Monday, 14 September 2009

Stop press! The cat’s just brought a glis-glis in

... and abandoned it! We managed to catch it and release it in the garden.

Energy-saving lightbulbs

Prompted by our ‘Think Local’ in a few weeks, I thought I’d start some green blogging. Hence the subtle change of colour!

I’ve been trying to convert as many of our lights at home converted to energy-saving bulbs – with mixed results. The standard bulbs – the ones with visible tubes – are now very good. They start up quickly, have a good colour and do seem to last a long time. We’ve got these in hall, stairs and porch lights and they’re fine. In our lounge we used to have 40 watt incandescent golfball bulbs on wall brackets with small lampshades. The ceilings are low so we can’t have ceiling lights. The first bulbs I found – long life golfballs were a failure – they took 10 minutes to fire up and, although quoted as equivalent to 40 watts, were rather dim. I’ve now found some better ones – they have exposed tubes but in a small spiral. We’ve had to buy some new lampshades but I’ve moved the golfball bulbs and lampshades to the study – but I have to admit to having one tungsten lamp for instant light!

The kitchen has reflector bulbs in downlighters. Originally 40 watt tungsten , I had already converted some of these to halogen bulbs which are reported to last 2000 hours. I’ve now found some replacement bulbs – at Gil-Lec in Chesham – that are pretty good. They are slow to start, which is not ideal in a kitchen, but once they warm up they work very well.

The kitchen lights are 7 watt and the lounge ones 8 or 12 watt so we’re achieving a significant saving on electricity. I’ve just had a letter reducing my monthly direct debit because of lower usage.

We’ve also got two outside lights that are switched on via a photocell. I normally leave them on all the time, but I thought I’d try to get a timeswitch to switch off at midnight or so. I found one in B&Q but what I didn’t notice (it was very small print) was that it doesn’t work with ling-life bulbs. I guess that it needs a trickle current through a filament to keep it operating. So it’s back to the on-off switch.

I’ve just done a check of the lights we use regularly at home: 73% are long-life, and we’ll convert most of the rest once the current ones expire. How are you doing?

What do you think of the look of long-life bulbs? We recently had a visit to St Peter & Paul, Great Missenden, by members of the Bucks Historic Churches Trust. We have the plain long life bulbs in most of the fittings. One member said ‘they don’t look too bad, do they?’ another said ‘they look terrible.’ What’s your view? The older tungsten bulbs are no more authentic, of course, just that we’ve been used to them for many years!

‘Think Local’ will take place in the Oldham Hall, Church Street, Great Missenden HP16 0AZ on Sunday 4th October from 10:00am to 4:00pm. Sponsored by the Church, it aims to encourage members of the community to reduce their carbon footprint and support local businesses by shopping locally.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Elizabeth and Joe arrive

Elizabeth, who’s going to be our part-time youth worker for the remainder of Lizzie’s maternity leave, arrived tonight with her husband Joe. Joe is starting to study for his PhD at Oxford. We’ve all been looking forward to this meeting for some time – none more than Elizabeth and Joe! They flew in from Reykjavik – Iceland Air was the cheapest one-way from the US – where they had a few days doing the sights. During their stay, they amused the tour bus by owning up, as Americans, to being responsible for the shrinking of the glacier they were visiting!

By the way Heathrow was deserted: this was the terminal 1 arrivals waiting area at 8 pm tonight – a sign of the recession?

Tuesday, 8 September 2009


Buildings have been in the news recently. The latest Chiltern News from the Chiltern Society has the results of the 2009 Chilterns Buildings Design Awards – awarded jointly by the Society and the Chilterns Conservation Board. Winner is a house extension in Berkhamstead with two commended entries: the Akeman Restaurant in Tring and th Pool Barn at Chisbridge. More details can be found on the AONB web site.

Two other awards: the ugliest building in Britain was won (lost?) by Liverpool’s Pier Head Ferry Terminal.

The bookies’ favourite for the annual Sterling Prize is the Fuglsang Kunstmuseum in Denmark – designed by British architect Tony Fretton.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Art – JW Waterhouse and The Pitmen Painters

We went to the theatre to see The Pitmen Painters today. On the way we caught the JW Waterhouse exhibition the RA. Waterhouse is one of the best known Pre-Raphaelites: many of his pictures are very familiar:

All Waterhouse’s women seem to have the same expression – perhaps he only had one model!

The Pitmen Painters was great. It is written by Lee Hall of Billy Elliot fame and has some common threads with that tale. It’s based on a true story of a group of miners from near Newcastle who in 1935 start painting as part of a WEA Art Appreciation class. Several of them were undoubtedly very talented but they continued to go down the mine, painting only as a pastime. Like Billy Elliot, it is a story of development of hidden talent in people of unexpected background. The play is very light-hearted but also very moving. They project many images of the miners’ paintings during the play. Unfortunately there are no images on the web – only the small ones on the website of the Ashington group, the trust that now owns them:

The play is touring the UK soon and there is talk of a west end transfer: if you get a chance, do go and see it.

Back to Waterhouse: there was a wonderful St Cecilia: perhaps the RA would loan it to us if we dedicated Little Hampden Church to her!

I've put some links in the 'links' panel to the right.