Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Wednesday 30th May 07

My hundredth blog-diary entry!

Today was a quite flat day, spent most of it in the house, Gill and the boys went to town and did get trousers and shoes. I did some emails, lots of Googlechat with my friend, a fair amount of housework, some paperwork and about an hour in the front garden cutting the hedge (by hand, low carbon method, with very nice freecycled shears) and an hour shredding the twiggy bits ready for a new batch in the compostumbler.

So for a landmark online diary, quite a boring day really. Didn't even get on my bike! Miss my bike when I don't get out on it!

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Tuesday 29th May 07

An odd day... a slow start but at 10ish we decided to go to town and get some shoes for the boys as they're growing out of them, and I need some summer sandals too. Gill wanted to cycle in on her own and I went in with the boys the quiet route, and we went to Out Of This World to pick up the compostables first.

We had agreed to meet up at the fountain in Parliament St at 11.35 but as we arrived, Gill was there and looking flustered and unhappy. She said that she'd just had her bag snatched off the back rack of her bike, and it had £100 in it and various cards and other things...

She said that she wanted to retrace her steps incase it had fallen off, but I wanted to phone the police and check various back alleys where stolen bags are dumped after being rifled through for money. She asked me to take the boys home and she'd retrace her steps home. I tried to phone the police but had no coins to do this (no mobile phone either, as part of my 'low carbon lifestyle') so went to Whittards shop and asked them for help. They phoned the police (non emergency) and I explained what had happened, they said that they'd look out for the bag.

Then the boys and I cycled home, via the Heslington Road Veg shop where Ipicked up some more recycling. When we got back home Gill was there looking relieved and happy... she'd found her bag, in the road outside the Shell Petrol station, with cars driving over it... and everything still in it! The funny thing was (for her anyway!) that on the way up Lawrence St, she passed a black nun from the Poor Clares whom Gill has given her seat to on the bus a couple of times, and the nun greeted her. When Gill found her bag, she thought that the nun must have blessed her. This is the first time Gill has ever expressed any religious sentiment at all, very odd. Maybe she was joking....

Anyway, the bag was safe and we all relaxed. Didn't buy shoes.

I did some gardening, had lunch, did some paperwork and more gardening stuff.

Went to the lottie and did a load of compost heap management, weeding and a bit of earthing up the potatoes I've already put in.

Home for late tea and had yesterday's reheated bulgar wheat with a good tomato, onion, spinach and blue cheese sauce on top... lovely.

Quiet evening, no excitement, just blog, email and sober but happy chat on Googletalk with my friend accross the pond.

Monday, 28 May 2007

Bank Holiday Monday 28th May 07

Had a poor night's sleep as still sneezy and blocked sinuses and then the dawn chorus started up and it seemed so loud that I just couldn't ignore it and drift off. Lots on my mind too, doesn't help!

The rain and wind meant that we decided not to go to Poppleton Childrens' Sports Day and get cold and wet, glad that I haven't been bookied for anything outdoor today, as would feel like cancelling.

Had a tranquil day inside, read a NewScientist article to my eldest 'sciency' son about the world's metal resources becoming more scarce and running out... well some of them, possibly within a decade or two. It's a subject that he's interested in and if he 'does' science as a career, he may be involved in dealing with the problem in some way.

Both boys also typed an email to friends who have left York. This is the first 'personal' email that they've sent.

I cooked tea for Gill as she did tea for the boys... she made bread rolls (smelling lovely even through my runny dose) and I did Bulgar wheat and veggie haggis, with leek and onion topping.

Spent ages doing email deleting (only 700 in my inbox now!) and replying and preparing to do my 'paid-for' blog for Community Care. Hope to get an early night.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Sunday 27th May 07

A bit of a lie-in, until 9ish, and then whilst eating breakfast, the boys wanted me to watch a DVD they found in the PDSA charity shop yesterday, on Hypnodisc from 'Robot Wars' TV programme. Very exciting!

I felt quite grotty and didn't get up, so watched Countryfile and did a bit of washing up after lighting the stove, then lunch and I lay around and watched the Grand Prix on TV (I don't know why I like this, as it is not something which contributes to sustainability and I don't like cars). Then listened to Gardener's Question Time on the radio, and after that went to bed as feeling well grotty. Gill woke me at 6 telling me that I could come down for tea and watch Scrapheap Challenge with the boys, but had to deal with eldest son's bad behaviour and talk to him about why he'd been told off by Mum. He has a lot of anger and needs a lot of loving and tolerance and explanations. He did eventually calm down and eat his tea, I ate mine and spent an hour and a half planting out some beans and courgettes and sunflowers, and did a load of weeding in the raised beds.

Came in after 9 and did a bit of email stuff and aimed for an early night.

Saturday, 26 May 2007

Saturday 26th May 07 Working in Ripon

A full and tiring day, entertaining in Ripon.

Got up at about 8am and got my costume and circus stuff ready for loading onto the bike, and breakfasted. When I got the bike out, I found one of the logpiles next to the house had fallen down, the warm weather has shrunk the logs and this causes the pile to shift... logpiles always move and inevitably some fall over, especially the unsupported ones I make. These don't even lean against the house as they might cause a 'moisture bridge' and allow rain into the solid walls of the house, not a good idea. Also having a gap between the wall and the woodpile allows better drying. So moved the strewn logs to our side of the driveway and got off to the bus station.

