Monday, 30 June 2008

Monday 30th June 08

A good morning, the boys were well behaved and I took them to school. I spent a few minutes collecting soil from molehills to add to the compost to help fill the remaining containers.

Home to help Gill with a big clearup, as Gill's sister is coming to stay next week. She said 'dont do any tidying up' but if we didn't, she'd have nowhere to sleep, as the front room is totally full of clutter and my mess, piles of paper etc, so we HAVE to do some clearing up!

I did an hour in the garden too, before lunch.

A pleasant afternoon, but at 3 we both went to school so that we could have a chat with a class teacher and the head... whilst both our boys played outside.

I did lots of tidying outside after this, chainsawing logs, stacking, and had a chilled evening.

Sunday 29th June 08

Slept in til 10ish, which was lovely.

However, got up immediately and got ready to have a day out with the family. We'd seen a piece in the Press about there being an 'Insect Week' event at Wyevale Garden Centre in Poppleton, so as it's on the Number 10 bus route which goes past our house, we decided to get the bus out there to see the display.

We got the after midday bus all the way to Poppleton and wandered round the garden centre.. which when it was Challis's, Gill worked at, and I also worked at the nearby Challis Plant Factory, where lots of little plants came in, and ceramic bowls, and mainly went out with three plants in a bowl... a tall one at the back, a stubby one at one side and a trailing one towards the front. I spent nearly two years there. Anyway, Challis was sold and it became Wyevale. It is a lot more than a garden centre, it sells all sorts of stuff including fish and pond stuff, all sorts of outdoor things.

We asked about the Insect Week display but nobody knew anything about it, however it didn't matter too much as we had an interesting time.

Then walked into Poppleton, and as it was beginning to rain, went to the Lord Collingwood pub for a bite of lunch and a drink. They had run out of the vegetarian option for lunch so we just had a portion of chips each and I had a perry (seemingly now called 'pear cider'), Gill had a black coffee and the boys had a fruit juice. We ate in the garden, under an umbrella on a picnic bench in the rain, and had a sandwich too, which we'd brought with us. It was a good little trip out, and we all enjoyed it.

I popped down to Country Fresh immediately we got back, before the shop closed, and bought some veg and picked up a box and a sack of compostables. Richard reminded me about the Falling Spikes gig tonight in the Edinburgh Arms.

When I got back, Gill asked me to go to the Co-op to buy some bread and dairy stuff, and when I got back there was a phone call from K, which was inconvenient. The children were playing havoc during this and when I came off the phone, I went into the room they were in and asked them to please be a bit more respectful towards their mother, whom they were disobeying and ignoring. One of my boys was very angry with me and when I went towards him to tell him to calm down and behave, BLOG CENSORED Parenting is not fun at the moment and our children don't often think about how they affect us. The initial fuss was apparently about homework which we want them to do and they do not want to do.

I went outside to let things calm down, and spent an hour weeding the front garden whilst thinking about how I could respond better to my son, and how to be a better parent generally. When I came back in, all was reasonably calm and I was able to tell my boys that I wasn't happy with my response to CENSORED, and I didn't respect myself for my reaction, nor their behaviour towards their mother or me. I apologised to Gill too, as I should really let her sort out the boys by herself if they are playing up... I shouldn't wade in and try to protect her. But it breaks my heart to hear/see her being treated so shabbily and I find it just about impossible to not come in and try to help her. Very difficult. What I'm supposed to do is to come in and ask her if she wants any help.

I had something to eat and did some computery stuff and at 9.30 went to the Edinburgh Arms to arrive just in time to catch The Falling Spikes do a brilliant set, an hour of loud multilayered guitars, 60s-style synth, drums and vocal... reminiscent of my favourite band, Spacemen 3. My friends Rich, Ivana, Dave and Andrew were there, and I chatted with a friendly woman called Tonya. Had one pint of cider.

Home just after 11, spent some time with Gill and at midnight, had a chat on Skype with K which helped us with our differences and difficulties.

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Saturday 28th June 08

Sheffield Green Fair, 11 til 5.

I did a good 'busk' show, a timetabled show and an indoor balloon show.
Lots of family members turned up, was lovely.

Went back to the folks afterwards for a bowl of soup, sandwich and look round the house and garden which is coming together well.

Got the 18.48 train back and was back home by 8pm, with a box and a sack of compostables too!

Game of Scrabble with Gill late on... I won.

Friday, 27 June 2008

Friday 27th June 08

I got up early and had a bath and hair wash in last-night's hot water off the stove. Then took the children to school.

Thursday 26th June 08

Another day... I took the boyos to school and Gill headed off to Leeds again. I went through town with a delivery of compost for Jo my cycle shop friend, who has a lovely little garden with lots of plants in pots and 3 raised beds crying out for something to fill them. She's collected several sacks of soil, and will mix it with the compost and use that.

I then cycled to school with four sacks of soil/compost/leafmold mix to fill the small planters... and although they are small, the four sacks of growing medium only filled three out of the six pots. Julia agreed that I should make up another batch to fill the last lot of pots!

As I was doing Green Thumbs, the lovely Melody agreed to take my boys for the hour and I'd pick them up later. However Gill arrived after her Leeds day to collect them, but I sent her home as I knew it would be easier for her to be at home by herself to sort out tea rather than have the boys around, and I brought them back once they'd had their play with Melody's child.

