Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Tuesday 30th June 09

Nice slow start to the day... I came down and heated water on the gas-cooker to wash up. Our gas boiler has gone wrong; it needs occasional re-pressurising (I don't understand this) and when Gill twiddled the knob yesterday, it came off. So we're not using the gas boiler at all, even for instant hot water. And of course, it's too hot for the stove, so we have no hot water except for doing it in a saucepan on the cooker.

I don't mind doing the washing up, even before breakfast. There is some sort of satisfaction with rendering a jumbled pile of used plates and mugs into neatly stacked and clean, ready to use crockery. I'm not so keen on doing cutlery, but that has to be done too. Also, I collect the rinse water and water the tomato plants with it. VERY satisfying!

Sorted out various hotel and BnB visits for later this year. This involved a couple of hours phoning and working out logistics.

Anyway, a good day, did quite a bit inside and visited B+Q for Gill who needed some lining paper to do a 'Red Indian' figure as a prop for a play. I also did loads of riddling of some very mature compost... yummy! (almost!)

After lunch the plumber came round and fixed the knob back on the boiler. I think it took less than 5 minutes. The bill will be in the post....

I got an exciting phone call from Mike at York (North Yorkshire!) Credit Union asking me what I was doing on Thursday... as there was a proposed meeting with an important person, and did I want to come to this? I said I was available, and Mike told me that the person was so important that I'd need to be security checked. Wow! I wonder who it is? I have my suspicions but will just have to wait and see.

I cooked tea, rice with onion, celery and some other bits, with added plantain which I cooked yesterday, with fresh home-grown broccoli, and a tomato and onion sauce. I loved the plantain... a really fruity addition to a slightly spicy rice dish. I hope I get some more of those in the compostables!

After tea I popped round to Lynn's to discuss the publicity needed for the LETS Healthy Living event in 3 weeks time, and spent an hour chatting to her.

Back in time for another hour or more in the garden, in at 10 and the internet was down.. I had a phone call from Ben and his was off too, so it must have been the exchange or something.

It came on just after midnight so I caught up then.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Monday 29th June 09

A productive morning as I removed my son's bike back wheel and took the tyre down to Cycle Heaven to get a replacement. I went via Hazel Court civic amenity site, cycling 4 sacks of drinks cartons (including 2 from school) and some electrical equipment rescued from skips and some other metal to get this all recycled. I had a little chat with one of the workers there, and said that officially, cycles were not allowed up there, and I'd been refused a trailer permit. I said I refused to tip all my recycling on the ground at the entrance as had been suggested, and the operative said that taking the recycling from the pedestrian area up to the recycling skips was a health and safety issue in itself.

So, feeling happy about the sensible attitude of the workers there, I went on to put two cheques in and on to Cycle Heaven. There I asked if I could have a large cardboard box, as our youngest needs to make a life-size prop for a school assembly, so I cycled home with a box that a bike was delivered in... excellent! Home via Country Fresh and Freshways, also found some more electrical equipment sticking out of a bin bag left for collection, so that will go for recycling soon!

Enjoyed my lunch and helped Maria with a self-employment query over the phone.

During the afternoon I tried to catch up on a load of paperwork, phoning etc, connected to my Fiddlesticks work. But when it cooled down a bit I went to do some compost riddling and loading up my new pallet bin. My favourite activities, with my robin friend filling its face with centipedes and little beetles. Lovely!

I popped out to the Co-op for some provisions for today's tea, and Gill put them together whilst I did more outside work, including picking loganberries.

On the way home from the shop I stopped to chat to a chap who's skip I'd raided, to thank him for the Freecycling opportunities it had afforded. Ended up having a good chat and he gave me some strawberries from his back garden. I might end up helping Mike with his garden, he's only just moved in and needs some help. Nice chap.

I came in to make some tea for tomorrow... onion and tomato base mix, and some plantain, gently fried in chunks. Probably will add it to rice.

Quiet evening, maybe a bit too warm... and that was without the stove! Enjoyed strawberries and loganberries with vegan ice-cream.... yummy!

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Sunday 28th June 09

No work today, but several possible appointments, the first and probably most important was a meeting at midday of the Low Moor Allotment Association committee, to which I had been invited as a special informant about the possibility of a compost toilet on the site. I was second on the agenda after the community policewoman and security.

I started with the statement that humanure can easily be composted if put with some carbon-rich materials such as sawdust or finely chopped straw, but care should be taken with how the resultant material is used, ie, on permanent plantings like hedges, trees, canes etc, but not salad carrots or lettuce... I then said that as far as I was concerned, there were two possible designs of a 'long drop', one with the chambers at ground level, and therefore the room with the pedestal in it at some height, needing steps and a ramp for wheelchair access, and the other option, which I've seen in a lottie in London, is to have the chambers below ground level, 'tanked out' (lined to make them waterproof) and the room with pedestal at ground level, and this room made of bricks, blocks or strawbales, and a secure lockable door. The chambers at ground level would be very easy to dig out, but the structure liable to vandalism, and probably too large due to needing a ramp. The below ground option is more accessible for users but more difficult to empty, needing a special shovel with the blade at right angles to the shaft, accessed through the opening above, which has the pedestal bolted to it when that chamber is in use, and has a cover bolted to it when rotting down. The below-ground version must also have passive ventilation chimneys to draw air over the pile and help dehydrate the manure and prevent odours coming up through the pedestal.

However, the below ground option might have a cost of £10 to £30 thousand, depending on how it was constructed, and there are the issues of who cleans it and keeps it usable, and the occasional task of digging it out. This latter task would be every few years, but the former would be at least weekly. The committee agreed to canvas opinion about whether a toilet would be welcomed on the site, to gauge need, and if there was deemed to be a need, then fundraising could begin and designs submitted. I really hope the questionnaire finds that lots of people would welcome a loo on the lottie, and I can get involved in designing and fundraising.

I got home at about 2pm for lunch, and at about 3.30 went for a cycle ride with my eldest son round to Hull Road Park where there was a YorkLETS social planned. Lynn was there with her two offspring, who are at the same school as my son, and Stephen and Alison were there too, with their son. On the way to the park, we discovered a puncture in my son's back bike wheel, so on the way back he had a lift on my rack and his bike went on my trailer. We'll fix it this week...

I did a load of home composting work after this, re-building a pallet bin which I completely took apart a few weeks ago, and riddling a large amount of quite dry compost which has been in a builders bag for a few weeks. The unrotted sticks etc are going back in the bottom of the newly built pallet bin, for drainage.

Came in for tea, I had a couple of reheated dishes from the last couple of days with two stale pitta breads. The rest of the family had something nicer and fresher, but I'm renowned for being able to stomach anything and not liking waste, so I'd rather eat something than compost it.

Later in the evening when the boys were in bed, Gill and I had a slow game of Scrabble whilst watching Blur and The Prodigy on telly, at Glastonbury Festival. I thrashed her this time!

Saturday, 27 June 2009

Saturday 27th June 09 Sheffield Green Fair

Woke late... Ali had said there was no chance of oversleeping as her daughter is always up early, but today she slept in til 9.20, went in to see her Mummy, Mum realised the time and told her to go and wake me up and the overnight PA, Kaisa.