Got the 9.44 bus to Ripon which took an hour and 20 mins as it went all around the villages, very pretty. The square in Riopn was filled with Robinson's Funfair, I met Stewart the boss who was deep inside a lorry engine, which powers the dodgems when working. I talked to several other people about my pitch, which was originally next to some loudspeakers and an engine so I elected to work with my back to the central market cross or column thing. Got changed in Gregg's the Baker's loo and got started for 12 midday and was busy with members of the public for the next four hours solid. Did 3 hrs of circus workshops and an hour of balloons, and then got paid and got the 4.15 bus home, arriving back at about 6, tired but happy the weather had held and the good people of Ripon had enjoyed what I'd done as part of the funfair.

Enjoyed several TV programmes and did blog and emails. The best programme was 'The Seven Ages Of Rock', which was about some of my favourite bands, The Pink Floyd, The Velvet Underground, Roxy Music (featuring my musical hero, Brian Eno). Later on, Gill and I watched 'The Station Agent', a film starring Peter Dinklage, and we both loved it. Quirky, no violence, just interesting relationships.

Friday, 25 May 2007

Friday 25th May 07

A warm day but spent much of the morning cooped up inside doing various paperworky stuff including several letters to people who have booked Professor Fiddlesticks, sending cheques, agreements and other stuff. Also did some York Green Festival blog and phone calls. Found out that food stalls are allowed and only commercial ones need a street trading licence. This is good news, but we still have to meet up with the Rowntree Park Cafe person to get permission to have any food stalls.

Lunch and then a little while outside before collecting the boys who have a week off for halfterm so I made them go and find assorted lost clothes and I think most stuff came home.

Collected the compostables before tea, and whilst cycling through town was accosted by a woman struggling with about 10 bags who called out to me, I half recognised her so I stopped and asked if she was OK. She said she was waiting for a taxi but it hadn't come so she had to go to the taxi-rank and get one, and could I help, was I in a hurry? I told her that I was on my way to Out Of This World for a compostables pickup but could help her, and I said I recognised her but couldn't remember her name. She told me she'd lost lots of weight and she was Janet R, and if I helped her she'd give me a home-made ice cream... well that clinched it so loaded up my trailer and she started to take me to the taxi rank, but the one she'd booked arrived so unloaded into the boot. I think she'd been doing a charity do of some sort.

Collected from OOTW and Hes Rd on the way back. and when I arrived back Gill had created a veg stir fry which was awaiting a veg haggis which I'd brought back with me. Also a cherry pie which used a pile of reject cherries brought back yesterday.

Thursday, 24 May 2007

Thursday 24th May 07

I got up early but not as early as Gill who had got up and fixed the flat tyre which happened last night, and I cycled the boys to school.

When I got back I went into the garden to construct another pallet compost bin, or rather re-construct it in a different place, and refill it with fresh stuff (fresh is the wrong word of course).

At 11, as pre-arranged, Toby an English Student from University of York came round and we talked about my 'green' lifestyle and then had a walk down the garden to see the fruit trees and composting systems. He's having a 'green week' and writing about it for the student newspaper.

After lunch bombed into town and got a trailer load of compostables and visited the Building Society to get several cheques out, and got back in time for picking up the kids.

Several people are leaving York whom I will miss, including a lovely Oriental Brazillian lady who I chat with who picks up a child, not her own, and she gave me her and her husband's contact details back in Sao Paulo, also an Oriental family from Austraila are leaving, and we will miss them too.

Back at home I refilled the newly constructed compost bin and gratefully accepted Gill's offer of home-made Pizza and potato salad for tea, and then got ready for the York Green Festival meeting.

I picked up the Space 109 keys from the Blue Bell and let myself in, a good meeting was had, very fruitful. Afterwards, after giving the keys back, found a load of cardboard tubes which I thought shouldn't be landfilled, so brought them home to put on Freecycle. Re-Use is so much better!

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Weds 23rd May 07

Another day with time spent at St Nicks, did a load of shredding of coppiced hazel, the twiggy bits not needed for various projects, from 11am to midday. Then ate my sandwiches and listened in on John B doing a recycling/reuse game with a group of 5 and 6 yr olds, and after they had eaten their lunch I took two groups of 8 and did a 10 or 15 min session on composting. They loved the worms! Then after that, tried to finish off the shredding but couldn't as I had to get back to collect the boys.

Gill went to Scarborough to visit Uncle Tom today, so I did tea for them.

At 8 Ben and Gill from Freecycle came round and we spent a couple of hours formulating questions for the LETS and Freecycle social on 9th June, as we're having a quiz as part of the entertainment.

Tuesday 22nd May 07

Well a day, and an interesting one with a York Rotters meeting in the morning and a 'World Naked Bike Ride' meeting in the evening.

The Rotters meeting was to welcome Catherine our new Project Manager and to discuss what we need to do in the coming weeks and months. The management group is two of the Council Waste Reduction folks, John and Pat from St Nicks and myself. We had a good meeting and sorted out quite a lot of issues including a written agreement between the Council and St Nicks about how we manage the Rotters project plus our plans for schools.

