Thursday, 31 January 2008

Thursday 31st January 08

Gill took the boys to school, although one didn't want to go and cycled off in several different directions which caused Gill some distress. She then had a long meeting with a teacher and the head about the difficulties we are experiencing.

I had a meeting with the tax office. They looked over my forms and helped me complete them, and worked our my tax burden, which wasn't too much, so I went to the building society and got a cheque out and took it in to the office. Met several of my friends in the tax office and the building society. Then to 'Staples' to see if they had the correct wireless router to exchange for the wrong one I bought a couple of days ago. They did, but it was expensive, so I went to Dixons in town where it was a tiny bit cheaper, so got it there and then back to Staples to get my money back for the wrong one.

Then onto St Nicks, where I was told that the City of York Council official had contacted our York Rotters manager Catherine to say how good and professional I'd been last night, and thank you! What a lovely thing to hear!

Home for a coffee and relax before getting on woth various jobs... including washing up a load of saucepans. Fortunately the stove had remained lit overnight and there was hot water available.

During the afternoon I tried to have a sleep as I was exhausted, but the high wind noises kept me from total unconciousness.... and when Gill went to pick up our youngest I got up and got ready for picking up the eldest from Drama.

An early tea... soup and nutloaf, and then I got ready to go and do my second Cubs 'Entertainment Badge' activity.... the circus skills of juggling, balancing, devilstick, diabolo and unicycle. It was a good session, finishing with a short performance.

On the way home my front dynamo light blew again, so came home along cycle paths and back roads with no front light, but I had to hurry as I had a CRAG meeting at 9.15.

This was a good meeting at Ivana's house with just James, Ivana and me.... hammering out how York CRAG is structured, how we do things, our roles, and about the next couple of meetings. This lasted til nearly midnight!

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Wednesday 30th January 08

A day which started feeling low but got better.

I took the boys to school and then on the way back collected some sticks someone had dumped near a hedge, and went on to visit Sarah who had requested some composting advice from a trained York Rotter! She has a composter, but did not know where to put it, so I suggested a place which would catch the sun, allow juices to drain away but wasn't too near the back door to be blamed for flies or smells in the house. Then had a coffee and a chat; she's a trainee social worker and was interested in our experience of the 'Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities' workshops.

Got home and got ready to go to SFSC which was good this week.

Home via Richard's fruit shop, picked up 2 bagfuls, and then got home just in time to go to school to pick up the boys, three of them again, and Gill took them all to Martial Arts as I waited in for our visitor, Richard the insulation expert. He came at 4pm and looked round the outside of the house, and the inside, and then had a wander down the garden as he's a keen gardener and composter too. Lots of really good chats and he will send us his recommendations and quotes.

Had a good tea of bulgar wheat and squash, and did my emails and got ready to go out for my second Rotters event of the day.... a Ward Committee meeting on Stockton Lane, working alongside Elizabeth the Council Recycling Officer (one of them!) promoting home composting and the cheap WRAP deal of a 220 litre 'dalek' for £8 (free delivery) or the 330 litre for £10 (free delivery)... with a pound reduction if ordered online ( We spoke to a dozen or so people, half of whom were alrerady composting but didn't compost cardboard, the others were new to the idea.

Left at 8 when the meeting itself started, and called in on James on the way home, who was very glad to see me as he says I'm his only friend apart from his care workers. I picked up some sticks from him and promised to go and visit next week.

Home before 9pm, tired but happier than this morning.

Later in the evening had a good game of Scrabble with Gill, and I'm back on form... I won.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Tuesday 29th January 08

Such a busy day... lots of rushing around! Started by taking the kids to school as I was not going to be available at 3pm to pick em up.... but this changed! Had a good little chat with Mrs. P the headteacher about a child brandishing bullets in the playground bought from Eden Camp yesterday.

I started by writing a letter to Eden Camp War Museum about the wisdom of selling bullets to children. I wrote out a copy for school.

Then eventually went down to town to take my rtailer to a welder, put a cheque in, shop for a wireless router, pay a bill to CVS for roomhire for CRAG.

Got a phone call from a friend who was due to meet me at 3 saying she wasn't feeling too good, so calling the visit off. This meant I could relieve Gill of going to school at 3, she doesn't like doing the afternoon trip much.

Home for a late lunch and did a little bit of stuff outside, before going back to the welders to collect my trailer, and then back home for 3 and immediately off to school to pick up three boys.

Did more woodpile when got back but at 5 came in and lay down for a rest, but was rudely woken by lots of angry noises before 6. A rather troubled evening, although we had a pleasent 30 minutes watching the last episode of Summerhill, very moving.

Spent most of the evening sorting communications on email and may eventually try to get my wireless router done, although I doubt it. I don't rate myself highly on taks like this!

I failed miserably as I could not even work out how to plug the thing into my phone socket!!! I emailed Netgear and confessed my ignorance and stupidity and asked for help...

Monday, 28 January 2008

Monday 28th January 08

Up early and looked after my youngest son who's got a bad cough and was missing school because of that. Gill went to a meeting about disability issues at school, but came in soon after 10am. I spent most of the day doing my paperwork... accounts are due in this week so the earnings from my 2 self-employed jobs have to be declared and tax paid... never my favourite work. However Gill does some of the paperwork but I still have to go through it and check it's right, and fill in the forms. Every year I think how brilliant it would be to have an accountant do it for us.... maybe this year I'll do this!

Went to the tax office after getting the eldest boyo from school (he's been at Eden Camp today on an educational visit) and have got an appointment on Thursday, the last day to give in the paperwork and a cheque....

On the way back popped into a garage which does welding to see if they'll ment my trailer. They'll do it tomorrow. Before tea did some log stacking in the back garden.

Gilly made tea, a stew with mashed potato on top... I've forgotten what she calls it.

At 6pm we all watched 'Summerhill' on BBC, it was very moving and the kids loved it too. I looked at the Radio Times to see the time of the whole 100 minute film, and although it was supposed to be at 9pm, it was scheduled to go out at 7.30, so we gave them the option to see the whole thing tonight.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Sunday 27th January 08

Up at a very respectable 10am... no hangover or negative effects from last night's outing.

Made up my muesli and had breakfast and watched some telly, and lit the stove so I could have a coffee which I had halfway through Countryfile. Also did emails and some computer organising whilst watching Countryfile. A nice, slow easygoing morning....

A good lunch too, then cycled to Cycle Heaven to have my bike sorted out... it needs a working front light and the chain comes off when I move the bike backwards in the highest gear, and the stand is loose. They said it might take over an hour so I went to visit Pauline and we had the usual good chats and coffee along with woodchopping... some offcuts from local builders and a couple of pallets, so she'll have a few toastie evenings on renewables! We talked about the project she's co-ordinating, St Clement's Community Hall, and psychology/ personality tests and various other things. I left at 3.30 and collected my bike, feels like new!

