Friday, December 21, 2012

Moving house - by pedal power

I recently moved to Forgebank by bicycle! I borrowed an eight foot cycle trailer for the move. It took me six days, and 11 trips, to take my belongings the three and a half miles from Lancaster to my new home. Frances has done a great video about it that you can view on youtube here:


Lots of my new neighbours helped out. On one journey I had five cycling helpers, towing two more trailers, two baby buggies and one with large panniers.

 You’d be surprised how much can fit in a baby buggy!

Everything went by bike, including a dresser, chest of drawers, bookcase, dining table and chairs and two garden benches.

The last day was hard. It was pouring with rain and the trailer got stuck in mud on my garden path. I had to unload and start again. Then at the end the slope, the heavy load and the rain meant I only just managed to screech to a halt!

But it all feels worth it now I’m settled in to my warm eco home by the River Lune and enjoying living in the community. It was a lot more fun and less stressful than moving the traditional way!

When I had finished with it, Kathy used the trailer to pick up a festive tree for our Common house. Happy Holidays!


Thursday, November 8, 2012

First Week in the Life of the Common House

The common house is now complete. We have all been so excited about using it that this post is a little late! Mainly photos - but I think they will give the full picture.

The first actual meal was an impromptu picnic for a hungry boy. 

But our first proper communal meal happened to coincide with Halloween, so we decided to make the most of it

I think I am correct in saying that it was a combined effort from various people who all mucked in when and where they could.

The children helped to create the decorations.
Everyone else helped create the atmosphere.

And whilst the room was warm enough, we did need to check that the woodburning stove actually worked!

Some of the children had fun outside playing "What time is it Mr Wolf" under the covered walkway..

whilst others preferred the warmth of inside.

Lancaster Cohousing

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Living Cohousing for real

Our first residents have now been living in cohousing for nearly six weeks. So I decided to ask them what they liked best about it. Warmth, both physical and human, was the answer. Oh and fabulous views, despite the building work still going on around them.

Living in an eco home

Huw says: After living in a Victorian house for the last 20 years, I thought cold draughts were a fact of life but our new passivhaus has none! Everybody who walks in asks us if we have our heating on as it feels so warm - we don't.

Miles says: We don't say: "put another log on the fire" we say: "invite another person round" -- their extra body heat will bump up the temperature in no time. These houses are machines for living, and there's a lot that's been learnt since Victorian times -- this is seriously impressive technology we're living in.

Mark says: There’s some lovely unexpected features in the houses, the staircase design works really well and helps make the living room more spacious than I expected and the sills are so big you can sit up on them looking out on the view – I always wanted a window seat! Inside is almost eerily silent – the heat insulation also insulates against the sounds of outdoors.

The view

Miles says: We love the view from our house (left). But even more we love the view as we walk from our house along the river.

Kathy says: The views are amazing. We look over the sedum roof of the Common House to the river Lune beyond. As a former hydrologist I have really enjoyed observing the changes in the flow of the Lune during the recent heavy rain, whilst confident (and reassured) that it will not come anywhere close to our new houses! The trees on the other side of the river have changed colour during the three weeks we have been here so I already feel more in touch with the seasons.

Mark says: My favourite moment so far was sitting on my deck at 11pm for half an hour with a crystal-clear sky and bright moon, watching its reflection in the river and on the autumnal leaves. It felt so Mediterranean. Magic. I’m planning to initiate a lights out festival once a year when we can all marvel at the night sky unpolluted.

The community 

Huw says: We all love the pedestrian street particularly the girls. Martha wants to rush out there in her pyjamas each morning and play with Polly.

Mark says: The pedestrian street has totally exceeded my expectations, wide and light, a real winner, with the evening sun coming in. What was most strong though was the sense of community. There’s such a great vibe here. I’m now planning an outdoor table and bench by the back door and expecting a few early evening post work beers there. It was lovely seeing the kids running, skate boarding and scootering up and down, no-one quite sure who was looking after them but everyone sure that someone was. I’ve been surprised that people are discreet and quickly learning when you’re up for socialising or not - I haven’t felt bothered once yet!

Fiona says: So far, I've made dinner on the terrace for a couple of other residents, my neighbours have hung my washing for me and let the telephone engineer in, and we have companionably taken the bins out together. I've used the car club car for the first time and have looked after another neighbour's baby while she was moving in. And I've helped carry lots of boxes from removal vans for everyone.

Gill says: Chats in The Street have transformed into an offer of a cuppa tea, a ‘Let’s all put the bins out after The Archers’ ended with us sharing a bottle of wine.

I’ve had Eliza pop around with her Mum to meet my cat; in fact I’ve had visits from all the young ‘uns on the street, whether it’s been Isla needing a quiet place to sleep, Polly to do a bit of dancing and Martha to just to check what I have in my pretty boxes (verdict: a bit boring).

