Monday, 31 December 2007

Monday 31st December 07

A quiet day... didn't do that much except spend a couple of hours shredding hedge down the garden, and preparing huge 'lumps' of hedge for shredding by chopping the twiggy bits away from the sticks, and the sticks from the stumps, so the sticks can be cut down to size for the stove and the twiggy bits fed into the shredder...

Earlier I did spend a short time at the lottie, putting 3 20kg sacks of compostable veg and fruit on top of the last layer of brambles and weeds. I had a chat with an old fella who saw 10 bunches of unsaleable spring onions and said 'you can plant those and they'll sprout and be perfectly edible' so I planted 3 bunches in 3 rows just to see what happens!

Helped Gill get the house ready for a few visitors tonight, by clearing up some of my mess.

Sunday 30th December 07

Woke with backache despite the firm mattress, but once had got up it went away as usual.
Good hard working morning managing the pile of stuff which answers for a compost pile... things just lobbed on, not managed at all! So I did some management! I'm good at compost pile wrangling.... dug it all out and put it onto a plastic sheet, put some layers of partially rotted leafmould into it plus some compost probably made from animal bedding, and chopped up some of the larger twigs and sticks, and forked it all back again, well mixed and aerated.

Lunch was soup and a sandwich, then showed Mummy my laptop as she's thinking of getting one, and then we were driven over to Norfolk Park to see Thomas and Katy and their kids again. As it was nice weather, I chopped logs (split them with a maul) and then stacked them when Tom came out to split the rest of the pile

Saturday 29th December 07

Up early to go to Sheffield, as we had been invited to visit my parents to see their new house. Got a taxi to the station as we missed the bus, and got the 9.30ish train which took just 50 minutes to get to Sheffield. Then a little walk through the interchange to go to the 'Walkley' bus stop... and was in Upperthorpe/Walkley/Birkendale by 11am. The house is sort-of between all of these areas, not in the middle of anywhere.

The kids were very excited to explore the house and garden, and I helped my Dad take a gate off its hinges and then cut the hinges off the gatepost as the screws were completely rusted into the oak. Daddy is going to reposition the hinges and gate so it opens right back so he can easily get his car in.

Then we had lunch and soon after that we were driven to Thomas and Kate's to have our evening meal, and all the children played together so well. Anna and Douglas came too, it was lovely to have all three of us kids there, the parents and their grandchildren... the whole lot. We had the meal there as the folks don't have a proper cooker at the moment, and of course Thomas's house is so cosy and homely with it's two woodstoves!

We left after 8pm and when we got back to the parents' house, the kids were shattered and were soon in bed. We grown ups had a relaxed evening and watched a silly 'news bloopers' programme on telly, and were in bed soon after midnight.

Friday, 28 December 2007

Friday 28th December 07

Nice peaceful day as had a cycle into town in the morning to go to put cheques in and pay a bill, for an advert in Primary Times which is with an article by me about green/ethical parties. I went into Barnitts to get a new garden fork, as I have broken the handle of the one I got when we moved here in 2001... my fault as I've often left it outside and the wooden handle has been 'got at'. The new one also has a wooden handle, FSC timber apparently, and I hope it will last longer than the previous one (which I may be able to repair anyway). Then visited Anita who is still in a lot of pain from her car accident; she enjoyed a back massage, but the relief would have been only temporary, but we had a good chat too.

Back via Morrissons to see if they had Guinness Marmite, which is available in a branch in West Yorkshire but not here, apparently. Then home via Martins Country Fresh for a sack of compostables and Rashda's for a couple of sacks of twiggy bits which I have decided to put on one of my lottie heaps, without being shredded.

Home to an empty house as Gill had taken the boys into town on the bus to spend their book vouchers in WHSmith, so I had a quick lunch and got going in the garden... more hedge removal with my wrecking bar. The hedge comes out quite easily and is going to result in a vast amount of material for composting and the stove.

The rest of the family came back and I went to the allotment to do some more rescue work... and found a row of potatoes which I had forgotten about, and brought these home as a suprise for Gill.

Tea was new potatoes (not home grown this time) and quiche with rice salad. Lovely!

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Thursday 27th December 07

Not a bad day... spent some of it in the garden... had meant to go to the lottie but the garden beckoned and I did more clearing up and some hedge removal, shredding etc.

After lunch went with boys to Heslington to first see Melody and Simon for an hour. Gill arrived with the Bakewell Tart she's just made and we then went to visit our German friends who are moving to Leamington Spa in a few days. Our boys are friends with theirs, and Katrina and Ulrich are both 'Green', he works for HDRA/Garden Organic and she's a researcher currently looking at invasive plants. Several other people came to the afternoon's soiree, it was very jolly.

Left at about 6pm and zoomed home to light the stove and do a bit of tea for the boyos.

A quiet evening, good film 'The Queen' which was good, then a film/documentary about Greenpeace on C4+1.

Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Wednesday 26th December 07

A bit of a lie-in as went to bed very late last night after avidly enjoying a fab film about big wave surfing, really exciting... another exciting and dangerous activity Id love to have tried but probably never will now I'm 'middle aged'! Did very little in the morning... did mean to go to the lottie but didn't get around to it, so did some stuff in the garden, cutting back last year's growth, mainly blackberries, but did some weeding too.

After lunch did more garden work... reconfigured a compost heap by digging it out and taking up the pallets, tidying up around them and redoing them with wire to hold them together. Started filling the new container with chopped brambles.

My neighbour asked me if I'd like to remove a couple of lengths of hedge which he'll replace with fence, to give more space and light and better soil conditions near the edge of the garden. The hedge is about 3 feet thick and 6 feet high... the deal is that if I remove and 'dispose' of the hedge, he'll pay for and put up the new fence. Sounds fair. There's a lot of work removing the hedge, but it will give me loads of materials for composting and for the stove.

Tea was last night's nutloaf with a cheese sauce on top.

Then got myself ready to do a gig at the MS Respite Care Centre over the road, for the guests who all have Multiple Sclerosis and are staying there as their carers are having some time off. I've entertained there on several previous occasions... the first was really difficult as I couldn't work out how to translate my interactive kids show to one for adult wheelchair users, but managed by going through the show in the form of an advert or run-through of what I do, and they seemed to enjoy it, and I've been invited back so something is working well. This time there were about 15 guests, several of whom were quite vocal and one was well enough to balance a feather and have a go at juggling, which was fun for the others too! I did the circus and the balloons, and took nearly two hours including chat.

Got back here at 9.30 and enjoyed a bottle of perry and some silly telly and chat on Googletalk.