When I got home, we needed some provisions so I went for a walk with my 10 year old to the Co-op and that was good to do... and when he got back he went to finish his homework, which was about World War Two and Hitler. Quite a tough subject for a 10 yr old!

I made myself some tea, mostly yesterday's, reheated. Got ready to have our babysitter and go out with Gilly, something we don't do very often, so it's a real treat.

Simon came at 7.15 and we got on our bikes and went to the Pivo Bar in Patric Pool and attended the first 'No Miles High Club' for people who have not flown during the past year and are committing not to fly for the next 12 months. Members get a discount at some local shops, and tonight got free drinks. One member won a Eurostar ticket! We met up with some of the CRAG folks and Green Party people. We had an interesting conversation with a farmer who grows Miscanthus, a fast-growing grass which is harvested annually and is sold to Drax Power Station to add to the coal and help produce electricity.

Got back at 10.30ish and had a relaxing hour with Gilly before doing emails and blog...

Saturday, 26 January 2008

Saturday 26th January 08

Up quite early and spent some time with my eldest son, watching a programme I recorded called 'Atom' which is about the discovery of atomic and subatomic physics, with Boltzman, Einstein, etc... I learned more and our 10 year old was gripped, as he's convinced he's going to be a top physicist.

After 11 I cycled to the lottie as there might have been some help needed weighing out seed potatoes or onions, but there was no-one there so I got on with digging, weeding and removing brambles. I also dug up some artechokes which we'll eat sometime soon. As I was leaving, I got chatting to an old fellow, Dave, who was admiring my trailer but he pointed out that it was broken... one of the main struts has gone through, so it'll need welding. My Bishopthorpe Welder no longer works as a welder so I'll have to try to find another. Perhaps a car garage?

I washed the artechokes when I got home and put them on to boil on the stove and went outside to split more logs.... some of the last from Woodlands, and eventually Gill and the boys came in from the 'Residents First' weekend where people in York, who have a 'York Card' can get into various attractions for free. However the places all needed tickets which were given out first thing this morning. Eventually they found the Minster was open and didn't need a ticket. So they went and did some type of quiz or something.

So for tea I had a home-grown onion, fried to caramel stage and then artechokes, previously boiled and the skins peeled off popped in with them. Gill had made a mushroom and white sauce thing, and the pepper and lentil pate patties... a very interesting meal!

Then at 7.30, cycled down to town, minus trailer (boo hoo) to Millers Yard to the 'Greenspeak' meeting which was on the United States global domination, missile defence systems and the network of 'listening stations' like Menwith Hill in Yorkshire. A very interesting talk, lots of visuals, mainly taken from US publications, many of them looking quite 'Science Fiction', except much of it is sadly science fact.

Afterwards went to the Exhibition for a drink, and ended up having two plus pineapple in vodka (a freebie) and some really enjoyable chats with the two Green Councillors and the well-travelled Sarah. When I came home I had dreadful heartburn and hiccups! However enjoyed watching to a pop programme with Gill.

Friday, 25 January 2008

Friday 25th January 08

The boys were very fractious this morning and I trudged downstairs early to 'be a presence' and hope to ensure that they got off to school on time. They did and actually Gill had a nice little game with them in the playground before she came home again, so all was well there.

Gill went to Art Class, I went back to bed and finished reading last week's NewScientist and at 10 got up to do my tax returns. I registetred on the website... and was told I'd have to wait up to a week for a PIN activation number to come THROUGH THE POST!!!! Blimy! They didn't tell us about that on the TV ads! How annoying as I am now ready to do the return. Well, I suppose I'll just have to wait OR do it on paper... except I have mislaid the paperwork. I am so disorganised! And leave things to the last minute, almost!

So lit the stove and got some washing up water ready so Gill doesn't come home to a pile of dirty plates and pans.

We had lunch together and chatted... and Gill needed to go into town to put a cheque in so I spent some time in the garden in the wind, split some logs and did some composting and stick cutting from the pile of hedge, then at 3 I cycled down to fetch the boys, came back via the woods to fetch more logpile back!

Gill made pizza for tea, which was lovely as usual. Later, after the boys were in bed, we had a game of Scrabble, and Gill thrashed me, mainly because of a super 7 letterer on the triple score, 'ovaloid'... nice shape Gilly!

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Thursday 24th January 08

Quite a busy day in the house.

Gill had a very easy morning, the boys were on best behaviour, and ate a big breakfast. Gill puts this down to them enjoying Martial Arts Class yesterday. Also, our eldest woke Gill up in the night and said he was hungry, so she got him something to eat. On several previous occasions he has woken up hungry and just lain there, awake and hungry, not wanting to wake us up, but then been fractious in the morning. Gill has told him to wake one of us up to get him something if it happens again, and she was really pleased that he did this last night/this morning, as it seemed to have a beneficial effect, with him going to sleep again afterwards.

I did lots of housework in the morning, tidying and sorting and even some cleaning! Don't know what came over me!

At 12 we had a visitor we weren't expecting (it wasn't in my diary) and then we got a phone call saying that a visitor we were expecting had been in a car crash (only a little one, no one hurt) but he couldn't get to us.

Did a bit of cooking (well, slicing fruit and putting on the racks to dry) and sorting out (well, taking stuff to the compost heaps!). At 2pm I went to the Hazel Court Skip Site on James St and put loads of cartons in the recycling bank and clothes in the clothes recycling and some foam in the skips for landfill.

Gill got our youngest at 3 and I got the other at 4, after his Drama Club. Whilst I was waiting for him to come out, I did my usual composting collections from the school playground bins, taking about 6 or 7 kilogrammes of banana skins and half eaten apples and pears out of the waste stream and to the compost bins I administer. I feel this daily event is a good little achievement, adding up to a big reduction in waste when you look at the compost bins filling up, about one per term. I lookied in the big wheelie bins for some cardboard (the school does not recycle cardboard) to use in the compost bin to balance the fruit, and found a very large pile of books and catalogues... so I loaded up my trailer with a box full and a bin-liner full of these and took them home for putting in the paper recycling, I'd say about 20 or 30 kg. Another small bite of green-ness, but it does make me angry that the school says it recycles paper, but then throws away stuff like that, which could have easily been put with the paper recycling. A good cycle home from Drama Club, with him telling me about a forthcoming Drama Festival where they are going to do a Court Scene, apparently.

