Sunday, 31 January 2010

Sunday 31st January 10

Got up slowly and late, enjoyed Country Tracks on the BBC with my cereal. There was a good bit on the Hockerton Housing Project, which was good.

Soon after this finished I got dressed more smartly than usual as I had an invitation to attend the remembrance service for my friend Jean Dower who died three weeks ago. It was a Quaker meeting, as she was a fairly regular attender at various times during her life. It was held at The Retreat's main hall.

Jean married Arthur Dower in 1939 and they had four sons, one of whom, Hugh, I share quite a few interests with, including cycling, and I'm fond of him partly as he has inherited some of his mother's free-thinking. Arthur was the treasurer for The Retreat, and, as far as I'm aware, was responsible for turning the place around when it hit the doldrums... and in memoriam, they have a part of the building named after him, Dower House. For quite a while, they lived on site, at Lamel Beeches, but also had a house out in the Dales in Countersett.

I met Jean when she was a widow in her late 70s, when she hosted AVP meetings at her house in Wentworth Road, and we chatted, got on well, and she invited me to pop in whenever I was passing. She invited me to come to philosophy classes with her. She was lively and intelligent, we could talk about anything and everything, and for about 10 years she was an important part of my life. But about 7 years ago her health had deteriorated enough for her to need sheltered housing, and whilst she was at Grimston Court, about 10 or 15 minutes cycle away, I was a very regular visitor. But when she was at Abbeyfields, and after Grimston Court, at Amarna House, I was not able to visit as often as I'd have liked to. Her Alzheimer's disease got worse and worse, and eventually she seemed not to recognise anyone, which was very sad for those who loved her and remembered the 'teenage rebel' she had been for most of her life!

The service was lovely, with music, then quiet contemplation and various people standing up and sharing their memories of her, some of them reading something relevant to the occasion. This wasn't a funeral... Jean left her body to medical science, and she would I'm sure be interested to know that Newcastle University are doing research on Alzheimer's and will be grateful for her gift.

The service was followed by sandwiches and a chance to talk to people. I was pleased to meet all four of her sons, and one of her grandsons whom I got on well with, and the partner of one of her lodgers, and I was happy to see Joyce, who has been so wonderful and reliable and caring for Jean right up til the end, and Jenny and Elizabeth, both of whom I know through AVP, and John and Bronwyn, also with the AVP connection. There were others, too, some of whom I may meet again as I was quite liberal with my business card...

Sometime after 3pm I cycled down to Country Fresh and bought vegetables and picked up compostables, just one 30kg sack. Home by 4pm, got changed and spent nearly 2 hours in the garden sorting compostables and also putting kindling sticks in paper sacks.

Tea was some of yesterday's pizza, reheated, and potatoes, baked beans, simple but nice. I took bathwater upstairs for one of my sons to have a soak... the other prefers a shower.

I enjoyed the Mo Mowlem drama on Channel 4... Julie Walters played the part really well.

After that, a gentle wind-down with facebook and blog, memories of Jean in my mind. I will miss her, in fact have missed her for several years as her deterioration meant that the Jean I knew wasn't really there any more. I will remember the Jean who discussed and argued, listened and learnt, shared and laughed.

Saturday, 30 January 2010

Saturday 30th January 10

I got up early as I was off to work. Gill pressed my clothes and I got everything together and loaded onto the trailer by about 9.45, and was cycling to the station by 10.

The train was at 10.30, to Doncaster, and then a change to the Bridlington train which is via Hull, and gets into Cottingham about 5 minutes beyond Hull.

However, a minute before the Brid train left, a whole gang of about 30 football supporters got on and surged through the train. They were 'Wolves' supporters going to see the game against Hull, and they were very very noisy. They did their shouty singing stuff, chanting lots of rude and vulgar stupidness, banging on the roof and windows and side panels, swearing. I was quite tense as my equipment was in the bikes area where a lot of them were banging and shouting.

They got out at Hull and they had only taken two of my peacock feathers out of their cardboard tube, and then left them beside the rucksack. I was soon in Cottingham and Diana, the young chap's mum, met me and drove me to the venue not far into the village. This was called The Back Room, a room with a stage and a bar, a great little place.

I got changed and guests started arriving... and the party went like clockwork, really good as usual. I really enjoyed myself. I got lots of positive feedback too, several children came up at the end to say thank you and Diana was very generous with her praise. How lovely!

There wasn't long to wait for the train to Hull, and then only 10 minutes wait for the Hull-York train. I dozed, but on approaching York I chatted to some Greek students who were interested in sustainable architecture, so I hope Dimitri will contact me and I can show them St Nicks.

Home by 5.45 and exhausted... but got the log baskets filled and did some washing up before Gill served tea. Our eldest had experimented with pizza dough and made a 'stuffed crust' by putting cheese around the edge of the circle of dough and folding it over. This was really good! What a treat to come home to.

However, Gill wasn't feeling too good and had an infected spot which was making some glands swell up, so she rang the out of hours doc who rang back and said go to A and E for a look and a prescription for antibiotics. Gill rang Melody and asked her if she could drive her to the hospital... and then, as it was quite late, Melody took her up to a 24 hour pharmacy place in Clifton Moor. They were back surprisingly soon.

The boys went to bed smoothly and quietly and we had a peaceful evening.

Friday, 29 January 2010

Friday 29th January 10

A really difficult start to the day, but I eventually took our youngest down to school and was pleased to have a chat with the head, who invited me to meet with her next Monday. No doubt she will tell me that the school is doing everything it can to become greener.

Anyway, picked up a few bottles and cans from verges on the way back. For me, 'green' is all day, every day. I felt pretty low today due to the shenanigans this morning, but did quite a bit of stuff around the house before cycling into town to pay the gas bill, our first gas bill with Good Energy. I pay Good Energy for our electricity and now gas annually in advance, a deal I've negotiated with them and may not be available for new customers. Although gas is not renewable or green, our annual bill with them is likely to be about £100, slightly more than with British Gas, but the extra money that Good Energy get is given back to customers who have renewable generation (including solar hot water) through their 'Hot ROCs' scheme. This is what we have to sign up for next. We have the forms already... next week I'll fill them in. I'm looking forward to seeing how much we get back! These case studies make it look promising!

I came home via Sainsburys as nowhere else does big jars of Marmite and I got one of their big loaves too, at a slightly reduced price as the label and barcode had been torn off. I popped into Freshways and picked up one bag of compostables from them, and on my way into town I'd visited Country Fresh and had two medium sacks from them.

Home to a peaceful house... our youngest had got a special mention in school assembly for his pivotal role in yesterday's class assembly. That would have made him feel good. He really deserves it.