The evening meeting was at CVS at Priory St and there were just 7 or 8 of us there, a meeting organised by Kay, who took responsibility for the first York Naked Bike Ride last year, but isn't this year, just this meeting. We saw the short film about the World Naked Bike Ride, with Jesse the UK organiser wobbling around on his in-line skates at first, then more steadily on his bike. Good film, apparently available on YouTube. We discussed the route which has been agreed with the Police, we're having a Cycling Police escort, they won't be naked apparently. The idea is to protest at the oil/car/internal combustion engine culture and to show how vulnerable we are as cyclists on today's roads, as well as being happy with our bodies as they are. I have to decide whether to go naked but hide my face or to go as Father Xmas on the Unicycle. I feel I cannot just go naked as I get bookings from assorted religious groups who might not want to book me if I was seen naked in the streets publicly. Will mull on this quandry.

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Monday 21st May 07

A productive day in the computer department, and in other departments too!. Spent quite a bit of the morning doing York Green Festival stuff including phoning our Council contact and doing the blog ( )and preparing for Thursday's meeting. Also did some composting (no suprise here!) and a bit of garden tidying which Gill continued with by mowing two of the lawns.

I collected the boys and had a long chat with our 9 yr old about the word sorry and how it is used and when it is appropriate to use it. And amazingly, instead of storming off, he listened and seemingly absorbed the info and thanked me afterwards. Wow!

I bombed into town to get a cheque out, pay a bill and collect compostables.

Then at 7 attended the York Co-operative Members Group and indulged in fair-trade wine and chocolate and watched a DVD of An Inconvenient Truth. Moving, even a second time around.

Sunday, 20 May 2007

Sunday 20th May 07

Another weekend work day, this time a 10 or 12 mile cycle to Linton on Ouse RAF base, to entertain at a BBQ and family fun day. I was due to start at 2 so I set off soon after 12, after a quick email download and brief googlechat with my friend in the US, who had been out partying and hadn't gone to bed, it was 6am there!

I decided to go the quick way, along the cyclepath to Haxby Road, through Bootham Hospital grounds, up through Clifton to Skelton and out along the main road to where the Newton road turns off to the West, past the hotel/bar constructed of railway carriages and over the railway to the Beningborough turn. Cycled past Beningborough Hall and into Newton on Ouse where I had my sandwiches, at 1.15. Linton is only a mile or so beyond this and I got to the Air Force base well before 2 and signed in, I have been there before and was on their database, although the photo was a younger me.

Mike my 'handler' met me in the Officers' Mess and I got changed and gathered my audience, about 20 children and beyond them, eating and drinking, perhaps 60 adults. the show went well although 20 is the minimum number for a good show with plenty of participants, but we all had fun and perhaps 8 children had several goes at the skills I teach. One lad, a 12 yr old, was very steady on the 4 wheel and 2 wheel unicycle, and had a go on the one-wheeler, which was nice as I don't always have anybody good enough to do the one-wheeler.

Then the balloon activities, easy as not that many kids, and finished at 4, and was offered a drink and payment. Now when I was 20 I made myself a rule that I would not take alcohol during daylight, as I recognised my liking for it and my potential to become an alcoholic, however in my dotage I now and again break this rule. I enjoyed my Magner's Cider on ice, and was offered pizza and chips, which was a treat. Chatted to Chris, a teenage child of a Sargeant, and a beginner diabolo player, devilsticker etc, and admirer of some of my tricks.

Left at 5 and this time came home the long and wigly way, through Overton and the cycle path along the bank of the Ouse. Met with John and Sandra H, retired cyclists who had come out to Beningborough Hall and were heading back to York. He had been a Professor of Economics at York Uni and so we talked LETS, Credit Unions and Cooperatives, sustainability and the like. Sandra was once a researcher into fuel poverty so I enthused about my woodstoves and told her that a local authority (Hartlepool? Middlesborough?) had provided some woodstoves to a group of residents who were suffering fuel poverty, and I thought this was a really good idea.

Home soon after 6 and Gill gave me a little slice of home made quiche she'd made before going out to a party the boys had been invited to. They'd had a lovely day and had only been in for less than an hour.

After this second half of tea I did some shredding of hedge clippings donated by a neighbour, and filled up my 130 litre Canadian 'Envirocycle' composter which rotates and puts the juices into the base for collection for feeding plants.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Saturday 19th May 07

Work day, so up and got my kit together and got the bike loaded, so I could be at the station by 11.45 and get my ticket to Goole. Got the 11.59 to Doncaster... it was a few minutes late but that didn't matter as I then had a wait in Donny for the Hull train. Had my sandwiches on this train and was soon in Goole, where I was met by two chaps connected with Maddison's family.

Maddison's party was in an isolated house, in a large room and there were about 20 children and 20 adults present. I got changed into my Fiddlesticks regalia and used my new/Freecycled jester's hat which I found lights up with LEDs. The circus show started with the usual 'warm-up acts' or 'trailers for entertainers of the future' then straight into my show. The show went well and I enjoyed it, and therefore my audience probably did too. The birthday tea took a long time and my balloon show was late starting... and some of the audience were out on the trampoline so with a reduced audience it went quickly and there were balloons to spare, so several participants had several attempts at making a model, which was good. I enjoyed this and so did those present.

