1st August 2011
I seem to have a working version of windows successfully installed on the (apple) Mac computer, so now I can write up new web pages on it. This means I can unplug the old PC and give myself a bit of space on the desk. It should be easier to pull up photos and stick them in, so I'll try that now.
yes, that seems to work. This is our replacement caravan, not new but a lot nicer than the old one, and much easier to tow. It's not much smaller once it is unfolded, but you can see past it on both sides with the ordinary wing mirrors and over the top with the reversing mirror. We took it out for a test run to Greenock when looking at the Tall Ships display (Photo below) and it worked well. Now I must build it a shelter before winter comes.

Our next project is starting to take shape, replacing the oil-burning central heating boiler with a ground-source heat pump. We are hoping that, combined with the photo-voltaic solar panels, should make our heating bills a lot smaller, and get us out of the grip of the oil companies.
first there's a lot of trench digging to be done.
Meanwhile there are several trees that have grown too big and can be converted 
to firewood, some of which you can see by the caravan, waiting to be cut up and put into a wood seasoning shed. The wood burning stove does it's job very well, I shall have to build a forced air vent to spread the heat around the house, as it tends to get too hot in the living room. There is a little meter on the chimney which tells you how hot it is, but it's easier to see how far from the stove the cats are. If they are lying about 4 feet away it's running at the right temperature.
Retirement approaches, a bit more than a month now, my last day is the 9th of September. I'll be doing a bit of on-call to take a bit of the load off the remaining workers, but several of them are starting to count the months and years before their own retirement, and are considering ways of reducing them. I seem to have started a trend.
Fiona has started expanding the garden into some of the areas where the trees have come down, and we now have an orchard, granted a fairly small one, and several more varieties of fruit bush. I try to avoid them when strimming but a couple of smaller plants, a twaeblade and a clematis didn't make it.
Anyway, I'd better get back to work, I promised to do a bit of tidying up where I made some storage space in the loft.
See y'all soon

This is where the ground source heat pipes will go, hopefully producing a new bit of drive round the back of the house in the process.

The fern garden is rather dark, even with the white wall, but it's coming on and the occasional frog hides here now and then.

The orchard is coming on too, great things expected. Probably largely apples and pears.
If you want to, you can get a pretty good idea of what the house and field look like, by looking on Google Earth. Although the "satellite" pictures are 2007 and the street pictures are, I think, early 2011. Before the solar panels went up anyway. It does make you pause for thought when you see just how much of the planet they have photographed. Ours isn't the most important of villages, but they have at least twenty panoramic images of our property, and have been round at least twice, and probably three times in the last couple of years.
In the meantime, retirement approaches and, at the time of this update, 8 days to go. I was hoping to help the remaining staff by doing a bit of 'on call' since otherwise they are going to be 'on' one night in four and a half and one weekend in five. Unfortunately this may not work if it can't be arranged fairly soon.
Going part time 18 months ago has given me the opportunity to practice having less money and more time. So far the money really hasn't made much difference, and the extra time is a definite plus. My pension should produce about as much as I'm getting now (bless the contract I started in '77) We'll see how it actually pans out soon.
Lots of people have worried that I might not have enough to do, and will get bored, impoverished and soon waste away. It's nice that they care, but I didn't get here by accident. In fact the list of things to do keeps expanding, so time is not hanging heavy. in terms of cashflow I think the trick is not buying liabilities like a new car, big house, new TV. Accumulating assets like solar panels, saleable skills and tools to facilitate them, and saving for the future.
Before I annoy too many people I should confess that I only learned these lessons recently, but was lucky enough to land in the right place to put them into action when they became necessary. Not having children was an important part, and is fine by us, but I guess many would consider that too high a price.
Getting round the big long mortgage problem is kind of important obviously, and not many know how to avoid that, though the interest payments on my first mortgage tripled in the 1970's, so not overstretching paid off then, and making sure I cleared the last one off early was a bonus because, having said all that, like everybody else, I found that my endowment policies produced much less than they were supposed to. I would have been considerably less sanguine if I'd needed it to pay off the house. Even now there are some supposedly clever city boys who should hide their Bonus Sports Cars smartish, come the revolution.
 Ah well, next phase approaches, we'll see if my estimates are correct.