Monday, 30 November 2009

Windless in the highlands !!! and 35 years smoking today

Collages35

 

Finally ordered my wind genny last night and for the first time in ages there is not a breathe of air about ,knowing our luck we are just about to hit the dead calm no wind age which is due to last for the next 300 years

still i can always attach a wheel to it and get custard to run round in circles do him some good to get off the bed for a while..

also today it was 35 wonderful years of happy smoking since i took up the magical weed ..

I these days off people looking down their nose if you smoke or heaven forbid eat a cream cake

i is with great pride that i have reached my 35th year

peace and light

andy the dafthermit

 

Snowflakes and Evil ,whispers in the dark

 

cold 003 first snow

Sitting here in my old bus high in the mountains..

The snow is gently falling so much beauty all around the mountains tower around us and my heart soars with the sheer beauty of my homeland.

But listening to another story on the radio this one called tarred and feathered a story from Ireland and what they call the troubles

My heart sinks and then a news flash someone planted a bomb on a train in Russian killing over twenty people then another bomb goes off just as the emergency crews arrive.

Evil slithers across the earth yet again..

Under the cover of darkness the evil emerges and someone somewhere will pay the price

The cowards with their f**ked up beliefs  Have struck again then scurried off into the darkness of the night no doubt to sit around a fire and pat themselves on the back

how brave were we lads !!!!! didn’t we do well..

As a traveller i have often come across this sort of thing but thankfully not to the extreme i mention above

But being parked up somewhere out of the way and a van pulls up and out comes 8 to 10 guys (police officers without their numbers )

Or the countless drive bye’s sometimes it is just a horn blasted at you .other occasions a brick or some object is hurled at your home.

The fear that grips you and the disbelief as you try to explain to people what happened only to be dismissed as a liar or worse ..

During my time in the army we were faced with these faceless attacks but usually they targeted the NAFFI or soft targets as the saying goes..

This evil is only allowed to fester and continue to grow because off silence

We all must come together and say sod you and your sick minds

The courage to stand up to these scum in the face off their cowardly acts is what will one day i pray win through

my prayers and hope go out to anyone having to face these cowards and my prayer is that one day we will all come together and say NO MORE

Peace and light

 

andy the dafthermit 

 

 

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Hidden Strengths and WOZA

 

 

2009-03-21 daft hermit

Last night while snuggled up in bed with the fire roaring i was as always listening to the radio and as always it was on radio 4 ..

I listened to a group of woman from Zimbabwe , to me they summed up all that is good about the human spirit the courage and love that these women show simply made me weep with joy that there is hope for us all..

to visit them click here

below is the page from their official site

By Jesse Berney

obama-sml

Washington, DC - President Barack Obama and Ethel Kennedy presented Magodonga Mahlangu and her organization, Women of Zimbabwe Arise (WOZA), with the 2009 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award this evening at a ceremony in the East Room of the White House. The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award annually honors courageous and innovative human rights defenders throughout the world who stand up against injustice, often at great personal risk.

“By her example, Magodonga has shown the women of WOZA and the people of Zimbabwe that they can undermine their oppressors’ power with their own power — that they can sap a dictator’s strength with their own. Her courage has inspired others to summon theirs. And the organization’s name, WOZA — which means “come forward” — has become its impact — its impact has been even more as people know of the violence that they face, and more people have come forward to join them,” said President Obama.

The event, sponsored by the RFK Center for Justice and Human Rights (RFK Center), also included remarks by Kerry Kennedy and a tribute to Senator Edward Kennedy, an RFK Center founding board member from 1968-2009. RFK Board Chair and former Chair of the Massachusetts Democratic Party Phil Johnston, introduced the President. Over 200 guests including First Lady Michelle Obama, Administration officials, Members of Congress and the Washington diplomatic community attended.

