Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Weds 31st December 08


Hey, yet another late morning.

Did do a quick visit to Richard at Country Fresh to buy some veg and be given two sacks of other stuff. Nice one Rich! My fruit-drying racks are piled high!

Our youngest had a visitor and all three of them played quite nicely with computer games, until his parents came, had a tiny sherry and chat and took him away again. Nice to share our cozy house..

Before tea I had a go on 'Mario-Car' racing on the Wii with my eldest. I came 8th, first, last and I've forgotten my final position. It was ok but not that good. My son enjoyed it.

Gill made a good stir-fry with veg, cashew nuts and fresh noodles. Afterwards I had some of the Christmas Pudding Gill made yonks ago using home-made dried fruit soaked in brandy... it was delicious! But Gill didn't like it, and the boys don't like the brandy flavour. So it's probably all mine! OMG!

Kinda lazy evening interspersed with fruit drying... did a load of Asian pears which are pretty crap fresh but nice when dried.

Saw in the New Year whilst watching out of our loft window: an excellent view looking North over East York... the Minster on the left and lights from Next Generation shining into the sky on the right. Just a reasonable number of fireworks. Boys got cold at the open window and by 12.15 were in bed.

Happy New Year everyone!

Tuesday 30th December 08

Another late morning which was good... I like these late mornings!

Once again a fairly productive day but relaxed enough. Gill took our youngest to the aquarium shop which is part of Wyvale Garden Centre near Poppleton... Gill and I both call it Challises as we both worked at Challis of York, although at different times. But it changed hands although is still a garden centre. With a fishy-pet shop. They came back with two tiny fish... apparently 'leopard fish' although they look nothing like leopards! Also some pondweed and a wooden aquarium decoration.

I was on Facebook and one of our friends round the corner came on so I messaged her and asked if her son was doing anything, as our eldest was at a loose end... so at 3pm, both Maria and her son came round which was good, as then both boys had their loose ends tied up, and Maria could tell me all the ins and outs of her new job teaching. It sounds tough.

I prepared some more grapes, blanched them and put them to dry. Did some pears and mangoes too. Did some baked potatoes for the boys, and warmed the red soup which is what I had for tea.

I had a meeting at 7.30 with Jess from York in Transition, about accessibility and inclusion. Both of us feel this is absolutely vital to a Transition Initiative. Jess had a couple of her friends there, Tom and Emily, an artist and a writer, both also keen on inclusivity and equal opportunities. We had some interesting if rather rambling discussions, but Jess took notes and I think we will have got something concrete out of the meeting. They all enjoyed the dried fruit I took, and I hope to meet the new couple again... I like creative types.

Came home via a logpile and brought a massive tree stump home... it only just fitted on my trailer; I had to take the box out of the frame and just put the log in/on the frame and the plastic box on my rack. A good haul although I reckon it'll be a sod to cut up!

A late late evening, Gill and I had a real game of Scrabble and Gill won. I was very pleased for her... and of course, with real games on a board, we have no 'stats' recorded, so losing a game doesn't ruin my stats. On Facebook though, things are different... I really like to keep my stats looking good. (So far I've won 82% of 73 games) But it still doesn't matter too much if I lose a game sometimes. A few days ago, one of my Scrabble partners and I reached a stalemate but she had one more point than me so I conceded the game. Never had to do that before!

A good evening, watched a film with Gill.

Monday, 29 December 2008

Monday 29th December 08

Another slow start to the day. Didn't do much before lunch apart from cycling round to Thomas the Baker to get bread and do assorted paperwork, sending off a cheque, ringing Good Energy to find out our annual bill for green electricity for next year, based on this year's consumption (it's £285, and this year we've used 1421 units, or 3.89 units per day). At midday lit the stove and jarred up a load of dried mango and pears, leaving the racks empty for the next batch... and right on cue, Raj rang and invited me to come and collect some 'resources'. When I did eventually get down there, the sack of stuff he gave me, sorry, sold me for a penny, contained lots of apples. How timely is that? He was also in a very jolly mood, methinks business is brisk!

Also popped along to Country Fresh, and Shirley was working but still came away with a few kilos of recyclables, saved from certain landfill.... So as it was getting dark I put another load in the Compostumbler and then came in to heat up the red red red soup on the woodstove, as Gill prepared pasta and broccoli using gas (although the water was initially heated in the kettle on the stove). I had a bowl of soup followed by a bowl of pasta n veg with some soup on top.

So a quiet and fairly productive day.

Sunday, 28 December 2008

Sunday 28th December 08

A nice late morning. Boys in good cheer. Generally a lazy day.

However during the afternoon Lorna popped in on the way back from her sister's and I went for a short walk with her, getting back at 5, and she then drove home to the Midlands. I expect we'll see her later this month, as she's visiting her sister again then.

I popped round to our neighbour Debbie who's back from visiting her brother in Windsor. She's had an unusual Christmas and is glad to be in her own house again.

The whole family watched a programme on ITV with a shrunk Nigel Marvin exploring his back garden and saying "Help! I'm no bigger than a bug" which was relatively good but not brilliant.

Soup for tea... I'd made the reddest soup possible, with tomatoes, red peppers and beetroot, and it was lovely. Had this with a pastie, and a cabbage and cashew nut thing which Gill made, plus some left over baked beans. Tasty!

Fairly quiet evening.... watched some telly, played Scrabble and answered composting questions on Facebook. Bed by 2am.

Saturday, 27 December 2008

Saturday 27th December 08

A good day today... boys happy on Wii, me busy in the kitchen as well as Gill making a trifle for this afternoon's visit. I went for some bread... as no 'Yesterbake' got the full-price stuff for the first time in ages. Also found a new line in the Co-op, a nice apple juice drink in a glass bottle (easy recycling!) made with English apples, so got some of that, again for Alison's party.

I washed and blanched a job-lot of grapes and put them to dry before cycling off to Chapelfields, the other side of York, for Alison's party. Gill and the boys went on two buses... I'd been there half an hour when Gill rang (she has got a mobile phone, 21st Century Girl!) and said she had got off where Alison said, so I went to collect them, just 5 minutes walk from Alison's.

The gathering was really good. Alison's sister Cheryl from Sheffield, and Cheryl's daughter Grace, who was really good with the boys. Our friends Melody and Simon with their two offspring, one of who is great friends with our two, and Simon's Mum MaryLou from London. And really good to meet up with my Green Festival buddy Randall and his wife Annie. Rand is a garden designer and has done a lovely job on Alison's garden, making a little patio and some raised beds.

Alison had requested that people didn't bring anything which none of us had heard, understood or obeyed, so there were some excellent foody bits and lots of dwinkabuls and we all had a jolly time. Including garden tours and memories of what it used to look like with a photo collection. The boys played boisterously and had a good time too. We left soon after 6, and as Gill got a taxi home she got in first. I picked up a sack of compostables from Country Fresh and a large pile of unsold mistletoe... with loads of berries which I'll try to plant into my Bramley Apples... might work!

So, a happy evening followed with not very much washing up to do, hooray!

Friday, 26 December 2008

26th December 08

A nice start to the day, with a phone call from Lorna who's up in Yorkshire visiting her sister and asked if she could visit us all this evening. I came down and lit the stove as it's cold, and breakfasted.

Gill went out with our eldest to go and look for a Nintendo Wii, as he's been saving up for one for ages, after enjoying using one at a friend's house earlier this year.

I went on my computer and our youngest played on Spore on the other computer.

The others came back, they'd walked into town, got a good deal on a Wii and walked back. They'd got a basic Wii Sport with added games, steering wheel, extra user remote and probably other stuff... for an all inclusive price which was quite a bit cheaper than all the bits if bought separately. So what's going to happen is that he'll have the basic stuff he's saved up for, and keep earning and saving so he can buy the extra stuff off Gill.

We had a late lunch of the last of the leek and potato soup, and I did a small amount of work outside, pruning out this year's brambles, some chainsawing (just 10 minutes) and splitting.

Lorna dropped in after tea (which was tomato soup, home-made of course!) and watched the boys and Gill setting up the Wii whilst I filled up the aquarium that our youngest got for his main present. Lorna had never seen a Wii before so was just as amused as we were to watch our eldest having a virtual boxing match, very entertaining and fun.

Lorna left at about 9 and I set to and made another batch of tomato soup on the woodstove. This is what you do with a glut of tomatoes: chop two onions and a stick of celery, and fry in the biggest heaviest pan you have. Add a job lot of chopped tomatoes, followed by a couple of chopped beetroot and two red peppers. Stew for a couple of hours with the lid on and then let it go cold overnight without taking the lid off. Tomorrow morning I'll add some herbs and bouillon, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce. Then whizz with the hand-held blender and bring it up to heat again... it will be delicious!

Whilst this was bubbling, I watched Nine Months, a rather rubbish American film, and played Scrabble with my various Facebook friends.

Thursday, 25 December 2008

Thursday 25th December 08 'Christmas Day'

Well, I justabout survived the day.

Up early as we had quite a bit to do before I went to work. The boys enjoyed opening their presents, our youngest pleased with lego and eldest pleased with money instead so he can go and buy a 'Wii'. Gill had found an unused table football game (quite a big one, about 3 feet long) in a charity shop for only £5, and they were pleased with that. They unwrapped the legs first and were just a bit bemused as to what they were for. Gill was pleased with her new frying pan (she'd dropped enough hints) and I was tempted to go and fill up my chainsaw's oil port immediately but just resisted! Probably the best gift was Simon's home-made pestle and mortar, created from sheets of reclaimed birch ply, glued together into a sturdy block and then turned and carved and sanded down. The pestle is made in the same way. We already have a pestle and mortar... it rarely gets used and it's small enough to fit in the back of the cutlery drawer. As for Simon's, it's massive and beautiful and I'm not sure where it will go or whether we'll use it... but it is lovely and home-made presents are definitely the best!

