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Archive for September, 2012

A Magnesium-based Society? Possible?


The video demonstrates Japanese research aimed at using a solar-powered laser to recycle used Magnesium

solar laserThis is amazing – see the video – if they can pull this off–look at the stats for how much magnesium there is in the world – and now they have a high-power laser that works from the sun. The idea is simple – magnesium (as anyone who went to school before the dark ages will now) burns like hell  – and converts directly into magnesium oxide – well, now it looks like the Japs are on their way to converting it back!! I used to play with this stuff as a kid – who would have thought…

A Great Day at the Hexham Eating Festival

Churros!Hexham Farmers MarketAfter passing through the Hexham Farmers market we headed off past the church to the Hexham Eating Festival.

Well, not so much a festival as a load of stands with food and some (very nice) vintage cars…. non-the-less the park in Hexham was really alive this afternoon – thanks partly to the weather and probably just as importantly thanks to some imaginative eating options – as well as the usual ice-cream and burger vendors there was, would you believe.. a CHURROS vendor – not only that but clearly one who’s done this before! I could hardly believe my eyes (being used to these only in Spain) – though I’m prepared to bet that one of the couple running the stall was Spanish – good call!!

In case you don’t know what Churros are  – take a look here  – they may be new to the Northeast but they’re standard stuff certainly over in Andalucía – not the healthiest option but most welcome! Here they were eaten standing up as you might eat chips – in the market towns in Spain it’s common to eat them at a café with hot chocolate or coffee as dipping material. It’s making my mouth water thinking about them. That’s our Thursday treat when we’re over in Spain.

Pasta and Chicken Cubes!!We had two of the grand-kids with us (stunning isn’t it – 58 and I have grand-children!!) and so they were as keen as we were to sample the delights on offer – in a messy, mixed-with-ice-cream sort of way. I can’t think of the last time up here in the Northeast we had a combination of a good set of food vendors AND good weather to boot! Last few times I’ve been to the Hoppings it’s chucked it down!

There was a company doing chicken and pasta done on a hotplate, another doing steaks… you name it and a great selection of ancient cars to give you something to do while stuffing yourself! That and sunshine in a park – what more could you want!

Two grand-kids having a great time on the slideThen of course there was the obligatory blow-up slide – amazing the construction they can make out of simple blow-up plastic – the kids thought it was Christmas!

On the way out we went past a really interesting display of vintage cars, lovingly looked-after by their owners. One model – the 3-litre Capri brought back memories, it was one of my first cars and went like a rocket – even by today’s standards (I had the 3-litre purple automatic – fantastic stuff). Interesting though though – that must’ve been, what, 70s and we were using litres then – but not for fuel (which I recall was actually affordable at well under £1 a GALLON!)

3 Litre CapriThere were far more cars than I have room to show here – perhaps if they repeat this next year (that would be nice) they’ll come back.

A brace of MinisWe finished the trip out with a visit to the Pound-Stretcher store – which of course the kids loved as they came away will all sorts of colouring materials – always a winner. I came away with a load of new fluorescent markers and a new set of razors for chopping up stuff.

A spot of weed-killing (it’s still not raining – the stuff might just work this time) and the sun is starting to fade, kids have been slug-hunting in the garden and I’m in here doing a write-up while the new tablet charges. After this morning’s fiasco with the burning electricity pole I’m thankful I can do this! We came back note to the sparkies finishing off re-connecting some of the neighbours who lost power during the morning’s fireworks.

Click on any of the images above to see larger versions. Here are a few more – again, click to see the full-size versions.

Lovely day outPanorama of the Park

GrandkidsCharlotteVintage CarsVintage Cars

Exploding Telegraph Pole Brightens up the Morning

Fire in Elliott Terrace

9:15am Saturday morning – noticing lights flickering and finally dying, residents of Elliott Terrace witnessed an amazing event as despite the calm, dry weather, a telegraph pole half way up the street burst into flames quickly followed by a series of explosions. Within minutes the entire top end of the pole was engulfed in flame.

Telegraph Pole ShotMolten plastic insulation showered the ground and set part of the road on fire until residents put out the flames with water. A nearby car escaped disaster by only a couple of metres – hence avoiding a major catastrophe. Residents were left with temperatures of 4c and no heat or lighting.

Our neighbours knocked on the door and as we looked out all we could see was smoke and flame, for a moment it looked as if the whole post was going to burst into flames. Had the car set on fire we could have been looking at the street ending up in flames. Emergency services took 20 minutes or so to get there by which time the fire was out.

tmpF6BDStanding at the gateway there were flames and several explosions at the top of the pole – and the next thing flames showered down onto the street only a couple of metres away from a car. The fire was quickly put out by a neighbour but by the time the flames died on the post, the electrics were totally shot – thankfully the more powerful cables at the top seemed to escape damage as I’m still writing this blog!!!  Fire services are here and no doubt someone will have to dismantle the lot and replace the pole – I just hope they can do it without robbing us of power long enough for he freezer contents to go the journey. I guess I’ll be spending Monday in my out of office office (i.e. top of the hill in the car armed with laptop and phone)

Amazingly within a couple of hours the electricity guy was up and dismantling the burned out cables while keeping the working main line running – well done.  He reckons within the day the power will be restored but that ultimately the pole will need replacing (obviously).

La Long Weekend

It’s been one hell of a weekend – week, even– I’ve been in meetings since Tuesday through this afternoon (yes, on a Sunday) with only a few hours break in the middle and I’m completely exhausted. I got home tonight and Maureen and I started to catch up with “Falling Skies” (series 2) – I say catch up – thanks to the miracle of fast-forward, I managed to start almost at the beginning and as of 20 minutes ago I’m now bang up to date – Maureen could not quite keep up the pace but I’m sure she’ll catch up this week.

OllieTomorrow I’ve a horrendous backlog of tasks, emails and phone calls but I plan a day or so with a friend catching up on gadgets by way of relaxation mid-week – that’ll be nice. Expecting a new solar panel and controller coming over from China in the next few days – lets hope I don’t have to wait to go abroad to test it!

Meanwhile my old pal Ollie (on the right) is taking the opportunity to spend some quality time with his dad – it’s not obvious from the photo but I’m frantically typing here and his head is bobbing up and down according like a yoyo – he’s complete oblivious to it!

If you have a half-decent PC and you have the urge to kill – I suggest checking out “Alliance of Valiant Arms” – but beware – the kids out there are heartless – I’ve managed to last out 8 minutes tops up to now.