Easter – chicks, life, death and resurrection.

Posted in Uncategorized on June 15, 2012 by jesusofnasareth

One of my traditions, at Easter, is to loan my incubator to the local school. It fits in nicely with the topic of life cycles that is taught at this time of year as everything springs, once more, into life.

Over the years I have hatched chicken, duck, turkey, and guinea fowl eggs, but more recently I have chosen quail. The beauty of quail eggs is they only take a little over two weeks to incubate, just within the memory span of the five year-olds. I visit the reception class with some adult birds (the children love it when they poop on the carpet). I crack open an egg to show them that all eggs look the same on the inside, then load up the incubator. Two weeks later they watch the eggs hatching yielding little chicks the size of bumble bees. Once hatched I transferred the forty or so chicks to a large cage with a supply of food and water. I also placed an electric hen in the cage – a warm pad the chicks can go under to keep warm, they bask under the pad then scuttle out to eat food and drink before returning to the warmth. The children of all ages and the staff, love watching the antics of the little chicks.

The first children to enter the school in the morning come in for Breakfast Club, an hour before school starts. They immediately asked if they could go to see the chicks. Imagine the scene of horror that greeted them as they eagerly rushed in to the class room to discover there had been a power cut over night. The electric hen had gone cold, the day old chicks had gone in search of warmth, huddled in the corner where the drinker was located got wet and grown even colder. While I ate my breakfast I had two distraught calls from members of staff as they panicked wondering how you could teach young children in a class with a cage of thirty wet, bedraggled and dead chick corpses strewn all over behind them.

This was the point where I decided to switch from demonstrating the wonder of nature to demonstrate the wonder of spirituality and superstition. As the school is a church school, and as the time was Easter, I figured it was time to perform some miracles of resurrection. The outcome was that of the thirty dead chicks that I collected from the cage, within an hour of warming them in the incubator, I had brought 24 of them back to life.  This is not the first time I have performed such miracles, the first time it happened was when I went out after a rain storm and discovered a dead duckling.   It had not managed to shelter under its mum, and had got cold and wet in the long grass. I picked it up and was about to pop it into the wheelie bin (it’s amazing what you can get rid of in this fashion) when I noticed it moved it’s beak.  I  used a trick I picked up from one of my zoology tutors (the first time I saw this done he resurrected a pigmy shrew by feeding it a crushed up Refresher , pink – I recall, cupping it in his hands, and gently breathing into the cup in order to warm the poor creature).   I have successfully pulled this trick off on a number of occasions myself much to the incredulity of those watching (although I have never used the pink Refresher), and my children are very fond of our pet duck, Jesus.  All I need to do now is come up with some names for all these quail, maybe I should read Pet Sematary for inspiration…

Whilst musing on the above miracle it made me think of another that has occurred: There was recently a gathering in the Village Hall to discuss our broadband connection. Living as far away from everywhere as we do, no one in the village gets an internet speed greater than 1Mbps. There is the possibility this could all change with the arrival of a community based fibre optic connection that would give us speeds of 1000Mbps. This enthused so many of the village that 50 turned out to listen to what was on offer. This is no mean feat as the village only has about 200 adults at its heart, with a few more in outlying farms. One week later, this meeting was brought up in conversation by a villager who had heard how promising it all was and had also heard what a good turnout it had been with “nearly 200 people attending”. I pointed out to her that was a slight exaggeration, but also we did manage to feed them all with three loaves and two fishes, and we still had food left over to fill five baskets. As she is an evangelical Christian with a theology degree, I could tell my statement had left her rather perplexed. I was amazed how a small crowd became a huge gathering by the tale being told to a few people during the course of one week (imagine how big the crowd will be as the story is retold for thirty years before anyone thinks of writing it down), she was no doubt confused as to why I was talking about loaves and fishes, and possibly appalled to think that someone did not know that it was two fish, five loaves and twelve baskets.

I need to check with her next time exactly how many animals Moses took onto the ark…

The democratic onion brings tears to your eyes.

Posted in Uncategorized on May 14, 2012 by jesusofnasareth


So what happened about the planning permission? I hear you all cry. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it to the actual meeting so what I can report is hearsay, or should that be heresy?

