Friday, 31 October 2008

Friday 31st October 08

Got up between 8 and 9 and lit the stove from the embers of last night, to give a little bit of extra heat to the two 6 gallon cans of bathwater which have been sitting on it overnight. Then had a shave, bath and hair wash as working this afternoon.

The gig went OK.... not an easy one as it was in a nursery, based at the DEFRA buildings alongside the River Foss. So lots of very young children, too young really to enjoy my show to the full, but still plenty of enthusiasm and participation. After the circus show they had a bit of a dance and then party tea... and I made all of them a balloon model.

Was back soon after 4pm, via Country Fresh, to a relatively peaceful house. Gill had made pumpkin pasties for tonight's party that the boys have been invited to.

Our youngest wasn't feeling very well and I don't like Trick or Treating, and these days I'm not much into parties either, so I stayed in with him and Gill went out with our eldest. They had a lovely time and we had a quiet but fine time.

Thursday, 30 October 2008

Thursday 30th October 08

Gill got me up fairly early as she'd suggested to our child who's had homework set over the half term holidays that he ought to do some today, and he immediately started arguing and kicking off. This is so depressing.

However, things calmed down once I'd come and sat amongst them, but when the subject was raised again with the idea that if he did a bit this morning, he might be able to go and play with a friend this afternoon, the same crap behaviour erupted. He did eventually get down to some, ie researching the shape of some musical notation, a 'rest sign' or something. I tried to help him with a couple of Google searches but he is so incredibly resistant to being helped. We are in a difficult situation, with not being allowed to help and him not knowing how to find the info but not accepting help.

After lunch, Gill went out and I sorted pumpkin seeds from the flesh by putting the whole lot in a bowl of water, and taking the floating seeds off the top and popping them on sheets of paper to dry off.

The boys played nicely but as soon as Gill came back they kicked off again! Why is this? We had a nice tea... lasagna which used some of the pumpkin soup, and was delicious.

Barry Potter came as arranged at 7pm to pick up my large fruit press and apple crusher prior to his orchard event on Sunday, and I invited him in to see the stoves which were going at full tilt, as the weather is very cold so we've got both running. He was impressed and perhaps a little closer to getting his own stove, something he's been preparing for for a little while...

I went out a few minutes later, to go to the York in Transition visioning meeting at The Stables. Laura Potts, an experienced 'green' and facilitator had agreed to help us find common ground and look at ways forward for the group. It was a good meeting... I think we did move forward and I met a nice guy called Ian whom I hope to meet again.

Home just before 10pm and the house was lovely and warm, smelling of apples and pumpkins.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Wednesday 29th October 08

Cuddly morning. Didn't get dressed til lunchtime.. the family had gone out to town by bus to get some clothes as the boys keep growing and not wearing them out but outgrowing them. They actually came back with a book, some material and stuff for a costume!

I got a phone call from Cycle Heaven saying Gill's bike wouldn't be ready til about 4pm, not 2 as was suggested yesterday, so I spent some time in the garden, tidying up frosted nasturtiums and picking off seeds and young flowerbuds for pickling. I've not pickled nasturtium buds yet, but since capers are flower buds, I'm trying nasturtium buds! The seeds are great, a lovely hot taste, good for pizzas and making bland grain dishes more interesting.

At 4 went to Cycle Heaven to pick up my bike with new, improved brakes (the disc-brake pads needed replacing) and Gill's which had been serviced. Also got two pairs of LED lights for the boys, as we're going out tonight.

So a bit of a rush to put the lights on their bikes, and a quick bowl of pumpkin soup which was very good, and left for St Nicks at about 5.20... picking up Maria's son on the way. The event was a York Rotters Pumpkin Evening, with a giant pumpkin competition and a pumpkin carving competition. I had purchased three pumpkins from Country Fresh (grown in Heslington!) and also took my biggest squash to enter into the competition. My little 2.5kg squash was dwarfed by Jo's big pumpkin, which itself was dwarfed by a giant 55kg monster grown by children at Bishopthorpe School... this of course won! The carving went well... loads of competitors / participants which meant loads of seeds for me to take back home to dry and prepare for my muesli. My eldest son won the third prize in the carving competition, which made him happy, and all three of them enjoyed themselves. Got home sometime after 7pm.

A very peaceful and happy evening...

Until, quite late, my laptop screen decied to give up completely, after several days of playing up and not behaving properly.

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Tuesday 28th October 08

Woke up dreaming and had a leisurely morning reading NewScientist about willpower! Very interesting...

At 11ish our friend Maria came round to tell us about her first term as a teacher... much more work than as a biologist at the University! Her son and ours played very happily on the computer, and he stayed for lunch when Maria went back home to do some marking. Whilst Maria was here I made pumpkin soup, this time with a tin of tomatoes in, with the other half of the pumpkin.

I did some work in the garden after lunch, clearing up leaves and other jobettes including emptying the compostumbler and putting the contents in a dalek. At about 4 Gill came out and said that Cycle Heaven had rang and asked me when I was bringing my bike in to have the disc brakes tightened... which I was going to do today but forgot!

So I went in to deliver my bike, plus Gill's which needs a service. I left them both there and came back on a Cycle Heaven replacement bike... I'll collect both the repaired/revamped bikes tomorrow at 2pm.

Gill made a risotto for tea which I added a few pickled walnuts to... tasty!