Then he did an email to his friend who's moved to Leamington Spa, and Gill made a good nosh for all of us, and then I got ready for work, with the Southlands Cubs. I took three unicycles down and three 4-wheel unicycles and two 2-wheel unicycles (Fun Wheels and Pedal Go), plus a load of devilsticks, diabolos, feathers and juggling balls, for their 'Entertainment Badge'.

The session went very well. I got an email from the organiser saying how much he'd valued it and thanking me for doing it at a very reduced price for the two sessions. He also offered to pay for the diabolo which one of the lads (or lasses, as cubs can be female too) broke by putting their foot on it, which was kind of him. Fortunately it was only a small diabolo so it should only cost perhaps £15, I'll find out from the Anti-Gravity shop tomorrow or over the weekend.

A late night doing more dried stuff.... sliced up a further 5 pineapples and about 10 red and orange peppers, these strips, once completely dry, will be put in the blender and reduced to dust, which is fab 'sweet paprika' for cooking.... really adds to soups, stews, nutloaves etc. And the peppers were destined to go to landfill, which is even better than having to buy them!

Wednesday, 23 January 2008

Wednesday 23rd January 08

I woke earlier than usual and flopped downstairs, and Gill asked me to take the boys to school as she'd been up since 6am and made them pancakes and done some sewing and made their lunch..... so how could I refuse?

Gill went to the 'Strenghtening Families, Strengthening Communities' parenting course whilst I went to the dentist for a check up. My new 'between the teeth' brush is doing a good job and I had less gunge than usual needing to be ultrasounded away. However my lovely dentist discovered something called 'a pocket' which is apparently a bit of bone loss caused by my less than strong gums and the less than efficient brushing they've recieved. However, I've still got no fillings from caries, just two from a congenital abnormality called 'dens indente' which means I was born with two hollow teeth.... So I've got to go for an X-ray to check how much bone has gone. Oh dear.

I cycled over to the family centre to do the 12-2 bit of the parenting course, which was quite good today.

Went to visit Richard after, at Martin's Veg Emporium, and the wholesaler had left me a huge pile to pick up and recycle... only just managed to get it home. Then, as soon as had unloaded, went down to school to pick up my boys, raced back and very soon took them up to Archbishop Holgate's school for a 45 min session of Martial Arts/Self Defence which one of their friends had invited them to. They both loved it! There were only 6 kids there, but it looked fun and they want to go back next week.

I had an unusual tea... an out of date 'instant meal in a pot' left over from Out Of This World, a potato-based thing called 'tru-free', which was dried powder which needed a cupful of added boiling water to make it rehydrate. The rest of the family thought it looked horrible, but it was actually delicious! I wouldn't go out and buy it, but it was worth eating to stop it being composted or landfilled!

I did a bit of emailing, including one to an Observer reporter who'd made enquiries about CRAGs and wanted some info about how they worked etc... did this just before going out to the Black Swan to a CRAG meeting. James was there first and me second, and two others came soon and a new member after that... then halfway through the meeting, another two members arrived. We had a very full meeting, with discussions about the next public meeting, where, when, what format..., and publicity, and future meetings, and subjects we could cover such as biofuels, food, waste and recycling... We discussed some other groups who have similar aims like Greenspeak, York Green Festival 08, and the No Miles High Club. Very much enjoyed our conversations and conflicting views and takes on things, we have a very busy meeting with a lot going on. We do not all agree, there is rarely harmony, but we all are passionate about cutting carbon and leading green(er) lives. I left at 11pm and came home via St Nicks and found two lonely logs which will look happy on my stove next winter...!

Good chats on Googletalk with K whilst finishing blog....

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Tuesday 22nd January 08

Woke briefly when Gill got up and remember hearing noise downstairs... and was then woken at 9.40 when Gill came up to tell me that I had told her I had a meeting at 10am, in town. I had told her I was meeting Jo for a coffee, our first meeting this year... so I didn't have breakfast, just quickly washed and dressed and got my bike out, got to our pre-arranged rendezvous at 10.

Had an hour in a cafe, we talked about her holiday over Christmas, her health and relationship, her allotment, and how our friendship has supported her current situation of being off work and not well. It was good to see her again. I went to pay in a cheque and to pay for my allotment for the forthcoming year, just £28 or so for those in receipt of Tax Credit.. which we get as Gill does no paid work and I earn relatively little as an entertainer. Also visited Barnitts to get a replacement axe handle, which was nearly a tenner, as opposed to a new axe (maul) which was about £20. Also popped into the charity shop to see Debbie and her co-worker who was less flirty this time!

Home for lunch and felt much better than yesterday. I did some washing up and more fruit prep, then drilled out the broken axe handle and removed the doodahs (circular wedges) which widen the wooden bit so the head is firm... and put the new handle in the old axe head. However when I banged in the doodahs, the handle split lengthways a bit, which was annoying but I don't think it will prevent me using the maul safely. I could take it down to Barnitts to wave it at them, but I don't want to spend any more time removing the handle and doodahs as it took ages and was difficult. I'll just use the axe as it is and hope it performs as wanted!

We ate together... butternut and veg stew with dumplings which the boys love. We watched the second part of Summerhill, after which I went to do some reading and dealt with the usual pile of several dozen emails I get every day...

I got the kiddoes and brought back another one too, as requested by his mother yesterday. He was collected at 4.10, and I spent a little while finding out that the axe works just fine.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Monday 21st January 08

Monday started with the children not wanting to go to school and making their feelings known loudly. I came down to mediate and I managed to change the subject by telling the boys about the paid blog I wrote on Summerhill last night. They went to school.

I went back to bed after getting my emails as I was feeling grotty, running nose and blocked sinuses, so read and dozed... Gill went to town to find some kids clothes and got back for lunchtime, so I got up and had lunch with her and then mooched around and did some stove maintenance and housework, but wasn't feeling too hot, so took some paracetamol and decongestant.

I picked the kids up as I try to be fair and even if not 100% I try to do my fair share. But I went to bed when we got in. Got up for 6 to see the programme on Summerhill, it was very moving, and the boys enjoyed it too.

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Sunday 20th January 08

Another day without the expected rain, so after breakfast (watched skiing on C4, Gill had recorded it) I set off for the lottie to do more cutting back and digging over. I met my lottie neighbour Tony who's a psychology lecturer at the University, and researches brain imaging, and a near-neighbour called ?Jackie whom I met at Simon and Melody's party apparently, and she's got lots more work to do than me..... her lottie is hugely overgrown and she has also had the letter warning her of disapproval.... We talked composting for a few minutes and then got on with our urgent work.

Went to Martin's veg/compostables palace on the way back... Richard had yet more pineapples for me, help! What can you do with over 20 pineapples when the racks over the stove are full and the house is hot from two stoves roaring away...? Well, Gill made a pineapple upsidedown cake with one and a half of them!

