Christmas (turkey) Delights

turkeyAfter two exciting and exhausting months we are starting to feel settled and finding time to explore our new surroundings. We are blessed to have moved to an area that is crisscrossed by footpaths across some spectacular countryside, and although still feeling a pang for the city, we are certainly enjoying the great walks from our doorstep, especially the dog.

Embracing local life we battled our way through winds and rain to enjoy a Christmas cream tea at a nearby village, experienced the town’s Christmas Fair in the rain, and walked down in howling wind and torrential rain to the Cam Christmas lights switch on. Continue reading

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Show me the (renewable heat) money!

MCS CertIt seemed wrong, in the season of goodwill, to title this post ‘Fuck Off George Osbourne’. Although perhaps it would have been understandable given you can argue this is currently the worst period for UK environmental policy in 30 years. Certainly the Tories, unshackled from partnership coalition and driven by the Treasury, are not a pretty sight.

Their well documented proposal for an 89% reduction in the Solar PV ‘Feed In Tariff’ may well effect our own plans for a PV array next year. And today’s ‘climbdown’ in the face of a storm of criticism, to just a 64% cut, will do little to reduce the damage. Boris Johnson is right to be “very concerned” that up to 20,000 jobs could go in the next few months. But ultimately the economics of solar will defeat oil whatever the Tories do now. Just a shame those jobs will have gone to other countries by then, sacrificed on the alter of political ideology. Continue reading

Turning Apples into Food

311020154813It might not sound as impressive as turning water into wine, apples are basically already food after all, but tuck into the delicious apple cake at The Canteen in Nailsworth, or enjoy the apple sauce with your pork at The Hog in Horsley, and you may have eaten apples from The Secret Acre.

Last year we turned our apples into test batches of juice and cider, with a view to scaling up production this year. But despite getting an industrial size press, the timing of our moving into The Secret Acre meant that our cider empire had to be largely put on hold for 12 months. Continue reading

Our new Energy Performance Certificate

EPCsIt was with some trepidation recently when Neil from the Severn Wye Energy Agency came round to assess The Secret Acre’s new Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This was after all the independent validation of our smallholding’s whole eco-makeover!

When we found The Secret Acre in 2013 its EPC stood at a lowly score of 44 (in band E). Continue reading

Rural reality… transport

magoo1Moving to The Secret Acre has meant reluctantly taking up driving again. Like painfully slow Broadband, having a car is just part of rural reality.

Having driven all my life, I eventually gave up the car after moving to London, but only after paying out shed loads of cash to keep it in a garage for a year first, just to have used it three times in 12 months, before the penny finally dropped that I really could get by without it and be much better off financially. But it still felt like losing a limb at first. Continue reading