Christmas Skeleton

For Christmas this year, Rachel gave me a human skeleton–no, not bones, but a cardboard model that could be assembled into a skeleton. Over the course of our week in Hawes, we slowly transformed the eight large sheets of card (along with dozens of split-pins, and some odd-shaped pieces of wire and plastic) into a life-size skeleton hanging from the ceiling.

The start: eight large sheets of cardboard...
The start: eight large sheets of cardboard…
End of day 2: Legs, a pelvis, and a spine!
End of day 2: Legs, a pelvis, and a spine!

There’s not much else to say: We reckon it took about 20 hours of work in total (between me, Rachel, Catherine and Tony); it’s not easy, with many of the parts twisting in complex ways to match the shape of bones, and despite the claim on the box that no scissors or glue were required we ended up cutting it in six places to make it work (and I’m pretty sure all six were required). I would, however, recommend it to anyone! The process was challenging and fun, and the end result is really cool–it can rotate its head, bend at the jaw, knees, ankles, elbows and wrists, as well as flex its back! Lots of pictures below…

Working on the ribcage.
Working on the ribcage.
Forewarned is forearmed but there's nothing humerus about the situation!
Forewarned is forearmed but there’s nothing humerus about the situation!
Attaching the final arm to the shoulder.
Attaching the final arm to the shoulder.
The skeleton shows off its dance moves!
The skeleton shows off its dance moves!

Walking wounded

Rachel sprained her ankle on Thursday and with my arm still in a sling it was clear that the long weekend wouldn’t be as adventurous as usual. Rachel was having a lot of difficulty walking on Saturday morning, so we elected to have a reasonably quiet day around the house before heading off in the afternoon to the fund-raisingg party for the South and Mid Wales Cave Rescue Team (responsible for Rachel’s practice and my real-life rescue) at the South Wales Caving Club hut at Penwyllt. While we were there, we also paid a visit to Dudley Caving Club’s Brickworks Dig, now celebrating 25 years of futility!

Rachel at the entrance to the Dudley dig. Fortunately she didn't get roped in!
Rachel at the entrance to the Dudley dig. Fortunately she didn't get roped in!

The fund-raising party was pretty good, and I got to chat to a few of those responsible for rescuing me, as well as drink the beer, but as I’m still having difficulty sleeping, we left fairly early and headed for Whitewalls for the night as it would be a lot quieter.

Sunday we had arranged to meet Richard and Carol at the County of Salop Steam Engine Rally near Shrewsbury (yes, quite a drive from South Wales; Rachel very generously did all the driving for the weekend as I still can’t drive with my arm in a sling). I wasn’t quite sure about the idea of a steam rally, but in the event, apart from the enormous traffic jam to get in, it proved an interesting and fun day. We watched some of the huge steam engines chug around hauling logs and one-another, looked at lots of little engines for pumping, sawing, baling hay, and myriad other tasks, and then wandered over to the farm demonstration area. There there were huge numbers of harvesters, ploughs, etc., being operated, along with a demonstration of ploughing in the age of steam – two huge steam engines at opposite ends of a field pulling a plough back and forth by means of cables attached to rotating drums under the engines.

Steam engines at the Rally.
Steam engines at the Rally.
Road engines at the steam rally. I particularly liked the steam-powered bus on the far left.
Road engines at the steam rally. I particularly liked the steam-powered bus on the far left.

The most spectacular event was the tractor-pull, with tractors trying to pull a heavy trailer that dragged along the ground up a hill. We saw one tractor break under the strain, and most got their front wheels up in the air!

The tractor pull!
The tractor pull!

Monday was another quiet day, but we took the opportunity to tour the archaeological dig that is going on at Polesworth Abbey. The abbey was founded in the 9th century, dissolved by Henry VIII in 1535 and replaced with a Tudor manor house, so there’s lots of history to dig up! The dig is using local volunteers – we wish we’d known about it earlier, as we might have joined in. Anyway, we got a very nice tour of the excavations, which included a couple of skeletons, most likely of nuns from the monastery, as well as lots of interesting bits of pottery, clay pipes, etc. The dig is continuing for another two weeks, so we’ll have to go back at the end and see what else they’ve found.

A skeleton in one of the trenches at the Polesworth Abbey archaeological dig.
A skeleton in one of the trenches at the Polesworth Abbey archaeological dig.