Gill made my sandwiches and I packed my bike trailer, and I set off for the Novotel to go and perform an hour of Fiddlesticks and then unknown amount of Father Christmas, a role I really dislike as it's not me..... Professor Fiddlesticks is more the real me than I can be when being just John, if that makes sense, whereas Daddy Xmus is acting and very hard work. David was just getting ready so I signed his 'release form' which allows him to use the images, and started unicycling round, devilsticking and making balloon animals. Several people recognised me from last year and were very friendly, kids excited and keen to do the various circussy activities. The hour went very quickly and I went for lunch in a bedroom, got changed and came down for 1.30, walking very slowly, making sure my beard and cushion didn't slip, and doing a variety of deep Ho Ho Ho's and assorted other merry greetings. I'm sure I pulled it off pretty well, but it was hard work! I only had about 10 presents to deliver, this taking only 15 minutes... and I was finished, Hooray!

I got changed back into John and packed all my gear into the trailer and panniers and came home via Freshways who were open, and I bought some Halva as a treat.

Found out no-one else likes it, apparently.

Gill had made a lovely Christmas tea... the boys wanted noodles, I had the rems of nutloaf, all with roast veggies and a tomato and leek sauce. Lovely and completely non traditional!

We watched the Wallace and Gromit 'Curse of the Were-Rabbit' film together but I drifted in and out of sleep until the news after which I escaped from the Dr. Who Christmas special and went upstairs with my laptop and did assorted things, including watching two extremely moving YouTube videos:
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=mrOwvNnTeD4&NR=1
http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=A_Z7rV7kKnI&NR=1
after which I joined the Aaron Fotheringham fan page on Facebook
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=38047288049&ref=ts
as he's someone I really admire. Totally inspirational!

Came back down for a family viewing of the new Wallace and Gromit, 'A Matter of Loaf and Death' which was ok. The boys eventually went to bed and I prepared a big pile of waste mangoes for drying. Each one has a one or two small bruises or bad patches, with the rest of the mango being very tasty and lovely. Did about 15 of them... Two cake-racks loaded with mango slices, balanced precariously on top of the 6 gallon pan on the stove...

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Wednesday 24th December 08

Woke late.. well, after 9, with a certain child screaming at the top of his voice and rushed downstairs as I thought he'd been injured. He hadn't... he'd forgotten his password for a card-making website (or something like that) and was having a full-blown paddy. Really over the top... but obviously it mattered to him.

Anyway, it got me up. I emailed David who's a photographer and I've asked to take some pics for some new publicity material for me, and he wants to come to the hotel I'm working in tomorrow and get some pics of Professor Fiddlesticks. I always visit the venue beforehand to check how things are and remind them of my needs, health and safety-wise etc, so I invited David to come with me and see the venue. So went down just before lunch and met Stewart the manager, and found the whole place had been rebuilt and I have a new position to do my work in.

Home for a late lunch and a fairly lazy day... just some housework and a bit of work outside. Took the boys up the road to deliver a card to one of their friends, they walked back and I went on to Country Fresh with a little gift for Richard for his year-long generosity and friendship... he just loves the dried fruit and as he's the supplier of much of it, it's good that some goes back to him! Home via Freshways where there was a sad lack of compostables but they were very friendly and nice.

A relaxed evening, watched Willy Wonka the 1971 version with the children which was lovely! Gill had made some soup, leek and potato, which we had with bread rolls. Delicious.

Simon popped in later on in the evening to deliver his presents and collect what we've got for them. Had a glass of Pauline's Port and a good natter.

Then onto present wrapping, and a bath to tidy up for tomorrow's work.

Tuesday, 23 December 2008

Tuesday 23rd December 08

Another relaxed day... woke after 9 and soon went into town to pay in a cheque and get a cheque out to pay Cozmic Balloons for a recent delivery of 1500 modelling balloons.

Also visited Pauline who had her usual festive gift for me... a bottle of Port, which is a kind of swap for several potato sacks of logs for her Clearview Pioneer smokefree woodstove. We had a good chat about her volunteering with the St Clement's Hall project and various other subjects over a coffee. Always lovely to spend time with her, and put the World to rights!

Then headed for Barnitts which has got to be York's best shop, and got several items which I will give as gifts at Christmas... including 5 litres of chainsaw lubricating oil which I hope someone will give to me! Hahahaha, always good to receive useful stuff!

Home via Country Fresh where Richard was in a jolly mood and was happy to help load me up with lots more compostables... and some stuff to dry including six bags of red seedless grapes... And then to Freshways where Raj was jolly too. Everybody's happy today!

A late lunch. After lunch I took the compostables down to the Compostumbler and then at about 4 came in to make a nutloaf for tea. I made two lots of nutloaf mix... one with grated raw beetroot in, and the resultant loaf was in two layers, one a lovely red colour.

Jonathan arrived at 6.30 and we all ate together, Jonathan very impressed by the nutloaf, and happy with his present of dried bananas too! He had to scoot off fairly quickly as he was meeting his girlfriend to go and see a film.

Gill had spent some of the afternoon learning how to make something on Spore and I was curious to see some of the assorted creatures and buildings the rest of the family had made, although I have no desire to join in... I'd rather play Scrabble or build a carefully constructed logpile! Spore is clever, though, and I can see how much fun it is!

Monday 22nd December 08

A very quiet day, hardly anything to report other than I got up at a pretty normal time, before 9am as our youngest came upstairs reporting that there was a postman at the door with a parcel.

I rang my parents who are back from the Antipodes and it was a good chat... we'll see them between Christmas and New Year, hopefully.

Gill went out later in the morning and the boys played on the computer for a bit.

I did some logpile building and a bit of compost heap management... so nothing new there!

So probably one of the least interesting days I've had for quite a while... kinda relaxed and nice, really.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Sunday 21st December 08, Winter Solstice

A work day... so, up quite early to get ready to get to the station for the 10.22 to Northallerton, getting some cash out first as I was so low on the readies a day or two ago that I had to ask my son to lend me £20 (he's brilliant at not spending and is saving up for a Nintendo Wii).

I managed to write most of a letter on the train back to my friend Kate in Leeds who's sent me a nice 'Christmas Wishes' note; she doesn't have a computer and therefore regular easy communication takes a little bit more effort.

So, Northallerton came quickly and I waited just a couple of minutes for the Coopers Dales & AAA Taxi to come (excellent service in the Bedale and Northallerton area 01609 772295) who took me to Masham and (gently) dumped me in the car park of the Black Sheep Brewery.

I was in plenty of time to have a coffee and chats to my employer Sue D, then get changed and ready to be my usual boisterous colourful self, twiddling my stick (careful, John!) and making balloon models for excited children and plenty of giggling adults too. With children I just play it 'straight' and am funny just by being dressed up and clever doing what I do, but with adults I have a range of suggestive comments and puns which only grown-ups 'get' and this atmosphere, with the ale flowing, is the perfect environment for that kind of humour, so I had a lovely day (well three and a half hours with a 10 minute break actually).

Father Christmas was his usual popular self and everybody had a good time, with good food, even better beer and appropriate entertainment. A kind gentleman who comes every year bought me a pint, which I accepted towards the end of the event once I'd stopped juggling, as even a few mouthfuls of alcoholic drink slows my reactions enough for me to become noticeably rubbish at devilsticking, as it requires needs lightening reactions and, for me, complete abstinence from alcohol.

I was surprised how quickly the end came as I was enjoying myself so much, and got changed and paid, and as I got to the car park the taxi drew up to deliver me safely back to Northallerton. I met an interesting old couple in the station waiting room, who were heading off to the Black Forest for a week. They responded to my frank approach to conversation with some very private and personal information about their marriage, which was really interesting. They said if the rest of their holiday was as interesting as their 20 minutes in Northallerton Station waiting room, they'd have had a good holiday! I do love being me! (most of the time anyway...)

I came home via Country Fresh, arriving just in time to collect a box of recyclables which went onto my bike rack, and was home by 5.15. Gill had had a good day with the boys, with no difficulties (she'd let them spend most of the day on the computer) and a relatively peaceful evening ensued.

Saturday, 20 December 2008

Saturday 20th December 08

A little bit of a lie-in as the children were busy and quiet so I actually stayed in bed til 10am.

The children were given the opportunity to come to town with me, to get something for Gill for Christmas, despite her saying she doesn't want anything except a happy peaceful family

I went to get bread and hummus just before lunch, and afterwards went to the allotment. I chopped back loads of brambles and chopped them int shorter bits for composting, and dug up quite a few artichokes which I planted several years ago (3 types) and have been spreading freely ever since... Lovely and peaceful, stayed til about 4pm, when it was getting dark.

I came back via Freshways who had quite a lot of stuff for me to recycle, and when there, was met by my friend Sue who had agreed to meet me, at home, at 4ish, to help her with her studies.
So I went back home and she followed, and she explained her mission. She's already trained as a masseur, and can do several different types, and is now training as an 'iridologist' which is someone who looks into peoples' eyes in order to diagnose illnesses or problems. So Sue first looked into each eye using a magnifying glass with bright LED lights, and then took a series of photographs of each eye, which she'll use to practise diagnosing stuff... I like Sue and have known her for years, but think this is definitely 'yoghurt weaving', and I'll contact my buddy Stu who's writing about this subject. He has the blog (above) and a Facebook page (for those with a Facebook profile) which has even spawned an application where people can give virtual yoghurty gifts to each other.

During the evening I peeled a load of pears and put them to dry... one of my favourites!

Friday, 19 December 2008

Friday 19th December 08

Quite a relaxed day in many ways... although due to a family visit we did have some tidying up to do. I took our youngest into school and came back to help sort stuff out... I found a large sack of bananas which I was able to salvage and lay out on the cake-racks on the stove, and also helped with vacuuming, ready for Gill's sister Jane and hubby Mike to visit, due at 2.30.

About lunchtime I was rung up by the local free magazine 'Local Link' who are going to do a feature on composting, and they wanted a how and why conversation to form an article, so spent an hour chatting through allsorts of stuff, being careful to differentiate between the York Rotters advice and things which I did, which I'm supposed to try to keep separate from Rotters stuff. For instance, with my Rotters hat on, I'm supposed to not go on about composting roadkill... so I am going to be sent the article before publication so I can check I'm not going to get into trouble, and that the facts are correct!

