Sunday, 30 November 2008

Sunday 30th November 08

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

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

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

Friday, 28 November 2008

Saturday 29th November 08 'Buy Nothing Day'

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

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

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

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

Friday 28th November 08

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Thursday 27th November 08

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Wednesday 26th November 08

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 25th November 08

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 24 November 2008

Monday 24th November 08

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 23 November 2008

Sunday 23rd November 08

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

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

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

Saturday, 22 November 2008

Saturday 22nd November 08

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

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

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

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

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

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

A peaceful evening.

Friday, 21 November 2008

Friday 21st November 08

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday 20th November 08

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Wednesday 19th November 08

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

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

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

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

A relatively peaceful evening... hooray!!!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Tuesday 18th November 08

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, 17 November 2008

Monday 17th November 08

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Sunday 16th November 08

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

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

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

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

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Saturday 15th November 08

A very quiet and nothingy day in many ways. Slept til after 9, and came down to find Gill was putting together a potato and leek soup, so I lit the stove so that could simmer for a couple of hours. The boys were generally well behaved and enjoying the weekend. Gill took the bus into town, failing to persuade either of them to go with her. As our eldest is going on a fieldtrip next week, he needs assorted clothes, such as a coat and shoes, and she came back with various goodies.

I did a little bit of stick chopping and more stacking, and then came in as I was strangely tired. I organised a fun game of 'picture consequences' with the boys but that left me even more exhausted, and when Gill came in I excused myself and went to bed, initially to read NewScientist but fell asleep. Came down for tea, and we all chuckled through 'You've been Framed' and giggled through 'Harry Hill's TV Burp'. And then went up to bed again. But felt the need to come and do some of the washing up and help manage the kids who were now kicking off following a relatively boring day with little activity. Gill doesn't deserve that kind of treatment and with the two of us they don't mess her around as much.

Friday, 14 November 2008

Friday 14th November 08

Got up early and took our youngest to school... and as he was performing in the assembly at 9.15, I'd taken my 'Compost Mate' tool in and I turned the contents of the two dalek bins with the most mature compost in, taking sticks out and making a layer of them on the growing heap, and taking out the inevitable plastic contraries... sweet wrappers, cling film. bits of toy off the playground...

The assembly was lovely, with a time travelling boy (my son!) arriving at the Greeks and then several Greek God stories, all with great costumes and props.... and I took Gill's little camera in and filmed the parts with our boyo in. I would have liked to film the whole thing, but this camera can only do about 5 minutes of moving stuff, so I got the beginning and end. I just hope I've done it right and Gill and the boys have something to watch!

Gill got back from the hospital just after lunchtime with news that she needs to have her gall bladder removed, pretty urgently. This is quite frightening when looking at the long list of possible side effects and things which might go wrong.

I cycled down to school to get our little un and came back in time to go down to Freshways and Country Fresh. I also did a bit of chainsawing today, and splitting some huge rounds which I couldn't split earlier in the year, but today I did an initial chainsaw cut which got the splitting started, and I was able to use the log grenade to split chunks off. Hard work, got very hot.

A quiet evening, boys had a good session on the computer with their new game, which was a prize on Wednesday at the quiz, and we busyed around the house.

Later in the evening Gill and I had a game of Scrabble and I thrashed her. She doesn't mind, it's the playing that counts, and she does win sometimes. I had a rare defeat on Facebook Scrabble tonight, Jennifer (a Scrabble friend found by chance through the application) beat me, reducing my stats to just 88% won. Dreadful!

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Thursday 13th November 08

Gill took our youngest to school and then went to town on the bus to get a requested green tee shirt for our eldest (I've no idea why he needs this, but his school has lots of material needs...) and I had a fairly lazy morning... took a few phone calls, dealt with emails and did some letter writing.

Gill came back for lunch which we ate together and after this, I had a short session in the garden putting another load of watermelons and about 20 200g packs of 'Chinese morning glory' in the Compostumbler.

