Wednesday, 30 November 2011

What a lovely bright spring morning, primroses in the garden and grass growing away well. What is going on, this time last year we were getting cold and snowy. We haven’t even put our central heating on yet, although that is mainly due to all the insulation and the wood burner we put in last autumn, smug, smug, smug. Actually the insulation didn’t get finished until nearly Christmas so we have still to see the full benefit of a whole year’s savings but it looks good so far with our heating oil consumption nearly halved for the last year, although the cost per litre went up hugely (over 30%). It has turned into one of those frustrating situations that we have ended up with a similar bill despite the investment and we just have to hang onto the fact that the bill would have been much higher if we had done nothing. It reminds me of the time we bought a very expensive automatic price labelling machine to stick the prices on the pots going to one of the multiples. The theory was that the kit paid itself back out of the labour savings over a few years but what happened in practice was everyone else did the same and the customer demanded a lower price because the production costs had fallen. In the end we effectively bought the machine to keep the customer and we got no extra profit to pay off the cost. You live and learn.

We have just got back from our annual break to sunny St Ives. What a fantastic couple of weeks, warm, mostly dry, lots of visitors came to stay and plenty of healthy outdoor activities were undertaken. There are now so many more people taking a break at this time of year in the area and most of the restaurants were open and much busier than previous years. We had some fantastic meals, a couple of special treats in our favourite (Al Fresco’s) on the harbour-side and some delicious more modest treats in other spots. We even managed Sunday Lunch at the Gurnards Head (as recommended in the Sunday Times) followed by an Italian in the evening. Needless to say I put on a little extra ballast, just the 9lbs (not a record), and we are now on a strict winter vegetarian soup regime to get back in shape for Christmas. It was worth it.

One thing I like doing on holiday is to stretch sides of me that don’t get much exercise the rest of the year and this involves taking a bit of the art scene which is so active in the area. Tate St Ives is always a challenging place to start and this year was no different with their current exhibition ‘The Indiscipline of Painting’. This was a collection of abstraction painting from 1960 onwards which can be a struggle to get to grips with for a simple nurseryman from the country. I have to go on the guided tour first to get an idea of what is going on but with that extra input I always find something of value to take away. Mind you it didn’t help me in the Exchange Gallery in Penzance where there was an exhibit of a young man in a just a loin cloth crouched in a large dog cage with a muzzle on. He was going to be in there for 5 days but there was no way of really getting to grips with what the intention behind it was. Then there are all the deep intellectual questions you want to ask but can’t, are you going to wash over the 5 days? Or are they after creating more of an atmosphere by day 5. Are you feeding through a straw and how about loo breaks? Have Health & Safety at work assessed your working conditions? Back to reality I think with bills to pay and a winter to get through before another exciting Spring starts in January.

Excitement on this week with one of our long serving youngsters slipping away to a new exciting life in Australia with her young man, and our longest serving young lady Elaine reaching an astonishing age (because she doesn’t look it). Loads of cake all round, bang goes the soup diet.

Eco News

The solar FIT rates are changing more or less as I expected and although there are a lot of complaints about how quickly the large reductions were brought in I feel sure that it is the fair thing to do. The rates of return on the investment were getting silly as the price of the panels fell and I have heard rumours already that the panel costs are set to reduce further especially after the FIT readjustment dates pass. This will hopefully take the jumping on the bandwagon element out of the solar industry and get back to a value and service approach. I have already heard from one business who are still looking at solar as an investment because even after the changes the rates of return are likely to recover to sensible levels very quickly.

Turbines had a quieter period with the rather slack southerlies we have been getting for the last few weeks. Did ok yesterday!

Cornish nature notes

Spotted; 6 Common Cranes (bizarre sight in UK field), Desert Wheatear, Marsh Harrier, Bittern, Cough, Great Northern Diver.

Have a good week, from all at Kirton Farm Nurseries