Solar, Tidal Waves and Coppering

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Saturday, 11 February 2017

Siesta's and Sangria. Why I voted to remain

When i was about 7 or 8, there was a song that used to come on and at weddings everyone got up and danced. Y Viva Espana by Sylvia.  Remember it?  Well when your holidays consisted of being rammed into the back of a Corsair or Granada and driven from Portsmouth to Newcastle for weekend with the family and a 4 yr old sister who used to puke up every half an hour, the thought of a trip to Sunny Spain seemed rather exotic and adventurous.

Y Viva Espana

I had a poster of a Matador on my bedroom wall and when i grew up I was going to work with Zoro, life was so simple back then.  I never did go to Spain on holiday until many years later, and that was only because Mum and Dad retired out there.  Had been to Ibiza when i was 18 or 19 because, that's what 18 and 19 yrs olds do.  My own lads have just booked their first Lads On Tour holiday to a shanty town on a Greek Island later on this year.........   Back in the mid 80's we never had facebook or snapchat or twitter so when we got to our destination the only thing we knew about it was what castles were near by, what days the market was and how to ask for a beer in Spanish/French/Italian/German all courtesy of Mr Collins......

Now-a-days they are so spoilt.  Someone has made a facebook group up and invited anyone going to this war torn summer shag fest of Sambuca and sweat, to join a group. They've already started chatting up the girls and challenging other lads on tour to drinking games nights.  It sounds like absolute Hell in 100 degrees but they're looking forward to it.

Me and the Mrs would rather get in a car and drive to a nice hotel somewhere up a Mountain or on the Med and do nothing for a week or so.  Maybe a French farmhouse with a pool. We wouldn't need much.  A couple of cafes and bars, a twice weekly market and just enough budget to keep us full for a few days.  We've done the Dominican Republic, Sun City sort of Holidays, pre-children and even got married in Vegas 25 yrs ago, so we're not old fuddy duddy non-adventurous or anything, it's just we don't enjoy other cultures as much as our European one.  I think we could narrow it down to enjoying most cultures other than American, or the America we saw on our short trip many years ago. No, we're definitely Europeans.

Having lived in South East London for many yrs, and the Mrs being the princess of Penge, we lived in a multi-cultural part of the World.  My old beat alone had every nationality under the sun living there. The colours of clothing, the smells of the cooking, the rich languages in the street and in cafes and pubs. On a hot summers day, South East London can be like being abroad....  people from many nations, living together creates a really good vibe and when it all sings to the same tune, it's like non other.  Just a sense of belonging to a place. It doesn't matter where people are from, it's about how they feel about the place they live.  And it's about those who already live their, showing newcomers, new ways.  Not the newcomers showing us their ways.

In my 18yrs as a Policeman in London I never once arrested anyone for anything other British Law. Not EU laws, but British Laws. Laws made in our Parliament by our Elected Representatives.  I've arrested and caused the deportation of about 30 or 40 Non EU nationals in my younger days, mostly just for working believe it or not. We used to do immigration raids in the Hotels in the West End.
Oh, and lots of fair evaders, people who didn't pay for the tube, we would arrest them and lots would be over-stayers so they went home as well.

But we never got to send the French shoplifters home, or Italian prostitutes or the Spanish drug dealers.... I think we should be able to send them back with no right of appeal.  That's a blatant taking of the piss me thinks.....

But would I want to leave the EU and the way it is woven into my life..... No chance.  It's the blend of cultures that makes life and Britain so rich in so many ways. Open, inclusive, Vibrant,  a World beater in every term.  And if I want a week away a couple of times a yr, i can jump on a train, or drive and within 24 hrs be on the Med or up a Mountain. Within 12 hrs hours i could be in North Scotland or as far South as Cornwall.

And it doesn't matter where I've been, as soon as i get to Littleport,on the A10 and pick up the Great Ouse i know I'm home.  Not when i see the white cliffs, not when i see Big Ben nor the Tower. But the river that runs at the back of my house.

