Friday, 30 April 2010

Friday 30th April 10

I was expecting a visitor at 10am and told Gill last night... but I slept til the phone rang at 9.50... it was Nick saying he'd be with me at 11, and then Freecycling John arrived, as I was getting dressed. I met John through Freecycle when he was offering some wood from trees he'd removed from his garden, to make space for vegetables... so I told him then about my excess of compost. He emailed me a day or two back and arranged to come round at 10 today.

So, I showed him round and he was very happy to choose four sacks of mature compost which I wheelbarrowed up the garden and he loaded into his car. Then a while after 11, just as I was having a coffee after my cereal, Nick arrived. We chatted and he had a coffee and then went down to the composting area... and he chose some sacks to put in his cycle trailer.

So, I sold 7 sacks and one bag of riddled... probably my best day's sale EVER!

Then I had lunch, did a bit of wood management out the front and then did lots more outside stuff down the garden, despite the rain.. including lots of weeding, and digging out a dalek bin with some very friable and crumbly compost... loaded it into plastic sacks and I hope to riddle it and use it soon. The weeding I did was around the raised beds where the hedge has been replaced by a wall, and I need to eradicate the ground elder from there, which was growing through the hedge and continually re-invaded the raised beds.

A very satisfying day.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Thursday 29th April 10

I got up before I needed to... the phone rang and I wondered if it was for me, and I came down to sleepily 'be there' which seems to be a good thing when the boys are getting ready for school. Just being around is a calming influence. If I say anything or interact, this is not the case, so I've learned to just 'be'. I've often said that I'm not very good at being and am much better at doing. But in this case, the doing is to just be, if that makes sense.

Anyway, at 10ish, Katalin arrived. She contacted me first before last year's York Green Festival and wanted to take photos of the event, and she did just that, recording the festival. She has a website coming soon... I look forward to seeing it! We had a cuppa and chat with Gill... and then a slow wander down the garden. She loved lots of what she saw, she was perhaps the most enthusiastic visitor I've had for some while! So she took pictures of wormeries, compost, flowers, untidy bits, me, and I don't know what else... I'll have to wait and see!

She left at about 1pm and I washed up and had lunch. In the afternoon I planted some more seeds, different sorts of climbing French beans from the YiT seed swap.

At about 4pm I bombed down to town to deliver a letter and came back via Country Fresh and Freshways. I spent a bit of time starting a new compost heap in the rain, in the metal sided bin, with the basal layers being lots of shredded hedge. Gill made a simple pasta, carrot, mushroom, asparagus, home grown purple sprouting broccoli mix, with a slice of freshly baked home made bread. This was delicious, as usual.

Then I went to town again to attend the FoE 'environment' hustings... the environment has hardly been mentioned in this pre-election run-up, so it was good to go to a meeting with all four main candidates in York Central, down at the Friends Meeting House, and hear what they had to say.

They all agreed that the most pressing environmental issue is that of climate change. All candidates said their parties would deal with it. I was quite impressed with Susan Wade Weeks the Tory, who describes herself as 'the greenest Conservative that you'll ever meet', and I really like the independent approach of Christian Vassie, the Lib Dem City Councillor and City of York 'Energy Champion'. The Green Party's Andy Chase was reasonable, and Hugh Bayley was his usual experienced and professional self. Four people who all care and think they could be the MP for York. My guess is that Bayley has such a big majority that he'll be almost impossible to dislodge, but I would love Vassie to get it. If it was a close-run thing between Bayley and Vassie, I'd vote tactically and vote Lib Dem, but I think I'll vote with my heart and vote Green. Although the Tory seems a nice person, and pretty green in some ways, I don't like all of their policies and don't trust them.

I enjoyed this hustings a lot, despite Hugh Bayley calling me 'Stephen' when he answered my question on how we can reduce the amount of meat consumed. I'd have thought he would remember my name by now; we've been communicating for many many years and have met on dog-knows how many occasions. I forgive him, he meets LOADS of people, and at least he tried! But he won't get my vote.... he didn't have a good answer to my question!

I chatted to a few of my friends afterwards and cycled home via a pile of pallets which loaded themselves onto my trailer and followed me home!

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Wednesday 28th April 10

I overslept... oh dear. I'd told Debbie that I'd be with her at 9am to go and deliver some Green Party leaflets. She had a meeting at 11 so needed to be back before then, but I woke at 10am and didn't remember about the leaflets til about 11. I popped a note through her door apologising and later she rang and we sorted out another time to deliver them.

Gill got really busy cleaning the downstairs loo, inspiring me to do a job lot of washing up with solar heated water, and some hoovering.

After lunch I was expecting Katalin to come and visit but she rang and said transport was difficult so could she come tomorrow. I had no problem with that and got busy in the garden, riddling yet more material for the large raised bed, and taking worms from this compost to one of the wormeries which I think needs some help... I've found some dead worms in it and some maggots. I wonder what that is about?

At about 5 I walked round to Debbie's and we walked down to Heslington Road to deliver 200 'Vote for Andy Chase' leaflets.

In the evening I met with Tony at the Black Swan to do some more work on the York World Naked Cycle Ride. We finalised the route, decided who was doing what with regards to contacting various people, and it's all coming together pretty well I think.

After this meeting, which took 2 hours, we spent another hour chatting and getting to know each other which was really nice, as although I've known Tony for a while, I've never socialised with him.

I got home just after 11.15 and lit the stove so I could do the washing up from tea time.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Tuesday 27th April 10

Up earlyish and feeling bouncy.

Not sure why but I was feeling good... despite knowing that Gill and I had lots of paperwork and admin to do. So we spent a couple of hours going through a pile of paperwork, ringing people up, putting stuff in envelopes, posting them, putting envelopes into the compost pile, minus their stamps which we occasionally give to a worthy charity. Gill started on the 09/10 accounts.

I bought bread and pasties, and posted yams and pea beans to a chap in West Yorkshire and the same to my folks in Sheffield. The beans they saved from last year didn't germinate, so I hope some of mine do. The ones I've planted are erupting from their toilet roll beds. I love seeing that!

I responded to a Freecycle offer of a commode, to replace the wooden one I got all those years ago for my compost toilet, which is now falling to bits. Jo in Huntington said that I could come and get it. One of her next posts mentioned that she was making a raised bed, so I offered her some compost as a gift. I found her road on Googlemaps and memorised the shortest route, and set out. When I arrived, I realised that I'd forgotten the piece of paper with her actual address on it! Duh!

