Hifi, Vinyl is bollox so are valves and foo

Like a few males of a certain age I like playing music via my hifi system and to keep abreast of things I joined a couple of online forums (fora?). I won’t name them but I’m sure you’ll find them if you search for UK hifi forums. Most of the stuff posted there about valves, vinyl, cables, mains conditioners is complete and utter crap; as Alan Shaw the respected designer of Harbeth loudspeakers frequently points out.

I love this comment from him about speaker cables:

‘We noted recently that the signal from the microphone to the loudspeaker comprises a line. A line of electrons flowing towards the voice coil of the speaker drive units. Because the voice coils are in a magnetic field, and the voice coil is glued to a speaker cone, we can hear a sound.

Before we get too carried away with spending money on the speaker cable that connect the amp to the speakers, and which is sometimes the thickness of a hose pipe, what about the part of the chain that you the consumer can’t play with? The voice coil wire itself.

Did you appreciate that the voice coil wire is not much thicker than a human hair? And if we unwind a voice coil from a RADIAL 5″ or 8″ woofer we can stretch it out a long way …. far longer than the cable typically used to connect your amp to your speakers! So, on the basis of the sound be limited by the weakest link – in this case the thinnest wire – I’m satisfied that QED79 strand (or equivalent) is ‘more than adequate enough to get you going’.

It really is most bizzare and it’s like the world hasn’t changed since the video above. There is almost a universal lack of scientific knowledge and a desire to ‘believe any old crap’. This is perpetuated by an industry selling dreams of perfect and better sound to the delusional. Some audiophiles call themselves ‘subjectivists’ (i.e. if I can hear the improvement it is better) and they generally spend a fortune seeking audio perfection. Of course the only purpose of a hifi industry is relieve consumers of as much cash as possible and if some sort of ‘pseudo babble’ or fancy coloured light on the front of the equipment does that better than cold hard science they don’t really care; they just want your cash.

People claim that they can hear all sorts of improvements by changing this or that. This is of couse just expectational bias. Hardly anyone carries out listening trials in a scientific way. It’s a fact that if you take any well designed, competent solid state amplifiers and adjust for the difference in sound levels they output – people cannot distinguish between them. That’s why I use a good old Quad solid state amplifier rather than the latest ‘in fashion bling’. Valves by the way just add distortion (which may be nice when creating a sound in the first place) and can, some claim, be pleasing. However, as they move the sound away from what the artist or engineer intended they are ultimately not improving the sound but diminishing it.

This lecture shows how difficult it is test things scientifically.

Vinyl is bollox, there i’ve said it. It really is, no if’s and buts. The dynamic range of even a CD is 100dB or more compared to around 50/60dB of an LP; that is it is 100-1000  better than analogue working at it’s very best. Distortions of 10-30% are quite normal for vinyl replay of loud sounds. That amount of distortion may actually be masked by music, or may add a certain character not readily attributable to “distortion” by the casual listener. Some listeners may even like the distortion, as they consider a particular ‘sound’ to be normal to their ears.

The cutting engineers developed numerous craft skills for working around the technical reality of discs. They became masters of taking the recording and manipulating it so that it would, literally, ‘fit’ onto a gramophone record.

He/she squashes the dynamic range so that the grooves never accelerate the average stylus too fast, he raises the loudness of the quieter elements of the music so that they are both audible above the inevitable hiss, crackles and plops, he reduces the stereo width generally since that minimises stylus movement, he probably monos the bass below about 100Hz (reduces groove width, necessary for 20 mins/side), he sets the peak loudness to minimise distortion on the average pickup and so on.

He uses every trick he knows to compensate for the limits of the medium even though it is significantly different from that recorded by the microphone. And I haven’t even started on hiss, crakle and pops or discussing a medium that degrades over time and with playing.

Vinyl might be a satisfying theatrical performance but is never capabale of reproducing the original performance; full stop. The cartridge is dumb it cannot separate the wanted motion (the music) from the random motion (the noise).

