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Saturday, 27 August 2022

The Folly Garden

 Facebook and the like have their critics but they give me and the World at large a daily dose of wonderful images.  Here are four from today.  These three are of the small but wonderful garden at the back of our old home, The Folly in Settle.  Great to see them now open for anyone to enjoy.  I built that deck and it is partly supported by a1914  Ford Model T chassis!

My one regret about that wonderful place was that you couldn't see the trains.

Heating with Haverland and Just 1500 Watts:

 Today it was announced that the winter energy price cap was way north of £4,000.  That is very serious indeed and people really are at risk of making the choice between heating and eating.  We are thanking our lucky stars that we built the super-insulated extension when we did.  We shall move into it for winter and, based on last winter's experience, we shall be warm as toast.

I have gone into some detail about our heating arrangements on this Blog before,  A huge Victorian unheated water tower posed heating challenges and we made early mistakes.  Biggest mistake was to go for gas fired underfloor central heating via some 23 heating loops.  Costly, impossible to balance and simply inadequate.  We reduced the number of heating loop to just one (the main lounge floor which proves effective in background heating the entire original tower).

We move out of the tower in winter and into the new annexe which is heated by just one single electric heater of 1500 Watts maximum consumption:

It's a neat little wall-mounted thing too (the picture is from their website:

The make is Haverland but there are many others.  1,500 Watts is 1.500 Watts whichever you use.

Set at 20C it spends most of its time 'off' having heated the ENTIRE two-bedroom annexe.

The following are key features of the annexe, thought about and designed in:

1. INSULATION - massive to all exterior walls, roof and floor

2. HEAT RECOVERY VENTILATION (HRV) - a dedicated system for the annexe alone (the tower has its own separate system)


4. SCRUPULOUS ATTENTION TO DRAUGHT ELIMINATION - you still need adequate ventilation but the HRV sees to that.

5. LOW CEILINGS - we wondered about this.  Would it feel cramped?  You don't notice it but you are heating a smaller volume of air.  Flat square LED ceiling panels mimic skylights.  All visitors comment favourably on them.  You can get these with pictures of blue sky and fluffy clouds on them but no!

6. ROLLER BLINDS on windows for use in extreme cold.

7. LED LIGHTS throughout

8. DRAUGHT PROOF INTERNAL DOOR between annexe and tower areas.  Kept closed.

There are also eco-systems or  devices  that benefit both the tower and the annexe:

1. RAINWATER HARVESTING (irrelevant to heating but huge savings on water bills)

2. SOLAR PANELS (16) on a south inclined roof

3. TRIPLE GLAZING to tower main windows

4. EXPOSED (HEAVILY INSULATED) HOT WATER TANKS AND PIPEWORK -  not boxed in to create 'airing cupboards'

5. ALL-YEAR CLOTHES DRYING RACK in the ground floor open-air space below the first floor annexe.  Reduces winter tumble-dryer use.

6. FULL HEIGHT HEAVY CURTAIN between unheated tower atrium and the rest of the tower.  A former set of theatre curtains via Ebay.  Opened in summer, closed in winter. Exceedingly effective.

Wednesday, 24 August 2022

C-errrr-ash in the Night

Things sometimes can go bump in the night anywhere.  The mind races and suspects the worst until the body and the brain agree to let things wait until morning to see if anything is amiss.

Last Saturday night was different.  There was an almighty cerrr-ash! somewhere close by or even inside the tower.  We both heard it and were alarmed by it but neither of us could agree about the location or the probable nature of the noise.  It certainly was loud and very metallic in sound.  It was windy outside but nowhere near gale force.  Triple glazing on the tower's main windows tends to deaden sound from outside so maybe it was inside?

I made an executive decision as befits my place in life and decided that the tower was still standing so it could wait until morning.  Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Next morning I searched and searched but found nothing that could possibly explain such a loud crashing noise.   Then I found this on the main lounge floor:

Mystery solved.  One of our two heavy wrought iron chandeliers, suspended from one of the beams which support the tank on high had dropped to the floor below.  Luckily the thing had fallen vertically, not askew.  It had landed fair and square on its six downward projections, one below each light.  This had shared the impact among all six and even the floor was undamaged.    * Half of the light bulbs had survived too.   Luckiest of all it had missed the whopping great flat screen TV nearby.

One link in the suspending chain had failed.   The other chandelier, identically hung, was still in place, threateningly.

Mea culpa absolutely.  I had used plastic metal-look-alike black chain to hang them.  That, combined with the specially bought and strong electrical wire should have been adequate but wasn't.  There's no fool like an old fool.

Straight on to ebay and ordered 5 metres of steel chain, identical in dimensions.  Specifically manufactured for fencing and for hanging.  It arrived yesterday and both chandeliers will be re-hung  today.

* CORRECTION  All of the lightbulbs survived!  They are glassless LEDs and the plastic 'flame' tops of three of them had fallen off.   Simple push-fits so reassembled and now lit - see below

Saturday, 20 August 2022

Drying Washing Outdoors - Come Rain, Come Shine

Among the highest electricity-consuming gadgets in any home is the tumble dryer.  Ours is a condensing type which needs no outside flue but it does rely on condensation to extract water from fabrics and that too gobbles up energy.

Regardless of energy consumption clothes dried in the wind outdoors somehow seem fresher don't they?

Well we already had two ways to let clothes dry besides the tumble dryer - a conventional outdoor clothes line which is concealed from public view by being run along the path at the back of the new extension and one of those lovely old-fashioned ceiling mounted drying racks in the utility room.  Here's the conventional outdoor line, exceedingly well hidden away:

Lack of ceiling height made the drying rack something of a visual clutter, especially when loaded in the already cluttered utility room - next on the agenda for a thorough sort-out.  Then inspiration struck.  Why not relocate that drying rack in the ample 'outdoor' space below the new extension's lounge?   There it would be hidden away, especially when unloaded.  Though a totally dry area it is in effect outdoors and well ventilated.   Today we bit that bullet and re-hung it 'outdoors but in the dry'.

A very good use for an otherwise wasted space which now houses the Yanmar diesel tractor too!

Friday, 12 August 2022

On t' Telly Again

 Friend from Bingley Norma Bartle texted this week.  "I'm watching the water tower on telly right now - are you?"  We weren't but rang Norma.  BBC4 Alastair Campbell's Winter Walks.

Found it on iPlayer and here we are:

Sunday, 7 August 2022

The Weed Bank Flourishes

 Here's one to gladden the hearts of lazy gardeners.  Our ungardenably-steep embankment id doing just fine with its mixture of weeds and non-weeds.  The buddleias on the top row are in full bloom and their flowers are at seated eye level from the sun deck enabling us to make friends with the bees and butterflies.

The dark 'daytime full moon' is a this-side-outwards sticker on the outside pane I've not got round to removing yet

Darcey on bee patrol.

Friday, 5 August 2022

Super Clever Picture

 This weekend we are dog-sitting daughter Lorna's dog Darcey.  Lorna dropped off Darcey en route from Gerrards Cross to Edinburgh via Settle.  She drove to Settle and took the train north via Carlisle, leaving her enormously impressive Jaguar here at the water tower.  We can pretend it's ours!

Leaving Settle station on the 1151 we were waving her goodbye, as proud parents do, when Lorna took this remarkable picture of herself inside the train with us outside on the platform: