Major Teddy Norton of Morstead & Everest

12th Feb 2017

Major Edward Felix Norton (21 February 1884 – 3 November 1954)

Norton set a record for climbing to extreme altitudes without oxygen—28,126 feet 

When living in Owslebury Bottom after WWII , our journey to or from Winchester passed by and acknowledge the house of Major Norton. The man known to us for his exploits as a mountaineer and being a member of two expeditions on Mount Everest in 1923 & 1924.

1924 Group Photo

His house was almost opposite Morstead Church just before the road forks, left to Longwood & Upham , right over Jackman’s Hill through Owslebury Bottom to Owslebury.


I have just ordered a copy from

Diaries of Edward Norton, James Mallory & Andrew Irvine.

While there are some well known characters and gentry who were at one time residents of Owslebury , I think Major Teddy deserves additional recognition. I wonder where he was buried


Pens,Ink & Watercolour

20th Nov. 2016

The Ballpoint and the Keyboard killed handwriting.

I love to write with a fountain pen. To see the shape of the neat and tidy letters flowing onto the paper is immensely satisfying.
My everyday writing is not at all refined, but on picking up a real pen everything seems to change.

In primary school we first learned to write with chalk on lined slates in a simple script from of letter with blocky capitals . I think it would have been 3 years later that steel nibbed dip pens and joined-up writing began. Back then the neatness of your writing gained you a high proportion of your marks. As I recall my penmanship was above average, but far from calligraphic .

We were taught to hold pen in a relaxed light but firm grip so that consistent flowing script glided across the page . When I see folks of the later ” biro ” generation holding a writing implement, with fingers engaged in as in a death grip determined to strangle the life out of the thing and the inconsistent, undisciplined handwriting that results, I am forced to question what transpires in the writing classes of early education today. Since it results in such illegible writing, surely if it is not legible, then it is clearly not writing .

In my late teens I took pleasure doing pen and ink drawings of old buildings and country scenes, some which were given a gentle watercolour wash. Upon leaving School at 15 I briefly considered a position as a graphic artist for a local agricultural business, SCATS, but my father wisely guided me instead, toward an engineering apprenticeship. As part of my apprenticeship I attended tech. college where it was necessary to take notes in haste and over the next 4 years my handwriting deteriorated to ungainly ugly scribble .

The end product of my Engineering apprenticeship was graduating into the drawing office, where a consistently neat blocky script is demanded .  Being required to retrain my hand led to simple calligraphy and using italic nibbed pens.  This in turn prompted a return to occasionally sketching for pleasure.

Taking pleasure in art reentered my life again when I set up a picture framing business in the ’80’s and now that I am retired and less mobile I have again returned to sketching and watercolours . Fistly attracted by a 3 day travel sketching event on Quadra Island –

My my recent recommencement was prompted with the arrival of our wet season in October, and reflecting on the beautiful watercolour paintings produced by my sister Kate, until her death in January.  As a tribute of thanks to her I hope to collect as many photos of her work as possible and present them in a slide show.

On a recent visit to Qualicum I browsed the pen box in the antique shop and found two fine gold nibbed Sheaffer fountain pens from the late 30’s for $10 one needed a new bladder which I obtained from Pensacs USA for $3 each 🙂 . Thus if you are so inclined there are beautiful pens to be had for very little and there is no need to spend the high prices that collectors have created for a fine writing pen . There is real pleasure to be had in simple things and pride to be taken from a letter in a neat and tidy script style that is yours and yours alone – Get a fountain pen and get writing for Christmas 🙂

My Christmas Cards this year will be carrying a message written with ink and one of these pens in a distinctive neat hand and with love !


Dead Man’s Plack – Harewood Forest Hants

2nd Nov 2016

Deadmans Plack Harewood Forest
Anglo Saxon Kings

This story is over 1000 years old and rarely found in our history books .

Tucked away in what remains of an ancient forest in the Test Valley near Andover, is stone obelisk commemorating a  treacherous affair and a murder in 925 AD. I want to bring this to light because few people know if the legendary event or that the place was marked in this splendid way in recent times ( 1835 ).

I have fond recollection of lovely walks in this forest with my children in Autumn when the leaves are heaped deep on the forest floor and the kids tumbling through them..


 Deadman’s Plack a memorial to Anglo Saxon tales of murder and deceit.

One of the later Saxon kings, Edgar, is remembered in Harewood Forest, close to the village of Longparish in Hampshire, by a monument called Deadman’s Plack.
The monument itself is a C19th cross was erected in 1825 by Lieutenant Colonel William Iremonger whose wish it was to commemorate an event that supposedly took place in Harewood Forest in 963 AD.
The inscription on the cross tells of a betrayal and two murders but the story that led to the erection of the cross is a much more detailed and sordid one.