So, I started knocking on doors and found a Jo... but it was the wrong one. No-one knew the Jo I wanted to find. I had a nice chat to a little tubby man who was tending his garden bare-chested, and I told him that if I couldn't find Jo, I'd give him the compost... which I did as Jo wasn't in the 40 or so houses I tried!

I cycled into town and got two cheques out for adverts in 'Book of Green' and one other cheque for someone. Then I came back via Country Fresh, where Shirley had one box of gubbins for me. When I got back, I rang Jo and explained my stupidity, and asked if I could come at 5.30.

So, I had a bit of time to..... do some pallet butchery! I've collected half a dozen broken or unwanted pallets over the past week or so, which needed dismembering and then chopping up into bite sized pieces. Before I set back out for Huntington a second time, I had the Thomas's pastie, and got another sack of mature unriddled from down the garden to pop in the trailer.

This time, I knew which house I was going to, and Jo and her partner and child were waiting for me. The little boy was fascinated with the compost beasties in the sack, and I worked out how to put the commode into my trailer, and cycled back to my neck of the woods. I'd timed it just nicely, arriving at Tang Hall Community Centre just before 6pm when the Hull Road Ward Planning Panel was meeting. I decided to bring the commode in with me, as it looked far too interesting for the local wildlife to ignore.

I was the first there, followed shortly afterwards by a couple of young men from York University who have joined the panel. One of them is the President of the Student Union, and the other is also a SU officer... they are graduates, not students, but they've joined our group as they represent students and there is a certain amount of tension between student houses and the more permanent community. So they want to learn about the house conversions we deal with every time, enlarging homes from 3 bed to 5, 6 or more, making them 'Houses in Multiple Occupation', and possible scenes of loud parties, messy gardens and other accusations. Not all students are like this, and some non students have untidy gardens too (me, for instance!) but they are an easy target for locals to complain about.

We dealt with quite a few good applications, most of them pretty standard, and some of them house extensions, so our new members saw a good range of applications.

I got in just after 7.30 and did a bit of tidying up in the front garden before coming in and having some potato salad and other salady bits, with olives.

A very peaceful evening... enjoyed the new BBC programme 'The Story of Science', and had a good few goes on Scrabble on facebook.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Monday 26th April 10

A good day... woke late and then took some time making up my muesli, which included cracking loads of nuts and finding about 8 sorts of home-dried fruit, chopping them up and mixing them into the muesli base.

Then did a little bit more work outside, mainly filling the raised bed again, this time with the clay soil which came out of the trench which now has a wall coming out of it near our other raised beds further up the garden. I riddled the soil to break up the lumps and allow it to be spread evenly and mixed with the compost and spent potting media.

I also did a little bit of chainsawing, and fruit drying... but it was a nicely nothingy day, spent with the birdsong and the friendly robins who love what I do!

Until 5pm, that is, when I had a shower (in solar heated water, I've worked out how to do it!) Gill made a pasta and mushroom thing which I enjoyed with some home-made bread fresh out of the oven, which she had made because she couldn't be bothered to go to the shops. She is brilliant, a superb cook and we are so lucky!

At 5.30, I cycled off to the BBC Radio York Live Hustings event at the Folk Hall in New Earswick. This was for York Outer, a new constituency, and I'd been invited to attend, not sure why as I'm a voter in York Central. I got there at 6pm and chatted to an old chap called John whom I've seen at lots of meetings, plus a nice couple, sitting the on other side to John.

The producer, Phil Squire, explained the format, rules and 'warmed us up' with some funny stories of radio phone ins. Then the presenter, Jonathan Cowap, introduced the panel, who were Madeleine Kirk (Lib Dem), James Alexander (Labour), Julian Sturdy (Tory) and Baroness Haleh Afshar who is a Professor of politics at York University. There was a lot of talk about the economy and jobs, and it was interesting seeing the candidates dealing with the questions, and the good-humoured Baroness Afshar's responses were worth hearing as well. There was a question about the cessation of pain relief injections for back pain, because the National Institute of Clinical Excellence deems them ineffective, and thinks that there are other more effective methods available. The Labour candidate said he was asking for a review of this policy, but also said that he was keen on evidence-based medicine. I managed to make a comment about whether the local Primary Care Trust might stop supplying homeopathic remedies under this policy too.

The last question was good... the panel was asked that if there was a form of proportional representation with a transferable vote, who would they give their second vote for. Haleh Afshar said that as she was in the House of Lords, she couldn't vote (I didn't know this!). Madeleine Kirk said she wouldn't use her second vote (to boos from the audience!) and James Alexander said that if there was a Green candidate, he'd put his vote that way. I clapped, but I think I was the only Green in the audience. Then Julian Sturdy mumbled his way through a load of excuses and said he'd put his second vote to the UKIP, to howls of derision from the audience. It was a good final bit of grave-digging from him!

And that was that... the hour was over, it was 8pm, and I was home well before 9, when I did the washing up and settled down to watch the news and do some facebooking and email removal.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Sunday 25th April 10

Woke at 10. I got myself ready to go to the Low Moor Allotment Association AGM, which was at midday. I left home at about 11.25 and went to see Richard at Country Fresh, got some veggies and a big bag of cabbage leaves and sprouting onions.

Then I went round to the allotments, and as I was still too early for the meeting, I popped in on the People and Planet allotment where Dora greeted me loudly and warmly as 'Compost John', and yes, I was bearing a gift for their heap... all the cabbage leaves, etc.

I told them about the AGM and she and Zak came with me to the meeting which was outside as it was a lovely day.

A good meeting, left me feeling positive and buoyed up. I cycled past my old plot on the way back and it has been rotavated! The new allotmenteers look like they mean business!

I visited Debbie on the way back and chatted for 10 minutes, and got in for 2pm, for lunch and Gardener's Question Time on Radio 4.

Then I got busy in the conservatory... I planted LOADS of seeds... courgette, pumpkin, squash, yams (in the cups rescued from the Ceilidh, punctured at the base with a hot wire) and sweetcorn plus one or two other things. Lots more to do though...

Then it was tea time, I had the last pastie and the cauliflower/pasta bake which Gill threw together, followed by a slice of cake.

Then it was yet another meeting... down at Anna's, the York in Transition 'events' meeting, which was quite well attended and very upbeat.

I got in just after 10pm and wasn't sleepy til 3am.

Saturday, 24 April 2010

Saturday 24th April 10

Woke slowly at 10 and had breakfast whilst watching things about Permaculture on YouTube.

It was a lovely sunny day so got out before lunch and started taking the large pots from the conservatory down to one of the raised 'radiator' beds down the garden, ready to put the old growing media through the riddle into this bed, alternated with other assorted compost and soil, to raise the level right up so I can grow stuff in it this season.

