Thursday, 26 September 2013

West Hollywood, USA, gets my vote - it's banned trade in fur - hurray

"West Hollywood is the first city in the US to ban fur.

Stores can no longer sell, trade, or distribute it." 

That is what I read in a blog article by Vegan Richa.  I was 

amazed and delighted.  I wish places in the UK would be so 


I remember, when I became vegetarian, hanging on to my 

sheepskin coat for a while with the justification that the 

animals were already dead.  I didn't last long, I gave it away

to a charity shop reasoning that if somebody bought my 

almost new cast-off, then perhaps a new animal skin coat

might not be bought.

Now, of course, I don't buy anything with wool, silk, leather 

etc content or decoration - and sometimes manufacturers 

make it very difficult, adding "a touch of luxury" with 2% silk, 

or 5% cashmere and so on!

So, good on you, West Hollywood - I'm proud of your 


Friday, 6 September 2013

Free electricity, sunny or not, here it comes:)

I suspect most people who've had solar panels installed become addicted to watching numbers changing on their meters - sadly, I too make regular trips to the garage wall to gaze at the meters, then up at the sky, then enter the figures in a small notebook.

Well, when you've spent thousands of pounds on 10 glass panels to grace your roof it's only natural to want to monitor the progress, isn't it?

In fact, I don't really think of it as "free electricity" at all, because my bank account is thousands of pounds lighter, so how can I call it free?  On the other hand, once all the paperwork is finalised, I will be paid for generating that electricity whether I use it or not, so, in that context it will be free.

Anyway, you'll be fascinated to know that on the day of installation it was quite overcast, and the team didn't finish work until gone 4pm, yet still those clever little units managed to cull 1.4 units of power from the atmosphere.

The next day had quite a few sunny spells, and they magically produced 8.88 units.  I used the washing machine 3 times that day to make the most of the sunshine (I don't have a tumble drier), yet altogether I only used 1 unit of electricity, so that was pretty impressive I thought.

Today it's raining, so the panels are having their first shower - I hope they wash behind their ears!  Nonetheless, they have already generated 0.3 units, so it's true, you don't need the sun for solar panels to work.  Even on a rainy day something is captured.

So, this is your solar energy bore signing off for today - I may well give you more figures another day - well, count on it, I will:)

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Solar Warmth - my panels are fitted!

This morning my roof was quite boring, just a single Velux window and lots of tiles.  This evening it sports 10 solar panels, 5 to the south elevation and 5 to the west, as suggested by Stephen, the surveyor.

Sorry, the photos aren't the best quality, I left my camera at my parent's house when last I visited, so my phone has been obliged to become a camera for the day!

 Liam getting ready
 Mark at the consumer unit in the garage
 Liam working on the roof
The well stocked van!

As a team the boys worked well, each had his own role to perform, and they just got on with it.  Very impressive.  Mark worked in the garage on the main part of the electrical work, young Liam ran the cables around inside the house and fitted the inverter, and the Liam you see in the photos worked on removing tiles, fitting the supporting bars and brackets and fitting the panels themselves.

I'm pleased with the way they worked.  I do wonder if the panels on the west elevation should have been placed higher up to catch more of the afternoon/evening sun.  I had understood that they were to be in the same formation as those on the south aspect, in a 3:2 pattern.  I shall have to watch how they're affected by the shadow of the neighbouring house.

I shall be taking regular readings to see how much power I'm generating - but it's already over 1 unit, and it was overcast, so I'm pleased with that.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Knock knock knocking on Malta's door

When I'm away from home, whether for a day or on holiday, I enjoy studying the architecture around me.

As I looked at the houses on Malta, mostly terraces or apartments as Malta is such a small island, I noticed the door knockers.

Wherever you are on Malta, the sea isn't too far away, so it's no surprise that fish swim into view quite often.

Lions were also much in evidence, the first looks a little glum, possibly at the indignity of having a hoop through his jaw!

this one looks very angry

slightly pensive, I think

quite regal and serene
Simply elegant, don't you think?

The Maltese Cross was awarded to the whole island of Malta to recognise their war efforts in the Second World War, and it, too, appears as a door knocker.

What's your favourite door knocker design?

Meet my Maltese camel

We've been to Malta three times now, and have booked to go again; we enjoy the gentle warmth instead of our cold winters, and meet up with many of the same people each year for day long walks around the island.

There are some quite hilly patches on Malta, and a walking stick is a sensible thing to take with you on a day out.  Fortunately bamboo grows abundantly in the countryside, and a fallen stick can usually be found which will act as your third leg.  We normally pick up a couple, cut them to size, and use them for the holiday, then stick them in a hedge near the hotel for someone else to utilise later - a trick we were shown by folks who've been travelling to Malta for years!

Last year I found a camel to accompany me.  He wasn't absolutely ideal as he was a little warped, but I couldn't resist him - could you?