Centre for Alternative Technology

I didn’t think that I was going to get the opportunity to write for a few days, but then it dawned at me that being here at the Centre for Alternative Technology was too good an opportunity to miss in terms of blogging. So, yesterday I had a little wander round to take some photos of the site that you just might find inspiring…

A map of the site

A map of the site

There is so much to see, that I can only give you a flavour of things here. There are lots of examples of renewable energy:

An old-fashioned wind turbine

An old-fashioned wind turbine

Solar energy options

Solar energy options

A really large-scale solar array

A really large-scale solar array

Some information about it

Some information about it

There are ideas for small spaces:

Container gardening in a yard

Container gardening in a yard

Information about building:

Choose your insulation

Choose your insulation

Applied in practice in the buildings:

The accommodation was built using sustainable materials

The accommodation was built using sustainable materials

And there are activities and exhibits galore:

Plenty to learn and enjoy

Plenty to learn and enjoy

And I even encountered another mollusc:

That's one big slug!

That’s one big slug!

Plus, my learners have been very busy creating their own display whilst increasing their understanding of ecology:

All these were created on the first day of my Introduction to Ecology course

All these were created on the first day of my Introduction to Ecology course

This afternoon we are off to see the sand dunes at Ynyslas and (hopefully) visit the submerged forest that has been exposed by the recent storms.

If you want to visit CAT, it’s open to the public from Easter and located in the middle of Wales, near Machynlleth. Really, it is well worth a visit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting hooked

Despite my skill at making bath puffs, it has become increasingly clear to me that it should be possible to crochet other things – it’s just that I have been unable to make this transition. So, yesterday, I took my first step to rectify this and went on a beginners’ crochet course at the wonderful Denmark Farm Conservation Centre.

OK, I accept that this was cheating a bit, because I’m not a beginner, but I felt that being able to make a chain and a bath puff hardly constituted being anything more than a beginner.

Everyone produced a granny square - here are three of them

Everyone produced a granny square – here are three of them

I learnt such a lot, though. All those on-line resources and books are great, but you can’t beat a face-to-face lesson – particularly to help get to grips with a skill you’ve been struggling with for ages. The other people who were there could not crochet at all, so I was at a bit of an advantage, but by the end of the morning, we had all produced a granny square and after lunch everyone made at least one more and learnt how to crochet them together.

By the end of the day, I'd made all these!

By the end of the day, I’d made all these!

Being the obsessive that I am, and being on a roll, I got carried away and produced a total of four and a half granny squares, two joined together, plus a circular coaster. I made the latter using a pattern that the tutor supplied – I really wanted to find out if I could follow a written pattern and it turns out I could (although it was really simple). We had a chat about following a chart and what the terminology means (including the difference between UK and US) and so now I feel ready to embark on something more challenging… I’m thinking fingerless mittens, which the tutor also gave us a pattern for, before I attempt a crocheted snail… well, the knitted ones need a friend!

Ecology… again

I have spent the past few days teaching; this time is was an introduction to ecology. This is a course that I have been running for   years now, so I’m anxious that I don’t become bored with it beciase I’m sure the participants would notice. As a result, every time, I try to incorporate something different, whilst still retaining the activities that seem to work best. Even after all these years, we are still playing the predator-prey game that involves sandpaper and blindfolds (you’ll have to come on the course if you want to find out more)! And learners always enjoy going out and looking at habitats in the field – thinking about why they are there and what might influence them. However, there were two new aspects to this offering of the course.

First, I made use of my recently purchased pH metre. We measured the acidity of soil from three habitats – two different woodland areas and two different grassland areas. Trying to work out how the pH values might differ and why turned out to be a really engaging exercise. Next time, I think we’ll dig soil pits too.

Second, I had a new prop: the Loch Ness Monster. I knitted her specially for the course. Again, though, if you want to find out why she appears on an ecology course, you’ll have to come along!

Nessie making her debut on my Introduction to Ecology course

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