I had a fast bowl of cereal and got myself ready for work, and Ali got herself together in record time... went to get the bus soon after 10 and got to the Green Fair venue really quickly, at about 10.30... so woke up late and got there early!

Had a quick mooch around and just before 11 went to get my Fiddlesticks clothes on, and by 11 was up on the unicycle and livening the place up a bit!

I had a busy day... lots of fairly unstructured circus workshops, reacting to the audience's needs and requests, and one particular chap stood out, a pre-teen who I'm proud to give a plug to; Kyle P. who started the day as a non-unicyclist and finished the day being able to unicycle about 10 metres. Brilliant! I think he should get along to Green Top Circus and learn more, he'll go far if he continues practising with the dedication he put into the unicycle today.

Was glad to meet my sister and brother in law too, and Anna had some good chats with Ali, which I was glad about. Douglas watched quite a bit of one of my workshops but I think he fell asleep a couple of times, it was that exciting!

At 1.30 I had been timetabled to go and speak on the main outdoor stage about low carbon living, so I had 10 minutes in which to explain about measuring carbon footprints and what makes up the biggest chunks of it, and therefore which bits to try to cut...

Ali volunteered on the gate and somewhere else for a couple of hours. Kaisa and 'Littleboo' arrived and my biggest fan spent a lot of the rest of the day with me, her disability not stopping her trying as many of the activities as possible. She's even found a way to hold the devilstick handstick in her hand which doesn't do as it's told... I'm really impressed by her desire to just get on with it!

Soon my last timetabled slot arrived, a 3.45 balloon modelling show/workshop inside St Mary's Church, this was well attended and loads of fun.

At 5, the finish time, I found my handler and got paid, and all four of us trundled down to the station where a Newcastle-bound train was waiting and I managed to get on it just as the doors were closing. There was a jolly and drunk chap Tony whom I chatted to, he was very amused by the Professor Fiddlesticks name.

I got home via Country Fresh, soon after 8pm. Had a mellow evening playing Scrabble with Gill and enjoying Glastonbury on TV. I beat her by just one point.

Friday 26th June 09

Up ridiculously early as a very early meeting in Sheffield this morning... so up before the boys, breakfast, got various Fiddlesticksy things packed, loaded the bike and trailer, and woke the boys up to say bye... and down to the station to buy tickets and get the 7.44 train.

First part of the journey I just quietly read my NewScientist, but then chatted with a future student who was off to Birmingham University Open Day (some good chats about his hippy parents!) and a banker going for interview in Cheltenham to re-apply for his job, as the bank have slimmed down by half and everyone has to reapply. He seemed confident, and curious about cutting his oily footprint, since his job involved oil futures markets, and he was aware of 'peak oil' and Hibbert's Peak.

Sheffield came soon, and I didn't have long to wait until Ali rolled up with a car-full of PAs all helping her prepare to interview another batch of prospective Personal Assistants. The interviews were in the Friends Meeting House, 9 were scheduled but 2 didn't turn up, and in my opinion, all 7 who had been shortlisted for interview were very capable of doing the job. Three stood out as definites and one, a summer-only temporary was taken on there and then. Ali will have to work out timetabling to see how many of the others she invites to work for her. She has a 'Direct Payment' scheme which means she and her daughter are allocated a certain number of hours care per week, give a budget and told to get on with it! Well, almost!

We had a break for lunch, extended by one of the no-shows, and went on til after 4, and we left the building on the dot of 5pm. We then collected Ali's daughter from after school club and went home, where there were four local pre-teen girls waiting to play with her. One was Polish and chatted away to Ali's Polish PA. I did a bit of unicycling at their request, and let them do some devilsticking, then made them all a balloon model as a present.

Ali decided to take us to the Norton Pub for eats which was nice, I had veggie lasagne, chips and onion rings. And a Koppaberg Pear Cider, yummy!

Arrived home in time to watch Glastonbury on't elly. Ali and I both miss John Peel.

Tried to have not too late a night as I'm performing at Sheffield Green Fair tomorrow.

Thursday, 25 June 2009

Thursday 25th June 09

Gill did the early morning stint and after taking our youngest to school she went to town. I spent some time on the computer and some time in the garden removing a shrub from quite near the house using the wrecking bar. Gill wants to make a raised bed there so the area needs clearing.

At 1pm, a researcher called Triona came round who's looking at the phenomenon of 'Freeganism', and as I am not averse to skip diving, I volunteered to answer her questions. So I spent a couple of hours chatting and responding to some photos she'd sent to me by email. She is also going to talk to some 'ordinary' people, non freegans, about their views of the activity.

Sometime after the boys had come home, I decided to break up 3 chairs which have been sitting in the back garden, broken, for a while, and to allow my eldest son to utilise some of his energy I asked him to do most of the destruction. I took off the upholstery, binned the synthetic fabric, collected the ?natural fibre filler, hessian and other material for composting, removed nails, tacks and springs for recycling, and he smashed the wooden bits up with gusto. Nice to get some help!

Then spent quite a bit of time down the garden, pulling up ground elder and nettles, chopping back brambles and spotting a wasps nest in one of my mature compost heaps. Oh dear. What to do?

Came in at 10ish and went on the computer, played Scrabble on Facebook and was saddened to hear of the death of Michael Jackson. I grew up listening to songs off Thriller, and still think that it is a brilliant album. Every song a hit.

Wednesday 24th June 09

Up fairly early as I was taking our youngest to school. It is Gill's birthday but I hadn't sorted anything out as I hadn't had time yesterday. She had an appointment and left at 8.30, and arrived back with a headache and went to bed.

I went to town to deliver the Planning Panel paperwork and went to the market to see if I could find something for Gill... no luck. So I cycled on to Alligator and found some marmalade, chocolate, vegetarian jelly powder and a card made by Brenda Tyler, a friend of mine. Then in Country Fresh I got some marigolds... not gloves (!) but flowering plants, a tray of 12, as well as assorted veggies, fruitees and compostables.

I had a late lunch and Gill went to pick up our little one. Both boys signed the card and we sang Happy Birthday to Gill and gave her the presents and I think this cheered her up. However, she had said she would do the parents evening at Archies, so I made tea for the boys.

Gill got in and had some too, and we had a peaceful evening. I did quite a bit of compost heap loading, then came in and prepared a large number of apple rings and red peppers for drying. I also posted messages on Freecycle for a mirror, ceiling light and candlesticks, all rescued out of a skip. I got requests for them very quickly, but I had put on that I would wait to see as many answers as possible and then decide... so a decision in a few days.

Gill had requested that I have a real game of Scrabble without me also playing more Scrabble games on the computer. Which was probably a bad idea as all my energies went into the one game and I beat her 420 vs 248. But we both enjoyed it, regardless of the score. I was lucky with my letters, including putting down all of them on the last go to make POLICERS. Gill really enjoyed playing real Scrabble without the interference of the laptop being on, and it has been a few months since we played. When we first got together, 16 years ago, we played Scrabble nearly every night....

But after the game I switched on to write my blog. Mr. Habitual.

