Sunday, 31 January 2010

Case study

More house stuff I'm afraid.

It's cold. This does not mean anthropogenic climate change isn't happening. It does mean that the poor insulation of our flat is quite apparent.

So, how does one go about improving energy efficiency? I work for the government department responsible, so theoretically it should be straightforward to get it sorted. Theoretically.

Kate found a green concierge service but they don't do it anymore. Tower Hamlets offers interest free loans for energy saving but we can't get on the Warm Front scheme or London Warm Zone scheme, because we aren't on benefits (no dig intended). Tower Hamlets also offers some bloody obvious advice, but no actual information on insulating your fucking home.

The Energy Saving Trust has information of the more useful kind. We have solid walls and they have suggestions. But it doesn't actually go into any detail, doesn't provide costings and while it recommends some products, doesn't offer guidance on which ones are appropriate for you. And they don't list any internal insulation products. Solid wall insulation doesn't even feature as one of the options on their grants and loans list.

The National Insulation Association suggest that the cost of insulating internally is £42 per sq metre, which is so fucking expensive that it's no wonder no one bothers. I mean, seriously, how much is your heating bill? How much of that goes through a single square metre of wall? The payback time is probably 8 centuries.

Does anybody know how to calculate a U value?

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Boning up

It's all about what, at work, we call "learning by doing". A few weeks ago Kate and I learned how to paint a wall without getting paint on the skirting board, and a skirting board without getting paint on a wall, how to repair cracks in plasterwork, and the difference between primer and undercoat. We also learned, after some trial and error, which paints are soluble in white spirit, and which ones are soluble in meths. It's easier if you just read the side of the tin.

This week we learned that palms need to be planted in plenty of gravel, that olive trees like bonemeal and seaweed extract (which is odd, because I've never seen an olive tree on a beach), that it is possible to get the council to turn the water off but they aren't interested in talking to us, only the plumber (and the plumber isn't keen on talking to them because dealing with the council is ... difficult) and that Morrisey considers "For your pleasure" by Roxy Music the one great British Album. We've also learned how to take bamboo cuttings.

The main question now, is do we paint the spare room like this, this or this? The futon is sort of this colour which is informing our decision. I feel magnolia is a little too timid.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Slow time

We have painted a single wall. We now have a futon, as opposed to the bits of futon required to make a futon. In this way, entropy has been defied (not really). But there's still a crack in the wall, the plumbing still needs seeing to and the entire place really needs improved insulation, as this winter has proven.

Keeping a home in good condition is a lot more time consuming that I imagined it would be. What else don't they tell you at school?

Sunday, 10 January 2010

More notes




Wet - Lamb + Flag

(circled) Henry


Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese

Fleet St, London

Pokey, multi-roomed Sam Smiths Drinking Hole. Worth A Visit @ £.170 a Pint. HEFE-WEISSE Nice Too. Feels Old.

Hot, cold food, sandwiches, tourists and businessmen but not unpleasant. Lack of lighting adds to atmosphere.


Neutral ground


Greant Orth Road
(This one is definitely Colin)

Sawtry, Batry, Dry Doddington

Are all perhaps present in Long Beddington

I fell asleep in Long Framlington
I drooled in Darrington and Womersley
I came off at Alconbury
I woke up at Tyringhame

[They long for us in Longformans
They do nothing in Cockburnspath]


Florence, Urbino, Bologna?


Loo roll
Coat hangers


(the following my surely be my reaction to the opening session of COP 13 in Bali, 2007. The previous pages date back to 2005, so this is a big jump forward)

Mein Gott. Miming Indonesia pop stars and starletts. Whatever next? I can't imagine Hear'say introducing COP London.

Bali sand
(?) 20,000t CO2 this year. 9144 delegates + goodness knows how many press and hangers on have flown here.

I need to do the math to calculate the CO2 emissions from their flights alone.


(some notes about the UNFCCC Clean Development Mechanism here, the notes on mitigation policy. This is Oxford 2008 I think)


The floor in the lift of this hotel is tiled. The walls are carpeted.

@ dinner last night two white terrires, one with a pink bow, yapped at me while I the down half-heartedly shooed the[m] away.



Saturday, 9 January 2010

It's not just us

In other countries the transport system breaks down in cold weather.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Brilliant white

Well, we have done some painting. It's hardly impressive, in that we have only painted one wall. Which was white. White.

But at least the damp patch is covered and there isn't flaking paint and plaster everywhere and hopefully we did it in such a way that the paint will actually stay on and not flake off. Primer.

And surely if it's that easy to paint a single wall it will be pretty easy to do the whole house, right? How hard can it be?

PS - Wash brushes in warm soapy water.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010


Wowie zowie Oliver Warbucks! A week off! And we haven't even had a week on yet.

Not quite the type of holiday we usually take. For a start, the place we are staying in is rather run down. And Shoreditch isn't my idea of a home away from home. It's more of a 'Working holiday', except without any dry stones walls. Or sheep. Or pubs. OK, we do have pubs. But we aren't drinking this month, respectfully commemorating our livers.

A lot has been achieved, but there is still much to do. To this end we are off to Leyland SDM tomorrow to buy paint and rollers.

Let it snow let it snow let it snow.