When I moved here, I had a “mother and child” lamp, which I’ve used as the main illumination in my living room since.

Sadly, both bulbs in the lamp were halogens, so it’s been a bit of an energy hog – which I realised more once I’d bought my OWL energy monitor and saw the way the usage figures went up when I turned the lights on.

As a result, I said that when the bulb(s) finally blew, I’d replace the lamp with one that was more energy-efficient (or at least was able to use more energy-efficient bulbs) and that finally happened today.

So – a new lamp has now been purchased, assembled, and installed. It’s a similar style of ‘mother and child’, but both bulbs are non-halogen and standard-fitting, with eco-bulbs in.

The drop in power-usage is pretty noticable already, and it should result in a noticeable drop in the electricity bill.

All told, I see that as a success all round.


Last week, there was a new addition to the skyline at home – and for a fair dollop of the surrounding area.

It’s obviously been planned for a while, but it’s really only been in the last month that I’ve seen a new wind turbine being erected at the Forestry Centre.  It went up mid-February, but the turbine blades were only added last week, which is when it became truly noticeable. (There are chimney stacks around the place, so the initial turbine stalk didn’t stand out as much)

And now it’s visible – for quite a distance. I can see it as I come in past Bedford, and also as I come over the hill in the other direction. It’s pretty impressive.

Fortunately, I like wind turbines – I like the sight of them, and the sound. But I’m willing to bet there’s some NIMBY bastards who’ll complain about it.

Organising and Recycling

Over the weekend, I got a couple of things done that’ve been on the to-do list for way too long, but I’d simply not got round to doing.

One of them, getting the batteries on two watches replaced, hadn’t happened because I hadn’t spotted a place in Milton Keynes where I could get it done. It turns out, I’d just not explored all of the shopping centre, because at the end I rarely go to I discovered last weekend there are two places that do it, virtually next door to each other. (Last weekend I had a proper wander, and found lots of bits I didn’t know about in central Milton Keynes, but that’s probably just my idiocy)

So – that got that done, and now for the first time in a couple of years I’m wearing a watch again. I should note they’ve not needed batteries for that long, but I got out of the habit of wearing watches, shoved them in a drawer, and re-discovered them recently – at which point I also found they needed batteries.

The other big task was also drawer-related (and yes, the two were connected) in that I wanted to do a clear-out of stuff I no longer wear, or don’t like.  That one took a bit longer – there was a fair amount, particularly in the ‘don’t actually like‘ category. Again, it’s been put off mainly through having other stuff to do, and/or knowing it’s all part of a process, that once it was sorted, there’s no point leaving it hanging around.

So Sunday involved doing the whole thing: going through everything, deciding if I wanted/liked it (with one key point being ‘have I worn it since I moved here?’), sorting everything out, filling a couple of bags with stuff I didn’t want/need (or that was knackered) and then hoying it all to the local recycling centre (they used to be called tips, or dumps – now it’s ‘recycling centre’, go figure)

As always, the local tip recycling centre is a pig to get to, and invariably populated by ballbags in 4x4s with no idea how to drive, pack, or any idea of the width of their vehicle. It meant I got to have a laugh with the council guy directing everyone, generally abusing bad drivers, but it does amaze me how twunty so many people are.

All told though, it meant I got rid of a load of stuff, and recycled about 95% of it. I couldn’t recycle my old pillows – which is kind of understandable – but that was it.

It means I’ve got two watches that work again, some more hanging space for shirts, trousers etc., and about three drawers of empty space that I can store stuff in properly again. Pretty successful all round.


I don’t know why I’m seeing this more often – it’s not like I’m driving more, have had it happen to me, or anything similar – but while I’ve been commuting the last couple of weeks I’ve noticed that a lot of cars seem to be having problems with their exhausts.

So far there hasn’t been a day where I haven’t seen at least two or three with fumes coming from the exhaust, and at least one a day with major-league smoke and crap.

Maybe it’s more about being on slower A-roads that make the engines work harder, I don’t know. It’s just an oddity that I seem to have noticed a lot more this last couple of weeks.

Union Street Urban Orchard

While I was in London last night, I had to take a walk to try and find the car park I had planned to use.

While doing so, I came across the (closed at the time) Union Street Urban Orchard. I think it’s a fantastic idea :

Designed by Heather Ring of the Wayward Plant Registry and built with the help of Bankside Open Spaces Trust and an array of other helpful volunteers the garden will regenerate a disused site in Bankside and create a place for exchange between local residents and visitors to the Festival.

As the above quote from the site says, they’ve taken a disused site on Union Street, and created an urban orchard in it. They’ve recycled pallets, tyres, wood, glass and more to make the orchard. Sadly it’s only in situ until the middle of August- although at that point the trees from the orchard will be transplanted to three or four other sites around Bankside.

Personally I’d like to see this done far more often, creating valuable green/growing space in disused plots and areas throughout cities. Of course I realise that London prices are huge and the cost of those plots is almost certainly prohibitive – but at the same time if you can make use of those disused plots that aren’t doing anything anyway, well why not?

If all else fails, I think that local authorities could/should do a CPO on some of these disused plots, and actually make solid use of those plots for the local community.

The Union Street Urban Orchard is a fantastic project. I hope it puts ideas in the heads of a lot more people.

Cat vs. Pond

One of the other events of the weekend was Psycho Cat finally discovering the pond – and being fascinated by it. The tadpoles intrigued him, but he can’t catch them.

Hunting Tadpoles

Hunting Tadpoles

The frogs are interesting too, but disappear into the bits of the pond he can’t get into.

Of course, when he realises/remembers that he’s a Turkish Van (and thus quite adept at being a swimming cat) then he may spend more time in the pond than around it…


As well as the immense number of tadpoles in the pond, we’ve also got at least six frogs of various sizes/generations. All told, it’s been a remarkably successful wildlife pond, especially for having been in place for only a year.

Frog The First

Both the one above and the one below were sitting quite happy in the pond at the same time (and at opposite sides, so I know they’re different ones) – apparently they’ve decided that sitting still is one of the better defences, and they only move when you get too close.

Frog 2

Frog The Second