It's going to be a nightmare when we do leave the EU.  Mobile phone roaming tariff caps will be scrapped straight off, mark my words. And the queues at passport control will be a fucking nightmare with scabby teens coming back from their 'Tours', all itchy and blotchy snot-vomiting everywhere..... having spent next years student loans on this yrs Summer beer at £10 a pint!

Life will be more expensive, more restrictive both in aspiration and movement and we wont be eating Strawberries in January every again......

There's your Brexit update from where I am






Friday, 10 February 2017

Where has all the integrity gone......

When i was a kid, my Dad used to take me to football matches. Newcastle was my team between
'75 - '79 due to moving up North for a few yrs before he left the Navy. Plus my mum is a Geordie and comes from a large family so we all went. Uncles, Cousins, mates... About 15 of us sometimes.... all us youngsters being lifted down over the crowd so we could sit under the advertising boards and get close to Malcolm McDonald or Mick Mahoney if we were behind the goal. Some days we got to take the mick out of Charlie George's long hair........  I loved football days.

When he got a job down South, in London, we moved with his job.  He used to get on the train on Mondays and come back on Fridays. He had a small flat, more like a shared room in a big old building down on the Embankment over-looking the Thames. As a kid it was brilliant.  If England were playing, or West Ham were in a big game, he would take me up to London and i stayed with him. We'd go for a walk around Big London....   We would sit at outside tables at Pubs and Cafes in small pedestrianised areas.... he seemed to know all the decent places to go.  Shepherd's Market in Mayfair and over into Soho before getting the Tube to Wembley.  Always timed it so we got in out seats 30 minutes before kick off.  Sometimes we would lunch in his works canteen then we'd go and sit in galleries of Westminster listening to people speak and debate in chambers....  

I can't remember exactly what year it was, but there was time when Dad came home with 10 complimentary tickets for the FA Cup Final.  I think Spurs were in it.  Dad got the tickets from someone who was entitled to them. This bloke though doesn't support Tottenham, he supports Arsenal or whoever and there was no way he was going to deprive a Spurs fan of a FA Cup Final ticket.... So, Dad said he knew some Spurs fans and would take care of them for him.

The bloke agreed.

Dad then set up a loads of blokes he knew, so they would be in the pub on the Friday night before the Cup Final.  They all turned up and my old man gave away 10 of the hottest tickets in Town.

Now in my mind, this was a really decent thing to do.  I had asked Dad if i could go, he said 'No, you don't support Spurs' and he was right. I hate Spurs.

Those tickets were worth a small fortune and Dad could have coined it it.  The bloke who had them originally was an MP and a director of a Club. Now he could have palmed them off for a few quid or a favour no doubt.  But he didn't.  He gave them to someone who would give them to people who they were intended for.

No doubt that wouldn't be permitted in Today's World but to me, that is what integrity is all about. It's not just about saying the right things, it's about doing the right things.

I would love to hear more stories about the decent things our MP's do rather than the hate filled shit we're being dished up at present.  Not an ounce of decency in any of the ones I've seen or heard in recent months. Not an ounce.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Back in the game, Feb 2017

OK,  so I haven't blogged in a while.  Must be nearly three years since i last published a post.  What's happened in that time?  Well, it was because of this blog that i ended up publishing my first book.  I had written a series of short stories from my time in the Police....  It was great therapy, extremely enriching and humbling and then to finally have your own book, in print, in your hands......   it's like a real wow moment.   So all the stories came down from the blog and into print and EBook.

Here's the book   MY BOOK

Publishing a book is one of those moments in your life that marks a new chapter in your own life.  It certainly was for me and most definitely for my business and career path. At the same time as publishing the book, i was just starting out in business as a Ltd company.  Had been in the sales game for 9 yrs and thought if i want to truly be my own boss, think for myself, work how i want to work and also when i want to work, then there was only one thing for it.  Start my own business.  So, the little old shed at the bottom of the garden which has been host to parties, TV shows, radio slots, charity fundraisers was now The Solar Shed Ltd Company.

