Living with the Tidy Gene

Living with the Tidy Gene

First off, I’ll make it clear that I’m not the one with the tidy gene. In fact, the very idea would have any friend of mine rolling around on my floor, at risk of being impaled by Lego corners. No, the reason I’m thinking about tidiness is because my son, now just coming up to 14, has discovered the delights of it. And this, for me, is a mixed blessing. He’s been muttering for a couple of days about it being time to have a tidy up, and today, when we got back from swimming, he got stuck in. Much of the assorted crap littering the (floor, chairs, worktop, insert noun of choice) was actually his. He went around finding homes for it, and put the rest on my bed, to be dealt with a some unspecified point in the future. The sitting room is now...

Life on a Canal Boat: what’s working and what’s coming up next…

Life on a Canal Boat: what’s working and what’s coming up next…

On Friday, I had a lovely package in the post: the new shiny edition of the Summer 2013 Permaculture Magazine. And why? Because there, on page 23, is my ‘Diary of a Solar Panel Builder’. I’m really pleased with how it has come out, and the photos look great. You can find out more about Permaculture here. And here’s a photo of the magazine: The solar panel that I made for the article is doing well, topping up my batteries whilst I’m away and making a start towards saving on my diesel bill. Yesterday, I made a second one, which is sitting on the bedroom floor waiting for the silicone to set so that I can wire it in with the other one up on the roof and get more sun-power into the battery bank. The solar process is detailed in the...

Handmade solar panels: if I can make them, anyone can!

Handmade solar panels: if I can make them, anyone can!

I’ve been planning the handmade solar for a while, and this February I finally pencilled off what I thought was enough time to get it done. The week started on Sunday when I drove to Manchester, where I’d arranged to get the bulk of the work done, and realised I’d left my multimeter at home. On Monday, I found that the power lead of my soldering station wouldn’t reach the plug. On Tuesday, it came to my notice that I did not have a board to ¬†use as a top layer whilst curing the silicone. By Friday, one of the panels wasn’t working at all. During Saturday, I trawled unsuccessfully around the area for a non-return diode. By the time Sunday came around again, though, I was nearly done. I spent all afternoon up on the roof and, despite...

Yes, it’s the compost toilet update. So, does it really work?

Yes, it’s the compost toilet update. So, does it really work?

Compost toilets: do they really work? In answer to that question, it’s really too early to tell… Welcome to those who came here expecting interviews or book reviews, or those who have stumbled upon this website entirely by accident. Let me explain. I live on a boat. This means that I am far closer to the elements of living – such as where power and water comes from, and where human waste (or shall we call it humanure..?) goes – than might be the case were I to live in a house, connected to the National Grid, the Mains and the Sewage System. No flushing for us! Not any more. This post may roam into musings about the state of the world and the finer points of urine separation theory, but essentially it’s an update on how I built my...

Warning! This post mentions compost toilets!

Warning! This post mentions compost toilets!

…and here I was waiting for an Indian summer. Instead, it’s raining so hard that there are drips coming in through previously impregnable areas, and a man on a boat up the canal just told me that he’d seen a picture of a boat near York that had taken on so much water it had sunk. Sinking in the rain just adds insult to injury. At least I’m not sitting here and thinking that if only the sun was out my handmade solar panels would be raking in the power. Because I haven’t made them yet. Back in the balmy depths of August, I went down to the wilds of Buckinghamshire and made this: …which is a mini solar panel made from damaged solar cells. The course was run through the Low Impact Living Initiative, and we were taught how to do it...