Came in for a late lunch at about 2pm, and Gill was wanting to do something with the large numbers of oranges which are all over the place. So I washed a load and we both peeled them and removed the seeds and put the bits of segment into the juicer bit of our blender, which we haven't used much. This has a central section in the goblet, above the blades, and perforated walls which allow the juice to flow out into the outer bit of the goblet, but keeps the solids in the centre. It's a good gadget, and we made over two litres of the most delicious orange juice.

At about 4 I went back into the garden and riddled the old growing media into the raised bed. I found quite a few yam tubercles just beginning to grow, from where they had fallen into the tomato pots from the yam vine above. I replanted these in individual little pots. The tomato roots and other bits which didn't go through the riddle went on the compost heap as a layer of mainly woody bits.

I also managed to do a bit of compost heap loading and finished digging out the metal-sided bin.

I came in at 7pm and Gill had made a potato and broccoli quiche which was really nice, had this with baked beans, followed by the last of the apple crumble and some chocolate ice cream.

Today my card came which confirms that I'm a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce. I am John Cossham FRSA. Amazing!

Friday, 23 April 2010

Friday 23rd April 10 'Crude' film review

I enjoyed the morning and delivered a trailer load of compost in four sacks to Jenny in Clifton, and came back via Sainsbury's, Country Fresh and Freshways.

When I got back, I had a letter from the Royal Society of Arts, Manufacturers and Commerce welcoming me to the Fellowship. I am officially 'John Cossham FRSA' now. Wow!

After lunch I went and picked up three pallets from around the corner and then mended the hammer so I could break them up before sawing them up.

As I was doing this, James (Jo's son) and his friend Mary came round to return the rotaseives which I lent to him and his Scouts for their compost riddling. We had a wander down the garden and they were interested in what I'm doing, but then we chatted about Professor Fiddlesticks and Circus Skills Badges, and I think he'll get back to me with a couple of dates for me to go and do my show and workshop.

At about half past 4 I cycled down to Country Fresh again as Rich had something special for me... a huge job lot of oranges and satsumas. They are pre-packed and each pack has a couple of mouldy ones, the others are fine, but it is too much hassle for them to go through the packs and separate the good from the bad, so they are giving me the lot (ahem, selling for a penny!) and I'll compost the yukky ones and hopefully find a use for the good ones!

I had a Sainsbury's pastie and some Country Fresh broccoli for tea, and then I cycled off down to Priory St for York Green Party's showing of Crude, which I've helped Owen organise.

This film documents the legal case between the Secoya and Cofan people of Ecuador, 30,000 of them, and Texaco/Chevron the oil multinational who extracted oil for 26 years before leaving the country in 1992, handing the oilfields over to PetroEcuador. Texaco stands accused of leaving about 1000 pits of oily waste in the rainforest, which drain into the rivers that the indigenous people drink from and wash in. 15 out of every 20 babies have unpleasant skin conditions and lots of children and teenagers have cancer. Texaco says it cleaned up the pits, but some were just filled in with soil, and cores taken show the oil still under the ground, and some are still open ponds of black sticky sludge.

The cast includes Pablo Fajardo, the lawyer representing the plaintiffs, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa, Sting (from the band 'The Police') and his wife Trudie Styler, who together founded the Rainforest Foundation. It's a fascinating story, with Texaco not wanting to admit any wrongdoing but being judged by one investigator to owe $27 billion in damages.

The story is not yet finished, and may not be for some time. For news of the various problems in the Amazon region, go to Amazon Watch, and if you want to show the film to a small group, go to Chevron Toxico, who have all the resources for you to put on an event just like the one I went to tonight. I do recommend it, it's a gripping film, I learned a lot, and the money raised (£62 at our event, with room hire paid for by York Green Party, and CVS giving us discount room hire rates) goes to helping the campaign.

I decided not to socialise at the pub, but to get home to Gill and the boys, and came home via a pile of waste pallets, and picked up another two for processing into stove fodder.

Did the washing up when I got home, and settled down with the laptop and Joolz Holland on the TV.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Thursday 22nd April 10

Another good day. I got up at 8.30 and did assorted things around the house, and Gill went to the GP as she's had a very painful foot for months and months. She has often wondered if she has broken a bone in there.

I washed up. I found a way to get the solar hot water through without the boiler kicking in. Firstly I checked the temperature on the tank in the loft... the incoming temperature from the solar panel was 80 degrees Celsius. So this was hot enough to bypass the boiler and be mixed down with cold water to a reasonable temperature for it to come out of the tap. But we don't think the system is working properly, as when we turn the hot tap on, even with the tank so hot, the boiler goes on. I need to contact the installers to get this checked. So what I did was to turn the hot tap on with a low flow, too low a flow to make the boiler kick in. A few litres later (water for the Papyrus plant!) the water ran warm, enough to do the pots, pans, plates and cutlery. I was very pleased. When Gill came in she said she'd been having showers like that for a while! I checked the temperature afterwards, back up in the loft, and despite the sun still shining fully on the panel, it had gone down to 76, proving that some of the hot water in the tank had been replaced by cold. Result!

I went to the bread shop and got two small loaves and six bags of rolls and some Danish pastries and some flapjack offcuts... all for £4. That's the beauty of Yesterbake!

On the way back I couldn't help seeing several builders vans outside a house, which was having a huge log cabin built in the back garden. There were loads of offcuts already available, actually I think it was packing wood.. as the planks were fixed to steel bands, fortunately easy to pull off the planks, so I asked the builders and they were very happy to see the stuff go. I took one trailer load before lunch and at about 2pm, went to pick up a second load. There were also a vast quantity of thin slivers of wood, again, something to do with the packing, so I brought those home too, and I broke each one of those into about 4 pieces and popped them into a sack... I got 5 potato sacks full of kindling. Excellent. They also said I was welcome to have the pallets.

When our youngest came in from school he had a friend with him and we all chatted together about the things they have done, as he's been on a special day up at Manor School and seen a video about electrocution, and not playing on the railways, and various other things. Apparently it was 'pretty random'.

I dug out about half of the metal-sided compost bin into the builders sack. I riddled another sack of mature compost dug out of the builders bag yesterday. I had a lot of interest from some robins, and I put a small yellow centipede on the palm of my hand and held it out... and one of the robins came and pecked it off my hand. Hand-feeding robins! Lovely!

I had fried egg sandwiches for tea. We have more eggs than we need, some out of date ones, so I used those.

