Friday, 29 March 2019

Five Abroad


Thanks for popping in.

It's been a busy week, so much to see and do resulting in an enormous 120,000 steps, about 40 miles!  Here's my five sneak peeks.

1. The Canal outside London's Paddington Station complete with floral barges.  Last time I was here, the buildings were no way near finished.

2. Beautiful cherry trees in blossom outside the Google offices in Kings Cross.  This area has really changed over the last few years.

3.  Irresistible Belgian chocolates.

4.  A glorious stained glass Cathedral window.

5.  The Magritte Museum.

Over the next few weeks we'll have a look at some of the wonderful places we've been to.

Have a great weekend.


Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Household Gadgets


Thanks for popping in.

I'm handing over the blog today to Mr CK who has been busy making a few homemade, useful and interesting gadgets that we have about the house.   Over to you Mr CK!

They are based upon the not so famous (outside of techie circles, that is)  Arduino Nano micro controller and the very famous RaspberryPi micro computer.

1. This is the Arduino Nano HIIT exercise timer. It guides us through the HIIT as described by the BBC television programme 'The Truth About ... Getting Fit'

No need to watch the clock, this unit prompts with audio beeps to countdown the start of an exercise and then beeps again at the end of the allotted time. The exercise name is displayed along with a countdown in seconds to the end of the exercise.

This picture shows the a resting period, 13 seconds so far. A single button press advances to the next stage of the HIIT, which as comprises of JOG, STAR JUMPS; SQUATS; RUN ON THE SPOT; SQUATS AGAIN; STAR JUMPS AGAIN; the end phew!

2. The same hardware used for the HIIT timer also functions as a freezer temperature monitor and alarm. By the wonders of software the behaviour of the unit is changed by simple reprogramming and the connection of a temperature sensor. This was needed one Christmas when doubts arose over a new freezer bought for the occasion. As it turned out the freezer did need to be re-gassed and that was only spotted in time by the monitor. NOTE the thin wiring allows the freezer door to be closed on the sensor cable without damage.

Since the original design, some improvements have been added to raise an alarm if the freezer temperature becomes too high. Above -4°C an annoying continuous  tone is sounded, between -10°C and -4°C, an intermittent tone is produced. Hopefully, if a problem should arise, we will have ample warning and can make sure we keep the door closed to keep the food frozen before getting the freezer fixed. The display in the picture shows -7.4°C. This is higher than the normally expected -15°C as the sensor had been quickly popped inside the freezer for the photo.

3. This is an automatic lighting controller which switches room lights on and off according to a stored schedule. It uses an Infrared beam to flood the room so that any IR sensitive light bulbs will receive the commands that it sends, just like a TV remote. The sweetie tin serves to enclose the low powered electronics as a fire precaution. NOTE: Other types of chocolate confectionery tins are available!

4.  The inside view of the light controller shows yet another Arduino Nano micro controller, plus an accurate battery backed clock calendar (the vertical bit on the right hand side). The enthusiasts amongst you will no doubt have spotted the four mains relays and terminal blocks. The use of infrared is just one option, this unit can also switch four power circuits, but not in this application. Before the days of IR sensitive light bulbs, the lighting controller needed to be wired into the room light switch (UK mains voltage of 240v rms) which might be considered a bit dangerous. Goodness knows what our domestic insurance company would think of that sort of behaviour today!

5.  Here is the type of light bulb which is used with our lighting controller. They cost a bit more than the old fashioned light bulbs, but not as much as the modern new fangled wireless network types.  These light bulbs are LED, so that for a very economic 10 W there is a good light output. A small remote controller is supplied with the bulb and several colours can be displayed (as per the button colours on the remote controller).

6.  The only RaspberryPI project featured here today is our spare room TV media player. The Raspberry PI is a very small computer with similar functionality to a domestic PC, but not as fast or with any screen or discs attached (unless you add them yourself).  In this application the RaspberryPI is used simply as an inexpensive computer. It is has a keyboard and mouse plugged in and connects to our house network and uses the TV as its screen. 