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Tuesday 25th December 07 Christmas Day

Awoken rather early as at least one of our kids is still excited by Christmas and the presents that he recieves.... but went to sleep again and got up just before 9 to come downstairs to a happy post-breakfasted family. I had my usual branflakes and muesli, and the presents under the tree came out and were unwrapped. My favourite present was two packets of socks (yes really, I like useful presents!) or perhaps a rather cheeky present from Gill; a hardback book entitled 'The half-hour allotment' suggesting that it takes just half an hour's work each day of the week to manage an allotment, or an hour and a quarter on Saturday and Sunday. In the introduction it even mentions the letter I have recently recieved telling me to tidy up or get off!

Gill was very very happy with her tiny camera, and the boys immediately got into playing 'top trumps'.

However I had to get ready to go to work, so got the bike and loaded up the trailer with assorted Fiddlesticks stuff and my Father Christmas costume, wellies, and sandwiches for lunch. Only a short trip to the Novotel where I spent justabout 2 hours doing my circus and balloons to entertain the guests as they waited for their lunch. Then a half hour of sandwiches and getting into my St Nicholas persona, and then a short and sweet bomb round (sorry, slow walk round!) with a sack full of presents... all the same this time, so probably inappropriate for the older children (teenagers, embarrassed to get a visit from Santa!) and was finished at two pm.

Met several friends on the way home so didn't get in til nearly 3. I got unloaded and crashed out on the sofa.... and found myself watching Finding Nemo on TV... which I enjoyed considerably. Only one thing spoilt it for me.... the slight factual error of when the whale swallowed the fish and exhaled them out of the hole behind it's head.... but besides that it was a very enjoyable thing to slob out and watch...

Tea was delicious. Nutloaf made yesterday and baked in the oven tonight, roast potatoes and tiny carrots from Pocklington, sprouts also from East Yorkshire and gravy made on the woodstove...

Almost a traditional Christmas meal!

Had an evening of doing computery things and was DELIGHTED to get a sensible and kind comment from the anonymous Dr Evil. (see below) Happy Christmas to her and all of my readers.... if there are any other readers! Maybe I should install a counter....

Up late as watched a really good film about surfing called Riding Giants.

Monday, 24 December 2007

Monday 24th December 07

I got up quite early as I had agreed with Rashda that I would go and process her pile of trimmings... not the Christmas lunch type but the pile in her front garden!

So I took my 'quiet shredder' down in the trailer and by 9am was feeding sticks and pruned-off vegetation into the machine. I did about 2 hour's worth, and produced 5 sacks of shreddings, although didn't actually finish the job. I did all the bigger bits which are easy to poke into the shredder, but there was a lot of smaller bits which firstly dont go into the slot easily and secondly don't need shredding as much as the larger pieces. They will get bagged up and I'll put them onto one of the allotment compost heaps. The sacks of shredded stuff will help the fruit and veg I bring back rot down better, as they will help keep the wads of moist putrescibles apart...

I had a coffee and a chat with Rashda and then loaded up the trailer with as much as I could and came home. The boys were very excited... cannot think why.... and I think Gill was happy to get out and go to town and do some last-minute purchases. Actually she's taking something back which she decided wasn't right... a watch for our eldest, which looks a bit too military.

I did some housework and then went outside to build another logpile... the recent cold weather has meant we've been through a lot and so I built a large stack on the left of the front door (when looking out) whilst the kids helped (yes they actually helped me bring dry logs for me to stavk!!!) and cycled up and down the drive, they also used the 'flying turtle' thing we have.

Gill came back at 4ish and I zoomed off to see Richard at Martin's Country Fresh to collect the last of the compostables before they close for Xmas. I got several sacks worth plus a load of seconds bananas and slightly sprouting potatoes, not green but just starting to sprout, so still edible!

During the evening I had an hour's bed rest which felt like a luxury, then later made a large nutloaf using local chestnuts (Poppleton Road 2006), local carrots, a home-grown onion, cheap bread from Thomas's 'Yesterbake', 2 free range eggs, home-made sweet paprika and home-produced pumpkin seeds. Should be good!

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Sunday 23rd December 07

A nice little lie-in and then went to deliver the SUMA stuff to one of the people who participates in Holgate, and then went into town to meet Gill and the kids at the fountain in Parliament St. I then took the kids to look for a little something for Gill and she went to find stuff for them.

We met just over an hour later, I then cycled home and she took the boys back on the bus.

I did a little bit of garden work and then went down to see Rashda who has offered me a large pile of garden prunings, some of which are woody and will do for fuel, the rest of which are green and twiggy and will do for shredding and will be good for balancing all the fruit and veg which is currently going in the Compostumbler. Rashda invited me in to see her house, which was very posh, and gave me a delicious Pakistani savoury pancake, which meant I didn't feel like having much tea as it was very filling, almost a meal in itself.

When I got home there'd been a phone call from Anita, one of the other SUMA participants, with an apology that she cannot drive round to pick up her pile of stuff, as she has been 'rear-ended' or 'involved in a shunt' and has suffered a back injury, also the car is out of action. I loaded up the trailer and cycled round to her, and had a good little chat too as well as giving her the order.

Got back home and had a small pile of bulgar wheat and veg with some pickled onions I made last year from waste onions and found in the back of a cupboard recently...

A relaxing evening then ensued. Stoves going, fruit drying, did the washing up and some more preparation of assorted veg and fruit.

Saturday 22nd December 07

Another gig today, in Leeds, so got down to the station by 11ish and got the 11.28, was met in Leeds by one of the dads and driven to the party venue in Lower Wortley. The two birthday girls, both just turned 6, arrived just after I got changed, and I had some fun and silliness with them about them 'being 12' and suchlike. The party went really well, about 35 children and 25 adults, it went perfectly, a real gem of a gig. Nice to have an easy one after the difficult one earlier in the week.

I got taken back to the station and was soon back in York, well it was after 4 so I zoomed back home via Martin's Country Fresh where they had just one sack of compostables for me, but also a whole tray of grapes which are not retail-worthy because some of them have developed white mould, but I'll happily sort through them and make raisins with them.

Home to a happy family who'd been to Pocklington on the bus for a trawl round the many charity shops and locally owned businesses there to find Christmas stuff. We all had tea together, mashed potato and broccoli/cauliflower/sprout cheese.

I went for a lie down after this and fell asleep til 10pm when Gill woke me up and asked if I wanted to come down to spend a bit of evening with her, so watched the last episode of 'Parkinson' with her, cuddling on the couch.

A good day, and last paid work til Xmas day itself.

Friday, 21 December 2007

Friday 21st December 07 Winter Solstice

Once again Gill was feeling grotty so I took the kids in, they are definitely needing some time off school and this the last day of term can't be over quickly enough!

