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


Wednesday 26 February 2014

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


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

An article from the Daily Mail


                                         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.


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      **  


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     **        


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.

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.

Sunday 31 March 2013

Hamlet Re-Visited

I suppose starting this blog at the tail end of last yr is what done it for me.  All those memories about yesteryear, South London, Policing and Dulwich Hamlet.  

I've been thinking about the old club of late and seem to have lost a lot of interest in Non League football here in Norfolk.  My other Club, King's Lynn Town FC was born out of the old King's Lynn FC that went pop a few years ago. They owed big money to the tax man and instead of asking the community for help, they let it fold.  A new club was born.  All big and shiny but it costs more to watch King's Lynn than any other club in our league.  It has done for 3 seasons now which is a shame because the manager has put a great little squad together and they play good football.  But i don't like being made a mug of and refuse to be ripped off.  So i have only attended when i am 'providing a service' by way of doing the online commentary for the Supporters who can't get there.  But now, there is so much social media, I feel my service is no longer required. So I have stopped going all together now.

But through the virtues of Twitter and Facebook, i have found my old club.  Dulwich Hamlet FC are a grand old name in Non League circles, having won the Isthmian league several times, the FA Amateur Cup and providing a solid foundation to scores of players who went on to be successful  professionals. Hull City signed another one last week and their star man had recent trials with Liverpool and featured in an U21 game for them against West Ham 2 weeks ago.

A few months ago, i promised myself i would make the journey at least once this season to go and watch them.  Since then, I have been twice.  Both away games.  The first was a few weeks ago away at Merstham in Surrey.  I had been at a conference at Excel (EcoBuild)  and had an overnight in a hotel.  Well with the work finished by 5pm, all I had to look forward to was a long night with drunk sales reps or a Tuesday night under floodlights to watch the Hamlet for the first time in 10 yrs.

I chose the later.

And pleased that i did.  It was just like old times.  A couple of dozen of us, behind the goal singing and chanting and chatting like I had never been away.  It was heart warming to catch up with old friends and fellow fans.  These were the people that made my time in South East London so much fun many years ago.  These were the people that introduced me to Non league football all those years ago and were also responsible for introducing me to a world away from the Police and into sports promotions 25 yrs ago.  I stood and sang and chatted like it was yesterday.  We were all older, a little rounder and a lot less drunk.  But the passion was still there. Mishi was still there (I picked him up from Kennington Tube on the way down) Shaun was still there. Steve, Paul, Mr Watts, Burty, Jamie, Dave and Paul, John the program Editor, Brian the Vice Chairman, Jack the Chairman, in fact it was like really vivid dream.  they were all still there.  

We lost.  But we sang.  I drove Mishi, Burty and his mate home.  First stop Sydenham, then onto Nunhead and through Peckham, Camberwell, Walworth and over the River and back to the Docks to the hotel.  My re-introduction to Dulwich was the bait and I was hooked again.

Easter Saturday was always going to be the biggest game of the season.  Not because Dulwich are within spitting distance of the Ryman League South Title, in fact they had just had over 1,000 on a tuesday night against the league leaders, Maidstone.  But no other game could act like a magnet for me like this one.  This was Tooting.  Away.

Dulwich and Tooting in South London is like Inter and AC.  It's the Glasgow Old Firm scaled down.  Forget United and City or Liverpool and Everton, this was massive and no matter what happens during the season only one result matters.

The derby.  At the Hamlet it ended 2-2 and this was game that we needed to win for two reasons.  Bragging rights and to keep pace with Maidstone.

No-one could have predicted what was to come.  I set off on the 10:03 my lad (aged 14 and never been to a Dulwich game since he was 3!)  We arrived at Kings Cross wearing our Pink and Blue shirts and made away to The George in Croydon where everyone was meeting.  There was about 30 of us.  Then the Tram to Mitcham.  As soon as the Tram doors closed at 2pm we started singing and we didn't stop till the final whistle at 4:45pm In fact I think we were still singing as the ground emptied and the players were in the changing rooms.

I have been the England matches, many a West Ham home and away.  I have been to Wembley  for Cup finals and with King's Lynn I have been part of great Vase and Trophy runs, home and away.  But NOTHING could ever compare to what i was part of yesterday.

About 150-200 of us. Standing together as one. 

Dulwich has a new, younger fan base.  Teenagers.  Teenagers with a drum, large flags, blue smoke grenades and a repertoire to rival River Plate or Barca.  

Immense  is the word i shall use for these  fans.  They carried us older boys along and when we went silent, they started.  When they went silent, we started and we sang and sang and sang.  We danced on the terraces and we sang some more.  

Then, we all went home.

Dulwich won 0-2 and sit joint top of the league.  They have a game in hand and promotion is in their hands.  They might do it.  They might not.  If they do, it will be great and if they don't, rest assured all the talk over the summer will be of plans to invade Tooting like we did yesterday.

Saturday 30th March 2013 will go down as the greatest football away day ever.  It will never been beaten in terms to passion, friendship and heart warming re-found relationships that hopefully will last a lifetime.

Oh, and King's Lynn won 7-0 so a good day all round. I kept up to date via twitter, which shows that my service is no longer needed...................

Here's a link to a blog from south London.  It has some great pics of yesterday that show the passion we felt.

Saturday 9 February 2013

February Tidal Wave Times

Now that the days are slightly longer, there is a fair chance of seeing an Eagre on the River Great Ouse.  Due to the level of light, the AM sightings will be better than the PM ones.  I have played around with some charts and looked at moon patterns and tide times and have come up with the following days and times as BEST CHANCE to see our wonder of Mother Nature.

The best place to view safely is from the Bridge by the Cock Public House in Wiggenhall St Mary Magdalen.  You can walk from Watlington Train Station or park in the pub car park or the car park by the cut off channel.  During the spring and summer, we may well open a tea garden at Brighton House so parties can relax, learn more about the wave and then take a short walk up the slipway in the garden to view the wave from the back of the house.

The best time to arrive is about 20 minutes before the wave is predicted as I have been known to make small errors in the arrival time.  After all, we are ten miles inland!

Saturday 9th Feb                      4:32pm

Sunday 10th Feb    4:49am       5:07pm

Monday 11th Feb   5:23am       5:50pm

Tuesday 12th Feb  6:15am        6:31pm

Wed       13th Feb  5:55am        7:12pm

Sun rise about 7:30  and sun set just after 5pm so plan accordingly.  There is a new moon so no moonlight, if you do come during darkness, please keep to the footpaths by the bridge, wear bright clothing and have a very low light camera otherwise you'll miss it!

To learn more about the Wiggenhall Wave and the history of our village please watch BBC1 East, Inside Out on Monday 11th Feb 2013  as it will be featured then.

Thank you.