WOZA is a grassroots movement working to empower women from all walks of life to mobilize and take non-violent action against injustice. WOZA helps its members to stand up for human rights and speak up about the worsening economic, social and political conditions in Zimbabwe at great personal risk. Since its founding in December 2002, WOZA has staged hundreds of peaceful marches in support of democratic reform and women’s empowerment. The Government of Zimbabwe has jailed Ms. Mahlangu along with WOZA founder Jenni Williams over 30 times and thousands of WOZA members have spent time in police custody.

“Arrests do not deter us because WOZA has empowered us to believe that we deserve better. We deserve to have a roof over our head, food in our stomachs, our children in schools and the nation working”, said Ms. Mahlangu. “We deserve to live in dignity and free from fear; and it is our right to have our voices heard and respected. That is why I joined WOZA. While Mugabe boasts of having degrees in violence, I and 75,000 WOZA members who stand beside me, have degrees in non-violence.”

“We are not fighting a revolution in Zimbabwe, we are leading an evolution. And civic education is our tool to evolve the hearts and minds of Zimbabweans to build a strong, new, African democracy where respect, tolerance and accountability are key”, said Jenni Williams, who accepted the award on behalf of the organization.

Williams added, “Mr. President you know how invaluable community mobilizing can be. We have learnt that knocking on doors, talking with and listening to people is the way we can rebuild our nation. We call on you, to support community mobilizers who are organized to empower Zimbabweans to deliver change from the ground up.”

Ms. Mahlangu, along with hundreds of WOZA members, conducts WOZA protests with their signature style of peaceful, yet relentless actions. Together with Ms. Williams, she has led campaigns with WOZA supporters to address many of the most crucial human rights issues facing Zimbabwean women, including domestic violence, the rights to food and education for children, and the rights to participation and association.

“As of today, the RFK Center and all of us in this room are watching and galvanizing support for the women of WOZA,” said Kerry Kennedy. “We will investigate, advocate, and educate on the issues WOZA confronts. We will stand with the women of WOZA as they speak truth to power.”

For 41 years, the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice & Human Rights has worked for a more peaceful and just world. The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award was first established in 1984.

Today, the RFK Center works hand in hand with RFK Human Rights Laureates on innovative long-term campaigns to combat modern day slavery in Florida’s tomato fields, empower survivors of Hurricane Katrina to return home and rebuild their communities, and work to create a peace and reconciliation process in Darfur.

Winners are selected by an independent panel of human rights experts. The 2009 panel included Claudio Grossman; Gay McDougall; Makau Mutua, Dean of University at Buffalo Law School, The State University of New York; Sushma Raman, President of Southern California Grantmakers; Dr. William F. Schultz, Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress.

Friday, 27 November 2009

Great widget ,how to videos (living off the grid)


How to Videos & Articles: eHow.com

10 days to Copenhagen - Tell Canada to take climate change seriously

Hi there
The Canadian government probably isn't top of your list of environmental villains. But maybe it should be.
Canada's staggering lack of action on climate change is contributing to droughts, floods and sea level rise in small island states and vulnerable countries around the world – places like Bangladesh, The Maldives and Mozambique.
Alongside Canada, these countries are all members of the Commonwealth of Nations – the international grouping of countries that seeks to 'contribute to the enrichment of life for all'.
Based on their appalling record on climate change, we don't think Canada is fit to be part of the Commonwealth, because their recklessly spiralling greenhouse gas emissions threaten the survival of other member states.
Here are the facts:
  • Canada's emissions rose 26.2% between 1990 and 2007. That's not missing your Kyoto targets, that’s destroying them.
  • The Canadian government is committed to the expansion of the Albertan tar sands. Tar sands are the dirtiest and most damaging way to get oil out of the ground ever devised.
  • A recent report put Canada bottom of the G8 league table in terms of tackling climate change.
Ten days before Copenhagen, we should expect something more from one of the richest countries in the world.
This weekend the Commonwealth, including Canada, are meeting in Trinidad to discuss their role in the world, and how they’re going to work together to tackle climate change.
Join us to tell the Canadian High Commission – the Canadian representative in the UK - that if Canada isn't going to step up, be part of strong action on climate change, and stop endangering others, they've got no place in the Commonwealth.
Don't get us wrong – we like the Canadians. Historically Canada and the UK have been allies and friends. But the government of Canada is letting their country down.
Please write to the Canadian High Commissioner today, and tell him that if Canada is going to remain in the Commonwealth they need to step up and truly take action on climate change.
Join the Wave
Also, it's the Wave next Saturday (5th December). Tens of thousands of people from all walks of life and countless organisations will be joining the Wave, flowing through the streets of London and Glasgow to show their support for a safe climate future for us all. We need your help to tell world leaders they need to take urgent action.
Find out here how to join the events in London and Glasgow. Dress code: anything blue!
Christian Hunt
27 November 2009
Forward this email to a friend »
Tar Sands
Tell Canada that if they don't take action on climate change we don't think they should be part of the Commonwealth.
take action
More Greenpeace goodness on the web
We're also on Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, Flickr, del.icio.us and twitter - come be our friend!
If you would like to find out about getting active in your local area, visit www.greenpeace.org.uk/active.
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To help us keep fighting climate change, defending our oceans and protecting ancient forests, you can make a regular donation by direct debit or a single payment by credit card. Thank you!
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Thursday, 26 November 2009

