Thursday, March 27, 2008

26th March 2008

Grey murky day with light pervading rain throughout most of it. But despite the weather the whole world is moving further into spring. Each morning the yard is alive with Robins, Chaffinches, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird and the ever friendlier squirrels. They are fast losing any sense of fear and gambol along the walls with their tails twitching or sit looking into the room with those sharp, wise eyes. In another place they’d be a pest but here they can bring only joy. I think part of the reason for the loss of fear amongst the wildlife is the dwindling number of cats and dogs around. People generally keep fewer pets these days. Just another facet of a rapidly changing society.

Hope you enjoyed the pictures from the other day...isn’t Lancashire beautiful in places. People living in these areas of outstanding beauty are really so very lucky. Apart from the scenery I think one of the real blessings would be the peace and quiet of a rural location. I might get a good night’s sleep then and I could have another dog. Have a good day.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Happy Easter hope you enjoy these pictures from the lake yesterday morning. We had a heavy fall of snow overnight. It didn’t last long but long enough to make everything look so clean and fresh. The tree decorators have been out and about around the lake and decorated a holly bush with fluffy chicks and decorated eggs. Nice touch and brightens the walk.

Happy Easter hope you enjoy these pictures from the Trough of Bowland taken on Saturday. I think they capture how spring is beginning to colour the land.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Wed 19th March 2008

Bought a little cart at the diy store last night, as I am going to move some plants from the yard to the main garden over the Easter weekend. They are quite large so carrying them is a bit of a no brainer. I carried a small tree fern up the other week but it nearly killed me. 20 years ago I could have probably done it but not anymore. I think the weather forecast is not very good for the weekend but this year we are having an early Easter. Let’s have one more snowy photo (not mine) before spring really gets a grip. I doubt we’ll be seeing any scenes like this for again this year.

World economy is not looking good. But we’ll see what happens. I really want to bang on about unbridled greed etc but it is too early in the morning. We’ll save that for another time.

Have a good day.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

18th March 2008

What is this? It is spring and its vistas gilded echoing the sunshine pouring over a day that rises ever more early. It is the rapturous avian sounds that begin in the heart of holly bushes and finish at dusk on the chimney tops. It is the scents of nectar, of pine, spruce and cedar borne on the wind. Its aroma challenges every sense for the world awakens and I awake to witness one more spring.

Friday, March 14, 2008

14th Mar 2008(5am)

Just one week to Good Friday...can’t wait for the day off. Hope the weather is fine, dry and warm. I might get some planting done then. I went up the other night to finish off the planting of some box bushes all around the plot where the animals are asleep. While I was up there I disturbed a pheasant in one of the pine trees. Boy, what a racket it made as it flew away. For birds that get shot so often you’d think they would have learned to be a little quieter.

At work I have been editing the new internal website and typing up the new employee handbook. That has kept me busy most of the week. Work is doing well despite all the gloom in the air. Apart from the rising food prices and houses for sale everywhere, all else seems about the same. Perhaps it is the quiet before the storm.

Made some bread in my new oven....not bad; but better in the old one! Guess I have to spend another 20 years now learning its foibles.

Hope you’re keeping well and have a great weekend

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

On a March evening setting fast into the west

The sun sets its sail and the moon seeks rest

For the wind so stilled throughout the day

Returns tonight to wreak what havoc it may
To vibrate the windows like the buzzing bees

To shake the birds loose from the naked trees

For me I am content in a soft warm bed

To dream of spring; let the world out of my head

To save the warmth for the next new day

To sleep now and in dreams find my way

Monday, March 10, 2008

25 stars and 1 white tree counted in an evening sky. As the light flies from the world, I awake into nowhere. To remain nocturnal and ever inhabiting the shadows of a memory filled with long bright days concealing eternity. Now 25 stars and 1 white tree shall guide me through this night back into spring.

Monday 10th Mar 2008

There has been a lot of very windy and wet weather forecast today but little of it has materialised here in the north of the UK. In fact it seemed windier at Blackpool yesterday morning when Nick and I went to see the ship that has overturned on the beach at Bispham. The ship is not very large but it was strange to see it keeled over in the water.

If you’ve got good eyes you can see someone has got bandaged fingers from a ‘run in’ with a meat slicer at work. Took the ends of his fingers off but they managed to stitch them back on. Hopefully it should all fuse back in one piece. I spent Saturday morning with him at the hospital. He’s a silly-billy but it could have been much worse. This catering is a dangerous business.

Less than 2 weeks till Easter now.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Thursday 6th Mar 2008

Weather has reverted to mild once again with days of rain to cool the weekend. I put a picture on here of the frogspawn in the pond the other day. Probably can’t see it very well, but there is about a solid patch of spawn 48 x 48 inches so they must have been pretty numerous. I never actually saw a frog this year but in past years have counted in excess of 30. It’s quite an eerie experience to sit in the sun and listen to the soft croaking of bullfrogs. Doesn’t work get thin way (Lancashire for in the) of things? But at least now I am driving there and back in the light.

I can’t believe it is Easter in a couple of weeks and the clocks will be moving to BST (British Summer Time) then hopefully I can do a bit of work in the evenings. Got to start doing some exercise so anything will be welcome. (Pizza presses, wine glass lifts...) Need to shift Ptolemy’s belly.

See the democratic nomination is going right to the wire. Hope Hilary wins because I think she is the better candidate and it’s time to see if a woman can do it better. Whoever gets through I think the political landscape of the US will change forever. Just as it is everywhere else.

Went to the dentist yesterday and he repaired my broken tooth. He drilled without anaesthetic they wouldn’t dare do that in the US for fear of a lawsuit. Ah the good old NHS (and it cost $86), so don’t believe all healthcare is free here. Well not in England anyway...
Come on weekend

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

The spider strolls along the wall to the edge of her known world and falls into the void. An unceremonious tangled landing awaits and bemused she gathers her limbs, raises her body and slinks with tentative guile across the living room floor. How many possibilities for tragedy must be present in her exploration? She is braver than I, for she explores her world even though it is fraught with danger and I wonder is it because of her lack of understanding or in spite of it? Is it possible that we hinder growth by knowledge?

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

We had a really heavy snowfall overnight. I took a photo of the snowy tree and can compare it with the one I took the day before when the sun was shining. What a contrast! Also one of the view from the garden gate to the garden.

All the snow has gone now but at least I captured it before it vanished. Got to visit the dentist tomorrow so I am not looking forward to that but it's necessary.

Hopw you've had a good day.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Below is a history of Hollins Mill where I work. Hope you enjoy it.
History of Hollins Mill

There have been Paper Mills in Darwen since the 1820s. This began at Darwen Old Paper Mill in around 1826 as a small-scale, family-run concern. Richard Hilton began making paper as an expansion of his bleaching business. He and his sons later diversified into making different types of paper including tissue and lining papers in the 1830s. His name is commemorated by Hilton Street which runs alongside the old mill (now Kenleys paper warehouse.) Papermaking required huge amounts of water and was usually supplied by local rivers and reservoirs. Darwen's location and climate made it ideal territory for making paper, just as it was ideal for the textile industry. They used to say that Lancashire people were a special breed of waterproof human and this is probably still the case today. It is one of the wettest parts of the UK. In the case of Darwen Old Paper Mill for example, the River Darwen and Jack’s Key Reservoir would have supplied water. At Hollins our water is obtained from our own reservoir located in Sunnyhurst Woods called the Dingle. Sunnyhurst Woods is probably one of the finest municipal woods in England created with a remit to manufacture a wood but to make it look completely natural. It is well worth a stroll through in any season.

Corn milling was the earliest industry that we know existed on this site and the weir for a water-powered mill was discovered in the Machine house at Hollins during rebuilding after a fire in the 1920’s. This appeared to have been constructed during the medieval period. The Machine house was originally much lower than it is today and explains why the River Darwen now runs underneath our site. Parts of the mill are today lower than the river that runs through the site. It is rumoured that the lowest point in Darwen is located somewhere in our basement. Some of the stones used in the weir’s construction are now to be found in the mill walls. These were manorial or soke mills which drew tithes and rents for their use. Oat crushing was a major function of these mills, although flour production became increasingly important. A significant change occurred in the 18th century with the introduction of roller milling. A direct consequence of this was the closure of the smaller operations using grinding stones such as the one at Hollins.

Papermaking is a fairly labour intensive process with many different processes. Associated trades sprang up in Darwen including bleaching and dyeing works and the newly emerging wallpaper market. There were mills in Darwen that made the paper for the wallpaper market and the largest of these was Hollins but some the mills in Darwen also made other types of paper. Mills produced paper such as newsprint, tissue, coloured and enamel papers, linings, brown paper and wallpaper base paper. The raw materials required for papermaking were originally rags and esparto (a rough grass from Spain and North Africa needed to make fine quality paper). This was the origin of the “rag and bone man” who trod the cobbles up to the seventies in Lancashire towns. He would collect rags for paper and bones for glue. Today papers are mostly made from recycled fibre, wood pulp or synthetic pulp. Only very fine 'hand-made' papers are today made from rags. Collins Paper Mill in Darwen mainly produced brown paper made from rags whilst Grimshaw Bridge Paper Mill produced cap and biscuit papers. Mills then were powered mainly by water wheels and horizontal engines. A list of paper mills from the period would perhaps have half a dozen manufacturers

Darwen paper Mill (Dimmocks)
Collins Paper Mill
Grimshaw Bridge Paper Mil
Over Darwen Paper Mill
Waterside paper Mill
Queens Mill
Hollins Paper Mill

Sadly only Hollins survives to this day (but what a survivor!) This due to a synergy of foresight by St Regis to turn the mill into a 100% recycling mill and the hard work of all of its employees past and present. The part of St Regis cannot be underestimated as without the change to making corrugated box papers the mill would have met its demise a long time ago. What St Regis did was to place Hollins in a unique marketing niche where even all these years later we still sit as the only producers of a 100% recycled white top test in Britain.

Many people were employed in the paper making industry. Hollins Paper Mill originally employed over 250 people. Papermaking, wallpaper and paint were considered to be three of Darwen's staple trades and even today people in Darwen are still employed to make paper, paint and wall coverings for the rest of the world. You could say Darrenners were at the heart of the diy revolution.

Located in Darwen in Lancashire, Hollins is the home of the St Regis presentation liner products, including Optima Silk and Mottle. Hollins is the only supplier of presentation liners in the UK and also manufactures brown test liners and chip, providing excellent support for other machines in the group, as well as Roofing Felt and Wrappings grades from the industrial products portfolio. In total, capacity fast approaches over 100,000 tonnes.

Continued investment has resulted in the mill installing a new environmentally friendly water treatment plant which returns almost drinkable water back to the process to be reused and the most sophisticated stock preparation process for the manufacture of world class presentation liners. The papermachines at Hollins we originally designed to manufacture wallpaper base paper and their maximum widths were

Paper Machines
PM1 2850mm (5 x 22 inch reels in width / 2800mm)
PM2 22900mm. (4 x 22 inch reels in width / 2240mm)

If you’re wondering about the extra 50mm this is taken off during conversion within the mill to give the reels of wound paper a clean edge. Because paper is initially formed in a wet state it is trimmed with high pressure water jets but these leave a rough edge which is later removed,

Hollins Mill
Hollins Road
Tel: 01254 702 728

St Regis has four paper and board mills throughout the UK with a combined output of almost 1 million tonnes every year. About 70% of sales are accounted for by corrugated case materials, with St Regis clearly established as the leader in this market sector. In addition to the core business, St Regis also manufactures a wide range of specialist papers and boards for both industry and consumers. Through high levels of productivity and innovation, St Regis sets the standard for the rest of the industry.

Over the years, St Regis has maintained high levels of investment at each of its locations and is firmly established in its long-term commitment to the papermaking industry. As a result, St Regis mills are amongst the most advanced anywhere in the world.

St Regis has introduced outstanding papers into the market place. The strategy is to enable customers to improve both quality and cost-efficiency whilst achieving environmental targets. What's more, St Regis technical support services can help customers to generate their own innovative and more cost-effective packaging solutions.

UK packaging waste regulations exert a constant pressure on companies to make more efficient use of packaging and dispose of waste in an environmentally friendly way. St Regis makes a significant contribution to this process, not only by recycling waste but also by creating recycled papers, which can be used as substitutes for paper made from wood fibres.

Customers are demanding greater flexibility and shorter lead times. St Regis is constantly looking for ways to enhance its customer service. New software systems and sophisticated planning techniques are designed to speed up communication and ensure a smooth flow of orders and on-time deliveries. St Regis believes in building long term partnerships with its customers. This approach is not just good commercial sense, it is vital for the future health of the whole industry.