Latest posts by hypercharleyfarley

Room 101

Posted: 04/01/2015 at 18:57




yes - I did repeat that on purpose!  They're the bane of my life - garden-wise, but I'd also add the following more general stuff:

People who begin each sentence with "So...... "   and those who say "like" several times in a sentence. 

The words Iconic and Graphic.

The phrase "lessons will be learned".

Politicians who appear - from their words & actions - never to have had what I'd call a "proper job" and so don't seem to have any real experience of life.

Cosmetic surgery courtesy of the NHS.

Broadcasters who emphasise the wrong syllable when using words like "contribute".

False fingernails.

Whoever it is that chucks their rubbish (drinks cans/food wraps etc) into the hedgerows round here.

and most of the other stuff people have aready mentioned................!



kitchen worktops

Posted: 28/11/2014 at 12:32

Some of the man-made alternatives are in fact more expensive than granite - e.g. Corian - but they can be made to suit quite quirky spaces and have no visible joins/seams, so few places for germs etc to lurk.  As some of you probably know, I still work (for an estate agent) and over the years have probably seen more kitchens than most people!  I absolutely agree with one of the earlier posts which explains the problems with wooden surfaces, especially around the sink/taps, so wouldn't recommend it.  The other things to think about are the type of sink you have, and also to allow some sort of "upstand" at the rear of the worktop where it meets the wall.  If there's no "upstand" you eventually get marks on the wall itself where cleaning cloths and counter-top spills leave marks.


If you have a Belfast or Butler's sink (mounted beneath the worktop surface) there can be nasty things lurking there, especially when the sealant isn't done neatly - I've seen some truly disgusting things where this particular aspect hasn't been considered. There are "belfast-type" sinks which are made so that they actually sit on top of the worktop and this seems to be a better option.  I think they're made in France.


You can get granite in lots of different colours now - and some of them look really lovely and are quite forgiving in that they don't show every single grain of spilt sugar!  For my own part I wouldn't want black granite.  - not only because it shows every little streaky mark when you wipe it, but it also reminds me of our family's  grave - the headstone's black granite!

Fragrant tree

Posted: 26/11/2014 at 10:27

I can remember when dairy cattle in this country weren't "black and white cows"!  In farming terms they're a relatively new introduction (post WW2) when the dairy industry changed radically following the introduction of farm machinery and even - just think about it - the National Grid (!) - extending into rural areas.  This was the biggest change for producers of milk since the building of the railways - which enabled farmers to send milk from the countryside into the towns, something which wasn't possible before that.

My father was a very successful dairy farmer  - 3 farms - and a milk bottling plant.  The introduction of those "black and white cows" came about because these breeds (Holstein/Friesian) produced milk in larger quantities than our traditional dairy breeds.  The problem then arose that the milk quality they produced didn't satisy needs as far as milk quality was concerned.  e.g. not much of a problem with "solids non-fat" but the fat content was low.  As as interim measure, some farmers introduced Channel Island cattle into their herds, as the fat content in their milk is high, so the resulting mix of milk reached the required standard.  It took many generations of selective breeding - and the keeping of incredibly complicated and detailed records ref each cow's lactation period - to arrive at today's milk quality standard. 

People aren't aware these days ref the fat content of milk, because all the milk you buy in supermarkets etc has been homogenised.  Who can remember milk in bottles?  I can - and also the days when it was sold direct from the churn to the customer, from the back of horse-drawn milk-float.  

Fragrant tree

Posted: 26/11/2014 at 09:25

There may be a decrease in consumption of milk "per se" in the UK, but over the past few decades there has been an increase in its use in other ways - e.g. in my childhood, yogurt was unheard of - yet now it's on many shopping lists!

The real problem arose with the demise of the Milk Marketing Board and that, together with what seemed like an almost random introduction of milk quotas, caused a series of problems for dairy farmers.