wee pics




 

Family !!!!

 

me and mel 006-9

 

As a couple off hermits that live high in the mountains ,we have come to terms with the fact that we do not have family apart from each another…

Through the last few tough years it has been ourselves that have got us through those times ,both myself and Mel grew up without LOVE from immediate family infact i guess nowadays it would be classed as abuse on so many levels .

But what this has taught us both is when the SHTF not to hope that anyone will be there and as a result we have become more and more independent

To people that are lucky enough to grow up in a loving family i feel so happy for them ,but this time off the year they tend to ram it down our throats along with the countless people that have endured a non loving up bringing so i say aye enjoy the love but don’t expect us to join in …..

peace and light

 

a couple of happy hermits

Monday, 23 November 2009

Wind Genny for the blackbus Living off the grid,living-of-grid-escape-bills-and-rat race

 On monday i will be putting the order in for the new wind genny
all in with two batteries and delivery to the highlands it comes in at £466.68





WIND300W12V
300w wind turbine



Retail Price: £ 230.00  (excl. Vat)
                    £ 264.50   (incl. Vat)


300W



RATED POWER
300W
MAX POWER
400W
OUTPUT DC VOLTAGE
12V
START WIND SPEED
3m/s
RATED WIND SPEED
7m/s
MAX WIND SPEED
40m/s
Cut-Out Wind Speed
None
Blade Pitch Control
None, Fixed Pitch
Overspeed Protection
Auto Furl
Gearbox
None, Direct Drive
Temperature Range
-40 to +60°C
ROTOR Diameter
2.50m
Rotor speed
400rpm
blade
3
Blade material
Reinforced fiber glass
Height of tower
6.0m
Generator
3 phase permanent magnet alternator
Sine Inverter power output
AC 220V, 50HZ
Weight
123 kg
Packing for shipping
Two Cartons
76x59x30cm-73kgs
202x20x20cm-50kgs


 
The 300W wind turbine is supplied as a complete kit. The only other things you will need to install this unit are: a set of deep cycle batteries and inverter(which we can supply, if required), a diversion load controller and cement for the foundations. The following items make up the 300W wind turbine kit:
 

BOX 1:
 
3 section tower, labelled upper, middle and lower (each 2m long):
Tail-section including 6 bolts for fin;
3 blades;
3 catenary wire pieces for stays;
6 U bolts to secure catenary wire;
2 round spikes for securing footing;
3 angled pegs to secure catenary wire to ground;
3 turnbuckles with hook and eye ends;


Box2:

Footing for the tower, including pivot bolt;
Wind turbine body including cabling and bolt for tail;
Blade hub with 6 bolts and restraining pieces
Fin;
A nose cone
Rectifier/regulator unit 

 .....................................................................................................................

