, doesn’t it say in the Irish constitution (Article 43) that; “The State guarantees to pass no law to abolish these (property )rights”? Let’s see how that stands up against constant political pressure for ‘social injustice’. Which to me is nothing more than cover for a housing racket at the very highest level. It’s criminal.

Bill Stickers rule one about crime; always make it look like an uphill battle for the potential criminal. Make it quite plain in many subtle and diverse ways that they personally may suffer consequences should they try to make your life full of drama. Good locks and property lawyers are essential.

For my part, I always try to deal with prodnosing officialdom by being like McCavity the mystery cat; never there when they want something. Nod, smile, deflect and divert all the while, before making the object of their desire disappear right under their noses. Well it’s worked for me so far. Stuff their ‘refugees’, many of whom aren’t even Ukrainian, or even proper refugees.

Offshoring the processing of these ‘refugees’ to Rwanda sounds like a pretty good idea to me. It cuts the flight risk to a minimum and puts badly needed capital into the third world. And if that observation makes me a Xenophobic right winger, so be it.

Speaking of which, I see the French haven’t learned their lesson and have apparently voted Macron back in again. The majority appear to have been sufficiently frightened that Le Pen might boulverser le panier de pommes. Like with most electorates, they will always, in the words of Hillaire Bellocalways keep-a hold of nurse – for fear of finding something worse!

All of the above makes me think that making real change for the better in your life takes a gnats nadgers of personal vision, a soupçon of courage and a sound dose of unswerving commitment. Without these, you’re just counting down the days to your coffin.

Oh, what is it now?

In my workshop yesterday after a day planting Heather, Willow, Wildflowers and Clover in the top meadow. Jaysus but it was cold. The wind didn’t bother going around me, it just moseyed on through like I wasn’t in the way. And it was a damp, bitter wind. The kind that strips the warmth from your bones worse than twenty below. However, the planting got done and I clambered back into the car and slithered back to the house.

Ah yes, the house. Not so much a house as a husk at the moment. No power, no life. A mere gummy shell of a building. Now I find the builders in their enthusiasm, have trashed my Internet connection, leaving me with a stripped fibre connection hanging forlornly over freshly poured concrete. I specifically told them not to play with the connectors, but something got lost in translation and they ripped the box off the wire. Words have been had.

It’s nothing that can’t be fixed with a little blackmail, but I was careful to instruct them to protect it, and Mrs S has been on the phone to them because I was likely to throw a major wobbler at them. And when I wobble, the object of my ire knows that they have been wobbled at. However, apologies have been made, along with offers of restitution, but it’s still extra money that I will end up paying to get reconnected. Never mind the downtime and delay of getting a Technician to come and do the honours. Our Electrician does a lot of stuff, but I don’t think he’s got the kit for RJ45 Cat 6 cabling or making off the ends of Fibre optics.

What I am going to do is treat this misfortune as an opportunity to get my router relocated properly to a more central location in the house so that the Wi-fi signal can reach everywhere within the building at a reasonable signal strength. Then I’ll connect up a wireless bridge to the sheds so I can enjoy high speed Interwebs without having to traipse across the yard every time I need to check my email.

Might even be fast enough for watching instructional videos and Zoom calls without too much buffering. How cool would that be? I have a spare laptop and MIMO router, so maybe I can configure that with my range extender to give me a reasonable bandwidth out there without too much effort. See if I can remember enough from my old Cisco router training. Although modern software interfaces are a lot less user fiendish than back in ’05 when I passed my course. As for full bandwidth Interwebs out in the garden? I like it. I can do a lot with that.

So maybe it is a blessing in disguise that the builders trashed my Interwebbery. It also means that they owe me a big favour. Now that to me is a harder currency than any other.

Beer and pizza

To celebrate the removal of a large tree in the yard and successful demolition of a problematic wall ready for the builders next week, I took a short trip out to get some beer and pizza.

The place was full of high school kids and families coming for a Friday night treat. I just kicked back and waited for my order to be processed. To be in this mini-flood of humanity after all the artificial isolation of the last two years was a curiously pleasant experience. Everyone was polite and there was no drama.

Normally I’m not someone who likes crowds all that much. I get defensive and grouchy really quickly if I’m bumping elbows for two long, but after two long years of pointless and damaging lockdowns and mandates, for some reason I just felt really comfortable.

It helps of course that I now have my own house and land to sit out on a sunny evening, glass of beer in hand after a feed of double pepperoni. Enjoying the smell of freshly turned Earth and evening birdsong.

Being in a crowd is fine, but it is also oh so nice just to sit out and watch the bees and birds forage.

Blood, tears, toil and sweat.

Well only a minor scrape, demolition dust bringing tears to my eyes, the creaking sensation from under utilised muscle being given the treatment and a significant trickle of moisture down my back in a surprisingly warm Springtime Mayo sun.

