Pizza Oven Deck

First firing of 2015 of the pizza oven

Pizza Oven Deck

The fluffalump


Florence photo bombing my new beard style pic


Buckets for nest boxes


I’ve moved this blog

I have moved from blogger to self hosted WordPress as things kept going wrong with blogger.

The latest problem was the images disappeared, caused by me deleting some images on my phone to make some room, and this automatically deleted them from the google cloud too.

A bit frustrating about the images, but the migration was simple and I used this advice to do it…

Walking to London Zoo we were captured on streetmap

As we walked along the canal from paddington Station to Little Venice we were overtaken by a guy capturing google streetmap images


My old boss invented the Hyperloop before Elon musk had thought of it

I worked near Cheltenham for Andy Marks and his wife Brenda at Skyscan aerial photography 20 years ago. We have kept in touch, and he recently told me about an upcoming fascinating announcement by Elon Musk, the founder of so many interesting venture including PayPal, SpaceX and Tesla cars.

Elon’s next project is to forward the cause of the Hyperloop tube transport project, which will allow people to travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco at 800 mph.

The thing is Andy has been working on this idea in his portacabin (shed !) for over a decade, and he has overcome many of the practical problems of a pneumatic hyperloop which the Musk project will need to face. Using his background in engineering, particularly to do with seals, Andy has figured out how to make the tubes airtight, efficient and even allowed for points or switches, which means the tubes can form a network, not just a loop.

He has designed valves in the hyperloop, allowing for short sections of the tube to be under pressure at a time. Each ‘car’ requires low pressure ahead of it and high pressure behind it, although a surprisingly small difference goes a long way.

On August 12th Elon Musk will announce what his intentions are for hyperloop transport, and he has hinted that it will be an open source project, and in some shape or form also a power storage device. The tension is building, and interest is spreading. Andy would like to be involved, so that he can contribute and his part of the solution will see the light of day, and actually be built.

Edit: there is an article about him published here

Hot turnip juice

Tastes like tabasco seawater with upper notes of radish.

High in anti oxidants hopefully. Gonna make me live forever.

It is called hot turnip juice but actually served chilled.

Festive bogroll

Festive bogroll, originally uploaded by thesnodgrass.

Sam in with the Lions

For his Christmas present Sam got to play with some Lion cubs for 30 minutes at the zoo.

see the pics here

One day he hopes to be a vet.

First fish and chips from Andrews chip shop

Debbie’s 50th party

Debbie’s 50th party, originally uploaded by thesnodgrass.

28 people served with bubbling pizzas

Pizza party

Untitled, originally uploaded by thesnodgrass.


dresden, originally uploaded by thesnodgrass.

Beats camping

Beats camping, originally uploaded by thesnodgrass.

on board ‘ship’

on board ‘ship’, originally uploaded by thesnodgrass.

The oven makers

The oven makers, originally uploaded by thesnodgrass.

Untitled, originally uploaded by thesnodgrass.

uh oh

uh oh, originally uploaded by thesnodgrass.

Henry shaped some kiln bricks for the door

test firing with a small blaze

Pizza oven topping

Pizza oven topping, originally uploaded by thesnodgrass.


Insulation, originally uploaded by thesnodgrass.

sieving the big stones out of the concrete mix.

inner arch complete

inner arch complete, originally uploaded by thesnodgrass.

Artisan at work

Artisan at work, originally uploaded by thesnodgrass.

Pizza Oven Progress

them chicks love Barney

Leaving a gap at the back for the chimney

removing the former

removing the former, originally uploaded by thesnodgrass.

half the arch

half the arch, originally uploaded by thesnodgrass.

trial run without cement

trial run without cement, originally uploaded by thesnodgrass.

Oven cementing begins

Oven begins, originally uploaded by thesnodgrass.

The first of the bricks cemented into place using Ciment Fondue refractory mortar which can withstand high temperatures.

Bought from the reclamation yard in Winchcombe

Father’s Day Cake

Father’s Day Cake, originally uploaded by thesnodgrass.

Cheltenham food festival

Cheltenham food festival, originally uploaded by thesnodgrass.

Henry built this arch former

the firebricks on the insulation


Insulation, originally uploaded by thesnodgrass.

Sam is great at mixing concrete

barney is a massive help

barney is a massive help, originally uploaded by thesnodgrass.

end of day 2 and the plinth is complete

cutting the concrete blocks

cutting the concrete blocks

the chickens enjoyed the concrete

Concrete pad

Concrete pad, originally uploaded by thesnodgrass.

Finished the concrete pad and Sam smoothed it with a float.