another amazing piece of kit  a water turbine 


Water Turbines

If you are lucky enough to have a water course across your property, Navitron can usually provide a water turbine which will allow you to generate a significant proportion on your electricity needs. Even a modest flow of water may be capable of providing all of your electricity and heating needs, or alternatively, you can sell the excess energy back to the National Grid at attractive rates. Navitron turbines output 220v ac, and have a built in control regulator which maintains a constant electrical load on the turbine, regardless of power consumption - this provide frequency stability and avoids voltage going too high when there is no power drawn from the turbine. We sell a range of turbines including kaplan (for low head), crossflow and turgo (for high head). In fact, with suitable modifications to jet size, it is possible to utilise the Navitron turgo turbines at very high head, making it a viable alternative to the pelton turbine. We have a range of turbines, loosely divided into 'high', 'medium' and 'low' head categories as well as a small floating waterwheel for sites with no available head



High Head (10m-100m)


and yet another piece of magice a water wheel
Waterwheels (no head)



This is a custom-made 'Stream wheel' or 'Undershot water wheel'. It produces a small amount of power if it is tethered in moving water. The whole unit is mounted on floats, so it will rise and fall with changes in water level.
This is for information purposes only and is currently not an available product.


...............................................................

I thought i would add this link
It shows you how to build a battery bank

click here to visit SmartGuage  Electronics


How to correctly interconnect multiple batteries to form one larger bank.
Two things I have noticed in my (more than) 20 years in this business are that:-
A. Many "specialists" simply tell you..... "do it this way, this is the correct way" without ever showing why they consider it to be the correct way, and often it isn't, which is perhaps why they couldn't show you why it is(!)
B. Some things have been done for so long, in a certain manner, that it seems they must be the best way of doing it. Otherwise why hasn't another method appeared?
Here at SmartGauge Electronics we always show you why one method is better. We don't expect you to take our word for it. We will happily use practical examples, theory, maths or whatever else it takes to show the results of various ways of doing things.
Interconnecting multiple batteries to form one larger bank is one case in point. Though in this case, newer methods have emerged over the years. Unfortunatley they still aren't perfect.
Here is a diagram showing the old way of interconnecting 4 batteries to form one larger bank. This is a method that we still see in many installations.



Method 1
Notice that the connections to the main installation are all taken from one end, i.e. from the end battery.
The interconnecting leads will have some resistance. It will be low, but it still exists, and at the level of charge and discharge currents we see in these installations, the resistance will be significant in that it will have a measurable effect.
Typically the batteries are linked together with 35mm cable in a good installation (often much smaller in a poor installation). 35mm copper cable has a resistance of around 0.0006 Ohms per metre so the 20cm length between each battery will have a resistance of 0.00012 Ohms. This, admittedly, is close to nothing. But add onto this the 0.0002 Ohms for each connection interface (i.e. cable to crimp, crimp to battery post etc) and we find that the resistance between each battery post is around 0.0015 Ohms.



If we draw 100 amps from this battery bank we will effectively be drawing 25 amps from each battery. Or so we think.
In actual fact what we find is that more current is drawn from the bottom battery, with the current draw getting progressively less as we get towards the top of the diagram.
The effect is greater than would be expected.
Whilst this diagram looks simple, the calculation is incredibly difficult to do completely because the internal resistance of the batteries affects the outcome so much.
However look at where the load would be connected. It is clear that the power coming from the bottom battery only has to travel through the main connection leads. The power from the next battery up has to travel through the same main connection leads but in addition also has to travel through the 2 interconnecting leads to the next battery. The next battery up has to go through 4 sets of interconnecting leads. The top one has to go through 6 sets of interconnecting leads. So the top battery will be providing much less current than the bottom battery.
During charging exactly the same thing happens, the bottom battery gets charged with a higher current than the top battery.
The result is that the bottom battery is worked harder, discharged harder, charged harder. It fails earlier. The batteries are not being treated equally.
Now in all fairness, many people say "but the difference is negligible, the resistances are so small, so the effect will also be small".
The problem is that in very low resistance circuits (as we have here) huge differences in current can be produced by tiny variations in battery voltage. I'm not going to produce the calculations here because they really are quite horrific. I actually used a PC based simulator to produce these results because it is simply too time consuming to do them by hand.
Battery internal resistance = 0.02 Ohms
Interconnecting lead resistance = 0.0015 Ohms per link
Total load on batteries = 100 amps

