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?

Conservation vs Restoration

So what are we doing with Stronvar? Are we conserving a building that’s performed many functions over the centuries? Are we restoring the original building or are we transforming it into a modern home, albeit one with a very obvious history?

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History and Vision


Stronvar Farm is the major part of a steading complex of the style typical of the great estates of the rural Highlands. Now B Listed, it was originally the service building for nearby Stronvar House, itself the centre of the old Carnegie estate.  Stronvar Farm included hay lofts, a byre and stables, the dairy, coach house and coachman’s accommodation.

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Much Dampness

It’s been a tad damp of late. That’s d-a-m-p, to the point of the loch rising a metre overnight, the field at the bridge vanishing completely and both our drive and the road to the village being overtopped by the flood waters. And this on the weekend that Gill’s nephew and wife are coming up from the deep South to visit. “No problem”, we’d said, “We’re just an hour-and-a-bit from Edinburgh, so take a wander into Wonderland”. Continue reading Much Dampness

YACCC: Yet Another Crap Courier Company

It’s happened again: once more a major courier company appears to unable to tell its arse from its elbow, with both hands, a map and a GPS system. This time it’s Business Post, who promote themselves as “the” alternative to Royal Mail. Well Business Post, I’ve got some news for you: at least the Royal Mail, whatever its faults, seems to know where our bloody house is.

So here’s a hint, for Business Post and other pillocks of that ilk (UPS, Parcelfarce etc etc…): we live a few hundred metres from a well-known Scottish tourist village, our house is named on the OS map (and has been since the OS was founded), is signposted from the main road and is on a postcode that only encompasses the half dozen houses on our side of the Loch. HOW DIFFICULT CAN IT BE?

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BAA, Humbug…

A news item today concerned the forthcoming Climate Change protest camp being assembled at Heathrow airport:

“We will not tolerate protesters harassing our customers”, said a particularly assertive BAA spokesperson. Which is hardly surprising since, as any poor sod who’s travelled through any BAA-run airport will tell you, that’s their very own speciality.