I got permission to install the third compost bin next to the others, although I was asked not to do compost bin things whilst the children were in the playground as they crowd around wanting to know what's happening. So I went in after 11am after their morning playtime. I decided to donate one of mine, as the school compost bin is tiny, just about 200 litres and I have a 330 litre bin which I took off the top of a finished heap in the garden, cycled it down to school and cut out a circle of turf from the grass on the edge of the playground to partly bury the edge of the bin... stops it getting knocked over. I then put the stuff which has been collected and put in one of the two existing bins in the new one, with layers of sawdust to help, and then used the 'compost mate' tool to take out some nearly finished material from the other bin into the recently vacated one. This left a bin empty and ready for filling next term.... and starting with yesterday's and today's materials.

Good news from school, they have agreed to separate the blue paper towels from the toilets to compost them, and they are planning to have a gardening club... and I've been made 'vice chair'!
These two tidbits of info have made me happy.... the school now appears to be moving in the right direction. A long way to go before they're and 'ecoschool' but first steps are beginning to be taken towards being more sustainable.

I spent til after 12 doing the composting... well worth the time as already the school bins realise over 6kg/day of banana skins, orange peel, apple cores, pear, carrot etc, from the 'fruit4schools' scheme. The children aren't very efficient at eating the fruit, so much of the stuff which is put in the compost bin is good fruit only partly eaten, just a couple of bites nibbled out. It's a big waste and I would like to see the school give the children lessons in how to eat fruit. But one step at a time!

A lovely lunch and then helped Gill do some clearing up as we've got her sister and brother-in-law coming at 4pm to deliver and collect Chrismas stuff. They are far tidier and more conventional than us, and Gill feels the need to clean the house before they come. No bad thing really, but extra work.

I did some sorting out in the front garden which has developed a rash of plastic bags... mainly with bark which falls off some of the logs, and I collect it for shredding and composting or put it in paper sacks for using on the stove when dry, it's a good firelighter/kindling material.

I brought the little darlings home, after giving 4 of the teachers and the lovely crossing lady whom we're fond of a box of fair-trade chocolates from the Co-op as a thank you for being so good with our sons.

Our visitors came on time and we all got on well, they stayed for an hour and enjoyed the warmth of the stove and the boistrous behaviour from the boys.

For tea I had the remainders of the tomato and parsnip soup I made a couple of days ago on top of some pasta, very easy and filling. I tried to keep my head down during the evening as I am not coping very well with the noisy and rude behaviour, and telling them off just seems to amplify the noise and bad behaviour. I went to bed for an hour until woken up by them shouting, and just felt resigned to the role of a dad whom is ignored and disobeyed, which leaves me wondering how to instill good behaviour into them. Parenting is very difficult.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Friday 20th December 07

A good day, productive but tough. I took the kids to school because Gill wasn't feeling like it, and had a word with Annette about the very full compost bin and the one which needs turning/emptying and the one which needs installing, preferably next to the other two. She told me she'd have an answer by end of school today.

I came home and thought I'd have enough time to do my emails... but they still weren't working... I got just one message from Tiscali saying I'd put in my password incorrectly... however I hadn't put in any password and I then tried to sort out the problem by following various instructions, but this is something I find difficult and I couldn't get it sorted properly so I gave up... and got ready for work. Today is an unusual gig... a 'corporate' appointment in a call centre in York, to help thank the staff for their first year of working in this centre.

I found it, the Ryedale Building, 7th Floor, best view in York, apparently! The client was Guoman Thistle hotels, who were providing the thank you for one of their partners, Superbreak. I met the management... one dressed in a 'Superman' outfit (actually a 'Superbreak Man' outfit) and managed to get a plug in for sustainability and 'greening your business', in an appropriate way, I hope! Then I did a very short announcement to introduce the Guoman Thistle team, and Superbreak Man did the rest. I did some devilsticking and then lots of balloon modelling, doing most staff on the top floor and some on the floor below, did perhaps 80 or 90 models in all, finishing at 2pm, knackered but well paid.

Went to pay in cheques, visited Martin's on the way home and got back at 10 to 3, just time enough to make a sandwich and then go and get the kids, which I did in Fiddlesticks costume as I'd had no time to change, lunch being more important. I was told I could install the third compost bin next to the playground, hooray! But not tomorrow whilst the children were at school.... which is a bummer as I was going to do it in the morning.

Our youngest went home with a friend, I came back with the other one... and then back at 6pm to pick up the other... loads of cycling!

Managed to get my email problem sorted... for now anyway! Hooray!

I had an interesting and anonymous message from 'Dr Evil' which sheds light on her problem with me, well two problems perhaps. She doesn't like my allotment being untidy and considers me lazy. Which is fair enough, but she perhaps doesn't know or realise that it's been a bad year for growing my preferred lottie crops, pumpkins (they didn't do anything much) and this lack of cover allowed the weeds to grow. But more than that, was I took on organising the York Green Festival which took up far more of my time than I'd imagined, and the lottie, with it's brambles doing well in the rain and the pumpkins, squash, sweetcorn etc doing badly. Her second problem is that she thinks I have done sonething inappropriate to her, and for this perception I apologise. It would be better if she would say something to my face when/if something like that happens, rather than post comments anonymously on my blog. I want to add that one of her comments was particularly ignorant, as I feel it is inexcusable to criticise someone who may have a condition which they cannot help. ADHD and Aspergers Syndrome are both disabilities, and whichever one I've got (and I still haven't heard from the Maudsley with their final decision) I don't feel it's fair or acceptable to be rude about. An ethical person doesn't make comments about a wheelchair user not being able to use their legs, or a sight-impaired person being unable to see as well as someone with full vision. Someone with developmental behavioural differences shouldn't have to get anonymous negative comments about those behaviours. I also think that anonymous comments on blogs are cowardly and this is why I have chosen not to publish any of these. I would still like the chance to explain a couple of things to this person, and if she decides to reveal who she is to me, I will be as understanding and uncritical as I can, as an 'ethical man' should. After all, her anger and reaction to me might have been potentiated by something earlier in her life which wasn't her fault, and you cannot 'blame' anyone for having been damaged. So I extend a hand of friendship to this person, also forgiveness, and an apology for doing something, without realising it, which upset her. Good luck to her, maybe she will perhaps let the dust settle and decide not to post any more anonymous comments.

Wednesday, 19 December 2007

Wednesday 19th December 07

A good day, took the kids to school as Gill's doing the late shift, and then back to try to do a load of stuff for other people... tried to get in touch with one of the SUMA recipients, but couldn't. Loaded my trailer with sacks of logs to take to Pauline, and dried fruit for her and Richard at the fruit shop.