The development of the CD red book standard by Sony/Phillips was an astonishing piece of work for the time and was the greatest leap forward in hifi reproduction ever. The standard still can reproduce everything that anyone over 18 (Some youngsters MAY technically have hearing that extends beyond the upper frequency range) can hear.

By far the biggest factors in hifi reproduction are how the material was recorded in the first place, how it was mastered (some people defending vinyl will quote the mastering loudness wars at this stage) and the acoustics of the room you are listening in.

As for those who claim that some vinyl has a better dynamic range than the CD according to the Dynamic Range Database; well you had better take a look at this.

Basically vinyl is taking the piss. Marketers are selling a theatrical performance (look at the artwork, feel how tactile it is) and a retro nostalgia to get people to part with cash (probably for the second time) for an inferior product.

Oh yea, you also have to turn it over halfway through.

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Ryan Young Scottish Traditional Fiddle Player

It’s been sometime since we wrote a blog here. But I doubt that there are too many regular readers! We’ve been keeping ourselves busy in the meantime. Not least helping a young traditional fiddler from Scotland; Ryan Young.Ryan Young Traditional Scottish Fiddle Player

We came across Ryan playing on BBC Alba on the TV and where so impressed that we got in touch with him with a view to seeing if we could help him at all. Ryan is quite simply, in our opinion, the most promising young traditional fiddle player in the UK. His interpretations of traditional Scottish tunes are quite stuning.

Our friendship with Ryan has ultimately led to him recording his first album with a triple Grammy award winning producer – Jesse Lewis.We still can’t quite get our heads around the fact that Jesse agreed to fly to Scotland to do this project; here are some of his albums he was involved in recently.

The album has been recorded in high resolution audio at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and we had a lot of fun helping pull all this together. You can find out more about this here. The album should be available around the first quarter of 2017.

If you are at all interested in traditional music; particularly the fiddle playing of Martin Hayes, Alasdair Fraser and Liz Caroll can I suggest that you check out Ryan’s playing. He really is in the same league as they are. He is, in my opinion, the best young traditional fiddler of his generation.

You can find out more about Ryan at his website www.ryanyoung.scot or follow him on Facebook.

Edit: Since posting this Ryan has won ‘Up and Coming Artist of the Year’ at MG ALBA Scots Trad Music Awards 2016.

Traditional Scottish Fiddler Ryan Young with Martin Hayes

Traditional Scottish Fiddler Ryan Young with Martin Hayes

Traditional Scottish Fiddler Ryan Young with Dennis Cahill

Traditional Scottish Fiddler Ryan Young with Dennis Cahill

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Rachel Sermanni at The Magic Lantern, Tywyn

Well its been a quiet few weeks for us old codgers. However, for the next 3 weekends we have 3 gigs lined up. The first was a trek up to Tywyn to see Rachel Sermanni in concert (last night) then next weekend we’re off to see Nick Cave play in Koko, London as John managed to get tickets for the special gig he is doing there as part of his film 20,000 Days on Earth. Then the weekend after it’s back to Tywyn to see Robyn Hitchcock who I blogged about earlier in the year when he played at the Laugharne Weekend. Crickey, at our age, we should be sat on the sofa watching the TV with a mug of cocoa not hurtling round the UK to listen to quirky folk play music in quirky places.

The Magic Lantern, Tywyn

Rachel Sermanni at The Magic Lantern, Tywyn

So speaking of quirky we headed off to The Magic Lantern yesterday afternoon in the van. Liz spent many weekends as a child in and around Tywyn so it was a trip back down memory lane to go back there. We ambled across country, in the annoying way old folk do (if you’re stuck behind in a car whilst John scans the countryside for photographs) and stopped off in rainy Aberdyfi for a cup of tea and fish and chips before trundling into Tywyn an hour or so before the gig. The Magic Lantern is a delightfully converted old Assembly Rooms/Cinema that has real character and rather fine acoustics.

Hitchcock at the Magic lantern

Hitchcock keeps an eye on proceedings at the Magic Lantern, Tywyn. This will be very weird in two weeks time when Hitchcock watches Hitchcock!

