sexta-feira, 9 de maio de 2008


My mother was told she had to learn to play the piano because it was a necessary part of a ladies portfolio, consequently she played the piano well but hated playing it. We therefore did not have a piano in the house but had to secretly learn on my grand mothers piano, my grand mother was forbidden to help us. My father had learned to play the violin and play to a good standard but even this did not stop my mother having a ban on the playing of the violin in the house, it was only Roy who seemed to get around my mothers ban when he bought a guitar and the Bert Weeden book of `Play in a Day´. When mother went to the shops with Lila, a friend from when she was four years old, my father would zoom to the garage and retrieve his violin and bow, put the music stand up in the back sitting room and play, often Hungarian gypsy music.
For the sake of interest I guess, Graham made a very good violin and my father was very impressed, Graham is a very good cabinet maker and extremely meticulous, his love of models and model making as been there all is life I guess that is my grand fathers influence. I had a workshop for many years at Rotherithe in London, there I shared a building with many instrument makers and repairers which naturally included violins and guitars. The making of instruments shows very much the techniques that are needed for restoration work and it is only the lack of musical ability that stops me trying to make them, however for those interested here is a marvelous site to help you.


I have spent several years fighting a battle to get rid of any cupim, termites to you and I, in the garden and house, with largely good success, yet they have returned into one of the plants in the garden and I guess that it is bye bye to the plant, it needs to be dug up and burnt and the the ground dug for a depth of about a metre in order to get the main colony. The tell tale signs are their half round tunnels that wander the garden walls in search of dry dead wood, your house or furniture for example.

Human interaction
The result of an infestation is severe wood damage.
The result of an infestation is severe wood damage.

Because of their wood-eating habits, termites sometimes do great damage to buildings and other wooden structures. Their habit of remaining concealed often results in their presence being undetected until the timbers are severely damaged and exhibit surface changes. Once termites have entered a building they do not limit themselves just to wood, also damaging paper, cloth, carpets, and other cellulosic materials. Often, other soft materials are damaged and may be used for construction. Particles taken from soft plastics, plaster, rubber and sealants such as silicon rubber and acrylics are often employed in construction.

Termites usually avoid exposure to unfavourable environmental conditions. They tend to remain hidden in tunnels in earth and wood. Where they need to cross an impervious or unfavourable substrate, they cover their tracks with tubing made of faeces, plant matter, and soil. Sometimes these shelter tubes will extend for many meters, such as up the outside of a tree reaching from the soil to dead branches. Termite barrier systems used for protecting buildings aim to prevent concealed termite access, thus forcing the termites out into the open where they must form clearly visible shelter tubes to gain entry.

Termites can be major agricultural pests, particularly in Africa and Asia where crop losses can be severe but counterbalancing this is the greatly improved water infiltration where termite tunnels in the soil allow rainwater to soak in deeply and help reduce runoff and consequent soil erosion.

In many cultures, termites are used for food (particularly the alates) and termite nests are used widely in construction (the dirt is often dust-free) and as a soil amendment.

Humans have moved many wood-eating species between continents, but have also caused drastic population decline in others through habitat loss and pesticide application.

Avoiding termite troubles

Termite damage on external structure
Termite damage on external structure
Coptotermes acinaciformis Bivouac
Coptotermes acinaciformis Bivouac
Coptotermes acinaciformis Bivouac (after treatment)
Coptotermes acinaciformis Bivouac (after treatment)


  • Avoiding contact of susceptible timber with ground by using termite-resistant concrete, steel or masonry foundation with appropriate barriers. Even so, termites are able to bridge these with shelter tubes, and it has been known for termites to chew through piping made of soft plastics and even lead to exploit moisture. In general, new buildings should be constructed with embedded physical termite barriers so that there are no easy means for termites to gain concealed entry. While barriers of poisoned soil, so called termite pre-treatment, have been in general use since the 1970s, it is preferable that these be used only for existing buildings without effective physical barriers.
  • The intent of termite barriers (whether physical, poisoned soil, or some of the new poisoned plastics) is to prevent the termites from gaining unseen access to structures. In most instances, termites attempting to enter a barriered building will be forced into the less favourable approach of building shelter tubes up the outside walls and thus they can be clearly visible both to the building occupants and a range of predators. Regular inspection by a competent (trained and experienced) inspector is the best defense.
  • Timber treatment.
  • Use of timber that is naturally resistant to termites such as Canarium australianum (Turpentine Tree), Callitris glaucophylla (White Cypress), or one of the Sequoias. Note that there is no tree species whose every individual tree yields only timbers that are immune to termite damage, so that even with well known termite-resistant timber types, there will occasionally be pieces that are attacked.