The problem we have in this village is the river is a border between two different councils, Wyre and Lancaster. If you have read the local Wiki article you will be aware that the majority of the village’s population live on the Lancaster side, there are far fewer on the Wyre side of the river. Unfortunately the hall is on that side. As a result, the people who represent the area where the hall is, do not represent the people that will be affected by any proposals. Equally, even if they did cover this area, in terms of the democratic process, the number of votes they would have to consider coming from this area is so insignificant when compared to the built up towns in their area, as to not hold any weight with them one way or another.

So, on the day of the Planning Committee meeting, those democratically not-elected by us Councillors took the hour long journey from the town where the majority of them live to the furthest corner of their patch for a site visit at the hall. One can only hypothesise as to the events that occurred at the hall (and to that matter any events prior to this meeting), then they returned to Fleetwood. That afternoon, the group of well organised intellectuals attended the planning meeting, each one was given three minutes to make any representations arguing their case against the development. They were foolishly under the impression that the idea is the Planning Committee listens to both sides of the argument, weighs up the pros and cons then makes a decision. How misguided they were… Some councillors didn’t even have the decency to sit and listen to their presentations and used the time to talk amongst themselves. Once the decision was to be made, the Councillors thanked the group for coming and all agreed how beautiful the scenery is up here, and commented on how surprised they all were to find such an agreeable area in their ward. They then plundered their infinite wisdom and decided that however nice it is, it should be paved over like the rest of their area, and while we are at it, let’s slap a carbuncle next to that nice old hall, who cares if the plans have not even been looked over by an architect, who cares that English Heritage are concerned about the Grade II listed building… who cares about any of it? Actually, I am being somewhat unfair, as they did have the good grace to ensure that all the road alterations MUST take effect before the new hotel is used – so they did listen, and they do care…

Just not very much.

The anonymous-tax-dodging philanthropic cartel from Jersey are going full steam ahead in order to build their five star hotel before their first wedding booking (apparently in 2014 – they better get a wriggle on – some brave couple are expecting a good bash now that they have bought their wedding off plan). Already they are enhancing the environment and surroundings. They have grubbed up a length of native hedgerow, and replaced it with a row of Leylandii. Most people would wonder what the sense of this is. These are those brutish trees that were so popular back in the 70’s, but that have now been decided upon as being a barren wasteland in terms of the species they support (compared to the diversity of a native hedgerow). However, I’m with the Jersey tax-dodgers on this one. They clearly have got their priorities right, you get these bad boys in the ground now, by the time of that first wedding they will be 30 feet tall, and will mask the Premier Inn extension they have built. None of us around here will be able to see the eyesore they will have created, and equally those staying in the hall will have the joy of a screen of evergreen trees to hide the plebs and the stunning views of the hills and countryside away, giving the punters that secure feeling that they could be anywhere –everyone is a winner!

Wyreside Hall: “I like you have the democratic right to an onion…”

Posted in Uncategorized on March 28, 2012 by jesusofnasareth

Let me bring you up to date.

There is a person who lives on the fringe of the village who has recently purchased Wyreside Hall. We all know who the person is, but they are hiding behind the anonymity afforded to them by purchasing the property through Jersey thereby avoiding paying the tax due on the transaction. That is the same tax loophole that the current (socially caring Conservative) government said they will make illegal as it is morally corrupt to use such means to avoid paying what is due to the country.

The hall is a beautiful grade II listed building that stands proud on a hill overlooking the River Wyre and can be seen from many places throughout the village.

Wyreside Hall

It is part of the landscape and fits in well with the natural surroundings. There is an application soon to be considered by the planning committee to convert it into a five star hotel and conference centre… assuming you can just go about and build a five star hotel. In order for this conversion to be achieved, from looking at the plans the mysterious-anonymous-applicant-from-Jersey needs to double the current footprint of the hall by slapping what looks like a Travel Lodge onto the side of the old building:

If you are interested the plans and associated information are all available here (as of March 2012):

Planning Application – Ref 11/00839/FULMAJ – Wyreside Hall, Wagon Road, Nether Wyresdale, Lancaster, Lancashire, LA2 9DH – 21/11/2011

