Monday, 25 June 2007

HEES grants

Today Chloe and I went on a Home Energy Awareness visit. It's really useful to be able to visit a clients home so that we can immediately see what measures they can take to make their home a warmer and more comfortable place, as well as hopefully saving money on their fuel bills. Today's visit was wonderful because we were able to put our client in touch with the HEES grant people (Home Energy Efficiency Scheme) and it looks like they'll qualify for a grant - this is all the more wonderful because the client had been without any form of house heating (apart from very expensive fan heaters) for 5 years.
If you live in Wales and would like to know more about HEES grants, please got to their website at:

Wednesday, 20 June 2007

Our first group is Blogging too!

Chloe and I would like to say a very big "Well done" to the Out of School Club, Penparcau, for their first posting to their blogsite. If you'd like to see the Club's blogsite, please follow the link from this blogsite. They've made a great start and have every right to feel proud of themselves. Their garden is coming along well too - if only the weather was a little better - typical Welsh summer - rain and more rain! But they coped wonderfully with the conditions yesterday.
Another group worked with me, taking example photographs with the digital cameras of film "shots". So we had some examples of "extreme close ups" through to "wide shots". These pictures will be printed off and used to show what the film shots could look like - useful when we start thinking about making the Club's video.

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

First planting at the Out of School Club

When Chloe and I arrived at the site we were very pleased to see that the mulch bed had been well laid by Anthea and the group, with layers of cardboard, newspapers and grass cuttings, which had already begun to kill off the grass. The group had also grown on a lot of seedlings, including broad beans, peas, radish, sunflowers and candytuft. We brought along chitted potatoes donated by Bob, runner bean plants donated by Chloe's mum, tomato plants and garlic bulbs donated by Chloe and onion sets and a variety of seeds donated by Chloe's neighbour. We had a huge variety of plants to work with and the children were justly proud of all their work.

The session began at the mulch bed with a demonstration on the safe way to move around with a trowel, and an explanation of how sharp they were. All the children showed me that they could work and move with them safely. We also had art aprons for the children to wear and colourful gloves which were very popular. Chloe taught the children how to make holes in the mulch using a trowel, fill the holes with compost, and gently squeeze a plant out of its container, untangling the roots as they worked. The children then took another handful of compost to bed the plant in, and watered it well.

Placing was important, as the front of the bed gets more sunlight than the back, so potatoes (which can cope with semi-shaded conditions) were put at the back of the bed and the plants which need more sun (the beans and peas) took up the front corner. The mulch bed technique ensures that the plants will need very little weeding, and that all water they get will stay in the ground longer, reducing their reliance on extra watering from children!

Comments were: “I love gardening” and “This is fun!” Several of the children said they would like to take photos of what they had done, and could remember that the first action was to put the wrist band on. They could also remember how to zoom in and out. Some of the girls wanted to show us how well their radishes were growing, and when they discovered that a slug or snail had eaten a hole in one of them, took the opportunity to take a photo showing themselves holding it up with a look of outrage! 8 children took part in the session.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

50+ Club get to grips with energy efficiency.

On the 4th June the 50+ Club met with us and had a lively session discussing energy efficiency in the home. Chloe got the group to guess how much heat was lost in the home via the roof, walls, windows, floors and gaps round windows and doors. The group were surprised at some of the results especially for heat loss via walls at 35% (the roof being less at 25%). We then discussed measures that could be taken to stop heat loss in the home - 10 inches of loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, double or secondary glazing and general draft proofing.
We then had a short revision piece on how to use digital cameras. As part of their energy efficiency theme it was decided that taking some pictures of different parts of a building would be another chance to practice with the digital cameras. The group was able to use the zoom feature to focus in on doors and windows. The group also took pictures of various types of windows - double glazed, sash single glazed and possibly drafty windows.
Chloe gave the group some information leaflets (HEES grants, Saving your 20%) and also room thermometers. The group had an enjoyable afternoon and were looking forward to the next session.