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Archive for March, 2014

DSCF7928-001My annual ‘blow away the cobwebs’ retreat takes me to the Gower Peninsula in South Wales for a couple of days. A chance to walk the cliffs and waters edge and see what the the winter has thrown onto the shore.

DSCF7916Not just about the coastline, though you are never far from it, Gower is criss-crossed by old ways running between little fields, ruined castles and standing stones on open moorland. As the sun rises higher through March it starts to creep into sunken paths it’s not seen since last Autumn. The wild garlic starts to grow, soon you’ll smell it.

DSCF7991I like to be there before it becomes crowded as it will be in the height of the summer. In March I have the beaches almost to myself – except for Oystercatchers, Gulls and the odd Shag in the water. ( In case you are not familiar with UK coastline I’d better point out that a Shag is a seabird very similar to a Cormorant. )

DSCF7963Then there are the cliffs. Scenery for which Gower is rightly famous. The stretch from Port Eynon to Rhossili is my favourite walk,  littered by headlands, narrow ledges, rocky inlets and caves – like  Goat’s Hole at Paviland – where the skeleton of the ‘Red Lady’ was discovered in the 19th century. Subsequently discovered to have been neither a lady nor red and 33,000 years old, you can easily leave the 21st Century behind as you walk towards the dragon like shape of the Worm’s Head at Rhossili.

 DSCF8045That’s helped by all the signs left from human habitation over centuries – drystone walls and limekilns lie mixed with the curved earth banks and ditches of prehistoric forts.

DSCF7947The mark of the 20th Century is not quite so well suited to the landscape. Unlike the drystone walls, limekilns, earth banks and ‘red ladies’  the mountains of plastic on the shore are not made from local materials and don’t blend into the landscape over the decades. Bio-degrading is a misnomer – they simply breakup into millions of small bits and pieces which are even harder to clean up and once small enough can enter the food chain. Somebody got here before me!  What used to be beachcombing has become beach-cleaning and every spring teams of volunteers work hard to remove as much as possible – good work! But it would be so much easier if we didn’t make and throw away so much unnecessary plastic in the first place.

DSCF8086Amonths of endless gales I managed to catch a couple of calmer spring days and as I write this blog I can hear the birds singing outside. Amazing how quickly you start to forget the wind, rain and floods once the sun comes out. The stonechat likes to sit right on top of the gorse scrub and ‘chat’ as I walk along – a very welcome reminder that Spring is on the way.

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(Warning – Excessive Landrover content – you may want to look away now!)

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Anyway this is an update on the trials and tribulations of one of my old Series II Landrovers in this case Puff, my 1961 Long Wheel Base pickup. When last seen, and after an engine rebuild Puff was working hard on the commons. Just possibly a little bit toooo hard?

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But what’s this? Well I call it – Landrover Sad Face  😦

Called Puff the magic landrover because of the registration plate PFF 623 and because one day it’s there and the next day it’s in parts again. Right at the moment is no exception to the rule.

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Just when it was all going so well. What went wrong?  Checking under the Landrover in late spring I found major problems with the chassis. No time to fix it during the summer so Puff sat waiting for attention and some TLC through the summer until the autumn. When I thought it would be a quick job. Should have known better. Should have known a lot better.

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Working on a rusted chassis is never fun – and even less so once the rain is continuous. So time to take the rear body off and throw some light and lots of rain on the subject. As soon as I remove one area I found the damage had spread along the chassis to the next. Before I knew if the rear spring hanger was off – and it’s still raining.

Most of the damage was likely caused by working on the commons through the winter. Probably an unexpected stump in the chassis area! The impact peeled back the bottom of the a cross member and tore along the bottom rail of the chassis – also cracking up the side of the chassis – which shows just how thin and vulnerable the steel had become.

Fixing it is possible – but with the likelihood of more work need each year and with the rain still coming down – I had a sense of humour failure! What I need is a Silver Machine………..

DSCF7759What’s this ? Four silver machines – maybe I’ve over ordered? Luckily for my wallet, everything is fine – mine was on the top – and the nice man from Richard’s chassis near Sheffield is on a whistlestop tour of the South of England delivering the ultimate Landrover chassis repair kits. AKA my Silver Machine. In the words of the song……

It flies

Out of a dream

Antisceptically clean

It turns everything green

Do you wanna ride see yourself going by

the other side of the sky

I mean a Silver Machine

I’ve got a Silver Machine………

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Finally I’ve worked out what Hawkwind were singing about after all this years – clear a landrover galvanised chassis – from those nice people at Richards Chassis (have I plugged them enough yet). OK  I am getting a little bit carried away and very nerdy. But I am so looking forward to working with Puff again on the commons and not having to weld him up for at least 20 years. But it seems there is just a little bit of work to do first. Meanwhilst back to the woods…..and it’s still raining!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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