Back for just before 2pm, listened to Gardener's Question Time on R4 whilst having lunch, and immediately afterwards, went round with both boys to Maria and Johan's to collect two oak chair they are getting rid of, and Gill thinks they'll be useful here. The boys were invited to attend a martial arts/self defence workshop on Wednesday by their son, who last week went along and was the only child there, so he wanted some company.

Home to sort out some logpile (hand cut a pile of thinner logs with the bowsaw) and did a few minutes compost pile building and cutting twigs.

Tea was the butternut stew from yesterday, tasting even better after 24 hours standing.

Later in the evening I tried to input my paid blog to the Community Care website, the subject being the forthcoming programmes on Summerhill School, written by Alison Hume, daughter of my friend John Hume, who helped me start the Credit Union. He is very proud of her and told me about the film in December when we met up for a celebratory drink, 10 years after the CU meetings started. I wrote it all in but the thing wouldn't save, so I tried to save it on my computer (which I've done before when the website wasn't playing ball) but when I finished, it wasn't there and I lost the whole thing. After firing off an 'officially irritated' email to Commu nity Care, I tried again and this time it worked... so I spent til 1.30am retyping it in and then I checked on the public site... and it was there, thank goodness. What a palaver!

Saturday, 19 January 2008

Saturday 19th January 08

Woke to find the promised 'all day rain' was not happening, so didn't have the desired laze in bed reading but got up and continued building the 'use next' logpile outside the front door, as we're going through it like, well, a household with 12 kw of woodburner heating during a cold snap!

This freed up some covered space in the back garden and some open air stacking space in the front, so built another 'wall' of recently cut/split wet logs in the front and moved some others to the under cover area. Also did some compost heap building with the enormous load of material I got yesterday.

During the middle of the day I juiced about 40 oranges, thrown out as the skins were blemished, but the juice was wonderful, and cut up 2 of the 20 pineapples and put the slices to dry. Gill and the youngest went to a friend's party in Clifton Moor using the smelly No. 6 bus (Gill says it's a very different service from the genteel No. 10) and my friend Simon came round so we had real coffee and brandy. I chopped up reject onion, leek, pepper, potato, celery and two butternut squashes and made a stew/soup thing on the stove whils chatting to Simon and my eldest and his son played. Always good to see Simon!

Enjoyed the stew/soup very much for tea, as did Gill but the boys weren't so keen, but hey that means all the more for us tomorrow!

Friday, 18 January 2008

Friday 18th January 08

Woken by shouting downstairs... the testosterone levels in our two boys are obviously getting higher. I went downstairs in my dressing gown and sat silently and groggily inbetween them, and my presence seemed to reduce (not stop) the aggression.

Gill took them to school and as she left, my delivery happened... a Scheppach Rotary Soil Sifter, for speedily riddling compost, which is the most labour-intensive part of the composting process which is easily mechanised. It hasn't got a big motor, it's electric but our supply comes from renewables, so on balance, I'm happy to have got this machine. I signed for it and took it to the garage to put it together... which took a couple of hours, the instructions were less than comprehensive. However, by midday I had done it and checked that it worked, although everything's far too wet at the moment to do anything with it now... perhaps in a week or two.

I did my emails at lunchtime and got a nice thank-you from the Castle Howard person for my info on compost interpretive boards. I'll have to visit the site where she got the original info ( a WRAP website apparently) and if they go on about earwigs in compost heaps, I'll have to put them right, as I've never found them in an ordinary compost bin... perhaps in a pile of dryish cardboard and sticks, but not a working compost pile!

Gill got in from Art having done a re-creation of Michaelangelo's David, minus willy... not sure why she didn't put this in! I don't think it was significant.... well the real David didn't have a significant one, so it's not missing much! I actually just found out that the exercise was to learn to draw a figure with accurate proportions, and Gill didn't get time to finish him off!

I got the boys back from school, they're exhausted at the end of the week and it was a slow cycle home for the younger one.

Just before shop-closing time I cycled down to Martin's and picked up a sack from them... and also the wholesaler had savad a pile of stuff... infact no ordinary pile of just a few sacks and boxes, but about 4 boxes and several sacks, including over 60 golden delicious apples, 20 pineapples, 5 butternut squashes, celery, leeks and lots more, none of which would be acceptable to his customers but more than acceptable to me. Got the feeling that I used to have whilst working at the Council Skip Site (then on Foss Islands Road in 1999) that I was so lucky to be able to get all this free stuff, but what a freaking wasteful world we live in, and I'm doing my best to reduce it, but it's just a drop in the ocean, as how many wholesalers are throwing away tonnes and tonnes of this kind of stuff? A kind of duality of feeling lucky and virtuous and sad and angry at the same time.

The evening was good food-wise, Gill made a salad platter with about 10 different items on it, including some home-made pickled onions I made about 3 years ago and have just surfaced after a cupboard tidy out.

The evening was good too, family-wise, as we asked the children to watch a lovely telly programme with us, about Satish Kumar's experiences of Dartmoor. Getting the kids to watch this was part of our 'Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities' homework, which asked us to explore something 'Spiritual'. I dislike the word spiritual as I have no adequate definition and cannot easily get my rather literal head around the concept. However, the commentary by Satish was as close to spiritual as I can imagine, and the kids managed to watch all of it, although the youngest was also looking at his 'Beano' comic! We had a very good conversation afterwards about the 'homework', it was very moving and lovely.

Thursday, 17 January 2008

Thursday 17th January 08

A good day as went into town after persuading Gill to come back to bed, and got my prescription, paid the gas bill, put a cheque in (the compost provided for Caroline was rewarded by a donation of £20!) and then went to visit the Energy Efficiency Advice Centre on George Hudson St, to find out about External Wall Insulation suitable for solid walls like our 1930's house has. They suggested going on the National Insulation Association website, and from there I emailed a dozen firms to see what they offered and how much it would cost.

When I got back, Gill had gone to the podiatrist with her painful feet, and I spent at least an hour helping the Castle Howard Arboretum with their composting area display boards, which have been written up initially, and needed a good going through to make them better.... and I'd given some advice before so they'd come back to me for more. Well it's free advice from an enthusiastic expert who will drop everything to help promote composting, so I was glad to do it!

Gill got our youngest from school at 3.15 as the eldest has Drama Club til 4.15. I got him home, he'd had a really good time and he tried to explain all about the things they did whilst cycling home.

A noisy and over excited evening as our eldest's friend who's moved to Leamington Spa phoned him, and this was a rare event, for him to get a phone call.

I enjoyed a good meal of spaghetti squash and other bits. No-one else is that keen on it.