Deadmans Plack Harewood Forest


Edgar a king weakened by the charms of a pretty woman

Edgar was a womaniser and many tales tell of his amorous encounters with women, including a nun, by whom he had a child. When St Dunstan heard of this affair he admonished the king and made him take a vow of repentence. Edgar alledgedly set aside his crown and fasted for several years.
Edgar had already been married twice when rumour of the Duke of Devonshire’s daughter Elfrida reached his ears. Was she as beautiful and charming as described? Edgar was keen to find out and sent his Earldorman, Ethelwold to find out and return her to court, if the rumours were true.
Ethelwold did indeed find her to be charming and promptly married her himself and settled down for a life in Devon, sending back word to the king that the woman was unattractive and therefore not to be brought before the king.
Edgar however heard that Ethelwold had married a beautiful lady and ordered them both to appear before him, a frightened Ethelwold begged his wife to appear unattractive before the king but she had other plans. Elfrida dressed finely and set out to look as alluring as possible before the king.


The Weathered Inscription
The Weathered Inscription


The king will have his revenge
Edgar’s anger at the duplicity of his earldorman resulted in the latter being drawn into Harewood Forest under the pretext of a hunting party and there Edgar murdered him with a javelin.
The duplicitous Elfrida
Elfrida must have given tacit consent to the murder of her husband as she quickly marries the king but her scheming nature does not end there. When Edgar died in AD 975 she had her step-son Edward murdered at Corfe Castle so that her own son Ethelred could become king.
She must have grown tired of her deceitful and murderous ways for she retired from the world to found the nunnery at Wherwell, where she clothed herself in hair cloth and slept upon the open ground, undertaking every kind of penance, in order to expiate her crimes.

Thus the monument of Deadman’s Plack stands to remind us all of the events that took place over 950 years ago

Without the monument probably few of us would know of the stories that surrounded one of the Saxon kings.

What was reign of King Edgar like?

He was the younger son of Edmund I and King of all England from AD 959. Known as King Edgar the Peaceful.  He strove to unite the English and the Danes and by a show of strength both on land and at sea, persuaded the northern kings to submit to his lordship. He made St Dunstan Archbishop of Canterbury and Dunstan became the king’s personal adviser. The reign seems to have been a peaceful and prosperous one and under him the English church was nurtured and thrived. It seems his weakness for women was the fault that drew him towards murder, if of course the tales are true?


The New Minster Charter Winchester, showing King Edgar holding aloft the charter in the presence of the Virgin Mary, St Peter, Christ and angels
The New Minster Charter Winchester, showing King Edgar holding aloft the charter in the presence of the Virgin Mary, St Peter, Christ and angels

Here is a link to one account :

I hope if you live in Hampshire or near this site you will enjoy a walk there.


Plein Air Watercolour- DIY Easel Kit

17th Oct. 2016

Plein Air Watercolour- DIY  Easel Kit


My Plein Air Kit

Crystal Cove – McKenzie Beach, Tofino


Making do using the Walkstool as a table 🙁

I occasionally , and usually while camping take along a small watercolour kit to do some travel sketching . Finding a spot where it is both comfortable to sit and have good sight of the subject is not easy .

On a recent trip to Crystal Cove on my first day found a conveniently sited picnic table . The following day I moved to the beach proper where I spread my stuff out along a beached log and impovised a table on my folding 3 legged stool . While this worked it was not very satisfactory as brushes rolled away my water pot slipped off which caused me to hasten my work and retreat thinking I needed to think of ways improve my setup .

The outcome of this is described  here.
“Light and Compact ” being the two main criteria .

Working Desk top

A compact camera tripod from a local thrift shop became the foundation.
First I made a work surface from a piece of leftover 3/8″ polycarbonate twin-wall greenhouse material by gluing a plywood block to it with a 1/4″ UNC threaded insert centred in it . This serves to conveniently attach the board to the tripod.

Kit Box


Lid opened ready to hang on tripod

That done I began to think in greater detail about how to have my painting gear arranged and handily accessible. I decided that a tray hung from the tripod legs was the best option – this idea grew, just like topsy, it evolved into a box with hinged lid and swing out extension on the right side on which I could mount my pallette and water reservoirs and magnetic strip to retain those errant rolling brushes.



Clasp Catch


Box joints & hinges


Pallette arm with imbedded magnets

I have two travel painting kits – One being ultra light minimalist one made from a VCR tape case . A more complete Plein Air kit was small video camera travel case about 12″ w x 10″ l x 3″ deep with shoulder strap and handle .


Ready to paint .

The two water reservoirs are a shallow a lidded tin & secured with magnets. The adhesive magnet strip in the center is to retain the brushes.


All Set!

My lightweight three legged alloy stool is from Lee Valley – called “WalkStool”,120,43456,65663
It is light and very stable and available in 3 heights.

All of this is very light and can be slipped into a small backpack making it both comfortable and convenient to carry a distance over rough terrain .


RC Sailing – IOM Sailmaking

25 June 2016

My IOM ( International One Meter ) “EMO” came with a much abused sails an A rig and B rig . Seldom do we need B or C rigs here .  A new A rig suit costs about $160 US plus shipping & duty while the materials cost less than $10 :(O>.

In our local sailing group, mid Vancouver Island The Herbert Bros. dominate the racing with their own designs of beautiful boats . They have generously shared their data used to make their sails .