However I had missed my 4.25 train back to Donny and rang Gill to say I'd be back at 7ish. Got the 5.22 train but then had to wait in Doncaster for nearly an hour. This was made more pleasent by reading and finishing another NewScientist and then chatting to a young primary school teacher called Jenny who lives just around the corner from me in York. We talked schools and sustainability, science shows and life in general. Continued this in the train and the 20 mins trip to York went really quickly.

Speedy cycle home and Gill had made a veg stew to go with the rems of yesterday's nutloaf.

The best thing in the evening was watching BBC2's 'The Seven Ages Of Rock' about the wonderful Jimi Hendrix, one of my heros.

Friday, 18 May 2007

Friday 18th May 07

Woken by fighting boys downstairs... well this is completely normal with a 7 yr old and a 9 yr old I suppose. Wearily came downstairs and sat there blinking and trying to look fierce. It seemed to work as the aggro stopped. Whilst Gilly took them to school I did some Fiddlesticks paperwork.... a reply letter and invoice to a playscheme in Harrogate in August.

Went back to bed for an hour when Gill came back in, but was disturbed by Rory from Thomson Directories wanting to talk advertising.

Collected my emails which include the info from Thomson and their work with Google.

Did lots of housework and stuff inside, including more bean seedling potting up, I've now got hundreds of them, each in a plastic cup 'harvested' from a skip on Heslington Road a few weeks ago, and given a drainage hole from a hot wire charged up in the woodstove. Some of them will be given away and others donated to a fundraising event, with plenty for the garden and allotment. There's two main types, Jack Edwards PeaBean and 'Cobra' climbing bean, but a smattering of others including some dwarf beans which I haven't grown before.

Went to get the kids and did a bit of composting in the garden. Gill created tea, rice-based nutloaf with left-over rice from yesterday, and peas from the freezer and potatoes from the veg shop on Hes Road.

Then I prepared for the evening, meeting with York Rotters at the 'Slug and Lettuce' (appropriate!) to see off Keely after her couple of years in post, and welcome Catherine, our new project officer. I put together a jar of dried fruit for her, and labelled it 'Some that got away'.

I went to town early as I had not collected my Out Of This World compostables, so I did this first and then parked my bike in a place overlooked by several CCTV cameras for safety. Met up with Jo, new Rotter and then several others. We waited outside Slug and Lettuce as it was heaving... the York Races are on, so loads of toffs around... and eventually Keely arrived so we all went in. Drinks were very expensive but the atmosphere was ok, and we all had a lovely time. John and Ivana had got Keely a leaving present of two fruit trees, a plum and a peach, and had brought a digital photo of then... not the real things, fortunately!

Spent a couple of hours there and when the party moved on I came home as I have work tomorrow and shouldn't get too tired. Being responsible.

Thursday, 17 May 2007

Thursday 17th May 07

A work day so I started by hotting up the bathwater on the woodstove and had a bath and hair wash. Then cycled out to Manor School on Poppleton Road and at 12.40 started one of my first 'Human Pyramid Building' workshops. I have done limited 'acrobalance' as it is also known, but enough to do about 4 different things with the limited numbers present (3 chunky boys, one slim athletic boy and one small girl). There was also a lot of noise from the other side of the practice room as about 25 people were practicing some dancing.

Anyway the acrobalance stuff went well and the youths enjoyed it.

Home in time to pot up some sprouting beans which have their rootlets coming out.

Collected eldest son from school as youngest has been at home allegedly unwell.

Wednesday 16th May 07

A day. Not a lot happened except going to a local computer shop to see if they could shed light on my phone-line malfunction (they suggested putting 1470 before the dialup number as this allows your number to be shown to the recipient) but they'd not heard of this problem. I rang a friend and asked her to do a 1471 and see if we were giving the 'caller withheld their number' message but we weren't.

During the morning the problem went by itself. Weird. Allowed me to dialup and do emails etc, so back to normal.

At lunchtime Artur the roofer came back and fixed our other roof problem, the escape Velux window had been put in too low compared to the surface of the roof and water had been pooling and coming in. Artur (I hope!) has fixed this by putting on some weatherproof tarry sheet stuff which has raised the level and will stop the water coming in. Good for Polish Roofers I say!

The only other significant thing I did today was to dig a couple more trenches in the lottie for recieving more spuds, still lots to plant! Weeded onion set bed too, using a knife like a tiny hoe.

Tuesday 15th May 07

Another nothingy day. During the evening I was doing emails and I accidently pulled my dialup lead out in mid session and when I tried to redial I got a message telling me that 'The person you are calling is not accepting anonymous calls. Please redial without withholding your number'. Now I have never withheld my number and knew something had gone wrong. So I contacted the operator and reported the fault.

As I couldn't dialup I went through my old emails and did some deleting and replies, including to Darren who works in an ecocentre in Leicestershire, who went to school with me. He saw me on telly and has found me. His eco-project looks really good, see (that's my first link I've done in this blog!!!!)