I went on the computer to try to do my emails and a message popped up asking me for my password. This has happened a couple of times before but then gone away again and I don't know my password.. so I couldn't get into my emails. I went on the tiscali website and asked them to reset my password.... it'll take 24 hours and for the first time I'm using a different email address to recieve this password. I hate computers sometimes!

So then went to town to see Pauline, who cannot wield an axe to split logs... and she has some logs which need splitting to fit on her small stove... which she got after seeing our big one a long time ago, when we were still in Emerald St. I quite often go to saw stuff or split stuff for her... and in return I get good coffee, excellent chat and time with someone else who is passionate about green issues and sustainability. This time she swapped me the sacks of logs for a bottle of Christmassy Port... yummy!

I left at 1 and slowly came back through town vie Martin's veg emporium and bought a load of stuff and was given more and found even more than that which had been thrown in the bin by the other member of staff who doesn't recycle. So came back with 3 sacks of compostables in the trailer, stuff in the panniers, stuff on the back rack and even a tray of waste grapefruit on the handlebars. I was accosted by a resident of Heslington Road who wants me to remove a large pile of hedge clippings and other garden waste, I said I'd try to make time to do it. Then I met my friend 'Y2' who is a private person and doesn't like being named on a public blog, and had a good little chat with them, and then called in briefly on Debbie who's had her first pay cheque from her new job and was extatic!

Got home at 2pm, at the same time as Gill who'd been to town to do some shopping. She plaitted my hair whilst I had a late lunch and then I got ready for work, loading my bike trailer up and deciding on the route to Clifton Moor. I used the cycle track to get to Wigginton Road, and on the cycle track had an unusual experience.... a squirrel ran out and banged up into my moving wheel, and bounce out again, seemingly unhurt. A bike running over an animal is very unusual, and it took me back to my teens when on one of my 1000 mile cycle rides, I shredded a bird which flew into my spokes. But the squirrel was ok, I think. Just as I left the cycle track near the Rowntrees factory, sorry 'Nestle', I met an old chap just taking his dog onto the cycle track, and I said 'Hi' and he said something to me in a rather odd voice, which I thought about on my way up Wigginton Road. Then over the level crossing up to the pub which might still be called the Bumper Castle, and left into the horrible Clifton Moor which is really only designed for car drivers.

Got to my venue and set up, the kiddies arrived, over 50 of them, and they were extremely excited and noisy, with a handful of them wanting to 'be noticed' and intrude into the show in a way which caused difficulty. So it was a difficult gig, the venue was echo-ey as well so it meant quite a lot of me stopping and saying that they needed to quieten down before the show could continue. But we did the show, there were some talented youngsters too, as well as interfearing ones! Then inflating 60 balloons, by mouth/lungs as quicker than with my pump, and did the balloon show, equally noisy and disrupted by people shouting out and not being a reasonably quiet audience. However, several of them came up afterwards and said they'd enjoyed it and thanked me, which was lovely!

Finished for 6pm and changed, got paid and cycled back the way I came out. On the way onto the cycle track, I met the old chap with the unusual voice, in exactly the same spot that I'd met him before, he'd been walking his dog on the track all the time I'd been doing the party! I stopped to chat with him and wished him a happy Christmas, it was a very jovial meeting!

Zoomed home, tea was the last of the carrot soup and a sandwich. I did a big wash up whilst watching telly, enjoyed 'The Secret Millionaire' on C4, and made more soup... using rescued tomatoes, some parsnips and an onion.... it smells fantastic!

Didn't do emails as still barred! Chatted with K whilst writing blog.

Bed at 1am

Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Tuesday 18th December 07

I took the boys into school as Gill is collecting them this afternoon, as I plan to be at the allotment then. Gill went into town once I'd got back, and I got out my logsplitter and split some of the huge rounds which came from the Woodlands treefelling. These slices of tree trunk, up to 60cm diameter, were extremely tough, this wood does not want to split lengthways as easily as some. A couple of the rounds just wouldn't split, even with the hydraulic machine. I tried to do one and it eventually split on the last attempt, and the huge circle of wood, perhaps 30+kg, toppled off the splitter and fell on my hip, which hurt a lot just for a few minutes. However managed to split quite a lot up.

At 11ish I came in for a rest and a cuppa, and downloaded emails. Whenever I put the computer on, I get a pop-up message from Googlemail inviting me to download the new version of Googletalk. I have done this on several occasions, and the message still keeps on popping up. I emailed Google about this and got a reply today, telling me what to do. So I spent some time playing with the computer, trying to sort stuff out, and ended up doing a complete scan which revealed some website tracking programs, which I deleted. I hope the jiggering around with assorted buttons might have sorted the problem. Time will tell.

I had lunch whilst the computer was doing it's thing, and Gill came back from her trip into town, and then the SUMA lorry came with our order... and the stuff for the three other people on our Food Co-op. I unloaded and Gill did the paperwork. Jolly banter with the lorry driver.

Then I went to the lottie... I've had a letter from the allotment management saying mine is untidy and needs to be tidied up or it will be taken away from me.... so I spent several hours cutting back brambles into tiny chunks 1cm to 10 cm long, for composting. Got three dustbins full of these small lengths of blackberry plant, and half a dustbin of dug-up dandylions or other rosetted long-rooted weed. A more putrescible layer between the woody layers of bramble stalk. Continued here til dark, then came back home where the boys were in a good mood and wanted to have a rough and tumble. Good fun, no tears.

Tea was delicious... carrot soup and Gill's fantastic quiche. Played with the boys, we did a 'picture consequences' and then a 'story consequences' which was excellent.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Monday 17th December 07

A lovely lazy morning following exertions yesterday, read lots of NewScientist and sent a letter to them for publication about particulate emissions from woodstoves, and how woodstoves can reduce someone's fossil carbon footprint.

The rest of the day was good too, put a couple of layers on a sit and wait compost heap, and dug out the 'Compostumbler' and put the contents into a 'dalek' to complete the process. Found the 'Belu' bottle, disintegrating quite well now, and put it back into the tumbler for another 'cooking'! Started to refill, including the roadkill from yesterday and woodchips from stumpgrinding ops over the road. Late lunch, started working on my book's questionnaire again, after several months away from the project. Collected the kids at 3.15 and then stayed in and made carrot and orange soup for our tea. Continued doing my questionnaire on the laptop. The next thing is to find a way of distributing it, may use 'SurveyMonkey'.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Sunday 16th December 07

A lazy start, kids quiet and stayed in bed til 10. Then breakfast, my usual 'brain flakes' and muesli, the home-made version.... organic SUMA muesli base and lots of dried fruit, done on the stove from thrown away fruit (mainly) and home produced pumpkin seeds and nuts from trees in Heslington, collected by Melody and Simon and swapped for something I had an excess of.