After tea I had a York Green Festival meeting, collected the Space 109 keys first and and less than 10 people turned up, but we had a good meeting.

We finished before 10 and I decided not to go to the local hostelry as I had stuff to do at home...

Wednesday, 25 June 2008

Wednesday 25th June 08

Gill got me up at 8 so I could take the boys into school and soon after I got back she went to Leeds as she had an appointment there. I finally got the time and space to do my Community Care blog, this time on 'Transition Initiatives', after which I went into town and did a little round-trip including, at 1pm, an appointment with Jacqui Warren, York's new Sustainability Officer. Spent 45 minutes with her and came home via Sainsburys and Country Fresh, getting home in good time to go to school.


CENSORED before coming home with my two and one other boy... who all went down the garden to play whilst I prepared tea... pasta and broccoli with a slice of quiche from yesterday. Gill had got in and gone to bed, feeling grotty, so I looked after the kids for most of the evening.

I had seen the comment left on yesterday's blog post by Annabel about parenting skills, and I raised the issue with my son who had initially refused to consider going to Ripon on Sunday. I told him I'd asked for help over the internet and had got some advice, and that if he wanted me to read it to him, I would, but that he would be going to Ripon with me on Sunday. He was happy not to hear the message read out, and agreed to come to Ripon, so thank you Annabel for encouraging me to try again!

Tuesday 24th June 08

I took the children into school.

Didn't do anything much today other than housework and sorting things out, tidying, some cutting and shredding of branches blown down on Sunday. Gill went to town. In the afternoon I got the children back from school, in two journeys, well four actually, one at 3.15 (there and back) and the other at 4.15 after his Yoga class.

I invited my eldest to come with me next Sunday to the farm which is to be the Northern Green Gathering site, near Ripon... a bit of an adventure... and he said no (using more words and raised voice). I thought he'd jump at the idea of a trip out with me... shows once again how difficult parenting is with a child who doesn't want to do anything. I wasn't like that, I loved going places and doing new things, but I'm not going to force him to come, but it also means that the family probably won't come with me to the event in August. Gill suggested he go to check out the place and report back to her to help her decide whether to go or not.

I escaped from the bad atmosphere by getting into the garden. When I came in I got an apology for the shouting.

After they were in bed, Gill and I played Scrabble, I won partly because I put down 3 words which cleared my rack, Blunter for 76, Springer for 71 and Wefting for 86. Not an easy game for Gilly.

Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Monday 23rd June 08

A relatively easy day! Spent the morning doing paperwork... writing letters and sending cheques to people, also sent a huge bag of dried fruit to my Sis who's requested some as healthy snack material, as have two of her workmates. I sent it first class, signed for, which cost £9, but I want it to get to her quickly as it's been a while since she asked me to send some, and signed for so so it actually gets to her! The signed for was only an extra 70p, and wasn't available with the second class postage price...

I got a letter with the dividend in for shopping with the Co-op, as I'm a member, so earned £16 for banking, using their insurance and going to their shop for fair trade tea, cereals, hommous and Lambrini!

Cannot remember where the afternoon went but at 3pm I went to get the little darlings, and soon after we got home, I played with the lego with them in the garden, under an apple tree, on a play-sheet thing Gill got to prevent little plastic bits going into the grass. I made a wheeled buggy with wings and a horse's head, helped by my lego-mad 10 year old. Gill made tea and I had this whilst downloading emails and getting ready for this evening's meeting, which is on York becoming a 'Transition Town', which I support wholeheartedly. The meeting was at St Nicks and was well attended and fruitful.

I collected a load of blown-down branches on the way home at 9.15, and went down Windmill Lane to pick up more before I came in just after 10. I will spend some time later this week shredding the twiggy bits and breaking up or cutting up the thick bits for drying for the woodpiles....

An early night.

Monday, 23 June 2008

Sunday 22nd June 08

Another day working... the second day at the CTC rally on the Racecourse. It was very windy and I didn't get to the Minster for the big cycle ride from there to the Knavesmire, but I got to the Knavesmire at the same time as the cyclists, at 10am, and I 'set up shop' and got going with the unicycle workshops. I had a visit from a girl who spent lots of time with me last year, now 10 and still unicycling and turning heads, as it's quite unusual to see such a small person unicycling around! She spent most of the day with me, using both of my kids unicycles (not at the same time!) and helping other children too, which was nice.

I was also joined by a tall 19 year-old chap, who had a few goes on a couple of activities (devilstick, juggling, unicycle, balloon modelling) but did a lot of just standing around watching, so I got several chances to chat to him. College dropout, jobless but hoping to work in a bar, but he was pleasant. Before lunch, my unicycle pedal broke off (the second of the pair, one of which broke last Tuesday!) he either offered or I asked him to go and get a replacement. I gave him a £20 note plus the unicycle and said 'hope to see you soon, or if I don't, you've got yourself a free top-of-the-range unicycle plus £20'. He assured me he'd come back, and soon he did, with a new pedal fixed on and the other of the pair in his hand, plus £16 change.

