Local Industry 2

Writing for Biofuels International I spend a lot of time phoning and emailing the US, Asia and various European countries. The latest topic though (processing biomass) gave me scope to check out local industry make some new business acquaintances. First, James Rigby of Tree Contractors. James lives at Cornerstones B&B (his wife runs it) but runs his own business. I had him and his gang cut down some trees on our land a couple of years ago but they generally do much bigger jobs and run the biggest portable woodchipper in the UK, the Bandit Beast. I had a chat with James and he agreed to send some photos.

Next, Clifford Jones Timber of Rhuthun (or Ruthin). They make fencing, gates, decking, log cabins. Pretty much any kind of outdoor woodwork. They have made briquettes from waste for some years and sold them as ‘Blazers Fuel Logs‘ (and under several own-brand labels in DIY stores / Garden Centres, but this year they opened a new plant to make pellets for central heating boilers so I went to see that in operation.

Pellet Mill at Clifford Jones
Pellet Mill at Clifford Jones

Most impressive feature of the whole operation is that there is no waste. All their waste wood, even the sawdust is used in pelleting. Some of the woodchip is used to fuel the dryer to dry the chip for pelleting. Bark is shredded and sold to parks and garden centres.

I took some photos, (this is one of mine) but got better ones from Eye Imagery who had taken the PR shots for the plant opening that I could use in the magazine piece. Eye Imagery is local too, based in Wrexham.

Next day I went to Richard Smalley International based in (of all places) Glynceiriog. ‘Glyn’ as people in ‘Llan’ know it is a modest village in the next valley. In fact ‘Glyn’ means valley and the Ceiriog is the river that runs through it so Glyn Ceiriog is both the valley and the village at its centre. The same happens here, Llangollen is in the Dee valley, Glyn Dyfrdwy in Welsh, and Glyndyfrdwy is the name of a village upstream from here.

Anyway, back to the plot, it’s not the place where you’d expect to find an international engineering company. Richard Smalley and wife Anne, run the company from a small office in their garden. They have several staff, some work in the same office, others at an assembly plant on the outskirts of Chirk.

Biochip 50 Wood Harvester I went to talk about their new product a combine harverster for forestry that can crop small trees chip them and pack the chips in bags for easy delivery. They are still building the prototype, but it’s based on several existing products so it shouldn’t present too many problems. No photos as yet but click the header above to get a nice big drawing of it.

Finally, back to James. He sent the photos in an email forwarded from the photographer, Andrew Gale. Andrew runs Dogsdinner Productions and his family owns Gale’s Wine Bar, my favourite restaurant in Llan, just across the road from Cornerstones. Oh, and Andrew is a member of the the Llangollen Enterprise (See previous post).

Local Industry

For some reason we have a group called Llangollen Enterprise where just about any other town would have a Chamber of Trade, and most people have no idea what it does. So when it announced an extraordinary meeting and billed it as a kind of re-launch I went along. Seems I’m a member now, odd because I’m not really a joiner of things. I recognised a few faces, it’s mostly shop keepers, hoteliers and B&B owners, but you never know who needs some words putting into a coherent sequence for their PR, website, whatever so might be useful.

Mini 9 -intosh!

I just got a new toy, a refurbed Dell Mini 9 for £164 from NDC. It was supposed to come with Linux, but due to a cock up arrived with WinXP installed. NDC offered to take it back but I was too anxious to play with it, so I installed the latest Ubuntu (9.04) and Mac4Lin. I’ve blogged about Mac4Lin before here, but I’m amazed how well it runs on a lttle netbook and how usable it is.

Mini 9-intosh (& an espresso)
Mini 9-intosh (& an espresso)

The Mini 9 seems robust, the keyboard is surprisingly usable with decent sized alpha-numeric keys, though some of the others such as Tab, Enter, Back etc are fiddly. The middle row of letters are used with a Fn key for F1, F2 etc. WiFi works with no hassle at all and the graphics system runs Compiz so you can have wobbly windows and essentially for Mac4Lin, the AWN dock. Built-in webcam works too, though strangely there is no built-in mic and I’m struggling at the moment to use an external one with Skype…

Flash Scroll Blockers

The wheel mouse is a wonderful device for quickly scanning down webpages, but my is it annoying when progress is halted because you’ve scrolled into a Flash frame. I’m getting used to manoeuvring around them but now I’m, seeing more pages with a video presentation on one side and a Flash advert on the other leaving just a narrow gap of scrollable page in the middle. Speed reading these pages is like tackling an obstacle course. Maybe the designers think it will make me read the advert, or maybe their CMS system just does it automatically and no-one really cares.

Another book finished

My DIY Wiring book has been published. It’s not actually available anywhere yet since the books are in a container somewhere between Thailand and the UK, but advance copies have made it by air, it looks good and more importantly I’ve been paid!

I’ve just finished writing a DIY Plumbing book for the same publisher GMC I did the photos and drawings for that too so it has taken over my life for the last few weeks. Now I’m back to Biofuels International, computers and negotiating some corporate work.