Wall one is proving a tough nut to crack because someone used a 1:1 mix of sand and cement for the mortar instead of the more traditional 4 sand and 1 cement mix for block work. This has cured into a substance tougher than the breezeblocks it was used to bind together. And when you’re trying to take a wall down block by block, it makes for hard work, even with a Bosch SDS hammer drill, lump hammer and brickies chisel. Even with drilling holes in the joint and dumping White Vinegar or Muriatic acid down the holes to weaken the mortar. See story so far in pictures below.

It just makes for slow going, that’s all. If I had a 5 kilo sledgehammer and a Hilti breaker I dare say I’d be moving much faster, but I don’t have either of those so I’m not. Although I do have a 115mm stone cutter disc in my box of tricks. Will try that out this afternoon. Cut, not drill or chisel.

Anyway, in parting I’d like to share an old bit of ‘nonsense’ poetry from the late great Spike Milligan. It nails a certain mindset perfectly.

Dr David Mantle

Dr David Mantle went to Bintle Bontle Boo,

To see the tonsils of a man he hardly even knew,

Dr David Mantle got to Bintle Bontle Boo,

And the man with tonsils said, “How do you do you do?

Say “Ah!” said Dr Mantle then “I can’t believe it’s true!”

“You have three tonsils hanging where there should be only two!”

“Only three!” The patient cried, “Oh my, what shall I do?”

“There should be fifty hanging there! Oh dear, tut-tut boo hoo!”

Doctor David Mantle fled from Bintle Bontle Boo

“I think that man was mad.” He said.

And I agree. Do you?

Guesses in the comments as to whom I am referring, or what.

Purposefully repurposing

One of the things I like doing is saving money. Specifically not spending it on stuff I already have that just needs a bit of tidying up or using for a different purpose than intended.

On a property such as ours this is not difficult as we have a small plague of worn out tractor tyres and all sorts of other stuff currently covered in muck that needs to be got rid of or creatively re-used.

Disposing of the tractor tyres alone are a nightmare of recycling fees. However, for all their bulk they can be re-purposed as tree planters or circular raised flower beds with seating. It’s just a question of when and how they get shifted from their current dumping ground.

For this I have an answer; we need some ground clearing once we’ve had a few trees felled and the stumps removed, so down along the westerly side of our most northerly shed is an area that, once opened up, will form an enlarged outdoor patio space should be pleasant and sheltered to spend time outdoors in.

So no matter which side the wind blows from, one can sit outdoors and read without having one’s remaining hair blown all over the place.

The plan is to hire an excavator to clear and landscape about 200 square metres of rough ground, and while the driver is here, he can shift the big tyres into place and drop in a couple of land drains for us. After that I’ll order in a couple of truckloads of shale and gravel to form the basis of a sort of sheltered Zen garden, then we can plant the trees and while the builders are busy with the house, rewire the sheds properly. An old mate who was a chargehand sparky back in the day would have a nervous breakdown if he saw our current setup. It makes me wonder why the whole place hasn’t suffered multiple electrical fires. All to save some pennies on junction boxes and properly laid out cable runs.

Then we’re saving even more cash cleaning off some old (and once probably very expensive) folding teak garden chairs the previous owners left behind. To make said seating fit for use in the dining room, all we’ll need for that is my belt sander, finishing sandpaper, teak oil, beeswax polish and some elbow grease.

We’re also ripping out the current oil fired heating system and going for gas. This whole fad over the great ‘green’ nightmare are the pipe dreams of people who don’t understand that the current grid (or even an updated version) won’t be able to sustain all those fancy electric cars and heat pumps various governments want us all to have by 2030. The issues over electric cars are well known and when it’s chilly there’s not really enough energy in the air to make an air source heat pump economical. Ground source heat pumps are the only ones really worth having.

Don’t know who is ‘advising’ these governments, but I think it’s a crack smoking meth-head who failed physics and arithmetic at school. The decision making behind the ‘green’ agenda has all the hallmarks of a harassed husband flinging up his hands and saying “All right. We’ll stop using stuff that actually works at some arbitrary date with no real idea if it’s even feasible!” The entire green agenda is an idea thought up by ignorant people with nothing constructive to do working off bad data. Our politicians, faced with a non-existent ‘climate crisis’ have elected to placate a bunch of nagging pantywaist activists who carry complete apiaries in their capacious, but largely empty, bonnets. All the time, the elderly poor freeze and people need a second mortgage to drive to work when the energy they need is right under their feet.

My chief beef over the whole ‘green’ thing is that no-one seems to be doing any proper joined up thinking. Making sweeping grandiose statements for unworkable boondoggles which will be laid at the future taxpayers door when the politicians in question have buggered off to some tax haven, or died. Or maybe, my more cynical self chimes in, that this is part of a ‘leech off the taxpayers’ scheme to make some very rich people even more pointlessly wealthy than they were before. In the financial sector this would be called fraud. But in politics, it’s business as usual.

