A really early start, up at 6 to be at the station at 7. Met Ivana, one of the St Nicks staff, on the way to the station and as I take longer locking my bike up (I take the panniers off and lock them to the bike) she bought both our tickets, as St Nicks had offered to reimburse the cost of travel, so it made sense to get one receipt not two. And Ivana is the person who deals with that anyway, so it made even more sense!
However, we sat down on platform 3... the train was due to leave from platform 1, and we were so engrossed in talking that we missed it. Oh dear, we both felt silly and both felt responsible. Ivana said she'd thought we were sitting in the wrong place but hadn't said anything, I felt responsible because I was doing most of the talking (as usual!) and was engrossed in the conversation instead of concentrating on the job in hand, ie catching the 7.07 direct to Burnley.
So we got the 7.24 to Leeds and changed there, hoping to catch the original train, which left Leeds at 7.51, but ours got in at 7.52 so we missed it. There's only one train an hour to Burnley Manchester Road, so we had nearly an hour to kill. So we went for a walk round some bits of Leeds that Ivana hadn't seen, and as she arrived from the Czech Republic only 4 years ago, she hasn't seen much. She was impressed by the Dark Arches with the River Aire flowing under the railway station, and then I suggested looking at the Corn Exchange. However as it was only 8.15 in the morning, it was shut, so we walked around it. Amazingly, and luckily, a fire-door was open, so we were able to pop inside and have a quick look. I think it is most impressive when there's no-one in it, and the roof is fantastic. She was so pleased to be able to look inside, but we didn't spend long in there because we weren't supposed to be there! Walked under the railway to the canal which was photogenic enough for Ivana to get her camera out, getting a curious shot of a pair of pink shoes strangely hanging in a tree.
We got back to the station in good time to get the 8.51, supposedly arriving in Burnley an hour later. However it was delayed and we arrived after 10, so we eventually hailed a taxi and that took us to the front of Towneley Hall, where the Community Composting Network was holding a workshop on food waste composting... and they'd only just started the first session. This was on the Animal By-Products Regulations, which have given many composting projects huge problems. However, they have to be abided by and this is why CCN was holding this workshop.
The next session was on Waste Management Licencing and planning permission, and then onto the various system options available to food waste composters, and how to manage this process, which included an old friend 'HACCP' (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points) which I have fond memories from my Environmental Health training days.
The buffet lunch was a good opportunity to meet the other composters and hear about their projects. Then we were given a tour of the Permaculture project hosting today's workshop, called 'Offshoots'. This is in the walled garden next to Towneley Hall, and is a garden with several buildings, and a food waste collection and composting operation. They have 3 'Rocket' composters which are horizontal boxes which have a hopper at one end to put compostable materials into, and a motorised axle and blades in an Archimedes screw shape, so that when the axle rotates, the materials are pushed along. The machine is insulated and can be heated, has temperature loggers, and each one can take a tonne of materials each week, spitting it out after 14 days in a 'raw young compost' form, which needs maturation before use. I really like these contraptions and this was the first time I'd seen one close up and working. But what I was most impressed with was the system which used maturing compost to heat up hand-washing water. Basically a pile of compost was placed around a plastic barrel of water, and within this closed barrel was a heat exchanger, a long coil of tubing with one end connected to a supply of rainwater off the roof, under a bit of pressure, and the other leading to the tap and wash basin. The barrel within the compost pile heated up, heating the hand-washing water. The compost had to be replaced every few weeks, to keep the temperature up. Ingenious.
After a cuppa, we went back to the lecture theatre and learnt about different sorts of collections, on-site composting needing no collections, and how to monitor the project and evaluate for the funders and partners.
Ivana and I decided to walk back into Burnley and catch the 5.25 train, so we had lots of time to wander and admire trees and a pond, and visit a little corner shop for a fruit snack. The train was on time and took the allotted 2 hours. As Out Of This World is close to the station, I let myself into the back and collected my compost feedstock (!) and cycled back home, getting in at 8. A full and fun, fascinating and unforgettable day out.