Normally the compact RaspberryPI is pushed back and is partially obscured by the TV, it is located in the domestic part of the house after all! With this set up, we can view all of our old videos of the children growing up and any available digital media. There is also a collection of game software in the RaspberryPI operating software, but we don't use that.

Well, that's great Mr CK, thanks for sharing all your exciting projects.


Monday, 25 March 2019

Spring at West Green Gardens


Thanks for popping in.

Hurray! West Green Gardens is back open again after being closed over the Winter.  The garden is beautifully kept and at this time of the year, it's all about the Spring bulbs.  Let's have a look.

The walled garden is full of shoots and the promise of beauty later on but around the pond, the grass is full of daffodils, fritillaries and hyacinths. 

In a couple of weeks, there will be loads of tulips.

You can't really see the beautiful blossom in the Dragon Garden in the photo below.

Over the fence the cows stretch their legs.

If you'd like to see more of the garden at different times of the year, just click on the West Green label above.

Although the garden is a private enterprise, National Trust members can enter for free and there is a charming café to enjoy a cup of tea.  Here's a link to their website.


Friday, 22 March 2019

Spring Five


Thanks for popping in.

No doubt about it, it's Spring!  In this country, anyway.  What's been happening in your neck of the woods?  Here's my five for this week.

1.  Seeds -  the vegetable seeds are well on the way to making a great salad.  Chillies, beans, tomatoes and potatoes are all getting stronger waiting for warmer days.

2. Outdoor plants - happily flowering, every day something  else opens up.

3.  Thanks - the blanket below was handed over to its new owner and I was chuffed to bits when they said they loved it and that it had taken their breath away.  Wasn't that kind.

4. 1970's photos - following my visit to see some homemade 1960's garments the other day, I had a good rummage through the photo albums to find some of the things I'd made years ago.  The first thing I discovered were that there weren't many photos and those there were, were a bit blurry.

The outfit in the black and white photo was made from brightly coloured needlecord in a sort of crazy paisley pattern!  Oh dear, what was I thinking!

5.  Blanket -  the number of squares are increasing!

Have a great weekend!


Thursday, 21 March 2019

Sewing in the Swinging Sixties


Thanks for calling in.

I've been up in the loft, rummaging in the boxes, Sindy has to be there somewhere!  My search has been spurred on by my visit to the Library to see a display of homemade clothes from the 1960's.  It took me right back!

Along with a smocked pinafore made during school lessons (I made one just the same!), there were dresses and shirts made in those new fangled materials of the day, Bri-nylon and Crimplene and even a paper dress with the latest designs printed on.

There wasn't a lot of choice for teenagers in the shops in the 60's, so home sewing was very popular.  Some material could be bought at the market in the morning, the pattern cut out and a dress run up ready for the dance that same evening.  Some  would make a new dress full of individuality every week!  Mini skirts got shorter and shorter, maxi dresses longer, uncomplicated shift dresses were very popular.  Even Sindy wore the latest fashion and some of her clothes were homemade too.

I had to send off for a new head for my Sindy when something happened to the old one.  Her hair was never quite the same.

She was quite a busy bee, off swimming and skating, wearing her jeans or her cloak, something for every occasion!

She's expecting rain today, all dolled up in her black vinyl coat and matching scarf.

What a fun trip down memory lane.  I used to make my clothes too and must have a look in the old photo albums to see if I can find some pictures of the jazzy 70's material and designs.


Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Tuesday Walk Continued


Thanks for popping in.

The tea's been drunk, our legs rested, it's time to carry on our walk and see what we can find.

The playground in the park is quiet, there's nobody around.  The tree roots are soaked on the way to the balancing pond but the birds are tweeting happily.

The tree reflections look great in the pond, where the swans and ducks are scooting about.

We cross the railway and join the river where ghostly plants sit wrapped in last year's grass.

It won't be long till the blackthorn burst into bloom.

The footpaths are tidy and not too muddy, but what's this peeping over the fence?


Leaving the footpath, there's a profusion of plants.

The old Sandhurst Well still stands after all those years.

Over the railway,  bother, we're going the wrong way!


Back to the woods again.

Phew! Home, ready for lunch!