Friday, 14 August 2009

Friday 14th August 09

Another good day... Up early as another phone call, and then at 11 a visit from Harrison Builders who had a chap walking around yesterday trying to interest people in having solar hot water... so today a team of 3 chaps came round and surveyed the place, looking at where the boiler is, and what kind of boiler it is, and the roof space, and they said it would be relatively simple. They were interested in the stoves, and enjoyed samples of dried fruit. I hope for a low quote!

The system they offer is by Alpha Innovation who offer 'flat plate collectors' ('Solar Smart') and I thought I wanted evacuated tubes... but I still haven't looked at all the possible options, and I've only had a couple of quotes so far. I'm keeping my mind open and wallet closed for the while!

Then sometime after 12, whilst I was riddling sawdust for the compost toilet, my next guests arrived, Ania and Lucas (pronounced Woo Cash, as he's Polish... they both are) who had asked if I might have some wood suitable for producing flavoured smoke. Lucas has got together with a friend and is purchasing a recently slaughtered pig, and is going to make sausages, hams and assorted other porky bits, including smoked stuff. Although I'm vegetarian, and have been now for 25 years or so, I am a realist and accept that 97% of the UK population do eat meat, and there is absolutely nothing I can do to change that, apart from being an 'out' vegetarian and showing people that you can lead a healthy and very active life without eating dead flesh.

So, they wanted some of my recently acquired apple, and I agreed to sort some out for them, and they were delighted that I was happy to barter this for some potatoes and other produce. I gave then a tour and Lucas said he'd be back at 6pm to pick up the wood.

Then I had lunch and continued outside, until Ben arrived as he'd asked how I was and I'd told him about my email woes, so he had a poke around Outlook Express, Mozilla Thunderbird and Tiscali Webmail. My problem was that I'd made a second account on T-bird, one with my name and the other with my email address.. so he sorted that. But, there is still a problem. When I delete an email on T-bird, it doesn't delete on the Tiscali server which means I have to go through and delete on Webmail when I've already deleted on my email client. Bummer. Ben said he'd have a poke around and see if he could find more info.

Then Lucas came back, with a large volume of vegetation for me as a swap for the logs I sorted... about 15 kg of home grown potatoes, dug up today, and some leeks, beetroot, onions, courgettes AND a large jar of raspberry jam! He took away a car boot full of green apple logs, cut and split and ready to, well, burn slowly and smokily!

I cycled down to Country Fresh and picked up 2 sacks and 2 boxes of compostables, and had a good chat to Richard, as well as buying veg off him.

Then towards 7pm, Ivana came round and she had a tour, and we sorted out a bit of help from her... what a very busy day!

Later, I watched a good film with my eldest son, and Gill watched quite a bit of it... a 2007 offering I heard about whilst it was being filmed, called 'Grow Your Own'. Set on a Liverpool allotment, it is a 'human condition' story and was a good 90 minutes. I recommend it.


Anonymous said...

Hi John,

Re: solar panels.

How are your installers proposing to link a system-in with your existing on-demand gas boiler?

- or aren't they, preferring instead to put in a electric immersion heater?

(There has to be secondary source of heat so as to ensure effective heat-sterilisation of the tank to counteract Legionella etc.)

As you know, I favour evacuated glass tubes and am currently re-installing mine on my front (W) and back (E) rooves to catch the summer sun (!) as it passes overhead. In sunny summer weather, tubes and flat plates are comparable in efficiencies but tubes can even operate in frosty, but sunny, weather and considerably lengthen their useful "season".

(I don't really need this aspect because, as you know, I've got the wood boiler to heat water in colder months).

If, eventually, you do opt for tubes, consider one with heat pipes - ones where only the tips get hot as opposed to those that actually have water running inside them. Marginally less efficient but if you do (like me!) live in an areas where local scallies might throw half-bricks at them, they can more-easily be replaced - a bit like a light bulb - and don't lose any water!

Bonne chance!


PS If anyone else in York is reading this and is tempted, St Nicks Environment Centre has a mobile solar hot water demonstration model, which can be transported on the back of a trailer. It uses professional (Google - "Navitron") installer parts, including an evacuated tube panel. Contact the centre and ask for me to find out any more. I'm not a professional installer - just a former Science & Technology teacher who can plumb a bit!!

Anonymous said...

Do hope that you and your family are all ok. Just noticed no poSts since Friday which is unusual for you. Always enjoy reading about your sustainable lifestyle and find the way you use produce that would othrwise be discarded inspiring.
Very best wishes

Compost John said...

I'm on holiday! back soon...

Adelaide Dupont said...

It was really interesting to read about Ania and Lucasz. (Thanks for the prononciation guide, by the way!)

I use webmail almost exclusively, as I have found Outlook hard to set up. When I was younger I used Eudora.

And not only people can eat vegetarian. Cats and dogs can do it also. I have learnt a lot from a certain list. There is a vegetarian selection among the cat food.

Hope you had a great holiday. The movie you wrote about sounds fantastic.

As for 'plumbing a bit' that can be really useful on its own. As part of a sustainable lifestyle, it is necessary.