We both went down to school, as I was volunteering with Green Thumbs. Gill came in and reminded me about BBC's Blue Peter Appeal, called 'Mission Nutrition', so I decided to ask the children about Blue Peter and whether they wanted to help raise some money for their appeal. We eventually got round to the (preferred) 'Bring and Buy' fundraising technique, and agreed on that. Three older children wrote a letter to Mrs P the head teacher, and took it to her, and came back with a decision... Friday 23rd January 2009, 3.15pm, in the 'pack-up bags' area if wet; in the playground if fine. Wonderful! Next week we'll do some posters for this event.

The tasks today were all inside, as it was raining, and some children made Christmas Cards, others made Christmas Tree Star decorations out of twigs, paint and glitter, and still others made stuffed fabric decorations. Busy, messy and fun!

I came home and collected three sacks of wet autumn leaves on Windmill Lane in my usual fashion... cycling fast, sticking out my welly-booted foot into the kerb which scrapes up a big pile of leaves slowing me down, so that when I stop, there's several armfuls of leaves for me to put into the trailer or a sack, and take home for the leafmold enclosure.

We had pasta for tea and I got ready for the York in Transition meeting. This meeting was again at the Stables Project, but this time the meeting was far more complicated... we continued what we did last week, building on it, and looked at the different jobs/roles/tasks etc which were possible in a York in Transition process, and tried to prioritise them and group them together. It seemed very theoretical and I found it a tough meeting to get my head around. But hats off to Jennie and Edward for helping us through it and for bringing this planning process towards an end. Just one more of these types of meeting before we do something a little more vibrant... However I did find out that allegedly, the Stables Project does have a ramp to make their downstairs room accessible, although their toilet definitely isn't...

I got home at 10pm and our eldest was still doing homework, writing an excellent story about a mythical Roman scenario mixed with a bit of SciFi and computer game imagery. Gill read me the story when she came down at 11pm, which is when he finished.

Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Wednesday 12th November 08

Up reasonably early and got kit together as I've a gig in Sheffield, at Ali's daughter's school, so that Ali can get some film of 'Professor Fiddlesticks' for her University project.

I cycled down to the station for about 9.15 and Ali met me at Sheffield station at 10.30, and took me back to her house in the car... a quick stop for a coffee and to pack her filming stuff, and off to the primary school where her little girl is a pupil. I did a 30 minute show with juggling, devilsticks (show only, no workshop), lots of feather balancing as the children watching were quite young, so I chose the easiest skill which got the maximum number of children out to have a go (and that Ali's daughter can do, as one of her arms doesn't function properly/at all, due to Cerebral Palsy)... followed by 'Derek the Naughty Diabolo' and a unicycle/devilstick finale... fast, fun and a well received show, hopefully with some good images for Ali's project!

Had a nice lunch with Ali back at her house and a shore interview using a digital dictaphone to do some voice-over material for masking some of the noisy stuff filmed at the front of our house (next to a busy road)... and then back to school to pick up her little one, and down to the station so I could get the 15.46 back to York... a pretty non stop day, but enjoyable, and glad to help out Ali with this final part of filming, I think...

Gill went out in the evening to a school quiz, with our eldest. I stayed in with our youngest and we watched the BBC2 'Oceans' programme together. I had a nice Skype chat with Lorna and the 'quiz two' came back at 10pm, having won some sort of computer equipment.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Tuesday 11th November 08

Woke feeling substantially better than yesterday, got up and got busy, lit the stove and put hot water on the washing up, and got a phone call from my CRAGger buddy Robin... St Nicks had offered me a big sack of sticks last week but I'd been unable to collect them, so they'd offered them to Robin, who also didn't want them (lack of space for storing) so he brought them round to me in his trailer on his way back from B and Q, where he was looking for a way to make his woodstove-fired central heating system 'Building Regs compliant' ie, gravity driven, not pump driven. He said he'd worked out how to do it, using 'only' £200 worth of copper pipe! But having a Dunsley Yorkshire woodstove, which burns smoke free and is therefore allowed in smoke control areas, AND which heats radiators, is such a beneficial thing, that it's worth getting the plumbing right.

Robin stayed for nearly an hour, chatting and drinking tea and admiring our Clearview Vision 500 working well. Just before lunch the SUMA order came, just stuff for us and one other family (sorry, 'member of the Cossham Food Co-op'!) such as laundry liquid, soya milk, muesli base, olive oil and Bulgar wheat.