I took 10 mins off for lunch (sandwiches) and then continued full-on til 3.30, with the wind getting stronger and stronger. My hat kept on blowing off, and then I remembered that I'd found a large elastic band a while ago on the ground, picked it up and put it on my tri-bars... so I put this on my hat and it held it firmly on my head for the rest of the day. However the wind did more damage than blowing my hat off... the event was sponsored by Nokia and they had a large marquee with two large screens in it... the marquee blew down, smashing both screens (I was told) and causing thousands of pounds-worth of damage....

I got packed up for 4pm and went to get paid, was given a coffee at this time too, most welcome.

Lots of branches down on the way home, and something blew into my eye and when i got home it began to really hurt. I tried to wash it out by putting my eye in an egg-cup (bathing it, not taking it out and washing it! lol) but that didn't seem to work. Gill put a patch on it and after tea I cycled cyclops-like along the cycle path to the A+E Department of the York Hospital and presented myself as walking wounded. I waited for an hour and a half, resting my eye but wrote my journal and wrote most of the Community Care column which is due in tomorrow. Then my name was called and after I chatted with the tired young Doc, took my patch off and my eye felt completely normal... how odd! I might have washed it out with the egg-cup trick, but the eye remained hurt and needed to recover. We had a laugh about it and I cycled home, picking up several huge fallen branches on the way so I can shred the twiggy bits and use the sticks as fuel.

Friday, 20 June 2008

Friday 20th June 08

Gill took the boys to school and I got up slowly. I then let Gill sleep for the morning and I did a load of phone calls re Fiddlesticks bookings and preparation for the Northern Green Gathering which is at Lime Tree Farm near Ripon.

Received a comment about the anonymous comment yesterday, from regular reader Annabelecowarrior, a fair comment but once again, if you were a fly on the wall, you'd see how this family works, and there is no way that it is possible to understand that just from what I put in my online journal. As for my son damaging my laptop... what can I do? I left it in a place where he could get at it, I know he suffers terribly from his anger, and regrets it afterwards. Punishing him just makes things worse. I do not want to do anything which exacerbates his negative feelings about himself or increases his anger towards everybody else. He knows he damaged my property, he feels guilty about that. As we do not have lots of toys/gadgets etc, we cannot 'ban him from the X box' (no X Box!) and I'm very loath to put him in his room, grounding him, as this just doesn't work (CENSORED) If someone has no experience of an angry pre-teen, they will just not know how difficult it is. Interestingly, my visitor yesterday was very sympathetic as he has a difficult child who has particular needs and associated behavioural problems. It was good to have that understanding!

Did some gardening in the afternoon... potted up a pepper, a couple of tomatoes, pruned out sideshoots on the big tomatoes, now as tall as me. Then, as usual, all too soon, 3pm came and I had to go to school to pick up the kiddies. Just for once, to appease my critics, I'll tell in more detail than normal what I did re childcare/parenting. My youngest son is very tactile and likes to poke me, push me, and this afternoon I messed around with him, picked him up, gave him piggy-back rides etc. My friend Andy and I chatted, as his daughter and my eldest son are both capable of coming out very late. His daughter came out crying as she'd had a difficult occurrence just before hometime, and so between us we tried to cheer her up. The Green Thumbs Gang stall was in the playground, selling spinach, lettuce, chili plants, and potted marigolds with packets of lettuce seeds. I suggested to Andy's daughter that she come and see the stall (distraction technique) and she fell in love with the marigold/lettuce combo. However it was £2 and Andy only had 60p... so with his permission I lent her the money so she could get the marigold. My eldest son had come out and I took his school bag and asked him to get his lunchbox. Then he wanted to play kickaround with his friends so I asked him to decide whether he should stay and play or come home immediately. He said stay, so I said he could have 10 or 15 minutes, I chatted with a mum and played with my youngest on the climbing equipment.

On the cycle home I chatted to my eldest about his project, which is a pretend business based on coconut products. We had a good conversation. When we got home we continued some conversations about this and other issues. I cooked tea on the woodstove... boiled basmati rice with turmeric, cumin, asafoetidia and home-made sweet paprika, fried the marinaded tofu until tough, as it's nicer that way rather than soft and squidgy, and fried some onions, and grated carrot, added sweetcorn from a tin, peas from the freezer, put the cooked rice with that and added some cubed fresh tomatoes (rescued from the compostables!). So tea, eaten all together, was a bed of rice and veg, marinaded sweet and sour tofu with home-grown oyster mushrooms, garnished with cashew nuts. All of the family loved this and all complimented me on my cooking skills, which was kind of them. Pudding was fruit and ice-cream. Then coffee for Gill and myself and the boys requested a stint on the computer each, we negotiated 40 mins each.

A fairly typical family evening. Bathwater heated on the woodstove, both boys had a bath. I did more apples for drying. I sorted out my sister's bag of dried fruit which she asked for a long time ago. The boys headed for bed. Gill fell asleep and I watched a crap 1970's film.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

Thursday 19th June 08

A busy day... Gill feeling grotty so I took the children to school and came back to do washing up and prepare some food for teatime.