I did a bit of ringing round to see if I could help a voluntary group I've got involved with, they need to get some insurance quotes for a site visit they want to do. So I found potential insurers on the web, and then rang to explain the situation. It took about 8 phone calls before I got to the right place. But the person in charge of the voluntary group was pleased and I hope this facilitates the site visit.

I helped a bit with tea... mushroom sauce in funny wrap things (reduced in Sainsburys!) with butternut rounds and halved pickling onions (both thrown away!) gently sauteed on the woodstove, and baked beans and a bit of salad.

A quiet evening. Played Scrabble and chatted to two friends on facebook. And washed up.

Oh, and today I did quite a bit of composting help too... a woman I know who works in a school wants me to come in and give some composting advice, and someone I know well who works in the Environment Agency also emailed me for some composting advice. How cool is that? Helping the EA with their tea-bag problem!!!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Thursday 28th January 10

Up relatively early compared to recent days, and by 10 was doing housework and being busy. A bit later in the morning I went to do some work in the garden, which was lovely as the sun was shining. I did more of the annual bramble pruning and some more compost heap construction.

Gill had an appointment in town so I went to our youngest son's class assembly, where the class puts on a little play or show. I didn't realise that my lad was the compere! He introduced the 3 different groups (Eboracum Romans 2000 years ago, Georgian ladies and today's schoolkids) and at a couple of intervals he helped explain the plot. He has a lovely clear voice and did it with confidence. I was really proud of him. But then he wanted to go to drama club, and be picked up at 4pm. So I cycled back home, did half an hour's sawing with the bowsaw, and cycled back. We then walked home together, which was nice.

I did a little more outdoor work but had a Fiddlesticks enquiry, and some interesting emails to deal with. Catherine from York Rotters started a facebook page for York Rotters, which is great, and I invited lots of my friends to join that. I also saw that my blog counter had gone past 20,000, which is pretty amazing. That's since Sept 08.

We had a small tea, Gill had made some rissoles with the rice from yesterday and she made 'burgers' with them, one each in a roll. Bits and bobs of salad, was very nice.

So, during the evening I had a lot of computery work to do, I did this whilst half-watching the TV and keeping the stove going as it has gone cold again. Brrrrrr.....

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Wednesday 27th January 10

I had real difficulty getting to sleep last night... must have lain awake til 4am but eventually I dropped off. Next thing I knew was Gilly awakening me at 10.30. Breakfast and a bit of housework, including preparing a home-grown Chinese Yam for tonight's meal. It needed as many of the hair-like roots removing as possible, which I did by scraping it with a knife in a stream of water, and then I sliced it into rounds about a centimetre thick, for shallow frying on the woodstove.

I didn't get dressed til after lunch, and then went out to deal with last year's brambles and loganberries; the fruited canes need cutting back and then feeding through the shredder to make a woody layer in the latest compost heap.

As it was getting dark I cycled down to Country Fresh and bought mushrooms and bananas, and picked up 4 sacks full of compostable stuff. On the way back I had another root around in the skip, and found a red plastic tray, a glass chopping board, an unopened in-date box of Kellogs bran flakes, a cycle helmet in its box and an orange reflective jacket with Royal Mail on the back. Also a load of wine bottles which I brought back for my kerbside recycling box. There were loads of bundles of leaflets and flyers too, presumably meant for delivering, but I had no space for them. The curtain twitching neighbour did a lot of twitching. I waved at her.

As I cycled away, the twitcher's husband overtook me in his car and was aggressive towards me, accusing me of making an obscene gesture to his wife. I'm glad he didn't bop me one... he certainly had enough testosterone flying around. Some people obviously think skip-raiding is wrong.

Anyway, I was so pissed off with this show of stupidity that a bit later, when Gill asked me to go and buy soya milk, I got that and revisited the skip, and got all the leaflets and flyers and completely filled my trailer with them... all for recycling not landfill. I might have only taken 30 or 40kgs worth out of a one tonne skip, but in my book, every bit counts. I don't know if the nosey neighbours saw me or not, and I don't really care.

Tea was good; Gill did a rice stir fry thing, topped with Chinese Yam 'chips' and it was very satisfying.

Enjoyed a quiet evening with Gill once the boys had settled, and we watched a bit of 'Celebrity Big Brother' which we're half-watching, and enjoyed it when Davina went into the house.

I did quite a bit of research on the computer tonight, about a new business opportunity I'm working on. Exciting!

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Tuesday 26th January 10

A much better day. I got a lot done. I spent most of the morning sorting out the paper part of my accounts, getting them ready for electronic submission.

I popped out at lunchtime to get bread and pasties from Thomas The Baker, and then after lunch, in response to an email which was offering Freecycled materials for a forthcoming York in Transition Beehive Making day, I cycled down to town.

On the way I stopped at a skip and the man emptying the house said I could have a look through, and I found a large number of low energy lightbulbs in their boxes, a toasting fork and a freeview box. I also found a passport, so I took that in order to send that to the passport office, but a nosey neighbour over the road came out of her front door and shouted at me to not take the passport or she would tell the police. I gave it to the man cleaning out the house... I wonder what he will do with it? In retrospect I ought to have told her to mind her own business and taken it to the police myself.

I went via Alligator to get peanut butter, mayonnaise (yummy vegan stuff!) and marmalade for Gill, and then on to Kings Manor, where Dave, an archaeologist, met me, and showed me the materials he was happy to get rid of. These were four very large sheets of hardboard. I tried to get them on my trailer but they wouldn't go on without dragging on the ground... so after two tries, I broke each sheet in two and reloaded them. I still had difficulties getting these to St Nicks for storage... very unwieldy and good at slipping off. But, slowly and carefully, I cycled up to St Nicks and asked Ivana where they could be stored, and disposed of them. Whilst there I met Sarah, another Freecycler, which was nice.

Home via Freshways, and back to home where the dreaded paperwork was waiting. So I did half an hour chainsawing to use up the daylight.

After tea I went onto the computer again and worked slowly through the hmrc self assessment stuff... too slowly for the website as I had to re-log in twice, as I was reading explanatory notes. Also it was very frustrating as I tried to put some notes in boxes where it asked if I wanted to put more information... but it wouldn't accept my text. Eventually I had to put my notes in a file and attach it to the submission. I was able to pay my tax online, and by 11pm I had done it all!

A very good feeling, relief and happiness, a weight off my shoulders. Gill fitted the freeview box to the TV in the front room, and it works fine, although there isn't a remote for it, so we have a single remote control for two TVs. I think that needs sorting!