Enjoyed having lunch with Gill, she then went out to take some grown-out-of shoes to the charity shop and I did emails and blog in front of the hot stove, looking out at the cold and windy weather.

I took a cycle trailer load of flour, Fentimans Cola and assorted nuts down to our friends and came back with our youngest, who'd had a good day.

I sorted out the big sack of sticks delivered by Robin, and our eldest came home. He'd forgotten to go to a meeting of invitees to a University-based computer game try-out, based on identifying plants I think, and when he realised, he was absolutely mortified, and spent at least an hour beating himself up about it. We really need to get him a mobile phone, so he can let us know when he's going to be late, and so we can remind him to attend things he needs to go to which are outside of his routine, which is how he forgot this event. We were really sad for him, he was looking forward to it SO much. I'm going to try to see if it can be re-arranged in some way for him, not through the school, but direct with the University.

I had an early tea (Bulgar wheat etc) and got ready for work. My gig this evening was with the Dunnington Brownies, a lovely group of 20 or so 7 to 10 year old girls (and one boy!) plus 5 adults... I did a shortened version of my show, then a throwing/catching/memory game, and then a one hour free-play workshop. A second one next week, when some of them will earn their 'Circus Performer Badge'.

Home soon after 8.30, quite exhausted, so had a pint of perry and sank into the sofa and watched an interesting Horizon programme on mental illness. A quiet evening.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Monday 10th November 08

Woke still feeling poorly with cold, so had a lemsip with my cereal (not together!) and had a fairly lazy morning.

And had a similar afternoon, infact one of the most boring days I've had for ages.

The only highlight really was the arrival of 'The Calendar of Climate Change' from Flipside Vision. This is lovely, and I'm going to get some more for assorted family members for Xmas. (sorry if a family member has just had their wonderful suprise wrecked!)

I was still feeling rubbish (not in my usual way head down in a bin hahahahahaha) when Gill came home and went to get our youngest, and when our eldest came back, I wished I'd been in bed as his testosterone levels are obviously painfully high at the moment.

But the outbursts don't last long and are followed by apologies, and a peaceful evening, mostly.

Sunday, 9 November 2008

Sunday 9th November 08

A good morning, went out to Hazel Court, the Council's waste and recycling depot, with a cycle-trailer load of drinks cartons, scrap iron, some throw-away electrical goods I've taken out of skips in order that they get recycled. Came back via Freshways, the new supermarket on the corner of Melrosegate and Hull Road, and made friends with Raj the manager.

Home to a pile of washing up, then a sit down with a coffee to watch Countryfile, which I watched whilst taking husks off pumpkin seeds. It'll be a long job, as I've got so SO many! But if I do a few dozen a day, I'll be finished by next Autumn!

It rained after lunch so I did some stuff inside but later I went to the allotment with some cardboard to use as a mulch, and I started cutting back the marauding brambles and chopping them into short lengths for composting. I stayed there til nearly dark and did quite a bit of work... probably not enough yet to not get chucked off... so I'll try to get on top of it this week, at least make an effort...

Gill had cooked spaghetti and veg for tea. I had that and then had to load up my bike trailer to go and visit someone. This was a result of an unusual request yesterday over the phone, and for once I'm going to hold back for a few weeks so the surprise is not compromised. I'll be able to tell all by the end of the month. But it is quite funny/odd/amazing.

Spent perhaps an hour there and came back across the Stray and was pleased to get home as it was still raining a bit. And...

I had developed a runny nose which is snot dice. Therefore a quiet evening in, being very friendly with my hanky. But did enjoy watching Stephen Fry and Graham Norton (not together!) with Gill. Gill dozed off to sleep and I spent time on my laptop, but when she woke at 1ish, just as I was about to go to bed, we remembered the SUMA order, which we can now do online, so I got my computer back on and I worked my way around the new SUMA website and placed an order, which will arrive, we hope, on Tuesday. Bed very late, after 2.30am.