The bottom battery provides 35.9 amps of this.
The next battery up provides 26.2 amps.
The next battery up provides 20.4 amps.
The top battery provides 17.8 amps.

So the bottom battery provides over twice the current of the top battery.
This is an enormous imbalance between the batteries. The bottom battery is being worked over twice as hard as the top battery. The effects of this are rather complex and do not mean that the life of the bottom battery will be half that of the top battery, because as the bottom battery loses capacity quicker (due to it being worked harder) the other three batteries will start to take more of the load. But the nett effect is that the battery bank, as a whole, ages much quicker than with proper balancing.
I have to be honest now and say that when I first did this calculation in about 1990 I completely refused to believe the results. The results seemed so exaggerated. So much so that I wired up a battery bank and did the experiment for real, taking real measurements. The calculations were indeed correct.



Method 2
All that has changed in this diagram is that the main feeds to the rest of the installation are now taken from diagonally opposite posts.
It is simple to achieve but the difference in the results are truly astounding for such a simple modification.
The connecting leads, in fact, everything else in the installation remains identical.
Also, it doesn't matter which lead (positive or negative) is moved, Whichever is easiest is the correct one to move.
The results of this modification, when compared to the original diagram are shown below. Only that one single connection has been moved.



After this simple modification, with the same 100 amp load....
The bottom battery provides 26.7 amps of this.
The next battery up provides 23.2 amps.
The next battery up provides 23.2 amps.
The top battery provides 26.7 amps.

This is quite clearly a massive improvement over the first method. The batteries are much closer to being correctly balanced. However they are still not perfectly balanced.
How far is it necessary to go to get the matching equal?
Well, the better the quality of the batteries, the more important it becomes. The lower the internal resistance of the batteries, the more important it is to get them properly balanced.
So that now leaves the question of whether or not there is a wiring method to perfectly balance the batteries.
Before getting to that, it should be pointed out that doing the calculation is not actually required in order to arrive at the ultimate interconnection method. I simply did them to show the magnitude of the problem.
In order to get a better balancing it is simply necessary to get the number of interconnecting links as close as equal between each battery and the final loads.
In the first example the power from the bottom battery passed through no interconnecting links. The top battery passed through 6 links.
In the 2nd example (the much improved one), the power from the top and bottom battery both passed through a total of 3 links. That from the middle 2 batteries also both passed through 3 links which begs the question "why were they not therefore perfectly balanced?". The answer is that some of the links have to pass more total current and this therefore increases the voltage drop along their length.
And now we get to the correctly wired version where all the batteries are perfectly balanced.


Method 3
This looks more complicated.
It is actually quite simple to achieve but requires two extra interconnectng links and two terminal posts.
Note that it is important that all 4 links on each side are the same length otherwise one of the main benefits (that of equal resistance between each battery and the loads) is lost.
The difference in results between this and the 2nd example are much smaller than the differences between the 1st and 2nd (which are enormous) but with expensive batteries it might be worth the additional work. Most people (myself included) don't consider the expense and time to be worthwhile unless expensive batteries are being fitted or if the number of batteries exceeds 8.

This method isn't always so easy to install because of the required terminal posts. In some installations there is simply no room to fit these. So, thanks to a colleague, we can also present another wiring method that achieves perfect battery balancing...............


Method 4
And here it is.
This looks odd but it's actually quite simple. What has been done here is to start with 2 pairs of batteries. Each wired in the proper "cross diagonal" method. Then each pair is wired together, again in the cross diagonal method.
Notice that for each individual battery, the current always goes through a total of one long link and one short link before reaching the loads.
This method also achieves perfect balance between all 4 batteries and may be easier to wire up in some installations. Many thanks to "smileypete" from www.canalworld.net/forums for this idea.



