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I walk up the field to investigate.

Category: Books October 27th, 2010 by mbc

A mystery with my edits…

Midday. Blood curdling screeching of foxes – probably cubs – from the hedgerow up the field … Millie (a cat) stands, or crouches, in the kitchen doorway with with her ears flattened on her head. She looks at me in alarm. On the kitchen floor, a patch of fresh blood: a mystery. A field mouse? No, surely too much blood? Pale red blood, soaking into the brick a mortar of the kitchen floor.

I walk up the field to investigate.

Read on in Notes from Walnut Tree Farm on page 111.

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nothing gives me more comfort or more anxiety than fire

Category: Books October 22nd, 2010 by mbc

Nothing quite draws your attention like an open fire…

Fire: nothing gives me more comfort or more anxiety than fire.

The fireplace has been subsumed by the TV, pushed out of the nest as by a cuckoo. People now comtemplate the TV, not the fire.
A fire only really comes into its own when it is genuinely needed – when the weather is so cold that you come in shivering, preferably red of nose, blue of cheek and perhaps white of toenail.

Life revolved around the fire and the kitchen range, and the coal cellar or woodshed. Think what we miss when we press buttons or flick switches or adjust thermostats – a whole world of mystery and delight.

Fire is by no means silent; it crackles wheezes, whistles.

Roger Deakin in Notes from Walnut Tree Farm, page 12.

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like a bird’s nest be a thing of great beauty

Category: Barn Conversion Journal October 15th, 2010 by mbc

I’m not sure that the barn resembles any kind of bird’s nest, but I do appreciate Roger Deakin’s words on the beauty to be found in the ordinary.

An old house may be built of the humblest, simplest materials, and, like a bird’s nest be a thing of great beauty.

Or: like a bird’s nest, a house may be beautiful because of the way it combines the simple, ordinary natural materials of which it is built.

Notes from Walnut Tree Farm, page 5.

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If only all the new houses…

Category: Books September 24th, 2010 by mbc

This quotation from Roger Deakin’s last book (or rather the book assembled following his death from his unpublished writing) ‘Notes from Walnut Tree Farm’ raises a thought provoking point regarding the building materials we currently favour and the contrast between buildings ‘seeming’ to be vernacular and ‘truly’ being vernacular.

 

If only all the new houses in our villages were being built of timber and cob, locally grown in working woods, and the cob dug to form new ponds, which would soon fill with water and life. Think of the dragonflies and newts, the frogs and toads. And think of the beauty of the houses, and how naturally they would fit into the village landscape. The materials are the important thing. There is no reason at all why the designs of these houses should not be far more modern and innovative and original. The problem is that the planners have focused their attention on design, instead of on materials, and have missed the point about the truly vernacular.

The happy loop between buildings leading to life filled ponds and locally managed woodland also paints an attractive picture of a simple, happy, sustainable life now mostly lost.

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Bowsaw

Category: Books August 26th, 2010 by mbc

I get laughed at when I insist on using a bowsaw from time-to-time instead of a chainsaw. I’m glad to read that I’m not the only one who appreciates the rhythm and relative silence of this method of cutting wood.

From Woodland

I worked with a small triangular bowsaw. It is surprising how much you can do with one in a day. Bowsaws have the supreme advantage of being quiet and allowing you to work at your own human pace. The manic dictatorship of the chainsaw seems to deafen you to all reason or judgement. A chainsaw is ideal for mechanical jobs like cutting up logs, but deprives you of the greatest pleasure of working in the woods: the opportunity to listen to the natural sounds around you.