Saturday, 8 November 2008

Saturday 8th November 08

Was lucky to have to have a bit of a lie-in, before lighting the stove so I could have a bath as I'm working today. But as the water was getting up to bath temperature, I went to put a couple of sack's worth of compostables into the Compostumbler. One sack was just watermelons, about 7 of them.... so cut them into chunks and added them with several cardboard boxes. Emptied some collected juices (from a ex-loft water-header tank under the Compostumbler) onto the leafmold pile, to help that rot down, although it seems not to need much help as it's very hot in the middle.

Then had a shave, bath and hairwash to get spruced up for my Knaresborough gig. Gill made sandwiches and ironed my costume, I loaded up my bike trailer and got to the station by 12.45 to get tickets and onto the 13.11 train. I was met in Knaresborough and driven the mile or so to the Community Centre where I was entertaining at a 9 year old's party: a one hour circus show and workshop, followed by a freeplay workshop where they could try out any of the skills I'd brought with me. The 18 boys and one girl all had a great time, as did the Dad, he said on the way back to the station. Very pleasing.

Home soon after 6pm. Gill said that Dexter had just rang, inviting me to a preview of an art show at the Chapel at the York Cemetery which is on all of tomorrow I think. He had been invited to provide some atmospheric lighting, and wanted me to come and see the collection. So I had some tea and went out again! Dexter's lighting was in fact a couple of tables of coloured glass, and clear glass containers (bottles and jars rescued from old landfill sites mainly!) containing coloured water, and lots of candles and night-lights making them look very pretty. This was just outside the doors of the Chapel, making it quite inviting. Inside it was well lit with a selection of display boards with various artworks attached. The organiser, Graeme Martin, was displaying some curious mutated toys and plastic objects mounted in frames, plus a huge (well, maybe 70cm high!) Trojan Horse made out of waste wood, surrounded by tiny plastic toy soldiers, with a weird message which I cannot remember. There were a few paintings in a 'naive' style which had some resonance with me as they were connected to carbon emissions and capitalism, and some work from my old friend Fiona who's been into Dragons ever since I've known her, over 20 years now... She does drawings of mythical monsters, mainly Oriental dragons, and also embroidered fire-screens with landscapes and dragons. I had a good chat with Catherine Scriven who makes paper and original art, especially digital photos, very creative. I also met a 'punter' called Pete, who I probably met many moons ago at the John Bull pub, knocked down a long time ago, replaced by a car showroom. Pete was telling me about his being involved in the starting of SUMA and how the current management had 'rewritten history' and conveniently forgotten how the company actually started, and his work making kites and other fabric items.

I had a lovely time but came back home by 9pm and helped put the children to bed.

Had a nice Skype chat with Ali.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Friday 7th November 08

Gill took our youngest to school in the rain whilst I did some tidying up and vacuumed ready for Lyndsey to visit, to tell me about her Forever Living Products business, a multi-level-marketing operation selling Aloe vera and bee products. She thought I might know someone who would be interested in this kind of sales job.

The sales pitch was interesting, I had said right at the beginning that I didn't think the pitch would be aimed at me, but that I might know someone who might want to do this sort of work, selling stuff to their friends and neighbours. I asked a few searching questions about the Soil Association, Fair Trade, Vegetarian/Vegan Society etc, which she noted and promised to take back to the company.

The rest of the day went quietly.

I picked up our youngest from school and came back to stack logs.

Had an early tea, decided not to go to Critical Mass but did go to the York in Transition visioning meeting, which was well facilitated by Jennie and Edward, and was complicated and difficult, but was very productive.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Thursday 6th November 08

Our wedding anniversary... 9 years married, 15 years since our first kiss... aaahhhhh xxx

I took out little 'un to school and came back and spent some time with Gill, but then went into the garden to put some mature compost into sacks for our friend Alison who's making raised beds. Whilst doing this, I was thinking of something which I did yesterday which led me to feel quite upset and angry.