Monday, 25 January 2010

Monday 25th January 10

Bit of an early start which put me in a low mood for most of the day. Also more email traffic which left me feeling not so good, re the asking permission to tell someone's story. The family member seems to think it was wrong of me to contact them... I could have just told the story, without asking permission, but I'm glad I did as I like to try and behave ethically. Without giving anything away which would identify the person or their family, a few years ago one of my friends died, in unusual circumstances, and I thought the story ought to be told, as part of a campaign which is about to happen. I told the bones of the story to the campaign organiser and they were very interested... but suggested I get permission from the family. I do not have that permission, therefore the story won't be told. Which is a pity, as it is an enlightening one, sad, but really interesting.

Never mind, I got on with some paperwork... two receipt letters and some other bits and bobs. Paperwork never makes me skip and jump, and today it just made me feel grumpy. I couldn't face doing my accounts/tax.

Later in the day I did a bit of chainsawing and stacking, and made tea for the family who went to the dentist after school. I did cauliflower cheese and macaroni, with butternut squash. It was very nice, a simple but wholesome meal.

I had a quiet evening, but did various stuff on the computer and watched a couple of good programmes... one with Billie Piper interviewing Dr Brooke Magnanti, and then the BBC programme about chemistry.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Sunday 24th January 10

A really lovely lazy morning. Which extended into the afternoon and I didn't get out of the house until 3pm. Richard from Country Fresh rang and said that someone had just bought the last 3 bags of compost which were left over from last season, and could he have some more. So I got 4 carriers full from down the garden and cycled them down to Richard. I got eggs and butternut squash, plus several boxes and bags of compostables. Called in on Freshways on the way back for another two sacks full.

These were taken down the garden and then I built a bit of logpile outside the front door, before it got too dark to continue.

Gill had used the tomato soup as a base to cook some other vegetables in, and on top had placed a slab of scone mix to make a 'Cobbler' which was very tasty and delicious.

I had a lot to do on the computer during the evening, a campaign wanted to use a story I had about a friend, but I had to contact the friend's relatives to check if it was OK to use the story... and it wasn't. So quite a bit of email traffic to and fro.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

Sat 23rd January 10

Up at a reasonably early time, so I could have a beard trim and a bath before breakfast. The water was still hot on the stove from last night so it was a good bath and hair wash as today I am working in Pickering.

Breakfast, cereal as usual, and rang the bus company to ask about unicycles on their bus... no problem, as the rules say 'no bicycles' and I have unicycles, not two-wheelers.

I loaded my bike trailer with all my kit and cycled to Gillygate to Craft Basics, where I replenished my peacock feather stock... they do get very battered in my shows, with kids using them to balance on their hand. I got to the station in good time to lock up and unload and get to the bus stop, where I met a friend who was waiting for his fiancee... he was very happy, more so than usual, so we had a laugh, and then the bus arrived. Fortunately the bus driver didn't have a problem with the unicycles and I had a pretty relaxing ride to Pickering.

I went to the Forest and Vale Hotel, where Maria (who works for Lunchbox) had put together one of the best themed parties I'd ever seen. There was a large marquee with seaside- stuff there, including a beach, a donkey (life-sized model) to sit on, a horse-racing game, hook-a-duck and throw the hoop stalls, and me with my circus stuff, plus lots of other circussy stuff like mini stilts, two other unicycles, spacehoppers and more! In adjacent rooms there were 3 Nintendo Wiis, a crystal ball woman and a ball pool/soft play area. I didn't see beyond this, but there might have been another marquee too, for a bar perhaps?

I had some sandwiches and talked the event over with Maria and at about 2pm the guests (about 100 of them) were due to come out of the hotel and walk down a long ramp, within a long thin marquee, down to the beach area. I was waiting for them on the unicycle and led them down, and at 2.30, did the first half of my show (warm-up acts from the audience, juggling, devilsticks and balancing) which went OK. At 3pm, ice creams arrived and a tattoo artist offered transfer-type tattoos. One little girl kept on coming to show me her latest one, all up her arms.

Then at 3.30 I did part two, diabolo, yoyoballs and unicycle. This then continued into a freeplay workshop, mainly unicycle toys but juggling and devilsticks too, through til 5.30. Chris, the dad of the 2 year old boy this party was in honour of, was kind enough to get me a nice pot of coffee during this workshop time, and at 5.30, handed me my fee in an envelope. Lucky me, loads of fun and then getting paid!

I got changed clothes and went for the bus, which arrived at 5.55, with a change and 40 minute wait at Malton for the next bus to York. I got into York at 8pm, and was home by 8.30, knackered but happy. That has to be one of the best party events I've been to for quite a while.

If anyone wanted a really good 'do' organising, I would certainly recommend Maria Farrugia, who has a wealth of experience, see her CV here. She did this gig as Maria, a friend of the family, not as part of her Lunchbox work, and she's not actively looking for more work, but I'd still recommend her!

So, a bowl of tomato soup and a sandwich for tea. Lovely!

Friday, 22 January 2010

Friday 22nd January 10

Spent the morning filling in forms and writing letters.

The rest of the day was similarly an indoor thing... I processed some 'seconds' tomatoes (OK, I lie, they were 3rds) and carefully removed anything I wouldn't eat, and made a large saucepan of soup. Gill made a pizza which was tasty. The soup will be good for tomorrow.

The highlight of the day was that my favourite musician of all time, ever, my ultimate musical hero, Brian Eno, was on TV with a series of programmes about him and his work. I don't know what it is about Eno's music, but nearly all of it transports me to a different mental state.

But, the best bit of this evening's programme was when the bit came on about his collaboration with the computer game Spore, which my children love. Gill called them to come in, and both of them were amazed... they both think the music is excellent on Spore and really adds to it. This was the first time my children have ever taken any interest in the music I like, and it was a really nice moment.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Thursday 21st January 10

I got up early to go and pick up some 'cached' compostables from Freshways! I walked my bike down with the trailer and picked up a sack and 3 small boxes. Walked back, removed the trailer and walked it down to Cycle Heaven... well, I freewheeled some of the way downhill, and I chatted to a policeman on some of the way too, so the trip was quite quick. Ash heard my tale of woe and said he'd sort out my dynamo, brake, pedal, rear mudguard, chain and anything else he came across whilst giving the bike a once-over.

He gave me a replacement bike to get home on, and I popped in to Country Fresh to have a natter with Rich and pick up a single box of goodies.

Home, and the postie had delivered the tax people's letter which means I can fill in my tax return online! Yippee!

However, I was unable to do it today as I couldn't find the accounts books. Booo!

So I got on with other things, things like washing up...