A Renewable Energy Centre at the bottom of the garden where my customers could come and have a look at how technology can help them generate their own heat and electricity, save a few quid and do what's best for the planet.  And that's been happening.

Next week, we will be celebrating our 3rd yr as a Ltd Co and just starting our 10th on the renewable industry.  Right now, the builders are in.  We're having a total refurbishment and make over.  We had prided ourselves on everything that was in the Solar Shed was reused or recycled and to much of an extent, we're continuing that theme, but we need to be a little 'slicker' and have better facilities as when we re-open, we will be more than just a solar company....   We'll be taking groups of up to 12 ppl at a time and showing them how to green their lives.  Everything we have done, everything we have learned, everything we do and the things we have learned from our thousands of customers..... we'll be passing on that knowledge and experience to those who want to get rid of their energy bills, create a greener , cleaner environment and better finances.

It's like a 'Green your life makeover centre' where you can buy stuff that makes you happy.

Right now, the plaster is drying out on the vaulted ceiling with exposed 200 yr old beams, flooring guys is in tomorrow, windows and doors next week and hopefully by the 19th we'll be back in business.

Most of this stuff is on twitter via @Thesolarshed or on the FB page of the same name.  But, i do hope to get back into blogging again, there's something quite therapeutic about writing, late at night when everyone is tucked up.....

Catch you soon

#solarlove

Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Five Days, Four Nights, Two Men, One Tiny House.

#RoadTrip2014


I think it was during the big Hurricane in New York a couple of years back that I first spoke with Mark Burton. We follow each other on Twitter and I have long been an admirer of his work in bringing the amazing Tiny House movement to the UK with his wonderful little houses.  He was suggesting to the Mayors of NY's twitter account that Tiny Houses could be an instant solution to the immediate crises when so many lost their homes along the Eastern Seaboard.




I was banging on about how Hurricanes aren't supposed to be hitting that coastline, from that direction and at that strength, and how this is one weird fucked up planet when it comes to the climate.  then i started bombarding New York's solar companies and the Mayors Office with tweets about rigging up instant power, batteries and panels, with charge points and driving them, on flat-bed trucks into disaster zones to give immediate relief to those effected the most.  The sort of stuff i was doing in Westminster during my final years in the Police immediately after 911.  That was some job I tell you and I promise you this, I will be writing about it this year and also how I finally came about leaving the Job that I loved with a passion.  

Most of you who have been reading my ramblings will know about my passion for the life I have delved into and will respect my views on climate change, regardless of whether you agree with me.  But think about it for a minute, we really have fucked things up for our kids haven't we?  Well I was thinking that 30 yrs ago whilst re-planting trees where we had chopped some down to make the new scout hall........   

So, Mark was banging on about Housing, I was banging on about energy and contingency planning and we sort of met in a moment of twitter heaven.



So, we spoke.  And we spoke some more. We have a good following on Twitter and would have some fun during BBC Question Time.  We would gang up with other like minded souls and attack Grant Shapps when he was in #BBCQT

As we spoke more, we realised that we were so much on the same level that we had to do something.   It felt at times, through social media, we were gathering steam.  Something had to come from this.

Then In April, i was wondering the halls of some Solar Geek fest and saw the solution to the Tiny House energy issue.  A fully integrated Solar and battery kit, plug and play, so easy to fit, my Auntie could do it.  This product was being launched and I jumped all over it.  Anyway, called Mark immediately.  We met, we talked and we came up with something which we believe will revolutionise the Housing market for first time buyers, students, recently graduated, singles and those seeking a totally new way of living in the Modern World

We redesigned the roof of the Tiny House for the Solar and as we did, we started talking about mass production, and came up with what we believe to to be a Worlds first.

A Flat-Pack, Portable, Self Build House where people can move in for less than £10k  



Such has been the media about it, we have had to set up a Limited Company and this all happened in the last Month or so.......     So, pretty busy.

