Friday, 29 February 2008

Friday 29th February 08

I took the kids to school as we could tell that it would be difficult this morning.

When I got back, tried to clear some of the backlog of washing up and spent a few minutes in the garden putting things away which I don't want to get rained on, then got a phonecall from Radio who are interviewing me about CRAGs and green living.

That went out at 11.25 ish and was very short... but I got the essential information in about the website and some lifestyle tips about transport, diet, insulation, so worth it.

Then had a lovely chat with a Mum wanting me to come and entertain her son for his 7th birthday, attracted by my 'ethical entertainment' column in Primary Times!

The rest of the day went quickly, boys in a good mood when coming home and a pleasant evening... when they'd gone to bed Gill and I had a game of Scrabble, she got all the high scorers and won... most satisying for her!

I had a good googletalk chat with my friend over the pond, and received an email from a green friend who has filled in a questionnaire about the earthquake. Blog readers who experienced it (or any other British earthquake) could click this link: .

Thursday, 28 February 2008

Thursday 28th February 08

Got a phone call first thing to confirm that I was going to visit an old chap's compost heaps up Hull Road to give some advice, and met with my gardening friend Beth, who does 3 hours a week there but wanted to know more about managing lots of grass mowings. When I got there, I gave the usual message that this material needs to be balanced with cardboard, paper and twiggy bits, but essentially the heaps looked ok. I dug one out and turned it, managing to get about 2 sackfulls of finished stuff plus a dustbin full, ready for top-dressing on his garden. This was a freebie with my York Rotters hat on.

Then came back to try to catch up on some work on the computer, some York Green Festival stuff, some Channel 4 eco documentary stuff, and other things...

Did manage to do some stuff outside as well as inside, quite a good day really. Felt quite tired as moved a lot of stuff around.

At 3 I went to pick up the youngest and then at 4 picked up the other one, lots of cycling.

The evening was going well, we were discussing a possible holiday, when the chilled and easygoing mood suddenly went and all hell was let loose with one child becoming an instant teenager/alpha-male/tyrant... we just don't understand this and it is so difficult to cope with.

Anyway, once in bed all was calm again and Gill and I enjoyed watching George Monbiot and Justin Rowlatt on Newsnight.

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Wednesday 27th February 08

Well the news is full of it... it was the strongest earthquake in the UK since one in Wales in 1984, which Gill experienced, and that one shook her out of bed and when she stood up, she fell over...

But it was my first and I was really shaken up, if readers excuse the pun. It was very frightening, weird, freaky, and left me full of adrenalin for an hour afterwards and it was difficult to go to sleep. Amazing! I feel very 'educated' as no amount of tv footage can really explain what it's like and how massive it feels. For all of my life I've felt that the earth, the ground, was still and stable and solid... and last night's earthquake puts that concept in the bin. It helps me begin to have empathy and understanding for the people who experience earthquakes in 'proper' earthquake zones. What an experience!

Had a very busy day. Was rung up first thing by my gardening friend Beth saying that the composting help she's asked for will be tomorrow morning. Then at 10.30 we set off for our Parenting Class, which was good as we heard two peoples' 'biographies' based on some props which included some old family photos and a book on Tarot and a crystal on a string.

I left immediately after lunch as I had to get to the Theatre Royal for 1pm for my first Equity AGM Northern Area, although I've been an Equity Member for well over a decade, I've never managed to get myself to an AGM. Met my friend Anneliese who writes poetry and plays and takes photos of insects whom I suggested should join Equity last year, so it was good to see her there. Also spotted Tony Morris, not sure where I know him from but probably the Black Swan Folk Music nights, and my colleague in Kids Entretainment, Henrietta Rabbit (aka Stephanie) but she was concentrating on the meeting and didn't notice me.... a very good kids entertainer when in her pink hair though!

I had to leave a few minutes early as I had to bomb into school to attend the meeting of the Gardening Club, except it's a bit more than just a gardening club, as it also was about a 'business' that the children are going to run, using produce from the gardening club - named Green Thumbs - and incorporating a cooking club and a finances section.... ambitious and long-term. I only really want to be involved in the gardening, but the concept seems good.

When I got home, and went onto the computer, I had a message from Green Thumb on my Facebook page... and I thought it was Julia (head Green Thumb!) but it was actually a gardener from North America.... what a weird co-incidence!

Had fried egg sandwiches for tea, using some eggs that were a few days out of date I found in a skip.... in their box with last week's date on... perfectly ok, as usual! Also had coleslaw with home-made raisins in, yummy!

Later on, whilst playing on the computer, discovered an excellent website with some interesting videos about eco-renovating old homes, see:

Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Tuesday 26th February 08

Gill took the kiddies into school and I got ready to go into Radio York to talk about being a part-Freegan, someone who gets some free stuff, sometimes out of bins and skips. I got there for 10am and was soon ushered into the studio.

First there was a recorded interview with a woman who goes skip-raiding at supermarkets, and she described some of the things she had found and eaten from the bins, and why she did this. Then the interviewer, Adam, chatted to me about the arangement I have with the greengrocer and my habit of collecting drinks cans from the sides of roads and then selling them when I've got several sackfulls... it was a good interview, went really quickly.

