Sunday, July 13, 2008

Center for Alternative Technology - Wales

Today we took a long drive down into North Wales, past lake Bala and nearby Machynlleth to visit CAT. This has been on our list of todos for a while and we were just waiting for a nice day (not too many of those this summer unfortunately!).

This is a wonderful facility that started life as a mine many years ago, evolved into somewhat of a hippie commune, then into an educational project, and now it has grown into something larger which also doubles as a public tourist destination for learning about alternative energies and sustainable living.

Here are some pictures from a very enjoyable day and one we won't forget...

Visitors center at the bottom of the hill(this is where you pay)

Gravity / water powered tram to take you to the top

Disused wind turbine with cutaway so you can peek inside at the mechanicals

Dining hall, picnic area, student apartments (larger set being built in the background). Not pictured is an adventure playground behind me that the kids had a lot of fun with.

Composting area shows many different designs for home composting as well as a example of what a community could invest in (like they have) to use a hot composter which is housed in this building.

A tunnel made from reused wine bottles, these guys know how to party

Straw bale construction theatre, very comfortable inside due to the ventilation and thermal mass of the walls.

Also at the site are ponds / gardens showcasing different types of farming, irigation, and fertilizing. There are many interactive hands on exhibits that teach about wind, solar, geothermal, and even fuel cell technologies. Building techniques are covered including a neat display of a basic green roof growing 3 different types of cover. At the end of it all there is an excellent book store and gadget shop. This place is really worth the visit for anyone (especially families) who are into green living, energy independance, and sustainability. Judging from the building plans and diagrams the place will look a lot different in about 5 years time.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Cotebrook Shire horses

South of us about 15 miles, near the Blakemere shopping area and Delemare Forest is a terrific horse farm by the name of Cotebrook. It makes a great family day out, highly recommended. These horses are beautiful, gentle, and enormous. The owner was friendly and enthusiastically telling about the pedigree of these champion horses. There are some other farm animals and various birds around the place which were fun to see.