The Exile Files

Raging Against the Outrageous. Laughter and Insanity Abound.

Double Trouble

Posted by Exile on May 23, 2023

If it’s worth doing, do it well…

We were promised rain today, so digging the garden, or other outdoor activity, was going to be a bit tricky.
I was also a bit excited about the tractor I had ordered being delivered today and a whole lot of flower bulbs, corms and seeds which I hope will give the garden some colour. Coincidentally, both deliveries happened at the same time.
More about the tractor later. I have to read an instruction manual first.

So, in the event of rain, what can be done? The Americans have that fine building, The Pentagon. We can beat that. We have an eight-sided pavilion. We call it “The Octagon”. It needs some work and some fitting out…

We had removed a folding leaf table from the kitchen when we moved in. The long haired one didn’t want it and it had to go. She had me install some shelving in its place but I kept the table. One never knows…
I thought it might be the perfect thing to hang in The Octagon and it would provide me with a place to smoke my pipe in the winter, if nothing else. Having discussed the affair with the good lady, I got cracking.
Tape measure, spirit level, drill, screws, pencil, it is grand to have all the relevant tools at hand. I got to work.
I measured the width of one of the internal sections and found center. I drew a vertical reference line on the wall. I then measured for the desired height of the table and drew a horizontal reference line. The table is hung on a board which has a perpendicular section upon which the drop leaf is hinged. I measured the depth required from the table top to place the screws that hold the thing to the wall and measured the distance from center that the first screw would need. I marked accordingly. Here we go then. I drove the screw in to make a pilot hole. I placed a screw into the back of the table and lifted and pulled the table to the relevant position to set the first screw. A success. Child’s play.

Now, this thing is heavy. I needed to lift it to be able to find the position for all the other screws. This is more precise than measuring. Basically, I only needed to set one more screw and then it would be easy. I was lying on the floor, trying to lift the table, find horizontal and use the drill/screw machine to set the second screw all at once.
I needed more hands and didn’t have them. I attempted to support the end of the table with my spirit level in order to allow me to use my left hand for other, more useful purposes that just supporting a lot of weight. It was not comfortable lying on the floor either. It was difficult to reach the required height to put the screw in. And yet, despite all that, I did it. I had two screws holding the thing up! Yay.. Pat myself on the back.
Now I could set the remaining screws easily. And so I did. Job done.
I stood back and admired my handiwork. It wasn’t quite horizontal. It was central to everything, but not quite horizontal. I thought, “I’ll live with it.” But it wasn’t quite horizontal.. That would annoy me forever but I didn’t want to go through all that pain and effort again. Determined to ignore it, I gathered all my tools and prepared to leave. I turned to the door and then I realised…

It was in the wrong place!

It should have been directly opposite the door. It wasn’t. It had to go. After a good deal of cursing and a cup of tea, I removed it from its position and started again. It’s where it should be now. She had a good laugh about it. I had a long session of self chastisement but actually it didn’t matter. Having done the job once, I got it done again with less trouble in less time and used a proper support to help me find horizontal. It’s alright now. We had the wicker chairs and didn’t quite know where to put them. They have a home now.
I need to do more in there. The floor needs sanding and finishing. The windows need a good cleaning. The door doesn’t close properly and I need to find some form of lighting. There is a power supply in there. I may even fit a paraffin heater or something similar for those colder evenings.
Still, it’s a start. Better than doing nothing because of a drop of rain…


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The Garden..

Posted by Exile on May 21, 2023

…isn’t really a garden.

What we have is a remnant of what was once a copse or a piece of woodland. We have large beech trees, a silver birch, a whitebeam, a few trees that I cannot truly identify yet and a couple of large fruit trees, which may be pear or plum. I don’t think we have an apple tree but that remains to be seen. I have found young ash trees growing in the eastern side of the property which I might move to fill a few gaps in the hedgerow that borders the place.
There are young beech saplings there too. I will not be removing or cutting them down. I want some new stock to grow here, to leave behind when I’m gone. There are bluebells growing under some of these trees. Colour in the grass. A boon to the eye. There are a few really old tree stumps, cut right down to the level of the ground.
We have some fruit bushes, probably currants or gooseberry. I won’t know until they go into fruit. I am no botanist, so this is going to take me some time.