Then went to Millers Yard for a coffee and was pleased to meet Ros, who's chair of the York Community Furniture Store. She's someone I've heard of on many occasions but never met. She's a composting enthusiast too. We had a good chat and I then picked up Dylan's compostable orange skins and cycled off to see my friend Jo for lunch.

Jo has now got an allotment so we discussed how to deal with lots and lots of nettle roots, how to compost them successfully. She'd made some bread so it was a good sandwich, after which I bombed back home as we were expecting a visit from a surveyor to discuss external insulating render.

This was finished by 3pm when I went to school to pick up the boys, who came home quickly as we were expecting to have a visit from a neighbour who keeps lizards. However he didn't turn up.

I went to a meeting in town at 6 to go to the first Hull Road Ward Planning Panel, being held at the Guildhall. There were 6 of the new panel there, plus Roger Pierce, one of the Councillors and Jennifer the Neighbourhood Management Officer, and we had a training session and got organised... I said I was not willing to be the Clerk but would chair the group if they were happy with this. However no-one else wished to be Clerk so I was appointed Clerk-until-someone-else-comes-forward too. Then we discussed our first planning application, a temporary building at Woodlands MS Respite Care Centre used to store clothes etc donated for the shops, which has been there for a couple of years and they have applied to have it there for another two. We had advice from Roger who has much experience of planning matters, and our decision was to say that we had no strong opposition to it but wanted to say that we didn't want to see it become a regularly renewed consent, that the building should be temporary not permanent.

Got home at 7.20 and had a mellow evening, until....

Much later, I was in the middle of a skype conversation and the house shook quite violently... an EARTHQUAKE!!! It was the most frightening and weird thing ever..
I was very shaken up, if that's not a silly thing to say, and had adrenalin going through me for an hour afterwards.....

Monday, 25 February 2008

Monday 25th February 08

Spent most of the morning retyping in my paid blog but also got a call from a TV company wanting to do a programme on green people, and a Professor Fiddlesticks enquiry.

I got the blog done by lunchtime and spent most of the post-lunch hour or so doing washing up, recycling duties etc, then went to school to pick up the boyos who were in a good mood.

I did some composting down the bottom of the garden whilst it was still light, I dug out a builders bag of mature and ready-to-riddle material, into another builders bag, perhaps two thirds of a tonne of compost. I can't wait to put it through my motor-riddle! Just as I was coming to the end of this, Gill called me to the house as I had an intersting phone call.

It was from Oxfam who have been running an e-competition to find some people with very small carbon footprints, three of whom will be invited down to London to talk to people in Government about climate change and policies which could help reduce our national Carbon emissions. I had done the Carbon Calculator and they were ringing to say I had one of the smallest footprints and I might be picked to go to London. The researcher went through the calculator with me, asking me my answers and came up with an annual figure for me alone of 0.45 tonnes. This was slightly smaller than the first figure I got, as I had included the boys' computer and printer/scanner in with my calculations, whereas with the Oxfam person, we ignored these items. I'll be contacted when the 'lucky people' have been chosen. What a suprise! What a buzz!

Very soon after this I got a phone call from an Irish radio station researcher who had seen the Observer article and they'd never heard of CRAGs and were very interested, and wanted to do a live radio interview about CRAGs and my way of being green. I'll be getting another call tomorrow afternoon, and a call on Thursday morning for an interview..... very exciting! Again!

Tea was rice and veg cooked on the woodstove.

Sunday, 24 February 2008

Sunday 24th February 08

Quite a relaxed morning, but before breakfast I unicycled along to the Co-op to buy a copy of The Observer, which has an article about CRAGs and part of the article is an interview with me. I then spent some time thinking about the Gardening Club at school and formulating a list of questions and things to think about for our first meeting, then emailed that off to the chairperson who has let me know we're meeting up on Wednesday.

I rang up my parents to tell them about the Observer article and had a brief chat with my Dad who did his best to upset me by comparing some of my views to those of Scientologists!!! I felt really insulted to be compared to these crackpots! I feel like I can't ring them up because of his behaviour towards me, which does upset me and I tend to 'retaliate' and this doesn't go down at all well! I'll have to do my best to not turn into him, and keep my mind open to other peoples' views... to at least give them the respect of listening to them and not instantly slagging them off and belittling them. It doesn't make you any friends!

Lunch was late but delicious, then did some washing up and listened to Gardener's Question Time on Radio 4.

During the afternoon I went down to the veg shop and then on to the lottie where I composted my valuable collected resources and then went on to my friend in Heslington to wish her a happy 40th birthday. Nice coffee and chat with her and her hubby, then back home.

A relaxed evening, researched my paid blog on Richard Branson's biofuel experiment, the first aeroplane journey using biofuel. Also had a successful skype call with my friend over the pond, which was wonderful.

Typed in my blog but it wouldn't save, so I lost it all after several hours work. Annoying.