When termites have already penetrated a building, the first action is usually to destroy the colony with insecticides before removing the termites' means of access and fixing the problems that encouraged them in the first place. Baits (feeder stations) with small quantities of disruptive insect hormones or other very slow acting toxins have become the preferred least-toxic management tool in most western countries. This has replaced the dusting of toxins direct into termite tunnels which had been widely done since the early 1930s (originating in Australia). The main dust toxicants have been the inorganic metallic poison arsenic trioxide, insect growth regulators (hormones) such as Triflumuron and, more recently, fipronil. Blowing dusts into termite workings is a highly skilled process. All these slow-acting poisons can be distributed by the workers for considerable periods (hours to weeks) before any symptoms occur and are capable of destroying the entire colony. More modern variations include chlorfluazuron, Diflubenzuron, hexaflumuron, and Novaflumuron as bait toxicants and fipronil and imidacloprid as soil poisons. Soil poisons are the least-preferred method of control as this requires much larger doses of toxin and results in uncontrollable release to the environment.

Termites in the human diet

The alates are nutritious, having a good store of fat and protein, and are palatable in most species with a nutty flavour when cooked. They are easily gathered at the beginning of the rainy season in Central and Southern Africa when they swarm, as they are attracted to lights and can be gathered up when they land on nets put up around a lamp. The wings are shed and can be removed by a technique similar to winnowing. They are best gently roasted on a hot plate or lightly fried until slightly crisp; oil is not usually needed since their bodies are naturally high in oil. Traditionally they make a welcome treat at the beginning of the rainy season when livestock is lean, new crops have not yet produced food and stored produce from the previous growing season is running low.

Brazilian flower power

Having a garden allows you to walk in your own make believe and to create moods to suite your own. I love the fact that I have fruit and flowers that sit and wait for me to return and appreciate them, always changing and surprising plants give the ultimate present of a flower, it seems impossible to think that anyone dislikes the presence of their calm beauty. Brazil as many plants and flowers that are similar to those now grown in Europe but it does have its secret weapons and they are outstanding and yet somehow common here. Here is an interesting list from a site selling Brazilian flower essences

flasks with 30ml READY-TO-USE FLOWER ESSENCES. Researches at the brazilian north-east native flora with few ancient native folklore medicine men knowledge.

Plume Grass: capim pluma
Clears the mind of negative thoughts. Brings optimism and faith that attract luck. Creates a psychic shield to provide protection from the negative

thoughts of others.

Father’s Love: carinho de pai
Develops in fathers the capacity to express affection. Heals the child’s emotional pain or sorrow related to her/his father. For the lack of paternal

love. Heals father-child relationships.

hrist-heart: coração de cristo
For all forms of egoism and individualism. Connects people to their inner “Christ-like Self”. An anti-carcinogenic flower. Develops the spiritual

quality of fraternity.

Happy-heart: coração feliz
Harmonizes the relationship between the sexes. For those with trauma in love. Brings happiness and balance to the relationship.

Star of Dalva: Estrela D´Alva
Elevates self-esteem bringing self-love. Develops the sharing potential, the feeling of being together, and the happiness of being alone also.

Clitoral Flower: flor clitoriana
Heals the rape trauma. It brings protection to the woman’s aura. Also an aphrodisiac for women.

Water Flower: Flor D´água
Clears memories of ancestral traumas and those of past lives. Helps change the tendency to feel guilty in all situations. It renews the individuality.

Joy Flower: flor da alegria
A working tonic. It brings focus and a healthy tension for work. It brings discipline.

Surrender: flor da entrega
For those with excessive worries about the well-being of others. Heals the “guilt syndrome”.

A pioneering study just released by Brazil's IBGE (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística - Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) in Rio de Janeiro on the production of flowers and ornamental plants shows that cultivation of flowers provides more jobs than agriculture in Brazil.

The work confirms that the planting of flower and ornamental plants already employs, on the average, double the number of workers engaged in agriculture and livestock-raising and predominates on properties with less than 10 hectares.

Based on the 1995-96 Agricultural Census, the study, Characterization of the Brazilian Flower and Ornamental Plant Productive Sector, is the first investigation of its type.

The flower sector, according to the IBGE, has great export potential and represents a significant alternative for the generation of jobs and income on small properties.

The study discovered 7,561 properties, leased lands, partnerships, or rural occupancies that, between August, 1995, and July, 1996, earned US$ 108.6 million (311.12 million reais), US$ 65.7 million (188.11 million reais) of which came from the production of flowers and ornamental plants on a total area of 434,935 hectares.