Later, Gill and I had a game of Scrabble on the board (which I won) but at the same time (whilst Gill was trying to come up with her words) I was playing Scrabble on Facebook and winning there too.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Monday 27th October 08

Woke up soon after 6 thinking about Dexter's artwork and how I'd like it to look, but also with a headache and running nose, so came down and lit the stove off last night's embers and had a hot chocolate and paracetamol.

I didn't go back to bed as intended but mooched around and was generally around as the family got up, and all was happy and pleasent until suddenly it wasn't, with the word 'bored' being bandied around. No-one wanted to go on a cycle ride with me and eventually, after lunch, Gill took them to the Tang Hall Library to find a couple of books each. They get through so many!

I did a little bit of garden work, sawing little logs (with bowsaw), splitting a couple of rounds with my axe and then cutting up a big pile of sticks with secateurs into three potato sacks. These will dry easily and be kindling for future stoves.

Not too bad an evening, although there were several huge outbursts which we took in our stride.

After the children went to bed, I did my paid blog on a good website called Worldometers and draught-excluding snakes, see for today's entry.

Still sniffly this evening, so took it easy, stayed warm.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Sunday 26th October 08

A quiet and relaxing day mostly. Was late getting up, watched Countryfile with Gill whilst the boys had 45 minutes each on the computer. Gill made brownies and a quiche and I did a vast wash up, the only downside of so much home cooking.

Listened to Gardeners Question Time and we giggled to hear a question from a chap with 'just' 18 compost heaps in his garden. After which I went down the garden to add some bags of leaves to my leafmold pile and clear up the old squash vines, pick some bean pods and the last of the sweetcorn.

Finished making the soup started yesterday... added bouillon and herbs and whizzed it up with the handheld blender. Then reheated it on the stove. Gill bought a 20 pence loaf at Scummerfield and made some of it into croutons and that's what we had for tea... pumpkin soup, croutons, broccoli quiche and raw carrot, followed by brownies, fruit and ice cream. Blanched the sweetcorn and peeled the kernels off for tea tomorrow.

I developed a bit of a stuffed-up head and runny nose so went to bed for a couple of hours, but came down for 9pm to see the first installment of the Barbara Cartland dramatisation, as I am curious about her life as we share an ancestor (my middle name is her maiden name), but it didn't grab me that much. Gill loves dramas but I get a bit lost and sometimes find the plot difficult to keep up with. Good acting though.

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Saturday 25th October 08

A very relaxing start to the day but at 10.45 had to get dressed to get on my bike to go into town, to my GPs for a 'flu jab, which I get as I have asthma and I could have a serious illness if I got influenza. So as I'm entitled to a vaccination, I get one every year.

I then went on to Sainsburys for some of their excellent bread and the Building Society to put in a tiny cheque, part of a payment from a gig last weekend, sent to me as a deposit (I never ask for a deposit, but occasionally someone sends one).

Then via Country Fresh to home and lunch. The children were complaining of being bored (!) so Gill and I decided to walk them down to the Castle Museum. We walked down Heslington Road which was a pleasent route, not too busy traffic-wise. However, Gill tripped over a line in the pavement (or something!) and ended up on the ground, but several people stopped to help her up before I got back to her, and within a few minutes she seemed to be ok. So we got to the Museum at 2.45 and spent an hour and a half there. As local residents with a York Card and proof of residence, we get in free. This museum is really good, York's best museum in our combined opinion. It's a museum of everyday life, with period rooms, washing machines and vacuum cleaners, shops and a brilliant cobbled street with a new lighting regime... a 'night-time experience' with thunderstorm, owls, dawn chorus and wake-up calls from 'residents'... a good addition to the experience! We chatted to the toyshop chap and had plenty of sitting down time whilst the kids enjoyed exploring and playing.

I walked back, collecting cans and bottles, whilst the others got the bus. They got back just before me, but I'd found about 30 aluminium cans, three steel cans and two glass bottles, all litter and now set for being recycled. I also found a handful of sweet chestnuts! Foraging rocks!

So a peaceful evening as the children were worn out, a good ploy! Lit both stoves to warm the house up, and blanched another load of grapes. Also cooked up a pumpkin soup (2 onions, chopped and fried in EV olive oil in a large saucepan on the woodstove, 2 sticks of celery, ditto, one half of a big pumpkin de-seeded, skin removed, chopped into chunks and dropped into the pan once the onion/celery was cooked. Added some water which I washed out the last marmite jar with, a cup of red wine and a squirt of balsamic vinegar, topped up with boiling water and simmered for a couple of hours. Tomorrow will whizz it and add herbs.)

Then had a game of Scrabble with Gill which I was lucky to win by one point!

Friday, 24 October 2008

Friday 24th October 08

Cycled into town with Gill, which was lovely... had a hot choc with her and visited the Futon shop to get a cover for the futon Gill got in the summer. Then I went to Cycle Heaven to book both our bikes in for some TLC next week, and I came home via the Thomas's Bread Shop to get their 'Yesterbake' deal which makes life so much cheaper.

Lunch and did a bit of work in the garden before going to get our youngest and was very pleased to see the pumpkin monsters on sale, alongside Green Thumbs Biscuits, which sold out. I couldn't help but buy one called 'Viletta, who loves compost' made with the pumpkin and four pears plus other bits of veg... and two weren't sold so I was given them, so pumpkin soup tomorrow!