I had recieved an email from The Carbon Account reminding me to input my gas and electricity meter readings, so my graph of carbon emissions could be updated. I do this at the beginning of every month, and the website software calculates/estimates my annual carbon footprint. I really like this way of presenting the information, as I can see the different levels of carbon emissions from different activities over time. For instance, in August, as we were away for a week, our household emissions visibly dipped very slightly. So, yesterday, I read the meters and put in the new figures, and I decided to do something I had vowed to do back in September when I was expecting a visitor from America. I do not fly, for reasons of high carbon emissions being incompatible with my low carbon lifestyle. When my friend flew over last year to see me and other friends in the UK, I was a bit upset about it as I was contributing to the problem by agreeing to see this friend, and if I hadn't of agreed to spend some time with her, she might not have travelled. So when she indicated she'd like to come and see me again this autumn, I was not that happy and tried to put her off. However, she was intent on visiting and quite pushy and forceful, and I'm not the sort of person who tries to prevent people doing what they want to do. So she flew over and I agreed to spend some time with her. I also said that I would take moral responsibility for one of her flights, carbon-wise. So yesterday, I inputted a single journey from Manchester to Atlanta into my Carbon Account figures and was ASTONISHED to see how much carbon was emitted! My annual electricity emissions are about 250kg and annual gas emissions are just over 60kg... but the one way flight emitted a whopping 1947kg, making 86% of my yearly emissions. I was angry and upset. Not only has this wrecked my lovely graph (which you can see by going onto the site, clicking on 'people' and forwarding to the 'J' section and clicking on the pic of me and Caroline Lucas... you can see how much the spike of aircraft emissions dwarfs my household footprint by clicking on the small-print which says, 'Your emissions (including flights- click here to exclude them)'.

Interestingly, perhaps fortuitously, the visit dd not go well and I won't be seeing the American lady again. This is not due primarily to the fact that to see each other she has to fly, it's because we didn't get on. But the flights thing is an issue and I look forward to next November when that emissions spike disappears from my graph..... It will take longer for those carbon dioxide molecules to go from the atmosphere though, and I apologise to anyone who cares about this planet for re-igniting that friendship (we met as teenagers) and being part cause of those emissions (actually 1947 kg times four, nearly 8 tonnes). Dreadful! I won't even begin to think about my parents who have decided to visit New Zealand. Flying completely wrecks any good we do by recycling or using the bus rather than the car. If you fly, you cannot call yourself 'green', as if you do you are a complete hypocrite, and this is how I feel about myself for agreeing to see this friend. I'll try to put the whole sorry episode behind me.

Barry came to deliver the press and crusher, looked down the garden and drove away with the compost for Alison.

I continued to work in the garden in the drizzle... lovely!

Gill went to town on the bus to get shoes and came back with boots.

I went to school at 3 to help with Green Thumbs. I took a small group and we prepared a mushroom kit in a box.. a layer of straw with mycelium running through it, and a casing layer on top. We then had a good chat about decomposition, and all the types of organism which help... fungi, bacteria, slugs, worms, woodlice... my fave subject!

Home to a happy household, children voluntarily doing homework (a first for everything!) and all peaceful! Totally wow!

I made tea on the woodstove... slices of crook-neck squash, grown in the conservatory, and sweet potato from Country Fresh, and chestnuts from Poppleton Road.. all this along with my son's salad created at school today, yum!

A happy evening too, spent quite a bit of time on the phone with a helpful caller from Tiscali, trying to help me sort out a problem I'm having with emails bouncing back from certain email addresses, many thanks to Anup from Maharashtra who was very good to talk to, professional, and he got the problem more or less sorted (ie the problem is not with Tiscali, it's with, probably, The Phone Co-op... so will contact them next!)

But also had a good game of Scrabble with Gill. I won, just.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Wednesday 5th November 08

A good start to the day. Gill took our youngest to school and then went to art. I had a relaxing morning.

Gill came back having drawn an apple which looked like a dog basket or ball of wool or possibly a tam o shanter hat.

We had a pretty good afternoon and then she offered to go to pick up our child if I would go to the only place in York which she'd found which sells 'Buffalo Mozzarella' cheese (phone poll of 4 or 5 places) so that my eldest can do his food technology class tomorrow. I called in on Kyi-Po on the way through town, and gave in the Planning Application forms from last night to the council.
I found the mozzarella needed at the delicatessen in the market.

