Wednesday, December 22

Panorama - supermarkets

I have made a number of posts about small shops and supermarkets. This evenings Panorama programme on BBC1 called 'Supermarkets: What Price Cheap Food' is an excellent critique of the supermarket business model.

Amazingly, the programme only covers standard economic and cultural impacts of supermarkets which is enough to put anyone off. If the environmental and health impacts were added to the long list Panorama made, one wonders how any council or government would approve.

Do we want a monstrous future dominated by milk and cow factories, with supermarkets destroying communities?

Panorama

Saturday, December 4

Mystery object

A little puzzle for anyone interested. I have uploaded a photo of an object that was produced in 1948, however similar objects have been used for centuries.

I know what it is, can you identify it?

Post your answers in the comments.

Clue: it has nautical connections, however it can be used in a non-nautical context.

Monday, November 29

Duvet and blanket combo

In these chilly times it can be difficult keeping warm in bed, especially if you don't have central heating. An efficient and cheap trick I discovered in the last few years is the discovery of the duvet/blanket combo.

What I do is spread an old blanket (probably circa 1950s/1960s) over the top of the duvet so that the blanket drapes over the sides of the bed and duvet. This creates an additional layer, but more importantly helps weigh down the duvet so it doesn't move around so much and helps to fill gaps between the duvet and mattress that may develop when you move around.
Because the blanket is a more flexible material, when the duvet shifts to one side, the blanket fills any gaps that might let cold air in. It is important that the blanket drapes over the sides of the bed.

The result is that I am usually cozy warm in the morning, instead of waking up with a cold back or bum because the duvet is half hanging off the bed!

A really cheap and efficient solution to a modern problem, assuming you can still get your hands on a blanket!

Wednesday, November 24

Search facility works again!

I had to remove the site Search facility a number of months ago because it suddenly stopped working and it stayed like that for weeks.

But now it seems to work again, possibly because the Blogspot staff have fixed a bug?
So I have put the search box back in the menu column. Should be easier now to find past posts and specific subjects.


Monday, November 22

Is Carbon Dioxide pollution?

There is an (unfounded) debate as to whether CO2 should be called pollution. The common mistake many people make is that pollution must be damaging to human health in order for it to be called pollution.

This of course is incorrect, although skeptics throw out knowledge and go with the common belief as outlined above when they say CO2 is not a pollutant. The meaning of the word pollutant changes as culture changes, so today we have light pollution and noise pollution. Three hundred years ago we didn't have these problems or didn't really bother to much about them.

Today light pollution stops us seeing all the stars and noise pollution interferes with birds living patterns. CO2 is a new pollution problem, its become a problem because it has an impact on our climate and oceans, that in turn has an impact on us and the planet.

So by definition CO2 is a pollutant. We shouldn't be afraid of calling it that, but we should be afraid of the consequences of not controlling how much we emit.

More Climate Science

Friday, November 19

Video time

We haven't had a video for some time, so here is a video/radio show from New Zealand and KiwiFM. It has a lot of interesting stuff, including Naomi Oreskes the author of 'Merchants of Doubt' and John Cook of Skeptical Science:



Tuesday, November 16

Waterlooville Library - meet your local tree wardens

Havant Borough Tree Wardens are holding a 'coffee morning' at Waterlooville library, where members of the public can talk to a local tree warden. Anyone interested in the voluntary work they do, would like to learn about local trees or are interested in becoming a tree warden, go along and check it out.

Date: 17 Dec
Time: 10:00 to 12:00
Location: Waterlooville library, ground floor

www.havantboroughtreewardens.org.uk


Thursday, November 11

Newlands designs look as bland as predicted

Artists impressions of the Newlands homes have appeared in todays 'The News', the local Portsmouth newspaper.

As feared the designs are bland and look like modified council houses that can be found over at Leigh Park, which ironically is what councillor Gwen Blackett didn't want. Having looked at the artists impression the homes look like they have small windows, which will mean a greater dependency on non passive heating systems. Plenty of sunlight coming into the home and substantially thick or insulated walls are what are required to reduce the need for heating using fuels, electricity etc.
This is achieved by appropriate orientation of every home and abandoning traditional street layouts.

At a time when we need a real commitment to cutting carbon emissions and should be building homes that will be around for over hundred years and have a minimum carbon impact, the old school are dominating locally with ridiculously dated and inappropriate designs.

Some basic information about passive design:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Passive_solar_building_design

An example:
http://www.lowenergyhouse.com/low-energy-architecture-sw.html

I did post something about this a few months ago, however the post was hijacked by 'interested' parties making comments, a lot of the visits to this blog at the time were from outside Waterlooville, many from the London area and from locations that had not previously visited the blog. Once the interest died down, the traffic from those locations trailed off. I let readers draw their own conclusions from that information.

Sunday, November 7

The Wonders of the Modern Economy - lesson 1

Today we learnt about the crazy world that we live in. Many people do jobs where they sit in front of computers dealing in goods that don't exist and people sale us products that aren't needed, often getting paid 10s or 100s of thousands of pounds for doing those pointless and needless jobs.

In the mean time the people that don't fit in with this worthless culture and are long term unemployed, will be forced to work on essential projects that do have some worth for less than the minimum wage. All because the greater society created a system that does not provide a place for them.

I remember in the 80s, companies employed people that clearly weren't needed, some old bloke would sit in the corner with a broom in a big factory, pretending he was needed. That's the problem, someone has to either employ useless people and suffer the consequences or the state has to keep them going, or is the ultimate government policy euthanasia for the misfits that are unemployable?

I think the proposal announced today for the long term unemployed would be fine if they were paid the national minimum wage for the work they were forced to do.
There is of course the idea that these jobs need doing and if that is the case, then they should be advertised as genuine jobs on minimum wages. Otherwise the Coalition may be accused of using cheap labour, but also having strict rules about the low cost labour black market, where kids from Romania work in our fields.

Society in general has to get to the grips with the fact that the land we live in needs to be maintained, that costs money, which means less money for the pleasurable things in life.