I have used this data to make a pair of camber boards on which to make my new sails.

No 1 Camber Board


No 2 Camber Board – Jib only


Camber Board Structure

I used some 4 x2 clear Yellow Cedar shaped across its width to exactly replicate the profile of the curves I was given and sliced it to create 6 identical ribs .  The board halves are joined at 2 different angles . No 1 being 5 degrees = 2.5 degree cut on each face . The No 2 board is 10 degree = 5 degree off each face .The top surface was made from left over white counter top material. These board are probably the most demanding in terms of accuracy as they directly effect the shape of the finished sail.

From the master template drawn on Mylar drafting film I made three cutting templates out of hardboard, one for each of  the the sail panels of the foresail ( jib )  Lower, mid & top and used these to cut the oversized (5mm all round ) panels out of the sail material ( see Below for Materials list ) .

In order to familiarize myself and get comfortable with the demands of the process I did a dry run using Mylar drafting film that I had on hand.
This went reasonably well, however my first seam looked a little off and because I had allowed sufficient excess material I was able to cut out the seam and redo it and still maintain the full sail dimensions.

I good friend had some ICAREX ( polyester kite fabric ) and cut me 8 x 55″  x 3/4″strips for my luff tapes . This is a hard to find material and expensive ($35/yard but does not stretch which is most important.

For reinforcement at the corner points I am trying out a patch made by hard folding a piece of sail material and attaching it with double side tape  (DST) and using a clean round pointed solder iron to melt a grommet hole . Hmmm I assured by more experienced sailors that this is not strong enough so have ordered grommets and setting tools .

The first suit of sails is completed and looks good and sails set nicely .  The prebend in my mast had evaporated and John offered his experience and jig to apply the appropriate pre-bend in the mast made from EASTON Tent poles . That done john further advised on re-rigging the boat at several points . The jib boom pivot – The Jib top and luff rigging – The Mast Shroud wire position and the boom location  on the mast . Lastly the Mainsail Cunningham and  luff wire downhaul .

Sailing tomorrow will enable me to fine tune 🙂

Video -RC Sailing – IMO – Vancouver Island – Port Alberni

22 nd April 2016

This is an introduction to RC Sailing on Vancouver Island.

A series of 5 races called the Coast Series which is held annually here.
This event last weekend was the 2 nd regatta of 2016 held in Port Alberni.

Here is the link to a 26 min Video covering the event:

My local group meet at Long Lake – Long Lake Inn ,  Nanaimo usually on a Friday morning ( weather dependent ) for a dozen or so races. Drop by to watch or join the fun .

tomt –

RV- Trail Lite 17 Cabinet improvements .

21st April 2016

Last fall we sold the Boler and purchased our 2nd Trail Lite 17. The kitchen cabinetry layout is economic and inefficient in using the space under the stove.

Taking a closer look I realized that by removing the two doors and making deep drawers on proper slides we could more than double the useful space and improve the access. Closer examination showed the opportunity to put a 31/2″ deep drawer immediately under the stove for cutlery etc.

The results are best illustrated with the pictures below.
The drawer dimensions are :
Lower – 24″ w x 12″h x 18″ deep.
Middle – 24″ w x 10 3/4″h x 18″ deep.
Top – 18″ w x 3 1/2″ h x 18″ deep

The lower drawer is stepped to clear the wheel arch and also has a sliding drawer insert approx. 23″ w x 4″ h x 9″ deep.



My WET WET Coast Bird Feeder

3rd Dec 2015

WET WET Coast Bird Feeder

My WET WET Coast Bird Feeder

The wind driven rain that rips up the Strait of Georgia and the Salish Sea in our WET season during November and December soaks the birds feed . The result is the soggy seed soon goes moldy and fungus may be toxic to the birds.  This means that one has to throw away the contents of the feeder very frequently and what follows is a not so pleasant messy business cleaning and sterilizing the feeder.

Thus far none of the commercial feeders have provided adequate protection against the elements. So I decided to try a few ideas of my own .

Here is the result mostly in picture form.

My design stars with a decent size tray 19″ square with a 6″ square hole in the middle.

The hopper has sloping sides and has a sloped top on which the roof cover is mounted. Inside the hopper is a mounted a rod to support the mesh sloping floor.
The purpose of this is to provide an opportunity for air to circulate helping to reduce the humidity in the hopper.

Sloped mesh floor – window screen


Many Drain Holes

Plexiglass panels were used for the two feed slot sides siitting on St.St screws to  facilitate adjusting the openings.

The roof/cover is relatively huge @ 30″ x 30″ 5 sided – point at the peak and made from twin wall polycarbonate the I had left over from the conservatory roof project. To provide an easy filling water proof access I used a 5″ dia screw top plastic pot with bottom removed and glued in place.

All the wood has been liberally coated with clear epoxy resin for weather proofing.

I have a 5ft tall 6″ x 6″ cedar post on which to mount the feeder which I intend to carve to add a decorative element to our Back-Beach garden 🙂


Not tested yet but will add more next month 🙂