With regard to being environmentally responsible, all I’m saying is that all we need to be doing is to make better use of what we have. Simply off-shoring manufacturing and energy production isn’t a viable answer. As the current economic mess is clearly demonstrating. Globalisation is currently failing and the global supply chains are strained to breaking point.

Back in reality, the final items in our catalogue of re-purposing are the demolition of three garden walls which will form part of the bases for a new propane tank and some other raised garden beds. And if there’s a hundred or so litres of kerosene left in our old oil tank when it comes to strip out time, I’ll trade it to one of my neighbours for some hedge management and meadow cutting. Win-win.

What the hell, we’re going our own way, flying under the radar of officialdom, making do and mend, and we’re far enough from the maddened crowd for it not to matter.

A septical view

The past couple of weeks we’ve been smelling something rotten in the county of Mayo. Now I put it down to spraying on local fields to fertilise the grazing and carried blithely on. If the grass is looking a bit tired and nutrient poor, a farmer will empty our the yard sewage digester and spray the resultant noisome stuff on his meadows. It’s one of those great country smells.

This morning I found out it wasn’t one of the local farmers, it was our septic tank that was blocked. The toilets wouldn’t flush properly and when Mrs S flushed the upstairs toilet, all of a sudden a stinking brown soup, about two or three litres, erupted from the Decon shower drain with an ominous gurgle. Oh. Shit. Literally.

First port of call was a drain unblocker. No Joy. Two litres of white vinegar, flush the worst away with the shower on full helped, but the drains were still running slower than a snail taking his time. A stroll outside to check the drain covers confirmed my suspicions. The full fifty feet of black water drain was blocked all the way down to the septic tank across the yard.

It has been raining a fair bit and the ground is saturated, so I wasn’t totally surprised at the gently bubbling morass that greeted me from a very full looking septic tank. Only one thing for it. Wallet in mouth, I began going through the phone book.

Three calls later I managed to get through to a local tank services company who gave me a reasonable quote, which was a relief. I was expecting a bigger sting for an emergency call out. They quoted a time in the early evening, to which I said “Fine.” but wasn’t holding up much hope of having flushing loos until the morrow. Irish workmen tend to operate in a different astral plane to the rest of us, but Ireland is a very mystical place. So I have learned to lower my expectations.

Reader, I was very pleasantly amused when a tank cleaning truck pulled into my driveway after supper just as we were losing the light. Mrs S gave me a look as I went out into the evening drizzle with the big torch. It was a look that said; “Are you okay with this?” to which I replied with a small resigned sigh and twitch of my lips. Because I knew what I was in for.

I don’t think there’s any words to describe the smell of untreated human sewage. It’s not so much a smell, more like a brick in the sinuses. Once smelled, never, ever forgotten. The fragrance is like the worst rot you can think of, the multiplied to the nth power. Rotting cabbage can’t hold a candle to it.

The truck driver, a lad barely out of his teens by the look, maybe I’m just getting old, asked me where the tank and drains were. I pointed out where the known inspection hatches were and the approximate runs of drain, before letting him get on with things, occasionally holding my torch on where he’d stuck his five inch suction pipe and holding onto the running hose.

Quite honestly I was impressed with his careful attitude, and did as he asked me to help speed the job along. He cleaned the tank, borrowed my hosepipe to clean it off, then we set to unblocking the drains. I will not describe the contents of same, just that they stunk and had backed right up to the house. Still, half an hour later he’s packing up, my drains are smelling a lot better than this morning and I’d reflushed the shower drain and given it a good hose down and mop.

“Can I flush now?” Said Mrs S as I came back in out of the drizzle. I nodded yes and she went back upstairs. There was the unmistakeable sound from the upstairs bathroom and a happy little noise from Mrs S. “Are we done?” She called down.

“All done. Driver’s been paid. He’s happy.” I said, getting ready to change into something less tainted. There was the sound of the truck pulling out of our yard. Good service. I’ll use them again.

Now I need a long hot shower followed by a very large glass of Jameson’s Crested. It might get the memory of the smell out of my nose, it may not, but in these situations you have to try.

I think I need to order some more air freshener, for some reason my reserve can has run out.

Mud, mud, glorious mud

Well it had to happen. It was ideal sowing conditions for my wildflower seeds, so off I traipsed to my top meadow, 4kg of seeds in hand to pick out a pattern which should emerge in full bloom throughout the Summer, and should be visible on Google Earth some time whenever they decide to update their satellite imagery.

Seeds sown in the pattern I wanted, I began to make my way back down to the workshop once more. There dear reader I made a grievous error. I forgot to keep to the high ground and put my welly boot on a patch of grass that looked like terra firma.