Then did a quick foray into the garden, put 2 sacks of cabbage stalks and rotten fruit on the latest hot heap, covered with a bucket of shredded hedge and bramble stems.

Then watched Countryfile whilst getting ready for work, which today is in Fangfoss, about 10 or so miles East of York. Should be a good cycle ride.

I left at 12.20 and swiftly went along the A1079 through Kexby and to Wilberfoss, got here at 1pm so soon after the Fangfoss turn stopped and had my sandwiches. Got to my party venue soon after, and put all the gear in their playroom and got changed ready to entertain at the Christmas party which started at 2pm. There were about 25 children, from toddlers in arms to 14 year olds plus a few grown ups. In the rest of the house there were about 50 adults. I performed my circus show then they had their food whilst I blew up balloons and then did the balloon workshop, finishing just after 4pm.

I then got changed again and cycled home. On the way back I picked up several items of roadkill which I'd noticed on the way out, so came back with a carrier bag full of animals killed by motor traffic which I'll recycle on the current hot compost heap. Home by 5.40 and had a lovely welcome from the boys, and Gill had made baked potato and nutloaf burger thingies done on the woodstove.

I was pretty knackered after the cycling and entertainment and collapsed for an hour after eating... but got myself together as I had to write and type in my paid blog (did it on a cruelty-free alternative Christmas meal recipe) and got my emails. Got another anonymous one commenting on this blog, so 'hello' to 'Dr Evil', obviously a regular reader, and I'd still like the chance to reply personally to her (probably a female going by some of the comments and language!) as this public diary blog cannot go into some of the issues in detail which she is interested in. However I would be prepared to explain via an email address. But she seems to be keen on remaining an anonymous comment maker, in which case none will get published on my blog. Only people sending meaningful or authored comments get published, sorry! I do, however, look forward to entering a dialogue with this person, if allowed.

Listened to 'The Westminster Hour' on R.4 as there was a geezer called David Cox going on about his desire to continue polluting the planet with his CO2 emissions, and hoping that future generations will be able to solve the global warming problem by putting small reflective particles into the atmosphere to reflect 1% of the sunlight. I think he's selfish and shortsighted. He seems to think that being green isn't fun, well I'd love to tell him some of the low carbon fun things I do, and get a lot of satisfaction doing.

Bed after 1am as usual.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Saturday 15th December 07

Woke feeling not too groggy although Gill told me I looked awful, so it may catch up with me sometime later today. Felt buoyed up by news from Bali that the World's leaders have managed to agree to set binding targets to reduce carbon emissions, and although the wonderful United States delegation was reluctant, the rest of the world kind of put them into an uncomfortable corner and eventually they agreed. This is good news.... the next round they'll have to ty to agree how much to reduce emissions and how these reductions are carved up. Bring on Contraction and Convergence, I say!

Celebrated (?) by spending most of the morning chopping back old brambles and stacking split logs. Enjoyed watching a heron perched in a nearby fir tree, it sat there for several hours, just looking one way and then another. Lovely!

Had a simple tea of potatoes and pastie and carrots, then for 8pm went to the Black Swan for a CRAG social. Ivana turned up and then Alex and Camilla, and then Robin, James, and finally Dave and Tracy, a good social. However it seemed to change into an AGM type meeting, and we made a decision that the R in our CRAG was to stand for REDUCTION not RATIONING. We made this decision because the concept of reduction is easy to understand, whereas the idea of rationing is a bit more convoluted and complicated. Also, once this was decided, the 'reins' as it were, were handed over from Alex and Camilla, who started the group, to James, who is happy to take control of the email list and website management. Ivana and I are to organise a meeting on Carbon Offsetting, the pros and cons, in Feb 08.

The meeting went on til nearly half eleven so I cycled home as fast as I could so I could go on Googletalk and chat with K who has just had her birthday...

Friday, 14 December 2007

Friday 14th December 07

A relaxing day... Gill did the morning shift and then came back to bed, we have both got blocked sinuses and are feeling grotty, so soon we were both asleep and slept til after midday!

Between us we finished putting together the SUMA order, the food co-op we run. This time there are just three other parties ordering stuff, but it's good to help these families get access to organic, fair trade and yummy wholefoods and other products at wholesale prices. It's also very convenient getting, for example, a 10kg sack of muesli base delivered rather than having to go and get a kilo at a time.

So Gill phoned that in and I popped into town to put money into our Co-op Bank account we have for the SUMA transactions, and got back just in time to cycle down to the school and get the kiddies.

On the way into town, I had noticed that the stumps left from the treefelling at Woodlands had been ground out, and there was a large pile of woodchips, so after school I went over to shovel a load into sacks as it's perfect compost heap material to balance all the fruit and veg that goes on.

Had a small tea as going out to several parties tonight and there'll probably be nosh at some of them.

The first party was the YorkLETS Christmas Social at Belinda's house in Fulford. I got there at 7.15 and was one of the first there but it soon filled up, and I was happy to meet up with about 20 people I knew and just a few I didn't. At about 8pm I did a little balloon modelling show and workshop for the 8 or 10 kids there, which was appreciated by some of them but a few declined to participate, which was a surprise. I was particularly pleased to meet Maureen who has just got funding to do a project connected with advocacy for people with learning difficulties and other 'Neuro Diverse' ways of being. I'm looking forward to learning more in the new year, and possibly helping her. Also very good to see Rowena, Will, Ann, David, Liz and others.

Soon after 9pm, I cycled off to St Nicks for their party at the Environment Centre... and this was in full swing and I met up with some more of my more eco-conscious friends. I had my second bottle of perry here, and a small slice of Christmas cake, and good chats to Carol, Pat, Catherine , Chris and other Rotters and volunteers at the centre.

Left soon after 10 and cycled back to Fulford through the University to arrive at the Green Party party at Candy and Eugene's, and was pleased to meet Charles, Andy D our Councillor and Denise his wife, Tracy, Will, Andy C and several others... there was some food left which I had a plateful of, leaving after midnight.

Came back through the Uni again, and loaded up with a trailer full of logs and got home safely just before 1am. Watched snowboarding and skiing with Gill to wind down, whilst catching up with blog.

Thursday, 13 December 2007

Thursday 13th December 07

A really good day apart from a runny nose. I had been invited into school to do a lesson for year 4, my youngest son's class. So I signed in and arrived at the lines in the playground just before they went in. My 'lesson' started with an introduction as my lad's dad and told them I preferred to be known as John, not Mr Cossham, and that I was also called Professor Fiddlesticks when I was out earning my living.