On top of all that, Mark and I have been planning a little trip for a few Months now.  And if you are following me on Twitter @TheSolarShed you will have seen me use #RoadTrip2014  I have also dropped this into several forums and members groups i am associated with.

So what is #RoadTrip2014

5 Days      4 Nights      2 Men     I House   Surrey to John o'Groats in one week.  

A tiny House on Tour to it's new home in the face of 100m mile an hour winds and North Atlantic Blasts.... 

On the way, (route not yet planned, as we're going to make it up as we go along) we will stopping of at various venues.



We will be aiming to 'park' overnight in University Campuses, Eco Villages and Transition Towns en route.  

We will give engage in active discussion on Low Impact Living, challenging the current concept of community cohesion, challenge the notion that debt is good and big is best.  We believe that Tiny Houses are a solution to tens of thousands of people in the UK TODAY and Millions around the world.

Drought, famine and civil war encroaches on African and Asian communities.  Tiny Houses move.

Students leave Uni with and Ave' £23,000 debt.   Tiny Houses cost the same as 2 yrs rent to own outright

Recently graduated can club together, buy land with permissions, and build new communities within communities.  Tiny Houses can deliver this social change

We have an agenda for social change.



We believe that the brightest brains leaving university should not be saddled with debt, but instead the freedom to explore their minds and develop as young people without a noose around their neck.  People living within their means, rent and mortgage free, in Tiny Villages.  Zero car, zero waste communities with a balance that lives side by side with Nature.

#RoadTrip2014 will challenge the notion that big is best.   Large houses need large amounts of energy.  Energy that is precious.  How many more kids are going to come back from the Middle East in Body bags just so we can live the life we do.  How many more ice shelves do we need to carve off, or Fracking induced Earthquakes..... 

                                     NOT ON MY FUCKING PLANET YOU DON'T

People who live in Tiny Houses are not greedy, not hungry for more, just passionate about a real life. A life where consumerism is yesterdays World and yesterdays problems.....   

                                                  Waste less, Use less, Live more

#RoadTrip2014 will be seeking venues for over-nights.  The Route, Surrey to The top bit of Scotland.  Via Glasgow university if possible.

So, there you have it.  A plan.  We'll be blogging, tweeting and using facebook for this little #RoadTrip2014

Mark is on @TinyHouseUK

I am at @TheSolarShed

We are at @TinyHouseEurope

What it's all about   www.tinyhouseeurope.com

An article from the Daily Mail   http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2548375/Could-YOU-build-flatpack-house-Home-box-costs-just-6-500-But-really-easy-build-IKEA-bookcase-We-gave-one-brave-dad-week-try.html



                 
                                                     
                                      #RoadTrip2014   

                                         Early April.

                       We have a Voice.  It will be heard
                      

      

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Tidal Wave Times for July, August and September 2013

The times of the Tidal Wave passing through the village can be affected by many things.  Best be on the Bridge by the Cock Riverside Pub 20 minutes before advertised time as being 30 secs late will be a major disappointment.

When I published Junes dates and times, i attempted to predict the strength of the Tidal Waves by placing stars next to the time.  5 stars are the best, 1 star is the weakest.  I got it pretty spot on, even if i say so myself, so thought i would give it another go for the next three months in advance.



Remember, these are not organised events, please take care when near fast moving water...........

All dates and times are for the Wiggenhall Wave on the River Great Ouse in Wiggenhall St Mary Magdalen, Norfolk PE34.

