Category Archives: misc


I’ve been trying out Samsung’s foray into the Internet of Things (IoT) with a few of their SmartThings. Generally I’ve found them useful for security and linking them with If This Then That ( I have the starter pack which contains:

  • A motion sensor.
  • A multi-purpose sensor.
  • A presence sensor.
  • A connected plug socket.
  • The SmartThings hub.

Being able to access the status of the things on my phone has made me wish that our burglar alarm was equally connected. I made a little video describing how the guinea pigs are very pleased with the multi-purpose sensor.

3D Printing

If some tech journalists are to be believed, it is only a matter of time before we all have 3D printers in our homes. I’m not convinced that there are many times when you need to print a simple object, but I recently thought of one. There is a 3D printer at work and I thought I’d give it a go.

I have a rear light that attaches to the seat post of my bike. Unfortunately the seat post is not vertical and so the light ends up pointing towards the ground. I’ve previously solved the problem by wedging bit of rubber under one edge of the light but I thought I might be able to 3D print a better solution.

The image below shows the software I used to design the object – I got the dimensions and angles from the bike specifications.

Describing the object 'in code'

Describing the object ‘in code’

The software exported a 3D object fie that I then imported into the 3D printer software. The printer software translated the object into a set of movement instructions for the print head.

This software creates the printing instructions.

This software creates the printing instructions.

The printer starts to follow the instructions.

The printer gets to work.

The printer gets to work.

The 3D printed object is very light but quite tough.

The finished item.

The finished item.

Here it is on the bike, ensuring the light is level.

A perfectly level rear light.

A perfectly level rear light.

Movie rant

Jessica and I went to see the second Hobbit film last night, we enjoyed the film but I was reminded of a couple of movie annoyances.

Number one – we sat through 15 minutes of adverts followed by 10 minutes of trailers before we got to see the film. It started me wondering whether it’d be possible to have a web service that could tell you the start time of the main feature. If anyone knows of such a service or a cinema chain that shares this information it’d be great to know.

Number two – re-makes. I’ve recommended the film “Starbuck” for a while as it was funny and charming. Whilst waiting at the cinema we saw the trailer for “Delivery Man” which is the same film without the need for subtitles and (judging by the trailer) none of the charm.

Perhaps I’m just getting old.

Vegetable Garden

Veg patch

Yummy veg

We’ve got a lot of lovely veg growing in our new raised beds now so I thought I would show it all off to you…

The green goodness you can see in the photo is the sugar snap peas, cauliflower, lettuce & tomatoes. Planted in a few other places round the garden we also have rosemary, thyme, coriander, basil, spring onions and pak choi – all so yummy I can’t wait 🙂

Yorkshire Puds

Today I thought I’d have my first go at making Yorkshire Puddings. As I was born in Yorkshire I felt a lot of pressure to produce some reasonable puddings so was a little nervous about trying. As you can see from the pictures… they turned out OK and I think I could make them even better next time.

Well risen

Well risen

I used a recipe from Sainsburys with a batter of 75g plain flour, 2 eggs and 100ml semi-skimmed milk. I cooked them in a muffin tray but had to devote a whole oven to them as they need 220 degrees. Everyone seemed to enjoy them and I think they will be a permanent part of future roasts should you be able to share one with us soon.


On the plate with the rest of the roast

Biking in the snow

During the weekend before Easter I went up to Scotland to try out one of the trail centres up there. The trip had been arranged for some time as me and Dan wanted to make sure we got the nicer weather of spring. Obviously we didn’t get the weather we wanted… but we gave it a go anyway.

The trail centre is in Glentress Forest and promises some of the best mountain biking in the UK. We arrived to find a relatively clear car park but the snow on the trails was already 15cm deep and only got deeper as we climbed higher.

Dan climbs through the forest

Dan climbs through the forest

The going was OK if you stuck to the foot wide channel that some other riders had carved into the snow. Deviating from the track meant a battle with the handlebar and pedals to get out of the deeper snow (before you had to plunge your foot into a drift). Once we reached the height of the Buzzards car park it was difficult to get much higher. We had a quick go on “Berm baby berm” but most of the berms were un-rideable and had to be waded round.

Wrapped up warm

Wrapped up warm

At least the run down from Buzzard’s to the car was good – so good that we repeated the climb so that we could do it again. I had a good time but I look forward to returning to the trails in better weather one day.

Makes a good bike stand though

Makes a good bike stand though

The blog now lives at Tea Towers

You may not have noticed but the site looks a little bit different to how it did a month ago. I’ve been making some changes to the way the website is hosted. Until recently the files that make up this website were stored on a server in America… but now they’re on a tiny computer under the TV in our lounge. Yep, the whole site is now hosted on a Raspberry Pi.

I’ve included a picture of it below. You shouldn’t notice any real difference but I enjoyed making the changes – it was an interesting project.IMG_1537



At the weekend I finally took the opportunity to explore the area on my bike. Sale Water Park is nearby so I rode up there and did a lap of the lake – it’s a nice area to walk around and the paths are buggy friendly so if you visit us we might take you up there.

Ideally I’d like to explore further West along the Mersey (in picture) but that’ll have to wait until I next find time to get on the bike.

Mersey tributary