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Latest posts by obelixx

building houses on green belt land

Posted: 14/11/2014 at 15:46

Too right HCF.  Our local council - small town and 11 villages has pushed the population up by 6000 in recent years as this qualifies them for massive regional subsidies and salaries for the bourgmetsre and echevins.  Loads of new houses and appartment blocks but not a single new school or playground, no road safety or pedestrian space on the lanes between villages and parking in the town centre is difficult and expensive so it's dying.

building houses on green belt land

Posted: 14/11/2014 at 15:00

Dove - planning restrictions and costs.   

We have an attcahed, brick barn, 14.5 metres by 7 with 2' thick walls which I was all set to convert to give us a living room with open fire, a breakfast room and 2 en suite bedrooms.   The walls are there and damp-proofed already.  The roof is new and insulated and has solar panels on it.  Costs to insulate walls, build new internal ones, a staircase, electrics and plumbing and flooring and so on?   200,000!   Twice what it will add to the sale value of our house as it stands.

There's one of those quadrangle farms around a courtyard for sale up the road but no-one will buy it as conversions to living quarters/appartments/separate houses of the original house and barns is so restricted and expensive.   It's falling down but could be stunning.

building houses on green belt land

Posted: 14/11/2014 at 13:04

With new regs for insulation and water saving renovating is no longer always a cheaper option but I do agree that old stock should be renewed or replaced rather than taking up any more green belt.   New builds tend to be dull, packed in like sardines and have tiny rooms as well as tiny gardens.

There are also regulations about paving over front gardens.  They're supposed to use porous materials that allow water to drain through rather than run off.

Hawthorn hedge in the winter

Posted: 13/11/2014 at 09:04

You could also replace the conifers with trellis panels up which you can grow evergreen climbers such as ivy, selected clematis and/or honeysuckle or just permanent reed, bamboo or willow screens and then plant attractive shrubs and perennials in front of them.   Leave space to access and trim the hedge.

Fast growing hedging

Posted: 13/11/2014 at 08:58

We have a stretch of hawthron hedge planted a s awindbreak and also to attract wildlife.  I planted 2' whips in well prepared soil one December, trimmed them to 9" and they grew 6' the next year.  We trimmed them back to 3' that first year and they grew again very quickly the next year but thicker.

I suggest you get as many bundles of whips as you will need to plant them at 9 to 12 inches apart (23 to 30cms in new money).   The thorns will give you security.  Mix them up with patches of beech, hornbeam, buckthorn, pyracantha and privet for interest and wildlife diversity.   The last two are evergreen.

What to do

Posted: 12/11/2014 at 12:57

You just need to soak the roots for an hour or so to rehydrate them then plant in pots.  They will die down completely till spring so don't need light once the leaves have died off and can be kept in a garage if you like or in a sheltered corner of the garden.  It depends on how cold your winter and how exposed your garden.  I over-winter my hosta pots in a dry shed.  

Keep an eye on them from early spring and when you see shoots starting or it feels warm enough, bring them outside to a sheltered spot and water well.    Top dress with some pelleted chicken manure or blood, fish and bone and keep them sheltered till they are big enough to cope with normal life outdoors.   I keep mine at the sunny front of the house to begin with then, as days warm up and the sun gets stronger, I move them to their final positions on a shady, north facing terrace for the summer.   They get late afternoon sun and are very happy.

****** NHS box tickers. I need to vent

Posted: 12/11/2014 at 12:20

I think the main difference here is effective and eficient management systems, not the calibre of the doctors, although there are more her per head of population which means short waits..

We have health insurance which is paid for by employers, individuals or the state depending on status - employed, independent, unemployed - and have to identify ourselves every time we see anyone other than our GP so that charges for procedures and consultations are charged at the proper rate to the correct organisation.   We also have to pay a fee at delivery but these, and prescriptions, are reimbursed at a known rate and there is no postcode lottery for medicines or treatments. 

I would not want to be poor in the USA for anything - health, education, housing, policing..............

****** NHS box tickers. I need to vent

Posted: 12/11/2014 at 11:34

I have never understood how the NHS works, or doesn't work. 

In Belgium, I can choose my GP, I can make appointments on the internet or by phone or have a home visit if needed.   When I do need to see a specialist or have X-rays and ops for the dodgy back and feet, the results are sent to my GP online so she can see them herself.

She keeps tabs on our innoculations and does an annual "MOT" - blood test for cholesterol, blood sugars, vitamins and hormones plus blood pressure and so on.     I get to choose my specialist and hospital if I need an op.   I get to choose the time too.   I get a choice of follow up appointments.

Ditto dentist, skin doctor, gynae, obstetrician, opthalmologist, orthopedist, neurologist.  We've needed them all in the last 20 years.

There are some hospitals here and GPs to avoid but, like I said, I get to choose.  I just need to make sure I never have an accident near a dodgy one as there isn't a choice for emergency care when ambulances are involved.

Free Holiday in the Dordogne France

Posted: 12/11/2014 at 11:02

In Belgium there is a system - Titres Services - where unemployed people can do paid domestic work for a max number of hours per week and at a good rate for the employer.  The person concerned can thus boost their incme without losing benefits and pension credits and health insurance whilst still having tme to seek permanent employment.

There may well be such a system in France.  It's worth asking.

Let's Remember Them

Posted: 12/11/2014 at 10:20

Just back from 2 days at Ypres.

We visited the town and the Menin Gate on the 10th and walked the ramparts from the Menin Gate to the Lille Gate.  The ramparts at the Menin Gate had a field of commemorative poppies with personal messages to fallen relatives.   It's unbelievably moving to see all the 56,000 names of those lost with no known burial place.   We went to the Last Post ceremony on the Monday - very moving with music by two bands of brass, pipes and drums plus a solo violin performance and the Last Post.

Yesterday - Remembrance Day - we found the Yorkshire trench and dugout which was discovered by accident when they were digging foundations for a new industrial park.  Then we went to Tyne Cot cemetery where another 35000 missing dead are named.   Rows and rows of stones to named and unknown dead.   There was a wreath laying ceremony there at 3pm with a fly past of old planes, the West Yorks police band, the Flanders Pipes band and a Canadian choir.   Another moving experience.

Travelling around there are roundabouts with memorials to the horses and the fallen but also celebrations of local life.  Ypres was razed to the ground in the great war but rebuilt itself and swore never to forget those who died for our freedom.   Both our granddads fought but survived though, like others, their lives were shortened by their experiences, including being gassed.

Next year we shall do a guided tour of the battle fields to understand more.

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