We will have to see how this one pans out.

Monday, October 25

Revamped Waterlooville library

I visited the refurbished Waterlooville library when it opened. At first glance it looks impressive, but on closer inspection and an appraisal of what I had seen, it was obvious the changes were largely on the surface and it appears to have lost some important features whilst gaining a few trivial ones.

Gone are the useful display, local information and exhibition spaces. These spaces with their leaflets about museums, events and education were what made the library work. But now the designers have gone berserk and created more space, but for what?

It seems like design has over stepped the mark and the important functionality has been lost. Book shelves have been moved around, but the books are the same. The computers are in the same place on the reference floor and can be used for internet access.

It all looks nice, but it seems less useful. They are running more courses for adults at the library, or in other words, the courses that were once run by the FE colleges are now being run at local libraries. Change for changes sake. There is one difference and that the top floor of the library has been opened up for rent. There are a set of public meeting rooms on the top floor that can be rented per hour for a smallish fee.

Still, don't be put off by the changes, books often offer more detail on subjects than most resources on the internet can, and you can use the Hampshire Libraries site to see what is available across the county and order books located in other libraries.

http://www3.hants.gov.uk/library.htm

Friday, October 15

Coalition government starts going a dirty brown colour

The Conservative dominated coalition government is starting to gradually turn from 'green' to a brown colour (does mixing blue and orange make a brown colour??).
What was purported to be the greenest government 'ever' by the Conservatives, has shown something else recently, with Eric Pickles this week looking like a Dickensian character axing the 198 National Indicators.

The indicators are used to assess what each local authority is doing to cut emissions in their area and other important things. Unless they are replaced by some other information system that reveals what local authorities are doing, the fear now is that there will be no incentive to do anything.

If it is replaced by something simpler, then so be it, but such data should be available nationally so progress can be checked.

Other legislation under scrutiny includes a simplification of tree protection, again the concern is that the information being collected maybe reduced, giving cowboy tree surgeons, property owners and developers, opportunities to damage or remove trees.

The demise of some of the Quangos (announced yesterday) is probably less of a problem however some are of concern. The Carbon Trust and The Energy Saving Trust were not mentioned.

The latest news is that low carbon public transport is to see some cuts, with old rail stock not replaced and cuts to bus services. The controversial Seven barrage has been cancelled. RenewableUK put some light on the costs of the Seven Barrage, pointing out that the barrage would last 120 years whilst the proposed nuclear power stations would last 40 years.

All in all, it is seems the Conservatives and now the Liberal Democrats have been lying about their green credentials.

Added: Although there are some green shoots... New Energy Focus article about green energy investment.

Thursday, October 7

Sainsburys says I'll be back!

Yes Sainsburys is back with a new planning application for the Caetano site. It was predicted of course and the new plan has taken into account most of the issues raised by local residents, especially the location of the petrol station.
Councillors and residents had suggested moving the petrol station from the Sprint Print site to the current recycling centre site, Sainsburys have now done this.

It should be pointed out that the recycling centre must be moved to the new location by Taylor Wimpey by a certain date (can't remember the actual date) or on completion of something like 200 homes. So Sainsburys are constrained by these time scales and the progress Taylor Wimpey make at Dukes Meadow.

It should be noted that Sainsburys have ignored the environmental concerns raised. Cyclists and pedestrians trying to get into Waterlooville will have to deal with more traffic, whilst the store will obviously encourage car use and increase carbon footprints of shoppers attracted to the store. Small shops in Waterlooville will be under pressure, the green grocer and butchers will have to compete with a new business.

Also, although nothing to do with Sainsburys, the small Shoe Zone shop in Waterlooville has closed, presumably as a result of competition from Brantano.

Friday, October 1

Southseasaurus burnt to the ground

Sadly the steel and fibre glass sculpture that I decided to name Southseasaurus was burnt to the ground last night. It isn't known whether arsonists or an electrical fault was responsible.

I went down to Southsea to have a look in August and took some photos, creating a special image using Hugin. See my August post: http://lovelywaterlooville.blogspot.com/2010/08/southseasaurus.html.

Saturday, September 18

Park(ing) Day

It was international Park(ing) Day on Friday, something I haven't heard of before, where by people around the world take over metered parking spaces and make them into green parks, complete with turf and plants.

Here is a video:




I'm wondering if they put money in the meter?
I assume they do.

Visit the parking day web site.

Friday, September 10

Highest Tide 2010

December last year I posted a photo article about sea levels and high tide down at Southsea. It wasn't the highest tide, but this year I managed to catch the highest tide.

I took this video near Southsea Castle and the aquarium:

video

You can see in the last clip of the video I had to stand on the wall to avoid getting wet. Later on whilst taking some photos at Old Portsmouth, I did get soaked by spray from a wave.
This is a nice photo showing just how high and rough it was on the day, I couldn't get to close to the fence because of the waves:


Two of the waves can be seen just reaching the top of the sea wall.
And here it is at low tide in the summer:



Why take these photos?
Well imagine adding 1 to 2 metres to that high tide, the path would have to be blocked from public use many times a year and the waves would be slopping over the higher sea walls.
1 to 2 metres is the sea level rise expected by the end of the century and into the first part of the next century.

Now instead add 6 metres - the amount sea levels would rise if the equivalent volume of ice as on  Greenland melted - then Portsmouth would be flooded in many areas.


Tuesday, September 7

Retro Computing

Some 22 years ago I bought a brand new cutting edge computer called an Amiga. I still have it and for years it has been stuck in a drawer, with all the software discs and joystick. Unfortunately when I recently took it out of the drawer and tried it for the first time for 2 or 3 years, it's floppy disc drive finally gave up the ghost. But thanks to the English Amiga Board I discovered that some PC floppy disc drives can be modified to work with an Amiga.