I get quite a buzz out of hearing new people for the first time and I’m not too sure how I first strayed across Rachel. ‘That sounds good’ I thought not realising that she was only a tad over 20 years old. Our paths nearly crossed in Clonakilty in the south west of Ireland when she was playing in De Baras pub but we were already going to another gig at Baltimore Fiddle Fair. So, as she lives in Scotland and not that much music gets to the far west of Wales, it wasn’t until last night we got to see her.

What a delight it turned out to be. The venue was perfect, the audience, although not large were attentive, and Rachel was delightful with the bubbly enthusiasm of one so young. Do not be deceived – her songs, voice and delivery are mature. Each song is is sung with a delivery that emphasises its meaning, a little stop or a little smile can mean a lot in these songs. Because she is so unique it’s quite hard to categorise her music; I’ve heard things like ‘folk noir balladeer’ banded about but that doesn’t really do her justice. Rachel is Rachel and I very much doubt she is ever going to be neatly slotted into any pigeon hole.

Songs that stood out for me were ‘Ever Since the Chocolate’, ‘Song to a Fox’, the Robbie Burns song ‘Ae Fond Kiss’ (which I hated when I heard Eddie Reader do it) and the delicious ‘Eggshells’ which was an encore sung without the microphone.

Rachel Sermanni

Rachel Sermanni singing ‘Eggshells’ at the Magic Lantern, Tywyn

A really good gig and it just proves that if you keep your ears open there is great stuff out there. Not wishing to turn this into a rant (us old folks are pretty good at that Rachel – and I’ve done it previously here anyway) I just wish a few more people would turn off their ‘mind numbing’ televisions, that are spewing out plastic pap in the spaces between the commercials, and get along to gigs like this.

After such a good evening what else could we do but park the van down by the estuary and fall asleep to the sound of the wind blowing through the trees. It beats a mug of cocoa and the goggle box any night.

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40 Years Ago – The Wild, The Innocent and The E Street Shuffle

The Wild the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle

The Wild, the Innocent and the E Street Shuffle

Forty years ago today one of the greatest rock albums of all time was released. It was the difficult second album for a 23 year old Bruce Springsteen who went on to become a household name.

People seem to love him or hate him. The greatest rock artist of all time or a boring formulaic oldie? This post isn’t about that debate.

How did this young man, who had not exactly been a success at school, manage to conceive, write and put together this masterpiece? Although he probably answered this question himself later in life – “For me, I was somebody who was a smart young guy who didn’t do very well in school. The basic system of education, I didn’t fit in; my intelligence was elsewhere.”

It’s a massive cinematographic style album of the characters and places of where he grew up; stories from the board walk and the beach. Springsteen is observing life from the street corner, rather than driving down the highway.

For me Bruce has never surpassed this album and whilst this was an early (and some argue weaker) incarnation of the E Street Band I love the production and feel of the recording. The music has vast open spaces and room to breath whilst at the same time you can almost feel the heat of a Jersey night. I much prefer the production to the later ‘wall of sound’ production.

As Bruce grew older he seemed to restrict himself into tighter and tighter song structures, that were much more formulaic (albeit a formula that most would be more than happy with). I guess we shouldn’t be angry that he never wrote down this way again, we should just be grateful that, at one time, he did.

So if you detest the thought of listening to Springsteen give this a listen and marvel at the creativity of a 23 year old; you may be pleasantly surprised and if you’re one of the ‘converted’ (like me) have another listen to probably the most underrated album of all time. The last three tracks, especially ‘Incident on 57th Street’ and ‘New York City Serenade’  are some of the best tracks ever written in the ‘rock’ genre (although it defies categorisation); lyrical and vivid story telling at its best. Probably my ‘Desert Island Disc’ if I had to just choose one.

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Tulla Festival 2013

As a few people know we’re kind of particular to traditional Irish music and the music of East Clare is high on our list. Most years we can be found heading for Feakle Festival (John helps out with their website) and it was a particular disappointment that we missed it this year due to the death of a close friend.