In the evening I redid the Community Care blog which now doesn't have to tally with my second column being published this Thursday, as I've been told it will be published on 31 May. I did it on community/voluntary work/groups, and on CRAG which is just getting started in York. Sent this in at 1.45am. Keen, eh?

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Monday 14th May 07

Funny old day, didn't get as much done as I would have liked to, but productive enough.

In the morning went to get a cheque ot to pay for the Polish roofer 'Artur' who dealt with some water ingress problems last week, repointing some of the chimney and redoing some flashing which wasn't positioned properly. Then over lunch did some paperwork and after lunch did some seed management, watering, repotting etc and a bout of compostumbler filling.

Got the children at 3.15 and in the evening, before the CRAG meeting, collected the Out Of This World compostables. The CRAG meeting was good, talking about carbon calculators, debating whether we will be Carbon Rationing or Carbon Reduction Action Group and how we should be structured and a bit about future meetings. We agreed to have a working group to work up a proposed structure which would be discussed and agreed at the next open meeting.

Enjoyed the social drink after the end of the meeting too. We meet in the upstairs room of the Golden Fleece on Pavement, but when the smoking in public places ban comes in we'll use a level access venue, probably the Minster Inn (Marygate?) to make it accessible to all. Currently this room is next to a smoking area and several of us hate tobacco smoke that much they wouldn't consider it.

Sunday, 13 May 2007

Sunday 13th May 07

Awoke before 8, a comfortable night in the hotel. Had a larger breakfast than normal, and then retired to my room to rest and prepare for my 10am start. There were about 35 children in my audience, and 15 or 20 adults, of all ages. I did my circus show first, starting with warm-up acts/trailers (from the audience) and doing my routine of 3 ball juggling, devilsticks, balancing, 'Derek the Diabolo', yoyo balls and unicycle. All went really well, lots of participation and fun.

Then my usual balloon modelling show and workshop, finishing with competitions to get rid of the balloons I had made first to show what could be created. Finished at 12.05, as the parents were coming in. I got changed and came back to the performance room, where Martin, a volunteer who lives in York, offered to drive me back, if i stayed for lunch. How could I refuse?

So a nice lunch and pleasent safe and quick journey back to home... but I then had to unicycle to the rail station to pick up my bike!

When I got back to the house, the family were just arriving in after our eldest son's appearence in a tag-rugby match. I had a headache and lay down but both boys couldn't resist poking me and teasing me, but I wanted to watch 'Scrapheap Challenge' with them, so I stayed downstairs rather than going up to bed.

Gill created a good tea... old nutloaf with freshly made home-grown baked beans! Really lovely.

Saturday, 12 May 2007

Saturday 12th May 07

A quiet morning, with a bit of a lie-in and a short bath as I have to go to Hull tonight as I've a gig for Diabetes UK tomorrow morning, and the trains (or bus for that matter) won't get me there in time for the 10am start required. So I'm going to stay in the hotel where the event is happening, and I'll be finished by 12ish.

Did bomb into town after lunch to pick up my 'Friday' collection from Out Of This World and do some money management stuff, but came back soon and Gill asked me to make sure I had put all my compostables into their containers, so I spent an hour or so chopping and loading.

Decided to get the latest train so had tea and helped with the boys, then cycled to the station with all my Fiddlesticks gear and got the Hull train after 8pm. Enjoyed having the time to write my diary and do some more planning of my book, and when I got to Hull got a £7 taxi ride to 'The Vllage Hotel' where the group from Diabetes UK was having their weekend away.

Met my hosts and dumped stuff in my room and spent the next couple of hours chatting and answering questions on low-impact living, composting, etc. Bed after midnight.

Friday, 11 May 2007

Friday 11th May 07

Woke feeling grotty, runny nose and headache.

Tried to stay in bed to see if it went away but couldn't.

Did some housework and bits in the garden and conservatory, and found some seed potatoes for Ashley who gave us a children's bike at Xmas. When the rain was too much I typed up some of the notes from last night's meeting.

Late lunch and enjoyed the warmth of the stove, did some googletalk chatting and then recieved a phonecall til 3 when I collected the kids.

Tried to ignore my runny nose, collected compostables from veg shop and split some logs until tea which Gill had created, spaghetti and veg stew (bolognese analogue).

More computer stuff, but wasn't in a good condition as dribbly nose got in way. Early to bed, as this must go away as I have a gig on Sunday morning.

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Thursday 10th May 2007

Another busy day, lots of cycling and an excellent meeting in the evening.

Took the boys into school as Gill was knackered after so much dalek-making into the wee hours of the night, and the dalek would fit in my trailer but not on Gill's bike.

When I got back I finished off the funding letter for York Green Festival and then cycled to town with a Freecycled dolly cot that Pauline had asked me to pick up, visited 'Mail Boxes Etc' for photocopying and dropped off the letter with Melody who is attending the meeting that the funding decision will be made at.

Then picked up a large composting load from Out of This World and got home for a late lunch.