Saturday, 23 February 2008

Saturday 23rd February 08

Quite a good start to the day, went back to bed after breakfast but got up again soon and tried to get the children to tell me what they wanted to do... but whatever I suggested they weren't interested in and when I suggested they tell me what they wanted to do, they had no suggestions.

Talked to a journalist from The Observer on the phone about CRAGs, the article will be published tomorrow.

Then went to finish off refilling the compost bin I dug out yesterday and partly refilled. Gill came down the garden at 1pm saying the kids had agreed about what they wanted to do... and they were off to 'Leaping Lizards' shop to see if they sell Geckoes (the boys want a pet) and then onto Sainsburys and the charity shops in Goodramgate.

I came in for lunch, did some computery stuff and then started to prepare some veg for a soup or something for tea.

I got a phone call from my sister asking me about composting tea bags. She is digging out her compost pile I made for her last year, and she's riddling it into a large dustbin prior to using it later in the Spring. She'd found lots of uncomposted teabags, empty but obviously teabags. I was able to tell her that many teabags are made from a thin plastic fabric, and the tealeaves rot away leaving the bag which should be taken out of the finished compost and thrown away.

She then told me that she was encouraging her office to compost... she works for the Environment Agency and so she's being given a Waste Carrier's Licence so she can 'officially' take home the biodegradables for home composting.... totally wow! Something for my paid blog perhaps!

Signed an online petition about Carbon taxation:

Friday, 22 February 2008

Friday 22nd February 08

I took the boys into school and brought them back. Between these journeys I spent time at home, in the garden, doing housework, sorting out a compost heap to make it less attractive to rodents, on the computer, building a logpile, with Gilly, eating lunch... not in that order....

After getting them I went to visit Richard at the veg shop and bought some fruit and got a couple of sacks of compostables for my heaps.

Gill recycled yesterday's stew into a pie with a suet crust which was lovely.

Very late on I liquidised about 10 bananas and 8 punnets of thrown-away strawberries, after a careful sorting and trimming (making about 4 punnets worth) and then rubbed the puree through a fine seive and poured the liquid into a non-stick cake tin and put it to dry on the stove. Banana and strawberry leather on the way!!!

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Thursday 21st February 08

I took the boys into school as there was considerable resistance by one of them, and Gill feared him cycling off in the opposite direction. But they both behaved perfectly and there were no problems.

The day was lovely, did a bit of housework, some stuff in the garden, had a sleep, read some NewScientist and at 3pm Gill went to pick up our youngest and at 4 I cycled down to pick up the other one from Drama Club.

I then spent some time turning a compost heap and tidying up some mess in the back garden.

Just the easygoing sort of day that I like.

At 7.30ish I went out to meet up with folks from York Green Festival who were waiting outside Space 109, which I was supposed to have booked. I was going to book it for yesterday but last week got a message from Baz saying it was booked for tonight, and I thought he'd booked it... but neither of us had! So we had a short meeting outside and he went to the Spread Eagle with several others and I went on to The Black Swan for a CRAG meeting with a journalist who was taking pics for, I think, The Observer.

We had a good discussion, about our public meeting next month and about the various aspects of carbon reduction that we as individuals we are trying to achieve. We agreed to meet just before the public meeting on Carbon Offsetting to finalise what we are going to say and present. I'm going to try to get a speaker from an offsetting company and/or some publicity materials, and possibly the short film 'Cheat Neutral' which is basically anti-offsetting. We had a poster advertising the meeting brought and we need to construct a press release.

Wednesday, 20 February 2008

Wednesday 20th February 2008 Happy Birthday 'Low Carbon Lifestyle' blog!!!

Yes, one year on and I've a reasonably detailed record of my daily activities.... just emitting approximately 0.46 tonnes of 'fossil' carbon in the process, according to 'ActOnCO2' the Government's carbon calculator, and the other three I've plugged my info into also suggest a household footprint of between 1.2 tonnes and 1.8 tonnes, of which I have a share... possibly a quarter share or, if we ignore the kids and pretend their emissions are due to us adults, a half of this. I think, though, because I travel more due to my work and interests, that I should claim more than half as 'my' footprint, so mine is a tonne and Gill's just half a tonne. This figure is for heating, power and travel only. It does not take into consideration the footprint of the food we eat or other things we buy or consume (for instance, my new bike took quite a bit of energy and resources to construct and weld and transport to York), nor does it consider the 'negative footprint' of the work that I do to keep stuff out of landfill directly or by educating others..... but all that's much more complicated and would take more recording, measuring and estimating/guestimating.

So today started much like many others, got up soon after 8, saw the kids off to school, got a phone call from Beth my gardening friend saying it was too cold and frosty to do the gardening she wants to do, and as I was going to meet her to give some composting advice, she rang to say, don't come. So I put the laptop on to check messages and wish myself a happy anniversary!

Went to the parenting course and it was a good session today, as we had a talk from and with Tim Waudby who I worked with on York Green Festy last year, although in the end he didn't partcipate for various reasons. However, he did help with publicity. So he told us about various children's activities, then after lunch we made a collage of our 'Utopian vision' of our ideal society. Gill and I created 'Ecotopia' and put on lots of images of health, low consumption patterns, helping each other, charitable causes, wildlife and other lovely things!

