Monday, 31 August 2009

Monday 31st August 09

How lovely to have a Bank Holiday Monday with no work!

Quite a lazy morning, and then did washing up and had lunch, and at 1.30 set off with our youngest to Fulford Show. We cycled down together, which was nice, as our eldest said he'd prefer to walk, so he and Gill turned up about an hour later, by which time we'd walked round once and I'd settled in to helping on the Green Party stall, selling books at 5op and tombola tickets, which although I never buy my own, I enjoyed selling.

It was a really good event, with lots of stalls... mainly fundraising with tombolas and the like, but also a little train ride, races, tug-o-war, and in the nearby Social Hall, competitions for best vegetable, painting, kids mini-garden and many other categories. I was delighted to see that our friend Melody won second prize in the mis-shaped vegetable competition, for a green bean which had got itself into a spiral, beaten by a cucumber in a broad smile shape.

The boys had a good enough time as they met friends there, and I was pleased to meet lots of people I knew. Our eldest went back with Melody and family, I cycled back with our youngest as far as Melody and Simon's and left him there, and zoomed down to Country Fresh, rather too fast. My trailer tyre hit something and bounced up, overturning the trailer and bending part of the trailer frame which is a nuisance. I either need to hit it back into shape with a big hammer (back of the axe?) or take it to the welders to have it heated up and bent back, for which they will charge me £10.

Anyway, I returned home with a big box of bananas and a box of mixed compostables and a sack of similar. Collected a sack from Freshways too... so as soon as I got home I went to unload the stuff into the Compostumbler which is now full again. And steaming.

The family came home, with Melody and her family, so there was suddenly a garden full, bouncing on the trampoline and making loads of noise. A lovely day.

We had the carrot soup for tea, with toasties... I've got to say it is one of the best carrot soups I've made. Probably as Gill added some cooked potato and whizzed it up and seasoned it, so it was a joint effort.

I had a very late night preparing 17 red peppers and a large pile of plums all for drying. I love dried plums, and my sweet red pepper paprika makes my soups and stews totally yummy. But having the stove burning on warm evenings makes it like a sauna in here....

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Sunday 30th August 09

Up at 9am and had a bath with the two big cans of water I heated on the stove last night. I washed my hair as I like to be clean and shiny when I work...

So, was ready to roll by 11.45am, and got to the station and bought my ticket by just after 12, easily catching the 12.15 to Leeds. I ate my sandwiches whilst sitting at the pick-up turning circle behind Leeds station, where I was due to be picked up by Allan and taken to Middleton Park, for the second time this year.

For me, this was a rather special occasion, as last time I worked with an 8 year-old girl and made quite an impression on her, so much that she has bought a flower stick (like a devilstick but with tassels on each end) and she, her mum Christine and dad Paul have all made me facebook friends! I'm even playing Scrabble with Mother and Daughter... So I was looking forward to meeting them. The daughter has been inventing tricks and was looking forward to showing me what she could do.

The venue was just being set up and I had a coffee before I got changed and got going with a little workshop followed by a show. My new friend turned up; she hasn't had a teacher with her flowersticks and has therefore invented a range of moves which are completely original and unique, tricks which although weren't well-polished, were completely new to me and I was very impressed. Not bad for a 8 year old!

The day went smoothly, everybody seemed to enjoy themselves and the light rain didn't dampen spirits unduly. I finished with loads of balloon give-aways and all-too-soon it was 4pm and time to get changed back into my 'John' costume (!) and get a lift back to the station, where I got the 5.15 train back home.

And a quiet evening, delicious meal, lit the stove so I could wash up and dry fruit, also made carrot soup on the stove too. Lots of York Green Festival stuff to attend to.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Saturday 29th August 09

A lovely late start to the day, and after breakfast, the others went out and I spent some time in the garden, putting a load of stuff in the old Compostumbler (I love having two!) and then I did my emails and Rich told the YGF Crew that the posters and flyers were ready. I rang him and said I could come and collect at 2pm, but I went outside after the call and noticed that somehow there were loads of wasps outside the glass dome. I decided some more compost and water was a good idea to try to stop them, and I also used a long bamboo to prod under the soil into the cave they had excavated, letting it flood with compost and water, which hopefully will make it more difficult for them to keep going.

I got a bit engrossed in this and left the house to go and get the posters at 2.15... but it only takes me 5 minutes to get to the office where the risograph is, and I got a single two-colour A3 poster, a few A4 two-tone posters and a pile of two-tone flyers. The big poster went up in Country Fresh where I left some flyers (and picked up three sacks of compostables!)... and back home via Freshways who had one bag of resources for me.

I then got secateurs and fork and cycled off to the allotment... the first time in yonks I've been there. I knew the potatoes would be done and ready to dig... so I did a bit of bramble pruning, weeding and dug up three rows of spuds. There weren't many but I dug them all up... the best crop was the Pink Fir Apple.

I got back at about 7pm and Gill had made a kind of Shepherd's Pie with the tomato base I made a day or two ago, some green beans I picked today, and mashed potato (using the potatoes I swapped for apple logs) which was nice and filling.

I lit the stove as I'm working tomorrow and need to wash my hair and trim my beard... and of course, the washing up is a constant chore, one I prefer to do with water heated on the woodstove not gas.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Friday 28th August 09

A busy day... two Green Festival meetings and a funeral.

I got up just after 9 and had a quick breakfast and then got a load of potato sacks out of the garage where I put them to dry out, as a Freecycle person has requested 20 for his spuds.

Then raced down to town on the bike, trailer rattling and bouncing behind me, with me dressed in my best black long trousers and Jimi Hendrix black teeshirt, in the pouring rain to the York Green Festival meets City of York Council Environmental Health meeting.

This went reasonably well... despite us not having all the answers. Fortunately Jem from JSS Audio was there and he did have some answers... after all he is a professional! I agreed to be the person who will cycle round all the sensitive areas nearby and assess the sound levels. I will have to keep records, so that if we do have complaints, we can demonstrate that we did everything possible to reduce the likelihood of noise nuisance. We have some technical fixes too, but fortunately that's nothing to do with me.

I had to go at 11am as I had decided to go to the funeral of John Morris, a friend of my good friend Jonathan. I met John Morris about 5 times, and found him an interesting, humorous and friendly guy, more unique than the average person and with a fascinating home full of books.