Something on my mind, though. An anonymous comment to this blog arrived yesterday.. the commentator asked me not to reply (publish) so I didn't, but today I have decided to copy and paste the comment into today's post because I think it does deserve a response:

"John, it's none of my business, but reading your blog upsets me. It's all you, you and more you. You're doing gigs, going out to meetings, chatting on skype, composting, etc... You're never doing things with your kids. You're obviously a great bloke and you're doing great things, but your children won't want to be around you when they're teenagers. Why not spend time with them now and ease back on all the other stuff? Don't reply to this - just put in your blog that you played scrabble with your son and not Scrabulous on Facebook."

Well the blog is about my life, not those of my wife or children, and I make sure that I attempt to repsect their privacy as much as I can by not naming the children or going on about them too much. Although I do mention some of the difficult times we are having as parents, I do not go into detail nor do I discuss all of what's going on. I do do things with my children, however, a few days ago I did ask my eldest son if he'd like a game of Scrabble and his answer was 'Why would I?' He doesn't like word games, he doesn't like anything that we suggest at the moment... he's nearly a teenager in many ways, with hormonal changes, self-image issues and a heck of a temper. But he knows that he's loved, as we tell him this often, and demonstrate it regularly, such as not flying off the handle when in a fit of anger he threw this laptop, causing it to have a fault which persists, making it less easy to use. He also tells us that he loves us. I find it very difficult to 'cut back on the other stuff' and why would I want to? I do do things with my children, when they are willing to do so. I try not to force them to do stuff with me which they say they don't want to do... that would surely be counterproductive? I play Scrabble and spend time with my wife, but when she falls asleep in the evening I go on the computer and do allsorts. I don't play Scrabbulous when the kids are around. They are in bed by 9pm-ish and I rarely sleep before 2am. Gill often sleeps in the evening and always gets up early. I would like to be a better parent, hence both going on a parenting course earlier this year. But school says we are good parents and that reassures me that we aren't 'bad' parents. I welcome comments, they make me think and do help me develop as a person. I will try to spend more time with the children, so thank you for reminding me that parenting is hard work and the time to do it is now... they don't remain children for long.

The other thing is that if reading something upsets you... don't read it. No-one makes you read something... it is your choice! I deliberately do not watch scary stuff like horror films or Dr Who because I don't like it, it upsets me. So I either don't switch on, or, in the case of Dr Who, which my family enjoy, I do something different.

At midday I had a visitor from Yellow Tom dot Com who do online advertising... I've had an ad with them for a couple of years and decided to renew, even though my advertising costs use up nearly half of my net profits from Professor Fiddlesticks.. next year I might drop one of the directories as some of them bring in relatively little work.

A late lunch and then got stuff ready for Green Thumbs, including three clear plastic bottles for doing 'compost bottles' to see the process at work. I melted some holes in them for air to get in and juices to get out... and hope they'll work. I have never done them before!

The Green Thumbs Gang session worked well, I demonstrated a compost bottle and then the kids split into two groups and did one each, layering woody/twiggy bits with cardboard and chopped-up apple cores and other fruit waste from the 'Fruit for Schools' scheme which gives youngsters free fruit. I have a plastic bin at school and service this every day, filling one of 3 compost bins... recently the school has started putting used paper towels in as well, and the kitchen staff put carrot peelings etc in my plastic bin as well. This generates 6 to 8 kg a day. The three 'dalek' bins are not really enough, and getting enough dry/brown/carbon rich material is also difficult. So one reason I'm helping with the Green Thumbs is that I hope we'll get a compost tumbler which will allow the fruit-rich mix to drain and mix with air more easily... perhaps next year now!

The second half of the session was planting up more seedlings in the big planters I filled yesterday, and weeding and watering planters already burgeoning with spinach, lettuce and potatoes. One of the other groups withing GTG, the 'sales' people, came to pick some of the lettuce and spinach for our first sale tomorrow afternoon.

Got home at about 5, Gill asked me to go to the veg shop for assorted stuff. We all ate together as a family (something we do do sometimes, but don't feel the need to tell the world every time it happens!) and then at 7.15, went to Derwent College at the University to attend a talk on the future of transport policy in York. A very good presentation from John Barrett from the Stockholm Environment Institute, on Carbon Footprinting and the way in which different transport policies will affect this. Then Simon Bowen from Friends of the Earth talked about solutions to the problem. It finished with a Q+A/discussion and ended at 9... I decided to come home to spend time with Gill rather than go for a drink.

Had a good Skype chat with K at midnight for an hour, once Gill was asleep. I got to bed relatively early, at 1.30am.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Wednesday 18th June 08

A very lazy day... Gill took the boys to school and I spent the rest of the day with Gill, in the house, doing stuff on the computer, paperwork re Fiddlesticks, housework re tidying etc etc.

I picked up the boys plus one friend and I then took two of them to Martial Arts, then down to Country Fresh to pick up recyclables and some food. Home to spend a few minutes in the garden, had tea with the family including all having a large serving of home-grown oyster mushroom which I harvested today.

After the boys were heading for bed, popped down to school to fill the large pots with the soil/compost mix I created last night, ready for Green Thumbs tomorrow. Did this in the rain.

Came home for a game of Scrabble with Gill.