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Wednesday 16th January 08

Woke up late feeling groggy... Gill had taken the kiddies to school with only some hassle, and had woken me up to do our 'homework' for the parenting course, 'Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities'. So spent the middle of the day at that, it was quite useful and the course looks like being reasonably good. On the way home popped into Martin's to buy some local leeks and bring home a box of compostables.

I went to school to pick up our youngest, his brother was going home with a friend so I brought his bike back on my trailer. Had some quality time with the youngest one when I got back, and then did just 45 minutes or so of chopping sticks into wooden fruit boxes to dry off.

Tea was some stuff from yesterday plus leeks in white sauce over mashed swede, the swedes had been thrown out by someone who has a veg box delivery and doesn't like swedes to eat... but we as a family love 'em! Always glad to use stuff which would have gone to landfill and polluted.... what a wonderful life!

Our eldest came in after 7pm having had a good time, and they were in bed at a reasonable time. I did a bit of housework and we watched some forgetable telly, but then watched a gripping film together, Cast Away with Tom Hanks... a very watchable film, possibly a tad too American for my liking, and quite tear-jerking at the end, for Gill... but we both enjoyed it loads.

Had a very lovely memory jog from Facebook when I did my pre-bedtime emailing... a friend from years ago called Chevvy, looking for contact details of my ex with whom she went to college with. I was able to put Chevvy in touch with someone who should know her details, which felt good. I look forward to catching up with Chevvy's news soon. I am a big fan of Facebook.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Tuesday 15th January 08

A good day, got a lot done... started with a lie-in with Gilly which was as usual lovely and then got up, leaving her for a sleep and I got on with some housework including processing a load of oranges into juice. I then went into town and got a repeat prescription for my asthma preventer, and paid the electricity bill for the year ahead... it cost £227 as last year we used 1213 units (about 3 per day) and Good Energy says that the normal usage is between 12 and 26 units a day. That annual cost includes a fixed charge of 15.63pence/day too.

I visited my friend Debbie who has recently started a manageress job in a charity shop, after several years out of work. It was brilliant seeing her 'in her element', and dealing with the public so well. I was her referee for the job, although I'd never seen her at work, unless delivering leaflets counts as work! I also met a volunteer called Rosalind, a fairly glamorous 60 year old who flirted with me which was nice.

Met Jim in Coney Street and had a good chat, and then in Cycle Heaven met Rosie, who was initially Gill's friend (I think they met through Accessible Arts) and is now friends with both of us.

Got back just in time for picking up the kiddies and got back to some dry weather (been raining all day) so I went down the garden to try to get more hedge sorted out.

Gill made a super Spaghetti Bolognaise using soya mince... very tasty.

During the evening I watched a very interesting programme with Michael Portillo, and had a good chat with K on the computer (googletalk), then Gill and I did our 'parenting' homework which we've been putting off all week.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Monday 14th January 08

Was woken early.. well earlier than I would have liked as Gill wanted me to take the boys into school, so we set off at 8.30 and I got them to school and got back at 8.50, but as was so tired, went back to bed and tried to go to sleep. I'm not very good at going back to sleep once up (infact I don't get to sleep well unless absolutely exhausted) but I lay there after reading NewScientist and drifted off... and had what I now know of as a 'lucid dream', where the dreamer is partly in control of the dream, and aware of it after waking. I read about different states of consciousness in NewScientist a few weeks ago and it was then that I realised about lucid dreaming. This one was about learning to water ski, using my feet not skis, and then going up a ramp and having to jump but worrying about banging my head as the ramp was under a bridge. I went up the ramp and went so high I flew up in the air. In the dream I cannot remember landing so I don't know if I survived or died... it was a pleasant experience, and when it ended I got up refreshed and very aware I had been partly directing the dream. Weird!

I then went down the garden to try to finish off the hedge processing... and I did get one stage of it done... there are now no more huge lumps of hedge waiting for initial cutting up. Now I just have a pile of cut hedge pieces and a big pile needing shredding and an enormous pile of sticks needing to be cut up so that they can be bagged up for drying.

Came in at 12.30 and downloaded my emails. Got another from 'Dr Evil' who obviously thinks that there is some type of competition going on, as she posted 'Dr. E:1, The Prof:0... and I just don't understand quite what her problem is. If I don't like reading something, or watching something on telly, I don't read or watch it. So I don't watch horror movies or stuff with violence, nor do I read blogs about cars or cooking meat... it just wouldn't interest me, and I certainly wouldn't complain, as I firmly believe that it is an individual's right to watch scary films or get thrills from cars, regardless of my opinions which are just one person's opinions. 'Dr. Evil' thinks that her opinions are important; I agree they are to her, but not much to me, and I suggest she stops upsetting herself by looking at blogs with content which disagrees with her. I still wish her no harm or hurt, and believe that she has been damaged by society or some event in her past. However she does have responsibility for her actions today and I would respect her more if she would not post anonymously.

However her comment yesterday did make me think about why I post this blog. I started because I wanted people to know how someone lives with a low carbon lifestyle, growing some food, using renewable fuels, participating in community and having lots of supportive friendships, but now it is less that and more a way for people I know to keep in touch with what is happening in this household.. and it is read by friends in the UK and US, relatives in New Zealand and family members... as well as anyone else who wants to read it. And I really enjoy writing it... I wrote a daily diary for 20 years and this has now taken it's place.

I got the kids from school and then spent some time oiling their bikes and pumping up tyres, as they seem to be slow... well the youngest anyway. Then split logs for a few minutes, and came in and cooked a quite inventive meal of vegetable spaghetti (a squash which when cooked kind of fluffs up into fibrous 'spaghetti' like threads, with a beans and cheese covering and small potatoes, boiled yesterday and put on the woodstove tonight and crisped up in a frying pan. Was very interesting!

During the evening I prepared some free pineapple for drying and did some preparation for another column subject which has to be in by the first few days of Feb.

I got another anonymous comment on the blog from the same person, who's decided to drop the Dr. Evil moniker this time, who assumes that Gill works and does most of the childcare, and that having a blog is just an ego trip. Well she ought to know that I earn the money and do quite a bit of the childcare... perhaps not as much as half, but plenty more than some Dads do. And I'm very happy that my low-income and part-time work means that I have time to prepare renewable fuels and not have to pay loads for electricity and gas. She may know the phrase 'downsizing' which I have not had to do as I have never been up there with the high earners and highly stressed folks! I feel I have a very high quality of life and can therefore cope with any criticism from folks who probably don't understand how satisfying it is to live a 'green' life.

Oh, and I have worked out who the anonymous Dr. Evil is, too, as this latest message, which I won't publish as it's rude, gives me another clue. I am suprised though as she is friendly to my face. A pity really that she's reduced to posting anonymous defamitory comments! She won't get another mention on this blog and I hope she continues reading and perhaps gets inspiration to green-up her life, which is one of the aims of having a blog. Maybe she should write one, and I could write kind comments about her talents!

