So on the way back from holiday and staying with relatives for a night in Brittany. We ordered a properly indulgent Wagyu entrecôte. Was very tasty and the meat just melted in your mouth. But the price did make me think I prefer a tougher and tastier cut.
So My Facebook Account Was Suspended Yesterday as It Did Not Follow “Community Standards”. I’m guessing it’s because I put a guillotine as my profile photo and made a number of anti royalty posts over the coronation (all quite mild!).
I’ve had this account since 2006ish but I do not think I will miss it. Saying that though it is inconvenient:
– I used to sell bits and bobs using Facebook Marketplace. It far easier to sell something locally than other sites.
– I was the sole admin of a Facebook Page for my job. That page is likely now orphaned and will never be updated again.
– I ran a few FaceBook ads for that company too.
– I created and was admin for my village’s Facebook group. That is the one I will miss the most. I posted the village newsletter and many other village events (including the church even though I am an atheist!)*. There is one other admin so the few hundred users will still get some use out of it.
– I setup a Facebook page for a [local campaign](https://savehoneyhill.org) to prevent a sewage works being relocated to greenbelt just outside the village.
All those are now gone.
I do have a Quest II headset. However, Meta did split off that into a separate account some months back. I guess it’s still working OK.
Still all in all Facebook is not a force for good.
Despite my misgivings I’m still on [Twitter](https://twitter.com/fergycool), but [Mastodon](https://mastodon.social/@fergycool) is where I will publish stuff.
*I did help setup the streaming of the Coronation in the church, thus showing I’m a multi layered hypocrite.
We’ve got plumbers in today replacing a few items that have broken in the 15 years since we fitted them. Before we moved into this house we had about 11 months of renovation to turn a flimsy house with no insulation, minimal plumbing and wired with appallingly dangerous wiring (rubber coated cables where the insulation had disintegrated), into something that could be lived in.
I could rant about how the plumbers back then made absolutely no thought as to future maintenance, but I will not. However, in looking for how the shower was fitted (so it can be replaced) I came across this photo before the bathroom even existed.
In this photo the flat roof of the utility room below has been removed and replaced by joists to provide a floor. The door opening was previously a window at the top of the stairs. The shower was fitted between the two studs you see to the left and in front of the white door.
Here’s how it looks now from the exterior (the window you see is about where I was stood when I took the above photo 14 years ago.
Our garden was well planned by the previous owners. They bought the house in 1933 and spent their lives planning the garden. No lawn, but vegetable patches in the middle and flowers around the borders. We have left the garden much wilder. The vegetables patches were replaced by grass (although we reverted part of that to vegetables patches during the first lockdown). The borders are still full of flowers. All planned so that the last weeks of Winter and Spring are full of flowers, snowdrops, aconites, crocuses, daffodils, then tulips, crown imperials, irises and plenty more. Here’s the first batch:
(The first daffodils photo is from elsewhere in the village, but it’s a lovely photo!).
So I say goodbye to my Lowa walking boots this morning. I’ve had these many years and they have really stood up to abuse. The left boot developed a leak in the heel that stopped them being used too seriously. But there again since my daughter was born serious hikes have been rare. Still I kept them as they feel like trainers but are very firm. Also the hinged ankle protector makes it impossible to twist your ankles regardless of the angle you put your foot down.
But in clearing out the “solar thermal” cupboard I realised the material in the sole had rotted way. unrepairable so into the bin they go.
So the plans for the start of half term were well and truly skewered by covid finally catching up with me! it was quite mild apart from two sleepless nights, but no venturing anywhere until those parallels lines became singular.
We had our first outdoor dining experience of 2023. Naan breads and sausages cooked over a fire.
To round off the week we stayed overnight in an Airbnb in the middle of a wood. Really lovely new wood cabin in the grounds of Houghton Hall.
The surrounding woods were lovely. Within the space of a twenty minute dusk walk we were circled by a barn owl hunting, watched by a single deer, and saw the hind legs of two hares as they scarpered.
The next day I had the nicest bacon and egg sandwich I’d have for many years then a lovely walk the next day on the beach at Holme Near Sands rounded off our 24 hr trip to Norfolk. Our tradition of always calling at Brancaster Staith for some dressed crab was spoilt somewhat as the van was not there. But it was saved by a roadside place selling fresh mussels. So our dinner on our return was moules marinere. Yummy!