Jane and Mike had come to visit several folks in York, drop off presents and pick up presents for their family gathering, as they have offspring and grandchildren visiting them over the holidays. They arrived slightly early and we had a good chat before our eldest came home and then I cycled down to school to pick up our youngest. They stayed a bit later than planned, to see the children who were on best behaviour, fortunately!

I left for town as soon as they went, to deliver paperwork for the council, the Planning Panel stuff, and to post parcels to Taunton and Shrewsbury and a small pile of letters/cards to lots of other places. I also picked up two sacks of orange halves and coffee grounds from Millers Yard, and a sack and a box from Country Fresh. Home by 5pm.

I had the leftover macaroni cheese and cauliflower from yesterday plus dolmades (stuffed vine leaves) which are one of my favourite things, quite a treat as they aren't cheap, even buying in bulk from Suma. A good evening with the children, we watched a bit of telly and I got a cuddle... not something I often get from my eldest!

A warm and cosy evening turning logs rapidly back into the carbon dioxide the trees sucked up not so long ago, releasing their stored sunshine into our living room and into the water to enable us to wash our pans and plates, and driving moisture off waste bananas to preserve them for future muesli... I love our Clearview Stoves!!!

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Thursday 18th December 08

Went early to the station so to get the 8 something train to Sheffield so I could get to see Ali before her meeting. I got the tram to her house and was there for just after 10 and had a nice chat with her son who was most civil and pleasant... made me a cuppa before he went out.

The meeting went well and went on for 2 hours, after which I went to the local Co-op and did some shopping for her... and our lunch which she hadn't got in!

Ali's carer came and we soon went to pick up Ali's daughter from school.. and she was delighted to see me, and I was just as happy to see her! She and the carer went to buy some Christmas presents for Mum, whilst Mum and I went to a supermarket to get a load of stuff to help their Christmas be 'traditional'... presents for neighbours who help her, for her carers, relatives, both her children and even something for my boys!

When we got back to Ali's house I gave her 5 year old her wrapped present, to put under the tree (which isn't up yet) and the Flipside Vision Climate Change Calendar to Ali. Then I went to get the tram down to the station.

My brother lives very close to the station so I walked up to his place where he was expecting me, and I joined their family meal of nutloaf, red cabbage and parsnips... lovely!

Then I dished out their presents and another 3 calendars, one for my bro and family, one for my sis and her hubby and another for my folks, when they get back from their globetrotting. After cuddles with their three kiddies and a short but good chat, I went back down to the station and got a train to Doncaster (good chats to a pair of Christian youth workers) and eventually, a train back to York, getting in just before 10. A long day.

Gill had put up our usual Christmas tree, which is an old 'artificial' tree which Gill's Mum first bought in the early 1960s... and it's been reused nearly every year. On some years we've got a branch of a tree and done a 'pagan style' decorated non-Christmas tree, and I think once I was given a mis-shaped 'real' tree which I was happy to use before shredding and composting it. But we like our really old well-re-used plastic jobbie... very eco-friendly!

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Wednesday 17th December 08

I did the school run, or should that be school ride or school cycle? Then I got out the electrics and did a bit of chainsawing and splitting, til about 10.30 when came in for a coffee and started to prepare to write last weekend's Community Care blog which has got a tad late... but got distracted reading about the latest Climate Camp meeting and a couple of other email newsletters that I receive.. But, hey, it's all really interesting stuff and some of the stuff I get makes its way into my CC blog...

I did manage to do my blog.... eventually! Did it on the church in Bradford I visited on Sunday.

Also had a phone call from Blue Peter about the Green Thumbs Gang 'Mission Nutrition' Bring and Buy plus Assembly... they are looking for things to film. They wanted to speak to someone in the school, so I suggested ringing the Head. I cycled into school very excited and happy with the small possibliity of our project being filmed for Blue Peter...

Had a good chat with Ali late on and offered to go over tomorrow to support her during an interview she has to have... it will also give me the chance to deliver assorted Xmas presents to family over there.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Tuesday 16th December 08

I got our youngest to school, and whilst coming back picked up loads of beer cans which had been thrown into the hedge bottom on Windmill Lane, nearly all aluminium and therefore worth collecting for cash.

When home, attacked a big pile of paperwork and spent most of the day sorting out stuff, some of which has sat for several weeks, naughty John tut tut. But, tis done now!

Just before Lunch, Damian and David popped in and chatted, and as Gill had planned to go into town (on the bus) they took her in their car. So I had a quiet lunch and then continued doing an invoice for Monk's Cross and a variety of other paperworky stuff.

I collected our youngest and came back and needed a little bit of fresh air so cut up a small load of sticks which someone had dumped, sorry, donated (me grateful!) in the front garden/wooding area. They were apple, mainly about 3 to 7 cm thick, and cut to a length which meant that they needed one or two cuts to get them to stacking length. I tend to cut these in a bit of an unusual way... when you think of cutting wood, you imagine someone drawing the bowsaw over the stick with the saw pretty horizontal. Well, with small sticks like these, holding them still is quite difficult and an easier way to cut them is to put your foot on the base of the bowsaw with the blade vertical and the bow propped up against leg or legs, and take the stick to be cut in both hands and pass it up and down the blade... this is a really quick and easy way of cutting thinner sticks to length. The only drawback is that you have to lean over and that can give some of us backache... I first saw this being done by Girl Guides at a camp I was doing a circus workshop at... and it's an excellent method.

I was disturbed by a chap who introduced himself as Jamie from round the corner... he's been building and living on boats for a while and knows about stoves on boats... but is now a landlubber but wants a woodstove in his house, and was interested in who supplied ours and about the flue. So I chatted, took him inside to see the 8Kw Clearview in action, and as he was talking about foodplant gardening, I gave him a tour of the garden. He was most impressed with our walnut tree.

Gill asked me to go and get goats milk, chocolate chips and frozen peas from Scummerfield and I chatted up one of the workers, Debbie, as she was very friendly with me...

I didn't have any tea at home as I was due to have food at the St Nicks Volunteers Party. However, I had a Hull Road Ward Planning Panel meeting first, in the Tang Hall Community Centre, and Carolyn was waiting for me when I arrived at 6.30. We took just over 30 minutes to agree the responses to the various planning applications and I then went to the nearby St Nicks for the party.

This was excellent... lots of folks to chat with, some old friends including Carole whom I've known for nearly 20 years and assorted other Green, Transition and Rotters people. Drank lots of Westons Organic Still Cider and ate apple crumble and pumpkin muffins... lovely!

Left at 10.30 and visited the newly discovered logpile twice to restore the number of unprocessed logs resplendent in our front garden.... I'll have to get busy with the chainsaw again!
Lovely to see Gill who was doing some sewing, turnups on kids trousers, and had a good chat with Ali who has free evening calls somehow....

Monday 15th December 08

Both boys OK to go to school which was good... I took our youngest but also my 'compost mate' tool as I knew that the school compost bin would be full and in need of management.

So once the children had gone in, I turned the third bin, taking out sticks and putting them aside. Then I took the material out of the second bin with the compost mate and put it into the third, again removing uncomposted stuff like some paper and card, plus sticks, and the inevitable few plastic bags, twist ties and chocolate wrappers. Then transferred most of the material from bin one to bin two, adding layers of sticks and paper removed from the older compost. This took about an hour but left the first compost bin empty for the next batch of fruit skins and partly eaten apples.... the whole object of the exercise...

Home and straight out again at Gill's request to get bread, and picked up a huge bag of sad bananas from Freshways.

Lunch was civilised and enjoyable and all too soon it was 3pm and time for me to go and pick up the little one.

When I got back, Gill had received a phone call from Catherine at York Rotters asking if I'd visit a lady just a little further up Hull Road who has a compost bin which was allegedly too full for anything else to put in. I rang the lady, Betty, and she was happy for me to visit immediately. So I got back on the bike and took the Compost Mate and visited her... and her 220 litre 'dalek' bin. This was not completely full, but her son in Law had put a load of soil into it, which I took out so she could use it to put on her raised beds. I turned the rest very thoroughly with the Compost Mate and there was then enough space for her to put her specially saved-up bags of peelings into it... a result! She was a very grateful 83 year old... invited me for a cup of tea but I said I'd better get back, but gave her my number so she could call me sometime in January when I said I'd check her compost again, possibly do some more sorting, AND have a cuppa...

Back home via a newly found logpile (it's that time of year again... tree-pruning time!) and back into our cosy but untidy house. Ate tea alone though as I wanted to watch the news but the rest of the family didn't... and at 7.30 set out for the York Green Festival 08 Review and 09 Planning Meeting at Pivo Bar, which I chaired in a fairly disorganised way (ie no formal agenda, Bob started chairing at one stage, etc!)

This was an excellent meeting, and we came to the decision that we'd have a greener York Green Festival next year, with less noise pollution! And we'd stay with Rowntree Park.

Had a really good chat with Bob afterwards, which was most welcome as I don't have that many male friends and I think Bob could be quite a good buddy... we have quite a lot in common.

Sunday, 14 December 2008

Sunday 14th December 08

An early start this morning as working in Bradford.

I'd bought my tickets yesterday so arrived at the station with just 5 minutes to spare, and got the 8.40 to Leeds. I was due to get the 9.32 to Bradford Forster Square and be collected there at 10ish, but that train had been cancelled. I immediately went to the Leeds Station Office and asked if there was another train to Bradford, and was advised the 9.23 to Bradford Interchange, and I tried to ring my contact at the gig, but she wasn't picking up...

Went to get the 9.23 but it wouldn't start! The driver rang the Station Office to see if another train could be held for 2 mins to allow the passengers to get that but it went, just as I got to that platform.... so I decided to visit the Station Office once more, try to ring my contact again, and see what to do then. Fortunately, she picked up this time and told me the road name for the venue, and I went to get a taxi from outside Leeds Station, and helped the taxi driver put the road name into his TomTom guide thingy which he proceeded to ignore until he reached the centre of Bradford, when it directed us to the venue pretty well. This extra journey cost me £20, which I will try to claim back from the rail people (I'm not expecting this to work, but if you don't try, you don't get, so it's worth a polite letter!)

