The greenhouse in Norwich is a café, a bookstore, a gallery, a house, a shop and an information hub. The dappled shade in the courtyard garden is provided by clever solar panels. Above the shop lives one of the original 12 students, who 20 year on, is still running the space to provide an example of positive solutions. The flat is one of Englands Superhomes, which are very energy efficient and serve as an example to help others. The Greenhouse is a particularly useful example because it is a listed building which they had to retrofit. The vast majority of the UK housing stock would need to be retrofitted to make them more sustainable, we won’t be able to build new houses, as it would release far far more carbon. There are currently more houses in the UK than we need, the difficulty is a large number of them have been bought as investments and are vacant. The centre of London is a sad example of this. So we can’t keep building on the little nature habitat land we have left to feed the ever more hungry monster of the housing market. Retrofitting is therefore a vital part of the culture change we need to be able to lower our carbon emissions. As to how we change our culture to avoid our homes being at the whim of the investment market, we’ll leave that for later… 😉
OK, I confess I got quite trigger happy with the videos in Norwich, but it was so varied and such a surprise for me, so I’ll let the videos do the talking while I carry on with the walking.
I know that you should avoid comparisons in many ways, but I can’t help it, I love Norfolk! As a small child I visited the Norfolk Broads once but all I remember is a little of the beautiful lakes and rivers seen from a little rented houseboat, and the mooring fees man that I thought was the milkman. I didn’t really have any other impression of Norfolk. What I’ve been finding is a delight. The incredibly friendly people, the many reserves and environmental treasures, and Norwich which is a walkable size but with so many things to enjoy.
Most of us have heard of the Broads, large expanses of water which were man made by centuries of peat extraction. Norfolk is one of the only areas to have avoided the destructive influence of a major motorway, it hasn’t become a commuter belt. Instead, organisations like the Norfolk Wildlife Trust have been preserving some of our most precious habitat in the country. Over the next few days I’ll be walking through just a few of the 50 reserves managed by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust.
Healthland is a type of habitat with heather and low scrub plants. In Suffolk we walked through the gorgeous ‘Dead Mans Grave’ and heathland areas managed with light grazing by Natural England. A motorbike came across the heath and afterwards we could hear the distressed sheep bleating. We realised that two of the lambs had made a run for it from the motorbike and ended up on the wrong side of the fence, now unable to find their way back. Sama and I then had the very amusing and tricky job of herding them back. When the last one finally crossed the gate threshold back to it’s mum it did a little jump for joy. As someone once told me “lambs have more than their fair share of cute”.