The funeral was at the Crematorium, and I got there with about 5 minutes to spare and Jonathan beckoned me over. There were a few familiar faces, Debbie from over the road, John and Shirley Bibby, some other York folks. The service was really good. I was fascinated to hear more about John, his times spent at Ampleforth School, his love of botany, antiquarian books, and his unusual lifestyle. His wife, daughter and three friends spoke, and the celebrant was good too. I haven't been to many funerals but this was a good one. Sad, but good. A good send off.

Cycled home in thoughtful mood... funerals always make me realise how short life is, and remind me to continue packing as much into it as I can, as I could be dead tomorrow, next month, next year... or might last 10, 30 or even 50 years more! The moral is we rarely know when the end is nigh, so live every day as if it is your last...

I cannot remember what I did in the couple of hours between the funeral and my next meeting.. probably some compost management (I know I changed my clothes!) and I had lunch, but at 4ish I headed off to Rowntree Park to meet John the park keeper, who will be on duty on Sunday 6th. I wanted to brief him about the Festival, and find out about various power and resources issues. The news was good, and I came home via Country Fresh happy, and bought some avocados and eggs, carrots and a head of broccoli.

When I got back, I had a visitor from around the corner, a lady called Gillian which she pronounces with a hard G, not a J. She told me that they were taking down a large fir tree, and they had stacked under it a pile of logs... and did I want them? I have never knowingly said no to logs, so I happily took the wheelbarrow round to pick them up. When I got the second load, I sat and chatted with them, and had a very jolly conversation. And the logs were great too... really dry hardwood.

Spent a long time chopping apples up for drying... and used one of the new logs to get them started. And heat washing up water...

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Thursday 27th August 09

A good morning because all the children were playing happily together. However we were planning a trip into town so we set a time to stop playing and get ready to go out.

So, into town and we ended up having pizza in Museum Gardens, which was fun and very unusual for us as we hardly ever eat out.

All back home and at about 6pm our lovely relatives went home. We will miss them as we all get on so well.

Over the past few weeks we've become aware of a wasps nest quite near our back door, in the ground in amongst the plants in the border. Initially we decided to ignore it, as we are not anti-wasp particularly, and know they perform a useful ecosystem role of eating caterpillars and fruit flies etc. However, the numbers had increased to levels which started to ring alarm bells when hearing about a chap recently who disturbed a nest and was stung so many times he died. Also, quite recently, both Gill and our youngest got stung (one at a friend's house, one whilst on the train) and it was unpleasant so I decided to destroy the nest.

I wondered about just covering it up with a large pile of compost, during the night when they were less active. I cut the plants back a bit to reveal the hole and soil, and then at midnight a few nights ago, I poured a large bag of compost onto the hole and surrounding area, and watered it in.

The following morning, they had re-excavated the hole and were just as busy as before. I considered pouring a large volume of boiling water into the hole, again whilst they were mostly asleep. But Gill suggested they might go berserk and to check on the net how to do it properly.

There were lots of suggestions about using chemicals, and petrol etc, but the one which took my fancy was the glass bowl method. This looked like a better way than just covering up the nest entrance with soil, as the darkness means they just dig their way out. The glass bowl trick means they think the hole is open to the air but of course, cannot actually get out to collect food for the grubs in the nest. The bowl is left in place for several weeks and they gradually all die.

So we found a big mixing bowl and the composty area I'd so carefully put on gave a really good base to push the basin into, again, whilst it was dark. I put a bit more compost round the edge and watered it in for a good tight fit. All of today there was a lot of activity inside the dome, and only a little bit outside it, from insects which hadn't been in the nest when I capped it. However, another suggestion off the 'net was to put an industrial vacuum cleaner next to the nest entrance and suck them into the vacuum cleaner... So I used our old Dyson and spent several short sessions sucking in stragglers, just a minute or two about 5 times. This definitely reduced the numbers of confused wasps outside the dome.

I feel this method, chemical free and not dangerous (I haven't received one sting) is a good one. I'll report on it's longer term success as the weeks roll on. If the nest had been elsewhere in the garden, I'd have left it, but right outside the back door was a poor choice of position for the little darlings.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Wednesday 26th August 09

Up early as a house full of children and a day at Knaresborough planned, although I wasn't actually very keen on going.

However, niece Lellie phoned and as the day was wet, Gill decided with her that it might be better to meet up at the National Railway Museum at midday. I went online to check bus times and we had a pretty chilled morning until a few minutes before the bus was due, when it did get a bit hectic and shouty, but then all was quiet and I was alone in the house.

I went to Thomas' and bought lots of Yesterbake bread.

I did a big wash-up, and prepared a nut loaf to add to the soup I made last night. This nutloaf was the standard pattern: breadcrumbs mixed with peanut butter and mixed nuts, then assorted vegetables added... this time I used one raw grated beetroot, one raw grated carrot, one chopped onion, some finely chopped cooked sweet potato, one egg, a slurp of red wine and a dash of soya sauce, some bouillon and herbs. I lined the baking dish with seeds stuck to a wipe of margarine. I microwaved this and when the families came home, turned it out onto a metal tray and bunged it in the oven to crisp up.

I whizzed the carrot soup with the hand-held blender. This I tasted and found it was delicious! I lit the stove despite it being warm and summery as I wanted to cook the soup and I have 11 red peppers sliced up and drying, plus I don't know how many windfall apples (James Grieve) sliced and drying. There are three racks of apple rings balanced on top of each other...

I also had several Fiddlesticks calls... some booking enquiries for the autumn, and a Freecycle visitor to pick up 8 potato sacks. I popped down to see Raj at Freshways and picked up a sack of compostables, and on the way home picked up a lot of recyclable litter, mainly aluminium cans.

The family group came back on the bus and were glad to find a meal ready. Gill made a pasta salad with the remnants of yesterday's pasta, some tomatoes out of the conservatory and the penultimate cucumber from the conservatory.

All the children ate well, despite the youngest (6 years old) not eating anything with tomatoes or courgettes (the carrot soup had tomatoes and courgettes in) and all were rewarded for eating slices of pear afterwards by having chunks of carrot cake that Gill made for our eldest's birthday on Sunday.

Then we discussed what we are doing tomorrow, and everybody settled down to watch The Gods Must Be Crazy. I slipped out at 7pm to go to an informal York in Transition meeting at The Hansom Cab, which was productive. Home before 10pm and another huge load of washing up facing me. I decided to do my emails and blog first though... so the washing up will be done well after midnight.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Tuesday 25th August 09

A relatively early start as I had to visit Helgi at 10 to sort out the music line-up for the Green Festival. I spent about 45 minutes with him, helping him do a variety of carefully worded emails so he can decide who to take out of the provisional line up for the main stage so that we can get Holly Tamar on before Seize the Day.