I started with devilsticks, I love it when they all gasp with amazement when the stick goes up and it looks like it's done with magnets! I showed them how it worked with the centre line being a balance point and then how if it is balanced off-centre, it begins to fall down and it can be caught with the other stick, and it then starts to fall in the other direction. I then did the trick where I balance the stick on my nose (cries of 'awsome' and 'beautiful'!) and explained how this works, moving the base in the same direction that the top is starting to fall in. Then got a third of the class out to balance a peacock feather on their hand or finger for a few minutes, followed by the second third and then the final group.

Then moved from this easy skill to a more difficult one, juggling three balls. The children had been given homework before the weekend to make 3 balls from a filler (rice or other seeds) and three balloons per ball. I showed them my basic juggling skills and how the curved throw worked with the three forces (how much it is thrown vertically up, how hard it is thrown horizionally and how much gravity pulls it down. I then explained how they could learn, starting with one ball being thrown up with one hand and caught in the same hand, then to try that with the other hand. Then onto the 'rainbow shape' throw from one hand to the other, making sure that the catch was in a hand in front of their tummy or chest, and not reaching up to grab the ball or clutch it to their chest. The next stage is to spot the top (used the word 'apex') of the curve which shows the juggler when to throw the second ball, in the same 'rainbow' shape. I showed them the juggling pattern I didn't want them to do, which I call the 'schoolgirl pattern', which is a throw up with the same hand each time and a pass from the other hand into the throwing hand, a roughly circular shape. I knew quite a few of them would get stuck on this, and that relatively few would get to the 3 ball flash and the 3 ball cascade. I was delighted that one child did get the 3-ball flash, and others had seemingly got the idea at least. Th eteacher showed us his juggling prowess, slightly better than me. Then I finished off with a diabolo demonstration with my pet diabolo 'Derek'.

Then I went onto the next classroom, year 3, and they got a shorter demo, with devilstick, hands-on feather-balancing and the diabolo show. Finished at 11am, and was invited up to the staffroom. I had a conversation with a volunteer who is also a mum with children in our children's classes, and she was really happy and impressed with what Id just done. I don't think she'd seen my skills before. We also strayed into the subject of my recent diagnosis, and she said that she now felt she understood me a bit more now I was 'out' as having Aspergers Syndrome with Hyperactivity. She was really lovely and I felt warmed by her comments.

Gill was out in town when I got back, I went on the computer to do emails and after lunch did a stint if splitting logs with my hydraulic/electric splitter, as I have been unable to do these rounds from Woodlands with my axe, the wood is too tough. Some logs split really easily, these don't.

I brought the children home, my eldest was too tired to go to cubs. I, amazingly, fell asleep after tea... this is a rare event! Only for 30 minutes though, and woke to make the kids their supper and put them to bed.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Wednesday 12th December 07

A lovely start to the day, Gill and I were able to spend some time together.

I finished my column on how to bring up kids in a low carbon manner... not easy to fit this into 550 words.

I got an email from the Alley Cats saying it was not them who had posted silly comments to my blog. I apologised for blaming them, and explained about my show being an hour and only being given 45 mins, which caused one of the problems of my over-running and them starting before I'd finished.

I hope that this calms things down. I have checked the wording of my post for Sunday to ensure it doesn't 'libel' them!

I got a very nice message back, accepting my apologies and explanation, which felt good as I don't enjoy conflict and don't want anybody to have un-necessary bad feelings about me or my lifestyle.

During the afternoon I got a visit from Friedmann who was returning the Humanure Handbook, and the evening's highlights were having Gill's home-made pizza, with a tomato/onion topping I made, and enjoying Pink Floyd on telly.

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Tuesday 11th December 07

Gill took the boys to school, first the younger one and came back for the older one who had not got ready in time. He was late in therefore.

I went to a meeting with my favoutite agent John Liley at the Novotel, where we met the Catering Manager to discuss the Christmas entertainment I'm booked in to do. The Novotel has had a refit and it was useful to see the new layout before the gig. The manager was very positive about my contribution to the Christmas celebrations and it was good that John was there to hear this.

I got home just before Gill left for Scarborough to go to her Uncle Tom's thanksgiving for his life ceremony in his residential home, and the scattering of his ashes.

I tried to write my column and it came slowly, but got some done before going to school to get the boys plus one, they came home very well behaved and I cooked tea whilst they were playing on the computer upstairs. Their friend's mum came to pick him up and went, boys ate tea and Gill came back having had a good day.

Monday, 10 December 2007

Monday 10th December 07

A slow start after my busy weekend, but had quite a good day as did some writing and some woodchopping and after I got the children home, had a visitor called Friedemann, who's German and I met him at the Greenspeak last week, and he wanted to see the composting and woodstoves. A nice chap, sorry he's leaving to go back to Germany at the end of the week.

Then wrote my paid blog, and my experiences yesterday provided the subject. I thought I coped well with some difficult circumstances, and behaved professionally in the face of unprofessional behaviour. And of course it was lovely to be able to help out the youngsters.

When I downloaded my emails I had two childish comments regarding yesterdays post about my day in Beverley, they were anonymous which was a pity as I'd have loved to reply. They were so puerile that I decided not to publish them, but they were probably from members of or followers of the band who used my spot to set up in. I don't know why they're upset as I described their music positively and their egotistical behaviour honestly. I do not feel that I was in competition with them, and was just a fellow performer. Anyway, the good people at Beverley will be getting a letter thanking them for the well paid day's work and asking that if they do book me again, that I am not put near the Alley Cats, who are obviously no better behaved than... err... alley cats!

After tea (reheat rice and veg, very simple) I went to an anniversary meeting of some York Credit Union diehards who were with me 10 years ago when I started the ball rolling with a public meeting at the Friends Meeting House. Some of us spent 8 years getting the Union launched and now it is going from strength to strength, membership is going up and they are helping loads of York people out of poverty. A success story, and now North Yorkshire County Council is spending some money exploring the idea of extending the Credit Union into the Selby and Scarborough areas, it could end up being the biggest Credit Union in the country, area-wise. I'd be very proud of that if it did happen.

Got home after 10 and spent some more time writing as I have a deadline of the 13th to get a column in for a Community Care 'Green Issue'. Another silly comment left on my blog, what a pity the comment writer doesn't want a dialogue but just wants to say uninformed stuff in a cowardly anonymous way. Give us your email address and I'll enter into a conversation which could benefit us both, instead of ridiculous point-scoring!

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Sunday 9th December 07 'Beverley's Festival of Christmas'

Woke with the buzzer of the alarm clock at 7.30 and slowly got up and got down to breakfast for 8am... had cereals and a resonably nice plate of beans, fried eggs, musrooms and tinned tomatoes... not a very good attempt at a vegetarian 'full breakfast' but actually plenty for me!