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Tuesday 23rd June 09

Quite a good day, although up earlier than I would have liked... but not a bad thing as I had a Doctor's appointment at 9.40, so bombed round there, and after that went to Sainsburys which is very near. Got back on the dot of 11, which is what time I told Sarah, a PhD student, I'd be available from. I rang her and she arrived fairly soon. She's researching the individual actions that people are making to reduce their climate change impact, and all the people she's spoken to have said 'you must speak to John'!

I chatted with her, gave her a tour of the garden and then, over a freegan tea, chatted some more. She recorded everything and got me to fill in a few forms too. Quite enjoyable. Glad to be able to help.

After a late lunch I did some paperwork... sorting through a big pile of paper and putting some of it for firelighting and some for recycling, just a couple of bits to keep for my records. I got together the Planning Panel paperwork, ready for this evening's meeting.

Gill made tea, pasta-based and perfectly acceptable. The Hull Road Ward Planning Panel meeting started off badly. I arrived at Tang Hall Community Centre and the bike rack had two bikes occupying two slots at one end, ad four bikes all together at the slot at the other end. Then there was one bike chained up at right-angles to the 'proper way round', obscuring the remaining 3 slots. I called out to the children playing and asked if the bike belonged to anyone. One boy said yes, it was his. I asked him to put the bike in the slot so I could put mine in too, and he refused. I said that if he didn't move it, I would, as I could see I would be able to put it behind the stand by turning it upside-down. The bike was not unlocked and moved so I did move it myself, and one of the children went inside to 'tell'. The playleader came out and started to tell me off, but fortunately Carolyn had seen the whole thing play out and interjected, saying that I had asked politely to start off with and it was actually the bike owner who was at fault.

The boy who indicated that he was the owner turned out to be a liar... the real owner was inside the building, and when told to come outside to unlock and move his bike, he did. Grudgingly. The liar got a talking to from the playleader and was made to apologise to me.

Anyway, after this hiccup, the meeting went well. Just four of us there. Got a lot done, much good humour.

I got home at 7.50 and did some work in the front garden, hand-sawing a load of planks.

During the evening I discovered a whole composting subject I knew nothing about; the use of Black Soldier Flies as agents of composting. See this blog for more info!

Monday 22nd June 09

A fairly relaxed day... spent most of the morning writing my last Community Care blog, and doing other computery stuff. I went to buy bread, visited several ripe skips, had lunch and spent some time in the garden. Raj rang and I went down to Freshways. I planted more squash plants, some in the remaining spaces in the raised beds and others in containers.

Gill went to pick up our youngest and I cooked tea. I harvested the Chicken of the Woods mushroom, cleaned it up (it incorporates bits of wood etc into it's surface) and cubed it quite small. Fried onion, rescued peppers and cubed a squash which again, was a freegan find. Added the cubed Chicken of the Woods. Then chopped up 3 tomatoes and put them into the frying veg, and added some of the new season basil out of the conservatory. Finally, added a tin of cannelini beans to this. Gill then fried some already cooked potatoes in extra virgin olive oil, and we all had this, with the last of yesterday's asparagus quiche. The mushroom/pepper/bean thing was the best meal I'd had for ages, and I always like Gill's quiche. Lovely meal, everybody loved it!

I made a phone call at 7 to my Sister who knows more about Runescape and billing than I do; we did make a payment for our son to be a paid-up member of this a month or two ago, but the other day this level of access stopped, so I turned to Anna for advice. With her help, I resubscribed to a small monthly payment.

At 8 zoomed round to Lynn's to help her celebrate her 45th Birthday. Glad to see so many friendly old faces, Will, Phil, Helen, Stephen and Alison, and new friends Tony and Sharon.

I got home soon after 10.30 and settled down to try to empty my perennially over-full inbox, write this, and get some water warmed up to do the washing up...

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Sunday 21st June 09 Summer Solstice

Another work day, but didn't have to leave until 11.30 as I was due to get the 12.15 train to Leeds, and be picked up at 1pm. This went smoothly, as did the rest of the day. Alan my handler from Friends of Middleton Park was waiting at the station pick-up point and drove me to Middleton Park, where I sat under a tree and had my sandwiches before the keyholder arrived to unlock the compound where I worked last year, and where Alan and several volunteers serve refreshments.

I did my show which was enjoyed by a reasonably sized group of children and adults (20?) and then a workshop followed, including some equipment that belongs to the Friends of Middleton Park. I made lots of balloon animals too, whilst people were trying to juggle or ride the fun wheels and pedal go. I had a very jolly time, really enjoyed myself. The session was supposed to finish at 4 but it over-ran a bit, and I didn't get back to the station until nearly 5pm.

Arrived home after 6pm, so a good day's work, for which I've already been paid, something to do with how the group is funded. I'm doing a second session there on 30th August.

Gill had made an asparagus quiche with potatoes and a mushroom and pea thing, which was good, but I had to rush out as I'd agreed to meet Helgi, who's in charge of the music stage at this year's York Green Festival, to see what he'd found out about bands who might perform. We listened to some of them on MySpace and researched others and he banged out emails to them. I enjoyed meeting his two younger brothers who were keen on pillow fighting me, and their parents Lara and Adrian. I'm impressed with Helgi's maturity; he's only just 15, and he's in several bands and is very able. I'm aware I'm breaking my rule of not naming children on this blog by naming him, but in my mind he is an adult already and I know he isn't bothered by this. I have a lot of respect for him, and am enjoying working with him.

I left his place at about 9 and picked up several items from a skip on the way back, and did a bout of Compostumbler filling when I got back. Came in after 10 and settled down to deal with the inevitable pile of emails.

Saturday, 20 June 2009

Saturday 20th June 09

A work day, so up early to get myself ready for the York Cycle Show on the Racecourse.

I got there on the dot of 10.30 with my trailer overloaded with the box of jugglestuff, four Pedal-Go things ('four-wheel unicycles') two Fun Wheels ('two wheel unicycles') and four real (one wheel) unicycles. And my sandwiches.

The weather looked ominous but held off for an hour or so, and my position, near the entrance to the central compound was a good one as had loads of punters wanting to have a go on the various unicycley things.

My old friend Dawn found me, how lovely to see her again; she'd come over on the train with her folding bike from Sheffield. I met loads of other people too, far too many to name individually, but a few who stood out were Rachel, now 18, and a Fiddlesticks fan for years, now not a child and a bonny young woman with a huge smile; R, a very keen child unicyclist whom I met last year and we bonded, and amazingly, Gill and the boys appeared, I hadn't expected to see them.

The weather decided to make my job much harder by raining hard and rendering the firm grass into a soft muddy area, less convivial for unicycling. But I continued where I was, as the Racecourse had sealed off the covered walkway where I have worked on previous years.

I didn't stop for lunch but had bites of sandwich between helping people with their unicycling technique. I worked til just after 4 and then packed up, went to see the HQ tent, and cycled home. I had to spend the best part of an hour cleaning my assorted unicycle equipment as it was covered in mud.

I then went round to Maria's as she was having a birthday party, and Gill, boyos and Dawn were already there. I had a veg kebab and nutloaf, and a good chat with a newly married couple Mark and Sarah, I think. We spent some time discussing Optimists v Pessimists! A relaxing evening.

Got home at about 8pm and planted sweetcorn, nearly too potbound but hopefully will now grow huge and give us some lovely cobs...