Then I bombed along to Rowntree Park to see if I could get John the Park Keeper's contact details, but he wasn't there. However, I did speak to the John's colleague and talked things over with him, and spoke to the children's inflatables people about the Festival too.

Came home via Country Fresh and picked up two boxes of compostables as well as a cauliflower and some bananas. Met a guy who repairs bikes called Kevin, who has a copy of a film that Gill saw in New Zealand in 1986 and she's never forgotten it. I asked if I could borrow it, in exchange for some dried fruit. It's called The Gods Must Be Crazy. I'm really looking forward to watching it... Gill's told me so much about it!

I had lunch. Then our guests arrived, Gill's niece Sophie and her three children, but not Dankie her husband who has taken all his holiday already and is at work. Her children get on well with ours and we love it when they visit.

During the afternoon, Gill and Sophie went to get some towels and pillowcases, and the children played happily on their own, so I did a load of chainsawing and splitting. Then Sophie took all the children to the park, and was gone for ages.

They came back shortly before I had to go out to the Hull Road Ward Planning Panel, due to be at Tang Hall Community Centre. When I got there at 6.30, the gates were locked shut and a conference was going on as to where to have the meeting. A consensus was reached to go to The Magnet pub on Osbaldwick Lane, so I cycled round followed by two cars. We had a lot to do, perhaps 8 or 10 applications including 3 or 4 which we opposed... and of course we had to explain why we opposed them, on planning grounds. It was a very lively meeting which lasted over an hour.

So back at 8pm and Gill had left enough pasta, cauliflower and sauce for me to have a really good meal. We had a lovely evening... warm as I lit the stove so I could make a carrot soup. The children went to bed without a hitch and quite late on, after Sophie had gone to bed, Gill and I started watching The Gods Must Be Crazy. The basic plot centres round a tribe of Bushmen in the Kalahari, who find a Coke bottle which had been thrown out of a plane and the chaos which ensues. It is full of slapstick and other humour, but there might be a message in there too.

Monday, 24 August 2009

Monday 24th August 09

An early start as various things to do in town, did most of them (paid cheque in, paid water bill, visited Anti Gravity, picked up mouldy oranges from Millers Yard) but as I didn't take a shopping list, I forgot to go to the Post Office to pick up a parcel. Duh.

So when I got home, and confessed my error, Gill suggested I cycle down again (after lunch!) and get the parcel (it was for the children) and get coffee from Oxfam and Gill-friendly ice cream from Sainsbury's. So I did this.

Fortunately I got back in enough time to do some compost management, filling the old Compostumbler.

We had a good tea... the leek and potato soup I made yesterday, plus assorted bits of quiche and cold pasta leftovers.

I then popped round to Lynn with some LETS stuff, and on to the Green Festival meeting in Stonegate, which was very productive.

Sunday 23rd August 09

Our eldest son's birthday... so there was excitement first thing with presents, and after midday my brother Thomas and his wife arrived, on the way from visiting friends in the North East, with their youngest child who was very shy initially but then suddenly became completely animated and lots of fun.
Had lunch with them and a wander down the garden.

I did some compost management in the afternoon and picked lots of beans for tea.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Saturday 22nd August 09

Our last day, so up early to pack and get back to York.

Friday 21st August 09

Our last full day on holiday and our last day before our eldest child's birthday which will allow us to go shopping for a few presents. We also had 12 'silver coins' left; tokens we bought at the funfair... we'd bought £10 worth, 22 tokens, and only used 10 of them so today we wanted to use up the remainder.

So we got the bus into Bridlington and got off just after the station so we could have a lunch-treat... eating out at Bridlington's only Veggie Restaurant, 'Bean There'. It is a really lovely place and it's good to go somewhere and not have to wonder if there are dead animals hidden in the food.

I had a garlic mushroom tart with salads, Gill had chilli-beany loaf and salads, the boys had lasagne which also came with a salad. Then the boys had a slice of cake each and Gill and I had a hot drink. This all came to £25, which seemed reasonable.

Then we walked into town, Gill and the boys visited shops and I had just 30 minutes in Icy Tea.

So, to use up the tokens, the boys had another go on the Jungle River log flume, and I had a go in one of the dodgems... there were just two other drivers, both teenage lads, who took great pleasure ramming me as often as possible... but I did my fair share of bumping too. Finally, our youngest, who is quite a daredevil, was very keen on going on the 'MiamiFever' ride, which is a row of seats attached to a pair of large rotors, which lift the seats and move them up and around and down, quite quickly. Our little lad hooted with laughter, giggling away, it was well worth it just to hear him having such fun.

Then we headed for the bus station where there was a bus about to go.

Thursday 20th August 09

Last night I was reading 'Real Bridlington' magazine and I saw that there was a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream at Sewerby Park, and I fancied going as I don't think I've ever seen it. Gill rang and found out it was at 2pm in the grounds of the Park, and was for anyone who paid to get into the Park.

However, the family conference that decided the outcome of the day meant that I didn't get to see A Midsummer Night's Dream, as the boys were enthusiastic about visiting the lighthouse and didn't want to see any Shakespeare.

So, the boys and I got the bus to North Landing, bearing sandwiches and bottles of juice, and then walked quite leisurely along the cliff tops to Flamborough Head and the modern lighthouse. This took an hour, and we had a really good 'nature walk' including finding ladybirds, a large spider, an empty cocoon, cinnabar moth caterpillars on ragwort, spotted orchids with unripe seeds, other interesting plants and more.

When we eventually got to the lighthouse, I bought 3 tickets for the 1pm tour, and then we sat in the lee of the restaurant building to get out of the wind and ate our sandwiches. The lighthouse tour was really good, especially the views from the top. Owned and run by Trinity House, the 'new' Flamborough Lighthouse was built in 1806 after a spate of wrecks on the rocks around the headland. Originally, the rotating optics were run by clockwork, with a lead weight descending the centre of the tower and needing rewinding every 45 minutes, but nowadays everything is motorised and automatic. Well worth the visit.

After this, we made our way down to the beach. The tide was right out... revealing several coves to the North of the beach with caves and arches... quite a treat.

We didn't spend a long time there, and the boys wanted to go home after this, as quickly as possible.. but the only 'quick' way was to walk back to Flamborough and get the bus from the village back to Sewerby. I was the slow walker this time... collecting blackberries from the hedges in a found ice-cream tub.