Not only that, I discovered that my PC had an unused floppy disc drive which was one of the models that could be modified. Here it is, opened up with the mods done (the wires):


After some measuring, sawing and filing, I got it fitted into the case. Unfortunately the drive fascia is black:


But the proof of the pudding is in the eating, just stick a disk in:


Classic workbench screen with clock. Even today, you can have widgets on a modern computer, such as clocks and calculators. This one is circa 1988. Notice the 'windows', at the the end of the '80s' this was way ahead of Microsoft Windows. Most people were still using MSDOS:


Amoeba Invaders, a free game from a magazine cover disc, circa 1991:


Cyber Punks game:


Screen shot of Deluxe Paint. This was top notch graphics editing software for home computers. But by today's standards, it is incredibly limited. It's amazing what many people produced with it:




Sunday, September 5

Panorama of Waterlooville

My latest go at using Hugin. A 360 degree panorama of Waterlooville town centre. Click on the image to see a bigger version:



Thursday, September 2

Scottish Power under Ofgem investigation

This is an interesting turn of affairs. Today Ofgem stated it is investigating Scottish Power and 3 other energy companies for allegations of mis-selling their products at peoples door steps.

In March I posted a warning about this exact issue in the Waterlooville area regarding Scottish Power:

Warning about Scottish Power (March 16, 2010)


Wednesday, September 1

Climategate and the ghost train!

Wha??? You are thinking. I'll explain the train thing later.

I took the opportunity to go along to the public discussion at Highfield Campus, University of Southampton called 'The Climategate emails: controversy and consequences'. The event was part of the annual Tyndall Centre get together and most of the people attending were academics. I think there were probably just 4 members of the public in the audience, although there were quite a few academics in the audience that were not from a environmental/climate science background.

The panel was made up of Fred Pearce a popular science journalist, Professor Alan Thorpe Chief Executive of Natural Environment Research Council, Professor Mike Hulme from University of East Anglia and Nick Pigeon from University of Cardiff.

Fred Pearce writes for New Scientist, The Guardian and The Independent, he has also written a book about the Climategate issue. The discussion was chaired by Professor John Shepherd - National Oceanography Centre.

Alan Thorpe was the first to speak and generally felt that the outcomes of the climategate affair were positive with many professional bodies who advise big corporations (in the UK) wanting to be updated on the latest science. Quite the opposite reaction, I think, that some skeptics would hope for. He also raised the issue of intellectual property for code, data etc.

Next came Mike Hulme who has worked with Phil Jones, the professor whose emails were at the centre of the controversy. Mike suggested he was aware that something serious might happen before the emails were released on the internet, he had got an email from an American suggesting that CRU data might become publicly available if it didn't release the data the bloggers (McIntyre and others) wanted. Mike also pointed out that the CRU had now received a grant to handle data curation, something that was missing before the climategate issue.

Fred Pearce unfortunately didn't IMO add much to the discussion and advertised his book at the end!
To be honest, I have heard all the stuff Fred talked about before.

Nick Pigeon gave an interesting account of a survey that had been conducted, suggesting an increase in disbelief in anthropogenic climate change from 4% to 10%, but pointed out that the trend seemed to be reversing and looked like it would be going down again. One interesting thing he quoted (he quoted another academic whose name I don't remember) was the idea of limits to the number of things a person could worry about at the same time, termed 'A finite pool of worry'!

The best bit was when the audience asked questions. There was a lot of discussion about freedom of information and it's relation to the field of science. One person in the audience was from the medical/pharmaceutical area of academia and pointed out that climate science could learn a lot from their way of handling FOI requests. The medical science sector appears to have been dealing with FOI requests for a long time and have systems in place to deal with it.

One oceanographer in the audience pointed out that the vast majority of funding was for basic climate science intending to improve knowledge and wasn't directly related to climate change, this was confirmed by Alan Thorpe (I think) and Fred Pearce seemed to be surprised by this revelation, despite apparently being a journalist with expertise in the subject. The point made was that the research didn't have a goal to prove climate change was happening, the main goal was to improve the science and fill the gaps in our knowledge.

A retired statistician in the audience suggested climate scientists might gain from working with statisticians, this was generally accepted.


But what about the ghost train??


Well after the discussion I took the university bus back to Southampton Central station and while I was waiting for my train home, I heard a public announcement which sounded like "stim Dorset shttle passing thru... London , mind platform" or words to that effect. I thought, 'did she say steam'??

Nah, that would be ridiculous.

Then I looked along the rails and in the distance this steam passenger train was coming full pelt towards the station. It was a weekly steam engined passenger service running from Dorset to London called the Dorset Coast Express.
It shot through the station and I have to say I was gob smacked. Not sure what engine was at the front but it was streamlined, I think it was one of those that set a speed record in the 1930s or 1940s.
It was quite strange standing on a modern train station, then for a few seconds, momentarily transported back to the 1950s and the end of the steam era (in the UK). When it had passed, everyone on the station was returned to 2010.

Wednesday, August 18

What's the problem with Water?

Previously, I pointed out that Carbon Dioxide and water vapour are greenhouse gases. So lets look at water vapours roll in the climate equation.

First of all lets consider water in general. The Water molecule consists of two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen (H2O). It can change between solid, liquid and gas within a narrow range of temperatures, the sort of conditions found on Earth. So we find H2O exists in the form of gas (water vapour), liquid (water, clouds, mist) and solid (ice, snow). The state that H2O appears in our eco-system depends on the amount of thermal energy that is present in the system.

So if there isn't a lot of thermal energy, water will become a solid because the water molecules aren't excited (vibrating and moving around). If you add more thermal energy, then the water molecules in the solid (ice) get excited and turn to liquid. If you add even more thermal energy then the liquid water becomes a gas (water vapour) as the molecules fly about individually. Of course the opposite happens when you take the thermal energy away, which is why you get condensation on windows in the morning. The gas (water vapour) in the air condenses on the cold glass of the window, producing liquid (water droplets).

Simples.

Previously I showed that water vapour is the most abundant green house gas (GHG) in the Earths atmosphere with Carbon Dioxide coming second. So how do the two interact and create the problem of Climate Change?

