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Intriguing Exercises - Thursday 27/01/11

Progress on the woodshed has been sporadic to say the least. This is mostly down to welsh time keeping. Kit has a list of jobs to be done with heavy machinery. So far the contractor has never arrived when promised, even missing entire days. By his behaviour one could believe conventional working weeks do not exist and when working days do arrive, they never start at 09:00. In fact, working before midday is positively rare. I have a theory the welsh are governed by the moon and decide working days/times by inspecting sheep entrails - just a theory.
To fill in the hours/days of suspense we have carried bricks to the building site. Until we tire of it. Or build the woodshed. There is very little else we can do when you add in Welsh weather...

Not paying insurance or running the car has meant that for the first time in a very long time indeed, I have spare cash. Enough in fact to enable me to splash out on some choice novelties. So far I have splurged on a Hawke Sport HD 4 X 32 Mil Dot Scope (watch out geese), a Stovepipe Thermometer, 2000 air rifle pellets, a Camo Padded Rifle Slip and I have £40 with which to buy more. Am currently torn between Fireside Bellows or going tactical and buying a Deben LEDRAY GL2 RED Tactical Air Rifle Light or some warm slippers... Alternatively I can leave the surplus to accumulate.

Another caravan has arrived, adding to our row and fast becoming a terrace. The owner is another volunteer called Nick. A very likeable chap. I'd met him previously in November but completely forgot about his plans to return. have helped him overcome the same obstacles we encountered upon our arrival. Namely decoding the solar panels and caravan electrics and cracking the enigma of installing a woodburner. Next on the list will be introducing him to gas bottle supplier and general Mr Build It/Fix It, Nick The Gas, but all in good time.
During our stay with Emma's parents over Christmas and New Year, I made a few observations that I have pondered over. Most of these are from drawing comparisons from our previous lifestyle and that of most. Often it is preached that households need to engage in certain practices to save money and be 'efficient'. There are so many buzzwords they almost lose all meaning. 'Carbon Footprint' 'Eco-This-n-That' 'Low energy ratings' etc etc. Then it hit me. The pieces slotted together and the answer was revealed. If a household were to follow these 'Green' practices to the full they would simply unplug as we have.
Water. Brushing teeth for example. I collect all our water by hand, and its heavy work consuming my bodys energy. I don't like doing it too often. A cup 1/4 filled is all we need and use.
Gas. I physically have to get it. The bottles require manhandling and now cost over £50. Therefore filling the kettle with the amount of water you need saves gas and boils more quickly. The Pay As You Go system lets you keep tabs so no £300 surprises!
Electricity. No Sun, no lights. We use paraffin lamps and candles. I admit its not ideal in certain instances, but for the most part it suffices and costs little. By only switching on the inverter when we need electricity and by using low energy bulbs to extend the battery life, we have free electricity. That's with only a 60 watt array. To be uber efficient, we could reconfigure the electrics and run 12 volt LED bulbs.
Heating. Wood fuelled and therefore needs manual processing. When its cold we wear warm clothes and warm bed clothes. If you're like me, the two are nearly the same. I merely shed a couple of layers.
And there you have it. Disconnecting utilities and taking responsibility for your consumption and existence is the answer. Realistic? No way. Not in an urban environment. Possible, most definitely, and would be a most intriguing exercise.
Has been a feast for thought.

M Jones

Mr Lazy Sun - Sunday 23/01/11

A cold nose and a full bladder tortures me until I rise, consistently around 06:00. The Sun himself is having a lie in and by the time he's dragging his lazy backside over the hills, I've already had a coffee, lit the woodburner, eaten a bowl of crunchy oats and cut a bucketful of kindling. To kill time and to keep warm on these crisp frosty mornings I take a walk along the plot perimeter. To make the walk as productive as possible, I bring along my air rifle. A vain hope. The land is devoid of prey. The only targets being two blackbirds. Two and twenty short of a pie so I don't bother. Plus I like them anyway for their appetite for aphids and other pests. As I make the return loop I spy three wild geese and a smattering of ducks. But they're on the millpond. Common, not private land. Being there is no one else around, there would be no witnesses to my poaching. But they are on the water which is an issue. An issue for retrieval more than anything else. Still after three unsuccessful attempts thus far, I think they're safe.
Have added a scope to my wish list, with as large an aperture as I can afford to enable accurate shooting in low light. Then we'll see how safe those birds are...

Spent all of Saturday with Kit and mobile saw mill owner Adrian. Kit wanted his quota of timber milled 6"x6" and 5 meters long. By god they were heavy. The sort of weight that saps the strength in your arms to the degree that sheer willpower is all that prevents you from dropping the load on your toes. The next morning my arms were weak and sore. similar to that morning weakness that leaves you incapable of squeezing a grape.
Annoying, as we had the same amount again to collect that was left when we finished.
Going to bed at 20:00 used to be a rare occurrence...

The Hub Build.

Same job, helping a different plot holder.
 M Jones

Kidney Bean - Wednesday 19/01/11

Had a welcome change of pace Monday. Emma was booked in for an ultrasound scan at Haverfordwest hospital. With the car insured for the day, we did our best to make the most of it and be as productive as possible. The appointment wasn't until 14:30, so we had a couple of hours of mooching in the town centre. Bought a few bits in various charity shops, then headed to the hospital. We were in and out within an hour or so, everything having gone smoothly, and came away with a picture of our kidney bean.

Next stop, top up shop at the supermarket. Kit arrived at the train station not long after and we gave him a ride home. Stopped in Clunderwen to pick up the last item - paraffin.
With the return of Kit has come a break in the weather. Sunshine and clear skies, forecast to prevail until Saturday.
It was an absolute pleasure to be back outside in glorious weather, marking out an orchard then constructing a woodshed. We didn't complete the shed as we ran out of light. And screws.
Sourced some screws from Simon D, so our job today is to finish off and perhaps even extend the woodshed. The clear skies resulted in a bitterly cold night, but as always, this had given us a beautiful crisp morning thankfully with more warm sunshine.

Andy and Janes unveiled house.

M Jones