Well, not so much firma, but definitely terra. Rather glutinous terra at that. Feeling my boot sinking alarmingly I swivelled at the hip and brought the offending piece of footwear clear of the sucking morass. Bugger! The next step had me sinking deeper into a concealed tractor rut left courtesy of the previous owners. Again I managed to get my boot out. The third time I wasn’t fast enough and the twist needed to extricate my boot pitched me onto my hands and knees into soggy ground to a litany of creative cursing, calling myself a few choice epithets for being so careless. My boots twisted free and I managed to stumble to my feet, spattered to my chest in County Mayo’s finest wet topsoil.

I spat some mud out of my mouth, no idea how it got there, and recovered my composure before leaving the seed box in the workshop and locking up.

Reading the aforementioned, a reader might be forgiven for thinking I was discombobulated. Not so. Being the good little boy scout that I was (Until that unfortunate incident with Arkela and the two girl guides) I was prepared. In our spacious farmhouse there is a large downstairs bathroom that I have nicknamed ‘Decon’. Tiled floor to ceiling it’s an ideal place to strip off and get clean after a mucky day grubbing like a peasant. So that’s what I did, depositing my muddy jeans and shirt in the washbasket as I had been instructed some weeks before by Mrs S, then enjoyed a nice hot shower and put on fresh clean clothing. My wellington boots were placed where previously specified to dry off prior to a brush and scrub off for next use. “Are you in the shower Bill?” Asked Mrs S through the door.

“Yeah. Took a tumble and got mucky didn’t I?” I said insouciantly, focussing on getting the correct leg down the right leg of a clean pair of trousers. “All sorted.”

Five minutes later there was a great wailing and gnashing of teeth from the laundry. “Bill!” Cried Mrs S. “Your jeans! They’re filthy!”

“Yes I know.” Quoth I mildly. “My boots got stuck when I was coming back down the meadow and I fell over. I put them in the basket for washing. Didn’t you see me go down? Must have been quite comical.”

“No?” She said, somewhat alarmed. “You fell over?”

“Yes.” I replied. Look, I’ve already told you this. Snarled my sarcastic subconscious. “I just got a bit mucky, that’s all.” Were the words that diplomatically came out of my mouth. Best to make light of the situation. Bill Stickers rule of all human interactions; do not make it worse.

“But your jeans are filthy!” She complained again. I stayed mute. When people get into an emotional state over ephemera I have found you might as well be talking gobbledegook because they stopped listening five minutes ago. So my mouth should stay firmly clamped shut, as anything I said at this point would be taken in evidence, rephrased, inverted and taken great issue with.

Yes the jeans were filthy, Yes they need cleaning. I am now clean and was not injured. The jeans only need a sluice off in the sink and a quick run through the washing machine. Can we convert this mountain back into a molehill please? I have better things to do. At least that’s what I thought but did not say.

Mud, doncha just gotta love it?

Sheds

Apropos of nothing, sheds are something I’m heavily involved in dealing with right now. Fixing sheds, cleaning sheds, clearing sheds and preparing sheds.

I have four sheds. This is more than I’ve ever had to play with before, but this is a smallholding, so sheds are necessary. The last few days have been spent working away at getting our sheds ready for the next phase of our great experiment. While Mrs S fusses over fixtures and fittings for our new and refurbished bathrooms, I’ve got my overalls and boots on and am spending time humping, shifting and cleaning.

Shed one was cleared and tidied as much as practical, then the contents of shed two were moved across the yard and stacked as neatly as practical in as small a space as possible in shed one. Shed two is cleared of all the crap that was in it, swept and cleaned out and ready to store our furniture in for the duration of the building works.

The local spiders are furious at being evicted and are getting up a petition. In response I have sent Henry in to stem the protests.

Shed three has been cleared out and steam cleaned. It will also be my workplace while the builders do their thing over the next few months. It’s where all my clean timber and board is. Then when our worldly goods go back into the house around midsummer, I will start to strip out and replace all the shonky electrics, fix roofs, spray and dry line walls, replace the doors, re-screed the floors or perhaps put in recycled plastic decking material as a floor. It’s cheap, doesn’t rot, easy to work, so yes, why not?

Shed four, a mere lean to half-open to the elements, has been readied for when the tree surgeons arrive next week to mulch all of our cuttings and cut down two of our trees. The mulch will go into shed four, as will two eight foot long sections of trunk, which will be left to season over the next couple of years before being converted into board.

Shed two is the driest, so that will house our furniture while the house is having the new heating system (Underfloor heating, Yay! No more cold feet!) and internal wall insulation. Sheds one and three have enough room for all the old glazing units which will be used to build mini greenhouses later this year before peak nectar flow in midsummer. Shed three, which is a bit leaky, will gradually be refitted and upgraded as my workshop facilities mutate.