Polly says: 'I love playing next door with Martha'

Kathy says: When I found myself with a just fallen asleep baby Isla amongst a flat full of bouncy older children I just carried her downstairs so she could enjoy her sleep in the peace and quiet of Gill's flat - you can't do that as soon as you move in to a 'normal' street!

I say that I am really, really jealous and cannot wait to move in. Living on my boat as the autumn sets in makes me long for that toasty Passivhaus, and I’m looking forward to all that human warmth as well.


** We still have one three-bed home for sale - please see our website for more details! **

Monday, September 17, 2012

Extreme Gardening - Sunday 16 September

Kitting up
Many people wanted to take part in this, as it sounded so much fun. In the end, for safety reasons we chose our experienced and qualified climbers, Steve, Robin and Becky. And though they all remained incredibly cheerful, it was cold and poured with rain, so maybe the fun aspect was somewhat diluted.

Getting started
Having seen the complexity of the climbing skills needed, on top of the dangers of stanley knives in operation near security ropes (very counter-intuitive for climbers), this was definitely the right decision.

Sowing seed

The retaining bank north of Terrace D was seeded as a meadow last spring as it is the plant roots which will really hold the soil in place long term rather than the green matting. Some of the soil washed out within a few weeks taking the seeds with them and leaving bare patches. We thought we would try and reseed the bare bits this September, by cutting small slits in the upper matting and spreading a mix of seed and sand behind and then repegging.

The bare bit

Becky said, 'This was a great new experience. I have never tried to garden from a rope before.' However in some areas all the soil has gone, which is useful to know as something else will need to be done there, and we could only have found out in this way.


 Vertical Gardening Continued, Steve: 

To add to Kate's blog I have added a couple of photos taken hanging off the rope. From the big grin on her face it's obvious Becky just loves dangling from ropes in the pouring rain!

Hopefully the reseeding will take effect before the winter weather draws in. I suppose we will have to wait until spring to see how effective it was.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

GM Weekend and more residents move in to Forgebank

Another month, another GM. This September saw a move closer to the Common House, just up the road at The Centre, Halton. A great location (with an amazing skate park) if, on that Saturday, a mite toasty what with the warm September weather and the number of bodies in one room.  Long discussions on Common House food were lightened by Polly taking the role of energy monitor and communicating with her fellow cohousers  through the medium of toy gesticulation, and sprint circling of the room.

The view along Terrace A. All is peaceful. The location of the children identifiable by the assemblage of bikes, scooters and shoes.

A view from the South side of Terrace A looking East to the Common House.
Sunday sees the return of another Marshalls van, this time loaded with Paul and Kathy's worldly belongings all of which are swiftly transported  to one of their two current abodes in Terrace A. For some (well me) this was the first experience of life on the pedestrian street - everyone lending a hand with a tag team of watchful adults keeping a relaxed eye on children whilst being able to help the removals.
Then afterwards hanging out on the stoop formed from the steps up to the cycle store opposite Huw and Lucy's house .

Martha, Lucy and Eliza at home.
Whittles must be feeling the pressure to deliver our homes on time. Even their most junior apprentices are working their weekends to help meet the September deadline... 
Some of our first guests to Forgebank. Two (or was it three) nests of swallows with their accompanying displays of aerial bird acrobatics in the sky above the street.

Wednesday sees work starting on the gabion wall to Terrace F. Pouring rain slows the work but must help to wash the mud off the stone.

And finally, through the deluge, the view of Forgebank from the over the Lune. Our homes are coming along fast.

Can't wait to move in...


Sunday, August 19, 2012

The first pioneers Forge ahead..

The first residents moved in today!

Everyone helped Miles & Jo to unload the van.

Whilst Fiona organised the celebrations and a Mezuzah ceremony. Amazingly there were 28 people in the room with plenty of space spare.

Though the same could not be said of the doorstep...

We even have a temporary post box until the common house letterboxes become available.

We've got there at last!

Only six terraces to go :o)


Thursday, July 19, 2012

Terrace A - approaching completion

The building site is busier than it has ever been
The cladding on the flats is being finished off

The scaffolding on Terrace B and the Common House has come down a bit early  so that  we can get a cable through the the solar panels on the adjacent terraces before the 31 July Feed In Tariff registration deadline  

The Common House looks roomy now it's not full of scaffolding
The sliding doors will lead to a terrace overlooking the Lune 
A bathroom in a typical house
And the district heating station under the stairs

An upstairs flat

Paving the street
A typical house kitchen
We're screening the stone out of the subsoil which came from the slope that was below terrace E.  The subsoil can be recycled into topsoil whilst the stone can be reused.

Building gabions in front of Terrace A
Laying the floor in an upstairs flat - a couple of weeks ago