In the Spring of 2007 I spent some time in France. In an area similar to Salisbury Plain I found a field of wind turbines. I happened to encounter a team of engineers who were servicing one of the wind turbines. There were two giant articulated cranes that were being used to erect scaffold towers to access the wind propellers. The wind propellers are located at the top of the mast or pillar that is required to mount the wind propellers above the ground. The design is similar to those hand held toys that we all used when we were children. These toys consisted of a stick and and a propeller at the end of the stick. However, with real electrical generators there has to be a dramatic increase in scale to take advantage of the power of the wind. Technical information
The diameter of the "stick" is in fact larger than the average car and the height of the "stick" is in excess of 200 metres (600 feet). The engineers were completing their maintenance operations so although I had an armoury of video and digital camera equipment I was too late to record their activity. I am sure that they would have been delighted for me to have recorded their work, but with my scant knowledge of French I was unable to ask them whether they were merely replacing a light bulb! Or something more serious.
Looking around I saw that there were over twenty wind turbines and at least a quarter of these turbines were not turning. since the rest were turning I presumed that the others were broken and would need service. The accompanying photos give some indication of the scale of the operation. I have no idea how much it would cost to call out two massive mobile cranes but let's suggest £2500 a day. These "windmills" are located on land and I thought how much would it cost to service offshore "windmills"? I leave it to the reader to check that electric pylon riggers get in excess of £1000 a day and that is only the labour for one man. The cost of the gear is another matter.
The people who propose such off shore installations must be barmy! I think that the wind turbines would be quite likely to be mowed down by some ship, before they even needed maintenance! How on Earth do you maintain wind turbines located in the sea anyway? Servicing Oil rigs is OK, at least they cover an extensive area apart from being high above the sea, but a wind turbine! The French wind turbine farm was at least located in an almost featureless landscape but I wouldn't like to see these monsters off our shores.
The photos below show the apparatus that is required to service those wind turbines that are located on land.
The road is 7 metres wide and the turbines are quite a long way off. Gigantic aren't they?
The two mobile cranes that were used to erect a tower to access the wind turbine generator
View of part of the access tower. Note the scale of the tower in relation to the engineer.
The wind tower base with access door
In this bleak landscape the wind turbine adds an element of interest. Note my car in the background!
What a nasty surprise. I read in the "Your Letters" page of the Wiltshire Times & Chippenham News that without warning Winsley post office has closed. Apparently without warning not only to the villagers but also the staff behind the counter. Residents will now need to go to Bradford-On-Avon.
Apparently the letter is misleading. The previous week in the same paper there was a story about the actual situation that I had managed to miss. The company that owns the shop and post office and many other similar properties has had to go into adminstration. Unfortunately, the Winsley shop and post office has got caught up in the problems that the company has. Many residents of Limpley Stoke travel to Bradford-on-Avon via Winsley rather than Staples Hill and use the shop and post office.
I hope when we are supposed to be avoiding wasting fuel as much as possible we should all try to support Winsley and try to shop and use local services as much as possible. I don't often use the shop at Winsley as I live closer to the Westwood shop but I know that it is very popular.
from wikiHow - The How to Manual That You Can Edit
How often do you go to the supermarket? Could you get by with making only one trip per month? What if it saved you money? When people shop more often, they buy more stuff. Supermarkets and grocery stores know this, and that's why they often bury the most common items in the back of the store - so you have to walk through the aisles to get there, and the probability of an impulse purchase goes up! Besides making a list and sticking to it, another way to limit your spending is to minimize the amount of time you actually spend in the store. Why make four or more trips per month when you can make just one? That's right--go grocery shopping 12 times a year. It takes time. It also takes organization. Here's how to pull it off.
Make a list of the things you need, which you should update continually.
Start saving your receipts. Ideally, you should have all of your shopping receipts from a typical month. Go through them all and highlight the essentials (the stuff you ended up using/eating). Skip over impulse items (you know what they are, like the four cartons of cookies and cream ice cream that was on sale and that you know are incongruent with your dreams of having six-pack abs).
Plan your meals. Imagine that your home is a restaurant - what is on your menu? You could go all out and plan every meal on a calender (like once-a-month cookers do) but even just thinking of some "master recipes" that can be adapted to several different dishes will help. Take a large amount of cheap, normally tough meat, for example, and put it in a slow cooker until it's tender, then shred it and use it in hot sandwiches, enchiladas, etc.
Accumulate coupons and ads for the things you use and the stores you frequent. During the days before your monthly shopping trip, match sales and discounts to the items on your list.
Divide and conquer. One person tackles the perimeter of the stores (meat, produce, dairy, and baked goods) while someone else scours the center (processed food, household goods, baking supplies). Each monthly shopping trip takes longer than a weekly shopping trip, so a division of labor will make for a smoother shopping trip (with fewer frazzled nerves).
Hit multiple stores. Different stores have different strengths. If you shop every week, it may not make sense to drive all over town to save a few pennies. By shopping just once a month, however, travel costs are diminished.