Friday 19th June 09

Got up at a more normal time but Gill returned soon after taking out little one off to school... he cycles on the road with me, but on the pavement with Gill (I do not understand this) and as he was on the pavement, he crashed into a wall and banged his tummy on his handlebar stem and was quite traumatised and upset. So he didn't go to school today. I would have been a lot stricter, but Gill and I do have parenting differences and these days I usually back down instead of argue that my opinion is more valid or better.

I visited Country Fresh and picked up some fruit/veg shopping plus a good load of compostables.

A day or two ago, Ali had suggested that she might come to York today, so she got a train and arrived sometime after midday. I met her and her PA Kaisa off the train and spent the day as a tourist in York. We took a trip on one of the YorkBoats, two of which are wheelchair accessible, via a pontoon at Kings Staith. Kaisa didn't come on this, and had an hour free time (though still being paid!) but then came with us to a coffee shop which had WiFi, as Ali had some Uni work she had to send off, and hadn't had time back at home to do this. Then we went to find a place where we could meet again for tea (Slug and Lettuce) and Kaisa went again and Ali and I went to have a look at Artfulness on Goodramgate, but there was no access ramp available so we couldn't get in. The owner of the shop was very vague and not at all apologetic, and we had a similar response to the situation at Kyi-Po, the vegan shop where Ali would have bought some stuff, had it been easy to get in. I find this situation embarrassing and it makes me angry that shop owners don't think of wheelchair users who wish to get in 'under their own steam' as it were, and make a wooden ramp or have one made. Don't they realise that places with good access get more visits from the increasing numbers of people using wheelchairs (ageing population) and the shop makes more money? Duh! Is it rocket science? No, it's a £20 wooden ramp. And the lack of thought to provide a ramp is discrimination, and verging on illegal.

So we went to another shop which was lucky to have level access, and Ali bought herself something there. We met Jonathan and Charlotte in Kings Square, and chatted until it was time to go to the Slug and lettuce, where we ate for half price as Ali had found a coupon online, and printed it off. Filling and good company. I get on well with Kaisa too, despite her lack of English meaning some things go over her head or need explaining.

Then back to the station where they got the 8.30 train, and I was back home by 9, full and tired from lots of walking.

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Thursday 18th June 09

ahh, a lie-in... not too surprising considering I was up til 3am last night, and saw the beginnings of dawn lighting the sky... I was preparing dried fruit (well, fruit for drying) and cooking potatoes, writing blog, playing Scrabble and chatting...

I did get up at 7.30 to help Gill with something, but went back to bed and didn't get up til 10.

I then got busy with paperwork; my pile of paper (intray!) had got too tall to stay vertical and therefore slumped and spread out. This is the signal I need that I should go through it and find the stuff which needs doing. I found some items which needed filling in, putting in envelopes, sending etc and did this. Went to the Post Office round the corner and sent one thing off with a 'signed-for' ticket.

Gill went to get our youngest and I cut the privet hedge at the front, with the shears, and when our eldest came home, he had a go with the shears and cut a bit of the hedge, which I was pleased with. I shredded this and added several sacks of shredded hedge and fruit/veg 'resources' to the Compostumbler. Riddled some more compost ready to mix into potting medium, to continue filling the pots of tomatoes, which need a few more centimetres of soil/compost mix adding.

Gill made tea, she fried the potatoes I boiled last night and added to the veg stew thing.

A quiet evening, made some fruit leather from apricots and nectarines and three apples. Should be a good-un when it's dried and been cut into strips.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Wednesday 17th June 09

A quiet day as am unwell, off colour, tired and headachey. I spent a bit of the morning on the computer whilst Gill was at her art class, and went back to bed, and when at 1.20 Gill wondered where I was, she came up to see if I was in and found me asleep. She joined me.

I got up at 2.30 and at 3 went to school to pick up our youngest. He is now a fast cyclist! Wow! That's an 18-geared Specialised for you!

I cycled down to Country Fresh and picked up 3 sacks and 2 boxes, plus the usual range of vegetables and fruit for family consumption.

Gill made tea... butternut, courgette, potato and broccoli with a bit of tomato soup sauce, and a pastie. I was given a veggie samosa by Raj at Freshways when I popped in on him, so I had that too... it was very hot!

After tea I went outside to deal with some of the compost and a few other bits and bobs, got in at 10. Lots of fruit to put on the drying racks. Felt a bit better after some activity, but still need an early night, ideally...

Tuesday 16th June 09

Both boys off to school today... I came down and sat bleary-eyed on the sofa until the house was empty, and then had breakfast, did my e-paperwork and then when Gill came back she persuaded me to come back to bed. We are very lucky to have this time... the low income and only working part-time does have it's upside.... plenty of time to do what we want to do...

But I couldn't stay in bed all day, much though that has some attraction, as I was expecting a visit from either Rowena or Adrian who have done a clear-out and found a stash of wood, much of it only fit to burn. So I did a load more work out the front, slicing the pear, apple and lilac logs from John Bibby, and splitting them and stacking round the back. It's a huge job... I'm only half-way through and I've already got a really good stack of split logs, perhaps 2m x 2m and nearly as high as me.

Adrian came after lunch, with a load of planks and other structural timber, and a whole lot of very dry and mostly all logged to the right size Leylandii chunks. I split these with the maul... they are easier when wet.

At 3 I went to school to pick up our youngest, and cycled with him on to the Millennium Bridge and up to BikeRescue where the 'Specialised Rockhopper' reconditioned bike was waiting. Our little boy was delighted with this... it was £65, but well worth it as it is a good make, 18 gears and will last for years. I put his old bike on my trailer and zoomed off after him, as he is now twice as fast as he was!

Got home well before what time I told Gill I expected us to be back, and I continued outside for a bit, cutting the front hedge and putting some of it through the shredder. Then tea which was cauliflower and macaroni with the tomato and leek soup on top as a sauce..

I then had an appointment at the allotment with a bunch of University students who have an allotment but don't know about composting, and I had offered to do a talk going through the basics. There were about 8 of them, on a rather weedy allotment but with plenty of lettuce, strawberries, onions, potatoes and a fire area in the centre with pallets around it to sit on. I did a basic run through of what composting was, what kind of materials biodegrade, the conditions needed, some stuff about landfill and my composting ops here. I answered a few questions. Then we went to look at the existing composting areas, showing them evidence of a rat in one pile. They gave me some lettuce as a thank you for the time.

I went up to my half plot and did some clearance, opening up a path up one side using the hedge shears, and worked til 10.15 when it got too dark to continue...

A lovely chatty evening with Gilly, and feeling positive as we looked at photos of Randall and Annie's baby on Facebook. Ahhhh...

Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Monday 15th June 09

Quite a busy day.. Both boys feeling poorly so they stayed at home. I had to go to a meeting in town and after that popped into Pauline's, and got back at midday, via Freshways. I sorted out their compostables before lunch, and rescued some leeks and tomatoes, spent half an hour preparing them and made a large pan of what turned out to be soup. I also did some logging, chopped a load of the ones John Bibby gave to me, and split them, stacked a few round the back. I did a lot of washing up... loads of jars for refilling and recycling, also soya milk cartons.