A large number of local people (certainly more than 12) have any numbers of concerns about the proposal that I don’t need to go into now. Some of these concerns are voiced on the above link, others cannot be voiced, as at the moment they are pure conjecture, but the same mysterious-anonymous-applicant-from-Jersey has already perverted planning rules by building a huge agricultural building in the grounds of his local house with the promise of using it for cattle & sheep, and yet no livestock have ever entered this building (there is a suggestion it is a handy place to park his helicopter when he is up from Jersey), and that is before we get to the 6 foot tall concrete dogs so tastefully positioned either side of his Corinthian pillared, flood lit at night, front door – so very tasteful and in keeping with the surroundings…

I have given you the background, now the fun part: below is a copy of a number of e-mails that are in the public domain from someone who, clearly is not at all and could not possibly be related in any way shape or form the mysterious-anonymous-applicant-from-Jersey, decided in their infinite wisdom, to send to some of the local councillors that have a say in the proceedings, and choosing not to send it to another Councillor. I promise you I have not done anything to these letters other than edit out e-mail addresses and change names in order to protect the innocent and not-so-innocent.  I have left all the original typos and grammatical mistakes as it will help you to formulate your own opinion. When you read this you start to appreciate why the intellectuals are always the first with their backs to the walls when the revolution comes, at least in this country we all have the democratic right to an onion…

Subject: Nether Wyresdale Parish Council

Good Afternoon everyone,

We notice that Wyreside Hall is back on the agenda for tonight’s meeting.

As you are all aware the Planning application is receiving abnormal pressure from a very small group, of professional well educated people  who know there way round the systems, and are looking to block this application at every opportunity.

I am sure we will see them all attend tonigh’st meeting, to try to influence you all to alter your opinions, from the last meeting.


Myself, and My Wife are not Southerners, and were born in the area.

My Wife has worked in the Hampson House Hotel, and for allot of years at the Crofters on the A6

Ruth was involved in the early formation, and support of Animal Concern, and has supported this charity for over 30years.

We recently funded and assisted in the building of a new reception, and education facility for them.

I am sure you all know Susan, and Matthew Rodgers, with Matthew owning, and running the garage opposite the red lion, working there from a boy, until present day well over 20years. He has also been a tenant, and run the Red Lion Public House.

Susan is looking after the Wyreside Hall project, and is the Estate manager.

Susan, along with Gareth Wiltshire gave  a full presentation of the plans to an early parish council meeting, when they were well received.

Prior to living at Mordor, on Trough Road for the last 8 years, I lived on Hazelwood Lane, behind Lancaster University for 10years in the 1980’s

This was before the road alterations, and the purchase of the Whites farm land, for the New Student Campus, and the building of the most ugly green buildings on clear view of the M6. As we all know Lancaster university does not have any planning issues, and the new campus being testament to this.

I have brought this your attention because the main objection to Wyreside Hall, is from people associated with the university.

Allot of effort has been spent by these people on Noise, and Light Pollution, which I find utterly hypocritical when they work in what is the biggest light polluter in the North West.

Planning Application:

Gareth Andrew associates spent considerable time, and effort on pre application consultations with all the relevant persons, English Heritage, LCC Highways,

WBC conservation, Planning, and English Heritage to ensure the scheme could pass through the process in a satisfactory considered manner.

We can inform the Parish Council that despite this, LCC Highways changed their consultant and took a totally different view. The highways issue’s were also raised by the Parish Council, considerable, tome, and expenses has been committed to addressing the points raised, and LCC have now approved the traffic scheme, with stipulation, which include local road improvements, and the bizarre funding of 80mts of pavement at Hampson Lane!!!

Despite consulting with English Heritage at the outset, the objectors have raised an application with English Heritage to have the building re-graded from Grade 11, to 11*, further delaying, and obstructing the planning process.

It looks at the moment the application will delayed a further month, with considerable costs being consumed by all involved, because of the small group, of committed objectors, who believe they are speaking for the community, with their protect Wyresdale group. What they are actually doing is splitting the local community into two distinct camps.

1. Protect Wyresdale: Mainly well educated Professors, and similar like minded supposed intellectuals who do not mix in the old community, but form a new enclave for themselves, this being Lower Dolphinholme. They are then that blinkered that they will do anything possible, to disrupt this application, not on any particular issue, but just because they feel they have the right to stop it at any costs.

2. The rest of the community, the farmers, long term local residents, trades people, business proprietors, and people who have normal employment working for a living. These are the majority, and just because they have not written, does not mean they do not support the scheme.


