Winter Trolls

In anticipation of another winter like last, we’ve just had both cars switched to their winter booties, one at each of the  two roughly equidistant local garages. The first mainly deals with Land Rovers and you do get the impression that you’re handing your car over to an amiable troll who firmly believes that there’s no problem that can’t be solved with a big enough hammer.

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Funny thing – before I moved back to Scotland, I’d never come across the habit of “Taping and Filling” – using Ames tape to seal the seams between adjacent sheets of plasterboard and then plastering and sanding the joint smooth. But it seemed to make perfect sense – after all, why should we pay for plasterboard and then pay some highly skilled bloke to spend days plastering it? Continue reading Plastered

Small Decisions, Large Consquences

In renovating Stronvar, we’ve created an insulated shell inside the original fabric of the building, bringing each wall in by about 120mm and increasing the effective thickness of the walls from around 800mm to nearly a metre – this is a not insubstantial building. Continue reading Small Decisions, Large Consquences

The Great British Workman?

What is it with the British? There’s been so much bitching over the last couple of years about conditions in the building and services industries, so it might seem reasonable to expect that companies would be focussing on delivering for their clients and just getting the job done.

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Highland Rabbit

I drove home tonight in some truly foul conditions – seventy miles of standing water and lashing sleet. On a whim and to save myself from hypnosis from the rhythm of the wipers, I dug into the bourgemobile’s onboard library of a thousand or so albums and pulled up that great old hippy anthem, Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit.

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Fuel Prices Meet Economic Illiteracy

With UK fuel prices now over the £1.30 mark for a litre (that’s around $8/US gallon) – locally, diesel is at £1.35/litre – we’re starting to see the usual round of, “let’s boycott the big oil companies until they do something” spam. I normally ignore these, but I’m seeing a fair few being forwarded by people who really ought to know better. There a fundamental economic illiteracy to these emails: even before we take our local circumstances into account, any such action just wouldn’t work. And that’s not because I’m an apologist for Big Oil – I detest Esso/Exxon and always have: as a bunch of rapacious idiots and climate-change saboteurs they have no equal. And, in BP’s case, it’s taken them years of determined stupidity to even begin to get close to Exxon’s duplicity.

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Rage Against The Machine: The 2010 Bonspiel

Firstly, what’s it all about? In Scotland, The Bonspiel (“Grand Match“) is the great North-South Scottish Curling match, traditionally held on frozen lochs, with participation by thousands of players on hundreds of cleared rinks. The Bonspiel has been held 33 times in the last 150 years and only three times since World War II, the last being on the Lake of Menteith in 1979. Right now, the ice is in exactly the right conditions for the first running of this event in a generation, thousands of curlers are ready to descend and probably at least as many spectators (self included). So, of course they’ve cancelled it…

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Last night I spent two hours unsuccessfully searching the house for our Roomba: the little chap had wandered off somewhere, had presumably gotten stuck and was now sulking in parts unknown. So far, situation normal, but this time none of the usual suspects presented themselves: under the bed; behind the loudspeakers; under the litter tray (don’t ask) – all clear.

Continue reading Synchronicity

Building Standards: Talk and Walk

For years, the British Government,of whatever colour, has talked the talk: it commits to 80% carbon reductions, proselytises the need to save energy and talks of a low carbon future that will help mitigate the effect of climate change on our planet.  Continue reading Building Standards: Talk and Walk


It’s mid-October, there’s snow on the ground, our heating is on full blast (burning £10 notes on the log stove might just be fractionally cheaper) and we’re wearing walking boots and multiple fleeces. In the house. In front of the fire, the cats are browsing through brochures for Mediterranean timeshares and the chill wind is whistling through multiple orifices. Continue reading Eco-What?