I went to Richard's fruit emporium as usual and bought local carrots, broccoli and non-local satsumas, plus two sacks of waste veg/fruit/cardboard for composting.

I got the children plus a friend from school, and we all came home quickly as they were all keen on going up to Archbishop Holgate School for their self defence class. I left them there as Maria was bringing them back. I brought back some sticks to decorate the front garden(!) and did a bit of logpile building, as with this intense cold we're going through the logs quickly.

At 5pm, we had a visit from a joiner who we want to give us a quote for making some cupboard doors for under the stairs, as the current system there is difficult to use, they are supposed to clip off and on, but they don't do this easily.

A nap after tea for an hour then came down and watched some TV and did some computery stuff. Created a Facebook page for Professor Fiddlesticks and eventually worked out how to upload photos.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Tuesday 19th February 08

A very cold and foggy, frosty day, and I took the boys into school and stayed with my 8 year old's class as they have a trip around York on an open top bus... not a very good day as the fog means that we won't see much! So at 9.15, two classes set off to the bus, and we went on the top deck first. It was bitterly cold and the view was not brilliant, although we could see things up to 20 or 30 metres away, just not further than that. Halfway, we swapped over and the younger ones went up on top and we came down below where it was slightly more sheltered. The commentry was quite funny; I sat with my boy and we had quite a laugh about it. We got back to the school at about 10.30 and I came home and warmed up.

Gill had gone to town and I pottered around until lunchtime, then after lunch I had a nap which was a treat! Gill got the boys from school.

A quiet evening, good behaviour all round, very harmonious.

Monday, 18 February 2008

Monday 18th February 08

Awoken by a shouting child unwilling to go to school... so I came down and changed the subject and took them both to school with no further hassle. A very good day followed... some conversation with Gilly and time sorting emails and researching my column, on clothing.

Then at 11 I set off to visit my dentist's, although I had an appointment with Cheryl not Prue, and got a lesson in how to do my teeth properly which apparently I haven't been doing. I promise to do better!

Then to Boots to find some daily anti plaque bacteria mouthwash, as directed.

And home with shiny clean teeth to have lunch with. Then got on with some woodchopping, as I now have a sizable pile of good fuel from Woodlands which needs a bit of management. Took several Fiddlesticks calls, including one firm booking, but managed to get quite a bit done outside too.

I got the kids from school, and Gill made leek and potato soup from the leek tops I rescued yesterday from the 3 sacks of wholesaler's waste. These trimmed leaves are just as good as the white stalky bits... if not better!

During the rest of the afternoon and evening wrote my column on ethical clothing decisions and at 11pm, sent it in to Community Care, in good time for publication next week.

Sunday, 17 February 2008

Sunday 17th February 08

A good day, very sunny and crisp. I went to the allotment pretty early to collect my onion sets which did not come with the rest of the order. Had a chat about the bonfire issue with the person in the office and I plan to write to the lottie officer, local councillors, MP etc to see if something can be changed....

Then back in time to watch Countryfile and do some research for my column which is due in this week. Then lunch, prepared some parsnips for tea, and then some outside stuff, then at 3.30ish I went down to the veg shop to pich up the usual sacks of compostables plus some good fruit for the boys pack ups tomorrow. I took the 4 sacks of compostables to the allotment and put them all on two of the four heaps.

Back towards 5pm, and then went to Woodlands to pick up 4 trailer-loads of wood they've put aside for me. Then came in for tea, which was parsnip and potato and cheese patties with broccoli and a home-made garlic pizza base.

Spent the whole evening on the computer, with the telly on, watching Monty Don in the Amazon and George Melly (who once flirted with Gill at the Arts Centre and put his hand on her thigh!) which was sad as it concentrated on his last months of life. What an amazing man, one of my heros, in a way.

Saturday, 16 February 2008

Saturday 16th February 08

Started the day by completing the front garden clear up, and got it done by the time the parents rolled up in their Toyota Prius. They seemed pleased I'd made a space for them to park, although I still don't understand what the problem is about parking on the verge between the pavement and the road... everyone else does who comes here in a car, unless they park round the corner on Lilac Avenue, off the main road. Anyway, they arrived and we had a hot drink and a nice chat, and after a lunch of sandwiches we went for a walk to Hull Road Park where there was a bit of footie and frisbee and playing on climbing equipment.

They left fairly soon after this and I got on with some leafmold riddling in the garden.

Had a good evening with Gill, beat her soundly at Scrabble but she didn't mind....

Friday, 15 February 2008

Friday 15th February 08 'Feast of Lupercalia'

A much better day philosophically than St. Valentine's Day, as Lupercalia is a fertility festival originating in Roman times, and is therefore an older, more Pagan approach than St. Valentine's, as he was a Christian Bishop who became a Martyr, and had no connection to love, romance, amour or lust, so far as I can find out!