There really is no excuse whatsoever (apart from, perhaps, incompetence or laziness) for using the first example given at the top of this page.
The other three methods achieve much better balancing with the final two achieving perfect balancing between all four batteries.
I think I am right in saying that this is the only example I have ever come across where doing something the correct way actually looks less elegant than doing it incorrectly.
Finally, if you only have 2 batteries, then simply linking them together and taking the main feeds from diagonally opposite corners cannot be improved upon.
Once the number of batteries gets to 3 or more then these other methods have to be looked at.
With a large number of batteries it may be necessary to go to the 3rd method shown above.
Even with 8 batteries it is possible to get reasonable balancing by placing the main "take off" feeds from somewhere down the chain instead of from the end batteries. Remember, count the number of links each battery needs to run through to reach the final loads and get these as equal as possible.
Finally, if your battery bank has various take off points on different batteries, change it now! It is extremely bad practice. Not only does it mess up the battery balancing, it also makes trouble shooting very much more complicated and looks awful.
And finally, finally, we keep getting asked where the chargers should be connected to. We didn't address this question because it seemed so blatantly obvious where they should be connected that it never occurred to us that anyone might be unsure. The chargers should always be connected to the same points as the loads. Without exception.







Sunday, 22 November 2009

The True Journey

Long Road-1

For a while now i have had the thought off and even tried to write about my belief of the true journey we as humans are on..

After watching a programme on tv tonight ,called “In the shadow of the Moon” a journey with the astronauts to the moon.

I am convinced that we are at a crossroads of humanity and we must look to the past for the way ahead..

Watching that time in our history when the world was united aboard a small craft hurtling to the moon ,people from all over the globe smiled and held their breathe together as those three men took our dreams and hopes and made them a reality .

I have always believed that it is our destiny to travel the solar system ,it is the place where after all  we where all born into..

For a brief time we all stood and gazed at the heavens ..

America took us there and i believe that the world must come together and together we can all once again look skyward  and hopefully stop all the back stabbing and fighting and come together as one

and begin the true journey a journey of unimaginable excitement and wonder

 

Every atom that is us ,has at one time travelled huge distances of space to come together to make both you and me .

earthrise

Earthrise image credit NASA

 

I urge you to take an hour and watch this incredible film

peace and light

The Dafthermit x

 

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Rain water harvesting ,and independent power supply

timeless
Well it is that time of the year again when we are bombarded by xmas and images of people standing knee deep in water .

I think it is time we really took a long hard look at this ,if you are unlucky enough to live in a flood area the cost of insurance continues to spiral year on year

As a person that does not trust or wish to insure against everything instead i would rather rely on my own ability to overcome things

It is now so important that we begin to harvest the rain after all it is a major resource that we allow to simply wash away

if every house in the land installed a rain water harvesting system the benefits would be enormous

1.water bills from the huge water companies would be reduced if not completely  eradicated
2 flooding would be reduced to houses in low lying land this would also result in a lot of the pollution that run off causes being stopped
3.
more of this topic can be found here 
bluebanner

Horsebox conversion

Some more pictures as i make some headway with the inside

100_8350 100_8351 100_8359
100_8376 100_8353 100_8354 100_8368 100_8371 100_8377 100_8386

so after saving some more money it will be back to town for some more screws etc

peace and light x

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Healing Circle








Living of the grid escape the bills and the rat race

Hi and welcome to my wee page about living off the grid

At the age of 49 i find that my old grans words she said to me many years ago has helped me to get to this age and owe nothing to no one i have no debt

and my aim has always been to live a simple life
To me producing my own power and therefore no bills makes sense both in my pocket and i believe on the topic of global and enviroment it makes sense to take down the grid and not to rely on big companies to light our houses and the fact that they increase the price almost weekly now surely it is time we all took back control

