Monday, 17 June 2019

Latest Arduino Project

It has been quite a long time since I last had a tinker with an Arduino project. The last one was a weather station with digital readout. That never reached its final stage. All was going well until the day I updated the Arduino IDE (the program used to program an Arduino). The update went badly wrong. It kept reporting errors and wouldn't recognise the instruction I had written previously.

Recently I decided to delete all the old IDE files and install the latest version from scratch. Then a new weather station project on the Instructables site caught my interest. It uses a 3.5 inch full colour TFT display to show the readings in graphical form. The display used is designed to fit on and use with an Arduino Mega. It has a resolution of 480 x 320 pixels.

I found one for sale on eBay direct from China for less than £8 which included postage. After 10 days it arrived. I also had to purchase the tiny unit which actually measures temperature, air pressure and works out the relative humidity. I already had an Arduino Mega.

The sensor module, sensor is the tiny metal box top right

As always there were other 'libraries' of instructions to install which enable access to the sensor and TFT display. It took a while to find the TFT library files but I discovered a set on the Rinky-Dink Electronics site. They installed and worked perfectly.

Once the program was installed and tested I made some alterations to the original. As well as the graph the most recent readings are now shown numerically just above the X axis. Also I had to alter the range of values on the Y axis to suit the possible range of local readings. At first I thought the pressure readings seemed to be far too high but checking on the Met Office site showed it to be within 1mbar. More accurate than my commercial weather station!


The display shows up to 36 hours of data (one new reading every 6 minutes) which makes it possible to see weather trends. The above was taken after a 26 hr test run with the unit in the conservatory. When the screen is full the graphs are scrolled from right to left by one pixel with each new reading. Maybe I will change the timing to every 8 minutes so as to display the trend over 48hrs.

Obviously to be of any use the detector needs to be outdoors in a suitable container. Ideally, once I've finished tinkering, I  will have a go at designing and 3D printing a suitable box to hold the Mega and TFT display.

I am so delighted with the possibilities of this colour display I have ordered another one  to experiment with. Screen refresh is slowish so not suitable for displaying video for example.

Thursday, 13 June 2019


Recent flooding in my back garden had gone down nicely - until more rain arrived late yesterday.
Over an inch of rain in eight hours and still steadily precipitating this morning.
I've seen it far worse than this in the past.
Fortunately the lawn is lower than the building so not a danger to property.


Not all bad though.
Blackbirds love it as it forces the worms to the surface

Just the sort of morning to have a bit of a change to my usual breakfast.
Instead of my daily Weetabix I cracked open a tin of country vegetable soup.
Sliced a burgerless burger bun and covered the slices with Pro Active spread.
Dunked in the hot soup - lovely jubbly.

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Hot Lips Revisited

Last April I wrote about the Salvia Hot Lips I had bought.
I was disappointed at the time that the flowers were completely red in colour.
It was pointed out to me it takes a while for the plants to mature and show their true colour.
Now they are looking as I expected:



Quite a startling combination of pure white and brilliant red.
All being well they will probably continue flowering right through the Summer.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Wet, Wet, Wet

Today Lincolnshire seems to have taken the brunt of the wet weather.
Possibility of a month's rainfall to be dumped on us in a couple of days.
Quite a few trees down, blocking roads.
A great long list of roads closed by flooding.
Fire and rescue inundated with calls to pump out flood water.

These about sum it up locally:


Overflowing drain

At least one more day, maybe two, of rain to come this week.
To think a few of days ago there were calls for farmers to take less water from our local rivers as levels were so low. Now many have burst their banks.

Thursday, 6 June 2019

A Few Wildflowers

... from our visit to South Thoresby Warren.

Hope the IDs are correct.


Clover DSCN9635

Birdsfoot Trefoil

Birdsfoot Trefoil DSCN9637

Scarlet Pimpernel

Scarlet Pimpernel DSCN9672

Doves-foot Cranebill

Doves-foot Cranebill DSCN9683

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

South Thoresby Warren

How time flies. It has been ten years since I first visited and wrote about South Thoresby Warren, Lincolnshire. This piece of land was once a sand quarry, then used for land fill and finally made in to a small nature reserve open to the public. Yesterday it was a toss up as to whether I cut my grass or we had a trip out. As it looks as though the weather is going to become changeable with showers forecast the trip out won.

 South Thoresby Warren

We both enjoyed a stroll round the shorter route, just having to double back at one stage as we were heading out instead of round. I sampled the sights and sounds and Penny sampled a whole lot of new odours.

South Thoresby Warren

The reserve consists of a mixture of open grassland and a small wooded area. New native trees are being added.

For a change I made the photos I took into a slide show with a soundtrack of sounds recorded while we had a short rest on one of the benches provided.

As there was a stiff breeze at times there is some wind noise and a few flowers moved too much for sharp photos. Disappointing in that I saw not one mammal, a few birds rushing about, and just one bee.


The only insect which stayed still was this beetle I found resting on the car door on our return.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

The Hitch-hiker

We had just returned from our early morning walk.
As I was about to undo Penny's harness I spotted the hitch-hiker.


A Hawthorn Shieldbug

Hawthorn Shieldbug DSCN9627

It stayed long enough for me to take the Nikon out of my shirt pocket and take a few shots

Hawthorn Shieldbug DSCN9628

A bit of a morning for close encounters.
I had spent a while watching Swifts hurtling overhead, sometimes diving down to just a couple of feet above my head as they careered past on their endless hunt for flying insects. They were still feeding their young but didn't land on the nest. Just hovered next to it for a brief moment to hand over the food before setting off again.

