Posts Tagged ‘Pellets’

A church bell out of the mist

November 27, 2015 Leave a comment
Monte Subasio with radio mast

Monte Subasio with radio mast

I took this photo with a zoom lens from our back door this morning. It shows Monte Subasio – the great whaleback mountain in the background – with the radio mast that transmits the signal for Radio Subasio, a private radio station.

Later in the day I was the other side of Monte Subasio, getting the car loaded up with sacks of pellets. The mountain loomed over us, riding above the mist, with the snow much more in evidence.

A bell was tolling out of the mist.

“What church is that?” I asked the lad who was loading the car. “And why is it tolling in the middle of the day?”

“Oh that’s Santa Maria. There’s a funeral.”

It was almost like the world stopped. Froze. A snowy mountain, a church bell and the thought of someone slipping away into eternity.

“It’s having a real effect on me,” I told the lad.

He smiled, so I’m guessing he understood.

Pellets for the stove

November 2, 2015 Leave a comment
The dogs appreciating the prospect of warmth to come

The dogs appreciating prospects of future warmth

I went today to fetch more sacks of wooden pellets for the stove. We’re stocked up now for a fortnight or so. These are actually the pellets which we bought in advance of last winter and never used because we were away. (More about that in a future post.)

The dogs lost no time in occupying their usual positions – Taylor on his mat and Galileo on a green blanket on the pool steps. For anyone who remembers our dogs: note there is no Joules. He contracted very aggressive prostate cancer (despite being neutered) in April of this year and had to be put to sleep – by chance on his birthday. He was exactly ten years old.

Dug in

November 30, 2012 8 comments

Today we received a delivery of wood pellets – a full pallet, 78 sacks – which we hope will see us through the worst of the winter.

Just as well to be ready: there was the first snow on the mountains today.

The dogs immediately took possession of the new lay-out and didn’t seem at all perturbed by the stacks which form a bunker facing inwards towards the stove.

The dogs in front of the pellet sack bunker

The dogs in front of the pellet sack bunker

Kepler put in an appearance to see what was going on, then scarpered off again.

His normal place, on the blanket right in front of the stove, is still vacant in the photo but won’t be for long I dare say.

Problematic stove

October 27, 2011 1 comment

The cheapest heating fuel in these parts is wooden pellets made from reconstituted sawdust of either softwood or hardwood or a mixture.

The pellet stove

In a specially made stove, a hopper is stoked with the pellets which then drop at the required rate into a burner. An attractive orange flame can be seen through a glass window but no ashes escape and the surfaces are never too hot to touch.

When we chose our stove 4 years ago, it was about the only model that could heat a 100 square metre room and the water for a swimming pool. In fact it was too cutting edge for its own good.

It has given us a fair deal of heat over the years, but also an inordinate amount of trouble. Practically every Error Alert in the book has occurred at one time or another.

It has flooded the floor several times.

The company which manufactured the stove and, until the guarantee expired, was responsible for its defects, refuses to speak to ‘members of the public’. Requests and complaints have to be conveyed through specially contracted technicians, and for a long time they were unable to find anyone to take on the contract in the area.

When they did find someone, he ‘fixed’ the stove for us and almost as soon as he’d left, a valve ruptured and we were sprayed with evil-smelling boiling water shooting out in all directions.

The only technician who seems to understand our stove  is the one who installed it, and he lives over an hour away with travelling expenses to match.

A brand new Error Alert occurred this evening. I finally managed to reach a co-worker of our trusted technician; he guessed that the water temperature sensor has packed up.

It sounds expensive and I’m sure it will be. Meantime we have to huddle round our infra-red electric fire.

Pellet delivery

October 7, 2011 Leave a comment

It’s nearly time to batten down the hatches. Today we brought the tubs of plants in (cacti, a little grapefruit tree, primulas, etc) and received the first delivery of pellets.

One of the stacks of pellet sacks

These are white spruce-wood pellets in 15- kilogram sacks, to be burnt in our stove which takes nothing else.

The delivery men arranged to come, and almost as soon as I’d put the phone down, the heavens opened.  I was worried about the sacks getting wet and staying wet in their stack.

Fortunately the delivery men had thought of that, too. They phoned and suggested we cancel.

No sooner had we cancelled, than the sun came out. I phoned them back, and the delivery was on again.

Now we look like we’re in a bunker, with 66 sacks distributed in heaps 7 high behind the sofa and the armchair. We’ve put them nice and handy this year.

We’d ordered 4 tons of gravel as well. All 3 dogs thought the heap was great fun, and played variations of ‘I’m the King of the Castle’ on it for ages.

Preparing the house for winter

October 24, 2008 Leave a comment

We finally managed to get a plumber to replace our copper guttering which means that there should no longer be a constant stream of rainwater running down the face of the house from the dove-cote balcony. We had a few short words, first, though as the guttering was initially about 15cm short of the eaves it should have lapped under. Any rain, therefore, would have merely gone around the guttering and straight down the walls.

The guttering was organised by the painter whom we had given up on. No fault of his but we had made it a condition of his work that he organise a plumber to do the guttering – the last thing we wanted was two different contractors and two different lots of staging/scaffolding.

As always, our decorator went round in a whirlwind. None of his men seem to move particularly fast but turn your back for a second and they’ve done another wall. The house wall area is around 415 square metres and there are 25 windows (it cost a fortune to double-glaze). One coat of sealant on top of our fading and deteriorating paint and then two top coats of high-quartz, exterior quality emulsion in glorious pink!

It was a relief to see our repairs disappear under the new paint. If we had to sell in a hurry, the crack signs would upset a lot of buyers – unjustly so since the root cause was that the house is built on two separate foundation grids and they settled differentially when the house was constructed; six or seven years ago.

The new stove is gobbling up the pellets although now we’ve got everything automated, we use less with the fire on 100% of the time than we did when it was being switched on and off manually. It is a brute of a thing and cost us the best part of 4,000 Euros. It gets through 3 sacks of pellets every two days (4 Euros a sack) but in return it heats up the underfloor heating of the long-room (100 m2 floor area), the radiators, the water for the shower and the water for the indoor swimming pool via a heat exchanger. Unfortunately there is still some work to do on it and neither of the two side panels have been fitted on yet.

The insects and such are beginning to look for a winter home. Yesterday Damaris fished a drowned scorpion out of the indoor swimming pool and I killed a queen hornet in the long room too. Either would have been ‘fun’ to stand on.

The gardeners are coming less frequently now that the weather is turning. Although there is a lot to do, the colder temperatures make it less appealing and they cancel at every opportunity. They are a group of Moroccan brothers who alternate at weekends but have a tendency to take liberties – eg if it is raining where they are, they don’t come despite the fact that our microclimate is very often different to that in the valley where they live and it is commonplace to drive up the hill and out of the clouds (like on a plane) when going to our home.

We’ve bought a few more plants – climbers mainly – and these need to be planted this weekend. I can see Damaris struggling to do them if we get abandoned again.