So, work today was at the Abundant Life Ministries, a Christian church based in an enormous warehouse and other buildings nearby. They have a congregation of two thousand or so, and plenty of activities for children and teenagers. It reminded me of some of the huge American churches in it's scale and approach. My role was to provide the Christmas party entertainment... a one-hour show for the 4 year olds to young teens, followed by a half hour show with the 1 to 3 year olds in a different venue. These both went well and everybody seemed to enjoy themselves... including me, as usual! I was given a lift back to the Interchange and got a train to Leeds and then one back to York, getting home just before 3pm.

Had a quick coffee and then finished off building the logpile to the right of the door, looking out.

The boys were engrossed in Spore and Gill, who's quite a bit better, went to the shops briefly.

Tea was soup followed by remains of pizza for me with baked beans and mushrooms, the boys had soup and cheese toasties with beans and mushrooms.

The boys went to bed without a hitch and I sliced apples and filled another rack for drying, then washed and graded 5 bags of grapes, blanched them and put them on a non-stick tray on top of one of the lids of the cans of water on the stove, so that within maybe three days, they'll be raisins.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Saturday 13th December 08

Not an easy day, as someone was in a mood and took offence at even the slightest parental suggestion, ie, at midday, asking him to go and get dressed, was met with a response "why should I?" and when I answered quite reasonably "because I want you to" he came up with a string of excuses why he shouldn't and then got exceedingly angry when I said that I would make him lunch once he'd got dressed, and accused me of cruelty and threatening to starve him! I had actually asked him to get out of his pyjamas and into a teeshirt and trousers... that's all...

So, unfortunately, this blew up out of all proportion, partly because I am unable, or perhaps unwilling to be told to 'Shut up' by my child and to just not respond. Something in me makes me answer 'Please don't speak to me like that, it's rude' or similar. Anyway, Gill had to intervene and tell me to just turn away and not continue the situation, even though I feel that if I back down and let him have the last (rude) word, I am not doing my duty as a Father.

So after lunch, which I did make them (I made them eggy bread for breakfast too, as Gill is still very poorly) I went to Salisbury's and the station... to get tomorrow's train ticket to Bradford and a ticket for a trip to London in January, to meet up with other speakers from the Climate Speakers Network. Popped into Salisbury's too, for one of their most excellent loaves and some medicines.

Also popped in to Country Fresh and Freshways, came back home drenched and glad to potter around the house and dry off...

Gill made pizza dough, amazingly, as the aspirin I got seemed to have helped, and using the tomato thing I made the other day, she made a good pizza which the boys loved, as usual.

I had the remains of the lasagna and a slice of pizza, before going out to the LETS Christmas Party at Helen's. This was a cosy event, with just Francis and Rakesh, Marian, David and Liz (plus Helen and myself) and lots of chat, helped by a party game where we all took a coin from a pot and looked at the date on it, and said something that had stood out about that year. I hadn't seen Marian for some time and it was good to catch up and hear about her latest business exploits, which are veering towards the website and sales side of things. So, animated conversation. A good little gathering, and I left some time after midnight and cycled back in the falling snow...

Friday, 12 December 2008

Friday 12th December 08

Our eldest went to school today but the little one is still poorly, as is Gill, who slept most of the day.

I finished the minutes from last night and got then sent off, and did various other computer-based stuff.

Quite a boring day as could not go out to the allotment as I'd like to, although did go to the Co-op and bread shop before lunch and Country Fresh after, and brought back a large number of over-ripe bananas, some of which I made into milkshakes for the boys' puddings. I reheated the lasagne from yesterday and added broccoli and slices of butternut squash, both cooked on the woodstove. Gill had soup. I had both soup AND lasagne n veg... and some liquidised banana... and then felt too full for a few hours.

Boys behaviour mostly fine this evening, just one temper tantrum which resulted in a bottle getting knocked off where I'd left it to go outside for the recycling box, and it smashing noisily all over the hall floor. This I think shocked the tantrum-owner into a different mindset. Certainly, within a couple of minutes, all was calm again.

So a mostly quiet and, unusually for me, quite a boring day.

Thursday, 11 December 2008

Thursday 11th December 08

A late morning... Gill had got up at the normal time and our eldest was due to go to school, but he threw up his breakfast so he didn't go. Youngest still with poorly mouth.

So I stayed in and made lasagne and did stuff around the house. I did get to build a woodpile and manage some compost but was mainly inside.

At 5ish went to see a friend and had tea there and looked through some documents. Then at 7.30 went to the York in Transition meeting and I took minutes. Feels like we're getting to the end of a bit of a tunnel with this stage of organising this group.

Home to write up the minutes but got distracted and didn't finish. Will have to tomorrow...

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Wednesday 10th December 08

A late start to the morning, boys still unwell, Gill worse.

I lit the stove and did a wash up.

A very quiet day, just busy around the house, keeping it warm, keeping the family looked after, fed, medicated. I did pop down to Country Fresh to pick up from Richard, came back with veg for a meal and a sack of goodies for the compost.

Did baked potatoes for the boys, and played Downfall.

Played lots of Scrabble with assorted Facebook friends.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Tuesday 9th December 08

All the others unwell today, both boys off school again and Gill's caught the bug and is achy and tired. I was reasonably OK health-wise although tired because of a late night playing on the computer and then sleeping on the futon downstairs. Our youngest slept in our bed and was sick first thing... lovely!

So a quiet day... I popped out for medicines, as our little one has a blister on his tongue and we needed more kids paracetamol.

At lunchtime our SUMA order arrived and I checked all the goodies off and paid the delivery chap and then sorted the pile into Anita's, Simon/Melody's and ours.

During the afternoon I completed the latest dry logpile outside the front door and chainsawed
and split some logs which I'd brought home a couple of days ago. Melody cycled up with her son and filled all four of their panniers, and later Anita came round in the car with Bruno, who wanted to see our stoves, and collected their big pile of stuff.

A simple tea of pasta and broccoli, boys very subdued and behaving extremely well, probably no energy for anything too enthusiastic! I sorted out a store cupboard and found some very out of date flour, rescued from I don't know where, and now a home for psocids and their arachnid predators, so I disposed of them. Don't like waste. Need better rotation, even if stuff is rescued!

Had a good long chat with Ali during the evening, on the phone. I think she has free evening calls or something...

Monday, 8 December 2008

Monday 8th December 08

A very slow start to the morning as was late to bed last night and had a hard-working day. Gill had got up earlier, as usual, and had decided that both boys were unwell enough to go to school. One had a definite temperature and the other, well, don't really know what's wrong with him, but I wasn't arguing! When Gill rang the schools, both reported lots of people ringing in sick, so it's probably a bug going around.

So the whole family lounged around. I was delighted to hear the news about Plane Stupid heroes once again disrupting an airport and again putting the issues of LACK OF ACTION re climate change on top of the agenda. I am at one with these brave young people, and have huge respect for them. The politicians have had plenty of time to DO SOMETHING about cutting emissions and have done very little apart from producing a lot of hot air... including doing a hell of a lot of flying to climate change conferences (such as the one in Poland, happening now) and the like, and some of us are fed up and angry that selfish people are continuing to trash this planet without a thought to future generations or those in developing countries who don't deserve to suffer because of the actions of a few people in 'developed' countries. So I wrote my paid blog on this news plus what I had intended to write about, which was solar hot water panels.

During the afternoon I cycled into town and put in a cheque from Anita for her SUMA order, and got some medication for my children and a new battery for one of the few battery-using gadgets in the house, a TV remote control. Visited a juice bar called JuicyMoosey which is owned by my newly found friend Bruno, and met a possible friend-to-be called Jade who runs a vegan recipe website. I also went looking for a pair of specific drawing pens for one of the boys. The make of pen requested by him was unavailable so I got something similar... but when I got home and explained to the child in question, he threw a huge paddy about this and started hitting out and being violent. I had to sit on his legs and hold his wrists, and told him that if he decided to strike any of us like he has been doing, that I would ring up the police. I of course do not want to resort to this, but he has to take responsibility for his actions, and if it takes a visit from the police to shock him into not hitting us, then we will do this. Parenting is not easy.

However, he did calm down within a couple of hours, and apologised, and we had a peaceful evening. Watched a programme about steam trains and then University Challenge.

Tried to continue doing assorted paperwork, putting cheques in the post etc.

I slept downstairs as our youngest was in our bed, feverish and not sleeping well.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

Sunday 7th December 08

Quite an early start as had a full day's work ahead of me. Packed my usual Fiddlesticks gear and costume and cycled along to Monk's Cross Shopping Centre, arriving before 10.30 and finding the information place where I met my handlers and was shown where I was to work. I was on a walkway between a coffee shop and a sweet stall, facing an enormous car park. Not my kind of place really, and this was my first visit here. However, I was twiddling my Devilstick by 11am and saying 'hello' and 'morning' to the first trickle of shoppers, and soon I had a lot of interest, mainly youngsters trying out the four-wheeled unicycle and quite a few wanting to learn to juggle... I was extremely busy til just after 1pm, and then managed to pack up and have a lunch break and warm up for half an hour, as it was bitterly cold and I was in my shorts and tee shirt, as I'd thought it was inside, like a shopping centre with undercover walkways and shops off these... but it is a load of shops and partially covered pavements, open to the elements.

So continued to be busy and buzzy and happy to work with allcomers, giving out balloon models to anyone who participated in the circus workshops. Loads of teenagers, some University students too... lots of fun, and I finished at 3.30 as contracted to do. Got changed back into warmer clothes and came home, to a lovely warm house.

However, this evening was the York in Transition Solar Buyers Club first meeting, at Anna's house. I loaded up three potato sacks of seasoned logs for Pauline and got to Anna's for just before 6pm, followed by about 30 more. The 'bring and share' food table wasn't big enough, and Anna's front room was packed for Robin's talk about how his solar water heating system works.