Of the 2,963 rural establishments in which the production of flowers and ornamental plants was the principal activity, the vast majority (1,941) had less than 10 hectares, and 10,014 of the 21,844 employees of these establishments worked on properties with fewer than 10 hectares of occupied area.

The average number of workers per establishment was 7.4, double the average for Brazilian agriculture as a whole (3.7 workers per establishment).
Agência Brasil
Translator: David Silberstein

pigeon fanciers

Here is a short story about my grand father´s love of pigeons.

The Egyptians and the Persians first used carrier pigeons 3,000 years ago. They also were used to proclaim the winner of the Olympics.
I do not remember my age but just at a guess about 12 years old, when I and at least one of my brothers where at my grand parents house, or arrived there and not getting any joy at the front door went down the side ofe the house to the back gate and entered the garden at the rear to find my grand father, Lewis George Hill, looking skyward and cooing. High above his head were two birds circling and catching the wind currents, he was fixed upon them and trying hard to catch their attention. He told us, myself and Malcolm, I think, that the birds were homing pigeons and more than likely had lost direction or had been blown off course, they were circling high to see any landmarks that could help them recapture the route back to base. He felt that they were getting exhausted and wanted them to drop down to a height were they could see he had food for them. The persistence paid off and the pigeons duly arrived on the tiled roof. From there they descended to the top of the out houses and then he encouraged them inside the small coal house. His attention was then drawn to the rings that had been placed on the legs of both birds, explaining to us that these rings could show both time and place that they had been released, for racing, with the identity of the owner and the birds registration. He kept the birds, not locked up during the day time but free to fly and sit in the open air, I cannot remember the sequence of events after but just that he discovered the owners and the birds were duly returned.

This Domestic pigeon breed and the


In short, competing birds are taken from their lofts and must race home. The time taken and distance are recorded and the fastest bird is declared the winner.

Provided it survives the many hazards associated with racing, a single pigeon could compete from about 6 months of age and still be in competition at over ten years of age. Such feats are uncommon, however, and the average racing career rarely exceeds three years.

To compete in a race, it must wear a permanent, unique numbered ring or band that is placed on its leg at about 5 days of age. For a race to be conducted, the competing pigeons must be entered into the race, usually at the organization's clubhouse, and taken away from their home to be released at a predetermined time and location. The distance between the bird's home loft and the race point is carefully measured by GPS and the time taken by the bird to return is measured using one of the two acceptable timing methods. Sometimes as in some leagues there are 2 divisions. One for the young birds (usually yearling's in their first year of competition and another for the old birds.

Traditional timing method

Inside an older pigeon clock
Inside an older pigeon clock
Some old style pigeon clocks use thimbles.
Some old style pigeon clocks use thimbles.

The traditional method of timing racing pigeons involves rubber rings with unique serial numbers and a specially designed pigeon racing clock. The ring is attached around the bird's leg before being sent to race. The serial number is recorded, the clock is set and sealed, and the bird carries the ring home. When the first bird returns, its trainer removes the ring and places it in a slot in the clock. The time that the ring was placed in the clock and is recorded as the official time that the competing bird arrived home. From this timestamp an average speed is measured and a winner of the race can be found.

Although serving its purpose, this method has proved somewhat problematic for a few reasons:

  1. The pigeon's "official time" is not the actual time it arrived, it is the time the ring was removed, placed in the clock and recorded, which could be many vital seconds later.
  2. Exceptional pigeons may arrive home first on multiple occasions; knowing it is going to have the ring removed speedily, which may be uncomfortable, the pigeon could be reluctant to enter the loft for the trainer.

quinta-feira, 8 de maio de 2008

city farms

In England, during and after the Second World War, there was a campaign run by the government to rally the spirit of the people by ´Growing for Victory ´and this had the effect of creating the allotment and the back garden farm. My grand parents dug up their garden and had fruit trees, vegetables and chickens, so I am not surprised that this would rub off on myself and my brothers.
Graça was asking me about my brothers and in particular my brother Roy, born Grenville Roy Simkins and using the name Gren for the first 18 years of his life until he worked at Kings Heath Park, Birmingham and met his future wife Jean, at this point we discovered that our brother was known to the world outside as Roy, I have no difficulty with the change because I have been away from my parents house for the last 40 years and when I communicate with Roy I use that name and also all my friends know him by that name, Graham and Malcolm however have not changed and for them he is Gren, the name mom always called him.
Roy as far as I can remember was not so fond of school and at the age of 15 , when he could leave school, he left school and got a job for the council in one of their parks, possibly at Handsworth Park. It was is calling and he always seems to be happy when his hands are covered with soil, he moved from one park to another and changed job titles as he went along, moving gradually into the greenhouses and there meeting Jean. Later he was involved with the production of plants for the councils bedding schemes and won many awards at the regional shows, he also had several TV appearances with Percy Thrower.
I do not remember why the council closed the greenhouses at Roy´s work but he was moved, or given an option to move to a living farm museum at

Sandwell Park Farm

The seventh stop on the Walk West Bromwich Heritage Trail is Sandwell Park Farm.