However, the neighbouring village of Tulla also has a smaller festival at the beginning of September and so we loaded up the campervan and headed of to East Clare for the weekend. Now Tulla can seem a bit of a quiet place (even the residents might agree) – by day it is an ordinary working town that probably doesn’t feature too highly on the tourist radar. It’s even known as ‘the Windswept Hill’. But for those in the know (together with neighbouring Feakle) it is a rich vein of traditional music that produces some of the finest pearls (that could be a tautology or some other linguistic faux pas – but I hope that you get the gist).

The music from this region is some of the best on the planet and I’ve seen some of the all time ‘greats’ playing in the pubs here; Liz Carroll, Arty McGlynn, Joe Burke, Seamus Tansey, Matt Molloy, Eileen O’Brien, John Carty, Mary Bergin, Darren Breslin – the list is endless. Mind you Tulla and Feakle have their own list of greats including the mighty Tulla Ceilidh Band and Martin Hayes.

We got to Tulla on the Friday to find the whole place buzzing with excitement as Clare were in the all Ireland Hurling final on Sunday (Probably the equivalent of the F.A. Cup final in the UK).

The Colours of County Clare

The Colours of County Clare could be found everywhere including John Minogue’s Pub

The Festival proceedings were due to ‘kick off’ around 8.00 p.m. on Friday night with a parade through the town. By 8.15 not much was happening (to the consternation of a couple who had found their way here from Quebec – and I had to explain that Irish time can have a slightly different meaning to elsewhere) but by about 20 minutes past the hour the Chapel Gate Wrenboys, All Ireland Wrenboy Champions, came strolling through town; looking remarkably like extras in Midsomer Murders. They then put on a lively, fun and (sometimes) bawdy show in the Courthouse; great fun.

Chapel Gate Wren Boys

Chapel Gate Wren Boys parade through Tulla to open the Festival 2013

From their we trotted across the road to Minogue’s bar to catch up with a few friends, have a few pints and listen to the session going on. There is clearly some strange ‘time vortex’ in Irish pubs; before you know it – it is 2.30 or 3 in the morning.

Saturday evening brought the main event; the Concert in the Court House hosted by Mary MacNamara, a fine concertina player who does much to teach the youngsters in the area. What a great concert it turned out to be with fine playing from the start when it was opened up by some of those youngsters including 12 year old Lilly O’Connor.

Sorcha Costello and Aisling Hunt

Sorcha Costello and Aisling Hunt, who won the duet category (U18)  at the Fleadh na hEireann, show why the music in Tulla is so strong. Brilliant playing girls!

The concert continued with a line up that just kept up a cracking standard all evening including, Johnny Og Connolly, Harry Bradley, Oisin MacDiarmada, Caitlin Nic Gabhann, Zoe Conway and the Full Set band. Brilliant stuff and a reminder that there is astonishing music out there.

Caitlin Nic Gabhann

Ciarán Ó Maonaigh and Caitlin Nic Gabhann

Harry Bradley

Harry Bradley in full flight

Zoe Conway and her husband John McIntyre

Zoe Conway and her husband John McIntyre

The Full set

Part of The Full Set (if you see what I mean). An excellent young band playing powerful music.

Once again it was back of to the pub afterwards where Andrew MacNamara, Eileen O’Brien, Mark Donnellan and Michael Landers playing a great session. ‘Playing’ is not quite the word for Andrew (whose playing can be best described as ‘fiery’) was trading unusual phrasing with Mark and the battle went on into the early hours with Eileen smiling to herself every time these two issued another challenge to each other. Mighty music; you’d have to have been mad to miss it. Another late night/early morning in a pub (Tulla has this effect)!

Sunday was the day of the ‘All Ireland’ final and Tulla seemed deserted. Some more sessions were happening at lunch time but most minds were focussed on the big game starting at 3.30 pm.

A Session in Minogues

A Session in Minogues at Tulla Festival 2013

Clare had not won the All Ireland Final since 1997. And there was much excitement as Clare led for most of the match, to lose the lead in added time and then equalise 30 seconds after the ‘end’ of added time. So it all has to be done once more in a few weeks time! Not sure I could stand that much excitement again.

