Sunday, 15 November 2009

No Skating OnThin Ice

It's that time of year again. What time? Why, time to get the recipe book out. Are we talking food today then? Nope. I'd say guess again, but it might take you a month of Sundays to arrive at the correct answer. Here, I'll give you the recipe, then you'll understand:-

Recipe for an Ice Rink.

1 team of ice rink people.

1 team of electrical people.

1 large space.

3 rented chillers.

2 weeks of rough weather, just to make it extra special!


Mark out site or rink.

Lay large electrical cable to chiller site.

Lay a false floor (so's not to kill the grass underneath it)

Roll out strips of tubing rather like the grill on the back of a fridge.

Connect all tubing to the main chiller pipes.

Turn on chillers and pump the very cold liquid through all pipes.

Spray whole ice rink (just tubes at this point) with a water hose once every hour for about a week!

When Ice is about 6-8 inches thick, drive the little tractor all over it, to smooth the surface to a glass like finish.

Top with happy skaters and Bob is very much your mother's brother!

Not what you were expecting? No. I thought not; let me explain.
Last year, No. 1 Son helped some of his buddies to set up an outdoor skating rink, and they co-opted him for a repeat performance this year. So when I emailed him yesterday, asking just exactly what the whole process entailed, he sent me the above recipe.

Now, I know many Bloggers live in parts of the world where ice regularly comes unasked at certain times of year, but dear old England is not so obliging. Hence the man-made variety being arranged as a special Christmas Holiday Season treat.

Sadly, it seems the gods had been keeping their weather eyes open for this action replay, too. Wind and rain besieged the workers last year, and blow me down, if the same elements haven't been gearing up to behave in exactly the same way during this year's assembly proceedings. Son did tell me they had rigged up some kind of marquee for shelter this year, and a good job too, if the latest BBC forecasts are anything to go by. For the next two weeks the teams will be working hard, no matter what the weather throws at them. Perhaps you could all beam calming thoughts towards the South of England for the next fortnight?!

And in case you were wondering, to take it out they just set the chillers on Heat and pump hot fluid through the pipes to melt the ice which, depending on the weather, takes about a week, too. Last year the cables had to be dug out from underneath a pile of 'snow' that was 7ft deep - this was created by the little tractor and its smoothing trips over the 4 weeks the Rink was in action. This year, the cables have been run well away from the tractor tipping point so there won't be need for any digging!


  1. If I just show up with my skates, will they let me on the ice? Or do I just say,"Jinksy sent me?"

  2. Jinksy

    I haven't been skating for over forty years, but this has made me think....why not?

  3. hi jinksy - in the playing field about seventy-five metres from where i am typing there will be an outdoor rink in a couple of months. we create it every year by piling up snow walls around the area to be flooded. we then spray a little bit every night and let the layers build up - right on the grass (which comes back in the spring every year by the way!!). it's a magical place where little and big, young and old skate side-by-side, play hockey or fall a lot!!! a lovely posting. steven

  4. Jinksy, nothing beats an outdoor skating rink. Nothing. Not in the same way. I'm glad to see it's alive and well and nurtured so under loving hands. We just sit and wait up here, and hope. Lately the weather hasn't in the last few years, but I'll always have my memories to rely on.

    Puffing coldness your way.

  5. Steven - your grass might pop up okay, after a natural freeze-up, but having to lay down pipes and things to achieve the freeze, believe me, the grass would suffer!
    I guess you'll be polishing your skates up soon, then, with ice rink on your doorstep?!

  6. Sounds a brilliant idea to me Jinksy as long as noone asks me to skate on it. I only tried it once and I got bruises in places I didn't know I had.

  7. Now that sounds like real hard work! I would definitely not be doing that. I don't like the stuff! (Except on a cool drink on a hot day!) LOL!

    Nuts in May

  8. Goodness - I didn't know one could do this - how marvellous! I might bring the family along one day!

  9. Where we live outdoor skating happens naturally, usually by the middle of December to get a really solid base. I have many fond memories of lacing up my skates and walking two blocks to the outdoor skating rink. Loved the recipe!