Anyway, spent some time out at the front sorting out the garden so my parents can park there tomorrow, and before lunch wentr to the park with the boys and played a good football game whilst Gill continued to tidy the house.

Back for lunch, then did yet more sorting, stacking and clearing in the front.

Spent most of the day doing this. Hopefully they will notice how much I have worked for their desire to park in our logging area. Anything to keep the peace!!!

Thursday, 14 February 2008

Thursday 14th February 08

Up early enough and had a shave as was going to be filmed by some media students about my experience/opinions about Valentine's Day... they were due to come at 10.30 but didn't turn up til 11.25... Gill and the boys went out to buy shoes as they didn't want to be involved in the filming.

I did some woodchopping whilst waiting and then when they came I talked to them about some of the things they could film, then we did some filming and they interviewed me... finishing at just after 1pm.

I had lunch and got on with some more clearing up of the front garden, which I did on and off for the rest of the daylight hours.

A rather unusual day as I didn't get on my bike!

Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Wednesday 13th February 08

First thing I did after an early breakfast was to move some chopped and split wood to the logstore around the back, as we are expecting a parental visit on Saturday, and they like to park their car in our front garden... which is currently full of logs, something they once complained about! So on Saturday, I'd like them to be able to park there.... and get no complaints!!! However I have a substantial amount of work to do before they are able to do that!

Gill and the boys got ready for a day out, and I cycled off to town to get a cheque out to pay the deposit for the front door, which I got from our savings in York Credit Union. Also visited Barnitts to get a file for sharpening my chainsaw, and popped into Cycle Heaven to get my bike stand tightened up, as it had become very loose and was interfearing with the wheel. Then picked up some stuff at Martins and then on the way home met Ben who asked me if I could load my traile up with some stuff he wanted taking to the University, so we cycled down there together, my trailer with a large parcel and luggage rack with two more. Home at midday.

Gill had taken the boys to Knaresborough on the train, so I had a peaceful hour or so with the stove and the computer...

Then had lunch and did some work outside before coming in and making tea for them, a stew with some good spices in, which when they came in after 4pm, I added some pasta to, which made it child-friendly.

I went to post the cheque to the door people and buy some bits and bobs in the Co-op, then to Summerfield to get my youngest son some goats' milk which he has instead of cow as it results in less allergies for him. On the way there I met a friend who was very interested to hear that we were going to replace our front door... and she was interested in having it if we had no use for it, as hers has no glazing and she wants to have more light in her hallway. It would be good to get it reused!

In the evening I got a phone call from Phil who is off to France in a couple of days, so he came round and had a glass of ginger wine and a chat, and looked at my soil sifter.

Had an attempt at Skype with webcams but it wasn't working well and kept freezing and not working that well. Hopefully we'll be able to get it sorted.

Tuesday 12th February 08

A good day, spent mostly with the family. First went to see my GP following my letter from the Maudsley suggesting further assessment. Then briefly into town to get some fair trade coffee powder and put a pound's worth of pennies, collected by my eldest son from I don't know where, into my savings account. I gave him a more manageable pile of coins to the same value...

Then home to a tired Gill and boys playing on their computer, so after lunch took them where they wanted to go, Heslington Park. We cycled the long way there, which involves a cycle up a big long hill and then an enjoyable long cycle down into Heslington and through to the 'Outgang', where there is a good park with an excellent play area and things to climb on and play on.... however soon after we got there my youngest complained of thirst, so we all went to Browns in the village to get something to drink, and went back to the park, had a game of frisbee and whilst they played, I did a litter pick, finding a lot of aluminium cans and other rubbish which I'll sort and put for recycling or landfill. The alu cans are worth a penny each... so made myself about 20p richer with this exercise plus the park got tidied.

Had a low-key tea and just when the boys were off to bed, the 'Everest' surveyor/salesman Frank came with the price of the various home improvements we would like to do.

We considered a porch and a new front door, one that doesn't let in cold air, and we desperately need a new back door as ours has gone wrong and only opens with the key, and cannot be opened from outside. Frank was happy to chat inbetween the sales info and stayed quite late, and we ordered two doors, not the porch which was a little beyond our means.

Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Monday 11th February 08

A good day, quite upbeat, and a constructive one as Ben came round and agreed with me that my email problem will be sorted once I receive a new password from Tiscali... which I've asked them to send. Then did some more riddling and helped put up the trampoline.

At 4, attended a meeting of the Local Agenda 21 people, to 'officially' finish it and close the process down in York, which I found sad but I do understand why it has happened. Also, the Sustainability officer, Kristina Peat, is leaving, and this was her leaving do.

Had a good session with Skype later on, did have some problems, probably with the microphone possibly having a loose wire or something, but in the end it worked fine.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Sunday 10th February 08

A really lovely day! Not an early start, which was good, then a session in the garden until 11 when I came in and half-watched Countryfile whilst doing washing up and other housework.

