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Thursday, 29 November 2007


Well boyz n girlz, I've been collecting and carting rocks, stones and pebbles for the last few days. We have an old tumble down croft on our land, so some of the bigger rocks have come from there to fill most of the 12" deep area which actually extends further than I thought. After the big rocks were down, smaller stones from the veggie garden were sprinkled on top and now we (Mrs GBC and my good self) are collecting slightly smaller stones to smooth the top off. Tis hard work but gotta be done. I've also been sneaking round the farm with my pick axe, digging any lumpy looking areas and leaving no stone unturned....sorry....
Won't be long and I can put sand on the stones, then the damp proof stuff and then, if the weather holds, I can start mixing. The pic here is one I took this morning so things have moved on a lot since then.

Did I mention I went to another MAG meeting? This one was about winter riding and although ex police Class I motorcyclist, Keith Henderson, covered a lot of the basic things, it doesn't hurt to remind yourself from time to time. Also, some things we think we know, we maybe don't! I hope to book him for the Grampian classic lot some time next year.

You'll have noticed the *NEW* slideshow feature. I'm quite pleased now I've managed to stop it zooming in and focusing on my, er, bottom in one of the pictures. That seemed to be popular with the chaps who viewed the blog before I had it all sorted so all I'm hearing now are complaints! It only takes about 25 photos so I might (no promises) try and change them from time to time. On the other hand, I might make the show last for a limited time only.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Hell and high water!


Well that was an intersting day. Captain Bill was booked to come over and continue welding the trailer, but at 9am it was still raining and the gales were still howling, so I telephoned him to call it off. He came up with a plan. How about doing some more work on the Bulto - this is my trials bike which required a new big end some months ago, and Bill agreed to help me. So I set off to Fyvie first of all to complain once again to the Doc about the severe pain in my shoulders, had to wait half an hour to see her, then she told me there was nothing wrong with my arms, so that was a waste of time but hey, I'm used to that now, this has been going on for four years. Carried on to Turra then out to the Foggie road which was closed at the bridge as a car had either gone off the bridge into the river, or there was deep water over the bridge - I couldn't really understand the council worker who was telling everyone to turn back. So I headed out to Huntly, thinking I'd just nip up to Keith then cut across country to Bills. Got as far as the Bognie Arms and the road was closed, diversion towards Banff. Some of the roads that were still open were flooded in places, and I did consider the foolhardiness of my journey several times, but the thought of working on the Bulto spurred me on. When I got to Marnoch, that road was closed too, so I headed north to Cornhill where I was finally able to get onto the Keith road and made it to Bills. A bit of progress was made, and I think another couple of trips should see it back together....just hope I can remember how to hitch it all up and find where I put the carb and stuff. Anyway, time to come home after a few freezing hours in the workshop and then the snow kicked off. Flooded roads in the dark are bad enough but with a complete white out at times, I'm lucky I didn't land in a ditch. This is the first lot of snow I've encountered with my 'new' (new to me, not brand new) car, and let's just say I thought I was in for a long walk! Some snow tyres will be ordered ASAP. Then I thought I might run out of petrol as I hadn't topped up in Aberdeen (with the cheap Asda stuff) 'cos I didn't anticipate driving round half of Scotland today. Made it back though, safe and sound.

The shed site is flooded, and boy, I mean FLOODED. 11 tonnes of sandy ballast are now deposited half on the driveway and half on the verge, with huge muddy ruts everywhere, left by the huge Lovies truck as it got bogged down and the driver burnt a bit of rubber. It was delivered yesterday in the torrential rain. He tried to reverse all the way down the drive but got stuck, so we (I) made an executive decision to leave it up by the top gate, which is a long walk with a full wheelbarrow. At least I should end up slim and sylphlike. Which reminds me, the Doc asked if I'm eating ok. Is she partially sighted! Look at me, of course I'm eating OK!

Sunday, 18 November 2007

All systems GO!


Well chaps, shuttering crisis over, good old Fido let me have the timber that he used for his shed base recently. The only thing is, its 4", so that's what my floor will be. It was a bit of a struggle getting it here as some of the lengths are about 4 or 5m I think, and with trailer still out of commission, it was time to invent some sort of roof rack using wood, cable ties and a ladder. Not as bad as you may think, and it stayed on all the way there and back. With these short days there wasn't much time after a quick lunch to to much 'shedding', but I managed to get the bits in place, chopped and lengthened to suit, also had to extend the site a bit to make room to work around it. Puppy enjoyed the digging, fetching every single stone that I chucked onto the pile. At the front of the site, the floor will be raised to about the level of 2 concrete blocks (the ground falls away quite a bit) so I'll have to construct some sort of wall to hold everything in place, and along the sides, there will need to be some sort of triangular shuttering to hold the rubble / hardcore in place. I know what I mean! Tomorrow I'll phone Lovies and order the sandy ballast, then pick up the mixer sometime in the week, and then on the weekend - when the weather is forecast to be nice on Saturday but wet on Sunday, I can crack on. According to the Met Office, the following week is going to be drier if a little colder so I should be able to get at least 2/3 of it down. I've got a tarpaulin to cover it with if (when) it rains, and some straw to keep it warm. Ah yeah, got to fit going to work in there too, somehow, and it's time for my Annual Review with the boss!

