Life in a Dol house
2017 - Week 42

Hedgehogs in the garden!

After last week's blog, where I included a few thoughts on the thermal efficiency (or not) of my home, it prompted several emails about different reader's solutions.

Some comments from a friend in Tasmania got me thinking. I need to actually record the real sunlight hours this winter, on the roof where I want to eventually have PV panels

I may even extend the recording beyond the winter to see what sort of generating capacity the roof has.

The reason for this is so that I can work out the amount of electricity I actually use when the sun is shining onto the roof, which is less than the hours from sunrise to sunset because I live in the lea of a hill to the south. 

In fact the village is surrounded by hills, except to the North, which doesn't help much against the cold winter Bura winds!

First step was to get the sunrise and sunset times for the village. I found a useful website which will calculate this for you after you enter your latitude and longitude, or if you don't know it, to put a pin on a map.

Then download the information as a spreadsheet, and finally open it in Excel.  

Then I created a bespoke spreadsheet to record the electric meter reading at the start of the sun day, and at the end of the sun day, to see how much I use. After six days, this is what it looks like...

In a similar vein I came across another of those really useful websites, that someone has spent countless hours perfecting. 

Anyone interested in reducing their heating bills using automation and keen gardeners will find a use for a website which tells you about heating and cooling trends for your area.

The takes data from weather stations in your area, then crunches the numbers to give you an average number of hot or cold days - depending what you choose - in a downloadable format.

Because I already upload my weather data to Wunderground from my weather station, I could get a precise plot for my home, giving me much more information than I could ever have obtained from my own raw data.

As smart thermostats become more commonplace, and with home automation on the increase, it is possible now to plan your heating and/or cooling requirements based on your actual local data rather than regional averages, which do not take account of local micro climates. 

Because the application is using up-to-the-minute data, it takes account of the climate changes that are affecting your area.

So if you want to know whether you can grow a tender tropical plant, or something which needs a certain number of hours of cold each winter, you can find out. 

For me, it will help both in the gardens and orchards, but also in the calculations for the heating system I need, once the building work has been done.

​I finished the hardwood floor in the study on Tuesday, just before lunch. 

On Monday morning I had a meeting with the builder which meant I didn't get to the floor until after lunch. 

I also had to cut three tongue and groove pieces for the corner, as I had run out of complete lengths of timber and I didn't want to break into some more 4 meter new lengths.

The last three pieces slipped into place in the corner with a light tap from a mallet and have been secured with sold brass screws. 

I then started the clean up, removing all the tools, bits of left over timber and detritus. It has all gone into the workshop, to be sorted later. 

Then I brushed and mopped the floor to get rid of the dust and finally applied a layer of polish to protect the wood.

While the varnish was setting, I cut the rebate in the door to take the new door lock and furniture.

There had been a lock there, but it was as ancient as the door and neither the new lock nor the new furniture fitted, so I used some SDS cutting bits, purchased for just this purpose, to cut the new aperture.

​Being SDS means they can be attached and detached very quickly and there is no slipping in the chuck. 

I have a couple of different size SDS drills, so I can choose what power drill I want. 

For wood, I don't need a high power drill, rather a low power, low speed drill instead.​

Once the floor was dry, I started to move furniture in, but nor before I had found the pieces I was looking for in my various storage areas. That sounds a simple task, indeed finding the various pieces was simple, because I have packed and mapped where everything is. 

But it has also been time consuming because I realised that I could repack and rationalise the boxes, to better use the space in my big store.

Because the construction of the lounge has not yet happened, all my lounge furniture is still packed, as it was, when it came from Abu Dhabi. 

I still have a couple of hundred packages of various sizes which have not been opened, or which have been opened, something removed and then resealed. 

Keeping things in boxes is an efficient way of utilising the storage space available, because you can pile them up, one on another.

It has still been a three and a half day job to extract, repack, note the location of items and move on. 

Because of the good weather, I have been able to leave things outside overnight, which has also speeded up the task considerably. 

Then there has been the moving of furniture into the room. I have to say it is lovely and cosy and wonderfully warm. The morning sun floods through the window and reflects off the polished floor and the gloss paint, lighting the room up.

​It has taken time, but I am really pleased with the result. 

Now I just need to unpack some photographs and hang them on the blank walls and complete the finishing touches to the room.

I still do not know what mammal it was that left its calling card last week, but what I can say now for certain, is that I have hedgehogs in the garden.

I was down at the big shopping centre (well big for the island) at the ferry terminal and saw that in amongst the pumpkin lanterns and other Halloween fare, there were some rather nice little garden sculptures. So they finished up coming home with me in the car.

Sometimes you have to have a lighthearted approach to gardening!

Who knows, with a pair, I might get some young next year...

​​Finally, I was asked recently if I ever have any DiY failures.

 The answer is of course yes. But they tend to be minor and with careful preparation and the right tools and PPE they are not disasters. 

It did remind me of a website with some excellent cartoons of DIY failures - Spectacular failures - But I do not want to temp providence, so will say no more.