Had a peaceful evening still doing the reminiscence artwork prep for Dexter and Ali.

Thursday, 23 October 2008

Thursday 23rd October 08

I took out littlest to school and had a brief chat with the headteacher who popped into the playground when all the children had gone in. I told her I was pleased, very pleased, to see the Japanese Garden had been re-done, with the illegal treated sleepers taken out and replaced with untreated ones. She said that she was the most pleased it had been sorted out... I said I was even happier than her since I'd pointed out the error in the first place and therefore had 'caused' the kerfuffle. I also asked about the site of the new classrooms and it looks very much like they'll be partly on the site of the plot we dug over last year, so Green Thumbs will have to find another place to have a garden. I didn't have time to have another go at getting recycling on the agenda.

Did some more log stacking in the morning before heading off down to town to meet an author called Donna who's got a book about to be published, an autobiography, and we had a hot chocolate at El Piano together for an hour's chat.

After lunch I took my quiet shredder round to Phil's just up the road and helped him feed a pile of pruned out sticks and small branches through it... in return I'll get a small pile of the thicker sticks and a suprise gift, which will be a suprise!

I got our littlest from school and as Gill was out, didn't help with Green Thumbs... but it was OK as they were inside and doing pumpkin monsters, but when I got back Gill was in. I helped scrub potatoes for tea, Gill made a hotpot with a veggiesuet pie crust... lovely!

A good evening, did a lot of washing up to make space for washing and blanching grapes, as I've brought back about 30 punnets of red seedless grapes, which are unsaleable as some of each punnet is going mouldy, although over half of them are fine. Once blanched, to prevent mould, they dry quite quickly in trays on the woodstove and make excellent raisins.

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Wednesday 22nd October 08

I took our youngest to school and came back with four sacks of leaves.

A quiet day in the house mainly... more chores whilst Gill went to Art in Osbaldwick, proudly showing me a lovely 'negative' artwork when she got back. They'd been given a couple of chairs to draw, but had been told to draw everything but the chairs, so the gaps between were there but the chairs themselves were just silhouettes.

Before and after lunch I spent a good long time cutting back this year's fruited loganberry canes and tying in the ones which have grown this year and will fruit next year. This is a tricky job, gloves would make it completely impossible so I used bare hands and secateurs, but quite a few of the tiny prickles and spines found their way into my hands, so I spent a bit of time during the evening chopping them out like I do with splinters, using my very sharp penknife scissors.

Continued with the work I'm doing for Ali's project, which will convert into a 'Dexter' artwork. It's a list of words from my first 40 years, memory joggers. I need about a thousand, so only another 800 to go then!!!

I met up with Julia from Green Thumbs at 3.40 at Country Fresh, so she could buy and take away 20 pumpkins which the youngsters will make into creatures, rather than carve with sharp knives which we think wouldn't be a good idea from a safety point of view. I'm grateful to the guys at Country Fresh for the very reasonable deal on the pumpkins!

A cosy evening with Gill once the boys were in bed, which took time as the homework situation had caused a lot of anger.

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Tuesday 21st October 08

Wowow a lie in!!!!!!!

Actually had a lie-in til just after 9, lucky lucky me... Gill took our little un to school and our eldest is having a day off as his school has staff training today.

A good day, plenty to do, but spent an hour playing Scrabble whilst the woodstove heated water, for washing up. Our youngest was at the theatre this afternoon, so wasn't due back in school until 4.20, so I cycled down there with our eldest, who was pleased to see a couple of his friends who are at a different secondary school.

A filling meal of pasta and squash.

Monday, 20 October 2008

Monday 20th October 08

A good day... took our little one into school and came back via lots of windblown leaves, and filled 3 sacks for the leafmold pile...

I spent the whole day inside, doing a load of washing up and fruit drying whilst Gill went to the dentist again. I spent quite a lot of time playing Scrabble on Facebook, between pots and pans and apple slices.... I must remember to choose a long time for goes as I had a short bit of game with a stranger and it was on a two minute timer, and she forced a win against me as I ran out of time... not really fair, but I've learnt from this! Most of my games are on a 24 hour or 7 day timer... much more civilised!

Gill went to school to fetch our youngest and at 4.20 I went to 'Meet the Teacher' as Parents evening is now called. Our youngest is doing well, good reading and writing scores, maths too, so we're proud of him.

I came back with four large sacks of leaves... the leafmold enclosure is looking pretty full now, but I'll build the sides up with cardboard whilst it sits down a bit!

A toasty evening with a big log on the stove and boys being relatively well behaved. More Scrabble as Gill snoozed... and then did my paid blog on a solution to the 'Credit Crunch'.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

Sunday 19th October 08

Quite an early start, to go into town to help Ali get off back home, so got to the station at about 11 and she got the 11.28, and I came back home.

Tried to use my computer to do a variety of things and and some seemed to have stopped working, which is annoying... but not the blog which I'm happy about.

Had lunch and started to get ready for work. My gig today was a 6yr old's birthday party in the cafe at Rowntree Park... just my circus skills show, no balloons today. As usual, the show went well despite a couple of mistakes... the ceiling is almost too low for me to balance a devilstick on my nose so I had to stoop slightly to do the trick and it is hugely more difficult like that.... but as the trick is a crucial part of the show, I have to do it.... and managed third time around.

