At our meeting on 12 April we heard a fascinating talk on “Monastic Water Engineering and Water Management” by James Bond, a professional freelance archaeologist.
Mr Bond described how monks in medieval days obtained and used water in their monastic establishments. Water was obtained by diverting watercourses or from springs. When the source was at a distance, pipes of lead, ceramic or wood or sometimes funnels were used. An extreme example was in Lincolnshire where water was brought by gravity to Boston from Bolingbroke some 30 miles away across almost flat country. In some cases springs were used and if nearby these might be protected by a small building, examples of which remain today.
Water was used for irrigating gardens, for mill, fishponds and for personal use in lavatoria or for latrines. Examples of the latter were described, the largest being a 59 seater at Lewes.
Mr Bond showed many photographs he had taken in mainly ruined abbeys of today. Stone lined channels and conduits can be seen. Sometimes as at Gloucester Cathedral, lead had been used for internal plumbing , tanks and drainage but this had been ripped out following Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries. Some particularly interesting examples were shown of bronze taps, remarkably like today’s.
Examples of remaining artefacts shown were mainly in England with some in France and Ireland. Photographs were shown of old plans of water installations on sites at Canterbury and a n abbey in Burgundy. Particularly concerning their washing and toilet facilities it is apparent that monks often had a higher standard of living than could be found elsewhere , even in royal palaces.
It was clear that James has been studying the subject for many years and he must surely be a leading expert. Evidence of the high interest shown by members was the large number of questions.
Tea Dance at the Commodore.
Wednesday 7th June 2006
An old style tea dance ? Welllll
‘No thanks, these things are not like they used to be’.
‘I’m too old now for that sort of thing’.
Frank Whitehead and I were determined to give members a chance if not actually to reclaim their youth, but at least to enjoy the atmosphere of the Palm Court of a yesteryear Grand Hotel, well almost. Before the event, we visited the hotel, arranged for extra palms, insisted sandwiches be as dainty as possible and that cake stands would be used. Frank was insistent it had to be run at a profit and we were in fact able to show our appreciation to the staff by a gratuity at the end of the event.
In the event the staff were Brilliant, the chef revisiting her old recipe for Madera cake which tuned out ‘wonderful’, superb little fruit flans with Cheddar strawberries, lots and lots of sandwiches, and well you all saw the menu and they delivered ‘most fulsomely’ All the menu items were made on the premises.
Members arrived for a three o’clock start and were welcomed in by our little orchestra, piano and double base, which went together surprisingly well. Music was gentle and comprised popular tunes of yesteryear.
Our Chairman and his lady enjoying tea at the Commodore
Our tea was by design a very much an extended affair, tea pots were continually topped up, and the tea lasted all of an hour and a half. Members started drifting away at five pm, those with just that extra topic to discuss, that extra point to make or that extra piece of Madeira cake to enjoy, remaining as the orchestra packed up and the staff cleared away. Chatting to the orchestra afterwards, they said how much they had enjoyed the afternoon and how they were really gratified at the numbers of guests who, putting their self conciseness to one side, had ventured onto the floor and tripped the light fantastic, well at least sort of.
Summing up the afternoon, well, wonderfully successful I thought. Sadly for one reason or another it really didn’t seem to catch our members imagination and was not as popular as our luncheons. For the time being at least I believe we will have to consider the event, a one off.
Finally, a very special thank you to the Commodore Hotel and especially to Jacky Lane who went to huge efforts to capture the atmosphere of times gone by, and of course to the staff who went that extra mile.
July 12th 2006
In the driving seat we have John Green who organised a highly successful visit to the Honda Institute following last years talk by Honda on their hybrid car including a demo of the car. In the morning we had a talk on the latest developments in cars - particularity the new controls designed to assist the driver. A Buffet Lunch followed and a wander round the workshop floor. The Institute is mainly concerned with training courses for service staff from dealers around the country and has a large workshop where many cars, motorbikes and other equipment can have their engines test run and serviced.
Workshop Floor - Cars
Workshop floor - Motercycles
Next in the afternoon we had a talk on the developments in motorbikes by an obvious enthusiast. Finally a demonstration of the employment of an airbag, from the unit usually in the middle of a steering wheel, went off with a louder than proverbial bang to end the visit.
Rather than give details of the talk I have arranged to have the following items from their World Wide site at http://www.world.honda.com/products/
available in PDF printable format on our web site:-
There are already onsite more photographs in the Engineering Days Out Page
and in the News Flash
is a Sound and Video Clip of the Airbag Demo.
In conclusion I can only repeat our chairmans words (or paraphrase them) - " It was marvellous to visit a company with an Engineering basis".
The "free for all" web with few rules that are seldom observed poses many problems that are completely new to my generation, which tended to live by rules and preferred and assumed an ordered society.
A very simple example illustrates a problem I come across as a Web Master.
When I want to say " Hello is anyone there? " I have a choice of many ways of doing this - but lets say I desire to put it on the web site. I can use an Hypertext Document (HTML) or I can use a A Portable Document Format (PDF).The difference between these is that in HTML the recipient decides how the words shall be viewed whereas in PDF I specify exactly where on a pictured A4 sheet the words shall appear.
With HTML the recipient might be blind and his computer will speak the words or print them out in Braille. I do not have to worry. But He would have to translate the PDF document into HTML in order to 'see' it. This is not an easy task but can be accompished by the computer at a cost.
As engineers we do tend to specify items to the nth degree and the PDF document is in our control - The Hypertext is not. Most of the programs that are available for making pages on the website also try to control the Hypertext in a way that deprives the recipient of his capability to interpret the message in the way he wants.
This may be because we tend to assume the sender is the clever one who knows what he is doing and the recipient is not and does not. One method - the PDF specifies things from the bottom up - the other just gives you the top directly.
This brings me to the real purpose of this short note namely " Blogging ".
As we go about our daily life we come across human experiences from time to time - these may well deserve a note to be made at the time - a log of the happening.
Flowering Bean Tree
- Seeing an albino jackdaw might be an occasion - even better if a photo was possible.
- Finding ones Indian Bean Tree covered in white flowers and discovering they are perfumed and so is your house and garden.
- The realisation that the real Engineering feat of the hybrid car is the electronic control of the inverter, used with a 500 odd volts battery, that provides the ac at the correct phase and frequency to provide an added torque for acceleration or for deceleration and generation when braking via a brushless motor.
All these may warrant a b-class log or blog.
These blogs are really for ones own benefit - but there is no need for secrecy and ones friends and close ones may be interested in what is going on - The choice of what to look at is with the one who browses.Leaving the blogs rapidly does not offend the writer of the blog in any way, wheras anyone departing in mid sentence during a talk session does cause offence.
The difference between a personal diary and the blog is related to the very nature of the web, where the "Surfer" has control and the writer consequently has a freedom of expression not available in more formal media which have set rules.
Following the total failure of making Abbots Leigh the first Blogging Village in the UK, I have to admit that even I did not contribute with blogs. The idea is somewhat alien to my generation. My daughter is an avid blogger but then she is a Psychologist whose idea of a holiday is to traverse USA coast to coast in a Chevrolet Truck. There are plenty of scientific bloggers and this does form a country to country exchange of information - I digress
I am going on holiday to the USA in September. Touring New York - Washington and Civil War Sites and ending up in Seattle with my daughter. If I have any worth while experiences I will blog them on all the sites I am associated with. I shall make use of the news sections and supply blogs when and where the hotels have internet access or when I get to Seattle.
Just a Thought
I wonder what the blogs of Tony Blair, John Prescott and even Don Cameron would be like? Cheers for now.