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Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Scotland!!!

We visited my sibling and her husband during the first part of July 2017 in Scotland. This was an excellent holiday! Below are some of the highlights in picture format.

In Edinburgh - Castle on the Rock

Ate at a few places - World's End Pub in the Royal Mile

Enjoyng the atmosphere at the end of the world.

The real Dolly - stuffed. 

Scottish Haggis with Tatties and Neeps

On our way to the Highlands we stopped at the Kelpies.

The North sea at Nairn.

More food - fish and chips. 

Urquhart castle on lake Loch Ness 
Quite windy at Culloden moor. 

Carina's favorite dish of the holiday. White pudding was the highlight.  
The Classroom Restaurant is highly recommended if you are in the Highlands. Here is their website: http://www.theclassroombistro.com/

Cowdor Castle - Another beautiful castle in the Highlands. 

Fort George - for all your British security needs. 

Neslon's opposite the Nelson monument. 

A whisky tour - recommended when in Edinburgh. 

On our way to the tidal island at Cramond. 

Open tidal flat viewed from the island.

We recommend a visit to this beautiful country.

R&C

p.s. eating some of the loot back home (haggis, blood-pudding and tattie scones)







Thursday, December 22, 2016

Changing careers.

Apparently it is quite common for people these days to have more than one career. With this information I decided that it is time for a change. Up until now I have been a scientist and yesterday was my last day. This is a exciting career that I would highly recommend. I really enjoyed it.

However, from now on a whole new set of challenges awaits as I will try to grow a small business into a stable sustainable source of income. I will be making and selling designer wooden objects and hope most of this will be via commission. I started a small store on Etsy where some of the products are available - have a look here (some example items below):


Thus a new phase begins, also let me know if you are interested in something.

R&C

 p.s. Both Carina and I became Swedish citzens recently - Hurrah, hurrah, hurrah, hurrah.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Camouflage not required.

How is the hunting of a black cat affected when the whole world is covered by white snow? See the video below for the answer:

Kwagga lost her prey for a only few minutes. There are more footage of the hunt which I can upload for those morbidly curious. The outcome is however predictable and there is now a partly frozen half eaten rodent body in the snow somewhere.

R&C

Some snow in November

We had some snow early in November and the change from summer to winter seems very sudden. It almost feels like these two photos were taken within one week.



Hope the winter stay this nice.


R&C








Thursday, August 4, 2016

Greenhouse

One of the problems with living in Sweden is the proximity to the North Pole. This cause the winters to be long and cold and which in turns makes growing plants a bit tricky. To help extend the growing season a bit we decided to build a greenhouse. It will definitely help at the end of the season - we had many almost ripe tomatoes at the end of last summer that needed only a few more days, but the frost got too them and we lost a large part of the harvest. Carina is also quite eager to start planting seeds in the greenhouse and replanting the more mature plans - at the beginning of the growth season. Lastly, there have been a few losses due to the wildlife, that may be prevented to some extend.
The greenhouse we built.


Our house came with a old smithy from the 1600's on which a garage was build (probably around the 1950's). Onto this a chicken coop was build (between 2010 and 2015). We decided convert the chicken coop into the greenhouse.
The chicken coop.


I thought that the main work would be to cover the structure in glass or hard plastic. However, during a visit by Carina's parents her Dad mentioned that we should use soft greenhouse plastic. We went online and found that this is an excellent option. We could order it online (here) and it was not too expensive for enough to cover the whole structure (although we calculated wrong and had to order more a second time ).

The main work thus became clearing out the trees and stumps that were in the chicken coop and building a floor. Unfortunately we did not take any photos of how it looked before we removed the plants from the coop. I can however mention that we had to start by using a bow saw to remove the newly sprouted shoots from the stump and the rest from the roof. Then we needed to cut away a few wires from the roof to remove the bit that grew into the wire-mesh. This was followed by taking the weed-eater with a blade attachment into the space to remove the rest of the undergrowth. Carina spent several hours after that removing the rest of the plant material and leveling the floor a bit. We were left with a floor sloping up to the garage and only 4 big stumps. To prevent the weeds from sprouting immediately we poured some salt onto the floor.
The floor - level-ish and most of the plant material removed.
Adding some salt.

We drove through our town one day looking for pallets. We found a few as well as several packing crates that we took home. I spent one afternoon sawing the boards from the packing crates.
Pallets found in town.

Crates sawed into boards..


We placed the pallets on the floor trying for a reasonably level surface.
The floor in making


We used the boards from the packing crates as floorboards. Everything was nailed together and the floor turned out reasonably well.
Flooring done.
A chicken coop with a wooden floor.

