This blog is about our travels in our solar powered "Airstream" and living off grid, in our passive solar home, near Bancroft, Ontario, Canada.

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Tuesday, 27 January 2009


Hi Friends;

Last Saturday I spent the day taking "Basic Photography for Beginners" at PIKTO in Toronto. Now, I never thought myself an amateur, but with the new digital cameras and all they can do I knew I wasn't getting the maximum use from my equipment. Thanks to my children, I learned a few new tricks and hope I've taken my photos to a new level.

You see, Saturday was a gift that I thought I didn't need but once there discovered a whole new aspect to photography.

This is my friend Earl, who also enjoys photography and doesn't mind having his picture taken. After 80 years of taking pictures, Earl has finally left the Polaroid camera behind and embraced the digital photographic age. Way to go Earl! Hope I'm still learning and open to new ideas when I'm your age.

Enjoy your day.

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Icicles, Design Team and Hearing Aids

Have you noticed how many homes have long icicles hanging from the eves? When we were kids we loved to break those icicles off and have sword fights. As a home owner you don't want to see icicles on your roof. Not because kids might like to play with them but because they are a sign of a serious heat loss problem with your house. If you are thinking of buying a house, check it out on a cold winter's day. You will soon know if it's well insulated.

Yesterday was President Barack Obama's inauguration and the US has high hopes for this young man. I read his speech and watched the cheering crowds as he mingled with the folks on Pennsylvania Ave. Lets hope that he is able to maintain the momentum and keep the people focused on recovery rather than despair for the future. I wish him well.

While the inauguration was unfolding life continued as usual for the majority of folks back here in our home-town. I drove Mary to work then went to find my address on College St. for my 10 o'clock appointment. It was a pleasure meeting Tom & Christine from Solares design and discussing our plans and dreams for Bancroft. Next step is to snowshoe our property with them on February 14th (How's that for a Valentine's Day treat?)

After lunch, I was off to Mount Sinai Hospital where I had a fitting for my hearing aids. Yes, I feel too young for hearing aids but Mary is getting tired of repeating everything, so these seem like a logical solution. I'll let you know how they work out.

Today it's more of the routine, so I need to get ready for the gym. Have a great day and be sure to help someone wherever you are.

Saturday, 17 January 2009

COLD DAYS in January

Saturday morning back in Brampton and the thermometer reads -22C. No wonder my gas bill is up significantly from last year.

Our plans today are to go to the Y this morning, then have a quiet easy day at home. Next week I meet with an architect to discuss some ideas about house designs for Bancroft. We'll see what happens.

We have appreciated all your suggestions for building in the "far north". Pat suggested making sure all decks were covered, (important in snow country), use a wood stove in the kitchen and include a screen porch for the bug seasons (thanks Pat) Robyn suggested using a "soapstone" stove which I had never heard of. Check it out if it's also new to you.

Next trip north is planned for February 13th. We hope to meet Duncan & Peggy and discuss the features in their new home, built just outside of Peterborough. I'll post pictures when we get back. Right now I'm leaning towards "Timber frame" building with a SIP exterior but I'm still open to suggestions and recommendations, so send them in.

Enjoy your weekend and I'll write again in a week.

Sunday, 4 January 2009

A Day in Bancroft

Friday night we celebrated Christmas at the "Pines" in Peterborough where Martha is our gracious host and Sean & Rachel look after our meals. The "Pines" is a beautiful home built in 1876 and lovingly maintained by Martha. We always sleep in the "fern" room, one of many beautiful bedrooms in the home.

Saturday morning we were up early and went to the Peterborough Farmers' Market, a fabulous market held every Saturday from 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. Get there early for the best selection and a chance to chat with the local vendors.

Then it was time to head north to Bancroft and see our property under snow. The day was perfect. The sun was out, the air was cold but tolerable, and the snow was crunchy under our feet. Sunglasses and sunscreen were definitely needed and snowshoes made it easy to get around. It was great to be back in Bancroft after so many months away.

Mary tried snowshoeing for the first time and was surprised at how easy she found it. She didn't stumble once and found the shoes light and easy for maneuvering. She will definitely use them again next time we are up in February.

For me, walking across the frozen pond and seeing all the animal tracks was the highlight of the day. We can't wait to build and live there full time.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Our Route

This is the route we usually take when travelling to Bancroft.
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A New Beginning

Dear friends and family

As most of you know, we are slowing developing our property in Bancroft. Since this is a new adventure for us and a new year (2009) for everyone I thought we should share our progress, trials and errors as we make adjustments to life in Bancroft. Join us as we share each visit and document the fun, progress and visitors we have each time we get a chance to get away.
The pictures above were taken as we worked and played on our place in 2008. I plan to add pictures and dialogue each time we are up there. Two projects for 2009 will be the re-building of the outdoor bake-oven and the improvement of the driveway into our property.

Add your comments and we look forward to seeing you in the summer.