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One isn't supposed to use mowers and stuff on Sundays. I'm not sure if this only really applies to townies or what, but it gave me some time to profit from the cooler weather (next week is supposed to hover around 30°C - OMG!) in order to boss the brambles.

The French word "boss" (bosser) means to work hard, which is amusing given that my experience is that the boss tends to work the least and get paid the most.
Either way, I bossed my ass off, and made a breakthrough. That big pile of brambles that was impenetrable to anything short of a tank? Well, one can now walk the length and admire the scenery.


Along the way, I discovered an apple tree. I dimly remember mom complaining that the apple had a dumb name like GC161 instead of a real name like Braeburn or Bramley, but this must have been about a decade ago.
It has a few apples, which is not bad given that it's lurking under some oaks and up to its waist in weeds.


Thinking out loud - what would be good is to clear the area, remove the damaged parts of the fence (which is most of it), chop down the oak trees (too large, too close together, and too close to the building), and finally it might be a nice place to plant my bramley. Which, astonishingly, has one tiny attempt at an apple. Not bad, given it's basically a large twig in a pot.

The part of fence that remains? Hmm, the Mock Orange that I rescued seems to be coming along nicely, it might appreciate a cosy spot with a fence post to climb.

Hang on a mo... wasn't there a tap (and plastic pipe) fixed to one of those posts? I wonder where that went?

Here's a high up photo, showing a decent bit of work on the other side of the fence. The hard part is what remains, as it has to be cleared carefully because the fence has ivy (always a menace) and there's barbed wire - that I mark with bit of orange tape because taking a mower over that would be a world of pain.

Brambles - high up photo

Here's a video to enjoy. It is basically walking the length of the cleared part. Amusingly, when I went to take the first high up picture, I felt that there were too many brambles around the fence. It didn't look that good from high up. So, a couple of hours later than the above picture could be taken. Does mean, however, that the video was out of date before it had even finished uploading!
It's available in UHD (2160p), if your setup supports that, because, why not?


I have been asked how I actually do this. I'd love to say "hop in a tractor, attach the weed cutter thingy, drive back and forth for about four minutes, job done".
The reality, however, is that it is done in a torturously manual way:

  • The first stage is to get the brambles down to something below knee height (preferably even lower). For the very tall brambles, I cheated and threw a ladder on top, then walked on the ladder, bouncing up and down to push the brambles down. But that's not the sole method, as give 'em half an hour and they'll pick themselves up.
    So it required also chopping into them with hedge clippers. Old rusty ones that couldn't cut grass but seem perfectly adept at smashing bramble.
    But, when all else fails, the best method is to simply get the bramble scythe (a long flat piece of metal with the end bent outwards, and sharpened on both sides) and basically hack away at the things. You see this demonstrated in the video below.
  • The second stage, very important, is to identify if there's any barbed wire. If there is, mark it clearly to avoid running over it with the mower.
  • The final task is to get the mower. No ordinary mower, but a solid one (with an eighteen year old blade that couldn't cut butter) and let it chew its way through the now-flattened brambles. Do it all on a medium cut, and give it another pass on low cut. That's good and bad. Good because it helps to cut down the stalks that remain, but bad as it could equal Marte for the amount of dust and rubbish thrown into the air.
  • Then admire the work and tell yourself it was worth it when you have bites from evil blood sucking flies and more perforations on my body parts than had a psycho employee attacked me with their precious red stapler...

Here's another video, to demonstrate:

But, now, after a third of my holiday has passed, I can now walk the length of the plot of land behind the piggery, that has been a forgotten wilderness for, probably, a good half decade.


That reminds me - the hidden tap.
Actually, it's a hidden pipe with a cap. Not to worry, I don't think it would be too difficult to remove the cap and fit a tap there if it is desired for watering things. The slate on the ground is covering a buried valve, in order that the above-ground part can be completely disconnected in the winter. The question will surely be - does this still work?