Lets look at a few scenarios:

1. The amount of Carbon Dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere remains stable. 
In this scenario, unless some other input source of energy - such as the Suns output changes or there is an alteration to the tilt of the earths axis - changes the amount of thermal energy present in the Earths eco-system, then the proportion of water vapour in the atmosphere is unlikely to change much over periods of decades or centuries, because there isn't a suitable increase of thermal energy to generate more vapour/gas. The amount of water vapour will of course fluctuate regionally and on a daily basis as the Earths rotation and the Suns energy output cause the day/night cycle and weather patterns. Seasonal cycles will also occur as the Earth orbits the Sun and the Earths tilt induces the seasons (Summer, Winter etc.).
In this scenario the climate trajectory remains relatively flat.

2. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere reduces.
Under this condition, the amount of thermal energy retained by the earth would drop. Although water vapours roll as a green house gas would continue, as CO2 in the atmosphere depletes over decades or centuries, some water vapour would return to the liquid state and some liquid water would become solid (ice). This in turn would reduce energy levels, because there would be less water vapour in the atmosphere acting as a greenhouse gas and more ice would reflect sunlight back into space (the polar albedo's will increase). Since water vapour has an impact on thermal energy levels in the system and in this case would help to reduce the levels. It creates a feedback mechanism whereby the cooling reduces the amount of water vapour and produces more ice, which in turn causes more cooling etc. until a new cooler steady state is achieved on Earth.
With all this going on, there would also be weather, day/night cycles and seasonal cycles as in scenario. However the trajectory of the climate would be one of cooling.

3. The amount of CO2 in the atmosphere increases.
This is effectively the exact opposite of scenario 2. Under this condition CO2 causes some warming, which in turn causes more water vapour to be generated and the amount of ice cover is reduced, this in turn generates more heat in the system. Less ice means less sunlight is reflected back into space and instead sunlight warms the ground and oceans. So here we have a positive feedback mechanism, the opposite to scenario 2 where negative feedback was engaging in the system.
Again with this scenario there would also be changing weather, day/night cycles and seasonal cycles as in scenario. However in this case the trajectory of the climate would be a warming one.

So from this we have learnt that water is potentially a powerful feedback mechanism that enhances the impact of other green house gases that we generate, principally CO2, but also methane and other more complex gases used in industrial processes such as electronics.

But what about clouds?
Yes indeed, in the middle of this process are clouds, which aren't generally gas or solid yet can influence climate. Clouds are made of droplets of water, although obviously some contain ice as well.
Clouds have different influences depending on the height they are in the atmosphere, as well as shape or type. At some heights they reflect some light away from the earth, at other heights they help keep heat energy in (a cloudy evening is usually warmer than an evening with a clear sky).

Some useful links to info about clouds and climate:
http://www.giss.nasa.gov/research/briefs/delgenio_03/
http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climatechange/news/latest/clouds.html
http://www.ucar.edu/news/features/clouds/
http://public.web.cern.ch/public/en/research/CLOUD-en.html

More Climate Science





Thursday, August 12

Southseasaurus

Took a series of ten photos of the southseasaurus and then used Hugin to glue them together, Unfortunately I didn't get quite enough photos and I had to crop the resulting image that Hugin produced. However it is still impressive considering no special lens was used. The result was this:




I can't spell??


How embarrassing. After over 3 years of blogging, I have just realised that Waterlooville was spelt incorrectly in this blogs URL!

So I have decided to correct it, despite the implications for search engines and links to the blog. I am hoping that if you are a regular reader that you will wonder where the blog has gone and will find it again later.

The original URL was lovelywaterloovlille.blogspot.com, I assume that I missed the mistake because it was only a subtle difference in shape and form. Eventually the correction should filter through search engines and result in improved ratings. I think the spelling mistake was probably why the blog didn't get onto the first or second pages of Google search results.

Wednesday, August 11

Spam


The comments feature on this blog is being attacked by spammers trying to place dubious adverts on a number of posts, so I have had to disable anonymous commenting. This has been necessary because the Blogger word verification and the moderation features are not currently working on my blog. If I can get the word verification or moderation working I will re-enable anonymous commenting.

Update 12/08/10: word verification is now enabled and anonymous commenting re-established. However, it is possible that word verification may not work on some browsers, if this happens try an alternative to your favourite browser.

Monday, August 9

Cowplain WWII bombing


Had a look in the Ratepayer magazine this week, probably the first time I have done that for years. It usually goes straight into the recycling bin.

What attracted my attention was the picture of the Hawker Hurricane on the front page and inside the magazine is an article by Don Foyle about life in Cowplain during WWII. I thought it was an interesting accurate account until I got to the bit about a bomber dropping bombs on Park Lane in Cowplain. The account states that 'enemy agents' were using lights in the woods to guide a single bomber to bomb a torpedo depot located where Lidl is now situated today.

The bit about enemy agents sounds a bit unlikely to me. Far more rumour and speculation than reality. The article states that German bombers passed over Cowplain on the way to London. What is more likely is that a stray German bomber came back from London on the way back to France and seeing the Channel coming up, decided to drop its load on Cowplain before crossing the stretch of water.

I know that a German fighter took pot shots at houses along the Hambledon road in another separate incident. A lot of these types of attack were not planned, they were just opportunistic. Bomber crews would not want to carry bombs back to their bases.
The allies did the same thing towards the end of the war once they had air superiority over Europe. If after the main attack, they had ammunition left over, they would seek out secondary targets.

Saturday, August 7

David Mitchell and his soapbox...

Should have some more posts about local stuff later this month, in the meantime here's David Mitchell apparently now living on the Moon:



Friday, July 30

Cycling news

The London cycle hire scheme has started up and here is a video that explains how it works:
(The original video that I embedded has been removed by London Transport, this AlJazeera report is probably the best alternative):



I think it would be good to have a scheme like it in Portsmouth. I think a big issue might be vandalism we'll have to see how it goes. Watching the video suggests they have thought about everything and even the design of the bikes take into account the sort of use/abuse they might have.