Later I finished breaking up the kindling and watched the politicians debate on BBC2 after it had gone out on Sky which we don't have. I think they are all grey parties. None of them inspire me. Caroline Lucas inspires me. I will be voting Green.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Wednesday 21st April 10

A very good start to the day. I put a high score for 'joy' on my waking emotions questionnaire.

The rest of the day was good too... although I did lots of washing up and jarred up dried fruit, washed the drying racks and refilled them with apples and pears. I also did some assorted paperwork... fulfilled a Good Energy request to send them my gas meter reading, and had several Fiddlesticks enquiries and phone calls.

Towards the end of the afternoon I got out into the garden and dug out a builders sack of very mature compost and put it into a long line of plastic sacks, ready for riddling over the next few days or weeks. The builders bag will be refilled with the material which is currently in the metal-sided compost bin... the sides of which are both corrugated iron in a J shape, from an air raid shelter. I love digging out old compost heaps! I never know what I'll find... although this lot was quite 'clean' with relatively little plastic and glue strips.

I came in at 7pm for tea... Gill had added some macaroni into the chunky veg soup I made a day or two ago, and it was a delicious meal.

Later, after dark, I got a message from a Freecycler who wanted some compost, manure or topsoil. They asked how much a tonne might cost! Well i sell carrier bags of riddled compost for a pound or two or three, and sacks of unriddled for £2 to £5, these sacks might be 20kg or so. Which means that a tonne of unriddled compost, at £2 per 20kg, would be £100. I hope that price didn't put her off! I did say I could do a bulk discount, but I wouldn't want to let it go for much less than that, after all it is lovingly and carefully made!

Several good moves on Scrabble, but my top opponent Gael is on good form and I'm falling behind again.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Tuesday 20th April 10

Another basically good day. A busy morning inside, I made some carrot soup. Then Gill went to town and I responded to a phone call from Keith the Freecycler, who invited me to come and collect a load of wood.

So I soon cycled round to Burnholme and Keith had a really good load of wood... all cut to the same length and just enough to completely fill my trailer and panniers. Perfect. I called in on the Co-op on the way home, and got in before our eldest son came back... and he helped me do some stacking for a few minutes, which was nice, unexpected.

After tea... the carrot, onion, potato, red pepper and celery soup with bread and hommous, I went to the upstairs room of the Golden Fleece to the planning meeting for the September 22nd Car Free Day. This was well attended, 11 of us, and Graham Relton proved a good chair, keeping us more or less focused. We started off with some info about the Car Free Cities Conference and then talked around the run up to the Car Free Day and the day itself. A very inspiring meeting.

I offered to try to find a more accessible venue, as it is possible someone with mobility issues might turn up, and having the meeting in an inaccessible room would be embarrassing and quite frankly, wrong. So I cycled to the Black Swan (they have level access but no accessible toilet) and then the Seahorse (level access, not sure about the loo situation) and both can host us on 20th May. I emailed Graham and asked him to choose between the two.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Monday 19th April 10

I had a bath at 2am and went to bed at 3.

A good day, woke slowly and had a relaxing morning doing not very much and at lunchtime I summoned up enthusiasm to go onto the website I'm trying to write, to edit some stuff and add some more things to the maps.
I added the bit I wanted to, but found the maps had been edited and the things I'd spent ages getting right had disappeared. So I gave up, and wrote to the other people involved and asked for a tutorial.

I was left feeling a bit down about this and needed to get outside... Gill asked me to go to the Co-op for us. I got what we needed there and met a friend who was looking very jolly. We passed the time of day and he told me he wasn't living at home anymore, he had moved in with his fella. And, they had agreed to get married! I didn't know he was gay but I wasn't surprised, and asked him to make sure I was invited when they have their civil partnership celebration. This news cheered me up immensely, I am so pleased for him.

After this I popped down to Freshways and then back, to load up Robin's home-made tumbler composter for the second time, and to cut a hedge which has got very overgrown... and then shred all that material.

So, a fairly quiet day, got enough done during daylight hours, and in the evening took two Fiddlesticks bookings and also got confirmation of an invite to a Radio York Question Time thing on 26th April. I've got to write two questions and send them in... My first question is 'Why isn't the Green Party represented?'

Sunday 18th April 10

I had a late start... after all, I got in last night at nearly midnight and then Gill and I stayed up chatting til after 2am and then we didn't get to sleep until after 3. So I woke and dozed and slept til about 11.

I did a big wash-up after breakfast.

And a late lunch, listening to Gardener's Question Time on Radio 4, but got outside after this. My main job today was to get up into the James Grieve apple tree and remove all the unwanted honeysuckle. I found a honeysuckle 'volunteer' a few years ago and thought it would be a good idea to replant it next to the apple tree. Little did I know how well it would do, and it had climbed right to the top and started to get too much for the tree, and was shading it so much that last year, the amount of apples was quite reduced. So a couple of weeks ago I cut the main stem of the honeysuckle and today I put my ladders up and cut out all the now dead winding vine, pulling it out and feeding it through the shredder. This was a messy job... I got completely covered in bits of lichen and dead honeysuckle leaves.

I also sorted out the cans and bottles from last night and flattened the cans... with a little bit of help from the energetic feet of a pre-teen. Gill took our younger one for a jolly in the park with a couple of his friends.

Tea was a burger thing made from the tea Gill made last night, a rice and bean creation... I think she mixed it with breadcrumbs, and used a hommous pot as a mould, and fried it. Had it in a bread roll, with salad. Had this watching Countryfile.

Later I had an intense discussion on facebook about flying... all triggered off by the Icelandic volcano's ash cloud stopping flights in the UK and most of Europe. Lots of people are delighted about this... comments about airline companies going bust and the like, and lots of comments about the peace and quiet and the clear skies, but some other people don't understand this point of view and I've challenged their view that they have a 'right to fly'. My opinion is that as flying is the single biggest contributor to climate change that any individual can decide to do, and that climate change is already killing people and will certainly kill vast numbers in the future, that flying is directly connected with their deaths. This view doesn't go down too well with some of the frequent fliers who have been inconvenienced by the volcano.

And then I found this NewScientist article by my favourite York author. It maybe that we have to get used to more disruption. Not that I mind that much....

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Saturday 17th April 10

Woke feeling a small amount of joy and slightly more anticipation... I'm helping with some research to see if there's any correlation between waking and dream emotions, in fact I'm not sure what it's about, but it's a student from University of York and I have to fill in an emotions thing when I wake up and just before I go to sleep. I found out about it through a facebook friend and I messaged the person and she sent me the forms in yesterday's post.