This is a process that will take two years in total, but at the end of that I will have a modest working kitchen garden, Apiary, wildflower meadow, honey processing facilities and a temperature controlled environment for test brewing and distilling. I’ve also got trees to plant in the next couple of months.

Don’t even get me started on the chickens. There’s a lot to be done.

The price of diesel has gone above two euros a litre. Well, pissing off the people you buy all your petrol and diesel from while at the same time as pointlessly virtue signalling over locally produced energy sources and shutting them down has been a feckin’ great policy now, hasn’t it?

Politicians cannot ‘save’ the planet. Contrariwise I would argue that the planet and humanity in general needs saving from the our current clique of politicians and activists. The only ‘crisis’ is the mess created by said politicians and activists.

Don’t know how we’re going to fix all the damage our political classes have wrought over the last couple of years. Or even if the societal and economic damage can be fixed. Hells bells, I often can’t make sense of all the ridiculous things they’ve done that have got us into this mess. These are matters I would rather not have to deal with. I’m too busy with life.

However, if you need me, you know where I’ll be. In my sheds.

Getting on

Busy in the shed over the last couple of days. We’ve been talking to the builders and have to start moving our kit into storage ready for having new heating, insulation and plumbing put in. Massive disruption of the household means we’re going to have to leave the house for up to six weeks starting in May. So. The shed has to be cleaned and prepared as a secure storage area for our worldly goods while we’re away.

Right. This means sweeping, steam cleaning, hive building and planting so that the decks are cleared for a few months ahead. Then after that there’s the chickens Mrs S will be taking care of, sheds and coops for me to build. I can’t let our chickens go totally free range as a quick examination of some of the local road kill tells me there’s wild Mink in the area, and they’re worse than foxes on chickens. Ah, the joys of country life!

Our closest neighbours know we’re Anglo-Canadian and have taken to being quite sympathetic toward us. “Jaysus that Canada’s in a sorry state.” Commented our postie. “You folks okay now?” To which we replied that we are fine, how’s yourself now and God bless, eh? “Terrible business over there. You got family there still?” Yes we have, but they’re battling on and as soon as the opportunity presents itself may well be bailing out of BC for less oppressive pastures.

Other word from Sister in law is that Western BC’s contribution to the war effort is to take all Russian Vodka off the shelves of liquor stores. Which is a bitter blow for those oppressed souls seeking much needed liquid relief from the nonsensical COVID regulations that will be in force for the next few weeks.

Speaking of which, the mask mandates over here lapsed Monday, and I spent a happy hour in and out of shops without a face covering, just because I could. There’s still too large a proportion of the perennially petrified wandering about still wearing useless surgical masks, but I just smile gently at them as I pass on by. Maybe that way I’ll even convince one or two to take the horrible things off. That’s working on the premise that you catch more wasps with honey than with vinegar.

And also because it’s been a really nice sunny day. Which makes a change. Manchester in the UK is reputed to always be rainy, but that’s not a patch on here in western Ireland. We get our weather fresh off the Atlantic. Which means it’s been howling around the eaves a bit over the last few nights making sleep difficult. However the forecast is for more placid breezes for the next forty eight hours so maybe I’ll catch up on the old Z’s then.

Other than that it’s been a good day. Plumber sorted. Electricity account sorted. Underfloor heating negotiated and going in during the warmer months. Waiting for the window guy to get in touch for a final measure up as our double glazing is in a parlous state. Which reminds me, in my eccentric roundabout way, of an old joke;

Percy the Penguin is driving his automatic (Penguins can’t drive manual gearbox cars- something to do with their big webbed feet) across Death Valley USA when his cars air conditioning goes on the fritz. Fortunately for Percy, he finds an Auto repair shop in the next desert town and puts his car in for repair.

While the mechanic searches for the cause of the malfunction, on this hot Death Valley day with temperatures in the mid forties Celsius, Percy, being an Antarctic species in need of a chill down, finds the local ice cream parlour. The ice cream is so good that he rather forgets himself and totally pigs out on Maple Syrup and Cookie Crunch flavours. As he is submerging his beak into the third helping, his phone goes. The auto shop has found the problem and want him to come over to discuss payment.

Rushing out of the ice cream parlour without bothering to wipe his sticky face and beak he finds the mechanic smiling. “Fixed it” Says the mechanic. “Forty bucks.”

“Gosh. That’s cheap.” Said Percy, handing over his credit card. (All Penguins have credit cards because they never handle cash – it’s the flippers.) The mechanic swipes the card and hands it back. “So what was wrong?” Said Percy, curiously.

“Well.” Says the mechanic. “Looks like you just blew a seal.”