Despite knocking on everyone door demanding support, a leaflet campaign, website, blog site’s etc, their numbers do not change. The 12 people in the false photo, in the Lancaster Guardian, give you the correct impression of how false this group are.

Susan e-mailed each one personally, including Chapple to view the premised its dreadful condition to view, and discuss the scheme. Not one objector, has taken this opportunity to view of discuss the scheme. Three people e-mailed Susan, and I take the opportunity to enclose these e-mails, and the e-mail sent to everyone including Chapple. Please take the opportunity to read Fred Spacer letter to WBC, when it re-appears on the planning portal. If applying to English Heritage, is an act of desperation, trying to have a Tree Preservation Order applied to the bushy tree at Wyreside Lodge was joke.

Local Community:

We all try to get along, and know this is sometimes difficult, but as well as opposing the Planning application, they have taken an approach of antagonism.

Dr Chapple:

You may recall at the last meeting, he was challenged why he had not looked round Wyreside Hall when offered, his reply he did so, when his friend Johnny Walker owned the property,

as Chapple was involved in the WAG group, opposing, and preventing his car track, you don’t need many friends like that. He has resorted to using the public footpath behind our house, with his wife, and dog off the lead, despite having sheep with lamb in the fields. He allowed his dog to foul, and made no effort to clear up, in complete show of defiance. Another Dog walker with a black lab, when challenged stated he was Lower Dophinholme, repeated the event, stopping to play ball, with the dog, opposite our back window, and again allowing the dog to foul.

PS We love dogs, and are not opposed to Dog Walkers, as we do so on a daily basis ourselves.

Dr Bunsen Honeydew:

Something has seriously happened to this man, during his time as a mortician.

He lives opposite us, and constantly stalks our house, pretending to clip the hedge during the summer.

His latest trick is to position a trailer in the gateway opposite, and every morning at 8am going to the trailer, with direct view of our bedroom, bathroom window, photo attached.

Despite being requested, to move the trailer to opposite his own house., he continues with the stalking approach.

He has recently built a new double garage, after demolishing the old one, again in an effort to wind us up, he has dumped the rubble, and other material in the field , opposite our house,

when there is ample places to store adjacent his own house.

Dr Arnold Heskwith.

I realise this is a bit of a touchy subject, and we only want to get on, and not cause anybody, or the Parish Council any further trouble. I have no idea, why Simon Morton has taken a dislike to us, or what  we have done as we don’t know him. I did not know Dr Heskwith until he appeared to run the last Parish Council meeting, and his outspoken comments obviously led me to find out who he was etc.

A neighbour, and friend of Simon Morton, whom he represented at the investigation by WBC in the conduct of Simon Morton, over the Brookside Lodge, Planning application.

He is also a Professor in Business related subjects at Lancaster University, and a colleague of objectors. He is also well acquainted, and on first name terms with people in LCC Highways, and WBC. So for very obvious reasons have not sent this to e-mail to Dr Heskwith.

I would appreciate your continued support for this scheme, and assistance where ever possible.

Thank you,

Kind Regards,

Sam Heinz.

PS Do we have the bigger room again tonight???

Subject: Your email of 15th March

Dear Mr Heinz

cc: Wyre Borough Council, Members of Nether Wyresdale Parish Council, Graham Chapple, Gareth Wiltshire.

I have only this morning seen your email of 15 March and have to say I was deeply saddened by it. This was not simply because my professional occupation is immaterial to my role as an elected parish councillor. Or because your negative allusion to my having previously represented at Council Mr Morton in his successful dismissal of Mr Wiltshire’s, as it turned out unfounded objections, were in some way related to your current application. It was primarily because you mistakenly believe that people’s challenging your application is somehow a reflection of a personal dislike of you, as opposed to their democratic right to seek to protect the environment in which they live.

Having experienced the cut and thrust of local political life, such episodes only disappoint rather than upset me. I have grown quite used to outbursts such as those by you and fully understand the emotions at work during such circumstances. The other individuals you misrepresent in your email of the 15 March may however take a different view and may even seek legal redress.

For this reason you might want to consider withdrawing your comments, which do nothing to contribute to the success of your ongoing current application.

Yours sincerely

Arnold Heskwith

Dear Mr Heskwith,

Good Evening,

Thank you for your e-mail.