I am tackling what was once a chicken run. About 100 square meters of overgrown ground that was full of nettles and weeds and the dreaded Japanese knotweed. That has to go. I had thought of chemical assault but Round Up is apparently not effective on roots which is precisely how the knotweed spreads. I also have it out on the periphery of our property and it is on its way into the adjoining fields. I have met the local farmer. His grandfather built this house and he farms the fields that surround us. I believe he won’t want the creeping pest in his fields and I will speak with him to hear if he has something effective to kill this stuff. I’m sure he will.
I planted two honeysuckle close to the fence around this chicken run. They are doing well and I will train them up the two metre high fence. I can’t dig for long these days. My back won’t have it and I don’t want the pain again, so I dig one line across the entire width of the run every day. This is to clean the ground. So far, I have removed a trailer full of nettle roots and other plant debris. I have planted a cherry tree right in the middle and later I will sow grass and a mixture of wild flowers to make a wild garden surrounding the cherry. I’m at the half way stage now. It has taken a month so far. I have planted some bush beans at the edges of the run to give a little shelter. Once they are harvested I will remove what is left and till the whole patch in the autumn with the cultivator ready for grass.

I have to clean up and determine an area which holds a pond. I believe it has a plastic liner but is so overgrown that getting to it now is out of the question. I believe the liner is punctured as there is little water to be found in it. This is close to our garden pavillion. A solid structure, totally enclosed with large windows. There is no furniture in there at the moment but that will come with time. I could use it as a sort of greenhouse if I chose to do so. Add that to the terrace, which is large and faces the West at the back of the house and we have a lot of recreational space to relax in, even if the weather isn’t all that good.

I have bought a garden tractor to get the grass cut. 1500 square meters is a lot of ground to go round with a man powered lawn mower. I will not attempt it. Despite my plans to leave a lot of area as wild as is possible without being overgrown, there is a huge area of grass to be kept and clipped. Also necessary will be a small trailer I can drag round to collect bits of fallen branches and twigs from the large trees. They tend to shed a little in the wind.

There is much to do. I am in no hurry. We shall see what grows here this year and adjust as necessary as we go forward. I want more colour. I have no idea as to how I will achieve that. But I will…!

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Settling in..

Posted by Exile on May 7, 2023

It’s been a hard few months… but it’s starting to feel like home.

We moved in on the 15th of March and ended the day sitting amongst a hundred and twenty boxes and a stack of furniture that we didn’t really know where to put. A good nights sleep and the unpacking got underway.
Our bed was in the right place but that was only temporary. My dear wife had decided we needed a new bed a long time ago and now was the time to find it. Likewise, the old living room furniture was due for replacement, so that had to be done too. The cellar needed some shelving to hold everything that it needed to hold and I had to find space for a food store and a secondary kitchen area for the rougher side of cooking. The dining room was the only place that seemed not to need any great effort. At least we would eat in a comfortable place while we put the rest of the house in order… I got the internet working, the TV and the wi-fi. We could now follow the news, stay in touch with the bank and solicitors and such and generally conduct our daily business and pay any bills.

We began to find problems. A wall in the living room needed some repair. The plaster had let go of the brickwork and we had a large “blister” under the wallpaper. The toilet kept blocking up. The carpeting on the upstairs landing and down over the stairs was worn right out. The carpet in the smaller upstairs bedroom wasn’t worth much either. All that had to be replaced. My good lady didn’t want carpet in the entry way by the front door either. Vinyl flooring was the way to go. New curtains, well, blinds, was what she wanted.
I got hold of a drain and sewer company, we ordered new furniture, I found a builder and decorator. We ordered new curtains, new carpets, new flooring. All this takes time and it has been a month of mess, noise and waiting for professional help and workmen, but it’s all done now. Thank heavens. Time to sit back, relax and breathe.

Living here is going to be good. We have moved into a small community. Everybody knows everybody else. We are around 300 yards from the village but we have not escaped the attention of the locals. Many have welcomed us as they pass by and people appear friendly and welcoming. I do know one guy in the village. We are old pipe smoking companions. We used to meet at various competitions. Small world.
There are no shops nearby. The nearest supermarket is a couple of miles away. The largest town is 15 miles away, the nearest town doesn’t offer much and is 5 miles away. Shopping is going to be on a weekly basis.
There is no “popping down to the shop” here. It’s a trip, whichever way you go.
The landscape is on our side. We are up on a hill so our horizon is slightly larger than it once was. We have no direct neighbours, we are surrounded by fields. The nearest neighbours are a murder of crows and the closest human occupation is out of earshot. We are visited by hares and pheasants and other creatures. The road is just outside our property but is so lightly trafficked that we are not bothered by it. No street lighting, so the sky is big and visible at night. There is a beach not far away. A large and yet to be explored woodland beckons at about a kilometer away. A small harbour close by. I can be happy here. It has all I need to occupy my mind.

The garden will need some work. I intend to let it go this year in order to see what grows where. We have 11 large trees on the property. Six are beech, one silver birch, a couple of undetermined fruit trees, pear or apple but I’m not sure, there are fruit bushes, probably currants. There are flowering shrubs spread around the place and a few bushes that I have no idea about. Elderberry. I always wanted a cherry tree, so I planted one. We’ll see how that goes… The long haired one wants some wild flowers around the place. I’ll have to figure out where they will grow best. We have the room, I just need to decide on the placing. I have found three new beech seedlings in the lawn. I will look after them and hopefully transplant them into the hedgerow. We have a few gaps there that will need filling soon. I like the thought of leaving a few trees behind me when I’m gone.

This place will be my last adventure. I’m seventy years old this year. I hope I have some years left here. I know I will be happy here. I am also determined to be happy. We own this place outright. Economically, we are fine.
My daughter and grandson have just visited for the first time this weekend. They seemed to like the place. I took the lad fishing. We didn’t catch a thing and it got cold in the end but he enjoyed himself no end. We’ll try again in the summer. I need to get the motor bike out. The country roads around here were made for cruising sedately on two wheels. We will make friends here.

I’ll try to keep you all updated as we continue along. Be patient.
Wish us luck.

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Move Along…

Posted by Exile on February 3, 2023

About six months ago we decided to take the chance and move away from Copenhagen. Since then we have found a house with enough ground around it to keep me happy and with no neighbours around me to make me unhappy. We bought the place and hoped that this house which we now occupy, will be sold sooner or later.
Time marches on. Having bought the new house just before Christmas we have been planning how to move and when. We have cleared out a heap of collected detritus, stuff we no longer need or use and things that we had forgotten we owned. Suddenly, moving day is looming large on the horizon and we have now contacted a removals company to get us going. We have a lot to pack and we need a little time to do it. Our movers reckon we will need 110 boxes to pack all our stuff in. I have no idea if that is right or not but they appear to have an understanding of volume, so we’ll go with that for now. Some of our belongings will be moved by us using a trailer behind the car and by taking full advantage of the back seats. Some things are too delicate or too valued to be left to rough workmen, no matter how professional they may purport to be.!

Last week the final part of the puzzle fell into place. This old pile of bricks has been sold at last. An investor with a plan to build up and out has bought the place and we should be free of it on the 1st. of April. Which suits me fine as we take our new place under our wings on the 1st. of March. Moving day is set to the 15th of March.
It has been a journey. We have been told that this place was sold three times already, but each time there was always a snag with finances or banks not truly living up to what was promised. It has been a roller coaster of emotion.
The most traumatic experience after losing a loved one is to move house. At least, that is what I am told by those that have tried it. I have moved before but always for myself and by myself. I looked upon it as breaking camp, moving to a new site and then rebuilding a camp. This time I have to drag my good lady along with me and, therefore, I have relinquished total control over events.
I’m sure we’ll get through it. I’ll let you know how we get on….

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It’s Been a While…

Posted by Exile on December 21, 2022

but things have been busy.

This hasn't been my best year. I put my back out in August and it has taken me a while to get back up on my feet again. The doctor says it will never get really better, my back is worn out and I'll simply have to learn to live with it. OK. I can do that. My gardening days are over, that's for sure, unless I can do something with raised beds and such. Otherwise, I'll be taking it easy, whatever I do. I didn't get out on the bike this year either. That really upset me. We have decided to move away from Copenhagen. Now that my good lady and I are both pensioners we have no need for the big city any longer. I was always determined to leave when the chance arose and indeed, it has. We have found a really nice spot on Falster. For the unknowing, Falster is a large island just South of Sealland. The house is secluded, surrounded by fields, one kilometre from a very pretty woodland and only one and a half kilometres from a beach, complete with a small harbour. The local village is at least six hundred yards further down the road away from the woods. We have a magnificent view of the local landscape. We have two thousand square metres to run around in and most of it is lawn and bushes. We have a barn, workshop and garage and an eighty square metre large workshop hall that I can use as both shed, workshop and garage. Room for the cars, trailer and Thumper, all under one roof. There is also room to have the family come and stay. We move in March 2023. I can't wait. Speaking of family, we have increased in number. Not that anybody had kids, you understand. My dear daughter found herself a beau. Not just any old beau, but an American chappie from Alabama. Welcome "Rocky", as he is affectionately known. I have to bend my ear a little as I am not yet quite used to that long Southern drawl but I'm sure it will all work itself out. He arrived here on the 14th of December, my daughter's birthday. He had been delayed leaving Chicago and missed his flight from London, Heathrow. A ten hour delay. He was worn out when he eventually arrived so I didn't get to speak with him much at that point and right now he is sick with the flu. He'll be here with us for Christmas though, so we'll get to know each other then. A big lad, served in the US Army in Iraq. We have much in common. The really good news is, that my grandson says he's a fun guy. Which is praise indeed from my little cynic.... Christmas is upon us. I do enjoy this time of year but we have turned down the volume this year. Fuel bills and inflation have taken their toll on us and now, with the big investment made, we need to mind the pennies for a while yet. We still have to sell this old house we are presently living in, but there is interest and we are hopeful, if not entirely optimistic, of a quick sell. This would be the time to wish everybody a merry Christmas and a happy and prosperous new year. I do hope we get one! Take care, y'all. (See, that drawl is kicking in....)