So my anticipation levels are quite high.

I got a phone call in the morning from Rich at Country Fresh, as all but one of the bags of compost have gone, so he requested some more.

I went down to town after an early lunch (via Country Fresh, to deliver compost and met 2 delightful young ladies, called Chloe and Gita) to try to find the beer that Pugwash Convention have requested for this evening, but couldn't find it. I did get coffee from Oxfam and some nice bread at Sainsbury's, and the wine the band wanted.

A lovely day, warm and sunny. Wish I wasn't rushing around!

I went on the net to find the York Beer Shop's contact details, as they might have had Cropton Real Ale. They didn't. I went on the Cropton Brewery website and rang them to ask where the nearest place was that I could buy some of their bottled goodies. Apparently it is on sale in Tesco. My heart sank... Tesco is a place I don't really want to go to (here's why) and it's the other side of town. But I really wanted to get the beer the band wanted, so I found the Tesco website and rang them... they said yes, Tesco at Askham Bar had it in. I then rang Tesco at Askham Bar to check that they did have it in and I asked them if I'd be able to collect 8 bottles from somewhere easy to get in the store... and they helpfully said yes, come to Customer Services and it's £2.08 a bottle.

The time soon arrived when I had to pack everything up and zoom off to the other side of town to pick up this expensive beer. I got to Tesco at 5.35 and back to Priory St at 5.55... and I didn't have to open up as John the Caretaker, who's quite a character, was already there and sorting the place out.

The next hour was quite hectic... moving tables, setting out chairs, welcoming the band, welcoming stallholders... and quite soon, people started arriving so I was on the door, checking names against a long list who pre booked (£3) and those who just turned up (£4, £3 concessions), and telling people about where the film was and inviting them to buy a raffle ticket or a strip of tickets, or to leave their contact details if they wanted to get our newsletter online....

I was surprised by the numbers of people who came, and not 'the usual suspects' but ordinary people here for a dance. The band got started and yet more people came to get in. If anything, we had too many people... a far better problem than too few! I took a break and had some of the food that the Steiner School had brought.. a nice couscous salad with a bread roll and a veggie sausage, for £2.50. Reasonable, and what I needed. I had a piece of cake afterwards and then went back to my 'organiser' duties.

At one stage, when the band were taking a break, I did a little bit of balloon modelling as there were a handful of children there, and some older folks had one too, including a nice lass called Rachel who I keep bumping into and she is very friendly with me... well she seems to laugh at me a lot. That's OK... far better to laugh at me than to growl and frown....

Towards the end of the break we did the raffle and that seemed to go down well... there were loads of prizes so lots of people happy.

I kept busy during the second half, clearing up bottles and cans and cups and paper plates... everything recyclable I collected to take home. This ended up as two sacks of cans and bottles, a large box of the same, a bag of paper plates, serviettes and food, and a few other things too.

Id taken some compost down for sale on the LETS stall but it didn't sell so i gave it away at the end as I didn't have space in the trailer to bring it back.

Right at the end, when we had cleared up, and after we'd left the building, I had a discussion with a woman called Vicky who seemed to not like 'labels', and I got a bit annoyed trying to explain that I was comfortable with the sciency way of describing things, but I just think she was trying to antagonise me. She succeeded. I cycled home hoping that my bedtime filling-in of my mood forms wouldn't include the negative emotions I was having about the conversation I'd just had... and seeing Gill again did put that all behind me. She'd had a quiet and peaceful evening thank goodness, and was happy to see me.

I was happy that we'd had such a successful event and that everybody had enjoyed themselves so much, and that we raised awareness about Transition and quite a bit of money. I think we ought to do that sort of thing more often.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Friday 16th April 10

Bit of a lie-in til after 9, but then got busy with various outdoors activities... more gardening.

This time I attacked a hedge, a section of hedge that I'm not very fond of, it's hawthorn and incredibly prickly, huge long thorns which make it really difficult to manage. But I eventually fed all the cut bits through the shredder which means it will compost down really well, and hopefully the thorns won't be around when I come to riddle the finished compost!

Sometime in the afternoon I cycled down to see Anna Semlyen who has picked up the key for CVS, but cannot get to the venue until 6.30, so I offered to get there for 6pm to allow the band to set up and do a sound check. I also picked up the posters for the Ecocell talk which I've helped organise (and my eldest son did the poster for, added to by Anna) and the latest York in Transition Newsletter.

I visited Alligator to pick up their compostables, then Country Fresh where I got embroiled in a conversation with Florencia and a Chinese University lecturer, which was very jolly.

Then onto St Nicks to dispose of one of the sacks of resources from Country Fresh into the display composter, and to give Ecocell posters to John and Transition newsletters to Ivana... and then on to Freshways where I picked up another two sacks.

A bit later, I cycled round to Lynn's to deliver some seed compost.

So a busy day, nice and social, quite a bit of cycling and recycling... my favourite kind of day.

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Thursday 15th April 10

A good day. Up not too early and got some paperwork done, cheques into envelopes and into the post box.

And then had a busy day in the garden, getting lots done, a bit more shredding and lots of tidying, riddled the last of a builder's bag of very mature compost, bagged it up into about 20 bread bags and 14 carrier bags. All the big bits... sticks, chunks of bark, etc, went back on the new heap. I did a bit of stacking, very green alder logs which I've split to get them dry quickly.

At 3pm, my composting friend Jo came round to borrow both my Rotasieves, as her son is doing a thing with Scouts and they need to riddle lots of compost, in preparation for planting seeds.

I worked in the garden til 6pm and came in for pasta with broccoli and carrot, with home-made tomato soup as a sauce on top. Very welcome and filling.

Then later, something I've been looking forward to doing for ages... I planted the first seeds of the year. I filled about 50 toilet roll inners with home-made seed compost with a spoon... it took quite a long time, but I did then 'in situ' in a stainless steel catering dish, the sort used in ban maries to serve hot food from,which I rescued from a skip years ago. The bog-rolls were put into it, all up against each other, and the growing medium carefully spooned in. Then I put a pea-bean in each one, and a bit of seed-compost on top. Then I got water from the water butt and gave them a good dowsing from the base, so the water soaks up to the beans. I love planting seeds. And especially these climbing beans as they are just about my favourite crop. The toilet rolls will be planted in 4 to 6 weeks without disturbing the roots.

I'll do the pumpkins and squash over the weekend, and sweetcorn, brassicas, and I don't know what else. A lovely time of year. Let's hope the Icelandic volcano doesn't affect the summer temperatures too much... it could make a cool summer. I've enjoyed today partly as I was pleased the volcanic ash has closed all the airports today. One comment on facebook was that Gaia is getting her revenge....