Had a lovely happy evening with the stove and Gill who was feeling a bit better than earlier as she'd managed to have a sleep.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Sunday 13th January 08

Up early... 8ish, and watched skiing on C4 whilst having breakfast and cuddling Gilly.
At 9 got a phone call from Caroline, who wants to deepen her raised beds with some of my compost, so I went to a finished 'sit and wait' heap and dug it out and bagged up 4 sacks worth plus 8 carrier bags worth... she'll collect this later today and I hope it's all right for her, and enough.

Came in for 11 to watch Countryfile and do emails, blog etc.

Had an early lunch and at 12.30 shot off down to town to pick up squished halved oranges and coffee grounds from Millers Yard and meet Lorna who came to York for a dance, and is taking the opportunity to have a hot chocolate with me. We met in the National Railway Museum car park and took a brief wander into town, then went for a short drive(!) to find a quiet place to sit and chat... which we did and it was lovely. She dropped me back at the NRM and I cycled home via Martin's veg emporium to collect a box of biodegradable goodies to compost. Got in just before 3 and prepared small potatoes for tea, boiled them on the stove, then did bathwater for the kids too. I put the oranges on two sit n wait heaps... and found a load of OK oranges which I'll be able to squeeze for juice. I have no idea why Dylan has thrown them away, they seem fine!

A tense evening as we all watched Time Team on C4, which was good, but the children's behaviour was disruptive but we tried hard to keep them with us and all calm and happy. Bathtime diffused all behavioural issues.

I wrote my paid blog this evening, and whilst doing that, got a comment posted from the anonymous 'Dr Evil' from this blog posting. She is obviously unhappy about my social life and seems to think that I shouldn't have friends, especially female ones. I don't think that my friends are her business really. If I am happy with my friends, and Gill is happy with whom I spend time with (and Gill knows exactly what I'm like... when we met in 1993 I was just as busy a person with a very active social life) and my friends are happy being my friends, well what exactly is the problem? I think she may not have many friends and could be jealous that I go visiting people and that we get plenty of visitors, but there might be something else in her psychology that I don't know of or cannot guess. I admit I am intrigued, and do want to know who she is, which would allow me to explain face to face in words of one syllable exactly how I choose to live my life and why it is perfectly OK to be who I am. Once again I will not be publishing derogatory or ignorant comments from anyone. I look forward to something more intelligent from her.

Saturday, 12 January 2008

Saturday 12th January 08

Quite a good lie-in, and Gill gave the boys porridge for breakfast which they seemed to enjoy as they were very quiet afterwards...
Got up at 10 ish and rang a CRAG friend David who has been collecting biodegradables since mid December for me, and we agreed to meet at the lottie and I put a layer of very manky stuff on top of the woody bramble stems... then did some compost moving, chatted to another alltotmenteer and cut back another load of brambles which are invading.

Got back home at about 1pm, family gone into town to spend book vouchers.

A hard-working afternoon too, but in the evening we watched a funny film called 'Shallow Hal' which we enjoyed, and played Scrabble.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Friday 11th January 08

Up at a reasonable time and did some phoning and emailing... came accross an amazing website by a photographer called Belinda Mason, go and check it out

Later in the day I did more hedge and then at 3 went to get the kiddies, and had a good chat with my friend Andy.

Did some woodpile building, the stuff that came from Woodlands and has been sitting split on the front garden (woodyard!) and is now being stacked in the covered woodshed in the back garden.

After tea, cycled over to Tadcaster Road to attend (and participate in!) a York Credit Union party/social at Walter's house. Good to see Simon and Melody, and the two Mikes, Peter, and Claire, and several people whom I didn't know. Stella's hubby Dave proved very interesting, as he is a train enthusiast, and volunteers for the Wensleydale Railway, but had some good stories about his career in the railways before he retired. Brought back lots of memories for me too, as whilst I was a teenager, I was a 'trainspotter' and travelled all over the network ostensibly to spot trains, but saw the country too. Now, of course, I am a train enthusiast, as they are a more sustainable form of transport than motorised road vehicles, and I prefer trains to coaches and buses, and obviously I hate cars!

Left at about 11pm, came home via a logpile in a wood which has been 'managed' so I managed to retrieve several logs for recycling into hot bathwater etc!

Thursday, 10 January 2008

Thursday 10th January 08

Quite a long lie-in this morning... til just after 9am! Very nice! However got up as I had a lot to do, and got on with stuff in the garden. Gill did some accounting and we met up for lunch.

I did some more in the afternoon, but when Gill had a sleep (she was up at 3am for some reason) I went on the computer and had a surf around 'Facebook' which is very addictive.

I got the kiddies at 3 and they came home without any hassle, however although the day had been said to be good, there were tantrums in the evening and I felt it best to keep out of the firing line. Parenting is very difficult.

Had a really relaxing hot bath at midnight, woodstove heated, of course!

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

Wednesday 9th January 08

I got a lie-in til 9am and then did a little bit of work in the front garden sorting out some of the materials lopped off the top of our pine tree... very similar work to the hedge actually.

Then at 10.30 Gill and I set off for the nearby Family Centre for a workshop called 'Strengthening Families, Strengthening Communities', basically a parenting course to help us be better parents. It wasn't very well attended but it was good, and hopefully some of the things will help us.

Lunch was good too, provided as part of the course, and we were finished by 2.30 and I went swiftly to the veg shop to pick up compostables, then home just in time to go and pick up the kiddies...

Home with them and did yet more hedge down the garden... the pile of sticks ready for chopping up is now higher than me! But I'll process that last, so it will double in size before I do anything with it...

Came in when dark and had the doggy-bag of sandwiches from lunch for tea, very convenient!

Tuesday 8th January 08

I was woken far too early as had a late night.... and I took the kids to school, as I had agreed to do last night, as Gill was expecting a tough morning, however they were perfectly behaved!

It was good to see some of the good folks at school and wish them a happy new year.. including the head teacher who is happy for me to submit something to the Board of Governors about sustainability, hooray!

I got going with paperwork when I got home, wrote several letters and sorted out a pile of old paperwork looking for booking letters and receipts etc, for the accounts Gill is starting to put together. Then went to the post office and Woodlands to hand-deliver the donation cheque I'm giving back to them as a thank you for all the wood this year!

When I was totally fed up with paperwork, did a stint down the garden and reduced the pile of unprocessed hedge... but added significantly to the pile of sticks to cut up... it's now 2m high and will take hours to cut up and bag up... but useful kindling for years I should think!

I got the boys at 3pm and they came home in good spirits and I did another bit of work in the garden before the light failed.