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Tuesday 17th June 08

Quite an early start for me, left the house soon after 8 to get down to the station so I could get to Leeds in time to start work in Bramley by 10am. I just caught an earlier train than I'd expected to, the 8.40 rather than the 8.44, and chatted to a politics student on the journey. When I got to the outside of Leeds station there was a number 16 bus which I hopped on and asked if the driver could tell me where to get off the bus, in Bramley.

My destination was 'Hillside' Refugee Reception Centre, for a funday. The event may be connected with Refugee Week. There were quite a few children there which was good. However it was quite tough as not all of then spoke good English, although I was suprised how many of them did speak English well. Did lots of balloons and towards the end of the day, a circus show. Right at the end of this, my unicycle pedal sheared off which was quite spectacular... Didn't get paid much but they are a charitable organisation and had asked for my lowest fee. Bus back to the station and a fairly quick change onto the York train, and dropped the uni off at Cycle Heaven to get the pedal fixed before bombing home, got in just before the family and spent some good times with them before tea.

After tea, went to school to mix soil with the compost I've already taken down. This will be used to fill the large containers so the children can plant up more of their seedlings.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Monday 16th June 08

Took the children to school.

Spent the morning typing in my paid blog, on 'Peak Oil'... very satisfying to explain this concept.

During the afternoon went to St Nicks and picked up my Big Recycle cheque and then picked up the kids from school, taking 5 sacks of compost down for gardening club. When we got back, went into town and paid in the cheque, plus the Colitis and Crohns cheque and a tax refund. Visited Cycle Heaven as a bracket on my bike had broken, so the front mudguard was loose, and they fixed it there and then, making a new 'custom' bracket for the job. Came back via Country Fresh and picked up 2 boxes of stuff for recycling.

Later, after tea, took 4 large sacks of compost down to school and spread them and the other 5 on a sheet under a tree to dry off a bit, took out some twigs and lumps of bark plus plastic contaminants, ready to mix with soil to fill the remaining containers for Green Thumbs on Thursday.

Had a bath in the evening to wash off the compost so I'm presentable for my gig tomorrow.

Watched 'Ideal' with Gill but it was the last of series 4, and it ended in a rather unsatisfactory way. It's a good programme, very funny and surreal, but quite 'dark' with the humour and this episode was very morbid. Hope that more are made though!

Sunday 15th June 08

Another day working, an early start to get to Museum Gardens by 10, for the Colitis and Crohn's fundraising walk, which left at midday. My two hours of entertainment seemed to go down well and I was back home by 1pm.

Had a quiet afternoon, some time with the boys, some time on my own.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Saturday 14th June 08

After a late night, had a bit of a lie-in before having lunch, having a shower and getting ready to go to work. Cycled along the 'Route 66' cycle path to Rowntrees and then up to Clifton Moor, where the party was. I was first at the church hall, but soon it was opened up and then the partygoers arrived... a lovely little girl, 6 tomorrow, her family and about 15 friends from her class. My shows went well and everybody enjoyed themselves... including me!

Cycled back the same way as I came, picking up some logs from the cycle track and putting them on my pannier rack. Gill had done a nutloaf for tea, after which I went for a lie-down as I don't like Dr. Who, which the rest of the family avidly watch. I came down between 9 and 10 and lit the stove, heated water for washing up, watched a bit of telly, chatted with Ali on Skype whilst doing washing up in short stints. Another late night.

Friday, 13 June 2008

Friday 13th June 08

Leisurely morning, several phone calls including a Fiddlesticks booking, and some time playing Scrabulous on Facebook!

Gill went to Art and came back for lunch, and we had a reasonably relaxing afternoon, although didn't get a lot done apart from washing up.

I went to pick up the boys at 3 and we were ok until one of them rode through some discarded yoghurt that had been left on the field. It flicked up onto his bike which made him very angry, and he had a huge paddy and ran off into the church grounds for about 10 minutes, after which I called to him to come home. He grudgingly came and got on his bike, but as he set off one of his classmates overtook him on her bike, and this set his anger off again, and he shouted at her. I wanted to apologise to the girl and her mum, but my son was now dawdling so I couldn't go on ahead and speak to the aggrieved person.

We did eventually get home, and I had offered to go to the shop after coming back so I cycled off down Heslington Road to Country Fresh, to buy veg, fruit and pick up compostables. When I got back my son immediately came to me and apologised; I told him I loved him regardless. He then went upstairs and Gill took me into the back room and said that she hadn't told me as soon as I'd come in the door that our little boy whom we love so much had just attacked her and thrown my laptop onto the floor in his anger. Gill was very upset and hurt. She told me to see if my computer was working or if the impact had damaged it. When I switched on there was a thick vertical white line or bar on the right of the screen. This persisted through all the windows opening and obscures part of the screen. I am able to use the computer, but I have to move the windows over to the left of the screen to be able to do what I do.

I ate tea quietly, feeling shaken by his behaviour, and the damage to my property, and didn't know whether to say anything to him. After tea I went to the GreenSpeak meeting at Priory St, which was about 'Peak Oil' presented by Andy Chase, who's our candidate in the next General Election. Peak Oil is a very interesting subject, pretty complicated, but I took notes and participated in the discussion afterwards.