July

Tuesday 23rd         5:21 AM     **             6:00PM     **

Wednesday 24th    6:06 AM     ***            6:47PM     **

Thursday 25th        6:49AM      ****          7:30PM     **

Friday 26th            7:32AM      ***            8:13PM     *

Saturday 27th         8:13AM      **  


August

Wednesday 21st     5:05 AM     **              5:45 PM  *       Full Moon

Thursday 22nd       5:48 AM     ***             6:27 PM **        

Friday 23rd            6:28 AM    ****            7:05 PM **

Saturday 24th         7:09AM     ****            7:42 PM **

Sunday 25th           7:48AM     **        


September

Thursday 19th        4:46 AM  **                   5:26PM **    Full Moon

Friday 20th            5:26 AM ***                  6:02PM **

Saturday 21st         6:05 AM ****               6:37PM  **    Equinox

Sunday 22nd          6:44AM  ***                 7:11PM  *




Please respect the fact that I am only human and if there is slight error on timings I have no control over it!

Its a moon thing!


Friday, 28 June 2013

From the Longest Day to the Longest Week

Well, what a week. It started with the annual Garden Party and wave watching event. We transformed the Solar Shed renewable energy and advice center into a bar, cafe and tea rooms. About 40 brave souls attended the cold and windy afternoon and £200 was raised for Scottys Little Soldiers, a charity that looks after the children and families of the fallen and wounded.





Monday morning Harriet and I had a quick meeting with the web team who are designing the Solar Shed web site, funded after a surprise windfall after a visit to the accountants.

Monday and Tuesday saw a team of scientists based at the shed for the research they are doing Tidal Bores. They placed some monitoring equipment in the river to read the pressure, flow rates and volume of water as the tide changed. We had some great Tidal Waves and they weren't disappointed. I'll use the data from the research to build my hydro plant for the generation of electricity that will allow me to live a totally grid free life.






And if that wasn't busy enough, I then had two days at the Royal Norfolk Show as guests of the Country and Land Owners Association. They had a big marquee and restaurant set up opposite the members entrance on the main avenue, so although I wasn't there to sell anything, i was allowed to put the new roller banners up and advise CLA members on renewable energy and in particular, Solar energy.

The visitors were all land owners wanting to discuss large scale commercial projects ranging from 20 kwp systems (80 panels) right up to the multi million field mounted solar farms. It was very pleasing to have been asked by an organisation such as the CLA to get involved and I am not sure how I can ever thank them, but I will, when I can.

The contacts made over those 2 days are invaluable in business terms and I feel, as I go into the weekend that this is the start of a whole new way of working and another chapter in my life is about to start.

I'll keep you posted. In the meantime, tomorrow, our village is holding it's annual Fayre at the Village Hall. So with roller banners packed and cleaned, camping table and lap-top in tow, off i will go to the hall for a few hours and chat to neighbours and other locals about the benefits of solar. Like I have said before, one house at time, one street at a time, one village, one town and then the World.

#SolarLove people, its been the best Solstice ever and I can't wait for the Equinox. The most exciting time of the yr and after 8 yrs since leaving the Police, i finally feel that i have tuned in and making something of life, business and natures natural resources.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Junes Tidal Waves

There will be a series of tidal waves on the river next weekend and through the following week.

To celebrate, we will be holding a charity garden party on the 23rd, which also happens to be a super moon date.  A super Moon is a full moon when the moon is closest to the Earth.  So it appears about 1/4 larger than normal as we pass each other.  The gravitational pull on the planet is greater on a full moon, coupled with the high spring tides, we should see some fantastic late evening Tidal Waves.

Here's the full list of times and dates.

=======================================================






The stars indicate the strength and force of the Eagre Tide. Graded 1- 5 with 5 being the strongest











23rd 5:15pm *


24th 6:10pm **


25th 6:20am *** 7:00pm ***


26th 7:05am *** 7:45pm **


27th 7:50am ** 8:35pm *



The times above are for ‘best chance’ of seeing a Tidal Wave on the River Great Ouse from the bridge, next to The Cock Inn at


Wiggenhall St Mary Magdalen, Norfolk


Best to be 20 mins early than 1 min late


For more info follow @TheSolarShed





Tidal waves are a natural phenomenon and the times above are subject to many factors that could have an effect of the actual arrival of the wave. These are NOT organised events and wave watchers should take care when near fast moving water. Be sensible and respectful to the residents of the Village.