A pleasent evening, Gill experimented with some spare dough that had been in the fridge for a couple of days, putting it in a heavy iron pan on a low griddle on the hot woodstove... and cooking it to a flatbread consistency, it turned out ok once the alcohol smell had gone... the time in the fridge had allowed it to ferment a bit! Had this as a midnight snack.

Tuesday, 8 January 2008

Monday 7th January 08

Cannot remember how the day started but I do know that I spent much of the day building another logpile outside our front door, and I also phoned Good Energy Ltd, out renewable electricity supplier with an accurate meter reading and asked them what our annual bill will be for the forthcoming year. Over the last year this household has consumed about 3 units a day, and our bill for the next 12 months is £227. I shall pay that tomorrow, I expect.

In the evening I attended a core group meeting of YorkLETS, and it was really good to see my friends down at the Seahorse, and I had two pints and a really good chat. I bought three toys for my sons, all toy lorries, one's a dustbin lorry, one's a recycling lorry, the other is a skip lorry!

Got back at nearly 11pm and watched a silly but good film called 'Coccoon' from 1985 which both Gill and I enjoyed.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Sunday 6th January 08

Got up early (well, 9am) and quickly had breakfast and then went to dispose of more hedge, before coming in for just before 11 to ring my brother and wish him a happy birthday, and then watch Countryfile... which today was all recycled material, which was a pity, but I took the opportunity to do emails and blog...

More hedge after that, came in for a 2pm lunch and lisened to Gardeners' Question Time on R4, then had another go in the garden, mainly removing brambles and feeding them into the shredder. Very satisfying to produce so much compostable material!

At about 3.45pm went to the allotment as I have to keep on top of that too, and did more bramble chopping, put a layer of veg waste sandwiched between bramble cuttings and then partly dug out one nearly mature heap and put it on top of another to make enough space for more chopped brambles. It's never-ending! Stayed there til dark, arrived back at 5pm.

Then went to the Co-op to buy bran flakes which ran out this morning, and got back in time to watch Time Team on C4, and try to do paid blog, but couldn't access the site, so will try later this evening.

Tried later and the website was still not playing.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

Saturday 5th January 08

Saturday started with a bit of a lie-in, well, I got up, had a bowl of muesli and then went back to bed for an hour. Lovely! The boys were watching a brand new version of 'Swap Shop' with Basil Brush, who is possibly marginally better than Noel Edmonds was when I was a lad, but there again, possibly not as Noel didn't need a hand up his bum to make him do things (I'm assuming here!) Anyway, good to see a bit of practical re-use being promoted on the telly, made into entertainment (and a recycled show too!)

I spent an hour down the garden as the sun tried to poke through the clouds, and did yet more hedge, which is now getting a little bit tedious! There's so much of it, days worth of processing. I can begin to understand the mentality of people who have bonfires... it would only take an hour to reduce the massive pile of hedge into a pile of ash and loads of unwanted CO2 into the air... but what I'm doing will enable me to release some of the CO2 in a careful way, giving me much wanted heat (and replacing fossil fuel use) and some of the material will be incorporated into the soil as humus, trapping the carbon there for an unknown length of time. The twiggy bits which will be composted will also be the perfect composting companion material for the highly putrescible fruit and veg that I bring back in such copius quantities, so it will be worth the work to process the hedge not torch it. But quite a task and a half....

My eldest came down the garden at 11am to say that he was going round to a friend's house to do some homework (dissolving lumps of non-vegetarian jelly in water of different temperatures and timing them) and Gill and our youngest going into town to buy some shoes for his growing feet. I cycled into town to do some paper pushing (paid the phone bill, got a cheque out for a motorised compost riddler that I've had my eye on for a year, and now it's come down in price, I can afford it as a sort of post Xmas present to myself... also a business expense as it will speed up my composting ops, as it can sift 3 cubic metres an hour, apparently!)

Then called in on my friend Robin who I know from CRAG, and he proudly showed me his amazing retrofitted renewable energy systems. He has a brilliant smoke free woodburning stove with a boiler... I didn't know it was possible but it is, I've seen it in action and looked at the website too. It is a Dunsley Yorkshire Boiler Woodstove, built in Holmfirth in Yorkshire, and at up to 17Kw, it powers the central heating and hot water, and Robin runs it entirely on chopped-up pallets which are discarded in large numbers all over the place. It makes the house quite warm, infact too hot sometimes for his wife! For when the stove isn't providing heating, he has installed a 30 tube solar hot water panel on an outhouse in his garden, and some fancy electronics which feed the stove water and/or the solar-heated water to the hot water tank. I was very impressed! I'll be writing about the Dunsley Yorkshire in my paid blog which I resume tomorrow.

He also showed me his home made compost tumbler, constructed from a wheelie bin, used in conjunction with two small 'daleks'. He shared his future plans to install a downstairs toilet which uses either rainwater or greywater to flush, anothe excellent way of reducing one's eco-footprint. I went away inspired and very happy that I have met the second greenest man in York, probably! We'll have to have a competition to see who has the smallest Carbon footprint... he has a motor vehicle (although is a keen cyclist too) and I think enjoys meat, but we didn't discuss this.. I also enjoyed meeting his wife and kids, and hope we can get together when the weather is a bit better to let them have a go on the trampoline and show his wife the garden.

I came back for a late lunch via Martin's compostables emporium. Then I spent more time down the garden and finally took out the last bit of hedge, hoorah! However there is now an even bigger mountain of hedging to cut up, bag up, shred etc, which will take me weeks, I'm sure. Gill came down and spent a while cutting up sticks into kindling size.

I came in as it got dark and after de-grubbying my hands, threw together a nutloaf using yesterdays bulgar wheat and a reject pepper. It was lovely, and we had the two-day-old tomato soup on top of it as a sauce and reject parsnips cooked on the stove and reject sprouts ditto. a good nosh.

My son came back from his friend's after 8pm, and had had a really good time, homework done and lots of 10 year old play/interaction.

I watched Big Brother on E4 before doing my emails and blog. A good day.

Friday, 4 January 2008

Friday 4th January 08

A quiet day, foot has recovered completely and I spent much of the day removing hedge between our garden and our neighbours'. I did quite a lot but not much shredding, so I have a ginormous pile of hedge to process into compostable twiggy bits and sticks for next year's stove lighting kindling. It is going to take a couple of weeks to process all this... the pile of sticks is already over a metre high and it will make many sacks of material for drying... I'll use potato sacks I've brought back full of compostables and saved for re-use. If I put the sticks in plastic sacks they'd go mouldy but in paper sacks they'll dry nicely stacked up in the garage.