Home before 10, did a little bit of gardening before it got dark. Came in to chat with Gill, and she told me about a couple of phone calls... one from my folks about my sister-in-law's dad who's died, and one from my friend Ali in Sheffield who's fallen out of her wheelchair and been to A+E, and is feeling very bruised. Then watched a bit of telly, and then went on the computer to do my blog and chat with K on Skype.

Thursday 12th June 08

A slow start to the morning... I took the boys to school and then slunk back to bed to read and doze, great after late nights.

A good day, and productive evening at a Green Festival meeting.

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Wednesday 11th June 08

Busy day... I took the kids to school and we spent a lot of time phoning Everest to try to get them to come and fix our front door, which will not lock OR be opened from the outside.

Gill stayed in and I cycled into town via Sainsburys and Millers Yard to give in the Planning Panel responses, coming back via Country Fresh to do a pick-up... was only able to pick up half of what there was to be recycled.

Lunch was a little bit of respite from rushing around and doing things. Everest chaps came after lunch, as did my MESOMOCO CIC friend Richard for a chat and tour of the garden.

Gill picked up the boys and I took them to Martial Arts. I then went to Country Fresh again and took part two of the compostables to the lottie, and on the way there met a pleasant young woman called Claire who showed me her allotment. I did the composting jobs and planted a squash and weeded onions and earthed up potatoes. And came home to make a fried egg sandwich with potato salad for tea.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Tuesday 10th June 08

Firstly, would Sabine please ring us again and leave a phone number, or leave a contact email using the comment facility on this blog, I won't publish your details Sabine. Thank you from Gill and John. x

Had a busy day inside mostly... I took the boys to school and then did various research about something I want to write about in my paid blog, and mid morning, went up to Archies to sign a form booking the library quiet room for the Hull Road Ward Planning Panel. On the way out of Archies, my bike suffered a 'catastrophic failure' and the back axel broke. I was due to go up to B+Q to get a sheet of plywood for our youngest son's train layout, but instead came home to ring Cycle Heaven who kindly offered to do a repair after lunch. I then half walked, half gingerly cycled to Bishy Road and they were able to get it sorted... many thanks Ash for swift and expert service. Came home via the body-repair shop place in the Raylor Centre on James St which does welding, as my trailer has suffered another fracture too! What a day!

More research, and the developer of NET.MESOMOCO CIC contacted me to tell me he had a meeting in York tomorrow and could come to see me too. I picked up the boys and then went to pick up my trailer, which was easily fixed.

At 6.15 got myself ready to go to the Hull Road Ward Planning Panel meeting at Archies... but the front door wasn't unlocked for us, nor was the library or the library quiet room, but a cleaner unlocked them for us. A good meeting, quite a lot to do, and we used the whole hour.

Came home and did a bit of work in the garden as it was a lovely evening.

Monday, 9 June 2008

Monday 9th June 08

I took the kids to school and then did some paperwork, then took some of it to Archbishop Holgates School (booking a room for Hull Road Ward Planning Panel) and then to St Nicks (invoice for Saturday) then came home and did housework.

Infact spent most of the day inside, washing up, writing more letters, various other things and all too soon it was 3pm and time for me to go to school and pick up the boys.

However, after we were home I went into the garden and had a bit of time riddling, weeding, turning a heap and generally bumbling round in the sunshine. Gill called me in at about 6 for a 'mix and match' tea and it was delicious. Spent more time outside til after 9pm... and came in to do emails and relax.

Sunday, 8 June 2008

Sunday 8th June 08

A good start to the day, woke up slowly knowing I had no commitments today workwise... so had breakfast and went back to bed for half an hour before going into the garden to process some prunings that Gill produced this morning... some overhanging lilac and invasive holly.

Then came in to have a coffee and watch Countryfile. And then had lunch. And then went back into the garden again. Planted yet more beans and curcubits, and a couple of tomatoes from the BIG Recycle.

A lovely day... ended well too, with a Gill's home-made pizza and later, Jill and Ben came round and gave Gill an old unwanted laptop so she can do emails and the boys can too, plus search the web for homework etc. All Jill and Ben want in return is a load of dried fruit... which reminds me I must send some to my sister who has requested some!

Perhaps with a quieter week I'll find time to sort this out.

Saturday 7th June 08

A slow start to the day, read several NewScientist articles, including one on how social networking sites like Facebook are helping medical advances, by helping people share info etc... very interesting!

At 11ish Gill and the boys went into town and I started to get ready to go to the St Nicks BIG recycle, finding stuff to put on the table for others to take. The idea is that unwanted items are brought to the event and can be taken by people who want them. I took a load of items that I got from Out Of This World when it closed, from the cafe. I got changed into my Fiddlesticks costume and cycled down with my full kit. The gate opened at 1pm and there was a rush for the tables of junk. It is always a popular 'do'. I found three tiny cabbage seedlings, another tomato plant and a few things which I would try to juggle at the 2pm junk juggling challenge. Children were invited to find me items they wanted me to try to juggle, and then pick three of them and challenge me to juggle them. I think I did OK, then did a juggling workshop with traditional juggling balls, which are significantly easier to manipulate. Then at 3pm I did a quick run through of my show. During the day I also answered some composting queries, showing several people the wormeries.