When you bring the food home, prioritize. Certain produce (grapes, bananas) need to be consumed earlier in the month. Other foods (milk, bread) may need to be frozen.
freeze milk to drink in the second half of the month
ultra-pasteurized milk (long shelf life)
OR if you like Soy Milk, it lasts for a couple of months! (However, it is much more expensive than regular milk.)
Rice Milk is also a good alternative, also lasting a couple of months (You can't even taste the difference after mixing it with cereal or in cooking/baking).
Almond Milk is especially healthy.
Evaluate and adapt. When you start off, there will be a little trial and error. There will be some trips to the store to get something you forgot. Just don't let those "emergency trips" become a habit. Make sure that you only come home with the item you needed, and nothing else. Then add that item to your monthly shopping list.
You can start by cutting your trips to twice a month (with a supplemental weekly run for milk and eggs). On the other hand, some people take this concept to the extreme - they go shopping only once a year!
You might find that shopping once a month �eforces�f you to use up all of your food that you can. You know what it�fs like to buy a bunch of broccoli thinking you are going to eat it but when you go shopping in another 4 days you just buy something else and cover it up.
You will need adequate storage space for all of your groceries. If you are shopping for a family of 4 or more, or if you live in a small apartment, you probably won't have enough food storage space. You could utilize a spare closet or a guest bedroom if you have one. Or don't forget about the space underneath kitchen cabinets, or odd drawers and shelves around your living space. Cans and jars can be stored quite safely all over the apartment or house. Just don't forget where you put them!
If you are serious about once a month shopping, then a large freezer would be a good investment. Energy star chest freezers have large capacities and low running costs.
If you are lucky enough to have a greengrocer, small alternative grocer, or grocery co-op nearby, you may be able to shop there without having to contend with many of the "impulse items" or the stress of larger supermarkets. (They're often much like just the perimeter of larger stores, without the junky innards.)
If you live near a drive through dairy you can have fresh milk as needed without going into a store.
Leave younger children with a babysitter. You can save time and money by leaving younger children at home instead of letting them distract you from the task at hand. Older children, however, can actually help.
Whilst Bath is over five miles from Freshford it is a place where many locals work and prefer to shop. Whilst I enjoy the occasional shopping trip to Bath I usually shop a little nearer in Trowbridge. I also often cycle to shop, so a congestion charge is not all that relevant to me.
I am not really sure where the traffic in Bath is going and whether it can avoid the central area? There must be vehicles that need to head for Bristol who are travelling from North of the river Avon who can't head up the A46. It does seem unfair to penalise these drivers. Are all the other drivers going shopping? As Freshford is located South of the Avon I usually head for Sainsbury's Homebase car park via the A36 and lower Bristol Road and walk. I can always manage to find something to buy in Homebase or Sainsburys, as payment for my free parking -which is only fair. If I did have to pay a congestion fee or car park fee I would probably arrange for Home Delivery instead.
The present government is hell bent on building more, and more, houses in this area without considering the infrastructure. So there will be even more demand on Bath as a shopping centre, or perhaps not.
Napoleon's observation that we are a nation of shopkeepers, whilst perhaps true in his time but altered by the rise of the supermarket in the Twentieth century - which swallowed up the small shops, still has some relevance today. But now we are a nation of shoppers!
However, whilst this might be good for Bath and Cribb's Causeway and Cabots Circus and other out of town shopping centres, shopping does rely on people having money to spend. Shopping requires money. This money should come from earnings and a return from investments. But is it coming from those sources? No! shoppers' money is coming from those who have cashed in some of the value of the rise in their property value (which could fall and has fallen!) and ignorant youngsters who pay through the nose to use their credit cards, as if there to be no tomorrow.
There will not be so many people who are ready to go shopping in future. These shopping cities and out of town shopping centres are probably going to become white elephants in future, probably in the near future.
An increase of thirty per cent in home energy bills doesn't help! Fuel whether for the home or the road is never, never going to get cheaper, is it? Unless the government reduces the fuel tax (and pigs can fly!). So travelling by car will get more and more, and more expensive. It will take several hundred million years to recreate the conditions for fossil fuel to be created again, and then by and by we will repopulate the world and use up nearly all of that fossil fuel in a little under two hundred years once again.
I won't be paying any congestion charge and I don't expect many others will be doing so either. I don't even see any need for a congestion charge.
Maybe, just maybe, there is some hope for a better, a sustainable future. This link provides some information about the production of green oil from algae: renewable Fuel
In the past we have been lead trustfully into the future; believing that our scientists, if not our government, will find the solutions to our problems, whether that is illness or in the present, the growing predicament of waht may be used to replace fossil fuel. And this needs to be not only a renewable or rather sustainable source of energy but a source of energy that will not continue to increase global warming.
Nuclear energy is at best only a stop gap, as Uranium is also going to be used up; and what is worse the cost of keeping the waste until it is harmless (secure storage for up to 100,000 years) is astronomical!
Perhaps the production of oil from algae may not be the solution to the immanent loss of our oil supplies but it may be part of the solution and it reminds us that chemical and physical processes are not some modern invention but, whilst the technology maybe, they have existed from the beginning of our world and before. The dinosaurs saw electrical energy, but it took a long time before humans (their descendants?) could make use of it.