Sheds, Campers, Snakes and Dragons!

We turned around expecting there to be an old shoelace or a bit of seaweed or something and there it was, right in front of us, basking in the Sun


Sorry it’s been a little while since the last post.  As you can imagine, we’ve been pretty busy!  Honestly, our days have been busy from the crack of dawn till the end of the night pretty much every day so far!

penguins at the seal sanctuary
Sam watching the penguins on his birthday at the Seal Sanctuary at Gweek, on the Lizard

The boys have loved their first few months at the new pre-school and made some new friends already.   They’ve properly enjoyed being down here so far.  There’s just so much to do with them just on the doorstep, it’s lush.  Gert lush.  One particular highlight is the choice of local parks (particularly Kimberly Park in Falmouth, which is great!), as that’s generally their favourite thing to do at the moment.  We’ve got our first kids birthday party to go to in the village this weekend too, so it should be a good chance to meet some of the other parents and children and introduce ourselves properly.

Kimberley Park Play Area Opening
Kimberley Park in Falmouth. Pretty amazing landscaping and planting plus this awesome wooden playground

I’ve been a little unhapy with my working from home area, as nothing in the house has really given me the privacy or quiet that I really need.  I’m fine, but as soon as the kids come home, the inevitable noise begins, and whether it’s happy, playful noise, fighting and screaming, or they want to see me, it’s all a massive distraction from whatever I’m trying to do at the time, and I instantly lose my flow, so I’ve needed to find a solution.  With the summer holidays looming, I knew I had to do something fast too.  I took another look at the grubby garden shed and with a good few evenings’ worth of elbow grease, I’ve managed to convert it into my own humble little “amazing space”.  Ok, it’s still a shed, but I have a lovely, private space now with a good(ish) internet connection, insulation, power and light and a beautiful view.  I love it!  If you want to know more, I’m actually writing a separate blog about my shed

My new office! – Due an exterior paintjob next!
From This
The Ultimate Shed Office
To This!  Love my new office! #SHEDLIFE

Just the exterior to do now… watch this space!

We’ve had a few visitors down since the last blog, including our first ever campers, Dan and Angie, with their lovely little girl, Maddison.  Given the choice of top, middle or bottom, they decided that the benefits of the view from the top field outweighed the downside of being really open to the windy elements up there.  I had camping envy right from the start!  They’ve got a lovely Dodge Ram American campervan and it made it up the grassy slope just fine.  Was lovely having them here, and the kids all get on really well.  They boys have really missed Maddison since she left!  We have no license for camping or any showers or anything like that yet, but we’ve got a site visit from the people that hand out the licenses coming up soon and we’ll have a better idea what we’ll be able to offer once they’ve been.  I’m hoping it will be pretty flexible, but we’ll see.

If Carlsberg made campers…

A few other friends and family have come to visit too, it’s been so nice to catch up with people and get their wise opinions and various ideas of what we could do here.

We’ve seen a few more bits of wildlife recently, tons of grasshoppers, moths, butterflies etc and sometimes more impressively, the huge Dragonfly.  I’ve seen reddy brown ones and actually got a snap or two of a lovely Golden Ringed Dragonfly before it buzzed off.  They are the largest species of Dragonfly in the UK and very impressive.  We’ve also seen plenty of frogs in our fields and when we were walking back up a path from the paradise that is Kynance Cove recently, Sam just casually says “there’s a snake” – We turned around expecting there to be an old shoelace or a bit of seaweed or something and there it was, right in front of us, basking in the Sun, a beautiful brown adder.  Never seen one before.  As soon as it noticed us give it any kind of attention, ie it’s cover was blown, it was off, so I didn’t have time to get the camera out, but it was a lovely sight.  I’ll get a pic next time 😉

Gold Banded Dragonfly
These dragonflies are such an amazing insect. Huge and such amazing flyers..
Frog at Fairview Farm

So, we’ve also made a little progress finding out about renewable energies and the like.  Had a couple of companies around and a good friend, Rob, who’s very knowledgeable about these things came and cast his eye over it all.  It’s amazing what you can do and how many options there are, but I think this is how we want to end up eventually:

  • Solar Panels on the House.  Maybe larger than the usual 4Kw.  Probably a mix of West and East as this gives the most effective return.  We have the option of a bit of South facing for good measure too.  All on the roof, otherwise you need planning permission.
  • Battery storage. Essential to be able to store the energy you are generating during the sunny times.  Sending excess back into the grid at this point, is basically a “waste” to you, as you get the same feed in tariff regardless.  So what you can do is send all the excess into your batteries, so that when you are drawing more than you are generating, you can use up reserves.  I think a modular system for this is the way to go, so you can start with something and see how you get on and add to it later.  There are a few well known brands pimping their battery storage at the moment.  They are all very pricey!
  • Thermal Store.  To go one further, you can have a thermal store.  This replaces the hot water storage tank and is very efficient at holding hot water.  It’s heated by electric, and can be gas, or solid fuel as well, depending on the setup.  So you can now send any excess power you are generating to heat the water in the tank, which in turn runs the central heating.  Once the water is up to temperature, you then divert the power you’re generating into the battery, or if there’s a deficit, then the power stored in the batteries takes over and heats the water.  Following so far?  Clever, huh!
  • Wind Turbine – Seems to be a bit of an odd one this, but we have loads of wind! Apparently “you won’t get planning”, but permitted development does exist to stick a modest, single turbine on the roof of your house or an outbuilding, subject to several provisos without any planning required.  This is a great addition, but really requires battery storage to make the most use of the random generation from turbines.

I think the plan for now will be to fit a standard 4Kw solar pv system and inverter and just test and measure for a bit, to see what our requirements will really be and the best fit solution should present itself a little further down the line.  Technology is moving fast in this sector too right now.  Watch this space for more info on what we end up doing.

It’s also worth mentioning the spring water at this point too, we have done a little looking into and seems like we have a pretty good flow there so it’s worth persevering with.  I actually got a bit further down that field the other day and found a bit of a natural pond we never knew existed, that the spring feeds into 🙂 The next step on this I think is to arrange to have a sample collected and tested and then go from there.  I’d so love to be able to harness that spring for us to use and drink!

I’m going to sign off now, but before I do, I have to share some pics taken with my new, £9.95 iPhone Macro Lens.  I love it!  Some of the shots of Lichens are amazing!  enjoy and speak soon, as ever, comments, questions or just plain hellos very gratefully received below!…

Team S xx