Soon after 4 I left for home and got changed out of my Fiddlesticks clothing and got on Gill's bike to go down to the World Naked Bike Ride which is in York for the third year. I wanted to be relatively anonymous on this, as I get booked by various church groups and conservatives who might not book me if I was seen or photographed naked in a protest. I am not ashamed of going on the ride, nor am I ashamed of my fairly ordinary body, I just want to avoid being on a front page of a newspaper with my face visible! So I ditched the 'Father Christmas on a unicycle' and this time wore a box on my head, which did raise some laughs and comments. There were 83 riders, up from 67 last year, and it was extremely good natured and enjoyable. We ended up in Museum Gardens for a picnic which was a happy social event.

Got home for about 7.30, and after a hot drink, went into the garden to cut hedge and prune shrubs, til just after 9, when Andy Chase the Green Party General Election Candidate came round with a load of leaflets to deliver in Hull Road Ward.

Gill and I had a good game of Scrabble which she won. I then had a good chat with K on Skype which was nice although I was really tired and probably wasn't a good conversationalist...

Friday, 6 June 2008

Friday 6th June 08

A good start to the day as I took the children into school, pushing the broken mountain bike I found a couple of months ago, and then cycled on to Cycle Heaven over the Millennium Bridge. I reported the found bike to the police on the day I found it, and was told that if no-one claimed it, that it would be mine in a month (28 days?) so today I got it repaired. It needed a new gear-mechanism hanger and a few other bits. When I took it in, one of the knowledgeable employees said they had seen the same bike on sale for £70. I had thought it was worth a lot more, as it has disc brakes and suspension and seemed quite chunky.... but anyway, I spent £50 getting it back into working order and it will be suitable for my son or sons when they grow into it....

I went from the bike shop to the Building Society to put a cheque in, and on to the Tax Office to see if an email I got was genuine. After a phone call from that office to another office, it appears that it was a sophisticated 'phishing' email, trying to get my bank details. It didn't succeed as I don't have a credit card, which it asked for to repay some tax overpayment.

And so to home, where I spent a bit of time doing emails and got a message from my St. Nicks friend Katie who wants to come and see my composting ops etc, and will be here at lunchtime.

I did a little bit of logging out the front waiting for her to arrive, and then gave her the tour and shared lunch with her. Good to inspire someone who is early-on in her path to living a low carbon lifestyle.

Soon enough 3pm came and Katie walked into town and I cycled to school to pick up my little boys. Got some nice feedback from the head about last-night's Green Thumb Gang activities, which was good.

Soon after we got home, the rain started and there was an incredibly heavy downpour.

At about 5pm, despite the continuing rain, cycled in to town via Country Fresh, where I dropped off another 4 carrier bags of riddled compost, and onto Mail Box Etc to do some LETS photocopying, and onto Cycle Heaven to pick up the mountain bike... and then to the Minster to meet up with any other Critical Massers... there were only 5 there... probably because of the weather. Two decided to slink off home and four of us went to the Three Legged Mare for a social, drink, and eat. One of the Massers was Jane G from Scarborough, one of my favourite activists... there was also Gillian and Andy D'Ag for company. I enjoyed the garlic olives and 'pear cider' (which I know as 'perry'!) and especially the conversation.

After an hour and a half there, bungeed the mountain bike onto my trailer and cycled to my LETS friend to deliver the photocopying, and then back home, all in the rain.

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Thursday 5th June 08

I took the boys to school and when the children were all in school I turned all 3 compost bins, putting the oldest material in sacks for maturing, the next oldest in the third bin and the recently interred material in the second bin, leaving the first nearly empty for refilling.

Came home for just after 10 and did some stuff around the house before lunch, including getting a message from Green Thumbs Julia saying she is unwell and is not at school, and could I head-up this afternoon's gardening club, and she gave me a list of things to do, well, suggestions! After lunch I sorted out some planting media as one of the things suggested was to plant some more seeds. However when, after school, I facilitated gardening club, we did things like weeding the large pots of veg we planted 3 weeks ago, and digging over some borders, adding rich garden compost and planting some of the veg in which we potted up 2 weeks ago... Someone found a 1906 penny, someone else found a tiny air-gun pellet, and another person found a sheep's molar tooth... We also found worms, a ladybird larva and a beetle. We all had a good time.

I tidied up and got home by 4.45, in time to have some pasta and get my bike ready and my eldest son's bike ready to cycle to the other side of town to attend the briefing meeting of the 'Gifted and Talented Summer School' to which he's been invited. We set off at 5.10 and got to Manor school at 5.40, just half an hour, not bad. Better than the bus, much better. It was a good meeting and my lad is keen to explore Mathematics further as his main topic, so let's hope it isn't too oversubscribed and he loses out in a lottery, which was suggested as a fair way to choose people if there's more applicants than spaces. A good cycle home, took less than half an hour as there's more downhill on the way back! Seems like it, anyway.

I had half an hour in the garden putting a load of stuff in one of my tumblers, before coming in and watching the first part of Big Brother 9 on Channel 4... which Gill and I both enjoyed, and I did washing up followed by a lot of peeling, coring and slicing apples for drying.

Some good late-night chat with K on Skype, getting easier after some differences of opinion and fallings out, but we both want to remain on good terms so both working at it.