After that, went to the Winning Post to get my deposit money back from the Transition event a couple of weekends ago, and came home via Country Fresh to pick up a fairly small dose of compostables.... luckily as I couldn't carry much more!

I had a few minutes relaxation inside before getting changed and went down to the leafmold enclosure to finish digging it out and putting last year's leaves in plastic sacks, so the chicken wire enclosure is ready for this year's harvest. I had already got about 5 sacks of autumn leaves ready for it, so they went straight in, half filling it up. They will bed down to a much smaller volume, and I'll probably be able to put in between 6 to 10 times as many before the enclosure is full.

Did a bit of stacking logs before being called in to have tea and try to help the boys with their homework. I did bathwater fot our youngest and a relatively peaceful evening ensued.

Maria sent me this link
Want one!!!

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Saturday 18th October 08

Quite a busy morning at home, and went to pick up Ali at 10.30, and on the way to St Nicks I (and then Ali too!) stopped to chat to a Corpus Christi Carmelite Nun called Sister Ann, who was working in the Convent garden, and was delighted that I offered to remove a couple of cut branches and invited me to help remove several 'weed' trees (Sycamore) which I hope to make time to do. She said I was a gift from God! I didn't reply to that comment! Then Ali and I rolled along to St Nicks as they were having a 'taster art day', preceding a project called 'Seeing Green' and Ali filmed me explaining about the design of the building and some of the projects that are based there. She interviewed my buddy Martin who just happened to be there, and both John and Ivana who cope really well with my enthusiasm and make the most of it, including today asking me to help move some heavy metalwork which is needed to take the turbine down, as it's having new blades fitted next week.

So then we wheeled up to our house, where Ali was able to just get in, our hallway being just wide enough for her chair, and we had lunch. She filmed me lighting the stove and explaining about the renewable fuels, how efficient the stove is compared to open fires, and the dried fruit and bathwater systems...

After lunch, the boys took her camera down the garden to show how long it is (the garden is very inaccessible... narrow paths, encroaching vegetation, mud etc) and after that I took it down to show my view of it. Then she came outside the front to watch me chainsawing, splitting, stacking and crushing cans ready for taking them to the metal merchant, and Ali filmed lots of this.

Then we all had tea together ; Gill had done vegetable rice and I did some home grown squash on top of this. Gill and Ali had a long chat which was good, I'm glad that they get on so well, as I met Ali at a gig in Sheffield, she's become my friend and now she's become a friend of the family, which is lovely. She is extremely easy to be with and very understanding and friendly. We are all very lucky, I think. During the evening I had a short telephone chat to Ali's daughter who's a massive (5 yr old) fan of Professor Fiddlesticks, which is lovely too.

I put the boys to bed (ie made supper for them, found their PJs, told them to go upstairs before 9pm, switched their lights out) because Ali was interviewing Gill for her film, and they were chatting intensely. I went to get the washing off the line and then we had a game of Scrabble...... I won and Ali came a close second, but Gill was falling asleep by this time and had bad luck with the letters she picked. A good end to a lovely day.

So at 11.30 I walked down towards town with Ali to help her get ready for bed.... and on the way noticed a body lying on the pavement at the bottom of a hedge. I went to investigate and he was snoring (proving he was alive!) and I thought it best to see if he was allright, and tried to wake him up and ask him. He was very groggy but came to and I found out his name and where he lived, and that he did want to go back home. As I was talking to him a chap approached from the other side of the road saying he'd already called an ambulance. He'd seen the chap fall over after staggering around, but hadn't come to his aid. A couple of minutes later the abmbulance came, I briefly gave the driver the details and we continued on our journey.

I helped Ali get her stuff together, which in her own home is easy for her to do, but in an allegedly accessible hotel room is not as easy, and got home for half-past midnight, had a bath and was in bed for before 2am.

Friday 17th October 08

A bit of an argy bargy this morning due to someone not doing his homework... but both boys did go to school and got there on time. I spent the morning with Gill who was feeling very tired, and I went to the Tang Hall Library to take back two books the boys have finished, and pick up another in a series that one of them is reading and had ordered. That'll mean a peaceful weekend with a good book to be immersed in... Melody with her CVS Funding Advice hat on was there, so I slipped on my YorkLETS hat and asked her about funding stuff for the new software... she was excellent and gave me some really good advice.

Home and then cycled down to Counrty Fresh to get some veg for the weekend and then back in time to make sandwiches to take up to New Earswick Quaker Meeting Housefor the AVP NEEM meeting... we usually gather for lunch at midday and the meeting kicks off at 1pm. I chaired and got us through the meeting by 3.30. A good meeting... it's like being amongst old friends (well, I am amongst old Friends, literally, hahahaha) (they won't mind me putting that!) It was a productive meeting anyway, got lots done.

Then zoom home and made up the stove, had a coffee, did a 10 min wash up and zoomed into town to see Ali, who's in York to make a film. She did some filming at the Indian restaurant we ate at and she was happy with what we did.

Home quite late, Gill had had a peaceful evening, thank goodness!

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Thursday 16th October 08

Another early start, although as I'd bought two day's tickets yesterday, I was able to get to the station a few minutes later and go and hop straight on the train. Had a hassle free journey and was picked up by Mary, one of the staff at Paddock School, who visits the station every morning to drop her husband off so she waited for me to arrive at 8.30 and took me the 10 minutes to the school.