Then met my hostess for the day who showed me the two sites I was due to entertain at and where the procession was to leave from at 10. Then I went back to my hotel and got changed into my Fiddlesticks gear.. I decided on the usual shorts, tee shirt and waistcoat, not my 'very cold weather costume of dungarees and fleece.

I took all my stuff up to where the procession was due to go from and left most of it at Boyes, which had a safe place for my stuff. I did the Santa Claus procession with my whirling devilstick and enjoyed it lots.

Then back to the Boyes stash and took my circus and balloons kit to the spot where I'd been told to perform at, and there was a band setting up. I told the woman that I'd been told to perform there and she was quite haughty and said 'We always go here and we need to set up now' even though I had a 45 minute slot there first. So I found a nearby spot, not as good or prominant, but didn't feel like complaining to the organisers as they have enought to do 'on the day' but thought about mentioning it later in the day. The 'Alley Cats' woman had the audacity to tell me that when they came on I must stop doing what I'm doing. Which I did, standing around in the cold, when I'd have preferred to keep going to keep warm and keep the entertainment going... Then later, at the end of my second show, they started playing before I had completely finished... I'd indicated I'd be just another couple of minutes but they rudely started. Cheeky and unprofessional, although their music was good.

However all my shows were well recieved and had good audience participation, including two teenagers who had met up with me during a previous Beverley gig, and 'crashed the show' with unicycles, much to my joy... and theirs as I got them a hatfull of cash for the show. But this time the two 15 year olds did a short demo of staff, or pole spinning, and some good athletic unicycling.

When I moved to my third show area, away from the Alley Cats, I did a load of balloons which was good, and taught some teens to do the 'dogs dinner' model. I met John, the dad of one of the boys, who had invited me back to their place after my work to talk to the boys about 'how to be an entertainer', some of the tricks of the trade... such as info about Equity, insurance, advertising, how to ask for a fee, agents, getting stuff at wholesale prices, etc. I had some nosh with them and slowly warmed up, they were perfect hosts and very kind. Cathy, their mum, gave me a thank you card for spending the time with them and giving them so much useful info, with £20 in it, which was most unexpected and lovely.

I got the 6.34 bus back to York, very tired, and Gill fed me some re-fried rice and assorted veg... lovely and most welcome, despite the early tea with John and Cathy at 4pm.

Saturday, 8 December 2007

Saturday 8th December 07

A very cold and wet day working.

Gill and the boys left at 9am in a taxi to drop our eldest off at the Scout Hut in South Bank, so that he can get a lift in the minibus up to Snowball Plantation where he's got a 26 hour 'do', which should be fun despite the weather.

I had a bath in stovewater and was ready by 10am with bike loaded to got to the station and off up to Malton. When I got to the station, Gill was there and ready to plait my hair which was a nice suprise. Got the 10.38 and was in Malton by shortly after 11. Taxi up to Castle Howard with a friendly and talkative Nigerian, and was ready to entertain, ignoring the dreadful weather, by midday. I worked solidly til 3, nipping from cafe to shop to ticket-queuea nd back again, just doing balloon models and about three little bursts of devilsticking.

Got changed again at 3 and the taxi came at 3.30 to get me back to the station in good time for the 4.10 train back. Chatted to a pair of young ladies who'd got the train to Malton by mistake, having meant to go to Darlington.

Cold and wet cycle home where Gill fed me and I sorted out assorted stuff ready for tonight's trip to Beverley and a days entertainment tomorrow.

Got the 8.08 bus which came up the Hull Rd at about 8.20 and I got out in Beverley at 9 10 ish... and made my way to the Cross Keys where a room had been reserved for me. Took a pint to my room and collapsed.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Friday 7th December 07

The day started well with a lie-in, Gill woke me at 9.30 as she was off out to her art class and wondered about leaving me asleep but decided to wake me up so I didn't wonder where she was.

I got going and did my emails but there were lots needing replies and I got a bit waylaid and became annoyed and grumpy. I had lots of housework to do and other stuff but the morning just disappeared and I didn't get stuff done that I wanted to. Never mind.

The afternoon was better, got some stuff done but all too soon the 3pm deadline came and I had to go to school to pick up my two with one more. It took an age for them to all get ready... and then when they were, they all disappeared and I had to yell to get them out of the playground and on the way home.

But we got home after 4 and I then did a little bit of logging and more washing up with the resultant hot water.

I didn't get out in time for the Critical Mass Cycle Ride, which was a disappointment, but did get to Greenspeak at Millers Yard which I was glad of. The speakers were Laura who's very clued up about many aspects of food and sustainability issues, and Margi who's keen on Fairtrade. I learned a lot.

I picked up a sack of oranges and coffee grounds from Dylan and came home via Heslington Road where there are about 10 bags of turf and soil waiting for me to pick up, from a householder who's remodelled her garden and didn't want to bin the spare turf.

Home in time for a bit of BBC News and Jonathan Ross and then good music with Jools Holland.

Thursday, 6 December 2007

Thursday 6th December 07

A slow start but then got busy and did some piling stuff up on my latest heap and did a load of organising for my busy working weekend, a day in Castle Howard and then a day in Beverley... lots of travelling!

I also sorted out my future 'telephony provider' as I'm currently on dialup using BT but route all my other calls through The Phone Co-op as they have a hand gadget which allows me to divide up my outgoing calls into Professor Fiddlesticks, LETS, AVP, Green Party, personal, etc by using 'cost centre coding' and this splits up my bill so I can clain my Fiddlesticks expenses and, if I wanted, claim expenses from the various organisations I do phoning for. So I'm going to have The Phone Co-op for my line provider and get broadband.

I got our youngest at 3.15 and cycled down again for 4.15 for the older one, then off to Cubs with him, in the pouring rain, at 6pm. Had a pint with Pete whilst Cubs was on and then went back to see Jo with him before getting back to Cubs and collecting my larger cub and cycling home.

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Wednesday 5th December 07 Uncle Tom's Funeral

Today was Gill's Uncle Tom's Funeral in Scalby, Scarborough.

We all went, I cycled down to the station as I knew I was doing a pick-up after... the others went by bus. I arrived much earlier than them, and had trouble with my D lock, the key got jammed and I couldn't pull it out, so walked the bike to the entrance and waited for the family... but kept fiddling with the lock and suddenly it came free, so I went to lock the bike up. But in doing this I got oil on one of my hands from the bike next to mine, so I had to go to the loo to wash it off with soap and tissue. What a palaver!