Wednesday 4th June 08

Both went down to school with the boys and had a meeting with the head. This was regarding an incident at school yesterday. The teachers and head were very sympathetic and understanding and have come up with some possible solutions.

The rest of the day was quite quiet, and I picked the boys up at hometime.

After school went to Huddersfield to meet up with a group of people all members of the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (of which I'm a member too) to do a talk on 'my version of green', or selected topics re climate change, ethical lifestyles etc etc.

I started by telling them why I did an Environmental Health degree and about finding out about Agenda 21 in the last term, and putting on a talk about LA21 in the last week I was at Leeds Met, and then helping to get York LA21 going and us successfully lobbying City of York Council to employ an LA21 officer. I then told them why I didn't become an EHO... discovering circus skills and going self employed, and my involvement with LETS which led to me getting York Credit Union going.

I then very enthusiastically explained about my involvement with composting and my starting York Rotters, and how my compost toilet led to me working with BBC Newsnight's 'Ethical Man' and how this led to my getting a column and blog in a magazine. Then I said about last year's start-up of CRAG, the Green Festival, and this spring's Oxfam low-carbon-footprint competition with subsequent visit to Hilary Benn and other MPs.

Of course I was able to put lots of extra facts and lifestyle info into this framework, and in the Q and A session afterwards I talked about compost toilets (again!), Energy Performance Certificates, greening your building and a bit more about successful composting and Master Compost groups. The whole thing took nearly an hour. I enjoyed it very much.

I was given a cheque to cover my travelling expenses plus a bit extra, and taken back to the railway station. I got into the house at about 9.30, just in time to see the latest chunk of 'Ideal' on BBC3 which was very funny. After this I prepared a load of cherry tomatoes and red onions (both thrown out by the wholesaler... the onions are sprouting - for me this shows they are alive but it means that some people won't buy them because they're not quite as firm as dormant onions... the tomatoes were in 9 punnets, each punnet having one or two mouldy tomatoes but 7 or 8 good ones!) and made soup on the woodstove, whilst half watching something on the telly with Gill and doing emails and chatting on the computer with two of my friends all at once. I like this kind of productive evening, I find it very difficult to concentrate on just one thing at once, and much prefer to be bobbing around, doing this and that, shifting my concentration from one thing to another. However it can be difficult for some of the people I know who have a different way of 'working best' and are able (or prefer) to concentrate on one thing at a time. But hey, this makes for a diverse world and this is how I like it!

Tuesday 3rd June 08

Day trip to Sheffield. Had a lovely day with Ali, lunch, chats, and then at about 3, rang Gill to see how things were at home, and she asked me to come home asap (I was about to come home anyway) as she'd had a difficult day.

Got home to find out that there'd been some difficulies with one of our sons at school, so we had a less-than-happy evening.

Monday, 2 June 2008

Monday 2nd June 08

Woke with not much time to spare, as due at CVS Priory St Centre at 9.30.... to attend a conference, the first meeting of the Local Infrastructure Organisations Facilities and Buildings Managers Network, all of whom are involved in looking after CVS-type buildings or similar. My talk was directly after lunch and I had been invited to talk about the new Energy Performance Certificates which will have to be displayed on all public access buildings over a certain size (1000m2) from this October. This will mean that there is an 'efficiency rating' for visitors/staff to see on a wall visible to all, such as in an entrance lobby. I had found out about accredited assessors who will work out the efficiency, and then talked a bit about the best ways to make a building more energy efficient, and potential funding for this. I was pleased that many of the people had not heard of EPCs and were interested in how to make their buildings perform better.

I left at about 3pm, didn't attend the last talk, and came home via Millers Yard, picked up 2 sacks of compostables and took them to the lottie.

Gill told me that one of our children had experienced some bullying type behaviour today, we don't know exactly what went on but it is a bit worrying. And difficult to know how to deal with it. The joys of parenting, hey!

After tea, shot down to the LETS meeting at the Seahorse Hotel and enjoyed that, much prepararion for next month's AGM which I'm chairing.

Sunday, 1 June 2008

Sunday 1st June 08

Another excellent day... not too early a start, infact after breakfast I went back to bed to read NewScientist, a treat. Then went on the internet to research energy performance certificates for tomorrow's talk at CVS, whilst watching Countryfile. The research was interesting and I'm glad that I've been asked to do the presentation, as it has forced me to learn something new.

A good lunch, and the rain stopped so I went outside but came back in to listen to Gardeners Question Time and do the washing up. Our eldest got a phone call reminding him that he had been invited to a friend's birthday party in Selby, a swim party.

A good session in the garden, loads of shredding of brambles and hedge cuttings, and planted some squash and beans in the raised bed which I made out of two bay-window radiators, back to back. I decided to remove a lot of brambles from the hedges, as we have enough blackberries and they look untidy. I have rescued a second pair of bay-window radiators, which are even bigger than the first pair... so I'm using that as a compost bin for now but will top it off with loam and plant into it... the warmth will be good to help the squash get going... I'll have some ready in a couple of weeks to go in there.

Gill made a quiche for tea with Jersey Royal potatoes. I spent some time on Facebook and deleting emails..... far too many in my inbox!