If we want good quality produce, we have to pay an appropriate cost.  The EU hasn't helped either.  My neighbour had to dispose of his dairy herd a couple of years ago as it was costing him more to produce the milk than he was being paid for it by one of the "major players" who have - for the most part, got an  inappropriate degree of control over things. It's no use going down the "efficiency" route cost-wise when things like animal welfare have to be taken into account.  I don't imagine that many people who pour milk into their teacup realise just how it gets from the cow's udder to the supermarket shelf.  In order to compete price-wise, dairy farmers have to use what I'd call extreme conditions in relation to their cattle.  This can mean a completely automated milking system with little or no visual and actual contact with the animals concerned.  It means that things like lameness and possible mastitis can often go undetected.  The cattle are used as machines by machines,  and that's something I for one don't like one little bit.

If we value quality produce, we have to pay for it. 


Fragrant tree

Posted: 23/11/2014 at 17:26

Hi Welshonion - I did say "friendly"!  My neighbour - dairy farmer - is certainly the sort of chap who's utterly what you'd call "approachable" and he'd certainly explain how things worked on a dairy farm if anybody asked him.  Getting to know the neighbours is something we all need to do when we find ourselves somewhere new to us.   I know that my own Pa (dairy farmer) was much loved and respected by everyone.  He'd have said "come on in and tell me what's your problem whilst we have a cup of tea, and then I'll show you the shippon". As I said before, you need to think about it a whole lot before you move to the countryside - and realise that people have to make a living from the land they farm - and all that this entails.  You might not like being held up on a country lane by some cattle moving from field to milking parlour, or having to put up with muddy lanes from time to time, but that's part of what it's all about!   No use moving to a house near a railway line and then complaining about the noise when a train goes past.................

Fragrant tree

Posted: 23/11/2014 at 15:56

I too grew up on a farm and still live in the middle of the countryside.  I'm a bit puzzled as to whether or not JR is concerned ref the general "animal" smell or whether it might have been something which only lasted a day or two - farmer spreading slurry over the fields etc.  If the latter, the smell will soon go away but - if it's just that "warm animal" smell he means, it won't!  There's the offchance that the slurry pit on the farm itself might have drainage/run-off issues and if that's the case something probably needs to be done by the farmer himself to sort things out.  There are all sorts of rules & regs these days about storage and disposal of farm waste and I expect that if JR were to have a friendly word with the farmer and explain the problem maybe some sort of solution can be found,

p.s. forgot to say that the "animal smell" won't be around much at all during the time the cattle are mainly outside - i.e. from late spring until late autumn.  It's only really noticeable when they are housed inside during the cold months and even then the effects are modified by the prevailing wind.  Maybe JR only moved into his present home earlier this year when the cattle were outside for most of the time - apart from when they're being milked - so perhaps the smell "issue" is only something he's noticed recently.  One of the things people don't anticipate when deciding to move from urban areas to the countryside  is that there are likely to be all sorts of rural surprises! 

building houses on green belt land

Posted: 17/11/2014 at 12:31

Hi NN - I don't think anyone's taken offence at your remarks -  I certainly haven't!  I do agree with you that children need to be able to play outdoors safely and to learn about things in a practical way.   If you were to read through some posts I've made in the past you'd see that I have many happy memories of playing outdoors all day during my childhood - doing things which today would make some parents shudder - e.g. riding around on my pony or my bike without a helmet and fishing for tiddlers in local streams and ponds. 

I think children have always been at risk in terms of "predators", but in the past - and certainly when I was a child, people in the local area obviously knew who the "risky" ones were and warned children in a subtle way.Maybe they even "had words" with them too - but of course I couldn't have known about that then.  I think children were allowed to grow up more slowly, without the present-day pressures"of advertising on TV, violent video games, "celeb" culture and so on.  It's rather sad when I think about it and makes me grateful for the opportunities I myself had. 

building houses on green belt land

Posted: 16/11/2014 at 19:02

Good point there about the terraced houses in Northern areas - however the option to renovate houses like these isn't an economical one.   I think I mentioned in an earlier post that the sort of housing people want these days isn't the same as it used to be. 

Many of the terraces were built around 100+ years ago and basic issues such as damp-proof courses, drainage, indoor sanitation etc which would meet present-day standards etc didn't exist.  They've probably got lead pipes as well........  To sort out all these things via renovation simply doesn't make sense - in economic terms - as it's cheaper and quicker to demolish and rebuild from scratch to meet modern building regs.,  and to create dwellings which people actually want.  No use renovating when the final result is not only more expensive to achieve but also doesn't appeal or fit in with current requirements and actual needs. 

