500 Year Vision

Take pleasure from walking lightly on this Earth

Eat Local: Tábor Apple Bomb* recipe (traditional custard cooked in an apple)

September18

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An easy & speedy dessert recipe which can be made for one person. The inspiration for this recipe is the English custard tarts I love and have not yet found in the Czech Republic. Using the apple itself for the casing means less cleaning, and incidentally produces a gluten free pudding.

*Mum used to make us apple bombs as children. It’s not the name she gave them, just the result of the occasional apple explosion. Read the rest of this entry »

www.blackle.com – eco clever technology in action

September16

www.blackle.com might be gimmicky – but it is a perfect example of the way that mass action can have massive reactions. In this case, using a search engine designed to use less energy in lighting up your computer screen, has so far saved 203,250.862 Watt hours. And if you set www.blackle.com as your home page, you’ll see the figure going up as well. I just wishe they’d bother to add all the other functionality you get with the higher energy version.

It’s a shame you can’t see a similar measure of energy saved by mass scale repetition, such as switching to low energy light bulbs, or making sure your electro equipment isn’t left on standby.

Tábor Meetings

September15

Czech toys

September12

The woman whose patterns I am looking into has a shop here:

http://eobchod.fekar.com/

They are really very typically Czech, by which I mean interesting and a little quirky. It reminds me of the work of Denisa Grimmova – who produced a beautiful series of scenes in old fashioned tv set boxes. Funny, very human, monsters sitting down to tea together. They were installed in a bar in Prague for a while, but the last time I went there, they were gone. Shame, as I don’t have any pictures of them even & haven’t found any info on the web yet.

I’ve just had a quick look on Ebay. Hand made soft toys are not selling at a premium there, probably because lots of people can make them. Though, if she is prepared to make some toys from reclaimed materials, I could try putting something through to see how it goes. I doubt they would sell for as high a prices as they are in her shop. The toy patterns are selling, however, especially those with a seasonal theme – so at the moment Halloween theme toy patterns have a lot of bids on them. It might worth a try?

To be continued

English weather getting under my skin

September9

I am feeling somewhat overwhelmed with the sheer scale of what we need to do here. And… worried that we have had such a poor experience of finding people who are willing to even quote for the work we need. I am still waiting for a quote for the heat pump from, well, every single company we have talked to about it. Nobody has said ‘I’m sorry, we’ve just got too much work on at the moment, so we can’t quote for anything at the moment.’ They’ve simply left and not bothered to contact us or return our calls.

So, the roof is leaking, meaning that the supporting joists are getting wet in all this rain, meaning that they will be weakened, and if there is heavy snow fall again, we may have it collapse. That thought scares me. As does facing a winter without a central heating system. We have a limited store of wood. Will we freeze to death in our bed?  Read the rest of this entry »

Apple mountain

September7

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Next autumn, when we have water, and heating, and a kitchen, I will make Cider. Nový Mlýn is host to dozens of apple trees, and I have been slow to get acquainted with them, almost too late in some cases.

My feeble excuse is that the garden was so overgrown that I couldn’t tell they were falling from the trees. Now, after a few days of hard graft the lawn (we call it jokingly) is a little more under control. I have not mastered the scythe but at least understand the principle. Our neighbour came round again today and demonstrated that it needs to be close to the ground at all times, not waved about like an oar. Now, I have uncovered a tonne of apples, and roughly sorted them into usable or compostable.

So… in the orchard we have Read the rest of this entry »

The scythe experiment – the eco alternative to a decent mower

August30

One acre… the amount that somebody could plough in a day (with horses, not a tractor!), and about 4000 square metres (One hectare is 10,000 square metres). So… what is the area of nettles which can be scythed by one woman in a day?

We seemed to have some kind of mental block with clearing the orchard/garden between the house & barns. Mostly because I expected M to do it, and also perhaps because I was waiting for us to have more sophisticated tools to hand. As it is, our domestic lawn mower and strimmer clearly weren’t up to the job… we’d discussed getting a more specialist bit of kit (after seeing Jerry’s ride on mower & inch long lawn), but it’s kind of low on the priority list. In the end, I was driven to cutting the meadow (that sprung up in the mean time) using the scythe. Driven by apples… which have been falling for the last month. Read the rest of this entry »

Small bugs to help with insulation

August18

In a pleasingly synergistic development… I am about to elicit the help of very small bugs to insulate my windows.

We have beautiful old windows, which are just in need of a little tlc. Unfortunately, they are somewhat leaky (airwise), and it would seem that everybody else (from here) who visits the house, not only hates them, but also thinks they will be ineffective and should be ripped out and replaced by, at the very least, a smart set of PVC frames. I am reluctant. They may be a little draughty, but they belong to Novy Mlyn. Sparkling, perfectly flat new windows are not for me, so I have been undergoing as much restoration as possible over the summer. It is part of the ethos of Novy Mlyn to reuse as much as possible, ripping out and replacing perfectly good double windows goes against the grain, and the evidence that new double glazed windows would be more effective is inconclusive. Read the rest of this entry »

Housuv Mlyn

August6

We were out at Housov Mlyn on Friday night – for a celt themed night at an amazing old building which is styled in a way which would be forbidden in the Health and Safety dictated UK – a Hussite Tavern. Straw on the floor (tripping hazard), Candles (fire hazard), open wooden staircases (falling down hazard). It was beautiful, a bit like the Viking museum in York but without all the plastic and dumb looking dummies. I was interviewed by someone from the radio (I suspect that this was either because a, I could ((freakishly)) string a Czech sentence together, or b, because the sentences in Czech I can string together sound freakish). It was an interesting evening – there was a talk about Celtic culture (I understood little), lots of food & drink and then they showed a film about the Celts – we thought this would be a documentary but it was Tristan & Isolde. Later an English speaking friend explained that the people who own the mill made the props for the film.  Anyway, the company who own the mill also take part in the Tabor Meetings (the biggest city festival in the Czech Republic), so judging by the tavern and the film, it’ll be amazing.

Heat pumps

August2

Interesting developments abound!

We have been looking at different heating technology for Novy Mlyn. One option is a heat pump. This proven technology uses heat from a source such as underground, air or water and concentrates the heat, kind of like a fridge in reverse. For the energy you put into the system you should get about four times that out.

First of all I needed to calculate the amount of heat which would be needed for Novy Mlyn. After a bit of a trawl around the Interweb I found a formula from Georgia State University. Using a ‘back of envelope’ measurement of the number of very cold days I would expect at Novy Mlyn, my estimate was a requirement for a 31kwh system. Read the rest of this entry »

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