“Oh.” Said Percy, catching a glimpse of his messy beak and face in his reflection and panicking because Penguins are very vain. Something to do with wearing the equivalent of formal attire all the time. “N-no, no really,” Stammers the flummoxed Penguin. “it’s just ice cream.”

I’m here all week.

Tooling up

Yesterday my new power saw and electric belt sander turned up. Spare saw blades for cutting everything from OSB to mild steel and concrete. Spare sanding belts, coarse and fine for speed and finishing. Yes they cost me a few extra pennies, but for the scope they give me in building things like chicken coops and beehives, far more useful.

Mrs S is overjoyed that our new washing machine arrives today. I know there’s something a bit nostalgic about sitting in launderettes or washing your smalls in cheap hotel rooms road warrior style, but seriously, I will be happy to have my important little places cosseted by properly laundered cloth once more. The bath and washbasins can be returned to their proper function.

We’re also looking at a replacement oven, as the old one is so clagged up it isn’t funny. I haven’t dared to use it as the innards have a definitely unhygienic look to them and I’m not sure if all the heating elements work either. Makes cooking a bit more complicated than need be, but we’ll cope. We always do. No one is going to starve.

New bed has arrived and is far more comfy than the monster Ikea thing we bought with us from Canada. The one we can’t get fitted sheets for unless we shell out for new sets from a company in upstate New York. You see, it’s an old US ‘King’ size, which is seventy eight inches by seventy six, whereas the European ‘Super king’ size, the biggest sold outside North America, is only seventy two inches by seventy six. Which even Ikea have shrunk down to, hey they’re a Swedish company so of course it made sense to rationalise. So the new bed is a ‘super king’ for which we hope to obtain new sheets this week up at one of the ‘big box’ stores.

So, what’s happening back in the old country (Canada). Well the video clip from Indian news outlet WION (Via Tony Heller) asks the burning question; Where’s Trudeau?

Ignore the pro-vaccine sentiment in the middle, but they do have a right go at the substitute drama teachers disappearance the moment a proper domestic crisis arises. I’m sure the two faced little eejit won’t resign and force a General Election, the Liberals would get trashed.

Good to see elsewhere that these vaccine mandates are being dropped. They weren’t going to do anything anyway, given the efficacy of the mRNA ‘vaccines’ on offer. I think the problem is that even a relatively small mutation of the virus renders these treatments effectively useless, and besides, viruses mutate, it’s part of what they do. Which, in the rush to find a definitive answer, a lot of supposedly very clever people seem to have forgotten.

Unacceptable views eh?

Well, well bless my raddled old soul. We’re making progress at our new domicile, despite having ‘unacceptable views’. This is a thought that came to me whilst head down in the guts of our venerable Bosch dishwasher yesterday morning.

Unacceptable to whom exactly? So-called ‘progressives’, whose doctrine has all the hallmarks of Fascism? Everything within the state, nothing outside the state. This is especially true of my erstwhile domicile in Canada, with it’s bought and paid for media.

Not going to work. No matter how well intentioned, big state solutions like the ones the various Governments, Federal and Provincial are forcing on everyone, do far too much top-down one-size-fits-all than I’m comfortable with. People aren’t all the same and what’s right for me probably wouldn’t be right for one of my neighbours. Mainly because we run differing businesses. Best if ‘the state’ just butts out and lets us get on with living.

Apparently though, if you state the bleedin’ obvious you are “On the wrong side of history” or have “Unacceptable views.” Which is nothing more than empty childish rhetoric from mainstream politicians and their camp followers. Trudeau you cowardly little toe-rag, we’re talking about you. Watch out for them ten fifty (?) thousand truckers, sonny.

For example; vaccine mandates, the compulsion to take a ‘vaccine’ (Did you know the classical definition of what constitutes a vaccine had to be changed to accommodate these mRNA treatments?) under ‘Emergency Use Only’ license. That is a power that should only be used on diseases that pose a greater risk than the downsides and for vaccines that are proven as better than naturally obtained immunity. Like the Smallpox or Polio jabs.

Now I like vaccines. Proven, properly tested vaccines, from Jenner onwards. A proper vaccine (I include MMR and HPV vaccines in this category) has a better then 90% efficacy rate, and taking it should be a no-brainer. No compulsion should be necessary. Just simple factual data. Those who don’t pose no risk to those who have, unless the ‘vaccine’ isn’t worth the candle, as our very own ‘North’ has found out recently. By the way, she’s all fine now, just waiting on another negative ‘test’. Such are the rules people are forced to live under.

But no. According to some know-nothing politicians, everyone has to have an Emergency Use Only treatment (and continual top ups-which is a first for any vaccine, ever) with added side effects, and you’re a filthy ‘denier’ if you don’t. Yeah, right. Trudeau can stay in hiding for all I care. For all the rest of Canada cares. For all the rest of the world cares.

