Friday, 24 September 2010

Woo hoo wine, and an ode to free-cycling ... ...

As part of our ongoing effort in being more self sufficient we have ventured into wine making, and so far we have made 2 batches of wine, with things we foraged for, we have one lot of blackberry wine and one lot of wild plum wine.
Last night I filtered the plum wine to get rid of the sediment using a filter we got as part of a load of wine making equipment from a very nice chap on free-cycle, in fact we got pretty much everything you need, apart from the ingredients (yeasts,fruit and stuff) we had bought a couple of demi johns from our local charity shop, but that's about it, we were looking in to what to do with the piles of fruit we had form our trips, and that's when the free-cycle e-mail came through offering all the wine making equipment.

The filter (even came with filter papers) -

Filtering the wine.
We did have to buy some sterilizer and some nutrients and we got some campden tablets in case we need them for future wines, which we will be making if the ones we have turn out okay, and so far they seem pretty good.

Here's a picture of the wine after I'd filtered it, it's in 2 demi johns because there's just a little too much to get it all in one, it doesn't seem to be affecting it.

The wine (this ones wild plum) -

I took the picture at night, under the kitchen lights, which doesn't do justice to the colour.
It tastes great, and luckily in amongst the wine making stuff was a hydrometer as well, so we can work out what percentage it is and other things, pretty handy really.
As it turns out there was an interesting looking air lock in with some of the equipment, on closer inspection it turns out it was a glass one, it's cool and makes a really nice sound as the gas goes through it.

Here it is - 
Glass airlock.
Here's a picture of the blackberry wine, which should be ready for bottling up soon.

Blackberry wine - 

This was taken before the plum wine (in the tub) was put into demi johns.
I can't really describe the colour of the wines, the plum wine is like a redish colour, and the blackberry wine is really dark red, almost purple, I will have to add a couple more pictures of the wines in glasses so you can see the colour, it has been a good experience and from what I've learned so far it isn't that difficult to make your own wine, there are plenty of good articles on the web about wine making,recipes and the like, google is your friend.

And now for free cycle, see with out getting the wine making stuff from free cycle we would have had to find other uses for our foraged goods as we probably wouldn't have been able to afford buying what we got in one big buy, so that's why I think free cycle is great, we have been lucky with the things we've found, for example the glass drying cabinet I turned into a dehydrator was from free cycle.

There are some other things we got, and perhaps the most unexpected was this - 

yes we really did get it for free.
As you can see it's a Newtonian telescope, and it has all the bits you need to start star gazing (we put it together to see if it was all there) I have since used it to look at the moon, it shows a very clear image, and I'm now working on a camera mount for it, so we can use dslr to take pictures.

The main reason we asked about the telescope when it came up on free-cycle was for our son, he has started to express an interest in planets and the moon and such like, so we figured if we were lucky enough to be offered the telescope it would be a bonus, we had no idea what sort of telescope it was as the lady who offered it didn't say, so I was quite surprised when she showed it to me, and I had to ask if she was sure she wanted to give it away, and to my surprise again she said she had been trying to give it to schools in the area, but can you believe none would take it ? I can't think why.
She also gave use some other things, like knitting needles and other knitting/sewing equipment and an un-opened chemistry kit, which again she had tried to give away to schools, but none would take it, so we will be using both the telescope and chemistry set for my sons education, and just for fun really.

I would like to say though that we only e-mail about things we can make use of, I actually managed to get enough parts to build a file server as well, but as I said unless we need it we don't ask, which seems fair to me ? I have heard stories of people who use free cycling to make money (one chap managed to make £700 from doing it) I think this is not in the spirit of it though, but I guess it's not illegal ? it just seems a little mean to take things under the pretence your going to use them and then sell them on, I can see why people do it, but I don't think they should.
Anyway enough of that, here's a link (opens in new window) to free cycles site - freecycle you should be able to find a group near to you, so why not join ? you might find something useful or you can use it to free cycle some of your un-wanted items.

Thanks for reading.


  1. Wow, that is one cool telescope!
    I gotta start paying attention to my local freecycle again.

  2. It was a bit of luck really, we have been lucky with the stuff we've got, it's well worth keeping an eye on it.