It looks all over for Clare, losing by one point at the end of extra time.

It looks all over for Clare, losing by one point at the end of added time.

Then a defender knocks one over from long range 30 seconds past the end of added time!

Then a defender knocks one over from long range 30 seconds past the end of added time! It’s a draw.

Sunday evening was rounded off nicely by a CD launch from Edel Fox (concertina) and Neill Byrne (fiddle) who played a great set to finish the festival off. Time for another pint before heading for the Ferry and home. What a weekend that was.

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Building a Pole Barn Part 5

Welcome the last and final part about how I built a 12m x 5m barn for storing logs and implements on our small holding. It could also be used for sheep housing in winter. The project became more of a timber framed building than a pole barn; but you could easily adapt it and just put telegraph pole uprights straight into the ground (or concrete them in) if the land was suitable. The previous parts are here.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4

I must reiterate my disclaimer; I am not a structural engineer or a builder so the whole project is more ‘belt and braces’ than calculations and you should not rely on my design or construction for your own building!

After finishing the frame in Part 4 I then spread some of the shale around that we had dug up when building the house extension to provide a firm floor. I would have liked concrete but it was just too expensive for this project.

transport_box

Spreading the shale with my hydraulic transport box on my Alpine Tractor

The next thing I did was build a single brick pier around the base of each column. This is to ensure that the columns cannot move laterally in any direction even if hit with a tractor and to provide a support to keep the bottom rail for the cladding off the ground. It also means that I can pour preservative or perhaps waste oil down between the brick and the wood every year or two to stop the base rotting! The columns are also on a piece of damp proof membrane for this reason as well. The photo below shows this.

Bricks around foot of Column

Bricks around foot of  each column to help stop lateral movement of column and support the cross rails for attaching vertical boarding.

Horizontal rails were fixed across between the columns and the vertical boarding nailed to these with approximately 20mm air gaps. The photo below shows the cross rails and the boarding nailed on the back. All the timber was supplied treated so no need for any preservative other than on the cut ends and joints.

rails

Note the cross rails to nail the boards to. The bottom one supported on a brick and the centre one by a vertical timber off the bottom rail.

All that was left to do was cut all the side boards to the correct height and fix them before fixing the end cover strip which is fixed over (and through the roofing sheets) and covers the top of the side timbers to give a nice clean finish.

Barn

The finished barn with one closed bay and two open bays.

We’ve always been keen that it would be hidden in the landscape as much as possible so deliberately set in the lowest spot and formed a soil bank in front of it. This will be planted to screen it from view..

Barn Landscaped

The barn is landscaped into the surroundings so that once we have planted the soil bank in front of it it will be almost completely hidden.

So there you have it our barn that we built entirely ourselves. Some people have asked about costings and this is of course a lot more than if we had used telegraph poles and second hand roofing sheets. But I estimate.

Clearing the site/digging footings      £100
Timber Frame                                    £700
Roofing Sheets                                  £700
Timer Boarding and support rails      £500
Nails/Screws/Sand/Cement etc        £150
Total                                                   £2150

That’s it; I may put some light field gates on the openings to keep the sheep out (or in if I put them inside) and I may build a sheep handling area next to it.

So that could be another project!

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Sleepwalking into a Police State

The detention, this week, of David Miranda at Heathrow airport under the Terrorism Act should send a shiver through every right thinking citizen of the UK. It probably won’t because most people are too busy trying to keep their jobs and keep their heads above water than to worry about remote legislation that they don’t think will ever affect them.

However, it is clear to me that this legislation is being routinely misused by the authorities. How do I know? Because I was on the receiving end a couple of years ago. Here is what I wrote to my MP at the time; it seems pretty prophetic in view of this weeks events.