Below i will show you how myself my wife Mel our 2 wee dogs and cats live a simple debt free life

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Leyland National Bus Conversion (The Blackbus)

Keep getting asked for more pictures of the Blackbus and the conversion so here it is :
wee bus when she was in service
The Blackbus when she was in service
chloe 097chloe 094chloe 091bedroom 002bedroom 003 bedroom 006 bedroom 009 bedroom 011 bedroom 012 bedroom 020 bedroom 013 bedroom 015 bedroom 016 bedroom 017 bedroom 018 bedroom 019 bedroom 024 bedroom 025 bedroom 026bedroom 027bedroom 028 bedroom 029 bedroom 035 bus 007 bus 009 bus 010 bus 012 bus 016-1 bus 0182009_1020cameranew0128 chloe 065  chloe 064 firstparkup 001gt 014 frogs etc 005 frogs etc 007 frogs etc 008 frogs etc 009 frogs etc 010 kitchen 011 kitchen 045kitchen 051 mels pics ,bedroom 001 sunset 003 sunset 026     

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A wee film about us on STVs the HOUR SHOW click on STV logo to see the film

A wee film about us on STVs the HOUR SHOW click on STV logo to see the film
Andy the Daft Hermit lives 45 minutes outside Inverness with his wife Mel in an old bus parked in a layby. This current home of theirs is the longest they have ever stayed in one spot. “I’ve been travelling now 25 years,” said Andy Lowe. “Mel’s been travelling 15. One of the reasons we’ve come and stayed up here is because of Mel’s health. I wanted to bring her to the mountains for fresh air and clean water and just a slower pace of life.” Mel has had breast cancer twice, skin cancer once, and for three years believed she had bone cancer after being wrongly diagnosed. Andy’s belief in the restorative powers of the north made them pack up ‘The Black Bus’ that they live in and cross the border into Scotland. New Highland home for hermit couple Andy and Mel “I think we both believe in trying to get to a more simple way of life,” said Andy, “but it’s strange for us because we are sort of hermits, or we like to live separate, but it’s not being anti-social… it’s just the way we are that allows us to be creative.” Andy first began travelling when he left the army. Fed up with bureaucracy he packed a rucksack and left for France and has been travelling ever since. By investing any money the couple have earned into solar panels and wind generators they now live a self-sustaining existence, without electric bills, and collect rain water “straight from Heaven”. “It’s not easy,” said Mel. “There might be time when there might not be enough facilities around, but you always find a way, you know?” Rather than rejecting technology, Andy blogs about his travels online and collaborates with artists from around the world via his ‘Scratchy Heid Film Studio’, which he runs from a static trailer next to the couple’s bus. He explained his philosophy: “My belief is that if you can go through life and you drop dead and you’ve got a balance there that slightly outweighs the good than the bad, you’ve done alright. “Yesterday, with what Mel’s been through with the cancer and all that, I had a woman on one of my sites there that thanked me for the writing, for the positive things, and to me that’s worth everything. You can keep your millions, we’re not interested. That is what we do.” To check out Andy’s artwork and video projects check out his website. MORE FROM THE NORTH

Loch Ness film festival

Loch Ness film festival
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By submitting your story you could win £2500, and we have lots of smaller cash awards up for grabs so don't forget to follow us on Twitter and Facebook to be the first to learn about them. You can also put yourself in the running to be our Best Ambassador by talking about us and tagging us @wernlights on Twitter or @wearenorthernlights on Facebook.

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Scottish Independence TV

Scottish Independence TV
This group has been set up to raise awareness of Scottish Independence in the run up to the 2014 referendum. We also welcome groups that support Palestine, Wales, Catalonia, The Basque and a United Ireland. We promote healthy debate on this group feel free to add your friends or anyone you think may be interested in the topics discussed here. We will also be setting up a youtube channel so anyone who can make decent videos message the admin. Twitter accounts and Blogspot pages will also be linked to this group so watch this space! Saor Alba!

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