The bus didn't take long to arrive and we were home just a few minutes later. But Gill wasn't in and was still at Sewerby Park, so I started making tea. Gill came back having very much enjoyed the play... by Quantum Theatre, with just 5 players doing mega-quick costume changes and being very entertaining. Gill came back full of it... she'd had a lovely day. And so had we...

I cooked a meal with rice, potato and carrot in one pan, onions, mushroom, sweetcorn and green beans in another, and a red-lentil dahl flavoured with some spicy tomato chutney. I was very happy that everybody enjoyed this... especially the poppadoms which Gill had bought to go with it. I had a small bottle of Lambrini perry.

Wednesday 19th August 09

Got the Road Train into Bridlington so the boys could 'do' the fairground rides and I could go to the internet shop and get my emails. I'd taken my laptop with me as I thought that I might get a chance to do some writing (my book!) and as York Green Festival is looming, I knew I had to keep in touch with the other team members at least once during the week, so today I took the laptop to Icy Tea which for a small charge, allows access to the 'net. Whilst the family went shopping for books, I went to have one hour (£2) at Icy Tea. However my Thunderbird thing managed to let me send some email replies, but not all... and just before I came off, I clicked on 'Get Mail' and found that some of the more important stuff hadn't been sent, and had been returned. The Icy Tea server system and my AVG thingy were not playing ball... and the chap there, 'Angel' couldn't work out why. He did have a good think and tried changing some things on my computer... and finally suggested I came back later when the shop owner would be back, who might be able to sort the problem out.

So I met up with the family and we headed for the fairground. Our youngest wanted to do the flight simulator ride, a box on hydraulic rams containing a screen, projector and seats with seatbelts. He chose a ride called 'Glacier Ride', and I went in with them. It was excellent, very exciting, stomach-churning. I'd happily do more of these...

However, we went to have a go on the Dodgems... the boys did anyway, and they both had some difficulty steering and even keeping their feet on the accelerator... and this caused some distress and promises of 'never again' once it had finished.

Then, after some persuasion, we decided to go on 'The Yorkshire Belle', a boat trip of an hour's duration towards Flamborough Head and back. Gill opted not to go, and went to find some shade and a sit down. The boat trip was really good... good to see the cliffs we've walked along and played under from the sea. On the way back, we sailed (motored) close to the Patricia, a ship belonging to Trinity House, and one of three which services navigation buoys and other work. We all enjoyed this trip.

The family went home and I went back to Icy Tea and went on Tiscali Webmail, but as that doesn't have the useful address function, where when you type in the first letters of the email address or intended recipient's name, suggestions come up (available in Outlook and Thunderbird), I had to keep toggling between the Thunderbird address book and the Webmail window to copy people into various replies. BUT I managed to get the most important stuff done, I think.

I got the last 'land train' back... someone gave me a ticket so it was a free ride.

I did some foraging before tea, found mainly poppy seeds which I put in a paper bag inside a plastic bag, once I realised the seam on the paper bag wasn't very good!

Gill made tea... potato and veg croquettes from M+S, with new potatoes, our own green beans, carrot and pesto/tomato sauce. Delicious!

A quiet night in... well. reasonably quiet, despite the complete lack of soundproofing in this cottage. All vehicles on the road outside sound like they are in the living room, and conversations upstairs are audible downstairs, and the TV on the lowest volume disturbs the child trying to get to sleep upstairs.

Tuesday 18th August 09

I didn't want to go to the Sewerby Park Zoo so I had a walk by myself to Danes Dyke, south along the Dyke and to the beach, and along the beach back to Sewerby.

Monday 17th August 09

A very late start, although Gill had been up for ages when the three males got up.

At lunchtime we all headed off to Bridlington... we missed the bus so we got the 'land train'; a diesel tractor dressed up as a locomotive, pulling three carriages, and running along the path from Sewerby Park to the end of Bridlington Promenade near the harbour.

Sunday 16th August 09

Our first full day's holiday.

In the morning went to the Model Village just 2 minutes from our cottage, and whilst the family were having a second go around, I perused a bus timetable and found that there are special Sunday and Bank Holiday only services which go to the lighthouse and Bempton RSPB reserve. So I worked out a good set of connections, and we had lunch.

We all got the 2.50 bus to Flamborough and changed to get the next bus to Bempton Cliffs, where we would get an hour before the last bus back and a reasonable connection in Flamborough for the Sewerby bus.

The bus dropped us off in the carpark and as we walked towards the RSPB Bempton visitor centre, Gill took a tumble and landed on her knees, nose and forehead. She was quite shaken. We all helped her to the visitor centre where she sat and recovered. She didn't feel up to going down to the cliff tops to see the seabirds, but we three did so we headed off to the cliff tops. At the viewing area we came to, there was an RSPB volunteer with a telescope on a tripod. He lowered it so the children could see the cliffs close up... and the beautiful Gannets, a pair of which were 'beak fencing'; a courtship behaviour. We walked along to another viewing area with even more wonderful views of the magnificent cliffs (some photos on this webpage) but no man with telescope...

We soon scuttled back to the visitor centre where Gill had rallied and had bought pencils, pad of paper, postcards, and was drawing. We spent some time in the centre, I chatted to a rather nice RSPBer called Nadia...

We went for the bus. It's route was to Flamborough, then to the lighthouse and back to Flamborough. I asked if we could stay on the bus so we could have a quick view of the Flamborough Head Lighthouses (there are two), and the driver was happy with that. So when we got off in Flamborough, to get the bus to Sewerby, I saw that the route was to South Landing, back to Flamborough, and then to Sewerby... so when it came in, I asked the driver if we could get on and have a quick view of South Landing before going to our destination. He was OK about that!
So we had a really good bus tour of the Flamborough peninsular.

When we got in, Gill immediately walked down to the Co-op shop which is about 10 minutes into Bridlington, and I made tea. I made rice and veg with chick peas in a tomato and basil sauce which was very well recieved.

We all went for a game of Frisbee and then after the children went to bed, Gill and I had a game of Scrabble which she won.

Saturday 15th August 09

Took the train to Bridlington.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Friday 14th August 09

Another good day... Up early as another phone call, and then at 11 a visit from Harrison Builders who had a chap walking around yesterday trying to interest people in having solar hot water... so today a team of 3 chaps came round and surveyed the place, looking at where the boiler is, and what kind of boiler it is, and the roof space, and they said it would be relatively simple. They were interested in the stoves, and enjoyed samples of dried fruit. I hope for a low quote!

The system they offer is by Alpha Innovation who offer 'flat plate collectors' ('Solar Smart') and I thought I wanted evacuated tubes... but I still haven't looked at all the possible options, and I've only had a couple of quotes so far. I'm keeping my mind open and wallet closed for the while!