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Worth Reading…

Posted by Exile on August 12, 2022

Oliver Cromwell dissolved the British Parliament in 1653. Tired of the misrepresentation, lies and corruption, he decided that enough was more than enough. We need men of this calibre now. His speech may be as damning today as it was then and, as far as I can see, valid for both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. These are his words:

“It is high time for me to put an end to your sitting in this place, which you have dishonored by your contempt of all virtue, and defiled by your practice of every vice.

Ye are a factious crew, and enemies to all good government.

Ye are a pack of mercenary wretches, and would like Esau sell your country for a mess of pottage, and like Judas betray your God for a few pieces of money.
Is there a single virtue now remaining amongst you? Is there one vice you do not possess?
Ye have no more religion than my horse. Gold is your God. Which of you have not bartered your conscience for bribes? Is there a man amongst you that has the least care for the good of the Commonwealth?

Ye sordid prostitutes have you not defiled this sacred place, and turned the Lord’s temple into a den of thieves, by your immoral principles and wicked practices? Ye are grown intolerably odious to the whole nation. You were deputed here by the people to get grievances redressed, are yourselves become the greatest grievance.

Your country therefore calls upon me to cleanse this Augean stable, by putting a final period to your iniquitous proceedings in this House; and which by God’s help, and the strength he has given me, I am now come to do.

I command ye therefore, upon the peril of your lives, to depart immediately out of this place.

Go, get you out! Make haste! Ye venal slaves be gone! So! Take away that shining bauble there, and lock up the doors.

In the name of God, go! “

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Narex Butt Chisels

Posted by Exile on August 9, 2022

I needed them. So I got them. I have a good set of Irwin chisels. They have served me well and I keep them sharp and clean. I have no complaints regarding them. However, I find them a bit clumsy when it comes to the finer details. Clumsy is perhaps the wrong word. Unwieldy may be a better term.
Butt  chisels are a shorter tool. The handles are round and fit into the hand comfortably. Being a shorter, more compact affair than a bench chisel makes them ideal for detailed work and the rounded end of the handle makes it easy to push the chisel forward or give it a thump with the large pad under your thumb without risking  compression injury to the underlying tendons.
Made in the Czech Republic and purchased from Dieter Schmid, Fine Tools in Germany, not overly expensive but not cheap, they were as sharp as any other chisels are straight out of the box, but I knew they weren’t really sharp, or as sharp as I would like them.
I flattened the backs of them on a 1000 grit diamond plate, which took very little effort as they were quite well machined and really flat. The primary bevels were ground to the usual 25° and again, very well done. A minimum of work to polish them. I then ground a fine 30° secondary bevel and stropped the whole lot to within an inch of their lives. I ended up with very sharp chisels indeed.
I have no idea how well they will hold that edge but all the reviews I have seen state that they do hold an edge well. We shall see.
I can’t wait to use them in earnest.

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Whole Lot of Somethin’ Going On…

Posted by Exile on July 29, 2022

And most of it is pretty good…
My back is improving. It’s not as painful as it was, but still not entirely resolved. I’m off to the doctor again on Monday. I need to get this diabetes sorted out too. There has to be an alternative to Metformin. I won’t take the stuff. It does terrible things to my guts. A big day coming there then…

Meanwhile, I’ve been off camping with my daughter, her half sister and my grandson and my ex. Mother of my daughter. We’re still good friends. My dear wife doesn’t do camping. An interesting week in darkest Jutland. Jelling, to be exact. The first place where the name “Denmark” was ever coined in script, albeit runic, carved in stone and still visible today, and courtesy of King Harald Bluetooth. Resting place of King Gorm and his wife, Thyra. The weather was good to us, all that week.