From Waterlog: A Swimmer’s Journey Through Britain~ Roger Deakin

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Progress

Autumn 2013

Right that’s the summer over with, now I can get on with some real work without the distractions of other things (like holidays and playing with children, all that enjoyable stuff that gets in the way of progress)… With few major jobs (painting, boxing in – nasty stuff!) left inside, mainly fiddly things that need […]

I’m having a moan on twitter… https://twitter.com/barnconversion/status/368427314868396032

A lovely Flemish barn conversion

I love the interior of this conversion and the great use of horizontal slats on this conversion. I retains the essential ‘barnyness’ of the building… flemish-barn-by-arend-groenewegen-architect

Coming soon, my barn conversion guide… Interesting earthship greenhouse project on Kickstarter

I really like this Kickstarter project >> The Farm of the Future: Earthship-Inspired Greenhouse This project is “Prototyping the First 100% Off-The-Grid, Affordable, Low-Maintenance Greenhouse using Earthship Principles and Aquaponics“. If any of those words meaning anything to you you’ll be interested in the project if not, pass it by… It’s already funded so I […]

Barns

Barns Gallery on Remodelista

There is a lovely gallery of barn related inspirational photographs available on Remodelista.

Barns – the Long House

Situated on the North Norfolk coast, this is a building to admire…

Barns – the Balancing Barn

A stunning piece of architecture, although not entirely to my taste…

New fast-track planning permission for the development of barns proposed

The Daily Mail reports on a new fast-track route through planning controls for the conversion of barns…

De-assembled, re-assembled, re-cycled barns

“A bit like a private sector, modernising, repurposing St Fagan’s…”

Design

What is a shadow gap?

A shadow gap – a mysterious dark place between two plains…

Your barn conversion – "what you really wanted for yourself"

Thoughts on making YOUR barn conversion – "what you really wanted for yourself"

Building Regulations, Approved Documents Part D – Toxic substances

An overview of Building Regulations, Approved Documents Part D – Toxic substances

Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part C Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture

An overview of Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part C Site preparation and resistance to contaminants and moisture

Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part B Fire safety

An overview of Building Regulations, Approved Documents – Part B Fire safety

Architecture

Your barn conversion – "what you really wanted for yourself"

Thoughts on making YOUR barn conversion – "what you really wanted for yourself"

The Stirling prize 2012 winner – the Sainsbury Laboratory

The 2012 Stirling prize was won by a outsider, the Sainsbury Laboratory…

The Stirling prize 2012

I think that this years Stirling prize has some exciting projects on the shortlist…

Our engineers … our architects – Le Corbusier

The efficient, shiny world of construction in 1923…

Design in Storage

When designing a layout it’s easy to forget to plan for storage…

News

Green Deal slow beginnings?

Oh dear! The green deal hasn’t got off to a very auspicious start… As reported in the Telegraph today since it was launched nearly a year ago just 12 homes have taken advantage of the Green Deal with a few hundred more in the pipeline. 71,210 households had been assessed for Green Deal measures such […]

The property roller coaster – planning reform to be rethought

Eric Pickles vague compromise on planning reform keeps the house happy (for now).

Energy policy, smoke screens, fracking, confusion and big bucks

There seems to be only one thing that is certain in the world of energy policy and that is that costs will rise annually above and beyond anything that inflation can currently throw at us. Beyond that, smoke screens & confusion seem to reign. Take the recent news for example… It’s reported today that the […]

Flanking manoeuvres and good design…

It seems that the government are undertaking flanking manoeuvres on the green belt…

Green Deal Launch

The Green deal launched in the UK on Monday of this week. Fanfares? fireworks? a deluge of marketing? … read more …

Plaid Cymru’s Green New Deal promise

The leader of Plaid Cymru has promised a “Green New Deal” to rejuvenate the Welsh economy and help maintain Wales’ position at the forefront of Green policies.

Permitted development extension limits to be doubled

The government is due to announce a temporary increase in the maximum depth of extensions that can be built under permitted development rules.

Lloyd Khan, making shelter simple.

I wanted to share an interview with Lloyd Khan that I recently found…

Just what is ‘sustainable development’?

Sustainable development – with the term now enshrined in planning law, what does it mean?

Sir Patrick Abercrombie – “It is a matter for serious thought…”

While reading up on the response of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) I came across this quote from Sir Patrick Abercrombie…