After lunch I went to Debbie Fricker's funeral. She was a friend of my friend Debbie, and I met them together on quite a few occasions over the past couple of years. She was a lovely woman, only 3 or 4 years older than me, and very open about her alcoholism. Last year her liver packed up enough for her to go to hospital, and she died last week. She was unable to stop drinking.

I went partly because she was a lovely person who liked me and I liked her... However, I made a decision not to get too involved in her life as I felt she might become a regular visitor and we have enough going on here to have to deal with that sort of visitor... a bit of a cold hearted decision, but sometimes you have to look after yourself. I did take advice on this, it wasn't just my own decision, but someone else suggested not letting her know where I lived or visiting her. It's at times like these when you reassess this kind of ethical dilemma... was it the right thing or the wrong thing to do? If I'd allowed her into my life, our lives, or got involved in hers, would anything more positive have happened?

I also went to support my friend Debbie, who is very upset about what has happened.

So, I cycled over to the Edward the Confessor church on the borrowed bike, and sat through the service. I don't really like Christian services but Debbie was a Christian so it was appropriate. I don't like hymns or prayers, but actually, at this service, two of the three hymns were ones I liked... The Lord of the Dance, and Morning has Broken. So I sang along with those... it's been quite a few years since I sang either of those! One of Debbie's old friends gave a very moving talk about her school days and her teen years, and the friendship they had for 35 years. I thanked her afterwards. I am very sorry that such a lovely person should die so young, and be so troubled. Life is not fair.

I didn't go for 'refreshments' afterwards. I cycled back to Cycle Heaven to pick up my mended bike. Ash had fitted a new back block, chain, front chain wheel, replaced the brake pads in the front disc brake, filed down the broken right brake lever and fixed the back mudguard. It's virtually a new bike!

I picked up a box of compostables from Country Fresh and got home. Felt subdued all afternoon and evening. Just had soup for tea, as wasn't very hungry.

Sorted out a unicycle wheel after tea, prior to my gig on Saturday. It wasn't a puncture, just a loose valve! Duh.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Wednesday 20th January 10

Quite a frustrating day in some ways.

Some interesting email feedback following the WeLoveTheEarthCentre meeting yesterday, some very positive, others less so. But nothing horrible, just stuff which took time to read, and as is my wont, I reply to everything, politely and carefully. Sometimes composing an appropriate reply takes a long time, but my view is that every individual is worthwhile, has a right to their views, and deserves a hearing and a polite but honest response.

Hey ho... was on the computer til midday.

But then I had a couple of Freecycle things to do, one person asking for cacti accepted my offer of a few Bryophyllum plantlets, which grow on the leaves of the parent plant. So I put some into a film canister and got my bike and set off to Burton Stone Lane, which is about 20 minutes cycle away. On the way I met John from St Nicks and had a nice chat, and then went on my way. I got to my destination... and realised I'd left the film canister at home! Duh! So, I cycled all the way back, collecting some logs on the way, so this journey wasn't completely wasted. But halfway back, my chain broke. Oh no! I had to walk the rest of the way home. Grrrr...

So, got home, admitted my error and bad luckto Gill, and borrowed her bike and did the whole journey again. I love cycling but I'd have preferred to do this 40 minute trip once, not twice, and not to have used Gill's bike as it isn't good for my knees.

When I eventually got home, after dark now, I went to pick up a broken colander which was offered on freecycle, which I'll use to do the University of Plymouth and Garden Organic 'compost beasties' survey. The idea is to put some compost in a colander, in a funnel, with the funnel in a jar of vodka. The compost is then subjected to several days of shining a warm light onto the top surface, which drives the beasties downwards, to their alcoholic death and then being sent through the post to be identified. This has never been done before, so I'm happy to be contributing (well, about to contribute to) this scientific research.

When I got in from this, we'd had a visit from the friendly Environmental Health Officer. Before Christmas, someone had complained they'd seen smoke coming out of our chimney, and complained. We live in a Clean Air Act zone so homes may not emit smoke except for the first 10 to 20 minutes of lighting the fire, and householders may only burn 'authorised fuel' or have an 'exempt appliance', which is what both of our stoves are. We hadn't responded to this letter... I had been busy and then the letter had got buried in a pile of stuff, and anyway, we knew we were ok, so we just let it go. The complainant had complained again, so she visited. She was happy to see which models of stove we had and my method of drying the wood, and she said that the occasional aroma of woodsmoke was not a problem, only actual smoke coming from the chimney. She also said that she had a woodstove, and understood why we had them. A good visit!
City of York Council have a leaflet explaining this here (pdf), on their webpage, and there's a list of exempt appliances here. If you want to see what other people think about your stove, or a make of stove you are considering getting, check out WhatStove which is an excellent resource.

Gill was experimenting with making pasta. We had her home-made tagliatelle for tea, with broccoli. It was very good.

I had a quiet evening in, more Earth Centre stuff, and other things including a Fiddlesticks booking in Malton at Easter and confirmation of another couple of bookings in the Summer in Leeds. Good, need the work! However cheaply we live, we do need some money to keep things going...

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Tuesday 19th January 10

A really good day, up quite early and felt full of energy. Rang the bike shop to see if they will mend my dynamo, they'll do it on Thursday.

I spent some of the morning doing assorted things inside and in the afternoon did more chainsawing, quite a lot, and cleared a backlog. Geddit? BackLOG!

The most interesting part of my day was my evening trip to Denaby, to attend the We Love The Earth Centre meeting. I'd been put in touch with a York woman, Imelda Havers, who runs Blue Fish Regeneration and was going to drive to the venue, picking up her colleague Sally Walker who is an architect specialising in sustainable buildings. So I was picked up at 5.45 and we arrived at Denaby Main at 7pm, minutes before the meeting started.

This meeting was less well attended than the first one, but a good cross section of locals, greens, and other interested parties, including one owner of a business named on the WLTEC website. The meeting was slightly better organised than the first one, but considering the huge mountain that has to be climbed if this group is to have any positive impact at all, relatively little got done.

The problem is that there is a lot of passion and strongly held ethics, but little leadership and no-one with much experience of running a successful community group with this size of aim. The interests of the leaders so far are expressed by building benders (temporary structures made of branches tied together) and cob ovens (often used at festivals to bake bread) but these are surely far removed from the interests of the majority of local people, who are probably drawn to green issues if it saves them money, but not for the 'save the planet' ideals of people like me.

Additionally, the document obtained by WLTEC from the RTTG listed a long list of multinational companies and big businesses, some of whom represent the biggest despoilers of the planet. The document describes these as 'partners', and in fact, the list is probably more a 'wish list' or a list of potential contacts. But this list has alienated the local deep greens, who have put RTTG into the same category as Costain, Eon and BASF, who are big builders, coal-fired power station developers and chemical companies. There was some defence of the RTTG, as it is run by 3 local blokes who are pretty keen on green issues and community involvement in this kind of development.