The dishwasher, I am happy to report, has responded to my ministrations well and is now functioning. At least something is working properly. Although maybe democracy might start to function properly again and all this ‘woke’ stuff can be consigned to the garbage can of history. Along with globalists like Trudeau.

Which is all beside the point. I have a number of fruit trees to radically prune this week. They’re in a bit of a sorry state, all straggly and lichen encrusted, so they need cutting right back. Then there’s Willows to plant and a stand of Birch, with a few beech and windbreaks to build before the Hives arrive in late March. Wonder if producing your own fruit and veg is ‘unacceptable’ too?

Day out

Right. Went off out to BigTown and the box stores Friday to pick up some tools for some heavy duty pruning. Just a set of loppers, a bowsaw and some spare blades. I could have used my bolt cutters, but that’s reserved for steel. Could have bought a chainsaw, but honestly I’d never use it enough to warrant the expense.

News from jolly old Londinium is that ‘North’ has contracted the dreaded lurgi. Despite being all jabbed and boostered poor lamb. She’s feeling a bit tired and has a productive cough by the sound of it, but I think she’ll be all fine and her usual bouncy self by the end of Sunday.

We’re looking at the end of mandates and restrictions by the end of February, and the backtracking from some media outlets has had a kind of Paggliacci-like air to it. Their clownish tears and pleas for forgiveness after all the divisive rhetoric they spewed is rather pathetic. Others still are doubling down on the scaremongering.

Frankly I’m inclined to forgive all things considered, but considering that they have tainted their brand over the last two years over COVID, feel that I cannot trust these outlets even if they said the sky was blue on a clear sunny day.

None of the real life data supports the scaremongers arguments. The death rate for COVID alone is barely above seasonal norms. The much vaunted mRNA vaccines don’t stop spread, they barely mitigate symptoms. The ‘booster’ is about as much use as a chocolate teapot. The masks don’t stop the spread and may even act as ‘catchers’ when viral microdroplets land on the fibrous outside and are then inhaled through the mesh by the next breath.

No one has ever, at least to my knowledge, done any tests on this, just to see if a surgical mask, which has become the choix de jour of the terminally terrified, does this. Shouldn’t be hard to confirm or falsify the hypothesis. a sealable chamber and mechanical breathing dummy with a surgical mask on it’s face, a microdroplet generator and some UV dye, set it running for two or three minutes, then shut down, take the mask off the dummy and measure how much dye got into the dummies artificial trachea. Then do exactly the same test without a mask at all with mouth sealed and nostrils open and vice versa to simulate mouth and nasal breathing. Run same test several times for consistency. Contrast, compare and we’d all know for certain. Repeat for differing droplet sizes. This is science at it’s simplest. Not modelling, but real world testing.

The point is that surgical masks are anti-bacterial, not antiviral. The only thing that will stop viral spread dead in it’s tracks, as I have pointed out with dull regularity, is a face covering hood, sealed properly at the neck with it’s own activated charcoal filtered air supply, like for an NBC or proper Hazmat suit. Even N95 masks aren’t ideal. If not properly worn, they are worse than no mask at all.

As previously stated we should be rid of the wretched things over here by the end of February anyway, so I suppose it’s all rather academic. However, the more I look at the real data, the more I am convinced that masks and lockdowns haven’t just not worked, they’ve actually made the pandemic worse. No matter what the mainstream media say. Most of their ‘journalists’ have no scientific training at all and simply parrot what they are told. The lack of critical thinking on the part of far too many has been somewhat depressing.

Notwithstanding. Bowsaw and pruning gear have been purchased and put to good use on several of our multiple trees, there’s an ancient dysfunctional dishwasher to fix and we’re awaiting builder’s and plumbers quotes with bated wallets.

While we’re waiting we’re cutting back some of the overgrowth around the place, and even Mrs S is pitching in vigorously, enjoying herself immensely, ripping down ivy from overgrown walls. Overall we’re both sleeping better and feeling healthier than for a long time. Which just goes to show, fresh air, good food and moderate exercise are good for you.

Draining away…

Today we’ve had the cleaning of drains, finding out where septic tanks are hidden and built a new garden compost bin. So I’m slightly mucky at the moment, but curiously happy to have done things without having to pay, or wait ages for someone else to do it.

Yes it’s hard work at times, but I don’t mind that, especially as I am motivated to get stuff done. We only moved in just over two weeks ago and we’ve gutted most of the old built in wardrobes, stripped out all the fly and wasp infested spaces, evicted the spiders, fixed and painted walls, organised the trades and warmed this old place up with the help of a propane heater running all night upstairs. Which after the insulators do their stuff tomorrow will no longer be necessary.

