Friday, December 26, 2008


Yesterday as I was helping our friend Sheila cook Christmas dinner a wasp flew down and somehow got caught between my face and my glasses and as a consequence I got stung quite badly. This morning my eye has swollen up and hurts like mad.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

A White Christmas

Well just in case you miss it I can confirm that here in the Canaries we do have a white christmas Ok it's only above 2,500 meters but as you can see there is snow on the mountain top. All we got at our level of 500m was a lot of rain and a thunder storm which took the power out for a short while. Now this morning the sun is out as the sky is blue with just a few clouds out to sea.Snow at the Roque de Los Muchachos Observatory on Xmas Day from the webcam on the Jacobus Kapteyn Telescope (JKT)
The view from the window here with clouds out to sea

Merry Xmas

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Christmas

Just a quick note to all our Blog readers


The Observatory Dome is Built

OK so it's only 20cm diameter and made of cardboard. But it is a prototype. me and Helen made this dome yesterday afternoon to prove if the concept of making a geodesic dome from plywood sheets would work. As you can see the final result looks dome like, it is fairly ridged apart from round the lower edge but then it is held together with scotch tape. The full sized one will also have a solid band around the bottom to support it and keep it round.
If you look on the inside you can see that it is made up of a number of triangles joined together in either hexagons or pentagons the gaps between each will not be as noticeable on the final thing as the measurements will be easier to get exact due to the fact that we will be dealing with something 10 times bigger.

The next thing to do on the model is to coat it with some papermache and then once dried I will then be able to cut the hole in it for the dome opening. In the full scale version it will have a coat of fibreglass for waterproofing. Once I have used this scale model to sort out some of the idea's I would like to be able to make a start on planning to build the observatory next year.

Review 2008

Well as the end of the year draws near it's time to review what progress has been made over the last year, and also what has gone wrong.

In January we finally finished decorating the front room which we are calling the library, and the permission came through from the town hall to enable us to put a roof on the old water tank which we are going to turn into a bathroom. Then in February we got the builders in and in 3 days they had the roof on and finished. Meanwhile we got started on the dining room inside which up to this point has just been bear concrete walls. On the outside the mild weather meant that we could finish the steps and ramp down the side of the house. March saw a trip back to the UK to see Helen's grandson Theo. This trip was not as relaxing as I would have liked due to flight delays and missing bags. Also in March we had a scare as Helen fell from one terrace to another requiring a trip to the hospital for an x-ray on suspected broken ribs. Luckily she was OK just badly bruised. April saw work on the area for the water tanks as part of the preparation for the permanent drainage systems.

In May the doorway was converted into a window and the plastering of the walls and ceiling in the dinning room continued. Then in June the first part of the drains went in and the dinning room got painted and woodwork varnished. Then in July the miracle happened we finally got indoor plumbing and the tiles went down in the dining room. Which soon lead in August after a trip to Tenerife to the temporary kitchen going in and finally after 18 months I had a gas cooker with more than 2 rings and sink where the water went somewhere when you pulled the plug out this now means that work can start on the old kitchen which needs the old work tops demolishing and the drainage putting in and also the drainage for the bathroom needs to run through there. Since then it has been crazy I have gone from last year of only having 1 hour of teaching outside of school to having to turn people away as I don't have any more time to give classes. It has not been helped by having a bad head cold which refuses to go away, November and December have also been very cold and damp which has not made things easier. But at the moment the sun is shining.

Recently we have been demolishing the old kitchen. which included a large concrete chimney over what was the old fireplace. Hitting this with a large hammer enabled Helen to get rid of some of her frustrations. All that is left is a very thick concrete beam which goes form wall to wall and will have to be gut out with the angle grinder.

The only bad thing of real note is the continued problems with the car. We have had to have the clutch cable replaced, the ventilation fan is on the blink and I have just been given a price of nearly 400€ to replace it. Without the fan you get a smell of petrol into the car so it has to be replaced soon. The car still has wear on the front tires due to the corners here. And to top it all she still has the intermittent problem where she over revs at idle and despite us cleaning everything it is still happening so I will have to take the car into the workshop early next year and see if they can sort it out.