I am not sure if I am able to help the WLTEC group... primarily as I'm not local enough. I have offered my help if they want me, and I'll certainly attend the site meeting on 9th Feb to see if I can help the RTTG's work to get some good workable ideas for the site. I do hope that it isn't sold by Doncaster Council for housing, an open cast mine, bog-standard 20th Century Earth-Despoiling business or something similar. It must continue as a site for education and promoting sustainable development. My vote would be for a 'Northern CAT' type place. I'd love that!

Imelda and Sally got up to go as soon as it was obvious that the meeting had finished (I could have sat around chatting for another hour!) and I suggested we went to see the front gate of The Earth Centre site, as neither of them had been there. After this, we went home, and I was delivered safely back soon after 10pm.

Had a lengthy facebook chat conversation with a friend's wife who works in a school and wants me to help with her science week, with my Fiddlesticks Fun Physics show. Good stuff!

Monday, 18 January 2010

Monday 18th January 10

Another late night, went to bed at 3 (whoops) and then lay awake for at least an hour, with absolutely no reason whatsoever this time. But I did drop off eventually.

Was woken at 8 by loud refusals to go to school, so I sleepily and passively talked to the refusnik and then hung around til he got out of the door. I am such a sight in the morning, so dopey and nonthreatening, this seems to work.

When I'm awake, I generally cannot go back to sleep, so I got up and by 10am was dressed and heading down the garden, to sort out the slightly nightmarish situation with my voluntary compostables collection. I finished the cleaning out of the pallet bin, which is perched on 3 horizontal pallets and lined with metal mesh, both these to reduce access by rats. I then put a load of shredded hedge (remember last year, the huge hedge removal? Well, the sacks of shredded twigs have just sat quietly awaiting today!) in the base, and then alternate layers of rotting veg and past-it fruit with shredded pine tree, hedge and other garden material such as artichoke stalks. I must have put on about 20 brewing bin's worth before I came in for lunch at 1.30.

I had a good afternoon with the chainsaw and splitting maul, and re-started the processing of the fruit logs I got from John Bibby last year. I started a new stack in the front of the house, this is green wood and it will take a year or two to dry. I stack it in a particular way: raised up off the ground on bricks and long parallel lengths of wood, to keep the logs out of the wet, and with the bark, if any, uppermost, as this sheds the rain slightly better than the cut surfaces. Also, really important, not touching the wall of the house, as this would possibly allow moisture into the walls and I like the airflow to get to all sides of the logs. I generally don't cover them up, as I don't mind them being rained on as I don't believe it stops the wood drying out. I only have one covered woodstore.

Tea was parsnips and potatoes with a cheese and home-made baked bean toastie... the last of the home made baked beans, thank goodness. I was getting a bit bored of them!

At about 740 I got my bike and headed off to Stonegate and the Car-Free Cities Conference planning meeting. I'm not a core organiser but I am playing a role and have a handful of people to contact and things to do. My dynamo was playing up and after the meeting I tried to fix it but seemingly made it worse. I'll ring Cycle Heaven in the morning and ask for help.

A peaceful evening at home followed, watched an interesting TV programme on diarists, which I enjoyed as I've written a daily diary for over 20 years... until I started writing this blog which I find even more satisfying, and have just about managed to post daily since I started.

Sunday, 17 January 2010

Sunday 17th January 10

A very odd night. I'd had a headache most of the previous day and so before bed time I went looking for a paracetamol. There was one left and I usually take two. Gill suggested having that plus an aspirin so I took both. Then I just couldn't get to sleep, just lay there from about 2am til 4am with my mind quite active but body tired and reasonably still, just listening to the sounds of Gill sleeping next to me and other noises. At 4am I gave up and came downstairs to say hello to the silverfish and spend some time on the computer. I heard Gill get up at 6am as she usually does, to go to the loo so I went upstairs to go to bed.

Later, when I'd had about 5 hours sleep, generally all I need, I came downstairs at 11am and Gill told me she knew why I'd not slept earlier... the aspirin she gave me had caffeine with it. I'm very sensitive to this, and ephedrine (in some decongestants) as I've had this happen before and realised the following day. But as long as I get a few hours sleep I'm all right.

So I had breakfast at lunchtime and then went outside as it was a lovely day, and the boys were playing with their friend who lives just up the road with a radio-controlled car, driving it over some ramps. To ensure fair play, I did some work in the front of the house... I had actually wanted to continue doing the compost heap I'm digging out but it was more sensible to stay near the children to intervene if anything needed adult intervention. But it didn't, and I was even allowed a single go with the car. But the play lasted less than an hour as the batteries started giving out, and I took the shredded pine stuff from yesterday down the garden and continued to dig out the big 1 cubic metre pallet heap which will be refilled very soon with all the materials I collected over the snowy time... quite a lot, and much of it will be composting away in it's boxes and sacks already. It won't be as pleasant a job as my normal composting activities.

When it was too dark to see what I was doing I came in and helped one of my sons with some homework and had a 'use it up' tea which included a bread-and-butter pudding which used up some spare bread thrown out by Freshways. I'll post a recipe to that soon, when I'm not typing away at 2am.

Lots of email traffic today for some reason. Spent a lot of time writing a couple of posts for this website: which I like as it covers lots of subjects I hold dear. My e-friend 'Compostwoman' invited me to join. Some of the emails were all the replies on the forum, each of which generated it's own email. Grrrr, should switch them off!

Saturday 16th January 10

A funny day as I got busy with the logpile after I got up, and visited Rich at Country Fresh at lunchtime so I could go to the last hour of the York in Transition Christmas Present Swap, which I thought was 10 til 2, but I arrived at 1pm, just as it was finishing.

But I was able to drop off some compostables and pick up some logs, came home and had lunch... and then an underlying headache which didn't seem to want to go away despite paracetamol meant that I put myself to bed for a few hours.

I got up at 7ish and really didn't feel like going to see my favourite band, The Falling Spikes, on at City Screen Basement. I'd been looking forward to this for quite a while. Bummer.

But later, I had a game of Scrabble with Gill (she won by 6 points) and watched Blue Crush, a good surfing movie.

Friday, 15 January 2010

Friday 15th January 10

Got up early and got outside to split and stack three big logs I found and brought back last night on a nocturnal sortie! I also did a bit more pruning of the house-height pine tree which is too close to our house and our neighbour wants removed... and we'll be happy too as it cuts a lot of light from our front room. I'm not taking it out all in one go, as the soil will swell and damage our foundations, so I'm removing branches bit by bit, over a couple of years, and later this year I'll take the rest of it out.