During the middle of the afternoon I cycled down to Foss Islands Road to 'Staples' as my eldest needs a new school bag with no logo. I did find one the right size, right number of pockets, only a small maker's logo, for £35. I bought it.

Probably the most exciting thing to happen today was getting a message via vskips from a York person who was responding to my offer of compost, and wanting to have two tonnes for a new raised bed. I can probably oblige, as this amounts to between 2 and 3 cubic metres of compost, and I'm sure I have this, dotted around. It'll release a lot of space... I hope it happens! Quite a big job, though, bagging up maybe 100 sacks of compost and taking it up to the front. Will take all day. Keep me fit.

Or maybe the most exciting thing was a thunderstorm whilst I was working in the garage?

Loved my tea... leek and tomato soup plus Polish bread, this also just past it's sell by date but made excellent hommous sandwiches to go with the soup.

Worked outside til 10.30pm. Then came in and switched on to Ideal, the last episode. I'll miss it... it is so surreal and funny. I'm not a massive fan of Johnny Vegas but I've grown to like him as Moz, the hero of Ideal. I really hope they make another series.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

Sunday 14th June 09

Early start as due to be picked up by Maggie, a facepainter also booked for today's gig who is driving across to Beverley, so she was happy to pick me up... I was ready by 8.45 and we were there before 10, with the event due to start at 11am.

The event was an Armed Forces Day; 'A free family event celebrating Our Armed Forces - past, present and future'. Not really my cup of tea! I provided a non-military alternative, circus workshops and balloon model animals. I ignored the stuff going on around me, and worked with the children, who, of course, have no say over what their parents do or take them to. I personally feel that this country spends too much on our army, navy and air force, and they are hardly a 'low carbon' part of our economy! I do appreciate that members of the forces can help out in emergencies both in this country and abroad, but the offensive warmongering we wage in other countries is difficult for me to be positive about. I'm sure there is a green alternative, but I'm no expert and would refer people to the Green Party Peace and Defence Policy as a starter.

I enjoyed the day, despite the meaty BBQ smells, military songs (although I found if weird that between the live music, The Beatles and Paul McCartney songs were played!) and the heat. I had a coffee Mocha in CAFFE NERD and this helped, alongside copious tap water brought from home. I worked from 11 til 4.30, with 20 minutes for lunch and one 15 minute break mid afternoon. I was kept company by a familiar character, 13 year old C, who is very keen on me/what I do and was with her friend, a couple of years younger, and they wanted to do everything all the time. I was happy to oblige them, and they had loads of goes on devilsticks, unicycle and trying to juggle.

Was back just before 6, exhausted, and ready for the noodles, veg and cashew nuts which Gill had prepared for tea.

A snoozed in front of the telly after tea... almost unheard of... when do I ever fall asleep before 2am? But woke at 9ish and wrote my blog, dealt with emails and half-watched Dr Alice Roberts discovering ancient humans in the Americas.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

Saturday 13th June 09

Excellent day... cycled to Cliffe near Selby to perform at their Primary School Summer Fair. I left after a bath (boo, had to use gas to heat the water, but at least Gill used the water too!) at about 10.45, and headed for the Naburn part of the Route 65 York-Selby Cycle Track, and headed south to Riccall and Barlby, where I joined the A19 for a short distance before turning East along the A63. Googlemaps had put the school on the York Road North of the A63, just south of the railway line, but in fact it is the other side of the main road on Main St... but I found it easily enough.

I took just an hour and a quarter to get there, which left me plenty of time to have my sandwiches and get changed. It was a hot but breezy day and the event was good... lots going on, and I had a pretty constant stream of participants, both children and adults. 4pm came soon enough, I was paid and I got away by 4.15.

I cycled North, through Cliffe Common, Skipwith Common, Escrick and onto the not-very-nice A19 racetrack back into Fulford and York. My journey time, again, an hour and a quarter.

I got in at 5.30... and I'd arranged to meet Dean and Danielle on the allotment at 6, as I have not been able to make time to keep it tidy, half of it has gone to them. I don't begrudge this at all... my life is so busy with work, family, volunteering etc, that I cannot keep up with a whole allotment. I hope to do better with a half plot. So I unloaded and got my fork and secateurs and shot off to the lottie, just in time to meet D+D and their two friends and their little boy. I showed them the few permanent plantings in their half of the lottie, gave them the compost bin I constructed and the contents of a compost heap. They went, and I planted another row of potatoes, which have been patiently chitting and waiting for an appropriate environment in which to grow.

I couldn't spend long there as Gill was off out to the Minster to see (and hear) Melody's 18 year old daughter Natalie sing in the Chapter House, an octagonal bit of the Minster which has amazing acoustics. The choir was so good, Gill said, that it made the hairs stand up on her neck, and they used the unique shape of the building to their advantage, giving a kind of surround-sound effect.

I put the boys to bed, lots of hugs and perfect behaviour, until Mum came back when they both came downstairs again! A bit later, had a phone call with Ali concerning an ethical dilemma. I think that talking it through helped her come to a conclusion.

So a good day... productive, healthy, earned money, made people happy, helped a friend and emitted not-a-lot of carbon.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Friday 12th June 09

Up early to get some riddled compost ready for Glenda, who asked me yesterday if I could come and sort out her Bokashi bins, and take the bokashi-ed stuff away, as she does not compost...

I cycled 3 carrier bags of recently riddled compost over, plus a sack of riddled last year. She was delighted, and also that I took away her 3 bokashi bins-worth. I'll help her set up a compost bin next time I visit.

Then went on to another friend who wasn't in but had left a Freecycle gift (a sewing machine!) and had asked me to break up an old bed. This didn't take long but then I got involved in a discussion with a neighbour, who seemed good at giving responsibility for sorting out the world's mess to everybody else but herself... corporations, governments, and she said twice that it was better to make little changes rather than not make any at all... which I agreed with, but then said that little changes were not enough. She got a bit pissed off with me. But then another neighbour came out, and saw my load of wood on the trailer and offered me some more, and was very very positive about what I'm doing as we loaded up even more stuff into my panniers etc.

So I came home with a huge load of bokashi-ed gunk, wood and sewing machine.

I processed some of the wood, enjoyed lunch did more stuff outside, washed up as Gill was preparing tea, and at about 4 Lorna turned up. She had really wanted to come on the World Naked Bike Ride, after participating in the Spencer Tunick photos over at Blarney Castle.

So we got ourselves ready, Lorna borrowed Gill's bike and we cycled into town, popping into Waterstones for a voucher for a birthday present and then the pastie shop before having a sit down in Museum Gardens awaiting the other naked riders. People started trickling in, painted up, or were painted by friends there and then. Lorna put my slogan 'No Fossil Fumes' and an arrow pointing downwards on my back, and she asked me to put 'I (heart) bikes' on hers.

Dave Taylor, Green Councillor sent us on our way, and the police escort was good. There were 100 people on the ride, 30 more than last year, and we cycled very slowly for about 90 minutes, about 6.5 miles, according to several people with mileometers on their bikes.

Lorna and I went via St Nicks on the way back, and then onto home where we warmed up and chatted with Gill, Lorna leaving at 8.30.

What a lovely day. Very enjoyable.

