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The Night Mail


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1 hour ago, PhilJ W said:

I found a colony of slow worms in my compost bin earlier this year. They may well still be there but well dug in.

 

If I remember correctly slow worms are protected and you are not supposed to interfer with them.

 

I recall encountering them on a redundant allotment and we had to have an ecological survey done to see if they were nesting on the site. They can only be moved by a licenced perator.

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1 hour ago, Winslow Boy said:

 

If I remember correctly slow worms are protected and you are not supposed to interfer with them.

 

I recall encountering them on a redundant allotment and we had to have an ecological survey done to see if they were nesting on the site. They can only be moved by a licenced perator.

I left them well alone though they are quite common hereabouts.

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Gosh! What an exciting day :)

 

Apart from one gas log effect fire our house is "all electric". Probably not the most efficient way to heat it but the house is well insulated and electricity isn't too expensive here (yet).

 

There's a fan heater built into the wall in our bathroom. It hasn't been doing a great job for a very long time and I noticed the element was glowing red until a built-in thermal breaker tripped and cycled power until it cooled. Anyway, I ended up dismantling the whole shooting-match and discovered that there was a layer of lint blocking the input side of the heating element. Blasted it out with one of those cans of air for cleaning your computer and all fixed for the next 25 years.

 

Next time it shows the same symptoms I'll just drag an air hose from my compressor into the house and give the heater a serious shot of reverse air-flow. Come to think of it I should probably do that with all the other fan heaters.

 

BUT WAIT! THERE'S MORE!

 

For my sins I'm in charge of our local water association system. It serves about 30 houses although a lot of them are Summer use only. I take samples to be tested every three months. It's really good water and completely untreated. An enormous, very inexpensive asset that's probably only fully appreciated by a small percentage of the users.

 

Certain miscreants think it's OK to whizz it away watering their gardens. That's allowed but only with a hose. No automatic sprinklers etc. Problem is we don't really have a good handle on how much water we are actually pumping from month-to month.

 

The well has a volume meter and I had planned to read it monthly. Well I did actually record it for one month :)

 

Brainwave! The electricity company reads the well's meter by radio every month (using stuff that I helped to develop BTW) and they send our treasurer the bill every month. Assuming the pump isn't about to give up we can get a really good idea of the consumption from the  electric meter readings.

 

 

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Interesting creatures, slow worms. We have new neighbours next door (well they moved in a year or so ago) and one day a piercing shriek shattered the quiet afternoon - my next door neighbour had found a “snake” in her garden. Being the only male around that day I was press ganged into removing the “snake”.

Duly armed with heavy gardening gloves and a hoe (for pinning the beast just behind the neck). I found the hapless animal, gently pinned it to ground, picked it up just behind the head, quickly walked through the neighbours house, crossed the road and threw the animal over the hedge and into the naturschutzgebiet  a sort of nature reserve.

In removing the aforementioned “dangerous snake”, I clocked that it was just a slow worm (and a beautiful one at that). Hopefully, our beneficial beast will have recovered from its ordeal and will enjoy the rest of its allotted 30 years in the nature reserve (slow worms can live up to 30 years in the wild).

However, the downside is the slugs will again proliferate (and our local Hedgehogs seem to be AWOL at present)

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50 minutes ago, AndyID said:

I don't know what it is but I do know I would not mess with it

I was once out walking with Robbie the spaniel. We were overtaken by the biggest grass snake I have ever seen. I was really surprised as I thought they only grew up to about 3 feet long. I researched when we got home and they (rarely) can be 6foot. This one wasn’t quite that long. Robbie wasn’t at all interested or bothered. 

MiL said when she was young (in India) that if she went to the kitchen early before the servants were there, snakes were often sleeping on the oven which would have been still warm from the previous day. The snakes were encouraged to leave by chucking water over them. 
Tony

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2 minutes ago, Tony_S said:

The snakes were encouraged to leave by chucking water over them.

 

 Presumably with an appropriate incantation. Similar incantations could be heard quite frequently in the Glasgow area.

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As a (sort of) skier I actually look forward to a bit of snow which is one of the reasons I quite enjoy Winter. The other reason is everything in the garden pretty much stops growing, including the weeds, and a nice covering of snow tends to hide all the stuff I should have done but didn't.

 

Fortunately I harvested all the green tomatoes that remained on the plants on our deck a couple of days ago. The following night the temperature dropped below freezing and and the foliage was destroyed.

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We have a type of grass snake which I beieve is the whip snake. They do grow to at least 5 or 6 feet and about 2.5" diameter. We have seen one one at the top of the garden but have found 4 discarded skins iver the past 4 years in the same area. We think they hibernate under the path.  I did one see a yellow viper about 18" long near the side door. They are venomous but it shifted.  I have not told Beth.  Apparently  the grass snakes along with thecowls keep the rodent population down.

 

Jamie

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Shifting somewhat back to railway miscellanea, but with a nod to recent posts, I wonder if the more railwayana erudite amongst us can indicate which of the numerous species we have covered in the posts above have had locomotives or trains named after them?
I can think of the Kestrel and The Night Owl, (Mallard was the name of a single locomotive not a class or type) but no other - British or from around the world.

(Of course, this is a perfect opportunity for people to show their partisanship by suggesting inappropriate names for locomotives or trains of their least liked competitors: e.g. the SR Slow Worm, the LMS Adder, the BR Slug and so on…)

Edited by iL Dottore
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9 minutes ago, iL Dottore said:

Shifting somewhat back to railway miscellanea, but with a nod to recent posts, I wonder if the more railwayana erudite amongst us can indicate which of the numerous species we have covered in the posts above have had locomotives or trains named after them?
I can think of the Kestrel and The Night Owl, (Mallard was the name of a single locomotive not a class or type) but no other - British or from around the world.

 

One of the various series of Churchward outside-framed 4-4-0s was the Bird class but maybe that's insufficiently specific for you?

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19 minutes ago, Compound2632 said:

 

One of the various series of Churchward outside-framed 4-4-0s was the Bird class but maybe that's insufficiently specific for you?

No, that’s what I’m thinking of (in addition to a class or a train named after an animal).

Thinking about it, I just remembered the Japanese have a “Hello KittyShinkansen - but I don’t think that counts…

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The GWR Telegraphic code for a car carrying wagon was a "Hydra" which is a fresh water organism that appear to live forever..

 and other  wagon codes,

Mink,

Snake,

Toad,

Dogfish,

Herring,

Mackrel,

Mermaid ,

 Parr,

 Prawn,

Rudd,

Salmon,

Seacow,

 Shark,

Starfish,

 Tunny,

 

 

They also locomotives called 

Camel,

Pegasus,

 Blackbird

 The Wolf,

Chaffinch,

Flamingo,

Kingfisher,

Lizard,

Paddington, 

Penguin,

Seagull,

Skylark,

Starling,

Swallow,

Swift,

Swordfish,

The Great Bear,

The Lizard,

White Horse,

 

Edited by TheQ
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8 minutes ago, TheQ said:

Flamingo

 

Unpopular with the enginemen. As in: "She won't flamingo!"

 

9 minutes ago, TheQ said:

Paddington

 

Do we allow that?

 

The LNWR was even more eclectic in its engine naming than the 19th-century GWR:

 

Albatross Ant Antelope Bat Bee Bittern Buffalo Bulldog Bullfinch Centipede Chaffinch Condor Crane Cricket Crow Cygnet Eagle Elephant Elk Firefly Flamingo Fly Gazelle Giraffe Glowworm Goldfinch Grasshopper Greyhound Grouse Harrier Hawk Heron Hirondelle Hornet Kestrel Kingfisher Leopard Linnet Lion Lynx Mammoth Martin Merlin Midge Moorhen Nightingale Osprey Ostrich Owl Ousel Panther Peacock Pelican Penguin Petrel Pheasant Ptarmigan Quail Raven Redbreast Redstart Redwing Reynard Rhinoceros Roebuck Salamander Scorpion Serpent Shark Snake Snipe Stag Starling Stork Swallow Swan Swift Terrier Tiger Viper Vulture Wasp Woodcock Woodlark.

 

I've omitted a rather tedious series of George the Fifths named after various hounds and also all the mythical creatures. Many of the bird names go right back to Liverpool and Manchester days, along with the large cats.

 

[J. Goodman, L&NWR Locomotive Names (RCTS, 2002).]

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If we don't allow Paddington there will be a very unhappy Bear on the prowl..

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