So an active morning, followed by a stint of doing emails which was interesting as I engaged in some dialogue with one of the people behind we love the earth centre, about someone on the email contact list who is unhappy about the involvement of RTTG, and has proposed an anarchist 'solution' or response, and has been emailing aggressive rants to others on the list. Several people have asked for their details to be removed from the list because of this person, and I was worried that 'we love the earth centre' was being damaged.

Later in the day I had a good phone conversation with Mike from RTTG, which he said does not yet have any partners for their Earth Centre redevelopment, and that RTTG is a voluntary group with just 3 people at it's centre. Whether he means unpaid (which is what I understand by the word 'voluntary') is something I'll have to check! But what I did ascertain was that half a dozen people involved with WLTEC including myself, are invited to the first open day, where RTTG want to gather ideas for the future of the site. Should be an interesting day!

I also went to see my friend Debbie, as when I got home yesterday, she had given Gill a message about her friend Debbie F, who has died from cirrhosis of the liver; she was an alcoholic. Very sad. I knew Debbie F a bit, and she liked me apparently, but I didn't have time or energy to get to know her better or become a real friend. And as she was often drunk, that put me off trying to be a better friend or try to help. Her problems were just too deep. Anyway, sad to hear the news, and I spent an hour with my friend hearing about the fun times they got up to. I expect I'll attend the funeral next week.

At tea time I shredded the pine tree limbs which were small enough to go into my Mountfield quiet shredder and put the bigger branches in a pile for chopping up and drying.

I managed to get onto the tax website and found that they have to send me a new password in the post. What a palaver!

I went to Bryony's 'leaving drinks' do at the Yorkshire Terrier on Stonegate, and on the way there, met my old partner I lived with for 10 years, and we had a brief but friendly chat. I was really glad to get her email address, as several people from our past have asked me how she is and all I could say was 'she's in York and whenever I see her, she seems OK, but I have no contact details'. But now I'm going to be able to email people's details to her so they can reconnect. I didn't stay at the leaving do for long, as I'd promised Gill I'd get back to assist with the bedtime stuff.

Played a bit of Scrabble in the evening and chatted to Ali on facebook instant messaging. A peaceful evening.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Thursday 14th January 10

Woke late after watching Slumdog Millionaire, then programme after it, then lots of co-operative Scrabble playing with Ali.

I got some brunch in the Station, caught the 12.21 train home and was back home by about 2pm.
Things were fine at home and after I did my emails, I did a bit of chainsawing and splitting... the logpile has re-appeared from the snow and my neat and orderly woodpiles need re-stocking, for next year and beyond. I only did about an hour but it was very enjoyable.

Gill and I had the Blue Moon 'end of day' food for tea... an aubergine and green pepper curry and a sweet potato and green bean curry. I had a nan bread as well. I then felt very full.

I didn't do a lot in the evening apart from help various people by email with their sustainability questions... whether biochar is worth experimenting with, how best to get involved with The Earth Centre, can dried bananas be made in the oven? Oh, and lots of washing up!!!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Wednesday 13th January 10

Woke fairly late after a late night last night and got busy with sorting out the yam tubercles to send to the two yam fans... and after lunch went to get those posted off.

Then I composed a letter to my agent concerning the difficulty we've had and at about 3pm I cycled it down to his house, going via Country Fresh to pick up recyclables.

Later I got ready to go to the station to visit Ali.

So a paperwork-heavy day, interspersed with washing up and stuff around the house.

When in Sheffield I was collected from the station and we all, Ali, her daughter and carer, went to Blue Moon for a meal, which was, as usual, delicious.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Tuesday 12th January 10

Quite a good day... got a letter from a reader of plants for a future, to which I contributed a comment, with some seeds as a swap for some tubercles of Diascorea batatas (sometimes known as D. opposita) or Chinese Yam (see this blog post). I also had a phone call from a West African man living in Worcester who'd bought a cinnamon vine in a pot from Country Fresh when he was visiting York, asking me about how to look after the plant... and I promised to send him a few tubercles when they were harvested.

So I replied to both with a letter and information about looking after the plant, and tomorrow will put a film-canister of tubercles with the letter and send them off, one to Worcester and the other to Maldon in Essex.

At 10am Lynn came round as she had asked if I still had any spare bananas... and by chance, I had got some more bananas yesterday so she came round for a chat and to pick up some bananas. We chatted for over two hours.

I popped round to Tang Hall Library to take some children's books back, and got milk from the Co-op on the way back.

Rice and home-made baked beans for tea, and then off to the Hull Road Ward Planning Panel for 6.30, where there were just two applications to deal with. However at the previous meeting, just before Christmas, only two people were able to attend, and they disagreed over an application, so the Clerk had emailed round to canvass opinions and gather more comments. The other person had said this was underhand and wrong, as only the opinions of those present at the meeting should count. So we had a very heated discussion which lasted until we had to go, at 7.30. We realised that we had no ground-rules for this situation so the Clerk is going to ask the Council for advice, and I'll ask my Fishergate Planning Panel friends if they have rules about being quorate (having a certain number of people there in order for the meeting to make decisions) and whether people not actually at the meeting can contribute to the discussion or the vote. Difficult ethical and procedural dilemmas.

A late evening with children and homework.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Monday 11th January 10

So, a fairly comfortable night but I have to say I'm very fond of my own bed! Very comfy mattress, and a nice cold wall to snuggle up against. I get so hot in most beds. This bed had no wall to go up against, thus I got too warm.

We got going fairly early and L took me to the bus station and I went on to the train station, where there was supposed to be a train to Scarborough at 10.44 or thereabouts, so as I had a 30+ minute wait, I sat in the waiting room and read NewScientist and who should walk in but Carolyn, from yesterday. She told me her daughter had rung up saying they'd had a difficult night and could she come back over to Leeds to help out! How lucky is her daughter to have a parent who can help with child-rearing! So we chatted and the journey went very quickly because of that, despite the train crawling along for quite a bit of the way, and arriving in York 40 minutes late.

I stopped off at Cycle Heaven as my back wheel and trailer attachment was misbehaving, and the magic touch was applied and it's back to normal again. I got in soon after 2pm.

After I had lunch I went to school to pick up our youngest... he got a lift back with a friend and I got back home well in advance of them. Bikes are faster than cars in York.

I visited Freshways and Country Fresh to stock up on recyclables (!) and got yet more bananas, and a load of garlic which I think I'll be able to pickle.