I was working with the KS 1 kids today.... reception and infants.... all doing Science Week, mainly stuff about bodies and senses, insects and minibeasts (a visiting animal wrangler with giant millipedes and a snake), this planet and the night sky (a planetarium) and my stuff on how things work, forces etc. So I again did three one hour shows, with very basic sciency info such as push/pull, weight, gravity, friction (explained with stickyness/roughness as opposed to not very slippery!) and gyroscopic forces explained (not!) with 'Derek the Diabolo' and an array of spinning tops and the like. Working with the very young is more difficult as their hand-eye co-ordination is not well developed, and some of the concepts might be a bit difficult, although I did check with the teachers first thing, and they said 'go for it'!

I had a good time with the teachers and other staff, a really lovely 'vibe' in the school. They seemed to enjoy the day too, and I was taken to the station and got the just-before 3 train back home. I stopped by the Building Society on the way home to put my cheque in, and at Country Fresh to pick up a medium box of compostables.

A peaceful evening... I pulled out of two meetings as Gill wanted me to stay in and ensure an easy evening for her, and anyway, I was tired so I was happy to have a quiet evening in.

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Wednesday 15th October 'Blog Action Day'

I had to get up very early as I had to cycle to the station with all my gear to get a train at 7.40 to Huddersfield, to attend Science Week at Paddock School, where I was performing 3 one-hour 'Professor Fiddlesticks Fun Physics' shows for Key Stage 2 children, with circus tricks being used to explain and demonstrate various maths and science subjects. I did 2 before lunch and one after, they all went brilliantly and the audience/participants were wonderful. We all enjoyed ourselves a lot.

I got driven back to the station and was soon on a train back to York, I tried to read my NewScientist but kept on dozing. I cycled into town to visit Craft Basics on Gillygate to replace my peacock feathers which are getting a little ragged because of all the use they've been getting. I also called in to Country Fresh to pick up compostables, got 2 carrier bags and a large box, somehow balanced these on top of the unicycles on the trailer and took them home.

Gill had done some pasta for tea and we had yesterday's soup on top of it as a sauce. Lovely!

I'd been thinking about a Blog Action Day post for this blog, and although it's not about abject poverty but people on low incomes, I want to tell you about a scam which has been directed at me, as a small business owner.

Many businesses are suffering right now and some might be thinking about taking on some extra advertising to drum up more work and generate more income. But beware, entertainers and perhaps some other businesses are at risk of being taken in by a scam which could mean that you lose money, and at these times, no-one can afford to do that.

About 3 months ago I was phoned by a company offering to place an advert for me in a Child Safety Directory. The concept was that the directory would have a load of info in it about lots of child safety issues, such as roads, online safety, 'stranger danger' etc. I said it sounded like a reasonable idea and I might consider placing an advert in it. I asked them to send me the paperwork, a sample booklet and advertisers rates. Nothing came and I forgot about it. Then a few weeks later, I got another phone call with a persuasive person telling me that I'd agreed to an advert and the options were £399, £299 or £199... and remember they cover the whole country... I was sure I hadn't agreed to anything, especially as I'd not seen anything in writing, and was careful to not agree to anything, as a verbal agreement can be legally binding.

I have been contacted a couple more times and after the last conversation, got the company address and contact name, and I contacted Trading Standards, aka 'Consumer Direct' (telephone 08454 04 05 06) to discuss this issue. They were able to confirm that there have been many similar scams, aimed at ripping off small businesses who are well-meaning, kind and perhaps just a little gullable.... Their website gives good advice about how anyone can avoid being a victim, lose money, experience identity theft and therefore potentially lose even more money.....

Now this experience, even if I had paid for a non-existant advert, would not have landed me in poverty, but it would have reduced my available income, and once someone has been taken in by this type of scam, their details are sold to other scammers who try to take advantage of them as well. So beware, take care, and be careful.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Tuesday 14th October 08

I took our youngest to school (no cycle helmet hassles this morning!) and then cycled on to Fulford to deliver a confirmation letter to my agent, and on to town to pay a bill, get a cheque for rejoining Garden Organic, get some money for the TV licence, get a key cut for our eldest's school locker, and pick up compostable orange-halves and coffee grounds from Dylan at Millers Yard. Then onto St Nicks who were happy with a layer of oranges on their compost system, picked up the last of the sticks left over from the shredding weeks ago, and home....

A quiet afternoon, doing some kitchen stuff as Gill is taking it easy as she's still feeling rough after her tooth extraction.

I picked up our youngest, and much later on I did a blog post on Community Care for Blog Action Day, on a couple of local schemes which may help alleviate poverty.

Monday, 13 October 2008

Monday 13th October 08

Got downstairs at 8ish and our eldest was growling his way through his homework.
I took our youngest to school, and when I got home Gill was getting ready to go and have her tooth extracted, to prevent the re-occurrence of the abscess. I lit the stove so I could dry a load of fruit...

I spent quite a bit of time looking through information about cycle helmets, following the comment (last Friday) from Richard Keatinge about why he and his children don't wear them. I have learned a lot about this contentious subject, and hope that more research is undertaken.

We had a good afternoon talking to Paul, another new contact, and then at 3 went to pick up our little one.... coming back via the logpile and arriving at home with another 60 or 80 kilos...

