Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Council gets it right!

IT seems that the council feels the electric vehicle revolution is not for them at the moment.

You see, the authority has been sparking the idea of switching its fleet of cars to electric vehicles so it can make full use of solar power facilities at its Crookhill depot.

Councillors have now decided not to stick their fingers in the socket as it were because they fear it is “a bit of a shaky proposition to be first”.

They are worried that it might just be a ‘Save the Planet’ gimmick, that taking the plunge should only come when there is wider support for electric vehicles from the public and transport operators and that “the business case and timing is not right”.

This isn’t a case of dozens of future council vehicles driving through the borough trailing hundreds of miles of electric cable behind them. The principle is quite simple. You have an electric car, various charging points, and off you go on your journey.

The problem comes when the driver needs to put another ten pence in the meter... and that might happen an awful lot.

Clean energy is one thing but a report to council shows that such cars might have to be recharged after just 120 miles and that such recharging could take up to eight hours.

Just two or three trips across the Weymouth and Portland area can easily rack up 50-60 miles while a loop from the town centre to Easton on Portland, back to Chickerell and out to areas such as Littlemoor and Preston can be more than 25 miles on a single trip.

It means such cars being considered by the council might need a lengthy recharge after just part of a morning out and about making calls.

I’m a big fan of solar power but, in this instance and at this time and at current technology levels, I think the council has probably got it right.

Why are all the flowers here?

IF YOU can believe the experts then at this time of year there should be 20-30 species of plant in flower, but in 2015 they’ve recorded a staggering 368 in bloom.

That represents more than one in seven of all the flowering plants in this country and includes the likes of gorse which shouldn’t flower until April or May. I’ve got five plants in flower in my garden right now.

It lends weight that, even in mild areas such as ours, the effects of climate change are becoming more and more apparent.

The Met Office said 2014 was the warmest year on record. We’re having our fourth mild winter in a row and there just haven’t been the frosts to kill early flowers off.

The most common bloomers have been daisies and dandelions and climate experts are saying that human influence could contribute to temperature records being smashed, but there is a down side.

Dorset is famous for its carpets of spring flowers, but if we get very cold weather in February then plants in unseasonal flower might be badly hit.

Enjoy the winter splashes of colour everywhere but be prepared for a floral graveyard if winter hits back.

Widgets, grommets and doobries

IF YOU have widget A (i) and screw B in front of you, why can’t they be fitted into hole C as it says in the instructions?

The answer, of course, is that some of the chest of drawer parts you are trying to assemble seem to have found their way into the box from a train wreck.

I raise the horrors of flatpack furniture construction only because so many people have raised it with me recently as they battle to put together special Christmas purchases or that now thrice damned bargain you bought from the January sales.

To be quite honest, I don’t know what all the fuss is about. Instructions such as “Place the back ‘10’ into the rabbet of the top ‘1’ and the side ‘3’ and ‘4’. See fig. 11.1” couldn’t be clearer, could they?

The fact is that all flatpack manufacturers must produce a set of assembly instructions capable of being easily understood by three ordinary people. They’ve just chosen Einstein, Turing and Hornby (he invented meccano) as their three ordinary people. The rest of us have to play catch-up.

Experience has shown that the easiest way to tackle assembly is to clear a room, lay all the pieces out on the floor first and consult the check list to work out which bits are missing.

A few insulting phone calls and it shouldn’t be more than six weeks before the missing parts are posted to you.

Next take an extremely close look at the screws. These are wilful fittings which often require not just different types of screwdriver but different sizes as well and you will always reach a critical assembly point to discover that the right screwdriver is still in a box inside the shed at the bottom of the garden.

Eventually, all challenges overcome, you can stand back and look at your completed piece of furniture... a mutant nightmare which belongs in the Tate Modern or one of the scenes from Transformers which was left on the cutting room floor to avoid upsetting children. 

Well done.


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