I spent a long time in the evening dealing with a large untidy pile of emails, including some interesting developments at The Earth Centre. Some developers have plans for it and are holding a couple of open days, the first on 9th Feb. I've emailed the group holding the open days, RTTG, and asked if I can attend. Their plans are to redevelop the site with 'intelligent sustainability' at it's heart, and crucially, for the locals especially, aim to have the site with open access and no entry charge.

A relaxed evening...

Sunday 10th January 10

I spent some of the morning writing in Helgi's Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award booklet; he did some voluntary work for the Green Festival and he wanted this to go towards the 'service' bit of the award. I spent a long time trying to get the wording right, and I think it read OK.

At about 2.15pm I cycled over to his house and gave it to him... read what I'd put to him and he seemed happy. Then went on to the station to get the 3.15 train to Manchester, and from Manchester, a bus to Warrington, where I'm meeting a friend, L, who is having a little party.

I had some nice chats on the train between York and Leeds with a young man, and then in Leeds we were joined by a middle-aged lady so we talked about different things... turned out she was getting the bus to Warrington so I said I'd go with her. Her name was Carolyn and she'd just come back from seeing her daughter's newborn baby, and we found plenty to talk about on the bus to Warrington.

I waited in the bus station for L but no-one came up to me, and I looked around a couple of times but didn't recognise anyone. But there was one person standing around and after 25 minutes I thought I'd go and see if it was her; indeed it was, but neither of us had recognised the other. Duh! We went to a sandwich shop for something to eat and then back to her place for the gathering. A reasonably pleasant evening, and as agreed, I stayed over and had a fairly comfortable night.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Saturday 9th January 10

A reasonable day... Gill was getting ready to take our two and a friend to see Avatar, so I went to the baker and the Co-op and by the time I got back they were gone.

I did a bit on the computer and had lunch, and washed up, then went outside and did more woodpile. Also started to dig out a semi-finished pallet-bin and turn it into it's neighbour, to make way for the stuff which is currently awaiting it's final resting place alongside sawdust, hedge trimmings, straw and cardboard, and some warmer weather! I got very cold and was glad to come back in.

Gill had made a pizza dough before going out and when I got in, she was in the middle of cooking a pizza for the children. All of them had enjoyed Avatar, though the glasses had made Gill's eyes water.

So, a nice pizza for tea, with home-made baked beans. I'd done these earlier today: beans from the garden, soaked and boiled, then drained and put with a litre of out of date tomato juice, and brought to the boil again and left on the stove for a couple of hours simmering. Not bad at all!

The boys watched The Simpsons Movie on TV whilst I played Scrabble on facebook and waited for the bathwater to heat up enough on the stove for my bath.

Through facebook I was pleased to learn about the latest news from Georgina Downs' campaign to prevent pesticides being sprayed near where people live. She won in the High Court and the Government appealed and her victory was overturned. So she's taking the case to the European Court, and I hope she wins. See here for today's article in The Ecologist . The other thing I found was that the Royal Mail, apparently, are going to reduce the number of posties who use bicycles, and replace them with vans. How stupid is that? If you feel the same as me, and live in the UK, you can sign this 'Number 10' petition to the Prime Minister:

Friday, 8 January 2010

Friday 8th January 10

A good day, relaxed but seemed to get a lot done. Gill rang me from town and woke me up (!) so I got up and made up the stove and did some woodpile building out at the front.. keeping warm is the priority at the moment!

But when Gill came home, she realised that our eldest had left something at home that he should have had at school, so I cycled it in... only to be told that they were finishing at 1.25 and he wouldn't need it.

So I went down to Country Fresh and then Freshways, and came back with an ENORMOUS load of compostables... just as soon as the snow goes, I'll have to make a new pallet heap for all these sacks and boxes of stuff, which are currently just frozen solid awaiting 'disposal'.

The boys were very excited and hyper as Gill has bought tickets for Avatar tomorrow.

I helped Gill make tea, roast potatoes and nutloaf and broccoli/cauliflower... simple and delicious.

I jarred up more bananas and later put 61 fresh ones on the stove drying racks.

A good day.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Thursday 7th January 10

Both boys off to school, late, but they went.

Gill went into town to pay in a cheque to the Credit Union. I did some stuff inside and then moved logs from the huge stack of beech at the back round to the front, to build up the pile on the right of the door.

Gill came back from town and had forgotten to get various things... including a book our eldest wants, and is waiting for us in Waterstones. So at about 2.30 I cycled in and visited Alligator for peanut butter and marmalade, Waterstones, my building society and then Sainsburys.

Gill did a spaghetti-based meal... I stir-fried some sliced sprouts to go with it, and soon after 7pm set out on my bike again to go to Millers Yard to have the 'York Festivals' meeting with Dylan. Baz turned up, and Sarah from Kyi-Po. Later, Helgi arrived to give me his Duke of Edinburgh Silver booklet to fill in.

Dylan and I had already had a conversation about York Green Festival and York Peace Festival this year. York Peace Festival goes back over 20 years to when York had a Peace Centre, and it was connected to that. I loved the Peace Festival, and when it stopped happening about 5 years ago (not sure when the last one was actually) I missed it and then in 2006/7 I decided to 'do' a Festival, which became York Green Festival in 2007. We had our third last year. But this year, several of the organisers are involved in organising the World Carfree Cities International Conference in York this summer, so we're taking a break and York Peace Festival can take place. This is provisionally booked for 5th September. Dylan also has plans for some events and activities in the week leading up to this, but this is for Dylan to announce when it is more concrete, and the other partners are agreed.

So we all discussed about these events and some other York Festivals, such as the Carnival, which is on June 5th, and a York in Transition (dance?) event on 17th April which I'm partly responsible for. The meeting wasn't very long... and I got away so I could go to St Nicks where my York in Transition friends were having a meeting. I found some logs on the way there, but the weight in the trailer made cycling in the snow much more difficult so I had to push my bike some of the way along the cycle track. I got to St Nicks just as they were on AOB, so I was able to fill in some of the stuff I'd just learned.

So, got home just before 10pm, banked up the stoves, kissed both my boys goodnight, and settled down to a quiet evening.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Wednesday 6th January 10

How lovely to have some time with Gill and both children at school! We had some quiet quality time which was so welcome.

So, the afternoon was pretty quiet too, and short as our eldest came away from school an hour early. I mended a puncture in one of my trailer wheels and kept the stoves going...

At tea time my friend Mark Richards rang me and told me that he'd got four special-deal tickets for Avatar at City Screen, and one of his friends had dropped out, so would I like to come to it?