More recently (September 2010) I travelled to Cork via Swansea Ferry terminal. As I queued, in my vehicle, to get on the ferry I was stopped by port security under the provisions of The Ship and Port Facility (Security) Regulations 2004 and was asked by the member of staff where I was going. Resisting the impulse to laugh out loud (as the Irish Ferry was moored 500 metres away and there was no where else to go) I asked him was he sure he had the power to ask me that question and under what legislation was he asking it. He clearly did not have a clue as to what powers he might have. At that stage he detained me before fetching a Police Officer who questioned me under the Terrorism Act before letting me proceed.

 On my return I had subsequent correspondence (with a very reluctant Ian Meredith Port Facilities & Security Manager, ABP South Wales Ports) with AB Ports Swansea. At first he claimed that the above legislation gave powers to question travellers about their journey, when pressed he had to admit that he had no such powers. But he has stated in writing that he cannot guarantee that it will not happen again. As I understand it the Security staff at the port are actually private contractors. So in this instance a private citizen going about their legal business is detained by a private contractor who has no power to do so, asked a ludicrous question about their private travel arrangements and then after being detained is questioned by a Police officer under the terrorism legislation. The irony is exquisite in that the law abiding citizen is questioned because of the failure of security staff to work within the law as it exists. It is astonishing that such intrusive questions are being asked by private contractors.

 I hope that it is as apparent to you, as it is to me that we are ‘sleepwalking’ into a Police State. As a citizen of a free democratic society I should be able to go about my life without the state asking (and possibly) recording details of where I am going to and from. I accept that there are circumstances where further enquiries are necessary and in this case questions should only be asked where they are necessary and proportionate.

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It is Just a Telephone and it is not Smart

Once again I’m in the wrong century. On the odd occasion that I do stray into the real world I’ll see people constantly walking along talking to or looking at their mobile phones. On other occasions when I go to a restaurant it’s not unusual to see four people sit down together get out their phones and start texting or doing whatever they do with them. How  fecking stupid is that?

respect

The only ‘smart’ thing about a phone is the company that sold someone an expensive contract to keep the money rolling in whilst they trade drivel with their ‘friends’.

For the record I do have a mobile phone for emergencies and the odd call. It’s about 10 years old on a PAYG contract and the quarterly bill is sometimes around 3 pence.

Don’t even get me started on the morons who go to hear live music and spend the whole concert pointing their phones at the stage. Dickheads the lot of them.

Phone Feckwits the Lot of Them

Feckwits the Lot of Them

My Sort of Place

My Sort of Place!

I don’t normally add addenda to blog posts but I just (23rd August 2013) read the following UK statistics, which confirms to your writer that there really is no hope for the human race – a complete species of feckwits. The only real glimmer of hope is the thought that the radiation may fry their gonads before they can breed.

The average British child gets their first mobile phone aged almost 12, but nearly one in ten (9%) have one by the age of five.

Parents spend an average £246 on their own handsets, compared to £125 on their children’s but one in ten children under 16 (11%) have mobiles worth more than their parents.

More than four in ten parents (42%) don’t monitor their children’s mobile spend and just a quarter (25%) cap their kids’ contracts.

Children spend an average £11 per month on mobile bills less than parents who spend £19 but more than one in ten (11%) spend more than their parents.

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Building a Pole Barn Part 4

The fine spell of hot weather in July 2013 has meant that we can ‘crack on’ with getting the barn erected. Previous posts are here

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

At the end of part 3 John and Jonathan were leaning smugly against the frame having assembled it. After Jonathan went back home to Spain, I (John) carried on fixing the 75mm x 50mm purlins across the rafters. These are necessary to support and fix the roofing sheets. I decided to use simple corrugated steel sheets for the roof. These are not too expensive or too heavy and are easily fixed. As the shed is partly open condensation should not be too much of a problem in winter. The sheets can be bought as plain galvanised or painted or plastic coated with the price and durability increasing accordingly. I went for the latter (most expensive and most durable) in a slate grey colour.

John and Purlin

Here you can see the purlins that John is resting the ladder on. They are nailed to the rafters and also have galvanised straps at places for ‘a belt and braces’ approach to gusting wind!