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Wednesday 14th April 10

A generally quiet day... Lots of work to do inside, child management, washing up, computer stuff.

At about 5pm I managed to get some time in the garden, and I did a lot of work... more tidying of brambles, and shredding them, and for the first time since the cold snap after Christmas, I have NO boxes or bags of compostable materials awaiting their destination on the heap... I have finally caught up with the crap, and I hope that I'll now keep on top of what I bring home.

However, when I came in at 8.30pm, my hands were really cut up with bramble prickles... they really hurt. But as most gardeners will tell you, it is preferable to use bare hands as using gloves just doesn't 'do it' for me.. I even prefer to hand-weed nettles without gloves. Yet, on my bike, I wear gloves all the year round. Weird!

A nice bowl of soup for tea, and a pastie and roast butternut squash.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Tuesday 13th April 10

A meeting in town this morning and then put a cheque in, and then at 11ish over to Kate Lock's house with the apple tree I took out a couple of days ago. I was really glad that Kate wanted it, and it seems that Kate is really glad to have it.

I had a coffee and chat, then dug a hole for the tree, planted it, helped Kate riddle a load of compost in the Rotasieve I lent her yonks ago, had another coffee, and cycled back with the Rotaseive, via Country Fresh and then St Nicks, where I found out that I would be welcome to sort out their display compost bin a bit later in the day.

So, cycled home, lunched and at about 3pm, cycled back to St Nicks with the Country Fresh stuff and a sack of sawdust. I dug out the Komp compost bin out and cleaned the perspex panel, and refilled the bin with new material.... layers of fruit/veg and sawdust. I also 'seeded' the stuff with a few worms....

But, best of all, I took some photos with Gill's camera, see below!

This is the Komp as it looks in anybody's garden, apart from perhaps the brick base, but that's a rat-deterrent.

This is the way these bins are secured shut, with a plastic rod keeping the interlocking panels together.

The door open, revealing the perspex sheet and the internal 'workings' of a compost bin, with finished material at the base and fresher stuff on the top.

Here's the back panel removed and I'm digging out the contents.

The bin, emptied and washed down.

The bin being refilled with shop 'resources'.

Close-up of the layers of material newly put in.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Monday 12th April 10

A pretty non-eventful day in many ways... up not too early, and a slow start with my usual bowl of home-made muesli on top of 'brain flakes' (the secret of my intelligence!) and a bit of time with the laptop.

And the outside was calling so I got busy in the garden, more shredding (I took the shredder down the garden to reduce the time to-ing and fro-ing) and I did a huge load of brambles, hedge and pruned-out other bits.

I bagged up some more riddled compost and started re-filling the New Zealand bin that I dug out over the past couple of days. Oh, and the usual round of washing up, emptying the ash from the stove and that kind of housework.

I had no visitors and didn't go anywhere. Gill got a family day rover bus ticket and took our youngest to the trampolines in Coppergate, came home and took our eldest to town to get a new book, as he goes through them so quickly. Gill also got a game of Monopoly as an extra thing to help pass the time, and the boys played that until quite late.

So for me, quite an uneventful day, despite being productive and the garden looking a lot less woolly afterwards.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Sunday 11th April 10

A good start to the morning as Gill came up and told me that Caroline Lucas was going to be on the Andrew Marr Show, so I came down and woke up with Caroline.

I spent a bit of time writing about how we reduce our water use, spurred on by the Yorkshire Water 'Edna and Mary' campaign,and when I've finished this page, I'll send them the link.

But I couldn't stay in for too long, and there was lots still to do in the garden so I got out and got busy. I chopped yet more blackberries back, pruned a hedge (it was too long and lanky to use shears, needed the secateurs) and shredded all this, did more compost heap turning and started filling the smaller Compostumbler. I dug up some deeply buried yams, cleaned mortar off some bricks for our neighbour to use in the wall he's building, and then at about 2.30, Barry Potter came and delivered the cider press back to me, which he's had since the autumn. We wandered down the garden and I showed him the corroded large Compostumbler, and he thinks that he might be able to fashion a solution for it. He/we need a stainless steel angled bar, which might be able to be retrofitted to strengthen the rather flimsy thin steel Compostumbler side wall.

Then I did more stuff in the garden, including some riddling and I dug out the red apple tree which I got out of the Radio Times for £6 quite a long time ago. Although it is on a dwarfing rootstock, it is crowding the 'family' pear tree and the white apple it came with, and it fell over with the weight of apples and the wet ground a year or so back, so I needed to remove it. I'll try to find a good home for it.

Later in the afternoon I went to Country Fresh to do some shopping and came back with two sacks of resources, so I popped in to St Nicks on the way back.

After tea I had a good bounce on the trampoline with our youngest, and came in at 9pm when it was dark.

A really busy and productive day.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Saturday 10th April 10

A really good day, with more fun than most days. I got up soon after 9 and all was peaceful. A good start.

I wanted to join my friends in town at 11ish who were staging a 'Jam today, Jammed tomorrow?' stall in Parliament St. The York's Jammed campaign is being coordinated by York and Ryedale Friends of the Earth and they had invited people down to join in.. and suggested bringing circus toys down, so I decided to take my devilsticks (two sets). But I also had three sacks of Freshways 'resources' on my bike, so I took them, a garden spade and my composting knife to St Nicks where they have a composting area and copious volumes of sawdust (from a pet shop), and I spent half an hour chopping up aubergines and oranges, and covering them with sawdust and limp herbs. I washed my hands at the Environment Centre which was open, as it was an Eco-Active day.

Then down to Parliament St where the FoE stall was being set up, and boxes of sandwiches and scones all with jam were on offer. I spent a happy hour or so doing my devilstick, and there was a small boy who's mum was collecting for charity, and he had a go with my second set. Jennie did some poi as well. I chatted to a woman called Liz or Betty from Rotherham who was working with a Cliff Richard tribute singer... she was collecting for charity and giving out balloon models. I made her a couple of my favourites, the 'dog's dinner' and the 'weeble' which she was very taken with.

I left at about half past 12 and went to Sainsburys as I'd had an order for their very nice multigrain bread. Got home at 1, and got into the garden as soon as I could as it was a lovely day. Gill was still tidying and sorting... I took some of the stuff (my dumped mess mainly) down the garden for sorting, and the boys happily destroyed several wooden fruit boxes which I'd piled up in case they came in useful. They are now useful... kindling.

I did loads in the garden... more compost heap turning, some weeding, and later on, shredding.