Then there was a short talk from a chap, possibly an Andy, who works for a local firm of solar water installers, but he wasn't the boss and some of the questions were deflected to 'when the boss was back' and we didn't get to talk much about a bulk buying deal. However, the system which Anna has put in, which is from J Lister Electrical Ltd who install Solar UK LaZer2 evacuated tubes was viewable... an amazing looking cylinder in her bathroom which stores the heat gleaned from the tubes on her roof.

There was a leaflet from another supplier, YorkshireEnergySolutions but as they didn't send a speaker to the meeting I have no idea how good they are... but I've no reason to think they may not be competent, and they offer all sorts of different renewable energy solutions!

After this meeting I walked back to Pauline's with her and helped her put the logs in her shed, and had a coffee and chat, but didn't stay long as Pauline was tired and isn't often up late.

Home via Country Fresh to a warm house. Entered a SUMA order via their website.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

Saturday 6th December 08

The boys had a lie in til about 9am which was a small but lovely treat. A relatively peaceful morning followed... and I cycled down to town to put in yesterday's cheque and a couple of other bits and pieces. Decided to come back via the cycle track and collect some logs, but when I'd done this I continued along the track which became increasingly icy and slippery and virtually impossible to push my overloaded bike and trailer. It was totally impossible to actually ride the bike on this ice, and so slippery that my feet didn't have enough purchase to push the bike. At one place, I had to unload the trailer, push the bike to a less slippery bit and re-load. I stopped off at St Nicks and chatted to Robin who was looking after the place and warming soup for the eco-active volunteers on their woodstove.

I did eventually get home. Had lunch and tried to persuade both boys to come to St Nicks to attend the Fungus Foray which was being led by my friend Findlay Coopar. However, only our youngest was willing to come. He had a lovely time and played with Simon's son, and afterwards, Simon and offspring came back home for a coffee, natter and play. We found a good selection of fungi on the nature reserve, many of them quite difficult to identify brackets on logs, as there are lots of enormous tree trunks dumped there, making an excellent habitat for a range of organisms. So we found hoof fungus, a type of oyster called pulmonarius, which looks like lung tissue, 'Jews Ear' on Elder trees, Common Coprinus which has a drug called antabuse within it, used to try to help alcoholics stop drinking. There were also candle snuff fungus, 'dead mans fingers, velvet shank, and Simon had spotted some Oyster on the way to St Nicks, which he went to find and bring in to show everybody. Findlay knows a lot about fungi including the encrusting ones which I don't know much about. I really enjoyed myself.

After Simon went, I put three sacks of compostables into the compostumbler and brought a load of apples and garlic back up the garden for preserving. I helped Gill do tea, by preparing some sweetcorn and home-grown potatoes, which needed a lot of work as the slugs and woodlice had got there first, but had left plenty for us as well. A good tea.

Gill and I had a game of Scrabble and I washed, halved, topped and tailed, cored, peeled and sliced about 20 apples which had been thrown away, and put these 80 or so slices on cake racks on the big water cans on the stove to dry... an excellent harvest from the bins! I won the Scrabble.

Friday 5th December 08

Not that good a morning... yesterday's lack of effort with homework meant that the person who hadn't done it was threatening not to go to school. I offered an ultimatum which worked... Anita had told me that if we rang the school and asked them to come and pick up the child refusing to go, they would do that. Now I have no idea if that is actually true, but the threat worked a treat and the little darling left only 10 minutes after he usually does.

I cannot remember what I did in the morning, because of the busyness and interest during the latter half of the day.

I got a rain at 2 something over to Manchester and had a pleasant chat to a car dealer who got off in Huddersfield. Nice chap. There was a quick change in Manchester Piccadilly onto the Euston train which stopped at Macclesfield, where I was due to meet my handler at 4.45, to start a show in a school at 6pm. The lovely Virgin Pendolino drew into Macclesfield and the lights went on for the door to be opened... but it wouldn't, and as about a dozen of us were at the end carriage, there was no nearby door we could use. The button to speak to the driver didn't work either, and the train doors bleeped to close and we slid out of the station heading for Stoke on Trent. I asked a fellow passenger if I could borrow a mobile phone but it didn't work. The conductor on the train was helpful and told us we'd be able to get the 5.07 train from Stoke back up to Macclesfield. I managed to ring Gill and explain what had happened in case the school rang up. Got back into Macclesfield for 5.21 where my handler was patiently waiting with his 'Professor Fiddlesticks For Bollington Cross School' notice. We both breathed a sigh of relief!

So I got to the school at 5.35, got changed and ate some of the pasta, green pepper and carrot salad Gill had given me for tea, and was ready to start the entertainment for 5.55pm, phew!

I did some unicycle-about, chasing the children which they loved, and at 6.30 the DJ announced me over the PA system... and when I announced myself it was louder hahahaha and got a really good, if a bit noisy crowd, and did a fast-moving 40 minute show which went very well. Then I got a chair and proceeded to blow up one balloon after another and made a succession of dogs, birds, giraffes, kangaroos, fighting worms, rabbits and one cat. I asked for a donation for each one and I reckon there would have been about £20 in the pot by 8pm which is when the queue stopped and I also needed to stop, to be ferried back to the station where I got the 8.23 back to Manchester, in costume.

A very easy and normal journey home, getting into York at nearly 11pm and very happy to be back home 15 minutes later. Ali had rung Gill saying she wouldn't be in email contact for a bit as she'd spilt a drink on her laptop, so I rang her and had a little chat, which was nice as we most often just message each other on Skype-type.

Thursday, 4 December 2008

Thursday 4th December 08

Gilly walked down to school with our youngest, in the snow. Then she went into town on the bus to try to get something dry-cleaned, but town was empty and the dry cleaners was closed. So a wasted trip... and she waited at the bus stop for ages to come home, but there'd been some kind of accident West of York and there were no buses coming through, so she walked home and arrived cold and with really wet feet.

I however had a lazy morning, with just a bit of washing up to do and filling the logbaskets. Read some NewScientist and played Facebook Scrabble until Gill came in at nearly midday.

After lunch I cycled into town to pay some bills and get some cheques out... one for another 3 year's NewScientist subscription, my Equity dues and my Chartered Institute of Environmental Health dues.

Got home on the dot of 3pm and got ready to go to Green Thumbs at school, where Julia had printed off the Assembly text I wrote, and we discussed various ideas with the children. Julia and I read through it out loud and most of the children seemed to like it. We also learned the song written by the 6 year old about Mission Nutrition, with the little girl's mum teaching us the choruses first and then the two verses. It's easy to sing, sounds lovely.

I came home via a logpile and brought another trailer's worth home.

We all had tea together, pasta and veg with yessterday's soup as a sauce for those of us who like sauce. Soon after this I got on my bike again and cycled down to the Merchant Adventurers Hall where the Blood Donation service was holding a session, I'd booked myself in for 7.10 and was processed and out by 8.15... quite quick, and as usual, painless.

Then went to visit Anita to collect the SUMA catalogue and her cheque. I met her friend Bruno whom I got on well with, discussing business waste recycling (he owns a shop) and 70s/80s music (he's a DJ) and Anita gave me a humourous book on parenting. I wonder if it might help us?

Home via another logpile (I know all the tree-surgeons' dumping grounds in York!) but the icy cycle paths made the cycling quite exciting (read dangerous!). Home to an 'on tenterhooks' situation, once again sparked off by someone having to do homework and ending up letting fists fly. Completely unneccessary, very difficult to know what to do about it and leaving us completely mystified why this happens. But both boys got a kiss goodnight from me, and then Gill and I settled down to our usual 'post kids bedtime' routine of washing up and relaxing.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Wednesday 3rd December 08

I took our youngest into school, and then had a quiet day mostly inside doing paperwork and e-paperwork. Wrote to The Maudsley with some forms filled in, and sent that off with a 'signed for' extra cost. Got bread. Did a Facebook 'Event Page' for York Green Festival. Chainsawed and split a few logs, and built the beginning of a logpile outside the front door of dry and ready-to-use fuel. Tidied a pile of paperwork to find out what time tomorrow I can give blood. Found a cheque I received about 2 months ago, and phoned the sender to apologise for not cashing it quickly, and to tell them I'd do it tomorrow... Read my electricity and gas meters for
The Carbon Account and inputted my new data, my graph is pleasingly slim (trying to ignore my adopted massive aircraft spike last month) and I found my old buddy Dave Mansell is also recording his carbon footprint on the site. He's one of the top recycling managers in the country and I really admire him. If I was more organised, I'd like to be doing what he's doing!

Gill did most of the childcare stuff but I spent time with them when they came in from school as Gill had gone to the shops, so I took an interest in their 'Spore' game and cuddled before and after tea.

Later, got a message from Dave 'top recycler' Mansell telling me what he's been up to since leaving York... I'm really pleased to hear he's ok. Currently working for the Somerset Waste Partnership where it looks like he's in top management. Good stuff!

Kept both stoves going, they both make a reassuring clicking sound as they expand and contract over each burn cycle, so they are 'clicking away' which I like.

Tuesday, 2 December 2008

Tuesday 2nd December 08

Woke to find excited children because of snow on the ground, and Gill walked in with our youngest as cycling on ice is not fun.

She got in and went out to get her hair cut as she claims to feel like a haystack, despite my telling her I find her beautiful! She'll be just as pretty with a trim.

I was just getting ready to go to my lunchtime meeting in town when she came in, having slipped over on ice and feeling a bit bruised physically... but mentally much more embarrassed as she'd taken the tumble in full view of all the passengers on the Number 28 bus...

My meeting was a York Green Festival meets City of York Council, to review this year's event and look ahead to any future event. The meeting was with Dave Meigh, the licencee of Rowntree Park, Liz Topi, in charge of events/festivals, and Helen didntcatchhername from Environmental Protection. She'd been doing sound levels around the site on the day, and the meeting was mainly about that. After the event in 2007, the Council received a few noise complaints, so this year they had a duty to have someone on duty to measure the noise. There were just 3 complaints, but one complainant, in a living room in the first floor of a flat the other side of the river facing the main stage, was getting the full works. The complainant, watching a footy match on telly with windows closed and double glazing, could still easily hear every word from the songs... and the EHO decided it was a 'statutory nuisance' which they have a duty to prevent.