Each sheet of corrugated steel is 1m wide when lapped with its neighbour and they can be bought in any length to cover the exact span (remembering to leave enough overhang for the gutter). In my case I am overlapping them a tad more to save cutting the last sheet. It is of course essential that the first sheet is positioned correctly or they will all start ‘running out’ of alignment.

shed2

John marks where to fix the sheets by hooking a line over the last fixing and along the centre of the purlin.

The position of the fixings can then be marked. The Tek screw fixing are self cutting but I found it easier to either drill a pilot hole or just bang a small nail through.

John marks where to fix the sheets

The sheets are fixed through the top of the corrugation, not the valley, to prevent leaks. The screws are self tapping but I found it easier to make a starter hole with a nail.

If you don’t carefully mark the line of the purlin you risk having a hole in your roof and nothing underneath to screw into!

The Tek screw has a rubber collar

The Tek screw has a rubber collar to prevent water ingress.

The screws should be tightened down until they are holding firmly but not crushing the corrugation. They can be capped of with plastic caps (a dab of silicone under the cap before putting them on is not a bad idea to stop them coming loose).

It is screwed into the purlin with an 8mm nut driver on an electric drill

It is screwed into the purlin with an 8mm nut driver on an electric drill

Here you can see the fixed roof with another sheet waiting to be fixed.

Here you can see the fixed roof with another sheet waiting to be fixed as I work my way across the roof.

So the roof will soon be finished and then I only have to fix the side cladding boards and do a bit of tidying up etc which I hope to show in the last part.

Go to Part 5 (the finished barn!)

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A Circular Walk Around the Teifi Pools

We haven’t posted a walk for a while, not because we haven’t done any walking  but because of a general lack of inertia when it comes to posting the details.

The Cambrian Mountains are a wild and empty plateau lying between the Snowdonia and Brecon Beacons National Parks. They are Wales’ fourth national park in-waiting; designated in 1972, the Park was later cheated of recognition and protection, by an unholy alliance of landowners and politicians. It remains surprisingly unknown to a lot of people.

The Teifi pools lie to the north east of Strata Florida and are a group of lakes situated about 1500 ft up the western slopes of the Cambrian Mountains and this is a rather exceptional walk on a fine day. It can get very wet underfoot so good boots (and gaiters?) are essential pretty much any time of year.

Teifi Pools Map

Teifi Pools Map

As we are in the middle of an unusual heatwave in July 2013 we set off in the campervan the night before to make an early start. The walk is approached from a ‘no through’ road from Strata Florida and there is parking for about 3 or 4 cars at the point marked on the map above. There was no one else there at around 10.00 pm other than a lot of midges! So we camped there before setting off about 5.30 in the morning. The walk starts about 100 metres BEFORE or west of the parking place not where the footpath is shown in the map  If you try and take this route you’ll be going straight through a farm (Tyncwm) full of barking dogs. The path is an easy uphill, past a cairn, until you reach Llyn Egnant. Here the track becomes tarmac as it is a service road for the reservoir. Keep going until you reach a ‘T junction’ then turn left.

Llyn Egnant in the mist

Llyn Egnant in the mist early on a summer morning

Continue along this track with Llyn Hir on your left until you come to a board indicating that you have reached Llyn Teifi. Turn left and follow this track, through a gate until you reach the dam. Go through the small double metal gates then follow the track under the dam. Follow the lake side across all the other small dams. Once you have gone across the last one turn back sharp right and find the fairly indistinct track down the valley. Keep going down until you reach a small cairn, just ahead is a waymarked fence. Follow the path along the fence. The path turns away (left) by a marker post and goes up to another small cairn. The track should be more distinct now.

The Teifi Pools as the mist clears

The Teifi Pools as the mist clears

Follow the track towards the farm Frongoch. Go through the gate and in front of the house turn right and go over the ladder stile in front of the farm buildings. Keep following the track all the way to Troed-y-rhiw. When you come to the white holiday cottage there is a gate on the left, go through it into the field and follow the path across the field to a stile. Go over the sile and follow the contouring path down to the road. Turn left on the road and walk back to your starting point.

The walk is about 6.5 miles in total.

 

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