Thursday, 11 June 2009

Thursday 11th June 09

Bit of a bleary start, but came down to keep the peace as my presence helps calm things down just by sitting quietly near the protagonist/s.

I wanted to know if my brother's new 'tanked out' cellar had survived the deluge yesterday so I rang and it was my Mother 'holding the fort' and looking after my niece who's off school, and my brother and sis in law had gone to London. It was nice to have a chat with her as it's been some time since I've phoned. Apparently the cellar was dry but a gutter had overflowed, water had come down a wall and in through a window frame.

I did lots of washing up and sorted out a vast pile of soya milk cartons, getting them ready to take to the recycling skip at Hazel Court. Gill went to town and I did househusbandy stuff and took it relatively easy. I did pop out to see Gladys, a 'little old lady' neighbour who rings me every now and then and asks me to collect compostables, as she had rung yesterday and wanted to give me some old tools. I was happy with a 3 pronged cultivator thing and a large hoe thing, plus a very antiquated two-person saw. I told her I'd give her a sack of compost as a thank-you. Also answered a query on the phone about bokashi, and will go and visit tomorrow to sort it out.

I got some time outside during the afternoon and when the boys came home, joined in a game, but it takes a lot of effort to 'do' make believe but I think they liked my attempts.

At 7.20 got ready to go to the York in Transition meeting at St Nicks... a good meeting, I have half a dozen 'actions' to do, so better get on with some of them....

Wednesday 10th June 09

Excellent day, although got off to a slower start than I would have liked.

Gill went to art and I did the washing up before cycling down to the station so I could go over to Sheffield to see Ali. I took some climbing bean seedlings, a squash and a yam, for her raised beds. The train was a bit late and then there was quite a wait at the tram stop, so didn't get to her until after midday. But hey, that's life!

Had a lovely afternoon with her and at 3 went to collect 'littleboo' from school and she was, as usual, ecstatic to see me... and then when home, helped me plant the beans and other things. Hope the cats don't dig them up with their pooing activities. I buried a load of cat poo under the squash plant as extra fertiliser!

Ali had received an invite to go and see Carol Ann Duffy, the new Poet Laureate, perform a reading, and this is one reason I'd come over, to help Ali get there. We had decided to go on the tram, but the rain started coming down quite heavily so we changed our transport options to her car.... which turned out to be a good thing, as if we had of gone by tram, we would have been completely stuck. The rain came down, hail, thunder and lightening, continual cloud burst for some length of time, resulting in flash-floods all over central Sheffield, tram lines closed and traffic jams everywhere. We spent an hour and a half getting to where we wanted to be... we had intended to go and eat first but this time was used up with the chaos caused by closed roads.

But we got to the church where Carol Ann Duffy was due to speak. She'd taken the train over from Manchester but the floods had prevented her from getting any further than Dore, where she got a bus into town. I loved the poems she read, well, most of them, and her humorous commentaries. She started with a selection of her poems from her book 'The World's Wife' including 'Mrs. Midas', 'Mrs. Tiresias', 'Mrs. Aesop', 'Mrs. Faust' and 'Anne Hathaway', which is I think n the GCSE syllabus. Then she did some more personal stuff, 'A Child Asleep' and a series from Rapture, 'Text', 'Tea', 'Row', 'Syntax' 'Art', 'The Love Poem', and finally 'Prayer' and Premonition, a new poem about her Mother who died a few years ago, and she's only just got to a stage in her life that she can write about her. (see this page for biographical information and a selection of poems read by the author..)

After this we went to a nearby 'stuff yer face for a tenner' and did just that, after which Ali took me to the station. Lots of cancelled and late trains. I eventually got one to Leeds, which got in at midnight, and waited for the 12.34 to York which got in at 1.15. Fortunately a nice young lady was happy to chat, and she, Ruth, told me about her cybernetics degree at Reading Uni, and about her laptop, and I told her about some of my writing and entertaining activities. It made the journey go quicker for both of us.

Home just before 2am, damp but full of buzzy thoughts. Quite a day!

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Tuesday 9th June 09

Up early as one child was cold so Gill woke me and asked me to light the stove. I cuddled my son before lighting the stove, and 10 minutes later he was happily eating his breakfast in front of it...

I seemed to spend most of the day on the computer, although I also washed up, dealt with several phone calls, switched our gas bill to Good Energy and became a Good Energy Pioneer which means I might earn some money promoting the company! I made up my next couple of week's muesli, which is excellent with lychee and apple fruit leather. No-one else seems to like it but I do...

I made a nutloaf for tea... the top half was the basic mix plus spinach, the bottom half was with sweetcorn. I then went out to a site meeting at Rowntree Park for York Green Festival; Rand, Rob, Bob, Rich, Baz and Tom turned up, and we decided where the various sections of the event would go. Rand and I went back to Baz's house and Rand agreed to be the Event Coordinator... hooray!!!

Got back towards 9pm and had nutloaf, potatoes and peas for tea.

Monday 8th June 09

A relatively slow start to the day but awaiting our friend Justin coming round to look at a malfunctioning plug socket, one of the rocker switches has been, on occasion, not switching off.. so definitely time to replace it.

Moving some furniture to allow access meant doing some cleaning, and I lit the stove to do a large pile of washing up. I also blanched about 5 bags of grapes and put them on the tray balanced on the pan of washing up water to dry. So a quite domestic day.

We did spend quite a bit of time with the Euro Election results, which in the UK at least are quite disturbing. Glad our two Greens were re-elected, very unhappy that the electorate in two areas think that the British National Party are worth voting for. Do they not realise that these people are Nazis? Griffin has even been convicted and put in Jail for racist activity! I am ashamed that the people of Yorkshire and Humberside have voted in Andrew Brons (there's a Teutonic name!) and he doesn't represent my views. Not In My Name!

I did a little bit of stacking and hedge cutting then shredding before going out to see the first showing of The End of the Line at City Screen. This was quite disturbing. As I don't eat fish, and haven't for 25 years, I feel I'm doing my bit to stop the devastation of our oceans... but there is a lot more I could be doing. One thing I'll do is to write a review for my Community Care blog... I haven't written a blog for them for 2 or 3 weeks so it's about time to do one!

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Sunday 7th June 09

Nice and lazy morning as the boys were in a good frame of mind because their friend slept over and they all play nicely together... most of the time. Also, Gill made them pancakes for breakfast.

Spent quite a bit of the morning writing, and thinking through last night's experiences.

So a good day, I did a load of work in the garden, including cutting some hedge with shears and then spending half an hour shredding, as the cuttings were quite long and woody. I also did some log stacking, compost heap building, and visited Country Fresh. The two sacks I got from there I took around to Lynn's as she has a dalek bin which is a bit on the dry side, and it really needed a load of fruit and cabbage leaves... which it got, a nice thick layer of wet nitrogen-rich stuff!

Later on in the evening I potted up another cucumber plant which really didn't need to spend a night outside, especially as it has two tiny flowers on it with millimetre-long cucumbers behind them... so it's now in the warmer conservatory in a big pot of rich mix...

More telly in the evening, depressing right-wing gains. Concentrated on preparing fruit for drying. That's local activism.... reducing landfill, making yummy dried fruit out of something which had been thrown away!