  10. When we lived in Ottawa (brrrrrcold) my late husband worked hard at snow-blowing the snow away and hosing down the ground every night until enough ice formed for our girls to figure skate and play hockey every day. Of course, ours was THE most popular backyard all winter! My girls have fond fond memories of that!

  11. Bruce Coltin, Martin H and Ralf G Neckman - you need to go to Winchester, if you truly have the urge to participate. But not for the next week or two - it won't be ready!

  12. The first year that we had an open air ice rink in Edinburgh, I went along and had a go but ended up being quite sore and injured..... It looks like we might not be getting a rink this year...

  13. Oh it's been a long time since I've gone skating. Fun way to introduce the topic... and its seems that you and I both posted non-recipes this weekend. ;)

  14. yikes, you've got guts. not a recipe i would attempt i must admit.

  15. The other alternative is wax ice rinks, or to be precise, wax rinks. We did this one year for a daughter's birthday party. The kids had a whale of a time but I was thoroughly disappointed. It took two extra slices of birthday cake to cheer me up.

  16. PS: It's not a different colour, so you can't see it, but there's a link above.

  17. we had -14 this morning and all our outside water is poor birds, my finches, my sparrows, my starlings, mu chickadees went ice skating on top of buckets, i swear when i retire again i am moving to the south carribeian[SP] i do the speeling ceck for you my dear, i don't do it for rhymes wit, i just do it so he will squinch up his eyes

  18. Very cool. For a look at one made by somebody else. you might check out my Cousin David's blog. He put one together for his young boys, who play ice hockey, to practice on.

  19. I once lived in a place where they would blade a large area smooth, creating berms along the edges. Then, when the nights were well below freezing, the firemen would flood the area. They did this night after night until the ice was thick enough, then we were allowed to skate.

    The skaters had the job of bringing snow shovels when they wanted to skate and clearing the ice as they made their first rounds. We also showed up after a snow because the snow made the ice get all rumply.

  20. Interesting to read how an outdoor ice rink is made but I think that my skating days are over.

  21. Ice skating always looks incredibly easy, until you get on the ice yourself. Something I've tried and given up on!

    CJ xx

  22. How very original and smart this is. I've never lived where we have ice thick enough to skate on, except ice rinks in big cities.

    I guess this won't work for ice fishing!!! This is a sport in some of our most northern lakes which freeze so thick you can drive on the ice.

  23. I'm not a skater myself (why would you try to break your ankles balancing on thin metal strips?). When I was younger and had less common sense I used to go ice skating every winter on natural ice. But that was in the last ice age ;-)
    I love the atmosphere however!

    Will be thinking of your son and his friends when I'm watching BBC breakfast's Carol telling us what kind of weather we can expect. And I'm sending calming weather vibes over to your part of the world as 'we speak'.

  24. I was all set to dig out my old ice skates...then I remembered, my feet grew since I wore them last in 1960...but I would love to give it one more try!

  25. Hello Jinksy,

    These ice rinks seem to "go up" in lots of places nowadays but I'm rarely tempted to have a go! I wouldn't have imagined the amount of time required to install it.

  26. Hi, Jinksy!!!

    You always write such fascinating posts!!! I loved reading how an outdoor ice-rink is fabulous that you will have one of your very own!! But sorry to hear your weather isn't cooperating with you "construction" plans...Best wishes for calmer days than expected for your wonderful winter project!! Love you! Janine XO

  27. Oh, what fun! I doubt I could skate now because I've wrecked my ankles too many times, and I never was very good, but it was fun! Good for your son for getting that organised.

    So that's how they do it, huh? They have an outdoor rink set up each year in our town square. It's on concrete, and covered (looks like a dodgem cars rink, actually, from the outside) but I bet it's the same principle. Thanks for clearing up that mystery!

  28. you are skating on thin ice...just because i am puzzeled about what to buy people for christmas doesn't necessarrily mean i am on my way to no wheree, although i might very well be on my way to no where anyway, kabeeeesh???????

  29. You reminded me, I used to be a skater. I bet I couldn't do a figure eight to save my life now. Sigh.

    Sounds like such fun.


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