You have chosen to enter the fray, to respond to an e-mail that was not addressed to you, and one only intended for the recipients. I note M. chose to send you a copy.

It was not for entering into the public arena, and I requested for it not to be put on the public planning portal.

I believe that these are my personal views, and don’t believe there are inaccuracies in my e-mail.

However should you like to point out any inaccuracies, I will of course look at again.

I have no problem with public objection, and the democratic process when carried out correctly!!!

You wrongly assert, as do many other others, that because I strongly support the application, that it is my application. Despite letting you, and the everyone else at the Parish council meeting in February know I am not the applicant, or the owner of Wyreside Hall you and many others still incorrectly refer to me as the applicant.

I like you have the democratic right to an onion, as you do you as an order member of the public.

The democracy of this country was none more so evident when the Parish Council for the second time, voted in favour of the scheme. Your frustration at this was plainly evident for all to see, and as this was the democratic voice of the Parish council, it would be appreciated if you accepted it, and endorsed its decision.

If the true statements I have made have nothing to do with your objection, then there is nothing for us both to be concerned about, and the matter can rest.

I think we can help this matter, by now not antagonising one another further, and let Wyre Borough Council get on with it. I sure they all have allot more to deal with, then constantly addressing Wyreside Hall.

I stayed the for the full meeting, as I was interested in what was happening generally in the parish, and what other functions the Parish Council undertake. I will attend as many future meetings as possible, to see local politics at work first hand.

I note you have e-mailed Dr Chapple, which was not really necessary, but again I believe my statements are correct.

I have removed Dr Chapple from my response as he was never intended for circulation, so really don’t see why you want to cause further issue.

You stated to me personally after the Feb meeting that it was time to start building bridges, and I agree, and maybe you could take a lead in this process.

I have copied in my legal representatives, but in the circumstances don’t think they will be required, we are all busy people, and this constant bickering is not doing anyone any favours, and it is time we should all move on, and get on with our lives, and leave it to the professional planners, and  Wyre Planning committee.

Your Sincerely,

Sam Heinz

Dear Mr Heinz

On the contrary, I have opted to leave the fray. You have inspired me to stand down with immediate effect.

Moreover, I have a suggestion for you. Why not take my place on Nether Wyresdale Parish Council?

You clearly meet the criteria. Your decision to stay behind for the remainder of the last Parish Council meeting demonstrated a burning desire for wanting to give something back to the community. You have a natural sense of community spirit and an obvious gift for public relations. You probably know all of the local planning laws, agencies and advisors. You would be a real asset to the Parish Council.

With no business interests, you strike me as a guy with a lot of time on your hands. The Parish council isn’t too onerous a task, and shouldn’t eat into all of that spare time you have, perhaps on average consuming just the one, maybe two evenings a week reading various papers, mainly to do with planning. Sometimes it gets a little more intense, with people knocking on your door, telephoning or filling your inbox with various emails about issues they feel strongly about and all in need of a speedy and half decent reply, not to mention attendance at various meetings, be they on the closure of local leisure centres, parking issues or planning.

Of course, unlike me, you will not have been voted in by the wider members of the Parish at an election but you will have the comfort of knowing that come the next election, you will be judged on your record of representing the interests of those people you represent.

And although you might be tempted to rule yourself out of the running because you are not in possession of the award of the Doctor of Philosophy, let me tell you a little secret: you really don’t need one to run for Parish Council.

All the best for a flourishing career in public service.



Crime Wave in Dolphinholme.

Posted in Uncategorized on April 7, 2011 by jesusofnasareth


Just to prove the Jehovah’s Witnesses may have a point – in particular the bit about the end of the world being nigh because of the increasing crime rate:

A good friend of mine arrived home one afternoon after a day at work in Lancaster. You can picture the scene. She had picked her three year old up from the in-house nursery, and had been nagged all the way home about one thing and another, especially the need for the toilet. She made it home with the toddler, unlocked the door, plonked her things on the kitchen table and got him upstairs to the toilet, thereby averting disaster. What a relief for all concerned.