The next step was to add the plastic covering. We started with the roof since it was the most awkward shaped and the largest section (note we overlapped all the pieces from the top downwards - thus even starting with the roof the wall sections are tucked in under the overhanging bits and water should not flow inwards). Another problem was that we were not able to reach the garage wall at the top of the roof - the reason being that we decided to leave the wire mesh in place. A ladder could not be placed on the inside and the mesh and roof in general is not strong enough to carry my weight. We therefore stapled the one section of the plastic to a wooden beam that we attached to the wall (we could at least reach the sides of the beam while standing on ladders).
Cutting the sheet of plastic - for the roof. 


To ensure that the plastic did not rip on the wire mesh we covered all the edges with silver tape. Once the roof was dragged into place we added a few staples all round to keep it there while cutting the next sections.
All the sharp edges covered in silver tape.

Seems like it fits!


The rest of the covering was quite easy. We just needed to cut the piece to size, fold it under the previous section and staple it to the wood.

We covered the stapled sections with clear packing tape to help reduce the stress on the plastic and seal the overlapping sections.
Covering the front - the excess was removed after stapled to the bottom.

Covering the sides. 

We decided to add a window. I added a wooden beam where the bottom plastic section needed to attach. The top section was only stapled on top part and a wooden broom handle was stapled to the bottom. The sheet can be rolled up to open the window and is kept open/closed by small hooks. I added some overlapping plastic for the window sheet to fold into on the sides which makes it seal quite nicely.
Working on the window panel.
Double seal when window is closed.

Rolled up. - open window-
The final piece to cover was the door.

The last step in this project was to move all the plants. We have a lot of tomatoes a few chilies and miscellaneous other plants.
Carina and Donkie moving plants into the greenhouse.
More plants.

I hope that the greenhouse works well. There are a few things that may make it a bit sub-optimal. For example it faces east. This means that it gets a lot of sun in the morning and nothing at all in the afternoon. Ideally I would have liked it to face south if it could not be freestanding - but this is the structure that we had... I also hope that the wood used for the flooring does not decay too easily in the warm humid environment. This is something that we will deal with if it becomes a problem. Lastly, I am slightly worried about snow on the roof in the winter. The wire-mesh will support the plastic sheeting but I think we may need to remove some snow if it becomes to heavy for the whole structure.


Other than that I am happy. More important, Carina is happy. Now we can look forward to more produce from our own backyard.

Current view inside - next season it may be too small...


R&C

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Kwagga and the Snake

There is only one poisonous snake in Sweden. It is the common European viper (Vipera berus) and it is not really very poisonous. It is quite wide spread through Sweden and there are approximately 1300 reported bites (on humans) per year. There is however almost no human fatalities from this snake and we can consider Sweden a safe country with regards to snake human interactions.
European viper

Our cat Kwagga is a very active hunter. She is also known to live dangerously and "died" in December only to return 2 weeks later starved and close to being really dead (read the tale here). We were not surprised to find her with a non-poisonous grass-snake  (Natrix natrix) a while ago. We tried to discourage her to catch snakes and took the snake away from her (releasing it into the fields while keeping her indoors for a while).
Grass snake in our garden.

This did not work.

On a Saturday (when the vet is closed), she went out hunting and came back mid morning. Carina saw that she was sitting a bit strange and on closer inspection Kwagga informed us, with unhappy growling, that she was not feeling well. At this stage we did not know what was wrong but after approximately 30 minutes it was clear from her swollen foot that something bit her on the leg. We phoned the vet (the emergency vet), and after describing all the symptoms she told us that it is likely that it was a snake and that we should bring Kwagga for some treatment.

The main treatment for cats is fluid and Kwagga got a drip to increase her fluid intake and painkillers. Some tests for liver and kidney damage were performed and everything seemed to be fine (follow-up tests will be done in a few weeks).
Kwagga resting after treatment

After  a few days kept indoors Kwagga seemed fully recovered and are out and about again searching for the next adrenaline rush - a patch of missing fur, where the blood was drawn, the only reminder of her adventure with a snake.
Right foot - shaved patch for drawing blood, left foot - completely healed after snakebite. 
  
R&C

Moving the garden indoors.

Carina has been working hard to grow a few consumables during the short Swedish summer. Here she is in action tending to the herbs and vegetables.
Carina in the garden!

At the same time we have been working on converting the chicken coop built onto the garage (by the previous owners) into a greenhouse. This whole event will be documented in a future post.
Chicken coop being turrned into greenhouse.

R&C