Then sometime after 12, whilst I was riddling sawdust for the compost toilet, my next guests arrived, Ania and Lucas (pronounced Woo Cash, as he's Polish... they both are) who had asked if I might have some wood suitable for producing flavoured smoke. Lucas has got together with a friend and is purchasing a recently slaughtered pig, and is going to make sausages, hams and assorted other porky bits, including smoked stuff. Although I'm vegetarian, and have been now for 25 years or so, I am a realist and accept that 97% of the UK population do eat meat, and there is absolutely nothing I can do to change that, apart from being an 'out' vegetarian and showing people that you can lead a healthy and very active life without eating dead flesh.

So, they wanted some of my recently acquired apple, and I agreed to sort some out for them, and they were delighted that I was happy to barter this for some potatoes and other produce. I gave then a tour and Lucas said he'd be back at 6pm to pick up the wood.

Then I had lunch and continued outside, until Ben arrived as he'd asked how I was and I'd told him about my email woes, so he had a poke around Outlook Express, Mozilla Thunderbird and Tiscali Webmail. My problem was that I'd made a second account on T-bird, one with my name and the other with my email address.. so he sorted that. But, there is still a problem. When I delete an email on T-bird, it doesn't delete on the Tiscali server which means I have to go through and delete on Webmail when I've already deleted on my email client. Bummer. Ben said he'd have a poke around and see if he could find more info.

Then Lucas came back, with a large volume of vegetation for me as a swap for the logs I sorted... about 15 kg of home grown potatoes, dug up today, and some leeks, beetroot, onions, courgettes AND a large jar of raspberry jam! He took away a car boot full of green apple logs, cut and split and ready to, well, burn slowly and smokily!

I cycled down to Country Fresh and picked up 2 sacks and 2 boxes of compostables, and had a good chat to Richard, as well as buying veg off him.

Then towards 7pm, Ivana came round and she had a tour, and we sorted out a bit of help from her... what a very busy day!

Later, I watched a good film with my eldest son, and Gill watched quite a bit of it... a 2007 offering I heard about whilst it was being filmed, called 'Grow Your Own'. Set on a Liverpool allotment, it is a 'human condition' story and was a good 90 minutes. I recommend it.

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Thursday 13th August 09

I had a late start as at 2am when I'd finished watching Cell on BBC4, I went down the garden to lie on the trampoline to watch Perseids, and saw two good ones plus what I think was an 'Iridium Flare', where a satellite's solar panels briefly reflect sunlight. It was travelling South East between 2am and 2.30am.

Then I came in and Gill and I went up to the loft where we have a Velux window, and we saw a dozen good meteors between us... lovely!

But it meant we didn't get to bed til 3.30am.

So, a late start but I got up when I heard the phone, and it was for me, a Fiddlesticks booking confirmation. After this I had a very busy day... I did a lot of harvesting... poppy seeds, spinach, a courgette, some small but yummy 'Pink Fir Apple' potatoes, and whilst a young friend was here, I used the large stepladder to pick tiny pears from the huge tree mid-way down our garden. These usually ripen at the end of August and are eaten by wasps and starlings before we can get to them. So I picked what I could, dropping them to the waiting hands of the willing child helper, who caught 80% of them.

I did a bit of pruning too, some of the finished fruiting spurs of the loganberries which were sticking out a long way into the shared passageway, and a vigorous ivy. And I did some chainsawing and splitting.

Gill did a delicious tea with some of the crops... I enjoyed the spinach, tomato and Bulgar wheat portion of the meal best. But Gill's quiche was a close second. Or maybe it was the blackberry and loganberry crumble with custard which was the best bit?

At 7.30 I cycled fast into town as there was a York in Transition meeting at The Hansom Cab in Market St. This was an unstructured meeting to follow up the discussions that YiT members had at their weekend at Nook Barn a few weekends ago. I enjoyed this meeting as it flowed freely and everybody contributed, it was lively and good humoured, with 9 of us attending. We addressed the criticism that YiT was a 'Church of Transition' and just met and discussed worthy issues but didn't DO anything. We reviewed the big events we've organised, the many smaller events, the satellite Transition groups which have spawned from us and are being nurtured by us, and debated what we should be doing in the future and how we should do it. A few firm conclusions were arrived at, and we decided to have the next YiT meeting in the pub as it was obviously the right place to attract good numbers of people and have good communication.

I got home at 10pm with a sack of Country Fresh compostables and 6 bags from Gladys, who rang earlier to ask me to collect her garden clippings.

I spent a long time during the evening preparing pears... some I stewed in red wine and mead, others I cut into 6 slices and put for drying.

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Wednesday 12th August 09

A late start after a late night. But I got up in time to get on my bike and heading for Clifton Moor for a meeting at midday. I had responded to a message about some unwanted garden equipment sent to people on the Low Moor Allotments email list a couple of weeks ago, and had a phone conversation with one of the old lady's daughters. The lady had been bereaved and her keen composter husband had several good bits of kit which she was selling, as she wasn't quite as keen as him!

So I viewed the mid-size Compostumbler, a Can-O-Worms wormery and a 'Merlin' wormery. I was mainly interested in the Compostumbler, and we'd negotiated on the price and I'd been offered it for £70, very reasonable. I bought the Can-O-Worms and she gave me the other wormery. They were VERY surprised that I was able to get all these on my bike and trailer, although I'm glad they didn't see my trailer fall over when I turned the Bumper Castle corner! The Compostumbler stayed on the trailer and I was able to pull it upright again quite easily, and I managed to get home slowly and more carefully.

I got home at about 1.30 and had lunch, and waited for my friend Friedmann, whom I met on a Critical Mass cycle ride ages ago, and his new partner Bettina, and his 14 year-old son. They came at 2.30 and we had a good chat over a cuppa, then a walk down the garden, then I took them to St Nicks. I really enjoyed their company, and was glad they came with me... and they might participate in the Eco-Active day next week.

I came home and got on with setting up the new Compostumbler, and doing some tidying up.

After 8pm I popped round to a Freecycler called Mark who was offering a set of 3 juggling balls and some size 10 'Dr Marten' shoes with steel toe caps. I had a good chat with him as he is a keen cyclist, has just bought a unicycle (but cannot ride it yet!) and is about to go and work at BikeRescue.

So a very busy day.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Tuesday 11th August 09

Wedding today..... I like weddings! I met Rachel through a science festival that I worked at, with my Professor Fiddlesticks Fun Physics show, within the last 8 or 9 years, I cannot remember when it was exactly. She has a zest for life which I liked, and we became friends... and last year she met Tony, who lost his wife to cancer a few years ago, and seemed like really good husband material.