After lunch I went to Martin's veg emporium with 5 carrier bags of freshly riddled compost and 5 bags of freshly riddled seed growing medium... a mix of leafmold, loam and a little compost. I picked up a load of bananas and a sack of leek leaves and other compostables which I took to the allotment. There were a couple of lottie-holders working on their plot and clearing brambles etc, and putting them on a small smoky fire... which was blowing gently over my plot, so I couldn't work on it. I said something very polite to them about the materials being compostable and the carbon not needing to go into the air, and their response was that they got the allotment so they could do what they wanted to do, and they wanted to have a bonfire. I didn't get more involved, but I wanted to tell them that their 'doing what they wanted to do' prevented me from doing what I wanted to do. And it is unneccessary and polluting and a waste of resources, and the lottie rules say that if you have a bonfire you should have a non-smoky one which doesn't impact on other lottie users. I will write to the lottie officer with a complaint.

On the way back up the hill, I met Peter 'Earthquake Cove' and he was having a picnic with two Norwegian girls who are studying at St John's for the term. They were having Norwegian pancakes, and I had a quarter and a short chat before getting back to my family.

I then took the boys to the park for more frisbee and logging. We spent over an hour there, and had interaction with some young teenaged lads, who were happy to help chop down some of the fallen tree.

Home to a well-organised Gilly who'd made a quiche with home-grown broccoli.

Did my paid blog in the evening on Valentine's Day and consumption.

Saturday, 9 February 2008

Saturday 9th February 08

Got up at the normal time but went back to bed for a half hour whilst the children were playing in the garden. At 10ish I went outside and did some more work with the motorised riddle, attracting lots of attention from several robins. Came in at 1pm for lunch but had to break off to tell both boys off for over-reacting and being provocative, and not doing what their parents tell them.

However after a strained lunch, I offered to take the boys out to the park, where they could play with a helicopter toy and not lose it over a hedge and wave sticks around (both of them are very attached to a staff/gunstick/pointystick/weapon thing) and have a bit of a game of frisbee with me. I knew they'd get bored with the 'organised' activities fairly soon so I took my bowsaw to help demolish a fallen tree which has been left for folks to take.

We had a bit of fun with the frisbee and helicopter toy and then they went to explore so I did a bit of woodchopping, alongside a chap with a petrol chainsaw who was friendly but got exasperated with it being blunt, and seeing that my bowsaw was quicker!

Gill popped into the park to check we were allright and we came back with her. I did some more riddling and came in at 6. Tea was a reheat stew thing on top of some pasta.

A quiet evening, did some Facebook stuff, chatted on Googletalk, went on the CRAG website, visited a good blog and did some surfing. Bed rather late, after 2am.

Friday, 8 February 2008

Friday 8th February 08

Soon after Gill got back from taking the kiddies to school I went with her round to Sarah's house, to install a compost bin for her. I wanted Gill to meet Sarah as she has offered to babysit for us if we want her to... so the first stage of the process was for Gill to meet Sarah.... and if all was well, then for Sarah to meet the boys, which will be next week.

Installing the bin was easy... swept up loads of leaves and stuff from her yard, and put it in the bin which is standing on slabs in the yard, then a layer of shredded hedge from my huge pile of hedge materials, then a 'seeding' colony of semi-rotted compost teeming with worms and other beasties and fungi, and then Sarah put in several bags and containers of collected stuff which she's been putting by since the time she came to put a load of stuff on one of my heaps.

Then a coffee, chat and looked at the Press Website and watched the York Rotters vid which was good.... certainly better than what I was able to do!

After this I cycled accross town to visit a friend I haven't seen for some time, and came back past Martin's to pick up a large sack of shop stuff.

Enjoyed a peaceful lunch before having to make a phone call to someone I may have upset. Such are the problems of being hyperactive and not perfectly socially skilled!

However the phone call went well and I was told I had responded appropriately to something, I thought I'd put my foot in it! But I didn't know, I still feel that many aspects of life are an experiment! I apologised for any indiscression and poor communication and this was accepted. Thank goodness!

During the afternoon, before going to school and picking up the boys, I got the new(ish) compost riddle out and rolled it down to a compost heap which needed riddling and I did a good hour of it... wonderful! I really enjoyed it, and the pile of fine and riddled material looked lovely when I'd done! The stuff which passed through the cylinder needed sorting into throw-aways, re-compostables and oversized particles/clumps which could either be used as mulch, re-composted or put through the riddle again after a good stir, which would break up some of the lumps. A good piece of kit, will save a lot of time.

Got the kids, they were looking forward to half term.

I did a little bit more riddling but at 5.15 came in to get ready to welcome a much wanted visitor, Ben from Freecycle and LETS, who's a real whizz with computers and volunteered to sort me out with my hard and software. He dived straight in and got the broadband fixed, email sorted, skype installed, webcam (which had been thrown away!!!) plugged in and a microphone attached... so I feel as if I'm truly in the 21st Century! In return he has asked me to move some stuff with my trailer on Monday... which I'll do most willingly!

A good tea with the family, spaghetti veganaise.

Enjoyed watching dolphins on the telly with the boys, then watched my old secondary school, Lancaster (Boys) School, Leicester which has a new choir... and it felt weird, knowing I was in the LBS choir in the late 70's.

