From frosts, breaking the ice on the pond and fleece wrapping potato bags last week, it has been straight on to gale force winds, fallen branches and occasional hail this week. It certainly feels a bit extreme, but I have faith that we will finally have a day warm and settled enough to get in the pond and remove all the decaying leaves from last year that are turning it green with algae (and presumably fairly dead from resulting oxygen depletion). I have learned a lesson and this Autumn will cover the pond with netting during leaf fall period.
Meanwhile I have had an interesting week. It started with volunteering down at Share
Salisbury! With its bright yellow shelves, stuffed full of potentially useful things that are not worth buying but occasionally essential, our new ‘Library of Things’ is located in Wessex Community Action HQ down in Churchfields. I have also managed to get out with Salisbury Wildlife Group clearing the concrete lined stream through Churchill Gardens from silt, branches and litter, before creating and planting up some meanders to benefit biodiversity. We had a great haul of 2 trolleys, and a recycling bin for our efforts. I thoroughly recommend a volunteering session as there are always fascinating people to meet and conversations to be had.
And I finally got my hands on (someone elses) bees this week in-between storms. I have been assigned a mentor as part of the course I completed with the Salisbury and District Beekeepers Association and we went out on Wednesday to her bee hives. A beautiful setting on the Bourne River with peacefully industrious little bees, I thoroughly enjoyed it; though most hives have really been struggling this year due to the cold, wet weather which has meant they can’t get out and start building their food and honey stores. I might wait until next year to progress my own hive. BUT I have a confession. I should have cycled to the bees, but got a little too booked up and ended up DRIVING! So I have put my hand in my pocket and fined myself my first £20. I have been looking at options for a suitable carbon and ecological offset (2 birds with 1 stone and all that) and enjoyed researching the Martin Down ‘Supercluster of farm biodiversity initiatives’ and the Underhillwood Nature Reserve, both on the Wilts/Dorset border areas, but no conclusions as to potential partners yet.
And finally: a visit from Haydn to progress the house plans. No answers yet, but I am buzzing with more questions - the house will need an insulation ‘envelope’ which may have to be internal or potentially external. How does this work? An internal skin may be cheaper and less wasteful, but could an external skin be a green envelope, and does it even need to be attached to the existing wall at all? This relates to another seriously burning question: what is the right balance of glazing in the house to get the perfect balance of maximising passive energy gain (heat/light) whilst not losing the current welcome coolness in summer? Flights of fancy are leading me to imagine that I can either (a) build a glasshouse all round the house where I could grow food all year; or (b) cover the house with vegetation as a sort of combined vertical wall/pitched roof forest? Possibly I am simply going slightly dotty from lack of sunshine, but either way the amount of glass deemed the right proportion could affect the whole feel of the house tremendously.
Share Salisbury www.sharesalisbury.co.uk
Salisbury and District Beekeepers Association https://www.sdbka.org/
Underhillwood Nature Reserve https://www.underhillwoodnaturereserve.com/