While I was away, my good lady sold the house. We were trying to sell anyway, so I can’t complain, but that deed now sets us a few problems. OK, the paperwork needs to be fully sorted out and a few inspections have to be made, but ultimately it means that we are going to have to move away from Copenhagen, mainly because I’m done with living very close to a big city, and try to find a piece of rural heaven. We have a few places in mind.
A friend told me, not long ago, you need to be able to hear eternity. Wise words, I thought. I’m looking for a reasonably isolated, peaceful place with about a hectare of land where I can plant a few trees and hear no more than birdsong and wind. I want buildings outside the home so I can garage the cars (and my motorbike) and set up a small workshop. I want room enough to set up an archery range for myself and I want somewhere I can go out and photograph. Near to the coast would be nice.
I’m not picky…
The place needs to be ready to move into. Modernised. My good lady would not be happy with a home that we have to pour more money into just to make it liveable. We need living space and room to entertain and house family visitors. I want internet and good phone reception.
We have found a couple of candidates already. As soon as the money hits the bank, we’re off.

I can’t wait to get going….

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My Aching Back

Posted by Exile on June 29, 2022

It’s no joke.
About a month ago my back started aching. I thought nothing of it, I’m not getting any younger, but as time went by, it got steadily worse. It went from a nagging ache to pain and then moved on to absolute agony. Fed up with the pain and the constant intake of household pain killers, I finally caved in and humped off to the doctor. He thinks it’s a trapped nerve or something muscular so he prescribed some stronger than household pain medication and organised a scan, or X-ray, I’m not sure which, scheduled for a week away. I can get around with the use of a walking stick and some slight cursing of my situation.
Everything is on hold right now. I’m useless. The garden is overgrown, so is the grass and the hedge around it. I can’t get out as much as I would like to and I’m generally fed up to the back teeth with the inactivity.
I am taking so many pills on a daily basis that I rattle like a maracas when I move. The artificial opiates work though and I wouldn’t be without them right now. Add Panodil and Ibuprofen and a muscle relaxant and that is my medication. I feel like the local dope fiend…
As someone once said, this too will pass. I certainly hope so. I always say that if I get to the point where I can’t stand up and pee, I’ll lay down and die.
Let’s hope we don’t get to that state of affairs….

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A Dear Child…

Posted by Exile on May 21, 2022

..has many names.

That’s a rough translation of an old Danish proverb.

I just bought a dear child. It was quite expensive, but I’m going to love it.

I needed to cut rebates (rabbets, to my American chums) for a little woodworking project. How rebates got to be rabbets just by crossing the Atlantic, I don’t know.
The idea was to set the base board of a box into the carcass making the bottom invisible from the sides. A bit of research led me to a plethora of solutions all involving saws, chisels and other impliments, which I do have but I don’t necessarily have the skill to do the job with the accuracy it requires. My eyes aren’t that good either and that doesn’t help. I could attempt to do it with the router but that is a cumbersome piece of machinery for such a delicate job. Then I discovered the Fillister plane. Or rebate plane, or shoulder plane, or sash plane or any other number of titles for this little tool depending on where one lives and the vernacular one uses. To make it all a bit clearer, see the picture on the right. It is a Stanley no. 78.

A complicated piece of equipment. It has a moveable fence to limit the width of the cut and a depth stop to limit how deep one can go. Removing these two parts will allow one to use it as a normal, full width, plane although I wouldn’t be tempted to try using it as a smoother. The blade is a bit weird as well, being broader at the cutting edge than the part that fits into the body. It needed to be tuned up as a new plane always does. They may appear sharp, but they aren’t. They appear flat and smooth on the sole, but they aren’t. In fact the blade came with a little chip taken out of the cutting edge, so a little grinding and honing was required just to eradicate that. However, with a little fettling and honing, the thing is now ready for use. Cutting across the grain also requires that the “nicker” is brought into play. This is in fact a little knife like blade that sits in front of the cutting iron and it severs the wood fibers vertically before the iron gets to the wood. It is not required when planing along the grain. The cutting iron can also be moved to the very front of the tool where a second frog is positioned, turning this into a bull nose plane. Versatile. I like that..
Having tried it today I’m thoroughly pleased with it. The trick of it is, to keep pressure against the fence while planing down the length of your work piece. It will let you know when you’ve reached full depth. It simply stops cutting…

Now I can do this… and not cut my fingers!

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