Rebuilding the Pig Sties, Part 1: We’re on the Eve of Destruction

It’s been a while since we undertook any major building work at the Secret Acre. Choosing instead to just enjoy living in the house for a while after its extensive eco-makeover.

However, the need to eventually also replace the yard’s pig sties, barn and shed complex was always being planned in the back of our minds. And with it, a much needed sorting out of the various materials that ‘might one day come in useful’ which had been stored there after the house renovation, along with our growing collection of gardening equipment as we reinstated the vegetable garden.

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Goodbye Fossil Fuels

Well mostly at least. Yes, we have gone fully electric on the car front, even if the garden tractor and tools still need the occasional can of unleaded. Our own personal divestment at The Secret Acre.

With the old car in urgent need of replacement this winter, it simply felt wrong in 2020 to still be buying an old fashioned, polluting petrol engine (politicians take note).

Which is not to say we still didn’t um and ah for a long time. Not getting another petrol car was the easy decision, but whether to go hybrid or fully electric much harder. Here’s what we learned. Continue reading

Racking up the Wins

It wasn’t just the greenhouse that was running three years late at The Secret Acre.

I had also promised Emma a boot rack for our, well boot room, which like a torture chamber without an iron maiden, has remained rack-less for the last few years in anticipation. Continue reading

A Year on the Green Roof

We love our green roof here at The Secret Acre. Everyone should have one.

July is one of the best months with an outbreak of small white and yellow flowers, although this year’s display is less pronounced than last year, possibly due to the very dry spring compared with 2016’s deluge. Continue reading

Pole Dancing – Part 2: Laid to Rest

It’s not just tyres we’ve been recycling recently to create new garden borders at The Secret Acre.

For two years the old electricity pole has been languishing under the woodpile.

In April we finally laid it to rest, fittingly close to where it used to stand, as a new garden border along the edge of the patio. Continue reading

Green Roof, Yellow Roof

Green Roof - 3 July 2016The green sedum roof remains one of the highlights of our eco-makeover at The Secret Acre.

Visually striking, it is a daily joy to behold as it changes and evolves across the seasons.

In June and July a profusion of small white and yellow flowers have blossomed in the green, attracting a mass of bees and insects.

Finishing the Landscaping

Landscaping 1 - Dec15Apart from the snagging, The Secret Acre’s eco-makeover feels pretty much truly complete now the external landscaping around the house has been done too.

First up (below) was removing the old tarmac front drive and replacing with a permeable pebble surface, to provide sustainable drainage, and extending it down the sides of the house. Continue reading

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