So the event next year must not repeat the same offence, or the EHO can order the music to stop and they can 'pull the plug' to stop the nuisance. We discussed possible solutions, which I see as three alternatives. First is to have much quieter music on that stage... the acoustic stuff which isn't nearly as amplified. Second is to have a new sort of speaker system which the Council bods call a 'sprinkler system' with the speakers surrounding the audience, and pointing down at them, so preventing the noise escaping, and the third is to have the event in another venue, and we discussed several. YGF will have to have a meeting to discuss this and other aspects of YGF08 and plan 09.

I got back home at 2.45... I met my friend Isobel inside Nationwide and we chatted outside for about half an hour... Gill went to collect our snow-bound child (she cycled down and walked back with him) and I split a pile of birch logs I chopped up a few weeks ago. Both stoves lit as it was bitter, making the whole house livable in. Gill made pizza dough and we had a good tea all together. A peaceful evening... a smattering of phone calls and the usual activities, washing up, doing my emails, watching a bit of telly, nothing too out of the ordinary.

Monday 1st December 08

I took our youngest to school, with him making the decisions when to turn right (there are two right turns on the way into school, one off the Hull Road at the traffic-lighted junction with Windmill Lane and the other at the far end of Windmill Lane) and I'm impressed with his road sense and his hand signals.

Pottered around at home and then whipped off my Community Care blog about non-diagnosis and walking, and just before 11 cycled round to see Anita to share my news with her and give her the SUMA book, as she's an occasional contributor to the Food Coop. Stayed there for a couple of hours, also enjoyed the company of her current au pair, a 21 year-old chap from Brixton, hoping to make it 'large' in the music biz. Back for lunch, used up the last of the bread and went to get some more. Gill was having a rest-day but got up before I went to collect our little-un again.

Gill made a pie for tea, using yesterday's meal leftovers, a few extra tomatoes and a pastry lid... with broccoli and some little salad potatoes I'd rescued from a sack of allegedly compostables and prepared earlier.

After tea I went out to the LETS meeting which was only 3 of us, and I chaired and took minutes. David and I stayed behind for a while and chatted which was nice. Then, as agreed with Gill (who used to be a nurse) I took myself along to the Hospital as I gave myself a small burn on the stove door last night, by accident, and this evening Gill spotted a 'track' leading from it towards my armpit which indicates the first stage of septicemia or blood poisoning. However, the medics who eventually saw me said that it wasn't serious enough yet to give me antibiotics, and if it got worse I could go in again and see them, or it might get better by itself. Got back (with a log in the trailer found on the cycle track!) at 1am, having read another NewScientist... I think I'm back in sync with the right week again, for the first time in a year or so!

Sunday, 30 November 2008

Sunday 30th November 08

Quite an early start, to get ready for the train home from Burton on Trent. Got the 10 something northwards and changed at Doncaster which saved half an hour, as the original train went to York via Leeds.

Back into York at 1pm, collected some veggies for home at Country Fresh and got home to find a relatively peaceful situation, although the previous evening hadn't been that way. And the afternoon wasn't too peaceful either, as the ever-present homework was causing problems and there was a lot of answering back, shouting at me to shut up, and at one stage, the child in question ripped my tee shirt. I decided the best policy was to remove myself from the hostility so I went and did my emails and researched a little task that Community Care has set me, to nominate my heroes and villains of this year. Not easy, I don't have many villains in my life!

Took bathwater upstairs for our youngest and had tea, on my own as I'm not watching 'Little Dorrit' but everybody else was. But trawled through over 100 emails and replied to a WRAP questioner about composting in schools. Tried to pull together my Community Care blog, which I want to do about my non-diagnosis. Might do that tomorrow.

Friday, 28 November 2008

Saturday 29th November 08 'Buy Nothing Day'

Walked into Swadlincote to get some provisions... I bought a loaf and some iced buns, Lorna got veggies and lasagne. So much for my participation in International Buy Nothing Day!

In the afternoon I helped her install her compost bin which has been sitting behind the house unused for months...

Tried to avoid playing with her kittens Kiwi and Fluffy, which are 13 weeks old and very playful, as I didn't want to set off my allergies which have been in abeyance for some time now, seem to be getting less as I get older.

So a chilled day, read lots of NewScientist and had lots of good chats.

Friday 28th November 08

Up quite early as our eldest is off school and I needed to say 'byeeee' to our youngest as I'm going to work in Normanton this afternoon/evening and then going onto Burton on Trent, coming back Sunday. Gill took our youngest to school and I swapped the water around on top of the stove so there's plenty of bathwater. Did the washing up as I didn't do it last night...

Had lunch and got myself together for a 2pm cycle-off, visiting the Post Office in Leeman Road first as I've had a note through the door saying there's post with unpaid postage waiting for me, so I go that. It was a letter from the Maudsley about how to get there (!) and some forms to fill in before my visit (!!) and it had no stamps of franks on whatsoever (!!!).

So then went to the station and unloaded mt reduced Fiddlesticks gear (ie no children's unicycle, training unicycles etc) and got tickets to Burton On Trent via Leeds and Normanton, checking I could break my journey legally in Normanton. Then onto the train to Leeds and a fairly swift change onto the Sheffield train which goes through Normanton. Once there, I walked up the main street which had lots of fairground rides and candy floss/burger vans ready for the 'big switch on. Got to the Town Hall and met my handler Donna who showed me where to get changed and offered me a coffee and biscuits before getting started at 4.30, outside a closed shop very near the place where 'Father Christmas' and the Mayor would be switching on the lights. There were lots of crowds of teenagers in town, many of them bent on causing a nuisance and having fun, such as lighting aerosol cans to make jets of flame, and smoking fags guiltily, scrapping and swearing loudly at each other. However, I coped well with the situation, was my usual strict self but gave lots of goes on the devilstick and a couple of juggling workshops. It got crowded towards 6pm which is when the lights were due to be switched on, and then got quieter again, so I finished the entertainment at 6.40 and went back to the station.

Changed trains at Sheffield an hour later, and met an interesting woman carrying an engaging 2 year-old boy whom I chatted with all the way to Derby. Lynette claimed that she'd been on the station earlier, without her child who was with her Mother for a while, and she'd had a 'few drinks' and the police had taken her train ticket and purse off her, just for being tipsy! I find this difficult to believe but have no reason to disbelieve her. She was travelling down to Birmingham to meet the child's father, without a ticket, but with the knowledge of the train company. Most odd. I offered to lend/give her some cash if she needed it, but she declined.

I changed trains again at Derby and rang Gill to tell her all was well, and spoke briefly with both boys. It was only a short hop to Burton where Lorna was waiting for me in the car park. She drove us to her house near Swadlincote. It was really good to see her, she's a really good friend, and I was pleased to be able to spend a little time with her.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Thursday 27th November 08

A late start to the morning... but I did feel a bit better than yesterday. Gill went out and I made a nutloaf for tonight's tea.

At midday I cycled round to Steve with the logs... he'd got the tree out and I chopped off the top trunks and trimmed off the roots and loaded it all up into my trailer and brought it home.

Gill got in just after me and we had lunch together. I finished the nutloaf and started cooking it before following Gill to school... she was going to collect our youngest and I was doing the Green Thumbs Gang. The Green Thumbs were finishing off their creative stuff for the Christmas fair and I went to find a branch to hang the tree-decorations onto, to allow them to be seen 'at their best' at the stall. Came back with two willow branches which will do very well. Towards the end, a musical mum who does an activity called 'Songbox' came in, as her daughter had written a song to perform at the assembly in January, to advertise the Mission Nutrition Bring and Buy Sale. Kerry explained that her daughter, who is only 6 years old, had written the melody and together they'd worked up a song about Mission Nutrition, about the numbers of hungry children and how the sale would raise money to help. Kerry sang the song to a backing tape she'd prepared... it was so pertinent that it brought tears to my eyes. I promised to try to write the basics of the assembly... Julia said that my letter to Blue Peter was really good and I should include some bits from that.

Home to a quiet house and Gill getting tea ready. I ate with everyone else and at 7ish got myself ready to go to yet another York in Transition core group works out what it's doing meeting... at the Stables project, ably chaired for a fourth time in a row by Jennie. We looked at our core values and what we should do with the list, and our structure... based on our application to become a Company Limited by Guarantee and a Charity, and on the next steps... a quite difficult meeting. I was feeling a bit unwell and left as soon as I could to go home, where I crashed out til midnight.. Then came down for a hot drink and finish this off....

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Wednesday 26th November 08

I came downstairs when Gill asked me to, to keep an eye on our little darlings whilst she got ready. I sat and shelled pumpkin seeds whilst the boys got dressed, and when they went I went back to bed. Didn't feel like breakfast.

Didn't get up til 11am as I had to go into town to have my eyes tested, as there's a strong likelihood I'll get glaucoma as several family members have had it. But my eyes are still fine, the only deterioration is that as I'm in my 40s, my near vision is receeding, if that's the right way to put it. Basically, I cannot focus on things as close as I could when I was younger, this is normal and expected.

I gave in the planning panel paperwork, collected a couple of sacks of orange skins from Dylan and then at Country Fresh, a huge sack of ivy and clematis which some nutter had binned. Very compostable... home for lunch, I had a hearty one as I'd missed breakfast, the first time in many years, just was feeling so low I didn't bother. But the cycling and activity had helped my mood and I had lunch, chatted with Gill, lit the stove, washed up etc. When 3pm came Gill offered to go to school and I took the ivy and oranges to St Nicks for composting, and on the way back collected 3 bags of compostables from the new supermarket, as they're now saving these resources for me to recycle. Put a load in the compostumbler at home, but saved okra, baby aubergines and plantain for doing something with.

Also finished doing the latest woodpile by the front door. Still wasn't hungry much so went to bed for a couple of hours mope. However, one good thing, my eldest son is pleased that I have no diagnosis, and I thanked him for his positivity. I still need time to readjust to this new set of circumstances. My sister too is positive (see yesterday's comments) which is lovely, thanks Mrs. Happy. I love you too, just the way you are!