Gill decided that she had been working so hard that she didn't want to cook... so she bought a pizza, some garlic bread, oven chips and frozen peas. This might seem 'normal' but in our house we generally cook from simple ingredients rather than buy ready-made.

So I came in at about 6.30 to have my share of pizza etc, and as usual, put my laptop on (especially as the incomprehensible Dr Who was on!) and was on facebook, and my facebook friend Tracey Smith sent me a message, saying she was doing her 'internet radio show' on Taunton Hospital Radio, and did I want to tune in? It's called Slow Down and Green Up, so I thought I'd give it a go. After a few minutes, during which we'd exchanged a few messages, she suddenly started talking about chatting to someone on facebook, and how she didn't really know how to use facebook so she was going to experiment and find out a bit more about who she was chatting to. So she said hello to me and clicked on my profile info page and started reading out my favourite music and quotations... and found this blog's URL and I thought she was going to start reading out my blog... but she ran out of time as her show finished at 8pm. Most unexpected.

I decided to use the last of the daylight to finish off some tidying... and within the hour both boys came out and we all had a go on the trampoline. We spent so long there that Gill brought the boys' supper out, and we stayed down there for quite a while until it was really dark and we could see the stars.

So a mixture of fun things, enjoyable activities, and warm sunny weather.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Friday 9th April 10

A busy morning... got up soon after 9am to be ready to take the spare seeds from the York in Transition seed swap along to the YUMI Community Garden.

So, after breakfast and a shower I cycled along to the Danesgate Skills Centre on Fulford Cross and arrived on the dot of 10.30. Sasiki and her colleague Helen Hays, a garden designer, were there waiting, and Nick Haines, the organiser of the seed swap, had just arrived. The idea was to hand over the seeds and get some photos of the handover. A handful of users of the garden arrived; a Mexican woman who's been in York for just one week, to learn English and do her MSc, and two Chinese women and a small boy.

The Press didn't turn up, so we took our own photos and will submit these with some extra copy and hope the Press will run a story next week about our two organisations working together.

I came back via Country Fresh, St Nicks and Freshways, getting home at about 12.30, to find a peaceful household.

I spent the afternoon in the garden, taking stuff down from the conservatory which Gill is tidying, and then I got stuck down there, digging out a compost heap. But halfway through the afternoon, our youngest came down and said we had a visitor... it was Alan Leach, who used to live next door to us in Emerald St, with his three children. I spoke to him on facebook yesterday... he asked if he could drop off a bag of kitchen biodegradables. So it was really good to see him, as haven't seen him for a while.

So they all had a wander down the garden, but didn't stay long. I got on with my rearranging my heaps... I dug out one pallet heap and turned it into a 1 cubic metre builders bag which fits into a wooden holder, and dug out both my Compostumbler bins. All the tumbled material needs to sit in a 'New Zealand Bin' (pallets lined with cardboard) for quite a while before it's ready to use as compost. The adverts saying 'makes compost in 14 days' are complete nonsense. Also, I'm going to have to retire the largest Compostumbler as the metal sheet sides have corroded and now flex so much that the door catches bulge out and prevent the cylinder revolving all the way round. I might be able to purchase new metal bits... the plastic end pieces are fine, it's the sheet metal which is rusting. This is a disappointment as it cost a lot and I'd have hoped it would last a decade or so, but it's only lasted about 6 years I think.

Gill had made a nutloaf mix for tea, and using a plastic tub, formed it into rounds and fried them, making home-made burgers, which we had in bread rolls, with baked beans and mushrooms.

Later in the evening I blanched some grapes to make raisins, and chopped up more pears to dry them.

I got a message from the journalist at The Press saying that the story about YiT and YUMI would probably be in the paper early next week.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Thursday 8th April 10

Before I left Sheffield I met up with my sister in law Katie, who had found some clothing belonging to our youngest... easiest to meet up and hand it over rather than to post it.

I used the train journey back to do another bout of email deletions, so my inbox is over 200 emails lighter now.

When I got home I popped up the road to see if our youngest, who was playing with a friend, wanted to come home and play here... but he was happy there. I came back and went online and sent all the emails I wrote on the train and last night, and sorted out various things. Gill and our eldest came in, and I lit the stove to get hot water for washing up, and went outside to do a little bit of stacking.

After tea, I sorted out a potato sack full of cables I'd collected from skips over the past few months... I cut off the outer casing, revealing the two or sometimes three insulated inner wires and often a single uninsulated copper wire. Gill wound up this naked wire round her hand or fingers, depending on the gauge of the wire. When I'd stripped the whole sack of electrical flex, I started on the inner wires, pulling the wire over a blade and revealing the copper underneath. I then passed this to Gill who removed the metal from the plastic, and after an hour, we ended up with several kilos of lovely shiny wound-up copper wire, and a lot of waste plastic insulation. I now have a couple of carrier-bags of copper wire... I'll need to take them to the metal merchant soon. Far better than this stuff going to landfill.. and this method of stripping the wire gives a very clean metal, and no emissions. Some people put the cables on a fire, burning off the plastic, which obviously results in lots of nasty pollution.

Later still, I did a bit more fruit drying... more pears and a pineapple. Good to stop these going into landfill too!

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Wednesday 7th April 10

A busy and productive day... mainly paperwork type stuff.

I cycled down to town in the afternoon via St Nicks where I picked up the box of seeds left over from the seed swap, which are destined to be donated to the YUMI international community garden on Friday, and in town I got out a pile of cheques, two for advertising (Thomson Directories and Yell), £75 of balloons from Cozmic Balloons and a very exciting one, for RSA Membership as I've been nominated to apply for fellowship of the RSA. This means, if accepted, I will be able to 'label' myself as 'John Cossham FRSA'! I also transferred cash to our current account to pay our annual electricity bill with Good Energy... this is £250 for power (5 units/day) and £60 for the daily admin charge, making our annual bill £310.

I also wrote a press release about the seed handover, and popped into the York Press office to chat to a journalist about it, and request a photographer. I spent quite a bit of time making sure all the people mentioned in the document were happy with what was said, about them and their organisations.

At 5pm I bombed down to the station to get the train to Sheffield, as I've been booked by Ali. I took the laptop and managed to get a few emails deleted from my inbox... but not many as the journey is only 50 minutes!

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Tuesday 6th April 10

Gill woke me at about 8.30 saying that she was going to get the 9.10 bus down to the station with our eldest, to go to Sheffield to pick up our youngest. However, our lad's glasses had broken... the lens had fallen out due to the tiny screw coming out. So I said that I'd get up and cycle the glasses down to town, to the shop where they were issued, hopefully get then fixed, and take then to the station to give them to my boyo.

