Thursday, May 10, 2012


Rain Man

Back from the Greek island of Chios and the crazy Rocket Battle which I wrote about and filmed here. Today is a classic North Wales day of wind and rain, one of those days when you can't see further than the end wall. The stream in the garden is swollen by the rain and roaring like the Orinoco, the trees are swaying, and you can't go outside for more than a minute without being soaked by the fine drizzle that seems to come at you horizontally. Good day for decorating!
 A map of some island somewhere...?
The picture shows what might be a problem with one of the external walls. When I began rollering over the magnolia in the main bedroom, huge flakes of the existing paint came off, leaving bare plaster (years old, not new.) I've applied (for diy minded readers) a layer of PVA to waterproof and prepare the surface for another coat.

I've also been sanding and oiling the door of the second bedroom, which was made from reclaimed boards about fifteen years ago when a concrete floor went down on top of the new damp course. It's a real rough job, gaps in the planking, crudely sawn cross timbers, and rusty reused floorboard nails - the old flathead ones - and it's beautiful. I love the idea of reusing those old bits of wood that generations have walked on, even if it's a bit of a 'feature'... Reclamation every time!
Photo not taken today

I'm taking stock of where I am with the restoration project, and especially the eco aspects of it all. Since the external insulation was cancelled I've had a rethink about the heating. Air Source is not really appropriate now, it needs the outside cladding to be properly efficient and in any case I have always had reservations about the noise (and the overly large radiators that these systems need). Solid fuel seems unreliable, and I've heard bad things about it - stoves going out while you are at work during the day, and being forced to choose between heating and hot water in the winter. Electric storage heaters, even the modern ones, don't really do it for me either.

Reluctantly I've opted for oil-fired central heating, with a condensing boiler, and I'm hoping to get double-glazed windows on the three walls that don't yet have it. In any case I'll carry on having a coal fire in the living room, and I'll use the heating as sparingly as possible (not difficult when fuel oil is the price it is).

Maybe that's really the key to the whole eco-thing. Only use what you need, have your house as insulated as possible, kill all draughts, and cut down on your consumption. I'm most sorry about the loss (through changes in Government policy) about not getting solar panels to generate electricity. Mind you, looking at the grey wall of drizzle outside, I'm not sure just how much generating there would have been...