Wednesday 30 January 2019


Gwen suggested a winter city break. I agreed but said that I didn't want to go anywhere cold. "What about Seville?" she said. This seemed a good idea. Seville (Sevilla) is known as one of the warmest cities in Europe. 

The temperature was 18C/64F with clear blue skies so Seville in mid-winter compares with Scotland in mid-summer (except it's sunnier) A fine city with great sights and a lively nightlife. Although a large city it's easy to get round on foot. Gwen's brother & sister-in-law joined us.      

Mid-winter in Seville

La Giralda is the bell tower of the cathedral. Originally the minaret of the mosque (completed 1198) it was incorporated into the cathedral that was built after the Christian re-conquest in 1248.

The Giralda influenced the design of many buildings in the USA and elsewhere - like the Wrigley Building in Chicago.

The cathedral

The Torre del Oro (Tower of Gold) in another Moorish building (1221)

You can't come to Spain and not eat paella!

Our evening tipple was Tio Pepe fino (dry white sherry) a fortified wine from this area. It was mild enough to sit outside in the evenings.

A great city needs a great river. The Rio Guadalquivir
The Metropol Parasol, locally Las Setas (the Mushrooms) It claims to be the largest timber structure in the world.

A walkway gives good views of the city.

A bottle of orange-flavoured gin seemed a good (if temporary) memento of our trip.

Seville  is a fantastic city that I'd highly recommend. It was a welcome sunny break from our gloomy northern winter.  

(Maybe) more Seville on the way…..

Thursday 24 January 2019

MIG Welder Upgrade

I've owned a SIP MIG welder for some years. It's a handy tool that allows me to carry out repairs and make things. Being MIG (metal inert gas) it uses wire allowing it to weld thin metal, exhaust pipes etc, without blow through.

The machine was not without its issues. I had to modify it a bit just to get it to run correctly. I replaced the plastic wire feed tube with a metal one. I also spent a lot of time modifying the wire feed roller arrangement to get it to work. Basically it was a piece of crap when new but now works pretty well.

I then decided to add a cooling fan. Most welders have one but mine does not. In fact there is a circular vent in the case for a fan but none fitted. Using full power the duty cycle is only 15%. That means that can operate for one minute then require a seven minute cool down. In practice this isn't a problem. I don't weld for long periods and the machine has never cut out due to overheating. I hope that the welder has thermal protection but maybe not.

Anyway, it not being broken don't mean I'm not going to fix it anyway!     

It looks like there should be a fan here.

To that end I bought a 240V, 120mm diameter cooling fan and a switch.

There is an unused switch hole in the casing

I fitted the switch here

The fan fitted and wired into the main off/on switch. The fan switch allows the fan to be switch off when the welder is working. But it's pretty quiet so I might as well leave it on.



Monday 21 January 2019

Some Local Buildings

Winter, thus far, has been reasonably kind. It's dull & cool but fairly dry and with only a little ice. So it's possible to ride but you wouldn't want to go far. Today I took a spin to some local buildings of interest. 
Near me is Broom Mansion House. This built in the early 18th century as part of an estate. Like many such grand homes by the 20th century even the rich could not afford the upkeep. The land was sold of for housing in the 1930's and the mansion was turned into a private school.

This is a photograph from 1889. Note the horse and carriage at the front door.

(photo from Historic Environment Scotland)

This is where the horses lived. The nearby stable and carriage block now converted into apartments.
Estate entrance.
In the grounds there was a large curling pond. Maybe this is a sign of global warming but the pond is completely ice free even in mid winter. It will occasionally freeze over but I doubt you'd ever dare walk on it.
Nearby there is another grand house, Greenbank. Robert Allason had it built in 1760 on the profits of importing tobacco from, and exporting slaves to colonial America.

Closer to the city, in Shawlands, is the Langside Hall. I lived close to here on two occasions but only recently found out that the building was originally build as a bank in the city centre in 1849 and dismantled and re-erected in its current position in 1901.

The interior when a bank

I have a family connection with the building. An ancestor, John MacLean was arrested outside the hall for making speeches opposing the First World War. He was jailed for sedition in 1918.  

John MacLean on Soviet stamp
Camphill House in nearby Queen's Park.

Finally my favourite (I can see it from my front room), Mearns Castle. Built c1450.

In the late '60's Maxwell Church was demolished to build the motorway through Glasgow. Services were then held in the castle. In 1970 they built an extension tacked onto the castle. The extension could most kindly be described as "of its time" but to me it clashes horribly with the stark appearance of the castle.
Aerial view

Lidl Haul

This morning I visited my local Lidl store to get some stuff in their DIY tools special.  

Electrical multimeter. I already have a couple of these but they're in various degrees of knackeredness due to my misuse.

Cordless mini drill (a Dremel-style tool) and a set of accessories.

A lifetime's supply of MIG welding wire. I got two reels each of 0.8mm & 0.6mm flux cored wire. I'd never used 0.6mm so it will be interesting to see how this works.

A blade for my circular saw.
The German supermarket chains Lidl & Aldi have made a big impact in this country and are very popular. I make a trip weekly to get our groceries. I like the fact they are small so you don't spend ages wandering about and they have regular special deals (like this one) 
The extend of their market saturation is such that within 10 miles of my house there are 21 Lidl & 17 Aldi stores!

Tuesday 8 January 2019

A Short Run

2019 has, so far, been reasonably mild and today there was some sun so I took a short run to Greenock on the Firth of Clyde.

Thinking about it the West of Scotland was today probably the warmest place on the planet at the latitude of 56 degrees north of the equator. 8C (46F) is not bad for mid winter.  
There is a good viewpoint at Lyle Hill with a vista north across the Firth to the Highlands.

I was surprised to see this whin (gorse) bush in bloom.

Newark Castle in Port Glasgow.

The Titan crane in Greenock towers over an apartment block. The 150 ton crane was used to fit out ships in years past.

The Hebridean Princess at its winter dock. This was a ferry that was converted into a small cruise ship.