I enjoyed my lunch... some tomato soup made from thrown away tomatoes, a pepper, celery, spring onions and a potato to thicken it. Made yesterday, it always tastes lots better the following day, and was wonderful alongside a peanut butter and marmite sandwich.

After tea, which was rescued brussels sprouts and bulgar wheat, I went to the Minster to meet up with any Critical Mass people who chose to come out on a wet and cold night. Only 4 other people showed up, so we decided not to have a non-critical non-mass, but a drink at the 3 Legged Mare, a pub near the Minster that I've never been in before. My Green Festival buddy Baz was there, and we decided that a York Green Festival 2008 would be a good idea and would be easier the second time around. Baz offered to deal with the difficult and obnoxious Festivals Officer, whom I cannot deal with very easily without speaking my mind. I was happy with this, and will be happy to be on the team. We will have a public meeting on 6th Feb, 8pm at the Black Swan. I'm to do the publicity for this first planning meeting. I feel really happy about this and thank Baz for being willing to do some of the 'official' stuff.

Came back via Sainsbury's for Ribena, mayonaise and goats cheese for Gill, got one of their lovely seedy loaves too.

Thursday, 3 January 2008

Thursday 3rd January 08

Boys up very early and extremely noisy! But it was happy noise, mostly. Some of the excitement was probably due to a covering of snow, and they all went out to play in it.

The visitors' Mum came at about 10am and after a cuppa and chat, she took them away.

My boys got a phone call from another of their friends who wanted to play out in the snow, he came round and then all 3 went to his house round the corner, until after 1pm when they came back for lunch.

I spent the morning preparing fruit, mainly 4 pineapples but also some pears and kiwis, for drying on the stove. My foot seems to be a lot better, it was weird how it was so painful for such a short time!

I went to the veg shop and got the second half of the wheelie bin full and took it to the lottie, and made a layer of chopped brambles, shored up the sides with cardboard boxes and made a good deep layer. Left the lottie at nearly 5pm, almost dark, but for the snow making it kind of twilight.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Wednesday 2nd January 08

A good start to the day as our friends Katarina and Ulrich dropped off their two boys early as they are going down to Leamington Spa to sign for their new house, so we're looking after their lads for the whole of the day and possibly for a sleepover, depending on when mum comes back and their behaviour!

Then got a booking for a Fiddlesticks gig in April, which was funny because last night Gill asked me when my next booking was, and I looked in my diary and said 'May', so I've brought it back a month! Still looks like a quiet spring though.... may give me time to do more writing and research.

As it was a lovely day, cold but sunny and dry, I did a load of outside stuff. My neighbour asked me again if I would like to cut the pine tree down which is on our boundary and about 1 metre from the house. It's as tall as the ridge of the roof and over a 30 cm in diameter at the base... and it's dropping lots of stuff in the gutters and is too close to the house really, so I agreed to prune it. Taking it out completely isn't a good idea as the loss of the transpiration might make the ground swell and make cracks in our properties... so a prune is a first thing, might remove it at a later date. So I got my 9 metre ladder and got 3/4 to the top, removed side branches with my small pruning saw but couldn't get through the trunk. Went round to 'fix it' shop round the corner but they didn't have a replacement pruning saw blade, just a 30 inch bowsaw blade so I got that to replace the one I've had for ages. I roped the top of the tree and my neighbour pulled on this as Gill footed the ladder... and took off about 3 metres of the top of the tree, to about eves height. A good job, ruins the look of the tree but my neighbour is happy... I hope!

Then continued making my other neighbour happy by removing more hedge and processing that. I use the wrecking bar... and when not in use; when pulling on the hedge to get it out, I put it in the ground, just plonking it into the wet lawn, sorry, mud patch. Then on one occasion the hedge I was yanking on knocked the bar over and it fell on my foot... it hurt but not much and I carried on. The boys came down the garden before their tea and the visitors were enthusiastic about helping me... so I let them poke twigs into the shredder, something my two have never offered to do.

At 4.45 I cycled down to the Heslington Road veg shop and Martin was just leaving as Richard is not well and not working, and as it was very quiet, Martin was shutting up early. However he had put a wheely-bin's worth of stuff which had spoiled over the New Year, perhaps 80 kg, and I spent some time scooping some of it up into sacks. Jamie the wholesaler (or is he a catering provider?) also gave me a load. My foot began to hurt, but I carried on and rode home with a good load for composting and drying.

I separated a load of grapes for making into raisins (or sultanas perhaps as they are big white ones) and pears and tomatoes for tea tomorrow... a good haul! However when I got home my foot really hurt a lot and I had to lie down and writhe in agony.. and be dosed with paracetamol and have iboprufen rub put on it. Excruciating for an hour, until the medicines kicked in. It took me a while to remember how I'd done it, as the original bump didn't seem that bad.

Did myself a hot bath to wash out sawdust from my hair and soothe the foot.

Then watched a film called A lot Like Love. Quite good.

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Tuesday 1st January 08

Happy New Year everybody!

Saw in the New Year with my wife, children (yes, both of them stayed up!) and our friend Alison. We spent most of the evening with Simon and Melody and their son, and we had a really lovely evening. Alison arrived later, she's also a close friend of Melody and Simon, so it was very cosy. We had some good food and a variety of drinks, games of Jenga and picture consequences, and played some tapes (Orb, Eatstatic, Deep Purple) and all in all it was a very enjoyable night. We have an excellent view over York from our loft window, so once we'd heard it was midnight we shot up to the loft to watch the fireworks.

Alison left at 1am and we did a little bit of clearing up before collapsing at 2.

Woke needing orange juice and paracetamol at 7am!

Woke again at 9, the boys had woken Gill at 7.30.. we'd hoped that their late to bed time might cause them to sleep in later... but no joy.

At midday, our first visitor of the day arrived, a bit of a suprise because I wasn't expecting Lorna to visit, but she'd been dancing the year out with her sister in Dunnington, and popped in to say hi on her way home to the Midlands. It was lovely to see her and for my family to meet her. I showed her the garden, despite the standing water and mud, and she stayed about an hour.

We had a bit o lunch and then another suprise, the always busy Jim Semlyen, with his 8 yr old daughter and his partner's two children. He was giving his partner some space, and it was really good to catch up. Our boys played really nicely with the visitors, even though they'd only met Jim's daughter before. We fed them, even though they hadn't come for food! Spent a couple of hours chatting, it was a really good New Year visit.

I did an hour of clearing up in the cold and wet before it got dark, then came in and did an enormous wash up and food prep... had earlier picked some 'Winter Mushrooms' off a productive log (also known as Velvet Shank due to their black stem, 'enokitake' in Japan and in Latin, 'Flamulina velupites') and had these with some onion and sweetcorn with a breadroll and potato salad.