My eldest son was in his class assembly, about the 1960's, which is why he was in a dalek costume as Dr Who started in the 60's. This started just before 3pm and we both attended as parents are invited. There was music, a fashion show, singing, humour and some laughter when my lad's dalek-head tumbled off!

When we all got home I had to go and visit a Rotters enquirer in Haxby who had phoned the York Rotters helpline and said she had thought that her compost bin had failed whilst they were on holiday and it had overheated and 'all the worms had died'. This I had to see, and it was as I'd expected, just fine. It needed a bit of a stir, the worms were in the stuff at the base and it was quite a good compost heap, not the best I've ever seen, but certainly not the worst!

Home for 6pm and created a quick tea of cheap out of date rice and veggie sausages and vegan burger thingies, all cooked on the lovely woodstove. Wolfed this down and got finished just in time to cycle down to Space 109 for the Green Festival meeting. Tracy and Baz attended and we got a lot done, see blog for details.

Went to the Blue Bell on Fossgate after, enjoyed a pint and a half of perry, lovely, and had some good chats with Baz. Then cycled home and was greeted by Gill who had good news, a phone call telling that United Cooperatives have given York Green Festival £2000 sponsorship. WOW!

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Wednesday 9th May 07

Woke early and went downstairs to try and do some writing for the funding of the Green Festival, but Gill also came down and then the chldren so I had breakfast and went back to bed, and got up properly at 9am, when Gill came back and Janice came round to see the big tricycle I bought a few years ago when Gill wasn't a confident bicyclist, but she never liked it and it's sat doing nothing ever since. Janice's sister may want to buy it off us, so Janice is sending photos to her.

Had some summer Fiddlesticks bookings to sort out on the phone, and blanched some waste grapes for making raisins, before cycling off to my first 'Compost Awareness Week' event, at Bustardthorpe, where the car boot sales happen near the York Racecourse. We (York Rotters) were doing a compost giveaway and home composting info stall.

This lasted til 1pm, then came home with two large bags of compost, 150litres, which is already formulated into a growing medium so I'll mix it with my home compost and leafmould and loam mix.

Collected the children and did a bit of garden stuff, and after tea visited Ben and Gill, whom I met through Freecycle . They have moved to quite near us and I was able to see their garden and identify various plants for them. We are planning a combined LETS/Freecycle social event on June 9th so we talked about that, and other waste and recycling topics.

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

Tuesday 8th May 07

Quite a good day, no lie-in but nothing much in the exertion department as tired after an active 3-day weekend.

Firstly I logged on to the Community Care website and entered my weekly blog which was about the local elections and my feelings about not being elected.

At lunchtime Jo the composter came and she had made a quiche to share, but it had some milk in it and Gill can't have milk, so Jo and I went to the bakers and got some pasties, one of which Gill had for lunch. Good chats with Jo, she enjoys our company and feels very at-ease with us, which is a bit of a treat for her, as work is stressful for her and she spends more time at work than anywhere else.

I went to town after lunch and picked up compostables, and paid in a cheque and got one out to pay for some advertising in 'Families in the Vale of York' magazine, who have published a column by me about green and ethical parties, as well as my Fiddlesticks advert.

Got home just in time to go and pick up the kids, after which I cycled round the corner to pick up a Freecycled item for Pauline, which I'll deliver in a couple of days time when I visit her.

Gill created a lovely tea with mushrooms in a sauce with a mashed sweet potato and carrot topping, with melted cheese on top, grilled.

I then cycled over to Holgate to see Y who had offered me a load of hedge for shredding and composting, very valuable stuff for balancing the very putrescible stuff I bring back from the veg shop, as it's quite woody.

Monday, 7 May 2007

Monday May 7th 07, my birthday

Yes my birthday but work anyway, nice to have a bank holiday birthday. I had asked my family to make it a very minimal day, if they wished to celebrate it at all. So when I got up I was given a home-made card from the boys, with a large opening mouth inside and their favourite blowy blob patterns. For a combined present I got a LED torch which lights as you squeeze the handle, and any spare power goes to a rechargable battery or capacitor, and the torch can be switched on for use without squeezing. This was £1.99 from Barnitts, reduced from £2.99, and Gill got both the boys one as well.... a brilliant bargain. I'll be able to use it whilst using the compost loo!

I cycled down to the National Railway Museum with my trailer loaded up with unicycles and both boys in tow. We arrived early and I got started whilst the boys decorated bicycles and played on the assorted bikes and trikes in the try-out area. I had lots of unicycle workshops and loads of interest, loads of happy customers.

During lunch break we had a walk around and at 2pm when I was to resume, Gill arrived to take them back home. At 4pm I got a visit from Lorna, Saturday's unicycling success, and we chatted and after Bernie from Bikerescue had paid me for the two days work, Lorna and I had a hot chocolate together, as we had made friends over the unicycle workshops. A lovely person and her positive feedback was a lovely birthday treat.

Home just after 5pm and Gill had made a veg stew with chickpeas, my creative eldest son had created savoury biscuits to go with the stew, and my youngest had followed a recipe to make buns. Good for mum, teaching my boys to cook!

After tea I planted the rest of the sweetcorn seeds, germinating in a margerine tub.