I found a skip on the way home which had assorted electrical flex in it, so asked the electrician who was tipping stuff in it if I could have the wire... he was only too happy to know it would be recycled. I strip the plastic off with a craft knife and eventually take the copper to a metal merchants. Home via Country Fresh in good time to house/baby sit whilst Gill went to the parents' evening at the secondary school. Good news from school, which is nice to hear.

For tea I finished off the vegan beany hotpot from last night whilst the kids had a chips and omelet meal... and I went out to a short night out to Cafe Scientifique where Dr. Lynda Boothroyd was speaking about the science of human attraction, something I find fascinating.

Home at 9pm, joined the family in the loft watching fireworks from the Velux.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

Tuesday 4th November 08

I got up just before 8; Gill had been up since before 6 with our son, still trying to get his homework finished. He finished most of it at 8.20. I took our youngest to school at 8.30.

I got home and had a short while with Gilly before my meeting with Ali at the station. We first checked her return journey times and then went on into town to try to find a pen which writes in italics for her project, and ended up in a pen shop in Fossgate where the woman inside was very dismissive of the difficult access into her shop. She didn't apologise for the lack of ramp, just made some feeble excuse about most people not needing it or something like that. Neither of us felt we had the time or energy to stop and explain that as her shop wasn't very accessible, she wouldn't have that many wheelchair users coming in......

Onto El Piano for a hot chocolate and some filming about the list of words plus much tangental chat. Then on to the City Art Gallery which had let us use the Studio for the interview with Dexter and me. Ali and I had lunch... soup and a panini for me, Ali had quiche and salads. A nice little cafe. Then at 1pm we were able to move into the studio and set up... Dexter arrived soon after 1,30 with his partner, good to meet her properly. Dexter explained about the start of his interest in graffiti, 'retrograffiti' and reminiscence art. He'd brought along a small piece of his Dexterworld artwork, based on the life and work of Andy Warhol and some postcards and other reproductions of his larger pieces. We talked about my ideas about having the words different sizes and colour coded.

Ali got a train home soon after 3 and I bombed home. Early in the evening a housebuilder called Clive knocked on the door offering me some joist ends for the stove, and telling me about the green building group he's joined.

I went to the Hull Road Ward Planning Panel meeting at Tang Hall Community Centre which I'm 'acting Clerk' of, and four of us looked through and discussed at least half a dozen planning applications, several of which were enlarging houses from 2 bedroom to 6 bedroom, almost certainly for student houses. There was also a huge pack about the new University campus, too chunky to look through in the hour we have, so one of the group will look through it and we'll have another meeting next week about that.

Home to a warm house, children peaceful, wife sleepy, I set to writing my paid blog which I'm happy with.

Monday, 3 November 2008

Monday 3rd November 08

A prompt start, cycling down to school with my 9 yr old, back home by 9am.

Then at 10, set off for CVS at Priory St where my friend Melody had organised a funding fair, with a dozen funding bodies there and lots of people going round chatting and tryig to find out how to get money for their project or group. There were perhaps 4 or 5 which might help YorkLETS afford the new computer-based accounting and management system, offered to us by Mary from LETSlink UK. I spent over an hour there and then went to my bank to see how we can change our signatories on our bank account. Paid the water bill at the same time... 22 cubic metres used during this last quarter in this household.

Then went on to visit Borders and the Art Gallery, but I couldn't lock up my bike as the lock seized up, so popped round to Cycle Heaven where Ash the main bikelock wrangler did his magic and solved the problem. Then on to the Art Gallery where they were more than happy to have a group of us visit tomorrow for some filming. My dentist was shut for lunch, so no little brushes for another day, and onto Borders who still haven't got the Ecologist November edition.

Barnitts was next, to get a little spring replaced on my Victorinox Swiss Army Knife scissors. To my delight they had a box full of bits and bobs and a replacement spring for 20 pence. It was easy to fit with just a pair of pliers.

Home for a slightly late lunch, lots of chat with Gill up until 3 when I cycled down to school to pick up the little 'un. I did some stacking of logs and sticks when we got home, as we're going through them much more quickly and I need to rebuild the stack to the right of the door (looking in). I'd got a couple of cauliflowers from Country Fresh just before closing last night so Gill had made a cauliflower cheeseroni mac... which was delicious.

