500 Year Vision

Take pleasure from walking lightly on this Earth

Cherry Heaven


The first weekend in July is when the dark cherries are completely ripe and the bright red cherries just getting there. We have masses, and masses, and masses. So… I invited some people to come over for a cherry picking day on Saturday. The cherry glut is a new problem for us because a late frost destroyed most of the fruit before it set in last year.

I haven’t yet worked out which are the cooking cherries and which are for eating. There is general disagreement with the neighbour saying one thing, and the roofers saying another. I find it difficult to tell because in the UK, cherries never seemed to get that ripe – so were normally somewhat sour.  So… I have picked as many as I can, and given them away to neighbours, students and friends.  When we have water I will be able to make jam. When we have water…

It’s a delicious problem… what to do with so many cherries.  You can take a cherry diet day, for example. Simply, a day on which you eat nothing but cherries. It’s said to be very cleansing. Cherries are certainly a wonder food – they release their energy much slower than many other fruit – they have a low GI index. Friends have also suggested making cherry soup (a sort of juice with other things in it which can be stored for a long time)  and my neighbour in Tabor made a beautiful cake using some of them. In the mean time, I have pickled a good few kilos in vodka. Some with their stalks, some without.

To take the stones out of the cherries, you can use a hair pin. You stick the u shape into the stalk hole from the cherry and hook out the stone. It’s very effective.

I have cut back one of the trees somewhat – the tree is huge with many branches that will always be out of reach – next year the cherries should be less and larger.

Water in all the wrong places


So… last night the rain started.  Why, when it has been dry and sunny for months on end, does the bad weather start as soon work on our roof begins.

We’re still without water – the pump went back to the shop (an hour drive away), but the owner of the shop is on holiday until next week – and back next Tuesday. They found the fault with the pump, but can’t replace it without the say so of the shop owner. Can I just clarify – this is a brand new pump, which was faulty when we bought it, and under Czech law the business owner can take their sweet time fixing the problem.  Leaving us without water yet again. So… we now have a team of 6+ roofers on premises, with no supply of clean water.

Last night we managed to feed our 5 guests – and find an extra bed. The accommodation is basic: two rooms with two beds, two chairs & two lamps, but we also have a sofa bed in the kitchen and one further upstairs room. Everyone ate. We coped with washing up afterwards. Given the water situation, things are okay.  We thought that they would be here during the week and travelling back home at weekends, but they are working through the weekends for the next few weeks.

This morning they started work at 5.30 because the van arrived with the scaffolding. I wonder what hours they’ll work? It’s now 7.30 am and I’ve already been out taking some last minute ‘before’ photos of the roof.

The larch roof begins!


Today is the day the roofers arrive to replace our roof with a beautiful larch wooden roof. I need to remember to take some ‘before’ photos.

Wooden roofing is by far the most sustainable option – and unlike Cedar – is grown locally – so less embedded energy in shipping. The slats are hand split to make them naturally resistant to woodworm & other bugs.

The roofers plan to start with the roof of the front porch – that’s great because we will be able to see it immediately. Wish us luck!

Waterless weekend – but nearly not


water trench borehole spring

Sell photos on photrade | By EveryDayEnglish


We had envisaged a celebration of water on Saturday – in true catalogue style – happy smiling people running through sprinklers in the sunshine.  By 10.30pm – with the house in darkness, we stopped work. We’d achieved a hole, a tap and a pipe, and with friends and family had grafted all day…  with not a drop of a shower to show for it, let alone a sprinkle, or a shower.

We were so close to having water…  but the pump is faulty, therefore we spend 8 hours trying to figure out what the problem was – ruling out anything other than a faulty pump.  This will be returned to the shop, who may or may not make us wait 30 days for a repair (yes, on something that is newly purchased and faulty, and essential to our water supply – compared with the UK, the Czech customer is always wrong.).

It’s been such a long time the house has been dry… it’s been so limiting.

water trench borehole spring

Sell photos on photrade | By EveryDayEnglish

posted under 2008, June, Summer, Water | No Comments »

Solar collector to be…


Today we chose the windows which will go in the south slope of the roof.  I would have liked to use Genersys Solar panels – they are made in Slovakia (the former partner of the Czech Republic) however I had the following problems:

  1. The local supplier has not written back (to an email written in Czech by a fluent friend)
  2. The cost
  3. Time (we need an affordable solution now)
  4. Materials (reuse is best as far as I’m concerned)

Instead we will install standard roof windows on the south side of the property, and under these place old radiators, painted black. Water coming into the house is at a constant 10°c.  In summer this is far below the ambient temperature. In the six months that the temperature here is above 10°c we will send water up to the roof to travel through a set of old radiators placed under the windows. This will raise the water temperature to 25°+ for much of the summer, even without heat from the sun.