Crisis over she returned to the kitchen to discover her handbag was missing… It was no longer on the kitchen table where she had left it. Being male, I am only vaguely aware as to how important this extra appendage is to women (being male, I am physically attached to my extra appendage). Clearly it has an intrinsic value of its own, let alone the value of the purse, money & credit cards along with all the other additional bits and bobs that accumulate in there over the years. Clearly the theft of the handbag from the kitchen was a bigger crisis than a toddler needing the toilet. Life is like that, full of ups and downs. As the panic rose in my friend’s stomach, she decided to call the police.

She described what had happened over the phone. The police were not surprised at the way the crime had been committed, these things happen all the time. It was only when she was asked to give the relevant information for the form to be filled in that the police’s attitude changed. When asked where she lived, the police were incredulous that such a crime had been committed in the area. In fact, this crime would really mess up their statistics, she was told. The usual crimes that we contend with in the village are cars doing 40mph rather than 30mph through the village (usually mothers dropping their darlings off at school and the odd, sometimes very odd, boy racer in his supped up Vauxhall Nova – yes that one, the one with the really large bore exhaust and the spoiler on the roof, flat out at 40mph even though it sounds like a Tornado on a bombing raid in Tripoli) that and the occasional pile of dog poop on the pavement. It may be my age, but both of these are serious enough in their own way, but like the police I can see that stealing someone’s bag from their kitchen table, is entering a new league in the crime stakes.

The police asked, before they filled in the appropriate form, if my friend could check she hadn’t left her bag at work. She duly packed the toddler back in the car, and popped back to work. Imagine her surprise when she walked in to her office, and there on her desk was her bag…

So as a result, once more everyone is happy, peace returns to the village, and once again we are still looking for better proof that the end of the world is upon us.

Born Again.

Posted in Uncategorized on March 25, 2011 by jesusofnasareth


The pigs I keep are mainly Middle Whites. A traditional rare-breed that is renowned for the quality of their pork, and instantly recognisable by their squashed face. It is for one or both of these reasons that the celebrity chef Anthony Worrall-Thompson is the patron of the Middle White Pig Breeders Club (MWPBC). For a small fee the MWPBC sends quarterly newsletters about the exploits of fellow Middle White owners, and has a roundup of all the Middle White pigs that have won prizes at various shows. These tend to be always the same three people as they are the only people that can be bothered to do all that is involved with and to a pig before it can be entered into a show ring. Personally I prefer to judge them by the quality of the pork on my plate, not by how well I managed to scrub them and talc them. Each to their own I suppose.

Every January the MWPBC does their bit for the bigger picture of the British Pig Association (BPA) annual survey. The middle white is not the only pig breed at risk of going extinct, and the BPA track the birth details of all rare-breed and registered pigs. The problem they encounter is most pigs that are born and registered with them end up as pork, sausages, bacon & ham a few months later. This isn’t actually as bad as it sounds, in fact if you want to prevent any animal from going extinct, the best way to do so would be to start eating it (think about how many chickens, goats, sheep, cows, etc there are in the world, compare that with, say, pandas – I rest my case… panda burger anyone?).

Here lies a problem. My boar, Rodger, is a registered pedigree Middle White. Unfortunately due to a reason unknown to me, the BPA consider him no longer sharing space with us on this mortal coil. This came to light during the annual survey of 2010. I did try to rectify the situation, but came up against a very user unfriendly web site, and I was clearly in a dear Asda type of mood, so I decided to let sleeping pigs lie. Not surprisingly in January of this year, when I was reminded by the BPA of the pigs I own, Rodger did not feature. This didn’t bother me, but it clearly upset the secretary of the MWBPC when I told her of my dilemma. I am not in the habit of talking to her, but once a year due to my relaxed attitude to paper work, I am one of those she has to phone up to get her statistics. I told her about dead/alive Rodger the night she phoned. The following day she called back to inform me that if I just drop the BPA an e-mail they can resurrect Rodger.

This I have done. I haven’t yet had confirmation that my living pig has been resurrected from the dead, but when I do I am wondering if, like the popes and also the Kings of England, I should celebrate his rebirth by giving him a new name.

I wonder about Lazarus?

Larry for short?

I could even tattoo one of those fish symbols on his back…

I could make white smoke come out of the chimney…

I am getting carried away…


I should get out more often…

Sound advice.

Posted in Uncategorized on March 7, 2011 by jesusofnasareth


After the cold of last winter, we decided that we would install a log burner in our living room. This has now been done. All I need to do now is figure out a way of getting all the timber we have in the wood, up the sides of the quarry (I have a cunning plan) and into a log store that I have yet to build – a job for spring.