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Saturday 6th June 09

Up quite early as today I did have the Askham Bryan York Rotters gig so I was ready to go by just after 9, so went through Bishopthorpe Road, up Scarcroft road and out along Tadcaster Road and Moor Lane and over the new junction on the A1237 which I hadn't circumnavigated yet. I like the cycle facilities.

The Askham Bryan event (summer fair?) was on the big field but there were other things going on elsewhere such as a dog show and plant sales. I went to visit the chainsaw and log-wrangling area, and chatted with the various tree surgeons before it got busy and I had to get back to the Rotters stall.

The York Rotters mini-marquee had already been put up by Chris and Jean, and as I got into volunteer mode, Jo rolled up on her trusty bike. Jo is York's second most enthusiastic composter and we really worked the (small) crowds! My 'hook' was, when people walked past and looked at our cut-away dalek-bin with all sorts of compostable stuff in it, to ask them if they compost, and if the answer was affirmative, to ask them (excitedly!) to tell me about their compost heap! This isn't what a punter might expect, but it was in many cases irresistible and allowed a conversation to start. Invariably, people have questions about various aspects of composting... what can go on, cooked food, how to physically manage the heap, how to use the product... and more. I had a brilliant day, spoke to loads of people and met quite a few folks I knew, including Kit from around the corner, Martin from the Green Festival and several people who knew me as Fiddlesticks.

Jo went after lunch and was replaced by Claire, and we went on til 4.30pm. I helped her put the marquee down and start to pack up but needed to jump on my bike by 4.35. I cycled back through the village and then North via the ring road, which delivered me to Rawcliffe Bar 25 minutes later. I was due to meet Jonathan at 5.15 at Zippos Circus, to meet Martin Burton the Founder and Director, to be given a tour and see the show.

This came from the fact that there was an article in the paper about animal rights protesters removing publicity about Zippos, which has horses and budgerigars, including going into shops and saying they were from Zippos, and saying they had been forced to cancel and taking the posters and fliers away. I had responded with a letter saying I had some sympathy with them, and Martin Burton had written in the next day inviting me to come and see for myself (see clickable links in 3 June post).

Martin was waiting in the ticket office and when Jonathan and I turned up, took us for a coffee and a chat about how he had arrived at being the Director of Zippos Circus for the past 35 years. He had started out doing teacher training but had done some busking as a clown and escapologist, and this he felt was more his kind of thing. He told his parents that as there were not many jobs for middle school drama teachers, he'd do a few years as a performer and then settle down into teaching. He declared that he had been a disappointment to his parents as he'd never gone back into teaching and his mother still occasionally joked to him about getting a proper job... He'd done a load of touring with his clown troupe but the problems with different venues meant he needed a venue which would be the same each time, so he got a big top.. well, his first was a large frame tent, but at least the performers could get used to the venue!

He either helped organise or was responsible for the London International Festival of Circus back in the 1980s, where there was his 'traditional' circus, with clowns and jugglers, horses and, I think ducks, alongside a new or 'alternative' circus with no animals and things like people climbing ropes naked, and initially there was some mutual animosity and mistrust. But this went as the respect for the different approaches grew.

He has always had a lot of respect for the horses and other animals in his circus, and disapproves of wild animals being kept and used. Both the horses and budgies have been living alongside people for countless generations, and they are trained using positive reinforcement, never punishment. The horse trainer will sometimes go and just observe the horses in the paddock for hours at a time, and as soon as one does something he would like it to do in the ring, he gives it an edible treat of 'pony nuts' which are made of grain and horses love them. If the animal does this again, he gives it another. The whip which is used in the ring is not used for actually whipping the horse, it is a visual signal. I watched this closely during the show, and not once did the whip actually touch any horse. There is more info about the horses on this part of Zippos website (just click on 'animal welfare') .

Martin took us for a walk around the circus, showing us his chip-fat powered vehicles (all of them and the generators are powered by used cooking oil) and the low energy lightbulbs, making his chip-fat bill not quite as high! The loose-box stables, designed by Born Free had the 4 Palomino Arab-cross stallions in the front of the big top, where members of the public could see them, and the two grooms live very close to them so if there's any distress or problem, they would hear. One of the grooms came to the door of his caravan as we walked round, so they are listening all the time. The place where they pitch the big top must always have a paddock area, as the horses spend quite a bit of time outside, running free. Their travelling horse box has a ramp at the rear and at the side so that if there is a 'rear shunt' the horses can be taken out of the side.

We looked into the budgerigar caravan and heard a description of how they line up to get into their cage when the show is about to start, which I found hard to believe until I actually saw the show.

Most of the show is human, not animals. There is one part where the tiny Fallabella horse gallops round following one of the huge Palominos, and a part where the Palominos go round the ring and turn circles, and one of them rears up on it's hind legs, which is part of it's mating behaviour (which is why they use stallions). The budgie act was good, I really enjoyed that as I'd never seen performing birds. But for me, the best bits were the high wire, the aerial stuff, trapeze, rope work, jugglers and diabolo player, the Marinhos 'Wheel of Death' (brilliant!) and dancers. I'm not a big fan of clowns but enjoyed their many skills and their timing.

Martin chatted to us during the interval (and said hello to Jim Semlyen, who was there with his children and mother) and afterwards too. He took great pleasure in telling us as much as he could, and answering any questions, and I was left in no doubt that the animals and people are cared for, loved, respected and certainly not mis-treated. I came away feeling much more educated about real circuses, and the situation they find themselves in with regards to the tiny but vocal minority of animal rights protesters. I hope that these protesters concentrate on the few circuses left with wild animals, and leave Zippos alone. And if they do want to really see how Zippos treats their animals, I'm sure that Martin would show them around just like he did for me.

For a taste of what Zippos Circus is like, watch this 3 minute slideshow. Or go and see it yourself. And say hello to Martin from me!

I said my goodbyes to Jonathan who was there by automobile and I cycled home, getting in about 9pm. All was well at home, with a friend visiting and getting ready for a sleepover.

Friday 5th June 09

Gill woke me up at 9.30 saying 'aren't you supposed to be somewhere at ten o clock?' and I told her that it was tomorrow that I had the all-dayer as a York Rotter at Askham Bryan, and today only had evening stuff. She came to bed and relaxed, and fell asleep. I got up and did some moving things around in the garden, lit the stove, did washing up and other bits and pieces.

I went into town as I had two complaints from yesterday's election: some illegal Labour Party activity outside a polling station, and the cock up with my receiving Charles's ballot paper and Charles also getting one. So I went to speak to the person in charge of the York Electoral Office, who invited me to put the complaints in writing, also went to my building society and bank, and to Sainsburys.

Gill did a load of lawnmowing before it rained, and I did a load of riddling compost as Richard had requested some more compost at the shop, I took 8 carrier bags down in the trailer and collected a bag and a box of not-yet-composted stuff.

The evening was really good, Critical Mass, A film by the World Development Movement, and a Reggae night Green Party Fundraiser. Got back at midnight...

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Thursday 4th June 09

Came down stairs before 8 and the house felt quite cold... we've had a few warm days and then last night was chilly and this morning was cold, so I lit the stove and prepared to do the washing up. Gill got a phone call from the hospital to say her knee physiotherapist was not in today so her appointment was cancelled.