One other thing; I’m sleeping better. Despite all the worries about chasing about after getting building works sorted and wondering what to do about our nightmare wiring and eccentric plumbing. For the first time in years once my head hits the pillow I’m out cold for a solid straight seven to nine hours. When awake I’m feeling more relaxed and less likely to strop the razor of my wit, such as it is. It is a novel feeling.

Work is getting done on time, and we were supposed to be getting a brand new sparkly washing machine today. Which for some reason known only to the suppliers, turned into a tumble dryer at delivery. We’d ordered both tumble dryer and washing machine two weeks ago, but had been told the tumble dryer was ‘out of stock’ and we would be informed when it was coming. So it came as a bit of a surprise when what was ‘out of stock’ turned up first.

Which means we’re still washing our smalls in basins for another few days, but at least we can get them dried properly now. No more festooning our damp clothing over the radiators to get them fresh or having to track thirty kilometres to the nearest launderette. Almost.

Which was one of the reasons I was out in the chill unblocking drains this morning. Now I’m damp to the knees, sitting at my keyboard and not giving a bugger about the outside world. War in Ukraine? Pah! Putin’s too clever, he’s a chess player with an eye for the long game. I think in his own subtle Russian way he’s messing with the Biden Administration, performing a little misdirection while he does something else crafty behind their backs. Getting a some payback for the Ukrainians skimming GazProm revenues. Ensuring they can’t do it again. Maybe trying to take advantage of the Turks current economic misfortunes to strike a clandestine deal.

If I am wrong and there is a shooting war, which no-one in their right mind, including the Russians, want, at least we’re in a neutral country and can watch the mushroom clouds from a relatively safe distance. Which reminds me, must pick up seeds and bulbs from wholesalers tomorrow while Mrs S supervises the builders.

Busy, busy….

Settling in

Boxes are unpacked, furniture arranged, at least for the interim. Builders engaged, electrician booked, plumber sorted. Oh yes, and the Tree surgeon has been engaged to remove a couple of old Ash trees that have what is called ‘Ash dieback

In addition I’ve got to get my head around things like water softener maintenance, insulation grants and Irish agricultural regulations. It’s a bit of a steep learning curve. Then there’s also some patching, making do and mend, and removing several 1980’s vintage built in wardrobes have to be removed. The local spiders have formed a protest movement because I keep on removing their hiding places, but my mate Henry deals with them, and they don’t like that because he really sucks.

Today we’re taking the day off, having disposed of three of our built in wardrobes with all their historic leftovers, like someone’s stash of Irish Porn;

We’ve been lucky in that it’s been a mild week and our new homes lack of insulation hasn’t left us with icicles dangling from every exposed appendage. Fortunately the loft insulation goes in next week which should keep the old place a bit warmer. I’ve only got two more built in wardrobes to remove, all sorts of kit will be flying in and out of the door including a washing machine. Which mean no more trips out just to get our smalls done.

The oven is a mess and has to go to the scrap yard, I’ve managed to clean out the dishwasher and we have a propane heater on low upstairs to drive some of the damp out. Seems to be working.

Then there’s the heating, which is an old (and rather noisy and smelly) kerosene fired system. That has to go. It isn’t that it doesn’t work, it just burns through fuel at a frightening rate and will be replaced by a more modern and economical LNG fuelled heating system sometime this spring. LNG prices tend to be more stable, so at least we won’t find ourselves coughing up half as much again some months for five hundred litres.

We hear that all the restrictions are going to be dropped this side of the Irish Sea. No more “Show us yer papers”, every time you want to enter a restaurant, but oddly enough the wearing of masks will persist, which makes shopping a somewhat bizarre experience. Mrs S and I have a standing pre-mask up joke; “Disguises on Mugsy. I’ll get the stuff, you get the cashier.” Well, it amuses us.

Why keep the masks though? They only encourage mouth breathing which bypasses the immune systems primary gateway, the nose. These rules really are nonsensical. At least from a physiological point of view.

We are evolved primarily to breathe in through our noses, which have all sorts of structures inside to catch and deal with all sorts of lurgi before said pathogens get anywhere near our important little places. Those structures in the diagram are loaded with your immune systems heavy mob, who act as doormen, controlling access to the party town of your bodily particles. Breathing through the mouth bypasses this primary line of defence and lets whatever slips through those pointlessly wide mesh paper filters straight into the more lightly defended mucosa of your mouth and bronchus. Which is what you really don’t want to happen.

I’ve said it before and will repeat myself ad nauseum. Masks and lockdowns have extended the pandemic. Outside of a clinical setting, surgical masks are effectively useless. Lockdowns only serve to keep the infected and non-infected closeted more closely together, thus spreading the disease more effectively. Which has been amply demonstrated over the last twenty months.

Not that I’m bothered. There’s too much to do in our new place. We’re just carrying on like nothing else is happening. The apocalypse will have to wait – we’re busy.