I got up at 8 and had a bit of pasta and watched 'Oceans' with the family, had a quiet evening, peeling pears and slicing apples and balancing them on the stove to dry.

Tuesday 25th November 08

Up at about 7.30 as Ruth usually leaves the house at about 8, I had a shower and some cereal and we went. Ruth dropped me off very near Ealing Broadway and continued off to work.

I went to Oxford Circus, changed trains and went south to Brixton, which is only a short walk from Denmark Hill, along Cold Harbour Lane. Ruth had photocopied a page in her London map book so I knew where to go, and by 10am I was at the Maudsley.

I waited an hour, reading my NewScientist, and at 11 was collected by a woman who spent the next hour explaining what the day would contain, and doing some rather odd tests and questions and exercises in order to start assessing me. She asked a colleague in to observe and help her with the assessment. The exercises included going through a children's picture book and explaining what I thought was happening, and making up a story using 5 random objects pulled out of a bag, a task I found quite difficult. But she also asked lots of questions about my childhood, friendships, how I'd describe various feelings like happiness, etc etc, so it was quite an intense hour.

Then I had a two-hour session with a Dutch Doctor who did the clinical assessment, about my health and development and lots more. I was invited to explain why I thought I'd had ADHD and subsequently been identifying with some aspects of Aspergers Syndrome.

That finished at 3pm and I went for lunch just down the road, having a plate of very yummy chick-pea stew and rice, and got back to the Hospital for 4pm, as agreed, where I was seen by the whole team including the Consultant. He asked a few more questions and referred to his diagnostic manual a few times, and then asked if I'd have 5 minutes in another room whilst they had a talk, and when I was brought back in, he explained their decision.

It is clear that I did have ADHD as a child, but at that time it wasn't named and I was just regarded as a bit odd, naughty, disruptive and 'bright but lazy'. However, possibly due to growing out of it and/or all the self-development work I've done, I do not exhibit so many of the symptoms or diagnostic features now to be classed as having ADHD. There is a big overlap between ADHD behaviours and some Autistic traits. I do have some of the 'typically autistic' traits, but again, not enough of them to be 'labelled' with Autistic Spectrum Disorder or 'High Functioning Autism', known as Aspergers. So I don't fit any diagnostic criteria, which the Doctor described as 'good news'. There was some discussion as to where I might go from now, what I could do about continuing to improve my behaviour, and I will explore those. The medics will interview my mother when she returns from holiday, just to try to find out some more about my behaviour as a child, and I'l be sent their report in February.

I left feeling quite down as I really wanted to put my diagnosis 'in a box', labelled, so I felt I knew what I was and why I behave as I do, and had a clear way forward with definite outcomes. But as my unique mental set-up doesn't fit any one set of criteria and therefore isn't 'nameable', I feel a bit 'in limbo' or in no mans land. I sadly walked back the mile or so to Brixton and went right up to King's Cross, where I wandered round pretty aimlessly for a few hours waiting for my 10pm train. At 8.30 I waited at where the track-side pub used to be (shut for refurbishment) for a possible meeting with Diana from FlipSide Vision, but she'd been at an AGM and didn't turn up. So at 9.30 I went to the main hall and chatted to people whilst waiting for the platform to be displayed.

The train was lovely and warm and my fellow passengers were friendly and jolly.

Back into York just after 12.30, home just before 1am, really glad to see Gill.

Monday, 24 November 2008

Monday 24th November 08

Spent the morning getting ready to go down to London, back late Tuesday night.

Cycled down to the station in good time to get the 12.53 but it had been cancelled, so I checked that my ticket would be valid for the next train down, which was at 1.36. This gave me time to cycle home again and pick up my NewScientists which I remembered I'd left on the couch as I was cycling down the first time. Back into the station by 1.15, found the 1.36 to be running 10 mins late so I had my sandwiches in case there was a severe lack of space on the train, as the signage said 'standing room only'.

However, although the train was quite full, I got a seat and sat next to a young chap taking a 'gap year', whose parents live in a smallholding near Salisbury, and we had a good chat about coppicing and several other mutually interesting subjects. Arrived in London just before 4pm, and as I'd arranged to meet Ruth at 5 in Ealing, I went for the tube immediately, topping up my Oyster Card with a tenner first. Went to Oxford Circus, got lost between different tubes but eventually got directed to the Central line (I think!) to go to Ealing Broadway. Arrived there at 10 to 5, found a phone box and rang Ruth at work, and 15 minutes later she arrived and we walked to her car in a nearby carpark.

She lives about 20 mins drive from there... if she used public transport, it would take over an hour and she doesn't cycle. We caught up the past year's news whilst she made an apple crumble using a neighbour's apples, and a pizza using mostly pre-made ingredients... they were both delicious.

I showed her my list of 'Dexterwords' to see if she could help me add anything, after all she's known me since I was 18 when we went to college together in Northampton. It provoked lots of memories and chat. A nice relaxing evening.

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Sunday 23rd November 08

A really nice low-key day, relatively peaceful all day. There was a dusting of snow outside and there was a brief expedition to build a snowman... turned out to be 'dolly' size, nothing more impressive. Gill started making a Christmas pudding and I got some black treacle when I went down Heslington Road to visit Country Fresh.

I also popped round to a chap called Steve in Heworth who had invited me to go and chainsaw some logs, he also had a tree which he wanted to take up so I advised that he didn't take off the trunk, but used that as a lever and dug it out, cutting off the roots one by one. I chopped up what I could and loaded up my trailer with over half of it and returned home, spent a bit of time loading the Compostumbler, then stacking dry logs outside the front door.

I picked up our youngest and we all had a reasonable evening.

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Saturday 22nd November 08

Woken by the usual family noises of (play?) fighting ending in screaming and tears. But glad I was woken up as I have to go to work. Soon after 9am I loaded up two unicycles, my big one for today's gig, and my medium-sized one which I'm lending to someone, as I've said before, I cannot reveal too much or it may spoil a surprise. I went in 'cold-weather costume' ie dungarees (red, used to be Gills many years ago, modified shoulder straps to allow me to fit under them) and silly boots (as normal for Fiddlesticks) and red tee shirt, colourful waistcoat, these both obscured by my psychedelic fleece and a skiing hat which has kinda dreadlocks (multicoloured) and ear-covers (essential in cold weather!).


So delivered the unicycle and went on to the Methodist Central Hall in St Saviourgate where

The Zentist practitioners and friends were holding their 'Magical Christmas Fair'. My job was to take the large placard round town so that people knew that the event was on and those who wished to do so, went to it. I initially did some unicycling, but the wind against the sail-like placard meant I got blown off a couple of times, and as the streets filled up and the pedestrianisation came into force at, I think, 10.30, I decided not to unicycle but to walk with my placard and push the uni.

Soon I dropped off the useless uni at the Methodist Hall and walked round and round the City streets. Lots of people asked me where St Saviourgate was and I most often walked with them to Whip-Ma-Whop-Ma Gate and showed them the huge columns of the Methodist Hall just 40 metres away. I stopped for lunch back at the Hall and then continued til 4pm. I was absolutely frozen, perhaps froZen, who knows? But I got paid and went to Barnitts to find some Broad Beans to plant in the lottie, and up to Shared Earth for a 2009 Trees for Life Diary.


Then home via Country Fresh.... picked up two sacks and a box for loading onto a heap tomorrow. Then into the warmth, oh, so good to be inside where the woodstove has been lit all day. Slowly defrosted, aided by a mug of coffee/chocolate/cream liquour mix...... aaahhh.


Gill had roasted some assorted vegetables for tea and made an omlette to go with it. Watched Harry Hill's fun nonsense and silliness with the family, but left them to 'Merlin' which I don't like, as it's a bit scary like I find quite a bit of their telly choices. I lit the stove in the front room to warm up the rest of the house.

A peaceful evening.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Friday 21st November 08

I took out little un to school and came back to try to tackle the pile of paperwork which has built up. Found our house insurance had lapsed, so renewed that with the Co-op (more dividend!) and sent off various cheques and letters etc. Got a nice email from my Mother who's holidaying in New Zealand, and replied to that, and arranged to stay with an old friend in London when I go down next week.

Spent most of the day inside, computer, paperwork, stoking the stove, washing up, slicing fruit to balance precariously on top of the stove on cake racks... a reasonably productive day.

I collected our youngest and in the playground, one of my friends, a Dad collecting his child, had an episode of his Epilepsy, which he has often told me about. I think it is a form of 'Petit Mal'... the first time I've witnessed this. Two of us led him to somewhere where he could sit down, and I stayed with him as the other person went to get someone from inside to see if he could be taken home in a car. I was glad he had forewarned me and that his other friend knew what to do.
Cycled home and soon our eldest arrived back from 3 days of outdoor activities at Bewerley Park. He had suffered from motion sickness in the coach on the way home and was in a bit of a state, feeling sick and refusing to come inside. I stayed with him outside and chatted to him about what they'd been getting up to, and the sickness wore off and he came in and 'normality' returned to our house!

Nice tea, but both boys exhausted and in bed by 8.15, amazing!

Gill and I had a peaceful evening, I chatted to Ali on typeSkype and then had to reply to a parental email accusing me of naming my children on this blog and being too open and honest.

Well the children are not named on any of this blog because I don't give personal details of any 'minor' (despite loads of other blogs naming and having photos etc of children!) But the accusation of being too open is closer to being justified, although I choose not to put lots of details and although it may look like a very frank and open autobiography, there's lots not shared with all and sundry. I am aware that some people have a voyeuristic side, and that this blog might feed that. I am aware that some small-minded people take the piddle and criticise me about my lifestyle... but I have chosen to ignore these, and do not publish rude or stupid comments. When I was young I got bullied... and today people still get bullied. It could be about accent or voice, hair colour, choice of clothes or musical preferences, parent's job or lack of a parent... bullying and teasing happens and whether or not my offsprings' behaviour is mentioned in this blog, they will get teased about something. I choose to write this because for over 20 years I've written every day, and now (some) people are interested in green issues, they might be interested in the mundane day to day life of a low-carbon approach to living a modern life. And as I'm a parent and still trying to be a good one, I sometimes include my failures and successes in this blog too.

