April 6, 2011


Release yourself from the Grid!
Energy Cafe is hosting this Wind Turbine Building course by V3 Power

Weekend of 21st & 22nd May 2011
9.00am – 6.00pm

Hawkwood Plant Nursery, Chingford E4 7UH

During this weekend course V3 Power will be teaching how to build a 1.2m diameter, 12V turbine from scratch along with tower and electrical system (to be integrated with Sally the Power Trolley!) for Energy Cafe.

You will get direct and significant hands-on experience carving turbine blades, wiring copper coils, soldering the stator, constructing the magnet rotors and welding the metal frame. By the end of the weekend the turbine will be up and running and you will have gained a good working knowledge of how to make a ‘Hugh Piggott’ turbine.

V3 courses are suitable for people without any prior engineering or practical experience who are keen to learn something completely new, and for people with loads of engineering experience wanting to get hands on with wind turbines. The fact that V3 have one instructor per 4 participants means they can ensure everyone is getting what they want from the course.

Fee: £230 or £180 concessions

The fee includes local-produce lunches prepared at Energy Cafe.
We can provide details of campsites nearby if you need accommodation.

Places are limited so book soon!

Email: pilotpublishing@googlemail.com  or phone: 07791246022


March 25, 2011

Spring news

Over the super moon equinox weekend we teamed up with Drawing Club – run by Sebastian Lowsley Williams – to host a day of drawing the trailer and its contents for the making of the Energy Cafe user manual.

Regents Studios runs parallel to Broadway Market – one of the busiest saturday markets in the east end. Situated slightly off the main drag we were able to unfold all the cafe resources and naturally occupy the car park for the afternoon.

The sun beat down into the early eve.

as Dandelion posed with swirl stove and solar cooker…

Meanwhile on the menu; spring soup for all the crew, potato cake…

and a special egguinox honey and banana cake. it was the first cake to be baked in the windy smithy oven. Baked for half an hour at 250degrees.

Rachael Matthews made a beautiful drawing of the solar powered unit on wheels (prototype 1) , designed by Lucy Sheldon. Read more on the Prick Your Finger blog.

It was a great day! Thanks for all who participated and made lovely drawings of the situation and to Dandelion the drawing club model. Energy cafe user Manual will be online soon!

February 28, 2011

Make Your Mark

The state, color, function and future of the trailer’s exterior has been hotly debated over the last year. We’ve been asking people to come up with their ideas for how it could be customized and here we’ve visualized some of the results.

Beach Cafe

Meadow Cafe

Forest Cafe

Moonlighting Cafe

Desert Cafe

Paris Cafe

Rainbow Cafe

Garden Cafe

A big thanks to everyone who contributed, including, Dominique, Kim, Emily, Theo, Elsa and Emily!

Can you imagine the trailer transformed? The possibilities are endless! We’ve uploaded the trailer template, if you’d like to make your own visualization, download, draw, email it and we’ll publish it on the blog.

click to download

trailer template

January 6, 2011

Hawkwood Plant Nursery Open Days

Sunday 28th July

Solar stewed blackberries at 75 degrees Celsius

A few sunny spells amidst a mainly cloudy grey sky day. Optimistically we opened up the flat pack solar cooker – newly modelled  out of thin ply, black tape and aluminium tape.

For the Hawkwood Plant Nursery Open Day visitors we made refreshing seasonal drinks –  whilst Lucy demonstrated how to use the new solar cooker. Vince had been foraging and brought his findings – a punnet of blackberries  – picked that morning from around Waltham Abbey.

So with blackberries, lime, a little icing sugar and water

we made a solar stewed blackberry and lime juice

in a blackened pot covered in a plastic bag. This solar cooker is lightweight and adaptable – its best angle depends on the sunlight and for further improvements Lucy suggests we place a grate under the pan – reducing shadow impact. Despite little sun when the clouds passed and the sun peeped out- even for a few minutes –  the water temperature rose quite fast!

Maximum temperature reached: 75 degrees Celsius – fine for blackberry juice. Warming and refreshing. Getting to boiling point is a challenge – virtually impossible here? but solar cooking is perfect for slow cooking, stews etc – barbeques too.

We’re in the testing phase –  everyone came up with some great solar cooking ideas – and so now we wait to catch the next heatwave.  The flat pack Solar cooker was made by Lucy Sheldon. Thanks to Amanda for helping out and Lucas too!

Sunday 27th June

Sister Swirl Stove arrives

It was another scorching summers Open Day at the Hawkwood Plant Nursery

Elderflower cordial on tap to quench the thirsts. Great to see a few familiar faces arriving….including a surprise visitor – Andrew Heggy with his new invention Sister Swirl Stove, this one slightly more compact than his first model ( that we use constantly for boiling water) is designed for portability.

Energy Cafe is slowly building a resource of portable handmade stoves. We’d asked Andrew if he could design one  – that would be easy to carry and move around.

We’re very happy to meet Sister Swirl, looking forward to testing during future cook ups. Now we have the brother and sister swirl stoves and the flat pack solar cooker…many more possibilities …from storm kettles, rocket stoves to tin can micro cookers and hay boxes. If you would like to add to the energy cafe portable cooker and stove resource  do get in touch.

Sister Swirl Stove is made of bits from a luggage rack, a microphone stand and  a fire extingusher. The fan is from a computer. 

Andrew gave an insightful introduction how it works and explained the concept “it is that it gives you the three things that you need in a fire – you need a high temperature, you need turbulence – for gas mixing and you need time for the flame to burn out and that’s what these things combine.”

June 23, 2010

Solstice Solar Cooking

Being summer solstice weekend, it felt timely to start some solar-cooking experimentation, thanks to Lucy who has been making simple cookers out of tin foil and cardboard.

Although the weather wasn’t quite up to temperature to cook the noodle dish she managed last week, she set up in the glass house encouraging people to make their own cookers.

We’ll be trying out more DIY solar cooking inventions with Lucy in the sunny future and finding solar solutions for the off-grid kitchen.

Want to try it? Click here to download the solar cooker DIY handout

March 16, 2009

Energy Cafe ‘Charge your knowledge’

Critical Mass Food search

Saturday 14th March

Two search parties set off on the hunt for seasonal wild food…


heading for Lee Valley Park…


and the direction of Epping Forest…


Updates on our findings,wild food cook ups and gourmet recipes coming soon!

March 16, 2009

Energy College ‘Charge Your Knowledge’

Tuesday 10th March

The making of a Solar Hot Water Heater.




Davids step by step guide coming soon!