Got to the entrance again and eventually the others arrived. Gill got the tickets with the family railcard and we were still a few minutes early. When we got on the train, we were expecting to meet Z who is the daughter of a pair of foreign students that Tom and Beryl looked after, as this was what they did as they didn't have their own children. So Z's parents are living in Kuwait and she's at a British University and grew up calling Tom 'Grandad', so she attended the funeral on behalf of her family. So she came down the train and it was lovely to see the reunion between Gill and her as Gill hadn't seen her for perhaps 15 years!

So we had a really interesting conversation, she's an expert debater and holds some interesting views, some of which are very different to mine... so some interesting chats! The journey went quickly because of this, and we got a taxi from Scar Station to St Lawrences in Scalby all together.

We had a short wait in a cafe and then went to the church and the service was soon underway... Gill did the first reading from the Bible and her sister Jane then did an appraisal of Tom's life, which was very moving. There were a smattering of prayers and hymns and then we went in a convoy to the Crematorium and we all went in and saw the coffin go behind the curtains.

We will all miss him such a lot, but we're glad he had a long and fulfilled life.

Then onto a hotel where we all had a sherry and a chat, met up with people we didn't know (well me anyway) and had some lunch which was delicious. Gill had prepared a montage of photos of Tom which was put on display, along with his Scouting book and some wartime stuff.

Took the train back at around 4pm with Z and another relative, S. The boys were extremely well behaved all day, we were so pleased with them. It was their first funeral.

I cycled home via Millers Yard and Martin's Country Fresh.

I made my own tea of rice and onions, basically!

Later in the evening I collected 3 lots of logs from Woodlands.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Tuesday 4th December 07

Quite a good day, a slow start as had a late night and then a disturbed night with our youngest, who woke me up in the night with 'hot eyeballs' and a fever. He didn't go to school today because of this.

Gill took in a letter to his class teacher who's asked me to bring my circus skills into his class and do a little demo plus a juggling lesson. When I picked up our older one at 3.15, I found out that this will be next week.

I heard chainsaws and a chipping machine nearby... so went to investigate. It was a team of treesurgeons at Woodlands MS Respite Care Home, which is just 2 mins walk from here, and I have a good relationship with them. I have done several Professor Fiddlesticks gigs there for the guests for a very low fee, it's not the easiest gig for a childrens' entertainer, but I didn't want to say 'no' the first time they asked me, so I rose to the challenge. In return, I have first option on the assorted trees which are regularly pruned or removed. They had an extension last year and they took out at least 3 cherries, which I brought back on the bike trailer and have just finished chopping and splitting.

The guys with the chainsaws had been told to cut the tree into rounds, and I checked with Bob from Woodlands if they were for me... and yes, lucky me, another tonne of logs! In return, I will take my little fee and then give it back to them with the tax back thing which gives them a bit extra. A good deal I'd say. I'm doing my gig for them on Boxing Day.

I picked up our eldest and his friend and cycled back home and went to pick up more of the Woodlands logs, there's perhaps 20 0r 30 trips worth.

Enjoyed the BBC programme on Planet Earth about ice.

Had a really good googletalk chat with K, we seemed to get a lot of stuff sorted and understood.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Monday 3rd December 07

Quite a good day but didn't get as much done as I wanted. I got the children to school, as Gill's feeling poorly. I took a long time to write my paid blog, did it on the recent experience of recieving a chain email with some incorrect information, which I then researched and found out the truth and then sent this information out to the other recipients of the chain, and back up the chain towards the originators.

I got a reply from one of the people up the chain with a bit of a reaction, so I replied and the answer I got made me very happy,as he said that he'd check the validity of the info if he was in a similar position again, rather than just relying on knowing the sender.

So I wrote about this and also the forthcoming climate march on Saturday which I cannot go to as I'm working at Castle Howard.

So I did write this piece, but then Gill reminded me that I had to deliver a sack of compost to someone in Heworth so I rang and did that, then found a skip with a load of apple branches in it which I filled my trailer with, then went to Morrisons (as a shopper today!) to get some goats cheese for Gill, and on the way home got waylaid by my friend ol' John, who told me all the gory details about his recent operation on his kidney... using local anaesthetic and the natural opening... not a very comfortable thing to hear about. But glad he's still with us!

Late lunch and did a little bit of outside stuff before getting the kids and then continued outside until dark. Then I fairly quickly typed in my blog into Community Care and had tea with Gill, then went to my LETS meeting. This was good, amongst friends who value my skills.... I was asked to chair the meeting, and there was a new member there and her partner, who were interested in how the system worked.

As an AOB I told them all about my experience last week at the Maudsley, and my friend A (I've learnt to keep some people's identity private if I don't know if they're happy to appear in my blog!) said she knew I wasn't ADHD the day she met me, and told me that when she first met me, I behaved inappropriately and she thought 'I never want to meet this man again' but then thought 'maybe he's got Aspergers' and gave me a chance... she also said that in her opinion, I'd got a lot better and was losing the condition/syndrome. I suggested that I had actually done a lot of learning about how to read others' expressions and body language and how to behave appropriately, and she agreed that that would have the same effect of lessening my negative impact on other people. I was happy to hear this and share the info.

Home via Ben and Gill who gave me some spare hot chocolate which they have found is surplus to requirements, and a fair swap for the yoghurts I gave them last month.

Watched a bit of TV with Gill on flooding and climate change, on C4+1.

Blogged and chatted with K who seems to be having computer problems and has gone offline mysteriously.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Sunday 2nd December 07

A very wet and cold day outside, so made it warm and dry inside.
A relaxing morning, slept til after 9 and then went back to bed after breakfast and started reading but felt sleepy and drifted off until nearly 11. Watched Countryfile.

A bit of time outside during the afternoon, but not much.

At 5pm, went to Morrisons new supermarket to perform a kids party entertainment for children of the staff. I did my usual circus and balloons routines... all went well as usual and everybody enjoyed themselves... and I met my old friend Santa Claus for the first time this year!

Home-made pizza for tea, yummy!

Wrote letters during the rest of the evening, thinking about what to write for paid blog tomorrow morning...

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Sunday 1st December 07

Good day. I spent nearly all of the day doing garden stuff, cutting back brambles mostly. The current year's fruiting stems need to be removed, and the main stalk is best shredded, the side stems are cut off and put on a compost heap as a fibre-rich layer, between fruit and veg bits which will rot fast and help the blackberry rot down. I also shredded some bark from the recently split logs, and added this too, under a layer of veg 'resources' which have been sitting in a potato sack for several days.

The boys had a visitor during the afternoon which kept things happy, and we all had a lovely day.

Gill made a nutloaf for tea and we had sweet potatoes, UK potatoes and York carrots alongside it. Gill also made a very good microwave ginger cake pudding thing. Only takes a couple of minutes! Same length of time to eat it too!