In the mean time, while having the pre-Xmas/post-builders sort out, I came across a stack of old magazines that had come from being stored in the loft of my parents house, prior to storage in our loft. These magazines were, when I was younger, my most valuable reference source: “The World of Animals”. They are no doubt antiques, priced in shillings and pence, who would now have a full set of these? But I couldn’t be bothered to wait for the Antiques Roadshow to come anywhere near, and not being the Northern wing of the National Library, there was no obligation on me storing them for future generations. I figured I could kill two birds with one stone – heat the place & get rid of the paper. So I loaded up the log burner, and set fire to them.

Slowly they smouldered…

Even a few old wooden jigsaws couldn’t get them going…

The following afternoon I opened the log burner door to be confronted with a stack of charcoal grey magazines. Little bits would break off and float away with the tiniest breeze. I poked them with the poker to try to make some space in the fire, and after making a real mess of the hearth, I decided the best plan of action was to dig it out, and start again.

In the process of digging out the charred remains of the family heirloom I was surprised to find a solid core to the mass of filigree grey stuff that was still quite dense and glowing red hot. After putting all of this stuff into a plastic bucket, I figured I needed to get it out of the hose as sharp as possible.

Upon opening the front door, the resultant breeze blew away the top layer of grey floaty stuff and exposed the red glowing stuff to the oxygen it so craved. I dumped it into the wheelie bin, happy that the bucket had not been damaged by the hot ashes. I pondered whether to shut the bin or leave it open, and for some reason that even now I can’t fathom out, I decided that open would be better.

With the beauty of hindsight, I still to the day wonder “better for what exactly?”

I returned inside. I swept up the remaining bits of grey floaty stuff from the hearth, at least the bits that didn’t float off around the rest of the house, then went upstairs to continue the decorating that needed doing.

At some point later I looked out of the window…

Around the time of the release of Nelson Mandela I remember watching the news of the rioting that was going on in the black townships of Soweto. The ones where they would set fire to tyres. It was a similar view that confronted me on the drive, (granted, without the hoards of rioters). The bin was burning. Thick black fumes were filling the air. It was burning with a ferocity that made me wonder why it couldn’t have burnt like that in the log burner?

As I ran downstairs I was already thinking through the next steps. The outside tap, although near by, would certainly be frozen. In the kitchen I filled a large pan with water. I dashed out and threw the water into the wheelie bin, and closed the lid. This had a fairly immediate effect on the amount of smoke being produced. I examined the bin, and just had enough time to think that I had got away with it, when a bulge appeared in its side followed by the bin leaning to this weaker corner and folding up on itself. A few more pans of water soon got the fire under control and the fire brigade’s services were thankfully not required.

Once the fire was out, I considered the future of the bin. If that painting by Salvador Dali, the ones with the clocks in, were to have a wheelie bin in it, then that’s my wheelie bin.

It then occurred to me that although the bin could still be used, the council would no doubt struggle to empty this bin using the contraption on the back of their dust carts which is no doubt engineered to take a more standard sized & shaped bin.

I put out an appeal on Freecycle, figuring this is just the sort of thing that someone would have a spare, and be happy to give theirs to the idiot who set fire to their own. This resulted in me being told off by the Freecycle wardens. It transpires that the bins are owned by the council, and we just borrow them.

It was time to confess to the council. I decided honesty was the best policy, and it certainly seems to have been. Within five days of reporting my act of mindless vandalism, a man in a very large van turned up. The shutters at the back of his van went up to reveal hundreds, nay thousands, of new wheelie bins. It made me feel less of an idiot to think that there are enough stupid people like me around, to keep a man with a van employed by the council delivering new bins.

My Salvador Dali sculpture has prompted numerous comments from visitors, some confused, some entertained. Usually the question I am asked goes along the lines of “What happened to your bin?” I point to the large embossed gold lettering on the warped lid “You know how it says ‘ NO HOT ASHES PLEASE’…”

Good advice such as that is ignored at your peril.

Going green with solar photovoltaic (PV) in Dolphinholme.