Also this week, news that Velocity cycle shop in Portsmouth are moving to Cosham to bigger premises. That's good for Waterlooville folk since it is closer to home.
Also more cycle paths are cropping up around Waterlooville, I am losing track of them now!
Given the limited space, I guess the council are doing a good job, but it would be nice to see some real dedicated cycle paths in any new developments, with priority to cyclists.

Saturday, July 24

Havant Transition Network

Things are moving on in Havant Borough with a new environmental group. Havant Transition Network is based on the model of similar groups around the UK and started by Kinsale in Ireland.

The focus is on the transition from a dependency on oil and other fossil foils, localising food production, reduced energy consumption, local renewable energy and support for local business. Looks good to me.

They have organised a 'Trash Carnival' at Havant Park, Saturday, 14 August from 12 noon to 4pm.
The idea is to make sculptures from trash. But there will also be local producers, music, art workshops and other stuff.


Saturday, July 17

Steamboat Willy

Took the bus down to Pompey Green Fair today. There were some interesting stalls down there. But by far the most interesting thing was 'Steamboat Willy' a peddle powered hovercraft. Quite amazing to watch. Unfortunately I forgot to take my camera, which I regret having seen it in action.
The craft is made from very light weight materials and volunteers getting on it were given instructions on how to get on it! They had to tread carefully because it is so delicate.
I can confirm it has no power sources although it is hard to believe.

Here's a Youtube video (not at the fair):




Steamboat Willy web site

Thursday, July 15

Support John Abraham

A few weeks/months ago I posted on the subject of John Abraham and his presentation about Moncktons claims about climate science. Monckton has launched a campaign against John and threatened legal action. There is a web page set up in New Zealand to support John and the universities fight:

http://hot-topic.co.nz/support-john-abraham/

Stick your name on it and help to stop Monckton from doing more damage to science.
Quite a varied bunch of people from all over the planet have already put their comments on.


Saturday, July 10

Newlands redesign

The latest news about the Newlands development suggests that the homes will be designed to a pseudo neo-classic specification by an architect that has connections with the Prince of Wales. The Prince is famous for his Poundbury town. However it is extremely doubtful that the Newlands development will be anything like Poundbury. The Prince of Wales has done many good things and his views about agriculture are good, but he doesn't have a clue about architecture. Poundbury may have some context in Dorset, but it would be ridiculous to build anything like it next door to the existing buildings of Waterlooville.

One thing to consider is what will happen to the Georgian or Edwardian facade of the Newlands houses in the future, once they have exchanged hands a few times. These buildings will not be listed and will have the minimal protection from alterations like any other building in the borough. This basically means that the architects vision of nice neat homes will eventually be destroyed when people start building plastic porches at the front, stick a satellite dish on the roof and a plastic conservatory in the back garden.

Waterlooville is not an area that is now rich in Georgian, Victorian or Edwardian architecture. It was once, but that has all either been demolished or extensively re-adapted and extended for modern use.
Yes there are the remains of Victorian/Georgian homes and commercial buildings in Waterlooville town centre, but you have to look at the top floors of the shops to see the nature of the original buildings, at ground level they are modern shops.  The vast majority of homes were built between the 1930s and 1970s. That period is the 'traditional' architecture of the area.

So the real choices for architecture have to be of that period or something completely new, not some fantasy vision that dates back to the Napoleonic or Crimean wars.

There is of course an alternative, Newlands could become a theme park or a gated community like Celebration in the USA of which much amusement and many TV documentaries are made. Celebration has strict rules about what colours can be used on homes and the community has an unelected town manager. With such strict rules and corporate management, Newlands could be kept like the architect designed it to be.

What will Waterlooville get?

Most likely standard box houses with token features that suggest some historical context, the windows will probably be plastic framed and the sandstone cornices will probably be replaced with plastic or concrete equivalents.  Yes it will satisfy some today, but it will likely ruin Waterloovilles image for the next hundred years, just like Waterloovilles town centre was ruined in the 1950s and 1960s.
Maybe if the area hadn't been massively developed in 50s/60s into a suburbia and the old Victorian/Georgian village of Waterlooville still existed, then just maybe the Newlands redesign would work. The reality though is far from that ludicrous ideological vision.

What does Waterlooville need?

The area desperately needs property that is built for the context of climate change and environmental sustainability. To do this, modern understanding of low energy construction, natural convection and the use of natural solar heating/cooling have to be built into the design of a building, traditional design does not fulfil that criteria. Any environmentally sustainable property will probably look different to anything built in the past if this essential criteria is met.

In fact the Newlands properties may contribute to their own demise because current building standards are not stringent enough to sufficiently reduce carbon emissions.




Monday, July 5

Windmill Bread

Still using up the flour from the visit to Bursledon Windmill. This is the third go at making some bread.
First go used just wholemeal windmill flour, it was OK but didn't rise much. Second go used half strong white and half wholemeal windmill flour.




This one is the third go, cooked it in the bowl, instead of a tin!
Risen really well. Nice.

Note that no bread making machine was used. Just my gentle hands, nature and the oven.

Wednesday, June 30

Newlands Alert!


In July Grainger will be showing off their latest plans for the Newlands West of Waterlooville MDA housing development, they are asking for opinions from the public.

Times and Place:

Waterlooville Community Centre
Friday 9th July, 1.30pm - 7.30pm
Saturday 10th July, 10am - 3pm

The focus will be on Phase 1 and the details of the design of this phase.

Tuesday, June 22

A visit to Fort Nelson

Due to the excellent weather this month, I decided to cycle from Waterlooville to The Royal Armouries Museum on top of Portsdown Hill. The museum is in Fort Nelson one of a string of forts built in the 1860s to defend against a potential French invasion.

Interestingly the attack on Portsmouth was expected to come from inland so the main defences of all the forts was on the land side, in the case of Fort Nelson pointing towards the North. The weaker defences are on the South side of the forts and these are visible from Portsmouth.