As all was well after school, I popped down to St Nicks to help clear up some mess made over the weekend when someone threw a load of sticks around which I'd piled up to slowly take home bit by bit. I took one load home and put the rest into the St Nicks compound so that some of their volunteers can chop it all up for their stove...

Then came home and a very peaceful evening progressed, although Gill was feeling ill she boiled some home grown potatoes and broccoli, and created a nutloaf. I chatted with the boys, and as was finding some music to become a soundtrack to Ali's film, they took an interest in that.
These are some of my favourite tracks/bands:

Orbital: and (Gill and I were at this gig!)
Ozric Tentacles, for instance:
Spacemen 3:
Ultramarine, (not my fave track/album which I cannot find on Youtube)
Eatstatic and
The Orb see: and
KLF see, for instance: and
Peter Tosh and my favourite PT song:
and Tosh soundalike Lucky Dube: and
Pink Floyd, my fave album is Obscured by Clouds, which is soundtrack to a film called La Valee:
Deep Purple:

and that's just a start... I have a vast music collection and this only just scratches the surface.
I haven't had time to find Human League, Kraftwerk, Bonzo Dog Doodah Band, Small Faces, Beatles, Black Uhuru, Yello, Frank Chickens, Big Audio Dynamite, Blondie, Gong, Steve Hillage, Steve Miller, Gary Numan, Donna Summer, Chaka Khan, Brian Eno, Talking Heads, Rolling Stones, Roxy Music, all sorts of Break Dance/Hip Hop stuff, a smattering of classical such as Carl Orf's Carmina Burana and Mussorgsky's Pictures At An Exhibition (best version by Tomita) and thousands more, literally. I used to LOVE music and it still means a heck of a lot.... although when I listen now, the shivers don't go up and down my spine as they used to...

So the boys were fascinated to see/hear some of my favourite 'retro' life, which they know nothing of, as ever since we moved here, I've never got my turntable plugged into the amp, and then a couple of years after moving here, one child dropped a pot of paint onto the amp so that it no longer works. I really ought to get it all wired up again. So for 7 years, I've only listened to my tape collection and a few CDs, and the radio. The hundreds of vinyl records have just sat there.... which is a pity really as it's a varied and eclectic couple of bookshelf's full...

A very pleasant evening! Included a good phone chat with my parents and two Scrabble games on Facebook with two of my friends..

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Sunday 12th October 08

A good slow start to the day. Peaceful.

Then lunch and got myself ready to go to work... loaded my bike trailer with jugglestuff and unicycles, and my backpack with costume, balloons and training unicycles.

Headed for the station and on to Starbeck, walked up past my favourite stove shop to the Methodist Church where I did a Circus show and balloon model workshop with a bunch of 20+ children, a few of whom were autistic or learning disabled. The birthday party went really well and shortly after 5 I was finished, got paid and headed back to the station.

Once back in York I cycled past Country Fresh where Richard had left me a box of gunk for sticking on the heap tomorrow. Glad that he's back... he's had a fortnight off and I've missed him and his amazing ability to sort the shop's recyclables out and reduce the amount stuff going in the bin.

Popped in on Deb on the way back, met her new friend Teff, had a quick chat and got home where Gill had had a tough day, attempting to get the children to do homework. My first words when I got in didn't help, but things settled down again. I had tea, reheated on the woodstove, and was quiet and tried not to interfere with anyone or anything...

The evening therefore was peaceful too.

Saturday, 11 October 2008

Saturday 11th October 08

Bit of a manic morning including taking my large galvanised bath down to St Nicks on the bike trailer so that apples could be easily washed before cutting in two, removal of major mouldy bits, popping in the crusher and thence into the press.

My stint there started at just before 1, to help set up the press. Jo arrived and set to with washing loads of apples, many of which were windfalls and therefore had some mud, slugs and bits of grass on. Chad, the new dad with a very cutie baby, took charge of the press when I wasn't around. I did some announcing as I have a loud voice and two stints of apple juggling workshop. Ali came and took some of her film, as she's doing a project for her degree and needed to get some shots of Professor Fiddlesticks in action. My family came too, Gill had some good chats with Ali and the boys borrowed Gill's digi camera and did some filming, which when downloaded onto their computer caused great hilarity.

When it officially finished at 4, there were still loads of apples to be processed and some people were intent on continuing to make more apple juice, and asked me to help... so I did but made my excuses and got away at 4.30, came home, got changed, held the fort when Gill went to get some goat's milk for our youngest who prefers this, and then bombed into town to meet up with Ali who needed to talk me through her film project. We met in Borders and her carer went to the station, and we went to City Screen for a drink, something to eat and a good chat. She created a kind of storyboard which was cool! I have to contact my friend Dexter and Kate Lock as they could feature...

Then for 7.40ish we went to the station where Ali was booked onto the train and I was home by soon after 8, to witness the boys larking around on their computer hooting wildly at the film and stills they'd taken. We stopped them though so they could come and watch a programme on the 50th anniversary of Blue Peter, after which they quickly went to bed.

Gill and I had a good game of Scrabble. I only just won.

Friday, 10 October 2008

Friday 10th October 08

I took my youngest into school, not without incident though. He's been wearing a cycle helmet since he was put on a bike, at less than a year old and the whole family wear them as a normal thing to do. So why was it this morning that our little darling started to have an issue with the straps? They are not tight but he pulled them too loose, so that the helmet might come off his cranium if he were to fall off his bike or be knocked off. I tightened them, not overly so, just so they stopped the helmet slipping, and a huge paddy ensued! Oh the joys of parenthood! I just love it!