Managed to get boy 1 out of the house on time but boy 2 was late, and Gill rang up school to say she would be in as soon as possible with him. I have deliberately ceased to get worried or upset by this type of morning. I am generally very very punctual, nearly always arriving early (apart from things which drop off my radar, like this week's Planning Panel cock-up) and I am slowly learning not to project my likes and dislikes, my agenda, onto my children and wife. I just have to let them get on with it.

I did a variety of housework jobs and waited for the post to come, as it promised to contain Charles's Proxy Postal vote which had not yet turned up. And it did, so I filled it in and took it to the polling station, gave it in and placed my vote. I collected a trailer-load of wood from a skip on the way back... with permission of course!

Had a good chat on the phone with Dave Hampton, the 'original' Carbon Coach, about how he does his specialised form of life coaching, and I enjoyed talking to him for the first time. Weird, as I feel I know him quite well, despite having never met him!

Funny old afternoon. I got tea ready as Gill was late returning from town, but had to rush out at 6 as I'd promised to go and sit at a polling station with my Green Party rosette on. There was another Green supporter there when I arrived, Jane, who is relatively new to York, and it was good to meet her and chat for a bit. She'd been there since 4pm and was cold, so left at 6.45ish, and I stayed on for another hour or so. I was surprised how many people grinned at me, or put their thumb up, or just told me they'd voted Green. But we'll have to wait for the count over the weekend to know the results.

Came home via Freshways and collected the usual sack of beginning to rot 'foreign veg' for my heap.

A nice tea... pasta, broccoli, pastie, fruit salad. Felt full and satisfied. Enjoyed 'Ideal' on telly... what a totally surreal programme, hilarious!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Wednesday 3rd June 09

Spent most of the morning doing York Green Festival stuff on the computer, but got up and out and about before midday. Also got an email from the Press with Martin Burton's phone number, from Zippo's Circus, following my letter being published yesterday and a reply due to be published today... I rang Martin Burton and thanked him for his offer of showing me round the circus animals, and he said that my letter didn't have any of the usual rhetoric some of his opponents came out with, and that I had obviously thought about the issues. He invited me to come with a friend or my wife, and to ring him back when I have decided which performance to go and see.

Gill came back from Art with a partly done copy of a Klee, who she described as being not nearly as good as our youngest, who continually draws and doodles, all brilliant stuff.

After lunch I did some more work in the garden... shredding some greenery which Gill had pruned out, putting a load of shredded paper which Ben had brought from work onto various heaps, going to Country Fresh to buy eggs, potatoes and tomatoes, and pick up two boxes of compostables, Freshways for one bag of similar, and then came back to help Gill in the kitchen... peeling potatoes.

Gill watched a trailer for the film Garbage Warrior on my computer and told me I must go and see it, so I headed to Derwent College to the Archetecture Society meeting which was a showing of the film, about Michael Reynolds, the designer of the 'Earthship' concept, homes built with waste materials such as rammed-earth tyres, beer bottles, plastic bottles. It was an excellent film, very inspiring. I had seen various bits of the New Mexico homesteads on other films and programmes, but this film was his story, told by him, including lengthy battles with the authorities to allow the continued building of his projects. The bit I most enjoyed was his discussion of the importance of experimentation and the value of making mistakes.

After the film, I said a little about York in Transition and invited people to take a card and sign up to our newsletter. I also went to the bar with a group of about 6 of them, and had some intense conversation there too.

I got back soon after 10 and later Gill showed me the film she'd got in her camera of the boys and their friend feeding the fish over in Pocklington, and our youngest pretending to be Bill Oddie tracking the 'wild humans'. Very funny!

Tuesday 2nd June 09

I got up quite early as I knew I had quite a bit to do today, and I settled down to try to do my Community Care blog, but I failed as I couldn't concentrate. And then I got a phone call from a friend who I met at the Northern Green Gathering, who'd posted a 'status' on Facebook asking for information on 'green funeral options', and I'd replied and said we ought to have a chat. She was wanting to plan her own funeral and convey those wishes to her solicitor. So, I went through the 4 legal and available methods of body disposal, and their relative carbon costs, and social aspects, as a funeral and/or place to remember the deceased is important for those who loved that person. I ended up telling her about the 5th method, not yet available, Promession, and hopefully she'll be able to make a decision as to which she would prefer for her own body.

Gill headed off to town soon after getting back from taking our youngest to school, as she had a dental appointment. I went to Thomas's for Yesterbake bread, the Co-op for cereals and flour, and to deliver a cycle helmet, on loan, to Lynn who'd asked last night if she could borrow one. I had a chat with her... her garden was looking good.

On the way back I noticed a skip with a large amount of turf in it, some rolled up, unused and ready to be stacked up and made into loam. I spoke to the owners who enthusiastically invited me to take the lot... and said I could sort through some other items as well! I took four trailer-loads plus what could sit on my pannier rack. The other items I rescued were some unopened toiletries and cosmetics, a mirror in a gold coloured frame and an old phone which I will put in the WEEE area at Hazel Court next time I go. But the turf will be most useful to me. It did take a while to bring it back and get it stacked neatly down the garden.

Later in the day, I was getting ready for the Green Festival meeting and I realised I had forgotten the Planning Panel meeting, so I fired off an apologetic email... my life is too busy, too unstructured and I'm probably trying to do too much. I expect a telling off from my colleagues for messing them around. I missed this one because I had to book the next block of meetings at Tang Hall Community Centre, I hadn't done that and the dates had not gone in my diary. No excuse really.

So at 7 I cycled off to the Green Festival meeting at St John's, and it was a really good meeting, very productive. It now looks like we have an event co-ordinator, so in my mind, this event is now more likely to happen rather than not.

Home before 10 and Gill had had a tough evening. She asked me not to go out on Wednesday evening.

Monday, 1 June 2009

Monday 1st June 09

Although I had a headache, I had a good day. I got ready so I could be at Bish St Kids at 10am to do a session about waste, recycling and composting. I took a bag of recyclable and non-recyclable items, several bags of compost and a couple of plastic tubs with assorted 'minibeasts' in, like worms, slugs, woodlice, centipedes, staphylinid beetles and the like. Also took the rotasieve, which is always enjoyed by children.

This gig was the second of two they'd booked with me, the first being a Fiddlesticks show/workshop and today's being a John the Rotter appearance. The activities were very non-structured... first did what stuff was made out of, and how it was recycled, and what happened if it wasn't recycled. We even covered what blood was made out of and how it clotted, and white blood cells! I had just steered it onto composting when it was midday and lunchtime, so we had a break, lunch out on the grass under a tree (well, I was!) and then we continued outside with more compost beasties and riddling. The riddled compost was put on the herb-bed and the apple tree, and I went to a few good websites on their computer and bookmarked them, so they can be used at a later date.

I was away by 1.15 and on the way home popped into Country Fresh for some not-so-fresh stuff, mostly not from this country... Home before 2, came in and flopped. However, Gill was doing the child-pick-up so I continued flopping until they all got in when my energy came back; I picked salads, did some washing up and got on with things.

A LETS meeting during the evening, with a new member!