There's also a change in the average age of the population now - many many more pensioners living than ever before, and they need housing but not jobs.  It's a bit of a myth that the housing market is kept going solely by first-time buyers.  At a  guess, I'd say that less than 5% of purchasers round here fit that category - certainly so in the area where I live and work (for an estate agent for the past 20+ years). The government's "income" from stamp duty, for example, probably consists -  for the most part -  from transactions made by people who are either "up-sizing" or "downsizing", rather than buying for the first time.

building houses on green belt land

Posted: 15/11/2014 at 09:39

Some interesting "stats" here, but - like lots of things - it's extremely difficult to identify the whole picture.  Some of the comments seem to imply that the need for more housing is driven mainly by the results of mass immigration, but I think it's worth pointing out that the social/economic scene in the UK has changed a great deal during my lifetime for Brits -  i.e.

People are living longer than ever before and are for the most part able to continue to live an independent life in their own home, thus not "freeing up" properties which would have been inherited in the past by their middle-aged children.

People no longer share housing in the way that they used to amongst family members - in that there are very few properties nowawdays where two or even three generations (adult) are living there.

Young people seem to feel a need to leave their parents' home and set up an independent lifestyle before they are really in a position financially to achieve this, hence the increased need for rental properties for younger people.  In the past - only a generation or so ago - you didn't leave home until you were married and even then you'd saved up for the day when you could/would "fly the nest".

Gone are the days when the norm was to stay in the area where you grew up, work-wise.  Many families - people in their 30's & 40's - simply have to move house because the breadwinner's job demands this, often in connection with a promotion or similar which they cannot in reality refuse.  I meet people like this on a daily basis during the course of my own work.

People's expectations - not "ambitions" any more - are different now.  They aren't prepared to wait for anything, but "must have" everything straight away!.  You might be surprised at some of the comments I hear about kitchens for example.  There might be a perfectly workable kitchen in a property I'm showing them round, but as it isn't to their own taste they often say "I'd simply HAVE to rip this kitchen out", when they don't in fact have to do that at all,  any more than I HAVE to spend £50K on a new car.  Until people come to terms with the difference between expectations and ambitions ref housing, the problem will simply be exacerbated.



building houses on green belt land

Posted: 14/11/2014 at 15:00

People's priorities ref housing these days are a bit different from what they used to be, and things like car parking space is much more important than it once was.  Many property owners/occupiers have more than one vehicle and so it's important to developers to create sufficient space to allow cars to be parked "off road".  This, together with various planning policies means that front gardens are becoming a thing of the past.  Apart from that, gardening isn't something many people are keen on - and we might be forgiven for forgetting that, given that this is a Gardening website!

The costs of converting old farmhouses can be enormous, and - round here at least - many of them have been divided into two dwellings, along with the conversion of various farm buildings.  Usually the development costs involve more than you might first imagine - countryside properties aren't usually connected to all the "normal" mains services, so the costs of drainage systems (septic tank type) have to be factored in and also provision for perhaps underground LPG storage tanks for heating. 

As others have already said, it would seem much more sensible to deal with all the unoccupied properties first, before encroaching on green belt for additional housing and to make these dwellings more desirable in modern terms by perhaps using the square footage in a different way.  Bedrooms, for example, seem to need to be much bigger these days - think of the size of modern furniture - and maybe fewer larger bedrooms per property would satisfy current demand more. 

I live in the country - surrounded by fields - but on the edge of a popular village where property prices are well above the national average.  My work over the past 20 or so years for a local estate agent has given me a good insight into what people actually want - as opposed to what property developers are actually building at the moment.  The problem always arises, when development takes place, is an apparent lack - on the part of the local authority - to take into account the other needs which will arise as a result of an increase in the local population.  By this I mean more school places and parking spaces in the village itself in order to encourage and enable people to use the local shops etc.  If the authorities would consider encouraging developers to create small "play parks" for children in and amongst new properties, I think this would help quite a bit.  I have seen this sort of thing in the USA, and it seems to work really well.  Parents are always worried about the safety of their children, and properly designed and constructed play areas are a good thing to have, and don't need to take up much space.













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ID please!

looks like a cross between grass and foxglove 
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