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.

 



Green message sent to us by a friend…

Green Thing

Anonymous

In the queue at the store, the cashier told an older woman that  she should bring her own grocery bags because plastic bags weren’t good for the environment.

The woman apologized to him and explained, “We didn’t have the green thing back in my day.”

The clerk responded, “That’s our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment.”

He was right — our generation didn’t have the green thing in its day.

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be      washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn’t  have the green thing back in our day.

We walked up stairs, because we didn’t have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and  didn’t climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks. But she was right. We didn’t have the green thing in our day.

Back then, we washed the baby’s diapers because we didn’t have the throw-away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy gobbling machine burning up 220 volts — wind and solar power really did dry the clothes. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing. But that old lady is right; we didn’t have the green thing back in our day.

Back then, we had one TV, or radio, in the house — not a TV in  every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana . In the kitchen, we blended and stirred by hand because we didn’t have electric machines to do everything for us.      When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used a  wadded up old newspaper to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic      bubble wrap. Back then, we didn’t fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn’t need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. But      she’s right; we didn’t have the green thing back then.

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blades in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. But we didn’t have  the green thing back then.

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service. We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn’t need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 2,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest pizza joint.



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



Humble Straw.

Humble Straw

***

Humble straw – waste to some, line the horses stable,

a comfy mouse’s bed, dead of winters cattle fed.

But so much more when bound and tight,

When baled, pinned and stacked to height.

Form the walls around the frame, cut to shape an eve,

A soft window seat to read and snooze, allow my mind in dreams to loose.

Earthy shades and scented air, drifts me deep in restful sleep,

Upon my comfy window seat.

I dream of bright and fertile land to fill my eye’s horizon,

I dream a dancing trickling stream, I dream of fields of vibrant green.

Book from hand it drops and wakes, eyes a hazy slumber,

They clear to view from window seat, they see what I behold,

They see surrounding vibrant green, they see that dancing trickling stream,

They see my life’s love strolling by with wood to fill the fire,

This house of straw has given me my longing life’s desire.

 

 By Richard



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