So, Rachel booked me to go and entertain today, at Repton near Derby. I got the 11.27 train down to Derby and then a short trip to Willington, just another 7 minutes on the train, then to a bus stop where I waited 15 minutes for the 1.30 bus. This took me the mile to Repton, where I easily found the Pears Hall where the reception was to take place.

I chatted to the Caretaker, who took me up to the Pears Hall where I chatted to the DJs, who showed me where the 'meet and greet' session would be, in a courtyard/cloister behind the hall.

I had a couple of hours to kill, because of the timings of the public transport, so I found a nice pub called The Boot which had a mug of coffee for me, and I read my NewScientist for 45 minutes.

I got changed back at Pears Hall and waited for the wedding party to arrive, and did some unicycling and devilsticking whilst the guests assembled for the group photo.

Then the pre-meal bit of the reception, and luckily there were some 'game' teenage girls who were happy to have a go with the devilsticks, juggling and yoyoballs... and some children who wanted (and got!) balloon models.

I ate with everybody else, a nice buffet and then, during the speeches, I kept the children amused with more balloons and assorted circus tricks.

I really enjoyed my role, and was very happy for Rachel that she had found a good man, and of course I was delighted for Tony as Rachel is gorgeous.

I got a lift back to Derby, and got the 9.11 train back to York, which got in at 11pm, a very easy journey. I collected about 7 glass beer bottles from my carriage and popped them into a plastic carrier bag and slipped them into my trailer so I could put them in the recycling when I got home.

A lovely work day, all done by public transport or lift-share, and I felt I contributed well to the event. And I got paid... how lucky am I?

Monday, 10 August 2009

Monday 10th August 09

Ten years since our youngest son was born... and consequently an early start, as on birthdays, children don't stay in their bed very long and they wake early with the excitement!

But it was lovely to see him opening his cards and presents, and it didn't take him long to find the things in the garden hidden by his older brother.

I was really happy that he got a card from his grandparents, whom we don't have a lot of contact with, and he rang them up to say thank you.

I went to the building society, the Dentist's for a scale and polish, then on to the station to renew our family railcard, and bought tickets for today's trip to Scarborough.

The journey to Scar was good, and when we got there we headed down to the beach to dig channels in the sand and make our characteristic sand-castles with turrets made from dribbled wet sand. It was drizzly but not cold. Nice co-operation with the canal we built, at least, no arguing.

Then a bus trip round the headland to the North Bay, got off and walked up to the little railway and water-chute thing, and Gill watched us three have two goes on the water-chute... basically a wooden boat which slides into the lake, is hauled out back up the slope, and slides down in again. Fun!

Then down to the Peaseholm Park, where several times a week there is a 'Naval Battle' with 20 foot-long model boats, operated by a person inside, acting out a WW2 battle with model planes on wires, fireworks, explosions next to the boats and it was quite dynamic.

After this, our birthday boy requested a go in the 'dragon-boat' pedalo so Gill again watched, with her camera, and we had a good little go around. Then back to the bus, up the cliff lift and to the train which we just got, with one minute to spare...

I picked up a large load of compostables from Country Fresh, and a big head of broccoli for tea. Gill did linguine and a veg sauce... one of our youngest's favourites.

Several phone calls this evening, including one from a journalist from Toxin Magazine about the Big Green Gathering.

Sunday, 9 August 2009

Sunday 9th August 09

A nice day with the family. I woke quite late but got busy in the kitchen after breakfast, and it was a peaceful and very productive day.

Gill had cut down some overhanging Lilac and cut back an overenthusiastic willow, and she wanted me to dispose of this cut material. I cut off the smaller branches and shredded them, and put the larger sticks aside to be cut to a stackable length for kindling.

I then got busy further down the garden, pruned the cherry tree... cutting the long branches back to half their length to make it easier to put the net over next year. I also cut several lengths of hedge, including one which had got very long and needed work with secateurs not the shears. I shredded all this to help it rot down more quickly. I have several sacks of this mainly woody material to add to heaps and tumblers which have the mainly fruity and veggie material on them, to help with aeration and carbon-nitrogen balance.

We harvested some potatoes from the woven green sacks where they've been growing all summer, very satisfying. I also picked some Jack Edwards Climbing Pea Beans and some broccoli and a small crook-neck squash, all of which Gilly melded into a lovely meal.

At one stage during the day I got my emails and there was a Freecycle offer from John Bibby, my friend who has had quite a bit of tree work done in his garden, offering a trailer-load of willow sticks. I replied and asked if he had any of the other wood left, the pear, laburnum and better-to-burn wood, and he replied and suggested I cycle round and pick some up.

So when I got there there were quite a few of the good-to-burn logs there, and John suggested that I fill his car up and he drive a load round. I was only expecting to take a bike-trailer's worth, but he was happy to be rid of the stuff as he wanted to clear his garden. So I loaded his car, and my trailer, and I cycled back and John drove round 20 minutes later, and I unloaded his car. I must now have one of the best collections of logs in York! And a heck of a lot of work to do!

Our eldest was also busy today, preparing for his younger brother's birthday tomorrow. He has made a complicated map of the garden and cut it up and hidden the different bits in various different places, so that when all of them are put back together it reveals the whereabouts of some buried treasure. This treasure is the birthday present. So there was various help needed with this task, including keeping his younger brother unaware of the preparations. A fun task.

So, a hard working day, good moods all round, productive, happy.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Saturday 8th August 09

Quite an early start as I had planned on getting the 8.57 tram down to the station, but I was 5 minutes from Ali's house when I suddenly thought 'where's my hat' and realised that I'd left it at Ali's house. So I rushed back and found it and asked Janet, Ali's PA, if she would ring a taxi for me, as I knew I'd never reach the tram in time and there's only two per hour, so the next one wouldn't get me to the 9.44 train on time.

So I got a taxi, had a good chat to the taxi driver, and was at the station by 9.20, in good time to buy a ticket to Warrington. The journey was pretty smooth and quiet until a couple got on with a large plastic pet carrier, which didn't contain a pet, but did have a handbag in it. This caused quite a few humorous comments. I hope they picked up their kittens and got them home safely. I enjoyed chatting to Jean, half of the Jean/Martin/Petcarrier couple.