We mixed the concrete in a wheel barrow with a 5:1 ratio

start of the pizza oven project

Barney and Sam were a massive help as I ran out of steam half way through mixing the concrete.

Here is Barney checking the shuttering is level.

end of the Pigs Ear Pilgrimage

Start of the Pigs Ear Pilgrimage

Noah somehow got the Mayor of Cheltenham to give a speech at the sendoff. 35 of us rode 30 odd miles to the Fleece at Bretforton.

Pizza Oven

This is the inside of a pizza oven that I saw at a pub. I’m going to build one soon like this.

Wendy, Monty and the chicks

3 chicks

Mother seems to be looking after them fine.

2 chicks hatched so far

2 chicks hatched so far, originally uploaded by thesnodgrass.

Sam has named them Dufrais and Augustina

We’ll see. :o)

Why I love my HTC One X

I’ve been awaiting the release of the HTC One X ever since it was first announced, and for a while I was trying to come up with as many reasons as I could to justify buying it. Well, the other day, I finally took the plunge and splashed out on the device. I bought the One X in white, and it really does look great. I’ve been meaning to write a full review on it since I first got hands on it, well – here it is…

The first thing that I really like about the One X is one of the phones defining features; its size. Whilst it’s not as big as the Galaxy Note from Samsung, it’s still comfortably the biggest smart phone that I’ve owned. This is making on-screen interaction extremely easy for me, I much prefer operating at a more comfortable, larger size compared to the smaller screens of yesteryear. The screen is so large that whilst looking for a case, I didn’t know whether to buy a case for the iPad 3 . I remember when large phones were the least cool thing imaginable – but now they seem to be the biggest craze, with demand for smaller phones dying down. 
However, this larger screen does seem to be coming at a little bit of a cost. I’m currently getting just under a day of battery life per charge, meaning I have to charge it every single night. Although, I guess I’m using it more now whilst its brand new than I will be once I’m used to owning it, so I think that will improve
One thing I especially like compared to my last phone – the HTC Desire – is the fact that I can now have unlimited applications installed (within memory restrictions, of course). I used to hate the fact that on my Desire I constantly had to delete apps in order to get new ones!
I also like the fact that the phone has Beats Audio integrated, making all the songs that I have on there sound even more enjoyable than normal. I didn’t know Elbow could sound any better.
The performance of the phone can not be doubted, with its quad-core processor giving me speed that I didn’t know was possible in a phone, and I can honestly say that I would recommend the phone to anyone – the beauty of its slim, light and white body is just an added bonus.

George Washington’s bow tie

Sam made this origami Bowtie from a dollar bill.

Watch Monty in an ad for Pedigree


This was in a trough where sheep drink near Hidcote.

At the regal waiting for woman in black

Most frightening film I’ve seen in years. Sam watched about 20 minutes then closed his eyes and stuck his fingers in his ears.

She’ll be smoking a pipe next.

Chickens are laying again

Even if one of them is a tad small, at least they are laying. Had a delicious breakfast of eggs, bacon, Moroccan flat bread spread with Harissa and an espresso made with a coffee pod.

Should chickens be laying at this time of year?

Lemur feeding

Lemur feeding, originally uploaded by thesnodgrass.

Lemur feeding


Not all of them have horse poo on them, result!

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  1. About 3 Sundays ago on a walk to Broadway. Blogged about them from the Crown and Trumpet and then gave them to Henry. He is still alive so they must have been edible ones.

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More Broadway Crayfish

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Ouch’ I fell off my bike.

I’d only had one pint honest.

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Poultry tent

Sam bought 3 more bantams for his flock.

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Gene Kelly and his prizes

First prize plus loads of other rosettes at Moreton Show for the Kelly’s, our old landlords.

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Henry weighing out malt for beer making

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Too much curry

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Oh No What Have I Done?

We are in a new town 4 miles from the coast, not much to see, stopped at a restaurant for a quick lunch and ended up buying the 2nd most expensive meal of my life !!!

I thought the kids steaks were going to be like burgers, at 4.50 euros each. Turned out that I had mis-read the menu and they were 45 euros. Total bill was 185 euros !!! which is nearly what we are paying for 2 rooms in tonight’s hotel which is a 4 star !
I had to go on a long walk on my own afterwards to calm down.

My new latte jug.

5.90 Euros with a solid stainless steel body and a soft rubbery handle cover.

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One more espresso

I’m loving having a coffee instead of a beer, when in a bar which is odd for me! Half a teaspoon of sugar, quick stir, 2 sips later and its gone. Watching the barista’s is good entertainment too, but it is so much easier using a coffee pod.

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Where do all the lost biros go?

I don’t know where lost pens and odd socks disappear to, but whenever the mountain of them is found there will also be found a pile of marble nobs, as it seems all the statues in Rome are missing there’s.

What does this say?

It was on the road outside an apartment. Anyone care to translate as it must be important?

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Sam Cooks Squid

Like a young Keith Floyd, but not as drunk.

Time for moules

I’m not sure how to make moules mariniere, so I made it up as I went along. It has been 20 hours since and no-one died, so that is good.

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Palatine Hill

Collisium is good but Palatine Hill is more interesting and the ruins are much bigger than I expected. We had to dash from shaded area to shaded area to stay alive, as it is 34 c.

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Derek’s Birth Certificate

Just as well Derek brought his birth certificate as it for him a 12 euro discount at the Colliseum ! They were asking for ID to prove he was a pensioner and be was the first to have a birth certificate on him. He has carried that around for 60 years and this was the first time it came in handy.

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This room has air con so we can relax away from the sun. Barnaby is now on his third Chris Ryan book, which makes me proud.

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Squid preparation

Sam making an appetizers with a squid we bought together. His name was Squidward and he died in a good cause.

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Pantheon has a hole in the roof. Shoddy builders.

Made of concrete though. The art of concreting was lost for centuries and reinvented by the Malley family Dublin.

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More Nuns

Secret nun cam bags one as she passes.

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Feckin’ Nuns

They’re EVERYWHERE ! What’s going on ?

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Colloseum is closed Eeek!

Union meeting at the Colliseum means it is closed for the morning, and we got here super early to beat the heat. Oh boy it is hot but there are water fountains all over dispensing beautiful cold water which we take advantage of whenever we see them.

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Bloomin’ hot today so went on an open top bus tour that had a roof (so and open sided bus tour really) and then spent the afternoon underground in the catacombs looking at 2000 year old graves. I couldn’t care less what we were looking at ‘cos the temperature under ground was 16c and I could have been looking at portraits of Margaret Thatcher for all I’d care.

Bus tour round Rome is good though, even in the heat, what a great place, made a mental note to come back in January, when the temperature is under 30c.

Coffees pot spares

In the supermarket here in Rome they sell all the spare parts for cafeteria pots that you might need, even handles !

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Amish beard

This year my holiday beard style is Amish. Today at the zoo I was mistaken for Norwegian, (and confusingly, Spanish !)

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Pizza pie

5 minutes after finishing this meal the restaurant suffered a power cut and we sat in total blackout for ages. Wendy refused to sneak off without paying the bill, of course.

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No Crema

Crema is the foam on the surface of a good espresso but using this pot produces no crema.

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Espresso set-up

Enjoying plenty of coffees, at home and when out and about. This is how the apartment is equiped, with stove-top espresso pot, enough for 3 demi-tasse.

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Rome Zoo

Has elephants, lions, tigers and best of all brown bears that you can watch swimming through a glass walled tank. We later saw one peeing like a dog and Wendy reckons our garden in Canada smelt the same.

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Park near where we are staying.

You can see St Peters beyond the park, which looks close enough to walk to. Trouble is the park enjoys the worlds largest collection of broken glass, rubble and humping hobos.

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Rome ‘ere we come.

Highlight so far was watching Derek return his wallet to his ‘secret’ pocket after passing through the Gatwick security. It is pinned into his trousers and he looked dodgy rummaging around in there for ages. Should be pickpocket proof though.

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Lucky the lavender chick

Lucky the lavender chick, originally uploaded by thesnodgrass.

One of Sam’s fertilised eggs he bought at the farm park hatched. See him/her peeking from under his adopted mum.

Monty in a movie (ad)

This is the Little Thor viral video ad Monty was in. Sonia, his trainer, took him to London for the day and got him the part.

Perfect walk in the woods

orchid 013, originally uploaded by thesnodgrass.

Happy HONCers

IMG_0031.jpg, originally uploaded by thesnodgrass.

At the halfway (26Km) point and Andy Grelak and mysel can still smile.

Monty visiting his mates at Xmas

PART_1293363942383, originally uploaded by thesnodgrass.


  1. Hi Snod

    Stella from Thunderbirds 1990 here, think you bought the bantams from my partner Anthony, glad they are well. I have just put Chile slideshow on utube. Search under mortoneventer there should be pics of you on there, All the best Stella.

  2. Stella

    we are going to Moreton show this year too so will look out for you and Anthony.
    We are going to buy a couple more chickens too.


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