Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Weekend relaxation at Crook O'Lune

We took advantage of the gorgeous weather on Sunday to cycle out to the Crook O'Lune. This is a very popular spot for walkers, cyclists and bikers on a weekend, mainly I suspect because there is a cafe, but possibly due to Turners famous painting of "Ruskin's View".

The views and walks are fabulous, and it is only about 1 mile from Forge Bank, either along the cycle path on the opposite side of the river, or along a lovely bluebell wood, adjacent to our land.

Naturally, the children were only interested in paddling in the water!

Whilst the children played, I walked further upstream and took in the views of Ingleborough in the distance,

and the nearby wind farm on Caton Moor, which is an easily identifiable local landmark.


Monday, March 12, 2012

Exciting biking times for Pete and Dawn

At the summit of the new aqueduct access ramp

Another milestone has been achieved from our wish list. The really great thing about this milestone is that we didn't have to spend a penny and we didn't really have to break a sweat. Until last week anyone living at Halton and cycling into Lancaster who wanted to access the tow path either had to brave the main road as far as the canal bridge or get off at the aqueduct and carry their bike up about eighty steps from the river side cycle track. British Waterways has now built a ramp joining the cycle track (which passes our Cohousing development on the other side of the Lune and goes from Caton to the town centre) to the canal towpath. This gives another off road cycle/walking route with easy access to Freehold, the Gregson, Dukes, Town Hall, Whale Tail, White Cross and points South ie to the University. Dawn and I tried it out, there's quite a slope to it but we found it easy enough to cycle up without stopping. There is a bit of a temptation to whizz down at top speed so they have installed some of those zig zaggy fence chicanes to slow you down. The bank on the uphill side is bordered and secured with what looks like very environmentally friendly coir matting. On the downhill side the fence looks very sturdy and part of it is set on top of some very impressive gabions. A few trees had to be felled during construction but British Waterways have made sure that more have been planted to replace them, so not only is the ramp just perfect for our purposes, but very environmentally friendly to boot.

Me and my new bike near the footings of my new house
Moving from the Peak District to Lancaster to be part of cohousing has been momentous in many ways. One of the transformational leaps is the fact that I am now confident to get my pushbike out of hiding and cycle everywhere I feasibly can. Because Lancaster is such a bike friendly town I’m pretty much cycling everywhere and this has had a huge impact on my health and my attitude to life in general. The new ramp is further icing on my cake.
I passed another milestone yesterday by walking to work in the spring sunshine. We are renting in Halton for this interim build period and my homeopathic practice is at Dacrelands Natural Health Clinic at Skerton. It only took me 40 minutes to get there. So my choices have increased. I generally cycle or I could catch the bus. Now I have added walking to work to my repertoire and it’s only another half a mile to the centre of town. Rarely these days does the vehicle get an airing and I have cut my fuel bills down by at least half.
And we move into our house in August. Oh joy of joys!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Walls and roofs progress rapidly but slope stabilisation remains at a standstill

Scaffolding going up on terrace C as the blockwork gets going

Terrace B roof trusses to the rear.  No more progress on the slope stabilisation though as the material is still too wet

The gabions need to be built up at the same rate as the slope so that it all ties together 
The Common House is being roofed ready for its sedum covering

Inside unit 6u, an upstairs flat

Upstairs windows are now being fixed - doors are coming from the factory in Latvia next week, and then  Terrace A can be made weathertight.  Rendering and interior works can then progress.

The Common House roof from Terrace A

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Its all about the roofs - and the orchard

Here are some photos of the Terrace A roof going on... first the blue liner, then the tiles are placed in handy piles, and finally on Wednesday 29th Feb it looked like the final tiles were being put in place.

Meanwhile the solar panels are going on to the mill roof...

... and Terrace F is rising above the ground at the upper carpark level, with one storey completed at ground level on the other side.

See the St Valentine's Day and St David's Day updates for much more detail on the build.

But while the contractors struggled with the weather, and walking about on site required boots against the deep mud, cohousers took the opportunity on a Sunday in February to work and socialise on site.

This area is a former piece of field that we are going to turn into a small orchard. The trees will not be planted until next autumn, but putting a weed suppressing barrier down now will make planting easier and give the trees a better chance. Our apple trees have been grafted locally at Middlewood Farm, and most are northern varieties.

We used reclaimed bricks to hold the barrier down, but pushing a laden wheelbarrow of bricks up a steep plank is an acquired art, and some did not acquire it....

We also had to clear a few hawthorn bushes. Shifting the trunk of the largest took 2 people, but the smaller branches were cut up and used to create a windrow - a temporary shelter for small birds and animals, but which will gradually rot down and produce a mulch to be used around trees or hedges.

But in fact, although we do like to contribute towards our long term goals, these work sessions are also a great opportunity to get to know each other better, and having a break and a chat now and again is a very good idea.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Progress on site - St David's Day 2012

The first of our triple glazed windows have been installed in terrace A
Chris considers how to enable wheelchair users to open the windows - a key requirement  of the Lifetime Homes standard.  Some modifications to handles may be required

The Common House roof is on

The kitchen will be in the far corner

The south facing window looks out over the river

This is terrace B.  The roof trusses were lifted up by crane earlier in the week.  The first two houses are two-beds, the more distant ones larger three-beds

Blockwork has started on Terrace C - whilst the wind post (the vertical object in the middle of the wall) still needs redesigning to reduce thermal bridging

The main gabion wall is progressing.  The stairs will go up to the left where the digger is.

But the roller sits idle.  The clay is still to wet from the rain earlier in the week  to be successfully compacted.  Meanwhile this is holding back the start of Terrace D as the material is stored there.

The site for the electricity substations was excavated today

The clay roof tiles look good on the north side of Terrace A