At 7ish I headed off to the Seahorse Hotel for the LETS core group meeting... I took minutes and it was a productive meeting. I stayed behind afterwards and had a good chat with one of my buddies.

I got back at about 10.30 and Gill had only just got our eldest to bed, as he was trying to do his homework which he should have done during half-term.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Sunday 2nd November 08

A nice quiet morning... watched Countryfile as usual and did assorted emaily things.

Soon after 1pm I got myself on my bike and heading over to see Barry Potter and his orchard... he's right on the other side of town but I bombed along and arrived in just under 30 minutes very hot and sweaty, but not late!

Quite a few others turned up, all local and all interested in apples, orchards or cider making... or all three! Barry's garden on Knapton Lane, like many other areas just on the outskirts of York (including our garden) is on the site of an old orchard... planted at least 100 years ago, and with many of the old trees still standing and fruiting.

Barry has got quite a big garden with at least 6 large apple trees, and he's carefully pruned them and kept them in good shape. We learned a little about different sorts of pruning and what it does for the tree, and management such as tying long shoots down to horizontal to get fruiting buds to grow. He showed us how he keeps his harvest and his grafting experiments. There were three sorts of graft he's succeeded with... bud grafts where just a tiny bud and bit of bark is transplanted, a stick graft where two twigs of a similar size are put together, and a rather wonderful experiment where he'd grafted many twigs onto a large existing tree, onto the trunk and into cut ends of large branches... amazing! He also showed us a pear he's grafted onto hawthorn stock and explained about the various rootstocks available and the different vigour they confer to the scion, or bit grafted onto it. I was transfixed... I'd love to have a go at grafting and may do next summer. But this winter I have to prune all my apples!

Then we moved to Jane and Tony's garden... on first look it's just an ordinary semi but behind is a large 'market garden' which has taken over much of the interior of the block, and they have loads of greenhouses and beds, all very productive. My Vigo fruit press and apple crusher had been installed into one of the greenhouses with a display of apples, all named, and some delicious apple cake, apple and tea bread, apple pie and apple flapjack. A group of us set to and chopped the apples for juicing in two and popped them into the crusher, which when held down by two or more people, can be operated by another person rotating the wheel and toothed rollers. Soon the press was full of pulp and I got the boards on top and the screw-threaded ratchet thingy going round, gradually increasing the pressure and squeezing out over a gallon and a half of juice.

I left before it got dark as I wanted to see how the crop of sweet chestnuts was getting on outside Manor School. There were some down, but it's just a bit early and this year they are a bit smaller than in previous years. Still managed to collect about a kilo of them... good for a nutloaf. Came home via Museum Gardens where I was too early to see the illuminations but I may pop down later after tea, if I feel like it...

And I did... after 10 I made myself go and see the artworks in Museum Gardens... and I'm so glad I did. See Ross Ashton's website for an idea of what it was like. The piece was about 15 minutes long and was a trip through some of the collection of objects and artifacts in the Yorkshire Museum, from fossils to tapestries, masks to stuffed animals, plus images of DNA and magic numbers like Pi, lightning, computer code, books, and LOADS more... all set to music, strange sounds and poetry. Two screens were used, the front of the Yorkshire Museum and the ruins of St Mary's Abbey. I do wish I'd been able to persuade my children to come and see it.

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Saturday 1st November 08

Quite a quiet day... not much happened during the morning, but early in the afternoon I cycled into town to pay a bill and buy a copy of 'The Ecologist' which has been published and there's an article about CRAGs and a profile of me... but the bank was shut and the magazine hadn't been delivered yet, so a bit of a waste of time. So went to visit Dylan at Millers Yard and had a chat and brought back 3 sacks of compostable orange halves... so not a complete waste of time!

The boys had a visitor all day so all was peaceful and happy.

I spent some time harvesting beans which have been frosted and the pods needed picking and the beans taking out to dry. Also picked a load of nasturtium seeds and buds for washing and salting, and eventual pickling. ALSO sorted out the last load of pumpkin seeds and put them on newspaper for drying in front of the stove. So loads of produce all over the house.