So I had tea (Gill wanted to do something simple... oven chips, veggie sausage, baked beans, fried mushrooms) and cycled down to City Screen for 7.30. Mark rolled in at 7.45 and we got a row of 4 seats all together. Mark is really good at hospitality... and had got popcorn, ice creams and orange drink! The film was awesome, just amazing. The 3D effects are far superior than the old-fashioned two-colour system, yet the film doesn't 'milk' the effects, it just adds to the film in a really 'natural' way (if that's appropriate for a film based on an alien life-form!). I do reccommend the film... I'm not a big cinema goer, but it's got a nice environmental message, as is indicated in this article. It is a long film, and we had a false start as the sound failed 3 minutes in, so I didn't get home til after 11.30pm.

So, an interesting day.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Tuesday 5th January 10

Well a dreadful-pre school time. Even I cannot believe the difficulty getting people motivated to go.

Gill eventually left with our youngest but they met others returning from school as many of the teachers hadn't got in, so although the school isn't officially closed, they were saying to people to go home if they wanted.

So Gill and our now happy boy went to play in the garden for a bit.

I did our monthly Carbon Account stats... gas and electricity meters, and when my graph came up with the new data, I was pleased to see that my carbon footprint, just using the simple home energy and travel stuff that they use, is 0.43 tonnes over the past year. This doesn't take into account my public transport use, food or other things I buy, not that I buy very much..., but it is still low. It is less than a 10th of the UK average of 5 tonnes using this calculator.

So, snow is the big news today... it didn't stop me cycling down to Country Fresh to get vegetables... and a warning, the cold weather will mean that some veg will go up in price and become scarcer. For instance, the local cauliflowers and carrots are now impossible to harvest, and as Country Fresh normally buys in local veg, they will have to buy ones in from elsewhere, making them more expensive. Richard has had another composter taking some unsold veg/fruit,which is fine by me as my trailer has developed a puncture and is out of action. But neither the snow or lack of trailer stopped me getting compostables from Freshways, and I popped into the Co-op for cereals and soya milk too.

I even spent a short while splitting logs.

Gill made a stew for tea, which we had with granary rolls. Simple and delicious. We had Christmas pudding and ice cream afterwards. I then went out on my bike again to visit a freecycler a mile or more away to pick up and unwanted diabolo and a travel Scrabble. I don't find cycling in snow and ice at all difficult. Just a bit cold.

Later, when all was quiet, I did various admin jobs such as some York in Transition stuff, York Green Festival stuff and even some prep for paying my tax!

Monday 4th January 10

Another low-key day with not a whole lot happening. I got up before 10 in order to ring one of my Fiddlesticks clients from last year and there's an outstanding payment, and a few other things to discuss. I had a bit of other paperwork to do too.

Last night I remembered that I had forgotten to give Gill a present I'd bought her in early December... I'd found a shop, on Bishopthorpe Road, which sold second hand things and antiques, and I spotted some flat irons... the type which sits on a hot surface and is used in the same way as an electric iron is these days. Earlier last year, Gill took the bus all the way to Easingwold to pick up some flat irons advertised in the back of the Press but they were in poor condition and rusty, and the sandpaper and glasspaper and 'wet and dry' I got to smooth down the base hasn't been used. So the ones I got in the Bishy Road shop were great... nice flat bottoms and in good condition. The gentleman did say that they would have been blacked up and would need a good clean before use.

Anyway, I'd left them in the garage and forgotten them. So this morning I got them down from their hidey hole and gave them to her. She was SO pleased! Gill does do quite a bit of ironing, and if she could do it using less or no electricity, that would be good. We have our woodstoves going for quite a few months of the year, it makes sense to use that heat for as much as possible.

So that was a good thing. Gill went into town with both boys to go and use some vouchers or tokens or something. That was a good thing too as when they came back they had pooled their money and vouchers and got a large lego car... remote control I think. They were both happy with this. But not happy that today is the last day of the holidays.

I went to a LETS meeting in the evening; just 3 of us but it was a good meeting and I had a good chat to Lynn about all sorts of things afterwards, especially what her vicar Father Tim Jones has been getting up to recently. The Press has reported it reasonably well, and to their credit, have reproduced the whole sermon, but of course there has been a lot of misunderstanding amongst some of the other media. I'm glad what he has said has got the whole issue of UK poverty back onto the agenda, and how society treats its poorest.

I came home and peeled and prepared 51 bananas for drying! I've still got perhaps 100 left... will they last until I can dry them all? I wonder!

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Sunday 3rd January 10

A late start... it is still the holidays!

And a peaceful day... the boys had been invited to a birthday party at 2pm, so I got the sledge out of the garage after lunch and Gill walked down to Heslington with them, and she stayed there til the party finished at 6.30. Simon and Melody took their son and the three invited partygoers sledging on the hill on Low Moor near the allotments whilst Gill chatted to Natalie.

I prepared a meal for myself and Gill (couscous, onion and leek, stove-fried chunks of sweet potato, broccoli, and cranberry sauce for Gill, pesto for me) and took a Fiddlesticks booking, did some emailing and Scrabble on facebook, phoned a couple of friends and did a small amount of work outside. It was very cold outside, and lovely and warm inside, so I soon came back in!

The family came back at 7, children exhausted, Gill hungry, and all was well in the Cossham household.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Saturday 2nd January 10

A mixed day... peaceful morning but later I was only too happy to go out to leave things to calm down, as my existence just seemed to cause problems.

As pre-arranged with Helen, I cycled round with several bunches of bananas which it seems she's a bit of a fan of, and I spent a couple of peaceful hours chatting and drinking coffee. Her housemate came in and it was good to meet him, and I cycled back in the snow. Bumped into Graham and chatted with him for a short while, and then back home via Freshways.

And my going out had worked... all was back to normal and smiles all round! Great!

Gill and I watched a film about Margot Fonteyn which was quite relaxing too. I had a wonderful hot bath with both cans off the stove, trimmed my beard and washed my hair... very nice!

Friday, 1 January 2010

Friday 1st January 10

Got up at 11.30 after another late night, woken by my sister in law ringing.

I really didn't do very much today at all, besides a bit of washing up, reading, playing Scrabble and replying to assorted posts on the web...

When I was toying with the idea of doing something outside, it snowed heavily so I didn't.

And then it was time to avoid Dr Who, which my family enjoy but I don't.

So I removed myself and watched YouTube videos and then read NewScientist upstairs. I came downstairs thinking it was over and there was continued Dr Who stuff on for a further several hours. I did stuff in the other room and did the washing up.

Gill and I had a game of Scrabble and she won. I'm not surprised at the moment, nothing seems to be quite right. I'm looking forward to visiting a friend tomorrow. That will cheer me up.