Did quite a lot of computery stuff. Had a quick chat on Skype with my friend in America, then got soundly beaten by Gill at Scrabble, whilst watching 'The Birds' from 1963, which we both had a good laugh at because of the corny special effects, lack of real plot and rubbish ending. However I still think it was pretty good how they (Hitchcock et al) got the birds to do what they did.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Thursday 7th February 08

n'tGill took our youngest to school as the older one had a bad night with not much sleep, and Gill had hoped to get him to the Doctor, but there were no appointments available. He went to school after lunch.

I went to St Nicks at 10.30 as the local paper, the Press, was filming a piece on York Rotters for their website.... so I went along to see what was happening and to offer any help needed. Jo was filmed with her wormery, then Catherine our paid worker did a piece to camera, then a new volunteer from Norway, Ellen-Marie, did a bit of 'practical composting' by lobbing some fruit skins in a dalek and showing some of the material from the base, and enthusing about it. See this link for the result: I haven't seen it yet as my dialup is too slow (my broadband still isn't working!)

So I stayed there, helping out, til about midday, and also chatted with the cycle courriers who were drooling over a new bike which has a very solid rack on the back, designed to carry 2 people, or 200kg of load! I felt I'd like one of these too, as I picked up a few logs with my trailer and came home.

After lunch I did some tidying of logpiles, rebuilding one next to the front door and sweeping up leaves my neighbour complained about.

I picked up my youngest son at 3.15 and the eldest one at 4.15 after his drama club.

Had a quick tea of fried egg sandwich, broccoli and veg pastie, and at 7 went to the Hull Road Ward Committee meeting which was enjoyable... met Philip, recently told by the court that he has to pay his council tax, regardless of the lack of services he's recieved, and Carolynne who was gobby and wonderful as usual! I along with 7 others was signed up to the new Planning Panel, who scrutinise planning applications every three weeks and give in comments to the Council.

Spent a long time on the computer during the rest of the evening.

Wednesday, 6 February 2008

Wednesday 6th February 08

Awoke and could feel the thing in my eye... not painful or intrusive, but a feeling of something there when I screwed my face up, or closed my eyes tight shut. I took the boys to school, three of them including a boy who often cycles to school with his Dad, on the pavement. I told him that cycling on the pavement was illegal and that with me, all three of them would be on the road, with me cycling behind them and slightly further out into the road, to sort of protect them. They all did brilliantly, including turning right off Hull Road into Windmill Lane, and I congratulated them all when we got to school.

On the way back I went via the turf skip and took another load home, and then went back to get a further load. When I got back to my nice neat stack at home, it had collapsed, but it was still a pretty good pile and will rot down to make a good loam in a year or two...

Then I told Gill about my eye and last night's glass incident. She told me to go to casualty. I said that I didn't think it was that serious, so she told me to ring NHS Direct.... and they told me to go to casualty. So I cycled over to the hospital for a second time in two days, and didn't have to wait long to be seen. The friendly male nurse had a good look, used yellow dye, looked with a blue light, turned my eyelid inside out, but couldn't see anything, not even a scratch. He gave me some antibiotic cream as a precaution and said if it was still feeling odd in 4 or 5 days, to get in touch again and I'd be given an appointment with a specialist.

I then cycled back to the parenting course, I'd only missed 45 minutes of it, and was in time for lunch! Quite a good session today.

Afterwards went to Martin's veg and bought Heslington Potatoes, local carrots and Yorkshire broccoli, as well as being given two sachs of compostables.

Gill went to pick up the boys and to take them to self-defence/martial arts class. I did emails, blog and headed to the garden, as it was a lovely day.

Tuesday, 5 February 2008

Tuesday 5th February 08

A tough day, lots of physical work and several things going wrong.

Back on dialup as my computer won't speak to the wireless broadband. So annoyed. I hate technology when it's beyond me to solve the problem.

Gill took the youngest child to school as the older one was going to a secondary school for a maths event I think, he went with a friend and his Mum.

I went to the hospital to have an X-Ray of my teeth, as the Dentist has spotted a problem and wants to see the extent of it. I got there at 8.30 and was out by 9.30 clutching the photograph which I took to my Dentist. Then went to put a cheque in and paid the water bill, came back via St Nicks to give a book back to Catherine, and was told about an event on Thursday which I could come to, with the Press filming something about York Rotters for their website.

Home for lunch, big wash up and did some stuff in the garden. Went to pick up some turf from a garden round the corner, they are going to skip it tomorrow if there's any left, and on my final trip got a puncture.

A horrible evening due to violent child.

However when he had gone to bed and we had recovered, we had a pleasent time. Except that when at 10 or 11pm I got around to mending my puncture, I found a large chip of clear glass embedded in the tyre, which had caused the puncture. I tried to remove it, and in doing so, a tiny piece flew off and hit me in the eye. I didn't think it had lodged in there, I couldn't initially feel anything and I assumed it had come out or glanced off, but later, in bed, with my eyes shut, I could feel something. However I ignored it and went to sleep. I was pleased to have successfully mended my bike.