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Sunday 6th May 07, York Green Carnival day

Another busy day, York Carnival or York Green Carnival. As the rest of the family are not going to see Uncle Tom in Scarborough so I said it would make me happy if the boys would decorate their bikes and come with me to the Carnival procession.

So they wound some ivy prunings around their handlebars and we had an early lunch and headed for the cycle track. I had loaded my trailer with my Fiddlesticks gear as I had a booking for a Christening at 2pm, and was due to do the carnival procession in costume, with loaded trailer.

So got to the Minster in good time and joined in with the unicyclers and jugglers before the procession started. We were following a samba band and choir, and followed by some children from Badger Hill with a chant about recycling, very positive. The procession took about 40 minutes to wind around York and ended up in Parliament Street, where we met Gill and Iwent off to my gig which was in a hotel on Bootham.

They were running late so I had a half hour wait whilst the group had their nosh. But the 24 or so kiddies and a handful of adults came and sat down and watched my show, and took part in the bits of the show where participation is invited, and seemingly enjoyed themselves. I know I did, and this usually means my audience is as well.

The show finished at 4.30 and I loaded up my trailer and went back into York centre, as I'd been asked to do a talk at 5pm on Green living. But the advertising wasn't brilliant and no-one came so I just had some time devilsticking and met a student called Hannah who's a novice devilsticker before packing up and coming home.

In the evening I planted up a lot of germinating sweetcorn seeds that I soaked in water in a margerine tub. I've planted them in single pots which are in blocks of 6, in home-made seed compost.

Saturday 5th May 07

A work day.... but a type of work I particularly enjoy, at a cycling event, teaching unicycle and entertaining people with my ability to unicycle and do the devilsticks. The event, 'Cycle Tracks' was at the National Railway Museum and was organised by the Bikerescue team, Bernie and Andy. They had got lots of decorated bicycles, and were decorating more, and had Bo the Clown, who does assorted cycling stuff and a Punch and Judy, stalls inside from a cycle shop and Sustrans and others... a good medium-sized event.

So I arrived, in costume, at about 10.30am and found my way to the South Yard and got set up by 10.55. I did my workshops, mainly with 'Pedal-Go' and 'Fun-Wheels' (four-wheel and two-wheel 'unicycles') and also coached a few people on the four one-wheel (ie normal) unicycles I had taken down on my bike trailer. I particularly enjoyed teaching a 13 year old boy who went from Pedal-Go to being a basic unicyclist in about 25 minutes, and a pair of lovely petite twin ladies (Lorna and Claire) in their 30's who both spent over an hour trying to get the hang of unicycling. Good chats with them afterwards, whilst Bo was doing a show.

So I worked 11 til 1.15 and 2 til 4 and then got off back home feeling tired but happy that it had gone so well.

I was able to do a bit of pottering about, and as the phone line had been mended, catch up on blogging and emails.

Friday 4th May 07, Election Count day

Got up early to try to write a letter but didn't get very far. As soon as Gill came back from the 'school run' (on her bike of course!) I cycled over to Acomb where the count was taking place. The count was in a large sports hall, with all the workers in the centre and the candidates and agents and observers around the outside, watching what was going on. It's quite an exciting process in some ways, and very boring in others, but I enjoy being there and participating in it.

The ballot papers were first sorted into block votes and split votes, these where there were two or three councillors to be voted in. Where someone had voted for both or all 3 of one party's candidates, they were placed in piles for counting. Where a voter had voted for 2 or 3 different parties, these were gone thruogh one by one and the names of the candidate voted for read out and a second election worker marked them off on a special sheet.

When all these figures were added up and ready to be announced, the candidates and agents were asked to come into a corner together and look at the disputed and spoiled ballots, and they were either agreed as good or spoiled or not filled in.

One of the first to be called was Bishopthorpe, where John Galvin (Conservative) had been voted out of last election, and soon after that, I had collared him and asked him if he would be the chair of York Credit Union Study Group. In this role I had got to know him quite well, and had grown to respect and like him, not his party politics, John as a person. So i was happy that this time he was elected back ono the council, the first of 8 Tory councillors, all new after a Tory-free term. Labour did quite well, and the Lib-Dems didn't, as they have generally been viewed as having cocked up badly this term. Fortunately the Fishergate Greens both got elected, Andy D'Agorne for a second term and Dave Taylor for his first, replacing Mark Hill.

We did quite well in some other wards, including increasing our share in my ward, Hull Road, where Andrew Collingwood and I got about 15%. Two Labour councillors got in here.

I went to see the media students during the count and after my result was announced, i think they enjoyed the process and were glad to have got involved, or at least observed it.

I cycled home via my usual compostables collection route and got hiome in time to go and get the boys. Felt quite deflated and down, as not getting in always leaves me feeling like this, even if I don't expect to get in. Also, as the phone still wasn't working, so I was unable to ring from home or do my emails. Gill spent much of the day trying to get it fixed, by going to the public call box round the corner and having to deal with automated messages...

In the evening I went round to a friend's house and used their phone to download emails and let people know what had happened, re electoral stuff and lack of phone stuff.