Posted in Uncategorized on February 14, 2011 by jesusofnasareth


Back in November, after months of plotting and waiting for the roof to be rebuilt, we had a solar photovoltaic (PV) array installed on the roof. We are fortunate that out roof faces Southeast , has a 45 degree pitch and nothing of note shading it. We are unlucky in that we live in the Northwest of England, where, if I am to believe my in-laws (who live in the balmy tropics of the South of England) it is cold and rains all the time. The cold doesn’t affect the workings of PV solar panels, in fact they can get too hot and will work less efficiently than when they are cooler, although I am doubtful that up here excessive heat will ever have such a negative impact that I really need to worry about it. I can only assume that when they get too hot there will be that much solar radiation landing on them, that even if they are not working as efficiently as they could be, they will still be churning out more electricity than on days when they are cool and it is dull – only time will tell. The rainy part of the weather here is more of a problem. It’s a simple fact that the solar cells work when solar radiation falls on them. When it is rainy, it is cloudy. When it is cloudy there is less solar radiation falling on the panels, and so less electricity will be made.

The week before the system was installed, one of the installers called around to check out the lie of the land. It was a lovely, calm day, and as we stood on our roof working it all out I tried to explain that there are times when the wind can get pretty wild, and with very little shelter I asked if we could have extra fixings to screw the system to the roof. The following week, on the day of the install, three burley Scotsmen arrived. The Scots are truly a separate breed of human being. In my experience they have a wonderful sense of humour, a relaxed air to proceedings, and are as tough as old boots. I guess they need to be, the winters are long and hard, and the summers all too brief, no wonder the Romans gave up even trying to find out what was up there. The day of the install was windy. If I were to make the Dolphinholme Wind Scale where 0 was no wind at all and 10 was the worse wind we suffered whilst having only tarpaulins for a roof, then this day was somewhere around a 6. In fact those that live in the bottom of the village think us Upper Dwelers are wind beaten, and feel sorry for us. This has never been explicitly spelt out to us, but once a neighbour from the bottom phoned me and the first question they asked was “how are you managing with all that wind?” The Upper Dwellers, however, feel sorry for the Bottom Dwellers, who live in the dark damp valley, where even in the middle of summer, it goes dark at 4pm. Being neither up nor down, I think we have the best of both worlds, daylight, and breezes, then again sometimes those breezes are a bit too violent for hanging out the laundry.

So it was a cold, rainy, Dolphinholme Factor 6 day that the team of Scots attempted to fix the solar panels. They were clad in wellies, and seriously heavy duty rubberised waterproofs that both Charles Macintosh and North Sea fishermen would have been proud of. Even so, the job required a degree of manual dexterity that prohibited the wearing of gloves. So approximately every half-an-hour they came dripping into the house for another cup of tea (three sugars) and to huddle around a freshly charged hot water bottle. If the weather had been kind to them, they would have got the job done in the day. As it was, the weather was that brutal, that at 4pm they decided there was no way they would be able to get a series of two square meter panels up onto the roof without one of them ending up in Yorkshire (a fate that neither a Scotsman or a Lancashire man would wish on anyone), so they took their bright pink toes, fingers, and noses to a nearby hotel, each of them fantasizing about a long hot bath.

By the end of the following day they had finished my system. They reassured me that they had used extra fasteners to screw the system to the roof, in fact where they would have normally used 40 for a system of this size, they decided to use 120. By way of reassuring me further they told me that the only way these panels will come off the roof is if they were to take the roof with them. The other night when we had 100mph winds, I lay in bed considering this as a reality as the whole house seemed to shake.

A by-product of the system is the PV meter that effectively measures how sunny the day has been. On one day it has measured zero, on some good days it has recorded 10kWh. It was during the zero day in January when it struck me; I can measure my wintery mood by using the PV meter. On the gloomy, wet days when our system struggles to generate even 1kWh, I have discovered I tend to go into a semi-torpid state, struggle to get the minimum done in the day. On the days when the sky is blue, and the sun beams down on me and the panels, I too can achieve 10 times as much. The Energy Saving Trust estimate a system the size I installed should generate 2750 units of electricity during a year. This gives an average of 7.5 per day. This is also my base line level of activity, some days I will achieve more, sometimes less. Like the solar panels this usually depends on the incident light falling on me, but all-in-all I will achieve 2750 units of activity in the year.

Who knows, like the PV meter, If it is a good year, I may well achieve more…