The windows will provide a massive amount of light  in the attic – and we had planned to put windows in the roof anyway, and having all the windows in a south facing row will make the job of the roofers much easier. We are planning to add insulation under the attic floor & will monitor summer temperatures. We can always add a reflective film to the windows to cut down the amount of heat entering, or annex & ventilate that part of the roof if it really is too warm… but any additional heat in the winter will be very welcome.

In the winter, we will drain the system as soon as the temperature in the attic falls below 10°c. The reduced hours of light in winter months also means that any type of collectors would be less effective during this time. Happily this coincides with when our wood burning heating system will kick in. We are planning a range cooker in the kitchen with a back boiler to heat water & this will be on the go once temperatures fall in the autumn & winter months.

As well as fitting with the mantra of ‘reuse, recycle’ instead of always buying shiny, new things, our radiator solar collectors have the advantage of being elegant – ie completely hidden from view, as well as very easily accessible for maintenance. The radiators are to be located under 8 Roto windows (wooden frames inside, WITHOUT any special E glass) with dimensions of 740×1400 mm – which will cost the same amount as a single solar water heating panel.

15 months later… we have permission for water


I heard last night that our speedy project manager (8 months) has managed to get our permit to pump water sorted.  We were told it would take a month.  Recently I have been phoning him every day, and though he has never taken the call, this seems to have done the trick.

Unhinged bureaucracy has left us waterless since we bought Novy Mlyn over 2 years ago.  And the fact that the neighbour laid claim to the well supplying the property originally, and denied us access.  Our lawyer said it would be easy (and cheap) to put in a new well. It has been neither.  In short, dealing with the permit office, and various other service providers (such as the people who put a bore hole down 26 metres when there was water 8 metres down), the project manager who would never answer the phone,  the survey company who refused to help us with forms, but insisted we needed a survey (untrue) etc. has totally convinced me that it would be a nightmare to run a company in the Czech Republic. We are living in the wild west – honest business people are a real find – the general attitude is that cheating strangers out of money is what business is all about.  I hope that attitudes are changing, but this immature form of capitalism, with such short term vision, damages the economy from the grass roots up.

posted under 2008, June, Summer, Water | No Comments »

A new roof for Nový Mlýn


We had visitors at Nový Mlýn yesterday, a family firm of wooden roofers. I’m made up. They’re friendly, and professional and have provided a value for money quote. This is a complete contrast to last week: an installer arrived, swore in Czech when he came into the house (thinking I didn’t understand), assumed he didn’t understand what I said, grumpily shook hands with me while staring in a different direction and gave us a quote for a simple one week job which would cost me 4 months of my teacher salary.  Read the rest of this entry »

Strange weather


Speeding our way through January we’ve seen a wealth of different weather conditions over the last month. The year started with snow and ice… specifically ice which we skated on as the Jordan reservoir froze solid, providing us with a vast area to practice on in our new skates. We also tried snowboarding for the first time, there being just enough snow in the nearby mountains. All perfectly in line with our expectations of a winter season in Central Europe… however since then it’s been strange. The temperature has increased dramatically, up to 10 degrees c on Sunday evening… so the snow has all but disappeared, and the temperature at Nový Mlýn has really thawed. Can I permit myself to be happy about this?

A tree in the snow

Read the rest of this entry »

Engineer cap knitting pattern perfected


This pattern is knit in one piece, including the visor or brim. There is a flap and button on the band, which can be positioned to fit the wearer exactly.   I knitted the first version of this hat as a Christmas present for my friend Vladka.  When I finished the second version, my husband asked me to knit him one (I’m pleased because he’s never asked me to knit him something… he must really like it – and it’s a more masculine design than the baker’s boy cap).

So, tonight I will go through my instructions to double check them, then list the pattern on payloadz, etsy and ebay.

Growls in 2008


Welcome 2008! – which began with a resounding fizzle. The sound of my melting lap top.

So… gone is so much work from 2007. At least I have a clean slate with the Novy Mlyn project plan again.  Redoing my accounts for tax return was no fun. It really isn’t the sort of job you should have to do twice.  Maybe next year I will have an accountant.

With the temperatures hovering around minus 5 degrees c (daytime), there have been all sorts of good reasons to knit rather than undertake any arduous DIY (like the paint doesn’t work at such levels of cold). Knitting by the fire has been more on the cards. I think that having spent 12 months living (as much as we can) at the house will give us a good perspective on our priorities for the reconstruction.

I am praying for inspiration, and motivation to get through the next year. It’s been a tough few months with many disappointments… but soon it will be spring.

Newer Entries »