Thursday, 3 May 2007

Thursday 3rd May 2007 Local Elections Day

Woke feeling quite excited as the elections are always reasonably exciting, even if I don't have much chance of getting elected, which would be just amazing since I've done no leafletting or canvassing in my ward.

I took the kids to school as Gill wasn't feeling good, and towards 10am the media students arrived, as planned, to film some of the election stuff, me going into the polling station with Gill, and they also wanted to find out how I earned my living so I did some Professor Fiddlesticks practice in the garden, and some of the crew had a go at devilstick, diabolo and 3 ball juggling. Fun!

They left by lunchtime and after lunch, whilst Gill went and sat in the poling station in Fishergate, I went to town and picked up my 'wednesday' composting... which I didn't do yesterday, and also popped in on Miller's Yard, Claire was delighted to give me 3 trays of oranges which she described as sour, and unsuitable to put in their orange squeezing machine. However I had some when I got home and found them just fine, and probably good for making marmalade.

Picked up the kids and then went to the allotment to put in the final two varieties of first earlies, did some compost management and weeding too. Gill provided nice tea, including asparagus soup made from the tips of about 10 bunches picked up yesterday.... I prepared and cooked them at midnight to stop them deteriorating further, and Gill put celery and potato with them and made a good soup.

At 7pm I went to the Fishergate polling station to sit in it for a couple of hours and ask for peoples' electoral roll numbers so Green voters who had promised to vote for us but hadn't visited the polling station could be 'door knocked' and reminded that it was election day.

When I got back I was cold and was happy to sit by the stove and warm up. Watched some late night election tv coverage. Our telephone stopped working, no dialtone, so couldn't do any blogging or emails.

Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Wednesday 2nd May 07, York Rotters Interviews

Up early so that I was able to be at the Council's Ecodepot by 8.45 am, as the Project Manager job interviews start at 9am. We interviewed 5 candidates, all of whom could have done to job. The interviews were very structured, with a list of printed questions with the initials of who was asking the question, and a box for scoring out of 10 the answer given, and a box for notes. There were 11 questions including two relating to the presentation we had asked them to prepare... 'you have a 5 minute presentation to members of the public about the benefits of home composting', one score for presentation and one for content.

There were also a few questions about practical issues, such as a CRB police check, availability to start work etc. After this 'formal' interview the candidates were taken over to St Nicks to meet other Rotters and St Nicks people for the informal part of the interview process.

Once all 5 had been through this, and after lunch, we all met up and we added up the scores and one person came out ahead of the others, with the second close behind. However two of the interviewers had scored the highest overall scorer with the most points, the other two interviewers preferred another candidate. This provoked lots of discussion, especially when the other St Nicks staff came and gave their feedback, it didn't make the process any easier. We discussed and argued for over an hour before managing to decide. A really difficult process, but made possible by the points system which really helped clarify things.

Managed to get home just in time to go and collect the children.

Tuesday, 1 May 2007

Tuesday 1st May 07

Up at a sensible time, early enough to say bye to the boys, and felt energetic so got out the electric chainsaw and did 20 mins of logging, creating 'rounds' or slices which are the right size to split for stacking. Now the front looks a bit tidier.

Soon after 10, my visitor arrived, Lucy from BBC Inside Out, who wants to do an 8 minute article on my green lifestyle after seeing me on Newsnight. We chatted inside for a while, looking at the stoves and dried fruit, and discussing why I choose to live this way and what caused me to 'turn green'. Then we took a walk down the garden to see the mushrooms in logs, veg patch, fruit trees and compost systems. Then a coffee and more discussion about how the filming would go, and what I would like to be filmed doing. I suggested that as the council has recently threatened me with prosecution for recycling waste placed for collection, that I would really like to be provocative and be filmed taking cans and bottles out of the council litter bin which is outside our house, and putting them in my kerbside recycling box. This is something I do most days, as ordinary people, non recyclers, put allsorts of things in it, as it's on a main road and I delve in there and take out recyclables. This is probably illegal but I am very happy to break this particular law as it is morally the right thing to do. Landfill is wrong, recycling is right, simple, from my perspective!

Lucy asked if they could film my Professor Fiddlesticks activities at a public event, and I told her about a future performance planned at St Nicks. So we went off in her car to visit St Nicks to see if they would be happy to have them filming. St Nicks was very busy with their recycling activities, various people with learning difficulties, people on community service, employees and volunteers, it was very busy. Keely our Rotters manager was there, and Kate the columnist, and I introduced Lucy to lots of people.

After this she dropped me back at home and she shot off to Halifax to see another potential media victim, sorry, star, and I wolfed lunch and cycled straight back to St Nicks as I was wanted to work with the Crossroads people, splitting logs, which they seem to enjoy as it makes them look manly and is quite aggressive yet productive!

Spent an hour and a half at St Nicks and bombed back just in time to go and get the kids. When I got home with them I needed some time alone so I spent some time managing the various composting ops... turning, riddling, building up current ones with stuff in sacks waiting to go on, and feeling at one with my fairly obsessive hobby, and at one with the world as I know and love it.

In for a late tea, which I made myself once I had lit the woodstove, and helped Gill get the kids into bed. Then the usual mix of tv, computer stuff and a bowl of cereal with home-made muesli before bed.