applesteamdream


MEDITERRANEAN MADNESS

mdina

It’s quite a while since we last posted on here and life has taken many different turns since then. We are still in the villa we found when we first moved over, but haven’t developed the garden at all, we just haven’t had time.

Moving to a small island (Malta is only 17 miles by 9) means that you have to become very adaptable, A lot of the ideas we had when we moved over here have changed. The jams, chutneys etc are made rather infrequently at the moment. We lost a lot of the grapefruit crop due to high winds as they were almost ready to harvest.

Our interior design business that we had in the UK is now thriving over here as well as the maintenance part of the business. We have an ever-growing client base and word of mouth is getting us plenty of work.

Now we are starting to move into the furniture up-cycling and re-design part of the business that we always wanted to do. We have several projects on the go, two sink units, one from an old telegraph pole the other from big wooden posts. An old wooden slab used to be the footing for scaffolding is being turned into a designer side table with built in table lamp, (photos to follow).

We have many design ideas coming together, some with re-cycled materials, some from scratch.

We thought we’d share the bed that we made for ourselves first, out of 8″square beams and 3″square posts.:

bed 2

bed 1

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Our Culnady Dwelling.

We’re both hard at work in every department of building our applesteamdream, Ric has accumulated many recipes and ideas inc samples of eco roof tiling (made from recycled bottles).

Eco-slate

Eco-slate 2

Here is a couple of photos of the tile’s, as you can see the difference  in look to standard tiles is very little though they are so much better insulation dew to the proses of weathering, the tiles bond together expelling all air gaps and crate one solid membrane.

We have been searching for an architect to help with the straw bale build and have found Tagarts of Belfast, they designed the Ecos building in Ireland and have taken our project on with wonder and enthusiasm  (at first I think they thought we were bonkers but after the full plan was unfolded they have come round to our way of thinking that everything is possible,  or at least excepted or madness).

All of the land paperwork has now been completed thanks to the hard-working solicitor (J McNally’s) of Magherafelt, we are the proud owners of the land appointed to Culnady Road, Upperlands, its taken six years in total so as you may imagine we are delighted.

Next thing will be a January trip back over to clear and survey the land fully, the house will be built on a platform to take into account  the natural slope towards the river and help protect the straw bale construction. Lots of planning to be done.

Well all for now, Happy days –  Richard & Ric.

 



Pantry Plans

We haven’t posted since before the visit we had to Grand Designs Live (GDL). We’ve had lots of things to sort out, and we haven’t had much time to go through all the information we gathered there. One project that has progressed in the planning stage, through discussions around being carbon neutral is our plans to have a vented pantry.

At GDL we noticed a simple pantry cupboard design which utilises some basic principles of food preservation. “In the old days”, they used to have a pantry to keep food in. These were often bare brick walled with shelves attached. In some cases the shelves, or a specific shelf for dairy produce, would be made of stone, slate or granite. These cold stones used to stay even in summer months, reducing the need for refrigeration. Other methods of cold storage have included root cellars, ceramic or terracotta jars. The design we saw utilised two of these principles, it had a slab of granite as the main shelf, and terracotta, lidded jars for further storage of bread and potatoes.

 you can just make out the shelf and the terracotta jars. These jars were set into pull out drawers for ease of access. The design has the added benefit that the granite slab is above the jars; this means that the cool air generated by the granite will sink down, cooling the jars further.

We have done some planning and research and have come across various ideas to increase the efficiency of this idea. Our pantry needs to be on the north side of the house, thus avoiding sun from the south warming the outside wall. We intend to make all the shelves out of stone to create more cold zones and an insulated door. To increase the cooling process we intend to fit the pantry with a chimney in the roof and a vent in the floor. This would be utilizing basic principles to keep the food cool: hot air rises, (through the chimney) as it does this, cool air is drawn in from lower down. All we need to add to this is a filter system to keep mould/fungus out and voila, nice cool pantry.

Ric & Richard

x



A Lovely Gift

Last evening Ric surprised me with a ticket to the Grand Designs Live show (which is tomorrow, Sat 8th Oct). The show has a massive section on Eco building, straw bale construction and different heating/cooling systems. I’m not sure I have enough brain space to take it all in in one day so a reusable bag filled with hopefully recycled leaflets will be required.
We will return with ideas & photos soon.
I can feel some tired feet coming on.

Take care, Richard



Movement every day….

When we first started discussing the Applesteam dream, it all seemed like a pipedream, set somewhere in the future, in a land far far away…… As time passes, little by little, preparations are being made. The land is now sorted and all the legal stuff is signed off, and we are now in the process of learning about what we intend to build, and how we intend to live.

The Applesteam dream is now taking a turn towards thinking and planning the house, though construction won’t be for some time, the build will be here before we know it, so the next few years we have the luxury of fine tuning our home’s design.

It was my birthday the other week and two very dear friends, also in the process of planning major life changes and a new home, surprised me with some wonderful help towards our sustainable living….two books…..

Patio Produce

A wonderful book on growing things in small places, very surprised at some of the possibilities, can;t wait to get started. The second and most exciting for me is a book on foraging…

food for free

I have been talking about this idea for quite a bit of the summer and both myself and Richard are looking forward to our first free hedgerow lunch. I’ve got a few days away from the office, spending time with my parents this coming week and intend to spend some time digesting some of the information and tips in this book. Nettle soup and mixed weed salad here we come. Mmmm nettle bread…….that might work…

Tonight I am working on setting up a large lever arch file ready for inspiration, clippings and booklets to go in, so our build ideas are all together. By the time we’re ready to employ an architect to draw the official plans, from our own drwings, we’ll have all the relevant information to hand over to him ready to plan the build.
We’ve found lots of inspirational pictures on the internet of construction; design features; architectural detailing and layouts, but these will only be for inspiration as our home will be totally unique, a reflection of both of us. We are even reasearching some straw bale building courses at local colleges. If we manage to attend one before next summer, we may even do our own small workshop on the techniques next summer at a festival we attend.
Well, I must get on with the Applesteam Dream file now.
Ric
xx


Ireland


Just a few photos from our trip back home to Ireland, 40 years of growth is going to take a bit of clearing lol.



Ireland Trip

Well here we are one week away from our first trip together to Ireland. This will be the first time Ric will view our little piece of Ireland in person, the place where our dreams will be made, the place we will begin our new life on 29th Feb 2016 (subject to change, we may not be able to hold off that long). 

We have booked our stay at Dungiven Castle quite close to our plot in the beautifully wild countryside of Culnady. I know you might say this is a bit of a waste of resources but we did get it at a snip of normal price on Last Minute.com, and aswell it’s a very special time.

A full report will follow this visit with as many photos as possible. I think you will see how a straw bale construction will blend completely with the surroundings and sustainable living can be achieved. 

All the best, Richard