PS STOP CALLING IT CHUBBY TOWERS YOU 'ORRIBLE LOT!!!

Friday, 16 November 2007

Help!

Ok chaps, I'd like the benefit of you experience please. Should I make my shed floor 4", 5" or 6" thick? Vote above please to cure my confusion!

Well today I made good progress with levelling the site. Although there is hardcore over most of the area, the front right corner is, for some reason, a little bit soggy and although there are loads of rocks, they're a bit far down so I scooped all the top soil off and now have a firm base upon which I can pile stones, rocks, rubble etc to bring it up to the same height as the rest. My next move was to start chopping bits of wood up for the shuttering. I'm a tad embarrassed to say that I didn't buy enough in the first place, 'cos I'm having to use two lots of 4" as they didn't have any 8 or 9" boards, and I forgot about the ones that will go across the middle (so that I can lay the slab in sections). Not ideal but needs must. Also not ideal is the fact that when I have the sandy ballast delivered, the driver will probably want to dump it at the top gate, some 50 or 60 yards from the site, as last time they delivered, their truck got stuck at the bottom of the drive. Come on, get voting, how thick should I make the floor?

Monday, 12 November 2007

Knowing the right people.

It's important to know people, doncha think? I don't just mean any people, but people who know STUFF. Stuff about bikes, cars, computers, and most importantly (at the moment) concrete and calculating amounts, and building sheds and stuff like that. On Saturday, Mrs GBC and I took a trip to B&Q (other DIY stores are available) mainly to buy a pick axe but also to check prices of the necessary ingredients for my shed floor. I had some idea of what I wanted, but thought that I should check with one of their knowledgeable staff. Unfortunately, he must have been on holiday 'cos the lad whom I picked on couldn't answer a single question about what size aggregate to use, or if I could buy all-in 'sandy ballast' etc etc. He spent about 15mins looking for someone who could help, in which time I'd read the entire section about concrete in the B&Q (other DIY stores are available) DIY Handbook - on sale for about £26 I think. It answered most of my queries, and when I asked to see the sandy ballast, the young lad replied that they don't stock it. So after being chatted up by an elderly gentleman whom we asked where the nearest DIY store was, we ended up buying the pick axe and a couple of tarps and heading to Inverurie to the new DIY centre, GPH. It was shut. I had a bit of a crabbit moment, I'm sorry, but I just didn't think there would be that amount of traffic on the roads on a wet, snowy, cold Saturday afternoon. I hate traffic. So armed with a bit more info, I called my friend Tricky (an ex-builder) who confirmed most of what I'd read in B&Q (other blah blah blah) and then on Sunday, another friend (yip, I've got more than one) also called Tricky popped over to do a site survey. He's a bright lad he is, and eventually, after listening patiently to me going on about how I would dig this bit away, fill that bit in and put rubble in there, he worked out I'd need about 37 bags of cement, and 6 tonnes of all-in aggregate, which Lovies call block mix. So that's me sorted, all I need now is some timber for the shuttering and some damp proof material and a loan of a cement mixer, and a nice fine, dry day or ten, and then hey presto, Cubby Towers will be well on the way. By the way, this is supposed to be cheaper than a wooden floor....

By the way, I found a cracking shop on the way to B&Q (other.............) in New Deer. It's called Food for Thought and stocks all kinds of fresh fruit and veg - with real mud on the tatties and parsnips, delicious drinks and organic beer and luxury choccy bars, so if you're passing, stop in and sample something wholesome, it ain't that dear in New Dear.

PS ITS SNOWING

Friday, 9 November 2007

My first time

I was invited along to a MAG meeting the other night. That's the Motorcycle Action Group ya know. In general, MAG fight for bikers rights, and the local Aberdeenshire group in particular say "the group aims to build itself up, to be a powerful local force to ensure that the views of the bikers are being heard locally, while liaising with the MAG National Committee to help fight our cause on a National and European level". A jolly good idea, don't you think? So I'd been chatting with one of the committee members, Seona, about rules and regs for an event up here, and she suggested I pop along and see what they're all about. It just happened they had organised a talk by a biker friendly solicitor from a firm called Digbybrown. Brian Castle was his name, and backing bikers when they have diesel or pothole related accidents, is his game. He covered many topics and all the ins and outs are too numerous to mention, suffice to say, even if you think there is no hope of finding who is responsible for dumping a puddle of slippery diesel on the road, follow a few important procedures and all might not be lost. He emphasised if you have a spill, report it to the police, try and get them to attend the scene to measure up and record damage, inform the local council, try and get witnesses and ask them to examine the road, take pics if you can and note down EVERYTHING including your speed and even the weather. He did cover all this in much more detail but I'm not going into that here, just make sure you REPORT IT.

Also, here's a handy tip to help other people, if you see road damage or diesel, you can report it through the MAG website so that if someone does have an accident, things will be made a bit easier for them if the defect etc is already logged. http://aberdeenshire.mag-uk.org/html/road_defects.html

On the same topic, Brian, from Digbybrown will be doing another talk in march so hopefully I'll drag the Grumpyuns along to that.
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Camping trip this weekend is off :-( Bit breezy and snowy out there, especially at Aviemore.
But never mind, nearly 2000 hits on the blog!

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