Thank you.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

The Tidal Tweet

Up nice and early today to watch the most spectacular display that mother nature can provide.  There was a heavy steam rising from the surface of the river as today's tidal wave past. I hope the pictures do it justice. Enjoy and feel free to leave a comment.  I did tweet a commentary as the wave passed.  Have a look @TheSolarShed






















Sunday, 21 April 2013

Aprils Wiggenhall Waves.

I've been looking the charts of moon patterns and tides and can safely say we are in for real treat over the next week with regards to tidal waves on the River Great Ouse.  The times and dates are for best viewing from Wiggenhall St Mary Magdalen and in particular from the bridge by the Cock public house in Church Road. Good weather and warm evenings will mean lots of people so stick to the footpaths, park sensibly and please please please do not go near the water.  The nearest train station is Watlington which is a 8 minute walk. Parking is available for patrons of the pub or in the car park by the bridge over the Relief Channel.  I have predicted the times based upon a series of moon patterns, tide times and Fen lore.  You might want to arrive 20 minutes early as I have been known to miscalculate.  Later this year I will be holding a wave watching charity event for scottys llittle soldiers so please keep an eye for details. There will be a bar, live music and a bbq garden party on the River Bank on June 23rd.  Everyone welcome.

www.youtube.com/wiggenhallwave

Here are Aprils best viewing chances of the Wiggenhall Wave.

Friday 26th April           5.15 am    5.50pm
Saturday 27th April        6.15am     6.40pm
Sunday 28th  April         7.05am     7.30pm

This is one of the best series of waves this yr so make a note and come along.

Thank you.

Monday, 1 April 2013

April Fools Day and Me.

Being born on April Fools day is no Joke let me tell you.  First of all, you have to endure the same old comments every time you mention it.  'Ha ha April fool'  and the 'Only Kevin Holland would be born on April 1st'.  Not exactly the best way to start a birthday.

Then, oh yes, the years of 'No no no, this year it really is a great present' from the sisters.  Like every year, I would open the first box to reveal another, unwrap that one to reveal another. And so it goes on for what feels like ages until you finally reach the matchbox size one wrapped in sellotape so tightly you begin to wish you never bit your nails.  Finally, you prize it open to reveal that little piece of paper, again. 'April Fool'  And you have to pretend it's funny.  Again!

I WAS 10 FFS!  All I wanted was a normal birthday and normal presents!

So 46 yrs later, here we are again.  But wait.  What beholds........   Well so far so good.  Through the virtue of Facebook i have had dozens of well wishers, a couple of texts and some phone calls.  A handful of cards from immediate family and a big pile of presents..  oh here we go I think to myself and start, slowly and surely, in front of the family to unwrap them.  Not wanting to spoil their prankster mentality, I prepare myself and start to open them.

First, a nice new hoody from Ralph Lauren,  and it fits perfectly.  OK, i think to myself,  good start.  What next.  I go for the large box, expecting the age old box in a box present that I fall for every yr.  But no.  Its a clock.  A big clock for the wall in the shed.  Nice one i think to myself.  I continue through an assortment of smelly's, a few packs of liquorice allsorts, some more smelly's and a pile of presents wrapped in silver paper from Harriet.

Some car mats, some dashboard wipes, a few air fresheners and some upholstery cleaner.  Baring  in mind i almost live in the car, these are good presents.  Then there was nothing left!  I had done it.  I had got through a whole pile without one Apil fool present!

So, with the kids packed off to Downham to visit friends for the day, dishes all washed after breakfast, i decide to use the smelly's and wear the new top.  It feels like Christmas I can tell you.  And then down the drive to clean the inside of the car for the first time what seems like months. 

Then the magic moment arrives.  Mid day and not one prank, comment or spoof present.

In a way, i feel kind of cheated now, as it wouldn't be the same without at least one person using me as the butt of their joke, but maybe next yr..... maybe next yr.

Happy Birthday me.