Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Map of hosepipe ban

Here is a detailed map of hosepipe ban in England, Spring 2012

Water companies across southern and eastern England are to introduce hosepipe bans amid drought conditions. Seven firms say they will impose water restrictions after two unusually dry winters left reservoirs, aquifers and rivers below normal levels. Southern Water, South East Water, Thames Water, Anglian Water, Sutton and East Surrey, Veolia Central and Veolia South East are to enforce restrictions.

Friday, 6 January 2012

Upcycling - How to get the most from your old furniture

For those of you with an eco-conscience, recycling will already be a part of your daily life. Sorting your rubbish for recyclable materials, taking your clothes to charity shops and re-using water bottles are all common ways to recycle in the home – but why not go that step further and consider a trend that is becoming more and more popular - upcycling.

Upcycling can be applied to almost any object of furniture in your home and often involves a combination of modifying, cleaning up or completely remodelling existing furniture to add more value to the item. If you find yourself looking at your dining room table and chairs and thinking they need replacing, why not consider upcycling them instead?

The upcycling of furniture often takes one of two forms. This can be either customising an existing piece of furniture in your home, or buying a second hand piece of furniture with the intention of customising it to fit your needs or taste. For now though we will concentrate on getting the most from the furniture you already have in your home – what you can do to your existing furnishings to give them a whole new lease of life. 

A great example of how easy and effective upcycling your furniture can be is the customisation of your old dining chairs. It is simpler than you think to add value to an item such as this and either restore it to its former glory or add a creative touch to convert a dull object into something of beauty.

The first step is to re-paint the chair. Start by sanding the chair with a low grade sandpaper, to remove any traces of old paint. Then select your new colour and apply at least two coats to the chair, allowing time between each coat for the paint to dry. Another nice touch at this stage, if the chair has any detailed features, is to line these details with a fine paintbrush in a different colour to the coats you used originally. This can really bring out any period or detailed features of the chair and adds a little ‘wow’ factor to your project.

To compliment the new colour you may also wish to consider re-upholstering the chair. A good place to find cheap material to do this with are charity shops, where you will be able to pick up material (such as old dresses, curtains or table cloths) at a knock-down price. If you are interested in doing this there are a number of online guides and youtube videos (simply search for ‘chair reupholster’) which detail the techniques for re-upholstering a dining chair – which although time consuming, is a really satisfying way to give your tired old chairs a new lease of life.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Top 10 Green House Buying Tips

1. Ask to see the energy saving credentials of the property

2. Make sure that the property's insulation is of the highest level

3. Check that there is double glazing (or better triple glazing)

4. Ask to see the heating bills and make sure that the boiler is a high efficiency condensing type

5. Appliances (like washing machine or fridge) should be ‘Energy Saving Recommended’

6. If the house gets a lot of daylight you will use less energy

7. If porches and lobbies are enclosed it helps cutting heat loss

8. Energy saving devices like solar panels are always a plus

9. Find out if and what grants are available for energy saving measures

10. Good public transport and local amenities could mean you use your car less

Find many more green tips around energy management and renewable energy at The Green Project

Picture credit & more green info:

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Free Aussie Energy Saving Tips!

The Green Project offers you free advice and discounted products and services to help you save money on your bills and reduce your household’s impact on the environment.

Energy efficient products available to you are:

* FREE energy efficient light globes

* FREE ceiling insulation

* Discounted solar hot water

* FREE Home Sustainability Assessments

They also offer:

* FREE advice and information on energy management and energy efficient products including ceiling insulation, renewable energy, low energy lighting, solar hot water heating and more

* Easy access to rebates on energy efficient products and information on green loans

* Assistance with government rebate paperwork

* Product guarantees and quality assured installation

 So, if you an Aussie: For free ceiling insulation, discounted solar hot water, solar rebates and green loans the first place to go is

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Playing with power tools on your lunch break can really lower stress levels

On my lunch break from work this Thursday I was driving out of my little unit in an industrial estate in Goole Yorkshire when I happened across a bit of a commotion. I had only popped out of the office to get lunch because I had managed to miss the sandwich van whilst I was in the toilet. I would normally have waited until I had bought my sandwich and packet of salt and vinegar crisps before I went to the bathroom but because the unit in front of us were off on some kind of training day, the van came early and I missed it. The thought of missing my daily ham salad in ciabatta bread made me tense.

Goole is a small place and it is not often that you see any kind of surprising activity, that is, activity that you are surprised by. The activity does not have to consist of anything ‘surprising’ as such; you are merely surprised that there is any activity at all.

Often referred to as “sleepy hollow” you can probably guess that Goole is not the most exciting of places. Some people may think that Goole is pretty interesting because it is said to be the most inland port in the whole of Britain…but most people don’t.

Anyway I thought that I would make the most of this rare event and stop my car to see what was going on. I could see a smattering of brightly coloured canopies dotted around the industrial estate and from what I could deduce from out of the window of my Fiesta it looked like there was some kind of power tools demonstration going on. Brilliant!

I headed over to an acid bright DeWalt stand.