Gill is still unwell with toothache and yesterday fell down the stairs so she spent some of the morning in bed.

However, during the afternoon she got up and made some pastry for a pie for tea, I did a small amount of leafmould removal from last year's pile, digging it up and crumbling the lumps into garden refuse sacks where it will reside for another year before riddling and adding to potting media. All I have to do to know it's worth it is to eat a tomato from the vines in the conservatory... so tasty and delicious, and the only financial cost is the seeds, and they come cheap due to my having an allotment and the lottie holders can make an order for seeds, onion sets and potatoes.

I picked up our little one who had forgotten his weird ten minutes of hating the straps on his cycle helmet and came home via the logpile. I did some chainsawing whilst the kids played 'Spore' on the computer, making creatures and engaging in online battles with other Spore users... However they fell out for some reason, probably as they are sharing an account and disagreed over whether or not to spend or save some 'Sporebucks'. Gill and I threatened to prevent them using the computer over the weekend if the fighting didn't stop... and predictably they started to get on!

Gill made a veg pie for tea with home grown potatoes and tinned sweetcorn. We all watched Mastermind and Gardener's World, and then I went to get a bag of electrical flex which I'd pulled out of a skip a few days ago, as I wanted to strip the insulation off to retrieve the copper wire for recycling. I do this with a craft-knife blade which can be carefully run down the length of the wire, which enables the metal to be pulled out. Both boys were intrigued by the growing pile of copper wire and asked if they could play with it and make sculptures... so the rest of the evening til nearly 10pm was spent with copper wire sculpture making. Gill made a dragonfly and the boys made glasses, funny animals, an umbrella and several others. It was lovely! Even after the sculptures were made there was still lots of wire left for recycling, and I hope the boys will keep one creation each as a memento.

A busy evening followed.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Thursday 9th October 08

I took our youngest to school and came back via a logpile and therefore with a big load of dry and ready-to-cut logs...

Spent a couple of hours chatting to Gill who seems to be slowly recovering from her tooth abcess, and did emails and writing. I have been asked by BBC Radio York to do a piece on reducing food waste for their website, so this took an hour or so. Then went out to wrangle logs... excellent!

Lit the stove as a child needs a bath. Enjoyed my lunch, my good mood seems to have reappeared, thank goodness! This was compounded by a phone call from ITV 'Britain's Got Talent' as I'd been spotted on the local news unicycling at Harrogate Car-Free-Day, and the ITV lass invited me to apply to be on Britain's Got Talent. I haven't seen this programme so she explained what happens, and I asked her opinion about whether she thought my show/skills etc was suitable for the expected 3-minute format. Once I'd put the phone down I couldn't stop giggling about this... I found it absolutely hilarious to think of going on the show. But I've decided not to bother. My entertainment career doesn't need any help, I don't want to win any money and it sounds like a bit of a bear-pit audience-wise. But it was good to be asked!

Went down to school at 3.15 to help out with Green Thumbs... I took a group of 6 or 7 kids and about 10 ceramic pots which had been painted by children last week, showed them why a crock was needed over the hole in the base (they went to find stones etc for this and placed them in) and used compost from the planters which have had crops growing in them all summer to half fill these pretty pots. Then they placed 3 or 4 Narcissus bulbs in each pot and filled them up to the top with more growing medium. Then they watered them and that was the 45 minutes taken up, and I cycled home via the logpile I've recently discovered, near some new development where some trees have been taken down.

I had a brief time at home and then went into town to meet a friend and had an interesting evening, we ate at El Piano and walked down to the Millennium Bridge and then up to the Youth Hostel. I've learned quite a lot about historical re-enactment, and how in the 'Dark Ages' people had to make their own clothes and cutlery (for instance) and this means that objects were valued more than in today's society, and being in a re-enactment group helps you learn skills which in a 'greener' world, we'd be doing more, not just relying on being able to buy stuff so easily and replace stuff if it goes wrong or breaks. I'd never thought of this 'by-product' of being a re-enactor. Infact I'd not given much thought to the whole re-enactment scene at all!

On the way back to home after the pubs shut I picked up four huge sacks of leaves which had been tidied up from roads (I think!) and just left for the binmen to pick up... so my leafmould pile 2008 is starting today.

Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Weds 8th October 08

I took our youngest into school as usual and then went into town to go to the Building Society.

Gill isn't well and went to see her medics and when I came back she also came in and went to bed.

Registered to participate in Blog Action Day on 15th October. I will try to write two blogs on poverty, one in this blog and one in John's Weird World on Community Care.

If you have a blog and want to participate, go to

I went to get our little one from school, and for tea heated up the last of the carrot soup with pasta, and one had a pastie, the other an egg sandwich followed by fruit. I had forgotten that St Nicks were sending their electric vehicle to pick up my fruit press and crusher, to do Apple Day on Saturday...

The usual nonsense in the evening with homework sparking off outbursts, tears, one child striking the other.

