A Few Scots Proverbs

Better alane than in ill company.

Better rue sit than rue flit.

Cut your coat according to your claith.

Daylight will peep through a sma hole.

Enough’s as good as a feast.

Fore-warned, half armed.

He’ll soon be a beggar that canna say nae.

He that does you an ill turn will ne’er forgie you.

He that lives upon hope has a slim diet.

He that looks to frets, frets follow him.

He that wad eat the kernel maun crack the nut.

His heart is in his hose.

Law-makers should na be law-breakers.

Laugh at leisure, ye may greet e’er night.

Learn you tae an use and ye’ll ca’t custom.

Little ken’d the less cared for.

Make the best of an ill bargain.

Malice is mindfou.

Never quat certainty for hope.

Oppression will make a wise man mad.

Set a knave to grip a knave.

She‘s better than she‘s bonny.

The higher up the greater fa‘.

The mair noble the mair humble.

The mair mischief the better sport.

The poor man’s ay put to the warst.


Epictetus on Desires

“To (children) who put their hand into a narrow necked earthen vessel and bring out figs and nuts, this happens; if they fill the hand, they cannot take it out, and then they cry. Drop a few of them and you will draw things out. And do you part with your desires: do not desire many things and you will have what you want. ”

Epictetus, Discourses

LED Bulbs

The first time I saw an LED was when my Aunt Sheila brought a Texas Instruments LED watch from America in 1977.

More recently, Shuji Nakamura, Isamu Akasaki and Hiroshi Amano won the Nobel Prize for physics in 2014 for their work on blue LEDs, which were essential in the development of the white LEDs now used in lighting.

LED lightbulbs currently have an efficiency of up to 223 lumens per watt. For comparison, incandescent lamps typically put out about 16 lumens per watt (LED bulbs also last about 20 times as long as incandescent, so more savings there).

Apparently, about 10% of global energy production is consumed by lighting, so the potential savings in CO2 emissions are huge.

On a smaller scale, this article in Which? magazine says the average household could save £232 by switching from halogen to LED bulbs.

I’m going to switch all our remaining CFL and incandescent bulbs (There are only a few left) to LED over the coming few months.

The Daily Stoic — Quick Book Review

I got this book because I’m interested in Stoicism.

It contains 366 snippets of stoic wisdom, organised into daily servings.

The quotes from the philosophers themselves are great. It’s just that the prosaic ramblings of the “Authors”, expounding on those quotes is a bit off-putting.

I would save yourself some money and find a good stoic account on Twitter instead — you’re likely to get more of the original content; less of the contemporary ramblings.

Here’s a sample entry for today’s date:

Dishwasher Versus Hand Washing

I was going to work out the annual costs of using a dishwasher versus washing dishes in the sink but someone has done a pretty comprehensive job already: here. (From 2012 but the prices shouldn’t be too different from today.)

In summary: she says there’s not a huge difference in energy costs if you hand-wash the dishes in running water versus using a dishwasher (~£40 / year).

However, I worked out that on our current tariff, 2.5 KWh to heat running water every day would cost ~£125 / year. (Using a basin would cut this hugely.)

There’s the cost of dishwasher tablets (About 20p each), which adds up to about £70 a year — more than the cost of the electricity the machine uses.

Then there’s the price of the washer in the first place. Importantly, a lot of emissions will have been created in manufacturing it.

I’ll have to look further into this and see if I can come up with more definitive information.

Volkswagen Move Up! 2013 / Long-Term Review


I’ve owned this car since 2015. It had one previous owner. Mileage was just short of 19,000 when I got it. I paid £4700 cash from a private seller (eBay advert).


First thing you notice is that this is quite a short car, noticeably shorter than my old Fiesta for example. Despite this, legroom is great – much better than you would expect. I’m quite tall (6’2″) and I don’t have to have the driver’s seat all the way back. There’s also a little space beside the clutch pedal where you can fully stretch out your left leg.

The front seats are comfortable. The driver’s seat is adjustable for height. There’s plenty of headroom. I haven’t sat in the back seats but there’s reasonable legroom in there.

The heater warms up adequately for Spring or Autumn within 2 or 3 miles. Winter is more like 10 miles. The air conditioning is adequate for Scottish summers.

Visibility is very good, with the usual exception of the A pillar being a bit of an obstruction.

It’s fairly quiet on the motorway, even at 70mph.

The ride is quite compliant: potholes are absorbed smoothly — it’s much better than my old Fiesta Zetec.


Acceleration is about what you’d expect from a one litre engine. I tend to drive quite slowly so have only had it near the redline once and it was adequate.

Gearing is quite high – 60 MPH is 2500 RPM in top. 70 is 3000. If you want decent acceleration on the motorway from 50mph you have to drop it into third gear. You can’t put it into top on the flat until you’re doing at least 40mph. There’s a gear change indicator on the dash which suggests you should shift up even when the engine would struggle but you can just ignore that.


