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Ten men went to mow

This week: Ten men went to mow; D-Day remembered; Holes in the wall;

A June storm
A June storm

All building work stopped on 1st April this year, so that tourists have the best possible experience of the Island.

So as I write this on Saturday afternoon, the only sound drifting through my open windows is bird song. A light wind is rustling leaves in the nearby Pomegranate, but even the dogs are sleeping in the mid afternoon heat.

The temperature is 30ºC at 15:45, so summer has arrived.

Not real summer though, because I can still work outside until 11:30. Usually by nine or ten in the morning it is just too hot to be comfortable. But it will be like that before too long.

I was cleaning some rust off steel bases, while the sun shone. The heat allowed me to give the steelwork three coats of Rust-Oleum in a day.

Steel after treatment with  Rust-Oleum
Steel after treatment with Rust-Oleum

Even so, there is a lot of work involved in removing all the rust before treating the metal to prevent a reoccurrence.

Rust removal in progress
Rust removal in progress

For the first time this summer, the temperature safety valve on my solar water tank has been lifting.

There was a significant build-up of calcium, from our rock hard water. After removing the safety vale to dissolve the build-up, I think I need to get a spare.

Solar tank safety valve
Solar tank safety valve after cleaning

Just another job for next week!

Ten men went to mow

I have been sharing work between inside and and outside jobs this week.

On the one hand, the wet and relatively cool year to date has benefited some of my plants and shrubs.

My English Buddleja davidii has never been as happy nor has it had so many large and deeply coloured flower spikes.

Buddleja davidii flower spikes
Buddleja davidii flower spikes

What I also notice is that for the first time ever, it is covered in butterflies. I have remarked in previous years that butterflies have tended to avoid it.

What I now suspect is that in “normal” years, the flowers have little nectar, so they do not attract butterflies. The wet and cooler weather we have enjoyed mimics the northern European weather and it is enjoying it!

Buddleja davidii
Buddleja davidii

Unfortunately, so are the weeds.

In the orchards, the grasses, thistles and other weeds continue to grow

I have a petrol strimmer, but apart from the noise and pollution, to be safe I always wear full PPE when I use it. It has been just too warm for full PPE this week.

In my arsenal of garden tools, I also have a traditional scythe.

Old fashioned grass cutter
Old fashioned grass cutter

This kind of hand grass and crop cutter has been around for millennia and I have found a couple of hand made wooden ones in my various Konobas.

You can still buy the blades here at the builders merchants, so clearly I am not alone in having one.

The only PPE required is some gloves. After sharpening the blade with a stone, I set too in the east orchard.

As I swung the scythe (good aerobic exercise) and cut the weeds and grasses down, I was reminded of the 17th century nursery rhyme, 10 men went to mow, went to mow a meadow…. It is a good working song too.

Ten men would have got rid of all my weeds and grasses in no time.

D-Day remembered

I edit a quarterly police history magazine, which is circulated to more than 700 people around the world. Usually there is not a single comment from any of the subscribers!

Quite a lot of my time is spent in researching different aspects of history.

It has never been easier to carry out research because of the records which are now online. However there are still many records which are unavailable.

This week we remember the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings on the coast of Normandy, when thousands of Allied servicemen were involved in beginning the defeat of the Axis powers.

Twelve police officers were killed on the 6th June 1944, on or near the various beaches.

The official day when servicemen and women are remembered varies from country to country, but on occasions like these the police remember their own, as do most organisations.

Hanging at the back of the № 2 Magistrates Court in York is the memorial to the York City Police officers killed during WWII. Among the names is PC 80 John Cappleman.

York City Police War Memorial
York City Police War Memorial

He had volunteered from the police for the Royal Marine Commandos, and was in one of the four infantry landing craft that were sent to Juno beach, to secure the beach for the Canadian forces to land on.

Little more than that is known about John, because the York City records have been lost.

I often use Facebook Groups to help with research, and also to post stories, so on Wednesday morning, at 07:50, the exact time the LCi’s arrived, I posted John’s story on a York residents group.

The message was seen by John’s grand children, whom I did not know about and I received this lovely message in response.

Thank you note
Thank you note

Sometimes, a simple message like this one makes all the work and research worthwhile.

Holes in the wall

When I’ve not been doing anything else, I have continued work in the Konoba.

This week it has been all about book shelves.

I have to say that at this point in the week I feel somewhat despondent.

The stonework is completely random. In some places stones are packed close together, in others there are big mortar gaps between them.

I was drilling two stones in one place to fit the shelf support bracket, when a piece of stone broke off.

The stones are mostly Limestone. I start with a 4mm drill bit in a slow drill, to make the impression where the hole is to go.

This prevents a larger drill bit from jumping on the stone. I then use a 6mm SDS bit in a hammer drill to make a 40 or 50mm deep hole.

As I was finishing one hole, a big piece of stone broke away.

I had seen a slight crack, but thought no more about it, as I slowly drilled into the stone.

What is visible are the black scorch marks, the result of the building being set fire to in January 1943. There must have been some significant temperatures in the fire, to cause so much damage to the stones inside the wall.

Scorch marks inside the Limestone
Scorch marks inside the Limestone above the new hole

All the walls were sand blasted to remove the external marks.

I persevered and installed wall plugs, then fitted the shelf mounting frame.

Shelf mount installed
Shelf mount installed

This is another case of “it fits where it touches”.

Next I slid the shelf onto the mount.

The shelf installed
The shelf installed

On Saturday afternoon, as I put some books onto the shelf, the weight pulled both wall plugs out of the wall.

I caught the shelf, so it didn’t come completely off the mount, but it was close.

This left me feeling despondent. I spent a lot of time and took care selecting where the the mount would go, drilling the holes and fitting the mount.

I’m going to have to think of another way to drill the walls and mount things before I do any more. I have several more shelves I would like to install…. NCG