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Latest news





June 2022


With another lengthy gap since the last update, I guess this will have to be another compressed summary of what's been going on. And to be fair, there's not a massive amount to report this time.

The webcam situation has certainly stabilised, albeit not before one more twist to the tale - that of the unfortunate apparent failure of my Stardot Netcam SC :(. Back in my August 2019 update, now in Archive News, I reported that in its previous location the Stardot had thrown a wobbler and lost all of its settings. Well sadly this was not to be just a one-off event. It happened again, thankfully in its new and more easily accessible Camera 2 location. Then again. And again. I finally decided enough was enough, and turned once again to my favourite source of used gear, a well-known online auction site, where I picked up yet another Axis P1344 for under 50 GBP. So now all of my cameras are the same make and model, a model which has been extremely reliable over the course of several years, and has produced nice clear images. There was only one thing I wasn't happy about - I missed the lovely four-line extended overlay that the Stardot allowed. Not to worry, a little bit more software development fixed that, with the overlay added ex-camera. Even better, I was in fact able to broadly retain the look of the Stardot overlay, with similar font and text/background colours. I've done this only for Camera 2, and don't feel it's something I necessarily need to extend to the other cameras. It's just nice to have one camera with an extended overlay. So my webcam setup now looks like:

- Camera 1: Axis P1344 (visible only, in-camera one-line overlay)

- Camera 2: Axis P1344 (visible only, four-line ex-camera overlay)

- Camera 3: Axis P1344 (visible/IR, in-camera one-line overlay) (sky shot).

Perhaps when I get some time I will look further at the Stardot and see if it can be rescued.


So time for a garden update them. Almost everything has been going well, helped by a good summer in 2021, followed by a warm autumn and exceptionally mild winter (see below). There is one exception though. Back in November I noticed that my juania australis, one of the rarest palms in the world, didn't look just quite as good as it had done at the start of the season. Looking more closely, I noticed that the spear was a slightly strange colour, and worse still with the slightest tug it came right out :(. Not only the spear, but as it turned out three other leaves as well, with the resulting hole in the crown going well below ground level :(. How did I not notice this earlier??? I deliberated over what to do. If it had been the start of the season I may have tried to give it some TLC in-situ. But in November, with the whole winter right ahead, I figured this wasn't going to work. And, if I'm honest, I realised that the sheer depth of the hole in the crown where the spear came out meant that the chances of this plant making a recovery were minimal at best. So I decided to dig it out, initially with the intention of bringing it indoors for the winter. But once dug out it became clear that it was far too big and heavy to come inside, so I put it in the greenhouse for the winter - at least there I had heat on standby in case of any very cold winter nights. Hydrogen peroxide 6% solution was also poured into the hole several times to kill the rot. Well that was November and now it is June. The plant is still in the greenhouse, with air circulation. But despite the remaining leaves still looking nice and green, there is no movement in the hole where, if recovery were to be achieved, a new spear would have to start pushing out before too long. So I remain unconvinced that this is going to happen, although I won't give up hope until the plant completely dies. Even if it does, I have had 15 years of growing this wonderful palm outdoors for the orignal outlay of 150 EUR, that's an average of just 10 EUR per year.


As mentioned above, winter 2021/22 was exceptionally mild and in fact achieved the following accolades:

- Mildest winter that I've recorded to date (records going back to 1992);

- First Zone 10a winter recorded here;

- Another winter where no air frost was recorded until after new year;

- Lowest temperature of the 'meteorological' winter (Dec/Jan/Feb) was only 0C / 32F, with -0.5C / 31.1F achieved in March, along with the lowest temperature of the entire cold season (-0.6C / 30.9F) recorded on 1st April!;


It's been a quiet time for flying lately. Due to the lunacy of the last couple of years, I managed to revalidate my licence last year (with a little help from the UK CAA in the form of reduced requirements), but was unable to get any trips done. I've also consciously taken a bit of a break since revalidation as I'm in the year when I don't have to do 12 hours, and we have also re-directed finances somewhat as we are targetting possible early retirement before too long. The second year of every two, when I need to complete 12 hours' flying, starts again in October, so I anticipate getting things moving again as soon as possible after that with a check-out/instructional flight.


Being willing, to some extent, to try new things, I've become a volunteer participating in a clinical study at Fiona's company (Celerion Inc) here in Belfast. I'd been thinking about this for some time but haven't until now been able to find a study that I can do as well as working full time. This has been an interesting experience and hopefully one that will assist in the area of clinical research as well as topping up the bank account!

Another new thing that I tried while on holiday in Lanzarote last December was scuba diving (cue this update's photo opportunity :). This was a fun thing to do and I'd love to do it again - well, next time I'm somewhere where they have warm water anyway!



Scuba diving in Lanzarote, 7th December 2021






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