Once the children were in bed we had a quiet cosy evening and enjoyed watching Paul Merton exploring India (Channel 5) after which I had a good skype chat with a friend who wants to do a short film about my low carbon lifestyle and activism as part of her degree. It needs lots of planning.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Tuesday 7th October 08

One of the things I did today was to attend the protest/support group at the Magistrates Courts where the 'Drax 29' were starting their court case. I didn't stay long but it was good to be able to meet some of them and thank them for their courage.

I did do many other things today but I don't feel like blogging. S'pose there's a first time for everything!

Monday 6th October 08

I took our youngest into school and came back collecting loads of cans from a verge on Windmill Lane which had been strimmed but the strimming had revealed all the litter that had been lobbed during the summer... I collected just the cans, plastic bottles and glass, mostly to put in the council recycling box but the aluminium cans I collect up, flatten and sell when I have enough.

Then spent the morning with Gilly doing various catch-up stuff, paperwork, phone calls, washing up, finally whizzed the dried red pepper that I've been drying for ages and put the powder through a seive to give me a large jar of sweet red pepper paprika plus another jar of tiny shards of dried red pepper... too large to go through the seive but small enough to go in soups and stews..... a lovely addition, really tasty, and made entirely from thrown-out peppers which were unsaleable as they had a blemish or rotten bit. This is easily removed for composting, the rest is cut into strips and dried on the woodstove.

During the afternoon I made some carrot soup, did a little logsplitting and collected our son from school.

LETS meeting in the evening, Ben chaired and we got a lot done, including discussing the LETSLINK UK offer of software and our new advertising poster. Good social afterwards. I took minutes and when I got home typed them up and sent them out.

Monday, 6 October 2008

Sunday 5th October 08

Very busy day at Beverley Food Festival, did an announcement just before the opening ceremony and then started my Fiddlesticks stuff, did a 10am to 12.15 slot. I had a constant companion who did lots of activities and kept on coming back to do more. I don't usually name children in this blog but Celiene has asked to appear 'in print' as she was proud of her progress and perseverence, and so was I. I think she'll do well in the field of circus if she keeps up the practice. Her company made my day.

I did another Fiddlesticks hour after lunch and at 2pm made my way to the Market Cross to deliver a talk on composting to children... but the advertising hadn't been that good and no-one turned up. A group of Morris dancers came on and I did another composting talk after that, with 7 children who all knew quite a lot about recycling and composting which was good... I asked questions and they knew most of the answers! I went back to do another 30 mins devilstick workshops before going for my bus soon after 4pm.

Glad to get home!

Saturday 4th October 08

Very busy day, up early and made tracks for Bempton station where the 9am train was on time, changed at Seamer and got back to York in time for a bus which got me into the house for just after 11am. At 11.40, Mike the photographer came, as agreed, and took a load of pics to send to the Ecologist, to go with a profile that Sam the journalist has prepared.

Then a quick lunch and soon after 1pm, set out in Fiddlesticks costume on the bike (good to be back!) and arrived at St John's where Sibs was having a meeting and I was due to entertain the children. They are a great organisation, providing services for the siblings (brothers and sisters) of disabled children. I did a shortened show followed by a workshop which seemed to go well.

Back home for a brief tea and then caught the bus to Beverley so I could attend the Beverley Food Festival as Prof Fiddlesticks AND John the Rotter tomorrow. As there's no public transport on a Sunday morning, I have to go and spend the night in a pub, the Cross Keys,... not drinking the night away but in a room for £25 B+B. Did have a pint though, and read nearly a whole NewScientist!

Friday 3rd October 08

Such a windy day today that couldn't help but revisit the beach below the lighthouse at Flamborough Head, HUGE waves, absolutely hypnotic and transfixing. Managed to delete a load of emails, making about 1000 out of my inbox, down to just over 2000 in there now! Also did some more writing...

Thursday 2nd October 08

Lots of writing today, but did have a walk in the late afternoon when the weather allowed to the lighthouse, discovered the beach below with waves crashing up into the surrounding cliffs, so very impressive!

Wednesday 1st October 08

Today a walk from Flamborough to the south end of Bempton Cliffs, and then North to the best bits of the cliffs with Gannet colonies. Impressive and beautiful. Then walked into Bempton and along the road back to Flamborough, about 8 miles walk.

Tuesday 30th September 08

As well as some writing, walked to Thornwick Camp and went on their computer to download 'tiscali webmail' to deal with any urgent emails... there were a couple I needed to reply to. Then walked on to the coastal path and round to the lighthouse. More writing, and deleting some of the several thousand emails in my inbox, and putting a few in folders for future reference...

Sunday, 5 October 2008

Monday 29th September 08

Today walked to Bridlington... started at Flamborough Church where I saw a couple of very impressive plants in someone's front garden, and whilst admiring them, the owner popped up and told me what they were Echium pininana and gave me a couple of seedlings and told me to pick some seed... Excellent!
Walked along the cliff top until Dane's Dyke and then dropped down to the beach and walked along to Brid, where visited a lovely Vegetarian restaurant called Bean There which is under new ownership, good food and friendly people. Caught a bus back.

Sunday 28th September 08

Walked to South Landing and along the cliff tops to nearly as far as the lighthouse. Found a skip which had a load of vegetation in it, including a couple of tomato plants absolutely laden with tiny cherry tomatoes. Couldn't help myself, picked the lot, probably 100 of them, at least a kilo, and bagged them up for use during the week. Why would someone throw these away? Madness prevails, even in deepest East Yorkshire.