It’s school half term, so whereas it’s still pretty damp outside, it’s a good time to cook sausages and naan bread on a campfire outside.
I’ve learnt from previous years and rather than having to turn a naan regularly so it does not flow through the grill bars, I used a baking tray over the fires instead. It still needed turning quickly to avoid burning, but they baked nicely and were the yummiest I’ve done yet!
The grill is made from the steel bars of an old scrap iron bed frame at the right width to slide a grill from an oven. Fit’s nicely across the fire pit.
One of my lockdown projects was cleaning up an old range we found in the house. This blog post has been in Drafts ever since.
When we bought the house about 16 years ago. We bought it from an old couple who had moved into a home (we never met them). They had bought the cottage in 1933 and lived there ever since. They were 102 and 98 yrs old.
When they bought the cottage they renovated it. Removing the thatch and adding an extra floor.
We knew it was an old cottage, however, we assumed (and the survey suggested this too) that all the old features had been “modernised” and removed.
Here’s how the cottage looked originally (around the 1890s).
Shortly after the “modernisation” in the 1960s (photo taken 1970).
Here’s how it looked when we purchased it 18 years or so ago.
..and here’s how it looks now. Photo just taken after I’d spent three months putting eight coats of limewash on the lime render.
But when we started renovating the cottage we found lots of old original features that had had just been covered up. Two lovely features that we discovered are an inglenook fireplace and our little coal burning range in the kitchen. Both were completely hidden before we purchased and it was only when we started ripping down fibreboard covered walls that we discovered both.
Just after I’d started ripping of the fibreboard around the tiled fireplace, and I discovered the oak bressumer and the inglenook fireplace.
The kitchen looked like this when we bought it:
(The water tank is where that little range is now)
When I removed the water tank and associated crap. I found an old range. Seemingly destroyed with all the doors missing.
But when I cleared all the rubble away I found all the missing bits.
A crappy brick wall was removed, cement render removed and repointed in lime and sand.
I put a wine rack on top of it, meaning to go back and clean it up. I’ve only just done so.
Incidentally the 85 year old son of the owners visited here 8 years ago. He grew up in this house and he has never seen that range.
There is still burnt coal in the range, but the chimney above is missing. It looks to have been torn down when they reroofed it many years ago.
So a quick review of 2022. Not done one for at least a decade.
I started writing this during Christmas, then a few updates. I wanted to add links and photos. But hey, it’s now February and I have not. I should learn from this. I either blog lightly, or not at all!
So I got more and more into regularly gaming. From starting again after not playing anything since Quake (the first), during the pandemic, to this year regularly playing games, and even treating myself to a Steam Deck (which is wonderful). Witcher II, Fallout 4, Elite Dangerous, God of War, and of course Minecraft with my daughter. I’ve got her into gaming as well. Starting the year with games that she’d played on Apple Arcade, Sneaky Sasquatch, then moving onto Minecraft with me (and others), then onto the Steam Deck. She loves Alba, Sonic, Stray and Slime Rancher. Other games she’s tried but failed to get into are Planet Zoo (which her cousin plays),
Apart from a new GPU (see above for the reasons, AMD RX 6600XT) and Steam Deck (also see above), then I’ve not done hardly anything. no RPI’s Arduino’s or anything properly geeky. However, we did upgrade to Gigabit FTTP which is very, very cool. I also switched my office switch from a dumb Netgear 16 port GS116 to a Netgear GS724t. Old tech, but quite reliable (and at £20 on Facebook quite affordable!). This is linked with two aggregated links between the house switch. Same router but an earlier hardware version.
I did switch most “home services, TVHeadend, Minecraft server, Motion cameras and a few other trivial things to Docker. I also moved these from my Gentoo workstation to a new headless Debian box made from bits and pieces I had lying around (well I did upgrade RAM and CPU from eBay!). I guess on that topic I also finally switched from Mythtv to TVHeadend, when I added a second satellite dish as I found that all French TV services are broadcast unencrypted on multistream feeds from the 5W satellite. I also switched from a pair of TBS tuner cards to using a completely separate Digitbit R1. That broadcasts the four tuners as DVB>IP, which means TVHeadend can use those as tuners over the LAN. TvHeadend also acts as a recorder. TVHeadend just does not have the legacy baggage that Mythtv does. Much less functionality, but much simpler to configure (no need for a Mysql db to store settings and recordings, just a fairly simple HTTPS interface).