Sandwell Park Farm, West BromwichIn Sandwell Valley is Sandwell Park Farm, a fully restored 18th century farm which was constructed to supply food throughout the year to the Earls of Dartmouth’s estate and Sandwell Hall.

A variety of livestock housed within the central courtyard and adjoining pasture are the actual breeds which would have been kept on the farm at the turn of the century.

The Victorian Kitchen Garden demonstrates the techniques used to supply vegetables and fresh fruit to Sandwell Hall. The farm also contains collection of old agricultural machinery and displays illustrating human activity in Sandwell Valley from pre-historic times.

A bit of history

archive image of Kentish Town farm Communities growing food together is not a new thing. All early agricultural systems seemed to have been co-operative activities, with land, tools and harvest all shared. However, as cultures have developed, ownership of land has tended fall into fewer hands.

This concentration of control does, in fact, affect almost all areas of life - not just land ownership.

During the 1960s the growth of community action escalated, in part as a reaction against this lack of control and access to resources. Many communities set up projects such as youth clubs, under-fives groups, tenant or resident associations, community centres and elderly projects.

Similarly, some groups around the country saw some derelict land in their neighbourhood and decided that it should be used as a community garden - a place that is run by the community to meet their own needs. Part of the inspiration for this was the growth of the community garden movement in the United States.

Over the years more and more community gardens were established, although many depended on short-term lease agreements or indeed squatting.

In 1972 the first city farm was established in Kentish Town, London. This larger project not only included gardening space but also farm animals, influenced by the children's farm movement in the Netherlands.

What are city farms and community gardens?

Rosshead Garden in Scotland They are community-managed projects working with people, animals and plants. They range from tiny wildlife gardens to fruit and vegetable plots on housing estates, from community polytunnels to large city farms.

They exist mainly in urban areas and are created in response to a lack of access to green space, combined with a desire to encourage strong community relationships and an awareness of gardening and farming.

City farms and community gardens are often developed by local people in a voluntary capacity, and commonly retain a strong degree of volunteer involvement. Some larger community farms and gardens employ many workers whilst others are run solely by small groups of dedicated volunteers. Most are run by a management committee of local people and some are run as partnerships with local authorities, whilst retaining strong local involvement.

Most projects provide food-growing activities, training courses, school visits, community allotments and community businesses. In addition, some provide play facilities and sports facilities, and after school and holiday schemes.

What do they look like?

horse and visitors at Almond Valley There is no typical city farm or community garden as each develops according to the local area and in response to the needs of the local community.

They are places where people of all ages, all ethnic backgrounds, all abilities and from all sections of the community are made welcome.

Why do they matter to people?

"It's all about including people, providing a 'growing space' for groups and individuals. People come to the farm because they want to work with animals, but they stay because of the people.
- Rob Gayler, Farm Manager, Lambourne End Centre, Essex


This is a note about my addition of the translation service in the box so marked, it is
it can be used for text only or the complete blog page, the big advantage is that the image of the before and after page are along side one another with all the photos as the original. If you first remember copy the site address from the tool bar and then paste it into the URL box of the translator.

Esta é apenas uma nota sobre minha adição do serviço de tradução na caixa tão marcado, é
para este local mas pode ser usada para o texto somente, a vantagem grande é que a imagem do antes e depois da página é ao longo do lado uma outra com todas as fotos como o original. Se você recorda primeiramente copiar o endereço do local da barra da ferramenta e o colar então na caixa do URL do tradutor

It occurs to me that this is an ideal tool for learning a language as the original and translation are set in context and you do not need to leave the page or make copies of the words to be translated.

scottish influence


The first locomotives used in Brazil were of course English and, as was the custom in England they were baptized with the names of personages or regions. Those with formed part of the D. Pedro II railway's rolling stock at its inauguration were named "Emperor", "Empress", "Paulista", "Mineira", "Fluminense", "Brazil", "Progress" and "Industry".
Irineu Evangelista de Sousa was an entrepreneur born in 1813, on 28th December, and after the death of his father was sent to Rio de Janeiro with his uncle in order to prevent a confrontation with his mother's new husband.

