Roses tin Rocket Stove No.1

And so it came to pass that I got the notion of making a rocket stove into my head. I thought it would be nice to have the ability to have a cup of tea if the electricity goes out and to make soup and stuff like that.

The rocket stove is said to be easily constructed, hyper efficient and simple.
Needless to say I found it to anything but easily constructed especially when you can’t find one of those big catering cans and have to try and be creative with  left over sweet tins (don’t tell the church catering ladies what has happened their traybake tins)

Then there is the trying to cut holes accurately so that the tins fit together tightly(while not lacerating you hands on the jagged edges and not skewing the tins out of shape) and finding cat litter or the like to insulate the stove.

Stories about how 8yr old Boy Scouts once made 4 in an hour made me feel ashamed at my lack of rocket stove skill and so I persevered until something very roughly approxiamating to a rocket stove took shape

I fired the kettle on and it took 20mins to boil 800ml of water using a bit of wood about 1.5in x 0.5in x 12in.
It was obviously very inefficient due to the amount of smoke coming out the chimney (that was the plume of smoke over Lisburn at noon today) but I’m going to see how quickly I can boil 800ml of water on an improved one using less wood and with hopelly less smoke.


opening a can of worms (literally)…

I’ve been thinking about worm composting for a while now and today decided to launch my first experimental worm bin. As always there are different schools of thoughts of what and what not to do but at the end you have to just take the plunge.

There are a number of reasons why worms are attractive. They compost quickly (apparently!)and it seems like a cleaner option for our particular house. If it was ours I’d happily put a compost bin or two out the back but with renting you’re not quite sure.

After purchasing the (expensive) worms in Dunmurry I carried them home in a little polystyrene coffee cup, shredded my paper and added some compost to the bin. I couldn’t find the lid of the Poundland boxes so placed an old back door mat over the plastic boxes and let the paper soak.

At 11pm I became concerned that the worms would run out of food or air overnight in their little plastic coffee cup so went out to check. Bending down to check something worm shaped made a move at the side of my head and checking by lamp light I saw my first ever climbing worm. The feisty expensive coffee cup worms had launched a worm bin prison break of sorts. There was one up the wall, another running towards the door, I found several hiding under pots and a few on the ground.

This made me realise that I had started a worm composter, I had brought my first ever pets – I’m not sure how we’re going to get on with this. Will my independent nature and desire to be free from shackles survive a demanding worm colony?

Checking with H_____, purchaser of the Poundland plastic box I located the lids, bulked up the compost levels and threw in a token banana skin and lettuce leaf. I reckon that if you’re capable of climbing up the pebble dash wall you don’t need to be mollycoddled.
Tough love worms, tough love.


Everytime I take stuff out to the bins I am horrified by the amount of waste we go through, even as a couple who are trying to live a more sustainable lifestyle.
There is so much waste in our lives from packaging, so much that seems beyond our control. We need to eat and with lack of quality and variety in our local foods we need to buy whatever the shops supply, in whatever way the shops and suppliers package it.

There is another thing that worries me. What are we going to do when we’ve exhausted all our oil, or whenever oil becomes much scarcer especially when our homes are mostly heated by oil? We could us wood burning stoves except we live on island with no trees. Does nobody else worry about our lack of trees here in Ireland?

What are we going to use to keep old people warm when the oil is all gone?

At this time of the year charities who are doing good work to make the world a better place send out letters asking for money, with the paper piling up on the hall floor.

This morning we had a church breakfast this morning and our cereal was all packed in individual little cereal boxes and wrapped in individual plastic wrapping with the minimum amount of highly processed cereal possible inside each of those cardboard boxes and plastic bags
It’s a sin. But who do we blame for life getting this way?

Or is it OK?

Maybe even good?

There was an interesting and disturbing programme on BBC2 a week or so ago about the bottled water industry,an industry that has made it perfectly normal for water to be bottled in France and exported round the world, say to a store in Nashville, then kept cool in a fridge for  few weeks until some customer comes in to quench his thirst,
to say nothing of the plastic bottles that the water is kept in that is made from oil to say nothing of the fact that most of us have water piped directly into our homes and workplaces.

I’ve never been to Africa but in my minds eye I see a lady with a large water jar on her head trudging for miles to get a source of clean water every single day to water crops or to cook with or to drink.

Is that right?

Then we have large multi-national companies like Nestle and Danone, Coca Cola and Pepsi fighting wars over branding and sales, selling  a basic human right for profit, buts thats OK because the customer is king and wants it.

Last year we had a chance to holiday in Switzerland and one day we walked along Lake Geneva, past the Nestle Headquarters. I think it was a national holiday, which may have explained why it was so quiet for the headquarters of such a major multi-national company. It was weird. I had all this anger towards the company then walked past the building and just felt empty, that we are all locked in a runaway train that nobody seems to be in control of.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that the world is incredibly complex in its problems and I don’t know what to focus on sometimes. ‘

And its doing my nut in a bit.

water-waste on tap…

I hang my head in shame for only today, on the 12th November have I done what I said I would do approx. 3yrs ago. Somewhere when I was doing my drawing class I read that one way to save water was to fill a plastic bottle with sand and put it in your toilet cistern. I said I would do it. I even took time to draw a picture or two. All I had to do was find a plastic bottle, fill it with sand and put it in the cistern.

In 3 yrs that small gesture would have saved at least 500ml X 365 X 3 = 545litres of water, presuming that I only used our toilet myself once a day.

But of course its not just me. It my wife as well. So thats at least 1000 litres of water that small gesture would save.

At the time a few years ago I was planning to bring a plastic bottle of sand into Dublin each time I went in and placing one secretly in busy cisterns round the place. Perhaps its time to launch a secret plastic bottle planting war in Belfast as well. You’ve been warned!