Castle playgrounds and central heating

Yesterday I booked a car and took the kids for lunch and a play at Drum Castle. Drum Castle is displaying some of the art from Aberdeen Art Gallery while renovations are underway at the gallery and so the castle is now open all through the winter. It’s so nice to be able to go to a castle for lunch on Sunday and it’s only about 20 minutes away too. The car booking cost a little over £10 and because it was one of the electric cars there was no fuel cost whatsoever. 


I must admit I am a nervous driver and now that I drive so rarely I am even more the Grandma behind the wheel than I was before. However that didn’t stop me from going through a red light. I was stopped at an intersection waiting and then the pedestrian light went green so off I went. Fortunately there were no pedestrians crossing in front of me but I like to think I wouldn’t have bowled them over if there were. I think I’m so used to paying attention to little green men telling me when to cross that I forgot I was in a car rather than on foot or on my bike. Daniel said to me from the back seat, “Have you even got a licence?”.

The playground at Drum Castle is terrific. The kids had a fantastic time tearing about and we could have stayed there all afternoon.

It’s amazing how many things you can make for a playground using only natural materials. They have woods with stepping stones:


A maze made out of vines:


The kids also like the playground telephone:


The flying fox is always a hit:


Yesterday our boiler broke down again and there’s snow on the ground this morning. We really need to buy a new one and we have had a few quotes for this already. It’s going to cost about £4000. I would really prefer not to get a gas-fired boiler because I’d prefer a non-fossil fuel solution but I couldn’t find a viable alternative. We already use Good Energy for all our electricity but our heating is through natural gas. There is a new type of boiler coming on the market which uses gas but that also generates electricity at the same time: A Flow Boiler. We’d quite like to get one of these but the company is so new that they haven’t installed any of them yet. What do other people use to heat their homes? I’d like to put in a log burner and I think we may do that at some point.

15 Replies to “Castle playgrounds and central heating”

    1. I’m pretty sure we don’t qualify for a grant. I think those are just for people on benefits.

      1. I’m pretty sure you still need to be on benefits to qualify for this. I did investigate at one point.

  1. Re: possible grants for boiler replacement. You’ll have to look through the Scottish Government web sites to see what is available in Scotland. However, I expect that you are not going to qualify for any possible grant because these grants are means-tested.

    Also, it is not worth going for any heating system under the Renewable Heat Incentive because you are already on mains gas, which is the cheapest form of heating in the UK. Switching to electric heating may be low carbon, if your electricity comes from a low carbon source. Otherwise, it can be just as (or more so) carbon intensive as gas.

    Modern gas boilers are already at nominal 90% efficiency, although whether that is achievable in practice is another question. I do not know much about domestic combined heat and power systems. You may save money by getting cheaper electricity but you are only going to get the same amount of energy out of a unit of gas (there is no way round the First Law of Thermodynamics).

    We have a log burner and it is wonderful. A lovely cosy heat. We are in the country so there is not a problem with smoke but you are in a city, so there may be restrictions.

    Best energy saving measure for heating: keep turning down the thermostat in 0.5C decrements until the occupants start complaining, then tweak it back up 0.5C.

    1. Yes, we wouldn’t qualify for a grant as those are usually just for people on benefits. I think the combined heat and power system is quite a new thing but the company hasn’t started installations yet and I’m not sure that we can wait much longer. This is the third time our boiler has stopped working since December. I looked into log burners and there don’t seem to be any restrictions in Aberdeen. We’ll sort out our central heating first though because if we did get a log burner we’d use it as a secondary source of heating.

      1. A quick search suggested that Aberdeen isn’t/ doesn’t have a smoke control zone, but better to check.
        How insulated is your house? IS it an old granite one you can’t do anything to, how is the attic, etc? I’m using perhaps half what I used to because I have a properly insulated attic and cavity wall insulation, but that’s all only possible in a later 20th century build.

      2. What’s left of the roof cavity is well insulated but we have bedrooms in the roof and these don’t have ceiling insulation because there’s no attic above them. It does seem better to invest in insulation than heating.

  2. Your driving paragraph had me laughing out loud. Too funny, and I love your son’s comment!

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed that bit! I knew as soon as I was part-way through the intersection what I had done but I had to just keep on going.

  3. I’ve not noticed red traffic lights before and gone through them. Just as well I don’t drive often any more. Love log burners, really miss not having one. All the ash is messy, though, the most efficient ones are Woodwarms and Clearviews give you less ash, but it still goes everywhere.

    1. Glad I’m not the only one to go through a red light! And I miss not having a log burner too but yeah, you’re right about the mess.

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