The route I took wasn't exactly the most direct, but it was probably the easiest to do without much thinking. I simply took the London Road up to Widley then took the route along James Callaghan Drive and Portsdown Hill Road. Quite a lot of gentle uphill work there, but nearly all downhill back!
In fact on the way back from the Widley Junction to Purbrook you can pick up a lot of speed.

The cycle/bus lanes are great for cyclists, road traffic is kept well away from you. The round trip was about 12 miles.



Near the fort is the Nelson Monument. This was finished in 1808, three years after the battle of Trafalgar and the death of Nelson.

Of course the fort was named Fort Nelson because of proximity to the monument. Many people don't even know the monument exists and even if they had seen it, wouldn't know why it was there.









This is the view of the fort near the main entrance. Behind the redan wall would be the officers quarters. Note the lower floor has sash windows, whilst the upper floor has positions for guns.

Each gun would be flanked either side by riflemen who would fire at attackers whilst the main gun was being reloaded.

Also remember this is the weaker side of the defences and it wasn't expected that an attack would come from this direction.





This is one of the North facing defences, effectively the main defences. Attackers would have to come down the ramparts into the dry ditch and would be faced by a huge thick wall.

I took the photo standing on top of one of the caponiers, below would be gun positions ready to fire along the length of the wall. Every wall has similar guns trained along them so there would have been no where for an attacker to hide. Also the design was such that no defender could shoot their own men.









These are the defensive mortar positions They are well protected behind the walls under a lot of earthworks held up by the brickwork and arches seen here. The light in front of the mortars shows where the gap in the roof is and where they would fire out. Up on top brave officers would see where the enemy were and call out instructions to adjust the trajectories of the mortars.

The mortars would drop their balls or bombs onto the enemy in the fields beyond the fort ramparts.








This is above the mortars shown in the previous photo. The brick work in the grass is actually the gap out of which the mortars would fire out.

The position I took this photo is where officers would be monitoring the enemy positions and giving instructions to the mortar crews.








I like this photo because the mortar looks really tiny and the Nelson Monument can be seen in the distance. Because I took the photo near the ground and there are no people near by, the mortar looks quite close to the camera and about knee high.

The reality is the mortar is huge, each of the balls in that stack is waist high!  It's a bit like the Father Ted scene, 'These are very small, those are far away...'.

It is called Mallets Mortar and is located at the front of the museum.

There is a lot to see at the fort, if you are really interested in armaments then you'll need 3 to 5 hours to take it all in. I also recommend the guided tour, even if you do know your stuff.
I haven't shown here the galleries with every conceivable artillery piece you could imagine, I haven't shown the mock ups of the fort kitchen, and officers quarters, I haven't shown the tunnels and magazines and I haven't shown the 20th century weapons that are on display.

For more info visit the Museum site or the Palmerston Forts Society which also has a detailed photo tour of the fort.

Monday, June 21

Panorama of Portsmouth

I recently cycled to Fort Nelson on Portsdown Hill and will post about that later. Whilst on the hill I took a series of photos with my really cruddy digital camera with the idea of creating a panorama of Portsmouth. I came across some brilliant Open Source software called Hugin that managed to transform my cruddy photos into this amazing picture:


If you saw how bad the original series of photos were, you would realise how good Hugin is. I think I will be using it more in the future. It works on the basis of finding a number of control points in each picture, then manipulates the images to line up similar control points. It even compensates different exposures, colour etc.
There are also a lot of settings that can be changed to manipulate the type of view.
Click on the photo to see a bigger version.

Friday, June 18

Fishing tackle

For fans of fishing. Coopers Fishing Tackle shop has opened up in Mill Road, Waterlooville.

Wednesday, June 16

Waterlooville Poundland

I think it is obvious to everyone now that the old Woolworths premises will be used by Poundland.
The comments at The News sums up many peoples thoughts... 'Oh no, not another shop full of...'

But it made me think. How do they maintain prices at or below £1?

Here's my thoughts about how a 'pound' shop might keep £1 prices in 50 to 100 years from now:

1. Inflation goes up, prices go up, they sell progressively different products, always keeping them within £1. Eventually in 50 years or so, the only thing they can sell is single rubber bands, a single chewy sweet, a thimble full of shampoo etc for a £1 each.

2. They sell the same or similar products as today over the same timescale as scenario 1 and inflation in the UK goes up. They need to find progressively cheaper labour in foreign countries, exploit the cheapest resources etc. so eventually their suppliers set up factories in the middle of the Amazon Rain forest and employ the children from local tribes.

3. They manage to turn the UK into a communist dictatorship which sets £1 prices on all the products forever.

4. They manipulate the markets so that inflation remains stationary or we have deflation. Not much different to 3 really, since they would need enormous influence.

New Blogger features

Those of you that are blogger users may have noticed some new features (long over due).

There is a new flexible template feature, which includes more control over how a template works. I'm un-decided yet whether to use this. I think if I had known a few weeks ago, I would have used it, but now I have changed the template, I'll probably keep the current one, at least for a while.

A more interesting feature is the addition of stand alone pages. This has been available in Wordpress for a long time and Blogger have been slow to do the same. This is something I will be using, so the blog will change in the coming months. One obvious use will be to put the walk to Waterlooville map on its own page.


Tuesday, June 15

Windmill Biscwits

Having bought some flour at Bursledon windmill I decided to have a go at making some biscuits. I found a recipe for digestive biscuits and got the ingredients together:

Wholemeal flour
Porridge oats
Baking powder
Butter
Sugar
Salt
Milk

See recipe link for amounts and directions.
I used organic milk, butter, porridge oats and sugar.

Here are all the ingredients mixed up, excluding the milk. I just used my hands, that was fun. Haven't done that since helping my mother or grandmother in the kitchen.







This is where it went a bit pear shaped.
I added far to much milk, at first it looked OK but then puddles of milk appeared. Anyway it was all or nothing now, so no turning back.







When cutting out the shapes, the mixture was far to soggy. When I did the second batch I abandoned rolling/cutting and just grabbed some mixture, made it into a ball then flattened it.