I rang Philip, my Warrington City Centre management handler when I got to Warrington at 11am, and he met me and we walked up to the place where I was due to work at midday for three hours. There was a little gazebo up, in an area surrounding a circular water feature... it looked good enough for me. I had my sandwich at the nearby office, got changed and started work before 12. I had a reasonable response, not a huge crowd, but a good trickle of people all the time, many spending quite a lot of time with me, including one couple who spent at least two hours sitting on the edge of the water feature and they both joined in from time to time. Philip hovered around for much of the day, seemed happy that I was engaging enough people and doing what I was supposed to. The giveaway balloon models were a big hit, I had to restrict them to people who had given one of the skills a try. So lots of people trying the four-wheel unicycle, and several got as far as the one-wheeler! I had one new juggler who came to me with the ability to juggle two balls in one hand, and saying he couldn't do three... but left with a good three-ball cascade ability, and a couple of potential devilstick newbies who were pleased with their new-found skill.

I worked non stop, and at 2.40 Philip nodded to me, but I continued til 3 as I knew that the train wasn't that soon after 3 and the station was very close. I had an ice cream and a fruit juice drink at the station, to cool off... The train was at 3.44, destined to Scarborough. Chatted to Danny a tattooist, then to Nanda a software tester, and at Leeds my good friends Roswitha and Peter got on, which was a real treat for me. So the journey home went really quickly, and I was home at about 6pm. A very enjoyable day working.

And how lovely to see my family, who were all fine and Gill had made pizza for us all for tea.

I sorted out my email password problem, mostly. Thunderbird is still demanding a password and not accepting it, but allowing me to get my emails anyway! Very odd.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Friday 7th August 09

Up early to get a train to Sheffield... I needed to get the 8.44 in order to be in Sheffield for 9.51 which was a convenient time for Sam to collect me from the station, to take me up to Whirlow Farm to the Sheffield Autistic Society Playscheme.

It was good to be asked back for a second time... this is the biggest compliment an entertainer can get. So this time, I did what I did last time, like I do every time, a circus skills show and workshop, and after lunch, some balloon modelling.

I got some lovely feedback afterwards... one chap who had been expected to be very vocal and disruptive was actually quiet and attentive, and another chap who never participates joined in and did several different things. The combination of these bits of information made me very happy. Sometime after 2pm, Sam took me about 5 miles to Ali's house, where I am staying as tomorrow I have a gig in Warrington, and Sheffield is much closer to Warrington than York, so it makes no sense to go back to York and then all the way to Warrington tomorrow morning.

Ali wasn't in, as she was coming back from her summer holiday in Edinburgh, so her teenage son let me in. I read NewScientist for a while and then fell asleep. Ali got in after 4, and I helped unload the van before going to the nearby Co-op shop with her little daughter to get some provisions.

Later in the evening, we had a Chinese takeaway which I really enjoyed. One of the best dishes was a 'mock duck' dish, made of tasty tofu and little worms of prawn cracker material (which of course doesn't have prawns in it) and 'seaweed' which is in fact fried cabbage. A really nice meal.

A very pleasant social evening with Ali's family, a glass of Lambrini and some good chats.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Thursday 6th August 09

Up at a reasonable time as had to go to a York Rotters meeting at 10am and got there on time, to meet the two Waste Minimisation Officers, Rachel and Sara, plus management group members Pat and John, and our employee Catherine.

It was a good meeting. I found out what is going to happen at Lord Deramore's re sustainability and of course, composting, and we talked over the forthcoming fifth birthday party on the 4th September. Gill is going to do a cake in the shape of a compost bin or heap. The WRAP subsidised compost bins finish at the end of September and we discussed what to do after that, to keep affordable compost bins available to members of the public. We had a discussion about a social with information about the micro-organisms which do the work in the compost heap, inspired by a talk Catherine went to at the recent Master Composter event, at Ryton I think. She wasn't that impressed with how that was presented (not enough microscopes for the large number of people who attended) and I think we can do better. Finally, St Nicks has had a bit of contact with the Mosque which is next to it on Bull Lane, and we had a chat about how we could engage the community which uses that. I agreed to do some research. The meeting finished but we kept on chatting for quite a while.

I collected a couple of stray logs (tree surgeons dump them on St Nicks quite often) and called in on Raj at Freshways to ask him about how Islam approaches environmentalism, and if he thinks he knows how York Rotters could work with Muslims to get them enthusiastic about composting. I spent half an hour in there, as he was busy with customers, but I did learn quite a bit. One of the tenets is cleanliness, so keeping the atmosphere clean, the garden tidy etc would be one angle, another is appreciating beauty, so a garden with plenty of compost added would be more beautiful than one without. I'll find out more from various translations of the Quran and associated discussion... I found this quite easily but haven't yet explored it much.

Home for a late lunch and a frustrating afternoon as my normal email is completely unavailable, both on Thunderbird and on Webmail. Fortunately I have an emergency email with Google, which I was able to use to receive a document from the council and then forward that to my colleagues at York Green Festival.

I didn't spend all afternoon being frustrated with the computer... I did a lot of chainsawing and splitting which was very satisfying and also dug out a compost heap, turning it into a builders bag, and admired my growing pumpkins which are doing really well.

I had a late tea as I was out in the garden til after 7pm. I had a beard trim and a bath as I'm working tomorrow and Saturday.

Wednesday 5th August 09

I was woken by Gill as there was a chap with a large van who was offering me some logs. It was the man from around the corner who had invited me to take the logs from the front of his house... I'd taken quite a few in the bike trailer but obviously he wanted his driveway clear. I helped him unload and thanked him, and then had breakfast.

A relatively quiet day, including washing up, nice lunch and another visit from a chap offering me logs. He too lives round the corner and told me he'd cut down an apple tree and did I want the proceeds. Well of course I did, so I went round to his house and helped him take the logs from his back garden to his front drive, and then I got my wheelbarrow and took 6 loads back to my house.

The front garden is beginning to look a little full! But it's OK, I do a bit every day, mostly. So I did about half an hour with the chainsaw... but it was a very warm day so I got decidedly sweaty.

Whilst Gill was in town with our eldest I spent some time in the back garden with our youngest, as Gill had asked him to harvest some poppy seeds and had provided him with a paper bag to put them in. I cut off the ripe seed pods and he did the seed removal, and I did a load of weeding and removal of perpetual spinach beet flower spikes, some of which are as tall as me and are flopping all over the place. They have self seeded for years now, and there are loads of new ones coming... we harvest leaves from them regularly.

So a hard-working day, but very little happened really.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Tuesday 4th August 09

Quite a frustrating day as I spent quite a lot of it trying to deal with email problems. I also was aware that today would have been the day I left the BGG site and came back to York. So I had a low mood day generally.