The Digitbit’s firmware is quite ancient. but it is trivial to boot for a new firmware via a USB stick (without having to flash the onboard storage) and there are a quite a few forks of that older firmware that support Multistream.
Clients are a number of RPI’s (running OSMC) and a dedicated client from OSMC called Vero 4k. Which is a lovely bit of kit
I also got a Quest Pro II. Facebook blah blah but it’s cheap and standalone. I’m not easily impressed but some of the apps are pretty wonderful. Downside is that our house is quote small and we have so few spaces to walk around in VR! I could use the garden, but then I would look a bit of a tool! Resident Evil 4 in VR is bloody scary, but I’ve yet to acquire my VR legs and can only play for 20 minutes before nausea takes over.
I carried on with the outdoor kitchen and added walls (using rural style corrugated sheets) plus completely weather proof kitchen cabinets (using treated wood and marine ply. All exposed cut edges were soaked in epoxy, and topped with quarry tiles. I need to do the other side. but perhaps when it’s warmer.
In sadder news our dog died. Zorro, our ten year old black lab, started wheezing and it turned out he had a mouth melanoma that was affecting his breathing. Treatment was possible but would have meant removing most of his jaw and chemo for months. Nothing you could put a dog through. Sadly he was put to sleep in the boot of a friend’s car and died in my arms.
I had a pretty bad year for growing stuff. Potatoes, cabbages (in poly tunnel), strawberries and tomatoes (grow bags on the balcony) were great. But everything else did badly I can only blame my laziness in watering during the heatwave. Even our courgettes failed! Better luck next year.
Finally managed to get camping, both for a fortnight in France (super warm), and also at Bluedot festival (brilliant music, shitty weather! Again see below).
I also upgraded our camp kitchen, with a brilliant foldaway kitchen, and a camping stove (Cadac) that has double burners, two griddles, and connects to a gas unit that uses three cheap, ubiquitously available, aerosols gas canisters. It provides a regulator for them too. I’ve always thought they are a little on the dangerous side. But with this bit of kit it makes them very usable and very safe.
We also had a good year for boating. The boat needs a LOT of work doing still. But we had a good few outings including one with the village.
Our own health is decent. LN had Covid over NY (which made that quieter). I’ve still not had it (that I am aware of).
The world continued to become a scarier place. Both nationally and internationally. What is happening in Ukraine is beyond horrendous. However, I decided that ranting at the news is pointless. Whereas I’ll never forgive any unrepentant Leave voters, I guess I’m used to it. Still I had a good day out on the Rejoin March back in August.
It was a good year for live music. Made the Bluedot festival, which had too many decent bands to list (although Yard Act are brilliant!). saw Billy Nomates, Fontaines DC, Scalpings and Working Mens club.
I properly made the move to Mastodon. Twitter was only ever a pleasant social media community in the early years. For some time it’s been both essential to keep up to date with local and national news, but also very unpleasant to be in. Mastodon is some time away from replacing that function, but by being a pleasant place to be in, it works for me. I think Elon Musk has done us all a favour. Back when I joined Twitter (2006) I thought it was a bad move to put all our communication eggs in one company’s basket, but in those early years it seemed to work and before long everybody and their rabbits had an account.
Finally I decided I need to stop doing as much “community stuff” as I have been doing. As well as the village newsletter which I have done for over ten years, I am also a school parent governor and part of a local campaign to prevent a sewage works being built on Greenbelt just outside the village. I find myself spending a hell of a lot of time, but both those latter two tasks have a lot of frustration. One for an incredible lack of communication and the other for manipulative people that are quite incompetent too. If either were paying jobs I’d have left both a while ago.
What a wonderfully frosty and misty day today. However, the appearance of the sun, as it tried to burn it’s way through the mist, made a noticeable difference to the weather in the hour long walk. The ground was frozen solid on the walk out, but was muddy on the way back. I think we have seen the last of the cold weather in Cambridge.
On the way back..!
..and the ice on the shallow ponds were thick enough to walk on. Just look at those bubbles frozen in the ice.