Ecology, Humour

Solar Psychosis

It’s a crisp winter’s morn — heavy frost but brilliant sunshine — the man said that was the best situation for the photo-voltaic  cells — got to dash — got to look at the meter — we’ve  got a little house with a smiley face — the water’s hot and we are exporting — our newly minted electricity is flowing into the National Grid — that’s bad, we should be using it — it’s free — got to put the washing machine on — WE’RE GENERATING!

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Whoops — No we’re not — the sun must have gone in — I’ll just pop out and look at the sky — we might manage a short wash later, between clouds — Oh no!  Look!  We’re importing!  Oh Alan, the smiley face has gone.

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Something must be on!  I’ll check that all the lights are off, is the fridge motor running?  You haven’t put the kettle on, HAVE YOU?  The computer’s on?  Oh yes, so it is.

That’s it — I’ve got it — acute green-energy dementia!  I think that’s how they work, the solar panels — not so much by generating as by focusing you on switching things off!

Like a Druid I watch the movement of the great celestial orb.  Our fixed panels are a compromise between a right angle to the sun’s rays in summer and a right angle to the rays in winter so are almost always at a wrong angle — this results in rumination and ranting.

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We are constantly checking.  Look! they are in shadow.

It’s those damn trees!

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I can’t see!   I’m blind from looking at the Sun!

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lifestyle

Christmas Goes West

Turmoil comes in waves and these times of upheaval are our most creative — this is what I tell the children (it is no comfort to them).

It is Christmas and our five grown-up children (now that’s a strange concept) and their partners all seem to be facing new challenges.  Four now have various commitments in the West Country — work, homes, other family and friends, so to make it easier to all be together this year — Mum and Dad (and Pedro) go West.

Rhayader decorations

We entrust our pregnant ewes to a responsible friend — a rare thing!  Then we buy Tupperware and fill up the old camper van with plastic containers of Christmas, glance at the long term weather forecast and set off to The Gables — a rented house in Tywardreath, Cornwall.

But first, as Responsible Friend has noticed a hazard in the field in which we feed the aforementioned precious ewes, we have to fill in the seventy meter trench that we dug for the solar panel cable.  I use the word trench appropriately as torrential rain renders it a living memorial to life on the Somme in World War One.  The week before we leave for the West we slither and shiver, often up to our knees in mud.  Alan’s relationship with Digger is tested almost to destruction (not a bad thing, they were getting far too close) as her solenoid trouble makes her very temperamental and unreliable so that she often refuses to work at all and sits facing the prevailing storm with her windshield broken, getting her seat wet — but then we all have wet seats.

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Cornwall is dry and comfortable, camellias bloom in gardens and ragged robins in the hedgerows.  As shop assistants glower at befuddled shoppers and cars queue to enter and leave the supermarket car parks of the peninsula, sensible folk walk their wet dogs on nearby Par Sands where the China Clay factory breaths steam into the clear chilly air.

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Carols are sung at the Pub.

The Sun comes out on Christmas Morning.

 

Christmas Day

Christmas Day

The silvery sun makes it imperative to get out and make the most of the short days.

Festive meals are served for various permutations of family and friends.

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The wind changes, coming in from the North West, we pack up the left overs and drive home avoiding the Black Mountains, but not the traffic, to arrive home as the cold freezes the first dusting of snow into a crisp sugar coating over everything.

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Wales

Brecon Beacons

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Call it serendipity, call it making the most of a bad job — this week-end we found ourselves, unexpectedly, in South Wales.  The rain cleared and the winter sun peeped over the hill blinding us with its reflection in the reservoir.

Pontsticill Reservoir

Pontsticill Reservoir

So we set out to explore this big splodge of green on the map of South Wales, north of the industrial Valleys and the metropolitan south.  The Brecon Beacons National Park stretches from Brecon in the middle of the country right down  to the Heads of the Valleys Road, along which you can drive and (if you want to) turn down each of the famous coal mining valleys that once fed the industrial revolution — that criss-crossed the area with canals and railways that turned the stone of the terraced houses, bridges and the tree trunks black and scarred the hillsides with mine workings and slag heaps.

All that has changed now but the Heads of the Valleys road still marks the boundary between valley bottoms of dense habitation and a wild paradise, though on the wild side there are still some signs of the human activities in the past — hillforts, burial mounds, quarries, mine workings and, of course the dams and reservoirs that still satisfy our needs.

Not a farm track but a hang over from a more industrial past.

Not a farm track but a hang over from a more industrial past.

Under the sward, the moss and the lichen the industrial history is written into the hillsides.

P1040670 (2)Now it’s all farming, forestry and tourism — watch out for the cyclists!

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To the north is Brecon, a garrison town — the first soldiers who stayed near here were probably Roman in the first century AD, now they  are Welsh and Ghurkas and that is why this sleepy little town has a Cathedral and Nepalese restaurants.

Driving along the northern edge of the Brecon Beacons after visiting Brecon Cathedral we see the peaks in the distance

? PEN-Y-FAN (886M) and GWAUN RHUDD (746M)

? PEN-Y-FAN (886M) and GWAUN RHUDD (746M)

 

Within the National Park the River Usk separates the peaks of the Brecon Beacons from those of the Black Mountains to the east.  The sun, setting in the west,  bathes the eastern side of the Usk Valley in golden light, beyond is the Sugar Loaf. P1040705 Usk Valley skyAn epic sunset reminds us what a bonus sunny winter’s day we have had in the company of one of our children.

Sunset over Merthyr

Sunset over Merthyr

 

Merthyr Tydfil Pylon

Merthyr Tydfil Pylon

 

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