Monday 4th February 08

A good day as the boys were basically well behaved. It's amazing how their behaviour almost completely dictates our moods. So this morning there was a small outburst, which brought me downstairs and I offered to take them to school, for which Gill was very grateful.

Came home and had a bit of a conference with Gill, she decided to go to the shops and I did a load of housework interspersed with other work. I wrote my paid blog, on gardening for food this week. I did some washing up, and fruit management! Did some stuff in the garden and got in at about the same time as Gill, for lunch.

Gill organised herself a small bit of pampering and booked a haircut from the place which did it before, on Goodramgate. She also prepared some tea for the boys for me to put together when needed as she would be out. I got the boys at 3.15 and asked them if they'd like to help break up the old grotty armchair which has been taking up far too much space in the front room. They were more than happy to have a pair of pliers each, have a go with the bowsaw and a hammer, and between us over an hour, we dismantled and de-upholstered the ugly and useless thing, rendering it into a pile of wood with staples in, foam for the bin, blue polyester stuff for the bin and sacking for the compost heap.

I then did tea, fried rice with sweetcorn and crunchy seeds with a slice of yeasteday's pie which the boys loved. Then at 6ish, I asked them if they'd like to watch the Horizon programme about gravity that I'd recorded a few days ago, and my eldest, a physicist at heart, thought this a big treat!

Gill came back and looked almost glamorous with her new hairdo, and finished off the rice and curry from yesterday. I had a couple of sandwiches and got myself ready to go to a LETS meeting. There had been lots of apologies, and only Stephen and Ben turned up, but we had a really good talk. I cycled back with Ben as he lives just round the corner from us, and he asked if I was in a hurry as he had a friend who was moving to Germany who wanted to give him a few bags of unwanted goods, and Ben needed to use my trailer to get them back to his place to get them on Freecycle, which he helps administer. So I loaded up the cycle trailer... and Ben said there was a webcam and mic in amongst the load, which would potentially be good for me to use for Skype which I'd like to try out.

Came back to Gill who was engrossed in the Attenborough programme about reptiles and amphibians. Later, I recorded the third installment of Atom, so I can watch it with my 10 year old.

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Sunday 3rd February 08

Quite a late morning, but after breakfast I went to the lottie to do more tidying and to pick up my seed potatoes and veg seeds. I rejoined the allotment shop society, and was told I had 30% off any purchases as I'd helped build it! I bought some garlic too.

Then I went to do my Green Party leaflet delivery, part of the Fishergate Ward Newsletter, on Heslington Road and some of the roads off it.

Got back home just after 1pm, had lunch and did some sorting of the conservatory... got out my rotary compost sifter out for the first time and sifted the soil from last year's tomatoes and peppers. This 'spent' soil will be put on top of the raised beds in the garden which have sunk down a bit. Got quite a lot done, then at 3, Simon came round to sort out the broadband. Got it going again, then eventually got the security put on so no-one else can use it. However, then discovered that I could not send emails on it... The Phone Co-op has given me a different IP Address which tiscali won't allow emails to be sent from. There doesn't seem to be a problem recieving them... but I did go on the Tiscali website to see if this could be sorted out.

When Simon went I did another hour in the garden, finishing off the soil sifting and putting the kit away.

Saturday, 2 February 2008

Saturday 2nd February 08

Not that brilliant a day as Gill mentioned homework to the boys and there was an outburst of anger and very difficult to cope with behaviour.

I went to the allotment and did more bramble removal, digging up the roots of invaders.

When I came back I planted the raspberries that Aunty Lizzy sent, there were 33 of them, and I put them into the circular bed at the bottom of the garden which is quite shady, but raspberries will cope with that kind of situation, whereas other things I've tried to grow there have not done very well.

Baked potato for tea, the Heslington-grown ones from Martin's, very tasty. Richard thought they would be 'Estima' but the name wasn't on the sack.

Quiet evening. Did a load of fruit peeling and slicing for drying, and watched a bit of telly with Gilly.

Friday, 1 February 2008

Friday 1st February 08

I took the boys to school to reduce the possibility of them doing anything problematical... and they were perfectly behaved!

A reasonably good day, did a lot of stuff inside as the weather was very windy... one of my logpiles blew over so I had to tidy that up, but did some tidying in the conservatory and hoovering and washing up whilst Gill was at Art.

After lunch I cannot remember what we did but we both went to school to visit the teachers about the pressure our son is under, or puts himself under, and they reassured us and him that everything would be ok.

I went to Cycle Heaven after that for fixing my light but didn't go on the Critical Mass cycle ride as the weather was horrible and I hadn't got home for tea in time....

Simon came round in the evening to try to fix my broadband connection but in the end we (he) couldn't do it. We got as far as getting it working and broadcasting to my computer, Simon even tested the speed of the connection. However, I then mentioned security, so he tried to put a security password on it and it wouldn't work after that. He left saying he'd help me out later during the weekend, and could I pay him Yorkys? His son is having piano lessons with a LETS member, so he'd be very happy with some Yorky renumeration!