Checking out the dazzling yellow building tools I listened with great interest as the guys on the stand explained to me about the uses of various construction tools and the dangers of too many body vibrations a day. I was so engrossed I didn’t make it to any of the other stalls, what with the Strong Arm competition and the Wheel Change Challenge I hardly noticed that I was already ten minutes past the end of my lunch break and had still not bought anything to eat.

Never mind, I was not as stressed about missing my ham salad sandwich after playing with the exciting looking hammer drill (when I say playing I mean holding it and saying “ohh, ahh” whilst being watched by a professional at all times).

After I had finished work that afternoon I went back to the car park to find that all the tents had packed up and gone home. There was no sign that the power tool demonstration day had ever happened and I almost had the strange feeling that the whole thing had been a hunger induced hallucination.

I knew however that it was not. The discounted hammer drill that sat on the back seat of my car reminded me that I would be paying rather more than I bargained for when I missed the lunchtime sandwich van.

Friday, 19 June 2009

Tools and dust - hand in hand?

My friend is a professional builder and does a bit of engineering, motor mechanics, and sometimes a bit of carpentry. He built his own garage, an extension to his house, with bedrooms above it. His garage is storage space for his professional power tools and also a workspace, although on dry days he often works outside. He even built his own concrete driveway. His use of wood around the garage makes it feel warm and the sort of place you’d like to spend some time fixing your car, or cutting some wood, or just having a cup of tea. But he doesn’t quite seem to be able to manage the dust from his woodwork. Professional power tools and dust don’t go well together.

He always does a really good job whatever the project he is working on. He gets on with the job without fuss and usually very quietly even when he is using usually noisy tools. Everything is neat and tidy by the end of the job, apart from maybe a little bit of dust. But in his own garage he doesn’t seem to be bothered about all the mess he creates from his work. It just gets brushed to the side. Every so often he will have a blitz clear out, but within days, sometimes just within hours, the place is messy again. And all the while, dust is accumulating. Some of his power tools that he doesn’t use very much have such a thick layer of dust over them that they just appear as shapes. There’s no visible writing or colour to them, apart from the dust. They look surreally antiquated, or like replica toys.

Maybe the dust does bother him, and he considers it a waste of valuable time to have to keep dusting. Maybe he doesn’t notice it, or feel obliged to keep the dust off his tools because he knows he will dust them off when he needs to use them. But surely he must be aware that dust can damage power tools and getting a dust extractor would be a valuable investment?

Perhaps he half notices the dust but then keeps putting off doing the dusting because its just a job he only does if he really has to, such as when he’s working for someone else? Well rather than try and work out why he leaves his garage dusty so much of the time I’m just going to buy him a dust extractor as a gift. One of the reasons I want to do this is because he did me a favour helping me with a building project and recently doing some welding on my car exhaust.

Hopefully with dust management taken care of by an easy to use professional dust extractor his jigsaws and hammer drills will stay in professional working order, he will be happier in his work garage, and maybe anyone visiting will find the clean air to their satisfaction, just like the work he does.

Friday, 12 June 2009

For years to come - my forage into professional D.I.Y

I have decided to set up my own small business doing professional D.I.Y (if there is such a thing) for friends and family. I am so sick of paying the prices that so many builders are charging at the moment, even in this market. I am not going to use the dreaded two words but you know what I am talking about don’t you. I am so incredibly sick of reading the words ‘credit’ and ‘crunch’ in the same sentence and the thought that I am going to have to endure this bite size word combination for possibly years to come makes me feel a little queasy. I already avoid ‘cc’ articles and have started to sweep my eyes over the morning newspaper in order to pin point and swat the blighters from a distance before I have the displeasure of reading them. I doubt I am missing much because you know as soon as you spot those gems that the article is going to be predictably uncreative and unimaginative and most likely mixed with technical blabla that you won’t understand.

Several of my friends and family need a few minor home improvements done and I am willing to help them out with anything from building garden benches and tables to laying foundations for extensions. Of course I am not a complete novice. I used to work on a construction site a few years ago and earned quite a lot of money doing it but I gave it up to design and sell Amdega conservatories. That was something that fulfilled my artistic side and gave me the opportunity to move back into the sector where I really felt like I had talent; sales.

Since then, although I thoroughly enjoy my current job, I have missed working out in the open air and felt as though I should make use of the skills that I have gained through my life. If I could use those skills to save family and friends money and improve their quality of life then why not offer my help?

I would buy the tools I needed according to the jobs I was given so that I could charge them to whomever I will be working for at the time. I can then offer cost prices on the materials and I am well informed to source the cheapest and best quality stone and timber. I would arm myself with a few basic power tools but there will be no need to purchase heavy duty power tools until I actually – if ever – need to use them.

While I was working in construction we used the well known Black&Decker brand. I knew I could get a quality second hand cordless drill from the site where I used to work. Those tools work great for years so I know I won’t be getting anything unsafe. My son has volunteered to help out for a bit of extra cash and of course I want to make sure he isn’t going to hurt himself using any rubbish equipment.

I have so far thought of everything but a name for the business. When I do I am going to title this blog with it.