Water point



I mowed the driveway this morning. Marte started a little more easily (ho ho). Only had to crank for about forty seconds (twice 20 seconds with a rest in between). Following that, it all seemed okay. I can't comment on fuel consumption until I've mown a larger piece of land, however right now everything looks sort of dead.


Rendition flight?

Yesterday afternoon I was looking at flights coming and going on the western Atlantic using FlightRadar24. It was interesting to note that some planes were yellow (as is normal) and some were blue. The blue ones are tracked by satellite, which is especially prevalent across the ocean, given that mid-ocean is too far from ground based tracking.
One plane that caught my eye a little below Ireland was marked as BLOCKED, with no information, no route, nothing.
BLOCKED aircraft below Ireland in FlightRadar24 (full screenshot)
Because this screenshot is huge, I'll clip the rest to the part of interest. They're all FlightRadar24 screenshots.

Note also that it is very high up, reported nearly 45,000 feet, and flying pretty damn fast at 507 knots (that's something like 940kph). While this isn't Stealth jet behaviour, it's worth noting that looking at things right now, a Cargolux 747 (LUX-JFK) in the same area is at 34,000 feet and 417 knots. A Dreamliner (CDG-YUL) is 433 knots and 38,000 feet. A Boeing 777 (LGW-BDA) is 38,000 feet and 425 knots. There's a ridiculous pile of aircraft heading towards JFK in New York as I write this. Average height is 38,000 feet, average speed is about 460 knots.
The only anomaly I can see at the moment is a Cargolux (474) going the opposite way to the first (JFK-LUX) which is zipping along at 560 knots. I'm guessing favourable winds or somebody's late. At any rate, 37,000 feet.

Which made me wonder about a BLOCKED plane flying extremely high. Looking at the plot of its journey, it started off in Tocumen International Airport, Panama City. It kept its altitude to fly over France (just south of Caen), turning a little more southwards to fly past Zurich. A bit of sightseeing of Venice, not that you'd see much at 45,000 feet, until it made it's way down the middle of the Adriatic Sea.
It started to descend passing San Marino, until it hung a left, twice, and at 6pm (CEST), landed in Split.

BLOCKED plane, landing in Split
You can see there's a plane following our BLOCKED one. That's transavia flight TO4218 from Paris that was supposed to land at 18h20, got there for 17h59, literally moments after the flight we're interested in. Which, note, does not show up on the report of what flights arrived at that airport.

So, a high flying plane that wanted to hide it's identity flying the unexpected route of Panama to Croatia. I wonder if this was some sort of diplomatic flight, or - given the sort of stuff people think the CIA gets up to, some sort of rendition flight. It's certainly within the flight capabilities of the CIA's favourite, the Gulfstream V.

Next time guys, don't block your identity. It's a bit Streisand-effect. A BLOCKED aircraft stands out amongst the pile of aircraft going to and fro over the Atlantic on a Sunday. Had you been marked something like Private, Embraer, PTY-SPU, I would have thought "bloody hell, that's a long journey", and prodded a different aircraft. The secrecy? It stood out.

BLOCKED plane, full route from Panama City to Split



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VinceH, 4th August 2020, 16:05
This reminds me of a few weeks ago at my parents' place - I was staying there while they were away to look after the dog. 
Early one evening - as is often the case there - the sound of a helicopter could be sound nearby. This time, though, it was really loud - very close, or very low, or both. Taking a look, it was actually two helicopters - Chinooks (or at least two tandem rotor helicopters - but probably Chinooks) - flying really low, one close behind the other. 
Apart from how low they were flying - wish I had my camera with me - nothing particularly odd. They disappeared in the direction of Filton Airfield. 
Until later that evening, when I heard them again - just as loud as before. I couldn't see them from the front/side window as before, so I nipped out into the back garden, and at first I could only see one, on a reverse course from earlier, heading away from Filton roughly in the direction of Avonmouth (or further - the same direction would take them over into Wales). 
Here's the interesting bit, though. 
*At first* I could see only one - but there *were* two, as before. The other was flying dark, and against the night sky it was hard to spot - especially when the first one was lit up as normal, and not far behind it. 
Might have just been an exercise - but who knows? 

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