Cycled into town to pay in a cheque, get two cheques out, give the maps back to the library, and at the library there was an ex stock sale and I got 3 CDs for a pound each.

When I got back I did some housework, but didn't get very far. One thing I did succeed with was getting my eldest son to help rig up a string from an upstairs window to allow a rampant bean to climb higher than the bamboo canes it is currently waving from the top of. It can now go to the first floor of the house! I picked some beans and Gill added these to a fantastic dish she made, using mashed broad-bean inners to create bean burgers (cooked in non stick mince-pie tins!) and yesterday's macaroni cheese. A delicious meal, especially the bean burgers.

At 6.20 cycled off to the Hull Road Ward Planning Panel at Tang Hall Community Centre, where Vicky was in charge and I was happy to be just a panel member. The chat and repartee cheered me up. The main topic of conversation was whether we should join the York Open Planning Forum. One of our members was at a meeting a few weeks ago which the chair of the YOPF also attended, and the abominable behaviour of this person, who interrupted and was rude to people, meant that our member wants us not to join the YOPF. Our new Clerk, who has now fully taken over from me, will find out how our group would benefit from joining the YOPF and bring that info to the next meeting and we'll take a vote.

I came back from this meeting via the St Nicks compost piles and put on a layer of veg and fruit stuff, covered with a layer of pet shop waste.

Home to try to relax... lit the stove as I need to do more washing up and I've got some fruit to dry.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Monday 3rd August 09

Quite a frustrating day in some ways. I had a medium start, ie not a long lie-in, and was able to say bye to our guest from Leamington Spa who was meeting a friend at the station at 10.20 and then getting a train back down south at 10.40. Gill and our eldest (our guests's old classmate) went to the station on the bus and got back two hours later.

I spent the morning trying to sort out the Green Festival insurance stuff and other paperwork. Had a quiet lunch and during the afternoon the insurance got sorted... I paid for it using my debit card. This is a huge relief.

I did some good exercise too... splitting the logs I cut yesterday, and fortunately I'd cut them small enough to split reasonably easily. I popped down to Country Fresh to pick up a few bits of veg and also the weekend's compostables, about four bags or boxes, but I didn't have time to put them on the heap so they are all in the wheelbarrow waiting for tomorrow morning.

Gill made a macaroni cheese with cauliflower for the kids... I had reheated stuff from yesterday with a bit of today's nosh. Then straight out to the LETS meeting, just four of us and although I went down there feeling less than joyous, I left feeling quite a bit more buoyed up, as the company was good.

I just remembered the 'highlight' of the day was when Gill was refilling a 25 litre tub of ecover washing liquid with a 15 litre refill. She was struggling with the opening of the refill box, on the table in the living room, and suddenly it opened and it started flowing but not all of it arrived in the waiting big tub. Plenty of it went onto the short-pile carpet we have. Gill shrieked and I rescued her by holding the tub up whilst she aimed the flow into the opening... Our youngest came running to see if he could help, and found the dustpan and brush, which is what Gill initially used to scrape up the perhaps half-litre of slimy washing liquid which had spilt.

Gill then spent about an hour putting water on the carpet and taking it up again with some of the washing liquid, and again and again... what a huge palaver! I asked Gill to please ask me to help when she was attempting this kind of procedure... sometimes having two people co-operating is better than tying to do a task on your own.

Sunday, 2 August 2009

Sunday 2nd August 09

Quite a late start, but got up quickly as the boys were bubbling over with energy and needed to do something, so I took them (my eldest and two of his friends) to the nearest park with a frisbee, a football and some fruit juice, and left them to it.

I popped in to Freshways to see Raj and he gave me loads of compostables, and then went to collect some logs from the house on Millfield Lane which has had it's garden cleared, and in a skip found an unopened packet of underlay sheets, so I took them to put on Freecycle. A neighbour round the corner asked me if I wanted a large dining table, so after seeing it and measuring it, I put this on Freecycle too. Good to keep stuff out of landfill and get it reused. A very enjoyable hobby.

So, a happy day dealing with my logpiles, visiting skips, chatting to neighbours, replying to Freecycle messages wanting the underlay, preparing more nectarines for another fruity-tea-pudding.

Gill took four boys to the newly refurbished cinema 'Reel' to see 'G Force' and I got the chainsaw out and did a substantial amount of cutting up the chunky logs from Woodlands. I'm cutting them quite short as the type of wood is really difficult to split, so short logs will be easier to split. I'd love to know what sort of trees they were, but they died standing up so the timber is dry. Different timber has different properties... so beech splits well when green but when dry is really difficult to split. But this tree isn't a beech, it has rough bark (which is falling off) and a very dense grain.

Watched 'Man on Wire' on telly with both my boys and our visitor, we all enjoyed this, although Gill gets vertigo and couldn't watch some bits!

Saturday, 1 August 2009

Saturday 1st August 09

A late start to the day. But a bit of a frustrating day as I'd intended to spend it at my half-allotment but it rained and rained, so I mooched around inside, read, did stuff on the computer and made a meal for all of us to have for tea. It was a mix of lasagne and moussaka... layers of the small sliced aubergines I rescued from the compostables last week and sliced and partially fried last night, tomato/onion sauce, made with sweet pepper paprika and fresh home-grown basil, some slightly out of date no-pre-cook sheets of lasagne and a brilliant cheese sauce made with wholemeal flour, goats milk and goats cheese (so Gill could have what everybody else was having) and my special ingredient for cheese sauce, a teaspoon full of french mustard.

I also sliced a butternut squash and baked that at the same time. The meal was delicious and Gill was really happy that I'd done that with my spare time.

I did have some time outside, splitting some logs and filling the wheelbarrow full of softwood sticks I cut yesterday, and stacking them carefully on the side of the shared passage between us and our neighbours.

I was very happy to get a fan-email from someone who came to Middleton Park a few weeks back, apparently her autistic daughter loved what I did and volunteered lots, and they are looking forward to seeing me again at the end of August. Glad the messages I get saying Professor Fiddlesticks is good far outweigh the few that I get who don't like what I do!

Whilst on facebook someone posted a comment upside down
uʍop ǝpısdn ʇuǝɯɯoɔ ɐ pǝʇsod ǝuoǝɯos ʞooqǝɔɐɟ uo ʇslıɥʍ
like this, and when several people had asked how it was done, they posted the URL: and if you have a look further down the page, you'll find a way of making weird writing too. I'm not really into emoticons but this website has loads of these too! Fun and silliness on a wet day...