First batch finished, turned out quite well.












Tea and biscuits. Actually they are more like wholemeal soft cookies. But very tasty, the amount of sugar was just right.

I think less milk and a thinner/flatter amount of mixture per biscuit would give a thinner crisp biscuit.
Or maybe a different recipe?

Monday, June 14

Wind Week...

It is totally coincidental that the week I publish a story about a windmill, it happens to be Wind Week!

The nearest wind turbine to Waterlooville and opening for public viewing this week is at Greenpark nr Reading and is owned by Ecotricity. Open this Sunday at 11.00 am.

Wind Week 2010

Sunday, June 13

A Sunday trip to Bursledon Windmill


Introduction

I recently discovered that we actually have a working windmill in Hampshire. Located at Bursledon, between Eastleigh and Southampton. It was originally built between 1813 and 1814, coincidently finished 1 year before the battle of Waterloo!

On Sundays the museum is open and the windmill is 'fired up' so the sails are made to turn the workings. During the week staff actually grind flour using the windmill and pack it up into bags for sale to visitors. So in this respect it is a real working windmill and museum.

The journey there

I used public transport to get to the museum, not always the best option on a Sunday! This actually turned into an unintentional adventure in its own right, since there were rail works between Fareham and Southampton.

Anyway, I first walked to Waterlooville town centre and took a bus to Cosham. Didn't plan that to well because I missed the train at Cosham by seconds and had to wait an hour for the next train. So at Cosham I went to a cafe, had a cup of tea and then watched some pensioners playing bowls at the local green.

It gets worse though. Once on the train at Cosham, I didn't know about the rail works and instead of getting off at Fareham to transfer to a replacement bus service, I ended up in Southampton. By now I was getting used to the idea of an adventure!

So I got the replacement bus service at Southampton back to Bursledon, this wasn't all bad because the bus passed through some interesting areas of Southampton which brought back some family memories.

Phew. All this just to go and see a windmill. At Bursledon it's about a 1 mile walk from Bursledon station to the windmill, on the way there, I noticed a pub, The Crows Nest (more about that later). In my opinion, the travel issues were not a problem, if you set out with the idea of an adventure, then you start working out ways to fill in the delays with other activities.

Bursledon Windmill

Having got to the windmill, seeing the sails turn in the wind made the journey worthwhile. I have seen windmills and watermills before, but I have never seen a working windmill before. I managed to take some video on a small camera whilst there, which I put together into a compilation (this is the first time I have uploaded a video to Blogger, I hope it is OK):

video

BTW, some of the noise in the outside shots of the video are actually the camera. Despite being solid state electronics (no tapes), it still managed to make an electronic whirring noise.

The staff at the windmill were very informative and I really enjoyed chatting to them. Apparently since the windmill was built, woods and buildings now surround the windmill, however they still can catch Southerly and Northerly winds, which luckily are the main winds in the area.

The sails are pointed in the correct direction by hand, using a chain that turns some gears at the top of the windmill. The sails are fixed pitch, unlike modern wind turbines that have variable pitch blades. This means the amount of sail has to be adjusted depending on the strength of the wind.

Also the windmill could drive up to 3 stones at once, so I guess originally the number of stones could be changed depending on the strength of wind. As well as the windmill, there is an old barn building which houses a small shop, and other facilities. You can watch a video that explains how the mill works and even mill some samples of flour using small stones of different historical periods.

Outside there is a small pond (with Dragonflies) and a granary stood up on some staddle stones. Staddle stones are an old method of keeping rats and mice out of the granary.

Flour

Personally I think the windmill is a great place to visit. At the museum shop you can buy three grades of strong wholemeal stoneground flour produced at the mill. I bought a 1.5 kg bag of medium flour (the others were fine and coarse) for £1.50, which I thought was a good price considering it was made by a windmill.

I hope to make some biscuits or bread with it. Never done either before, so that should be fun. What must be remembered is that when the windmill was built it was an industrial building, and was a place of work. We think of windmills as being quaint today but that was not the case when there were thousands of windmills and watermills dotted around the country in the 1700s and 1800s.

On the way back, I realised I had another hour wait for the replacement bus service back to Fareham rail station. So decided to have a beer and meal in The Crows Nest!

Link to Bursledon Windmill web pages

Monday, June 7

Summer of Cycling 2010

There are a lot of cycling events across Hampshire this summer.

Some events include:

Big Bike Celebration - June, Eastleigh
Cycle Cavalcade - June, Southampton and Winchester
Introductory off road cycle - June, Winchester
Urban Rides Southampton - June, Southampton
Portsmouth Bike2Work day - June, Portsmouth
Back to Biking for Adults - June, Winchester
Cut Throats and Cut Thru's - June, Portsmouth
New Forest On and Off Shore - August, Lymington

For details of these events and rides and many others, go to the Summer Cycling 2010 web site.

Water and Music Festivals in 2010

I think anyone living near Waterlooville knows about the 2010 Waterlooville Music Festival, because of all the banners around town, so won't need reminding. However those that live some distance away might not know, so if you don't know, you will once you have read this.

The festival is from 12th June to 20th June.
More details on the Music Festival web site.

Also next month there is the Hampshire Water Festival over at Staunton Park. It's a 'green fair' that is very light green and the councillors don't like calling it 'environmental' because apparently it will frighten Mr and Mrs Carbon away!

But anyway Friends of the Earth will be there, as will other less 'active' organisations, such as Portsmouth Water, who will be flooding the area soon to make a reservoir.

The Water Festival is on 24th and 25th July.
More info at the Water Festival web site.

Saturday, June 5

Quantum Physics, electron clouds etc.

This week I finally got my head around waves and particles, mainly the visualisation of electrons and atoms. Over the last 20 or so years, I have read a number of popular books about quantum physics and particles and vaguely understood the concept of the wave being a graphical representation of the probability of finding a particle in a location. But I could never really visualise this in 3 dimensions or how a wave could be constricted in a three dimensional space.

