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  • : The blog of Frank Beswick. It deals with my interests in religious, philosophical spiritual matters and horticulture/self-reliance
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July 29 2011 6 29 /07 /July /2011 13:35

Koi ponds must be deep enough to keep the fish safe from predators and warm in winter, especially in the British climate, and must also have protection for human safety. They need to be situated in the right place and made with suitable materials, properly fitted. The ponds need a filtration system to keep their water fresh enough for the carp.

First considerations

Where to put the pond

Ponds should be situated away from trees whose growing roots might puncture them and release water, and should not be situated where trees will not deposit considerable number of leaves, especially if they are toxic leaves or seeds. You should also ensure that your fishpond is not too close to your house, as it might threaten the foundations. It should be away from children's play areas and should have security netting.

Depth and width

While some fish owners keep their carp in shallow ponds, this is not safe. In the British climate, especially as you go further north, shallow water can freeze entirely, killing all the pond fish and herons seeking fish prey that appreciate shallow water. Most experts recommend 4 feet 6 inches, about 1.33 metres minimum. 2 metres is considered more appropriate. 10 feet

(3 metres) wide is a reasonable width, though some go to 15 feet.


If you want any pond with vertical sides, you must have a solid construction, e.g. concrete. At this point, professional help will not go amiss. If you are excavating it yourself, do not do so alone, as a cave-in can kill you. Fibreglass sides are not recommended, as fibreglass is toxic to fish.

A butyl liner can be used. This should more than cover the total surface area of pond and sides. If you use liners, ensure that the bottom and sides of the pond are free from stones, especially sharp ones, and the bottom is covered with sand before the liner goes on.

Next stages

Pond care is essential. Fish requires oxygenated water, or else they suffocate. In the wild, this is provided by streams flowing into ponds. However, artificial ponds require oxygenation. A pond aerator will be necessary, it should be one that can aerate the pond's size. A fish tank aerator is not good enough.

You will need a filtration system, otherwise your fish will be swimming in water polluted by their own excrement. Koi filters must be big enough to deal with the size of your pond, so you need to purchase them from a specialist source. The pump must be of suitable size. It should be wired by a professional electrician, because when electricity is close to water, mistakes are fatal.

Fische im Gartenteich
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July 21 2011 5 21 /07 /July /2011 06:22

Building your home involves purchasing land, gaining planning permission and working with local council officials. You will need to decide what you want, what you can afford and what skills and labour you need to do it. You will need a careful plan and be clear about connecting utilities, such as water, sewage and electricity.

The first stage

Check legalities

You must find plots of land for sale to build your own house. If a plot has planning permission, you must build only what is permitted. However, if there is no permission, you must seek it. It is important to appoint an architect to show the council what you intend to construct. You should appoint a lawyer to do legal searches on the land to see what problems might arise, such as possible subsidence, road schemes and so on. Professional help is not a luxury.


Home builders require a hardheaded grasp of their budget in money and resources, in tools, time and labour. You may need to find out how go about money raising .You must decide what tasks will require professional help, such as roof making, and which will require more than one person. For safety reasons, you should not build roofs on your own. If you need help, takes quotes and decide on a competent and reliable house builder to help you.

Skills audit

Decide what skills you have and what you have not. Do a similar audit for your spouse/partner. Then determine what skills you can acquire before the building starts. You will also need to determine what tools you need, whether you have them and where to hire or buy them. Be very safety conscious and acquire all safety equipment and training, as building sites are dangerous places.


Decisions about what to build are important. Many self-build projects involve restoring an old property. However, old buildings come with special problems, such as walls becoming off true through subsidence over years. Some people go for a conventional brick design, However, many are now looking at alternative designs, such as prefabricated or log houses, which are cheaper than traditional brick structures and which are available from several reputable companies, who can provide support services.

Whatever design you choose, you will need to have utilities put in. Sewers are important, as is running water and either gas or electricity or both. You may decide on a wind turbine and/or solar panels. However, you have a legal obligation to consult and be inspected by local authority planning inspectors at all states in the process, because if you do not co-operate, they can require you to take your building down.

Building BlocksBuilding the walls
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July 18 2011 2 18 /07 /July /2011 09:32

A loft hatch can lose much heat from the house through the roof. It can be insulated using a variety of materials, and ideally the insulation must include some form of draught excluder at the edges. There is a variety or products on sale in do it yourself stores in Britain, but it is always possible to make your own.

The roof

The reason for insulating the hatch

Heat rises. So, if you heat your house, the heat will rise up the staircase and pass through the ceiling and out through the roof. Loft insulation prevents this happening, but many people do not insulate the loft or attic hatch. Thus, energy experts believe that up to five percent of your heat can be lost through the hatch.

The problem

The difficulty with insulating a hatch is that we tend to get loft insulation in rolls of rockwool. This means that we cannot just lay a roll over the hatch, as this will impede access to the loft. The trouble with rockwool is that you cannot cut a piece and just nail it down, as nails will not stick to it, and a small piece may not be stable and be blown off by draughts which will find their way into the loft from under the eaves.


Some companies supply loft hatch insulators. These are rigid structures which can be fastened onto the hatch. B and Q and Wickes both advertise them. The advantage of commercially produced loft hatch insulation is that it will have draught proofing built-in. This deals with the problem that heat will leak up through the sides of the hatch, so in any loft hatch insulation draught proofing is necessary. Commercially produced loft or attic hatch insulation must be guaranteed fireproof.

However, it is possible to make your own. If you do so, ensure that all safety standards are met. You must not use flammable material which could spread fires through the loft or attic space. Some people suggest getting a large plastic bag bigger than the hatch space and filling it with insulating material. The overlap will provide the draught exclusion that you require.

Insulation materials can include rockwool, which we use in our loft insulation anyway. Some people suggest using recycled plastic bottles, though whether this is safe in a fire remains uncertain. Some DiY enthusiasts might fill such a bag with polystyrene. The bag can be fastened onto the loft hatch with glue. Do not use superglue, as you might want to take it off sometime.

Insulating loft hatch
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