I measured it over a couple of tankfuls and it was getting 58-59 mpg. This was from mixed town and A road driving at a moderate pace. On the motorway at 55mph it returns about 65mpg. One thing I have noticed is that the fuel gauge shows absolutely full for the first 100 miles or so, then goes down fairly rapidly. My brother reckons this is a trick to fool would-be buyers on a test drive into thinking it’s super economical. Whatever; it’s a little deceptive.

Insurance is group one. Road tax is currently £20 a year. Spares are plentiful and cheap – it shares most parts with the Seat Mii and the Skoda Citigo.


It seems to handle quite well, though I tend to be a slow driver, as I’ve said, so I don’t know what it’s like on the limit. Body roll is about average for a non-sporty car. The standard issue tyres don’t inspire much confidence in the wet. They’re a brand I hadn’t heard of. I’ll be replacing them with Continentals when they’re done.


Firstly, the boot is pretty small. You can get maybe six or seven bags of shopping in there. The boot floor has two positions and can be raised or lowered depending on what you need, though I keep it in the lower position for more space. The rear seats fold easily to give a reasonably flat load area. One niggle is that the parcel shelf doesn’t rise and fall with the boot lid – it clicks into place in the fully open position and it’s easy to forget to put it back down again, so that it blocks your rear view.


The controls are light — steering, clutch and brakes. The steering has electrical assist. Feel through the wheel is good. The dash is well laid out with clear gauges.


The tyre valve caps are difficult to get your fingers into because the wheel trims are quite deep. I plan to find some longer caps which would be easier to remove when putting air in the tyres.

The headlights are adjustable for height but they don’t really go high enough if you’re driving solo. Not a major issue but noticeable on the motorway in the dark where you can’t see quite far enough ahead. (Update — I adjusted them with a 6mm Allen key. Easy to do.) 

The bonnet dips down from the windscreen forward, meaning you can’t see where the car ends. All you can see is the windscreen, meaning parking involves a bit of guesswork. The bonnet is very short though, so it’s not much of a problem.

My car came with one of those get-you-home puncture repair kits which I don’t much fancy, so I bought an unused OEM full-size spare wheel and jack on eBay for £60.

It’s a three cylinder engine but you would never guess – it’s as smooth as any four.

The Move Up! comes with ESP. (The Take Up! doesn’t have this.) It also has combined side / head airbags (as does the entire range.) It has a five star Euro NCAP rating, which is a nice bonus for such a small car.

One thing I have noticed is that it’s affected quite a bit by crosswinds. Not unmanageable but noticeable all the same. It has a high side profile and low weight (929 Kg), which probably explains this.

Gearbox Issues

I’ve seen complaints here and there about the Up! gearbox. In my experience it’s fine. A few times it has balked at going into first or reverse from a standing start but if you dip the clutch and maybe give it a rev, problem solved.
There’s a little bit of noise (Very slight clatter) from the transmission at idle but it’s barely noticeable. Neither of these is a real problem and certainly shouldn’t put you off getting an Up!


I think this is a great little car. It’s comfortable, economical and safe. The build quality is excellent. You can pick one up for very little money. I’m very happy with mine.

43,000 Mile Update

I’ve had it serviced once a year by an independent mechanic. Cost is about £175 including MOT.

Nothing much has gone wrong with it other than the driver’s side electric window is noisy (Regulator on the way out?) and the clutch can be a bit juddery when it’s cold.

Economy remains good at about 60 MPG.

I’ve put Continental tyres on it all round. Grip isn’t great in the wet, particularly the front end. Not sure why this is — light weight of the car maybe?

I broke the sound system by playing The Cult’s “Sanctuary” at full-blast. Could be the amp or the speaker. I’ll just live with it.

The headlights were aiming a bit low — it only illuminated a few car lengths in front. I fixed it with a 6 mm Allen key the other day — the adjusters are fairly obvious.

Other than that it’s been fine and I have no complaints really.
Will update this review in another while.

Microwave Versus Kettle

I did a quick experiment to find out which was more efficient for making a mug of tea: the kettle or the microwave.

Kettle: 3 KW
Microwave: 700 W

The kettle took almost exactly 1 minute to boil a mug of water.
The microwave took about 3 minutes.

Energy used / Kettle = 3,000 Watts  x 1/60H= 50 WH

Energy used / Microwave =  700 Watts  x 3/60H = 35 WH

A saving of 15 watt-hours per mug.  I probably have about 8 mugs of tea or coffee per day, so a saving of 43.8 KWH / £6.25 per year on my current tariff.

Food Emissions Calculator

I was trying to work out my (Approximate) total CO2 emissions per year.

The WWF calculator said food accounted for about 25% of it but I was looking for a number.

This calculator provides that (It’s aimed at a UK audience). You get a breakdown of which foods you’re consuming versus how much CO2 they generate.

Some of my results were surprising:

  • Carbon from beans: 567 kg per year
  • Carbon from carrots: 236 kg per year
  • Carbon from cheese: 108.5 kg per year

Beans alone account for almost a third of the emissions I would generate in a year of driving.

Answering the questions for the calculator drew my attention to the fact that it’s not just food miles that account for emissions, there’s also refrigeration.

Possibly I’ll look at home-growing some veg this year, even if it’s just beans.