Saturday, 1 June 2019

Not Long to Wait

In May last year I planted a Callistemon citrinus (bottlebrush plant) in the front garden.

Callistemon Citrinus DSCN8374

I wondered how well it would grow outdoors. In just one year it has grown to


Recently I've been keeping an eye on it to see whether it would flower this year.
Yippee! Two branches are showing buds. Unusual in that the flowers are produced part way along new growth.
Why it is called a bottlebrush plant will, I hope, become evident when the flowers open.


Many years ago I had one flowering in my old conservatory but one hard Winter it disappeared.
How long the outdoor one lives could depend on how severe future Winters are.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Daytime Flying Month

Once again something caught my eye as we were walking down the lane mid afternoon:

Silver-ground Carpet Moth DSCN9623

A Silver-ground Carpet moth. (Xanthorhoe montanata)

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Mowing in Comfort

Reasonable comfort anyway. Unfortunately my stamina and physical abilities have lessened over the past year or so. I may not have a very big garden by some standards, approximately 3,600 square feet with about two thirds grassed. It had reached the stage where I couldn't get it all cut in one session and needed some time to recover afterwards. Walking back and forth pushing, or even following a powered mower, I cover over a quarter of a mile.  I mentioned a while back I had been to a mower centre to have a look at ride on mowers. On a second visit I made my mind up that the smallest one they had would just go through my gates to the back garden.  It was delivered a few days ago and I gave it a quick try out.


Battery starting so no heaving on bits of rope. Forward and reverse accelerator pedals make manoeuvring easy. Comfy padded seat which is just as well as there is more than a bit of vibration. Hardest is steering. After years of driving cars with power assisted steering one forgets how much effort it can take. I did find operating the long lever which engages the cutter needed both hands to pull as it is stiff and has the be engaged slowly otherwise the engine is liable to stall.

Yesterday the weather was fine enough to gave it a full run and soon got used to the various levers for engaging the cutter (need to press two pedals at once to cut in reverse), choosing cut height, etc..  Best of all, myself feeling fresh and lively when I had finished.

Still need to use the strimmer or battery mower to finish off awkward corners but  the ride on breaks the back of the job.

It would possibly have been cheaper, even in the long run, to employ someone or rely on generous, helpful neighbours to cut the grass but I hate the thought of not being able to do things for myself when there is a solution to the problem.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

No Fledgling Blue Tits

Unfortunately none of the Blue Tit babies have survived in the camera nestbox.
Of the eight eggs, seven hatched out. Over several days many just disappeared until there seemed to be two healthy youngsters left, feathers growing, eyes open and healthy appetites. They were being fed frequently but first one suddenly died one night. The surviving one lasted a couple more day then suddenly stopped accepting any food. Not even opening its beak when Mrs BT brought a tasty snack.
I've no definite idea as to what went wrong. The box had been disinfected and thoroughly washed last Autumn.

Wednesday, 22 May 2019


As we were ambling along a lane I spotted what, at first, I thought was a fly scurry across in front of us. It stopped half way so I had a better chance to see what it was and take a couple of photos.


Spider DSCN9616

As far as I can deduce it is one of the wolf spiders, smaller and darker in colour than the ones I see in my garden. I would love to know what the seven pronged item is / was at the bottom of the second photo.

If you are reading this on 23 May 2019 the photos may not show as Flicker is making alterations to where photos are stored and access will be unavailable for a while.

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Feeding Time

The Blue Tit chicks have really grown in the past eight days.

On our early morning walk I spotted about six House Martins swooping about overhead.
Managed a quick snapshot as one neared its nest on a nearby house

 House Martin

There appeared to be three nests under that roof.

Monday, 20 May 2019

Rhipsalis Hatiora

Miniature or dwarf Spring / Easter flowering cactus plant.



Sunday, 19 May 2019

Hawthorn Time

Plenty of white flowers in the hedgerows now the Hawthorn is in bloom.



Blue Tit Nestbox News

Both parent birds are spending up to 14hrs a day finding food for their chicks.
Difficult to count them. It looks as though 7 of the 8 eggs hatched.
They are growing fast. Hope to put together some video very soon.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

What a Whopper

Yesterday I drove down to a mower centre on the coast to have a look at some ride on mowers. The route along the back country lanes takes me through the village of South Somercotes.  Passing through the village I always have a quick glance at the village church. Very noticeable, even from a distance, is the size of the spire. I've been promising myself for years to stop and take a closer look but it is positioned near a narrow, dangerous Z bend in the road. This time, on the way back home, I found a nearby lane where it was safe to park.

The following photos were taken with my Nikon Coolpix S9050.

The tower and spire probably date back to the early 15th Century



The church is known as "The Queen of the Marsh".
Local legend suggests the spire was built so tall to act as a beacon for sailors.
The parish register dates back to 1558.

Once in through the North door


the 15th Century font can be seen. It is carved with the instruments of the Passion.


including two flails, two lances and four nails


The interior of the church is roomy and light.


The pulpit




Moving on through the chancel screen


one can see the altar table


and a harmonium. (I used to have one like that many years ago)


On a table there are two old bibles.
I had a close look at one of them


It contains many full colour illustrations. This is the title page.



Looking back towards the base of the tower


The belfry hold three bells, two dated 1423 and the other was cast in the 14th Century.

Outside -looking at the tower and spire from the South side


The South entrance porch


The walls of the church are a mixture of limestone, sandstone and greensand with some repairs patched with brick. The nave and chancel are roofed with Welsh slates and the aisles with lead.

Finally, a fascinating niche in the base of the tower


Information on the history of the church was gleaned from a small booklet produced by The Churches Conservation Trust.


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