When I was a teenager we were taught the old school orbiting electrons idea of an atom, which frankly was never really satisfactory and was purely an attempt at visualising something scientists didn't really fully understand. At the time I don't think I was really interested in abstract concepts of atoms etc. Higher level implementations of physics were of more interest, eg. digital electronics.

I think the modern models of electron clouds based on wave functions (spherical harmonics) around an atom are far more beautiful, even if they are extremely complex once you go beyond the hydrogen atom.
Harmonics are interesting things and adding two dimensional wave forms together can give some interesting shapes, so it should be of no surprise that electrons of an atom would create some interesting three dimensional shapes, depending on energy levels/frequency and the number of electrons involved.

One has to always remember though that the shapes are just zones in which an electron is likely to be found, at any point in time it would be detected at a single point in one of the lobes/nodes created by the wave functions.

The maths are beyond me, although it does look familiar. I think that is enough for one week on that subject! I'm just glad that it makes sense to me now. Or does it...

If you want to play around with spherical harmonics, Wolfram Mathematica have a player that can be downloaded, plus if you also download one of the spherical harmonics demonstrations on the site, you can play around with electrons and see what shapes it creates.

Thursday, June 3

Coastliner700


Looks like the Coastliner700 bus service is being improved. This is the service that runs from Portsmouth to Brighton and is very popular. Apparently the number of passengers has doubled in the last 5 years, as a result,  from the 6th June the frequency of the service is changing from a bus every 30 minutes to a bus every 15 minutes.
That is quite impressive! The last time I remember such an upgrade in services must have been in the days of nationalised buses. The bus service has its own web site and 21 new low emission doubledecker buses are now being used along the route.

There is also a Coastliner700 booklet that can be picked up from bus stations and other places which include discounts to various attractions if you have a Stagecoach bus ticket that takes you to the attraction. The discounted attractions include Fishbourne Roman Palace, Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and Weald & Downland Museum. The discounts are also available by downloading vouchers from the bus service web site.

Coastliner700.co.uk

Tuesday, June 1

Blog Housekeeping


I got a bit fed up with the old blog template, mainly because of it's restricted width. So decided to change to a wider template and make a few adjustments. Over the coming weeks i'll modify the CSS and adjust a few things so it looks a bit better.

With the new template I should be able to post some larger photos and videos.

Added: grrrrr, just noticed the new template has stopped my 'walk to waterlooville' map API from working!  Another thing to fix. Ahh, of course all the bits of javascript I had, need replacing in the new template!


Love Your Bike video


Video of the Love Your Bike event last Sunday. I think it was filmed after I had left, it's a lot busier in the video than when I was there. At the beginning the bike harp is being played. I missed the bike hockey!


Monday, May 31

The Clocks of Waterlooville


This post has been inspired by a comment left by Steve in an earlier post. Here I have taken a series of photos of Waterlooville town centre from a location just outside Lloyds TSB bank. I have added arrows to indicate where a total of 3 clocks can be seen. Waterlooville now has 3 fully function clocks all of which have 4 clock faces. Click on the image if you want to view a bigger version of the mash up:


So why the fuss?
Well lets have a look at the clocks. On the left we have the Clock House Building with a working clock visible from quite a distance up and down the streets. It dates back to at least the 1970s, probably earlier (50s or 60s?).

Then in the centre of the image we have St Georges church tower with a clock at the top. This is viewable from the centre and down in the direction of Denmead and Hambledon Road. The current St Georges church was rebuilt in 1970.

So that leaves the clock on the right of the image. We have established that we already had two clocks that have been available for decades, so what about the little tower on the right?
Well in the noughties (about 2005) Havant Borough Council decided we needed another clock in close proximity of two existing clocks (all are within 50 to 200 yards of each other) and as you can see, from Lloyds TSB they can all be seen at the same time.

Yes, in this day and age when political parties encourage us to be independent and fuel consumerism to create economic growth, the days when everyone on the street has a watch, mobile phone or can even ask someone for the time. Yes in these days, our local government approved a new public clock, with all the accompanying expenses.

BTW spot the man with the shopping trolley who appears 3 times in the image. I think he is capable of doing quantum jumps and can appear in many places at the same time!

Sunday, May 30

Work on St Judes Southsea


I think I have broken my record for the number of posts in one month.
Some interesting changes are being made to St Judes in Southsea, A mixture of old and New...


I like this feature. In the new wall just outside the new entrance is a stone seat, for weary worshippers or shoppers to rest their feet:


A modern buttress, that merges the new on the right, with the old on the left:


One of the old buttresses:




I don't think this is actually a new feature, modern yes, but not a part of the new build. Here we have an original gargoyle from the old drainage system replaced with modern guttering. It looks like some water is still getting to the gargoyle, I think it is supposed to be blocked off.



Southsea then and now


Whilst visiting Southsea, I realised I had a photo of the sea wall near the war memorial and aquarium in my collection, so decided to take a similar photo today. This one was taken in the early 1980s or maybe the 1970s, the tide was out and there is no sign of the Spinnaker tower:


Today the tide was high at Noon. The Spinnaker tower is hiding behind the war memorial:


I'll try and get a better photo in future, try and match the exact spot I was standing in the 80s/70s.
The focal length probably also needs to be different.

Love Your Bike Day, Portsmouth 2010


Just got back from the Love Your Bike Day at the Southsea skate park. Here are a lot of photos of the event.

Someone relaxing on their recliner:


The Gocycle electric bike, but unfortunately the company didn't show up with some batteries and other units, I would have liked to have a go:


A custom chopper:



A customised paint job on this childs wooden bike, I think local schools had a go at painting these:

A bamboo bike. This is imported, the frame is made out of bamboo:


Close ups of the bamboo frame:



Actually this trike wasn't being exhibited, it was someone's everyday bike, I liked it because of the child's seat facing backwards at the rear:



Some action shots in the park:

And finally a bike harp. Yep it has strings on the frame with pick-ups that feed into an amp: