Over the years I've helped out, worked or volunteered on some interesting things outside the tech world. Here are just a few of the more memorable ones.
Painting the tower of a windmill
My father retrained as a traditional Millwright and formed a company with some of the other trainees from the course. They worked on some interesting projects and on occasion I helped out which resurrected my woodwork skills.
Given the scale of the timbers and the forces involved, it often posed some tricky situations which must have been similar to the ones the original millwrights faced. We had things a little easier due to the availability of machinery but not all of those are able to get in to where they are needed.
For a period of time, I kept a number of hives of Honeybees. I also dealt with 'swarms of honeybees' (rarely actually honeybees and more often bumble bees). When possible I tried to recover the colony as a whole so they could be relocated but sadly that wasn't always possible.
One visit involved trying to recover what was supposed to be a swarm that had only been in the carport for a few weeks. In reality the colony had been in there all summer and probably arrived the year before. It was huge and full of bees. I was having to work from the underside with the bees above me, which the bee veil was not really designed for. This meant that the mesh laid back on my face as I was working allowing the bees easy access to sting my nose. And sting it they did, frequently....
One of my hives busy harvesting nectar and pollen
Blowing steam out to clear the limescale in the boiler
Steam train cleaner
Driven by my passion for engineering, I volunteered for a time on the Poppy line. It was a lot of fun and really interesting working on the steam engines. Much like the Millwright work, it involved a lot of learning about the challenges faced by past engineers and seeing some of their solutions at work.
One of the memorable experiences was the process of blowing off steam to try and clear limescale out of the boiler. It's very loud but more interestingly when the steam envelopes you, it feels like you are in a big warm cloud. On cold mornings, this was definitely a welcome improvement!