He began work at nine years old, and at the age of 15 he was working for a Scot, Richard Carruthers, who made him responsible for the import side of the business, and eight years later gave him a partnership in the business. A visit to England inspired him to start up his own business and his intuition informed him what Brazil's immediate needs would be.

He founded a shipyard and foundry in 1845, and within a year was employing 300 workers. He diversified into building cranes for the construction industry. He founded the Rio De Janeiro Gas Illumination Company, and built the pipes required to convey the gas. He also saw the need for fast and convenient transportation in Brazil, and in 1852 built the first section of Brazilian railroad between Rio De Janeiro and Petropolis. For this he was made Baron of Mauá. The final section was not completed until 1883.

In a very short time he made enough money to expand into banking, investments and other engineering projects. He constructed sugar mills for the Brazilian sugar industry, and in 1873 received authorization to lay a submarine telegraph cable, starting at Copacabana, to link Brazil with Europe. This was done in 1874, and was rewarded by being promoted to viscount. The Baron of Mauá was also responsible for the first paved highway in Brazil, between Petrópolis and Juiz De Fora.

He got involved in a number of other Brazilian railroads, and if a railroad was needed in Brazil, he was involved. He founded the current second Bank of Brazil: the first bank, not his, had failed in 1829! He was also president of the McGregor and Co bank in Mauá and funded many projects that would make Brazil the modern country that it is today. Prior to his involvement, Brazil consisted of many unconnected geographical areas and towns and effective trade was difficult.

By 1867 he had amassed a vast fortune, the richest man in his country, and he also had significant financial interests in Uruguay, his company being effectively the bank of Uruguay. However, in 1864, the closing of Casa Souto generated an economic meltdown and many banks and businesses went to the wall, among them de Souza's group of companies, and he was obliged in 1875 to request a moratorium on his debts.

Although bankrupt, he was a man of extreme integrity and he paid his creditors by selling his assets and many of his personal effects such as his houses, his jewelry and other belongings. He retained his one house in Petropolis, his Mauá Palace, where he lived out the rest of his days, a sad ending for a man that had so much to develop his country.

His politics were liberal and he was an abolitionist, the Portuguese slave trade being strong in Brazil. He was also opposed to the 1864 War of the Triple Alliance against Paraguay that eventually resulted in the ruination of that country, and the death of vast numbers of its civilian population.

The man that opened up Brazil with his railroads, roads and canals died in Petropolis on October 22nd, 1889, on the spot where, fittingly, the Secretariat of Industry now stands.

Mauá - O imperador e o rei
(Drama / Nacional) DVD

  • O filme conta a história verídica de Irineu Evangelista de Souza, gaúcho que aos 9 anos - órfão de pai - vai para o Rio de Janeiro trabalhar no comércio. Com impressionante tino comercial o jovem Irineu ganha o reconhecimento do escocês Richard Carruthers, que o educa segundo as regras do liberalismo. Aos 30 anos ele é a maior fortuna do Império brasileiro e se casa com May, sua própria sobrinha. Agraciado com o título de Barão de Mauá, Irineu funda o Banco do Brasil, monta a primeira estrada de ferro brasileira e ilumina a gás o Rio de Janeiro. Aos poucos ele é considerado o homem mais rico do Brasil. Seu sucesso começa a incomodar o Imperador Dom Pedro II e seu grupo de conselheiros.

    DVD: Menu Interativo; Seleção de Cenas; Trailer; Sobre o Elenco; Sobre o Diretor; Áudio Comentários; Bastidores do Filme; Legendas: Inglês, Português, Espanhol e Francês; Idiomas: Português (Dolby Digital 2.0); Formato de Tela: Letterbox (4x3).

    Brasil, 1999. Direção: Sérgio Rezende. Elenco: Paulo Betti, Malu Mader, Othon Bastos, Antonio Pitanga , Cláudio Correia e Castro. Duração: 138 min.


I have returned to painting after a very long period of other interest and generally lack of time for me to relax sufficiently to be free of personal criticism, this I have yet to over come but I am working on it . I have put a few paintings on the Saatchi site and if any of you are budding artists it is a free site that will display your work and you can use it to sell the paintings, sculpture, photos or videos. I wish to have a style that is my own before deciding to sell my work but have thought it better to open the work for criticism and not paddle along my own sweet path. My friend Tom has two galleries in Edinburgh so please visit his site as well. Campbell and I did the interiors for both galleries.

quarta-feira, 7 de maio de 2008

french classic copper

This is just a bit of nostalgia for me since I used to have a good collection of cooking ware and I was fond of the copper bain marie. If you like this type of ware and the French style here is good site.