If anyone thinks I am doing anybody a huge dis-service, then please tell me. And if you think it's OK to have this kinda stuff out there in the blogosphere, again, let me (us!) know, because I just don't know if the majority of readers think it's acceptable or if it's wrong. The comments box is there for your opinions. I will publish all polite and relevant comments even if they are critical of what I do in writing this blog, referring to the possible effects and repercussions on other people.

Thursday 20th November 08

Fab day, spent a good bit of it with my lovely wife just doing bits and bobs around the house.

At 2pm, just as Gill was popping into town on her bike to get a dressing gown that she'll need when she goes into hospital, I had a visitor who contacted me yesterday, a trainee journalist called Kerry. She is doing a story about renewable energy and had found me and so we talked about stuff for half the time, and then she got some pics of the stove and my feet (in Fiddlesticks' boots) and then the logpile outside.

But we had to finish at 3 as I was due to go and tell Green Thumbs about the letter from Blue Peter about our successful application to have a Mission Nutrition Bring and Buy Sale, which they are very excited about. I went to have a chat with Mrs P. the headteacher, and she suggested the Gang do an assembly about Green Thumbs and Mission Nutrition, on 9th Jan. So I've just created a whole lot more work for myself.... but why not, life is short and I try to pack as much in as I possibly can.

A lovely evening... strangely peaceful without our eldest... we hope he's having a good time. Gill and I had an early game of Scrabble, and our youngest helped Gill. I won. Later, much later, we both enjoyed a TV programme by Derren Brown about how he can (allegedly) predict the outcome of horse races. A superbly crafted programme, he is a genius and one of the top entertainers living today. I am a big fan... and obviously have no idea at all how he does what he does! Amazing, weird and wonderful.

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Wednesday 19th November 08

Slept right through til nearly 8 and got up to get ready for work, essentially a replay of yesterday's gig at Leeds Metropolitan University. Felt quite a bit better than the previous few days. This morning our eldest is off to Bewerley Park on a school fieldtrip, just two nights this time, back on Friday night.

So, well loaded up, he got away at the usual 8.30 and Gill cycled down to the primary school with his little brother. I got ready for a second day in Leeds... the only difference being that I didn't need to get my ticket as I'd got today's yesterday morning.

So the gig was much the same... apart from the judges this time included a senior executive from Thomas Cook (see what they say about responsible tourism here) and several other industry insiders, fresh from (probably) this event in London. Over lunch I was able to ask the gents assembled how they thought that the tourism industry was reacting to estimates that to achieve a sustainable situation, we would have to reduce fossil fuel use and consumption of other non-renewables by 80%? I asked them if they believed in growth of the market, too. The answer about growth was that they weren't aiming to sell more holidays, but 'better quality holidays'. (not sure what this means, actually) and that the main growth area at the moment, even during the Credit Crunch, was short breaks, weekend breaks and business trips. We could have talked for much longer, but we only had about 20 mins max for lunch, so (most unfortunately!) we couldn't talk more about this. Perhaps a bit of a missed opportunity, although I was able to speak to the 11 year-olds about the same subject for a short while, using language like 'huge challenge' and 'opportunity' rather than a more emotional approach which I felt might not go down too well. I also got quite a bit of one-to-one chat with the children, when judging the posters, so I think some will be wanting to explore carbon calculators..... and Eurostar!

The show went well, as did the prize-giving and presentations... and I was released, with my cheque, by just after 2pm. I got the same train home as yesterday and visited several places in town on the way through, including Country Fresh for a couple of sacks of assorted compostables and given-away tiny bananas, just perfect for drying...

A relatively peaceful evening... hooray!!!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Tuesday 18th November 08

Awoke at 4am and went downstairs, put a log on the embers in the stove, had some soluble aspirin, did some washing up and went to bed again at about 5, getting up at 8ish to get ready for work. Last night's bath seemed to have made me feel just slightly better, better enough to cycle down to the station with reduced Fiddlesticks kit and get the 9.44 to Leeds.

This was my second year working for the Leeds Metropolitan University's 'Responsible Tourism' event, where a group of schoolchildren are invited to create a poster about responsible tourism, have it judged, be given lunch, get some entertainment and a little bit of PR about Leeds Met. This is a difficult gig for me, for three reasons, although a good one to do for at least two! Firstly I hate judging things as I really dislike creating a 'winner/loser' culture, possibly because I don't remember ever being a winner (except once, the High Jump in the second year of Humberstone Juniors in Leicester!). But as my role is to be part of the judging panel (Damn, I'm head of the panel this year!) I have to fulfil my role!
Secondly, my view of 'responsible tourism' is probably quite a lot more deep green than anyone else there... I am open about pledging never to fly again and my opposition to airport expansion and flying as a transport mode, yet the mainstream view of responsible tourism includes many measures within the country visited, ie things to do/not do once you are there, often by aeroplane.
Finally, my usual one hour routine has to be shortened for the time frame allowed, so I have to prune out bits of the show which I think make it more enjoyable and rounded... but hey, if I'm given 35 minutes, I am professional (and just about flexible) enough to do a 35 minute set with a beginning, middle and end.

So, I walked from the Station up to the University, getting there in ample time to get changed and meet the schoolchildren, and explain why I was with them today. Then starting at 11 I had two half-hour sessions looking at the posters and talking to the creators about what they'd included, which this year was a lot better than last year, as there was a focus on the responsibility aspect rather than particular destinations. They'd nearly all included not flying (!!!) but had suggested boats and ferries instead, one or two were anti car and pro train and bike! There was lots about not littering, disrupting local wildlife, shopping locally, not buying animal-based trinkets, learning the local language, fair trade and the like. One of the other judges was a ?Masters student called Paula, from Spain, and I ate my lunch with her, good chats as we shared some interests.

My show went well, although more exhausting than normal due to my less than 100% health situation, and giving the prizes was OK too. I was finished by 2, back in York by 3, in bed by 3.20, sleeping til 5. Very very unusual for me to need so much sleep.

Then repacked the bike trailer and at 5.30 set off for Dunnington for the second bite of Brownie Circus Performers badge, from 6 til 8. At 7.45 all the Brownies' families arrived, perhaps about 60 of them, to see the Brownies perform the tricks they have begun to learn. I was really impressed by some of the girls, they all worked hard and some achieved quite a lot, and we all had fun, even though I felt nauseous and tired through most of the workshop.

Home and unpacked by 9pm... a very long and exhausting day, but worth recording in some detail as despite my feeling unwell, I have enjoyed it.

Monday, 17 November 2008

Monday 17th November 08

Woke at 3am with headache. Went downstairs for a lemsip (paracetamol) and put a log on the stove, and 10 mins later did a batch of washing up whilst waiting for the lemsip to kick in. Back to bed at 3.45 and slept til 8 when shouting downstairs awoke me. I went down to see if Gill needed any help... it was just our youngest being mightily resistant to putting on his socks and shoes! We all have our quirks, and he hates footwear..., putting on a sock and then off again, and on again, trying to get it 'just right'. Takes about 5 or 10 minutes per foot.....

When they'd gone I had breakfast and then went back to bed, with another lemsip to help me get better... I hope.

But nothing worked, headache all day, spent most of the day in bed. Gill is calling it 'Flu' but I don't think it is as Flu is a different set of symptoms and I had a Flu jab, so if it is Flu then it's a weird one.

The only good thing about today was that I got through quite a backlog of NewScientists! Oh, and a surprise visit from Damian and David, Gill's friends from the Arts Centre, who are back in York. Lovely to see them, but couldn't socialise much as feeling too poorly.

And I finished writing my column for Community Care, on reuse and repair plus Buy Nothing Day, which this year is on Saturday 29th November, just two days after the magazine comes out.

Spent some time trying to update Windows and when I got back on this blog, found my Bravenet Counter and Feedjit live stuff had gone... more than weird! However, my email to Feedjit was answered by Mark Maunder, the CEO/inventor of the tool, and he told me that the Live stats thingy was loading after the Bravenet counter, which was taking about 3 minutes. Also he explained a possible reason why the location/geographic database might be doing weird things, and told me he was developing a tool to allow users to confirm where they were. So that explains some of the weirdness...

Took bathwater up for our youngest and put the refilled can straight back on the stove so I could have one later, as if I'm going to try to go to work tomorrow, I might as well be clean but unwell rather than dirty and unwell...

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Sunday 16th November 08

A relatively peaceful morning but boys full of energy and aggression. I wasn't feeling up to much, tired and a bit headachey, so just sat and watched Countryfile and after lunch did a bit in the garden and then at about 2.30, to the allotment to dig up the last row of potatoes and remove some more brambles and lay a bit of mulch material... cardboard and a split bamboo window blind.

Came back to find Simon and his son visiting, after going to the York in Transition Eco-Freecycle-Swap event at the Friends' Meeting House, organised by Anna Semlyen. Apparently it was very successful and Simon was able to offload some spare keyboard stuff and a huge pile of butterknives found in a skip, and come back with a Christmas present for our friend Dexter plus a few other bits and bobs.

I wasn't my usual chatty self and as soon as they'd gone I went to bed and slept, coming down sometine about 8, and had a bowl of soup and the pastie Gill got yesterday. A quiet evening, although frustrating as something is going intermittently wrong with my email and internet... it keeps going off. Perhaps it's caught my bug and needs more sleep!

Later though, I was able to access the net and get emails and do this blog (but not my paid blog!) and I found a bug in my fairly new 'Feedjit' live stats tool. Previously, when I've accessed my blog and then left to see the live stats, the tool tells me that I've come onto Feedjit from my blog and has correctly identified that I'm in York. However, now it thinks I'm from Leighton Buzzard! I can tell this as when I hit the button 'remove my details' the Leighton Buzzard stuff goes. I emailed Feedjit to ask why they thought this was happening.