So this is what I did, arrived at the shop at 9am, the screw had actually broken but the dispensing optician was able to extract the bit which was left in, and replace it... and I was at the station by 9.10. The train they meant to get was at 9.44 but they didn't arrive at the station til about then... someone had collapsed on the bus and it had stopped to wait for the paramedic, and no-one could get off as the collapsed person was in the aisle, so everyone had to stay put...

So they got the next train. I went to my building society to put two cheques in, and then onto Country Fresh to pick up 3 sacks of compostables, but I didn't get any shopping as I didn't know what we needed. However, I did get a tray of cauliflower seedlings and leek seedlings. I came home via Freshways but there wasn't much to pick up there, so came home and got busy with some stacking in the back garden. These were the very fresh sticks delivered to me by my gardener/permaculture friend a week or two back, mainly quite thin ones 5 to 10 cm diameter, and lots of them. So they are going onto a pair of pallets in the back garden for a year or two, carefully stacked so they don't roll off...

This, and a little bit of stacking outside the front door, was the only outside work I did whilst Gill was in Sheffield. But when the family came back, I cycled back down to Country Fresh, with three carrier-bags of riddled compost and 3 sacks of mainly plastic waste harvested from the compostables, which I prefer to put back in the shop bin. I bought eggs, onions, mushrooms, broccoli and a butternut squash.

When I came back, Melody and her son were visiting... and her son and mine were down the garden so I went down too, as last time they were down there together, a lot of stuff got wrecked, so I didn't want that to happen again. Instead, I suggested that we do some positive destruction... and break up a load of hedge-sticks which will end up in paper potato sacks and be kindling. Melody's lad was very happy to do this and we talked about pH, acids and alkalis. Good stuff.

Tea was pasta with the sauce which Sarah, yesterday's visitor, had made out of the 'freegan' stuff I said she was welcome to take. I don't know what was in the sauce... peppers and aubergines I think, but it wasn't seasoned and I added a bit of grated cheese and some soy sauce to the pile of pasta.

During the evening I was alerted to a news item on the BBC website through the Scrabble application on facebook, that Mattel, the owners of Scrabble, are changing the rules to allow 'proper nouns', ie words with a capital letter such as people's names, place names, etc. I am very against this, as are the vast majority of the comments on the facebook 'wall' about this rule change. Scrabble is an excellent game and the rules don't need to be changed; I really don't think that allowing proper nouns will make the game any better. I will continue to play with the normal rules. I've just found Ariane Sherine's take on this too... a very funny article!

I also watched the video on wikileaks which shows American soldiers killing civilians. Just reinforces my view that war is the least sustainable activity that we humans can engage in.

I wrote a review of "In Transition 1.0 - From oil dependence to local resilience" so it can be put on the York in Transition website and the Ceilidh information. I tried to write a press release about Friday's seed-donation.

My film review is here:

"IN TRANSITION 1.0 - From oil dependence to local resilience"

'In Transition' is a compilation from over 100 stories from all over the world, sent to Emma Goude from the Transition Network. She knew that one option was to go to Transition initiatives and film key players from different projects, and then edit this into a coherent story... but this would involve her flying around the world. So, instead, Transitioneers were asked to submit their own films... which proceeded to arrive in many different formats, and each film needed watching, describing, and then the best bits massaged into what is a very inspiring 50 minute romp through forward looking and optimistic practical projects.

So, this is a kind of 'wiki-film' which is very enjoyable and inspiring. Although it is short, it can be dipped into. Nothing is covered in much depth, but all the key areas are covered, peak oil, food, education, economy, transport, local government.

The DVD has many extras which show some of the clips which couldn't fit into the film proper, and a 'bonus disc' with even more Transition-related material, including Richard Heinberg talking about 'peak everything' and some interesting observations on volunteer burn out and the psychology of change.

(and you can buy the DVD or see the film here, as well as at our event on 17th April)

Monday, 5 April 2010

Monday 5th April 10

A slow start to the day. In fact a slow day. At lunchtime Gill went into town on the bus with our eldest to see 'Clash of the Titans' at the newly refurbished Reel Cinema which is on the No.10 bus route.

I didn't do very much apart from some housework, until mid afternoon when I went out and split some logs, including a Robin Rawson-type accident when a bit of log hit my shin with great force... extreme pain, but no real damage.

At about 4pm, my new friend Sarah came round with her chap Ian, who wanted to see the assorted low carbon initiatives. We had a chat, tour and cuppa, very nice.

At 7.15 I cycled down to the Seahorse to go to the LETS meeting... and only Ben and Annette turned up. But it was a good meeting and I was pleased to see the new YorkLETS website, which will allow members to manage their own listings, and even do online transactions. I came home and logged in, and sorted out my own page. I am very happy to see this development.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Sunday 4th April 10

Woke late, Gill woke with a start, with cramp in her leg. Poor her.

I needed to get going by 11am, as my train was at 11.43, and I needed to get tickets.

I got into Malton by just after 12, and walked up to the Hyde Park pub, who had booked me for a 1.30 til 3.30 gig. It took about 15 minutes to walk up there with my rucksack (costume, feathers, two wheel and four wheel unicycle things) a sports bag of sticks, diabolos and balls, 'handbag' of diary, journal and reading matter, and two 'proper' unicycles.

I met the publicans, and they gave me a coffee, and I went to sit outside to read the latest copy of Positive News, coming in for just after 1pm to get myself into costume and my gear all ready for the show.

Shows in pubs are always difficult. They are noisy places, and rarely have enough space... and today was no different, although I had a good varied audience of 20 to 30 youngsters and some grownups. Despite the less than optimum conditions, I ploughed on with the routine and managed to get the hour done. I then prepared a whole unicycle-wheel's-worth of modelling balloons and attempted a workshop... again, far from easy but I think most participants enjoyed it. There was no chance to win the demonstration models at the end, far too disorganised and chaotic, also, a disco was starting up at the other end of the pub. But everyone who wanted a balloon animal got one. I finished just before 3.30 and got changed, got paid and walked back to the station.

An uneventful journey back to York, reading Resource Magazine, and got back home soon after 5pm. I'd have liked to do some work outside but I just flopped, only enough energy to light the stove and get hot water for washing up.

Our eldest was back, having had a really good day on the East coast, and we all watched Professor Brian Cox with the last episode of Wonders of the Solar System. A really good series.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Saturday 3rd April 10

An excellent day...

First thing we were getting our youngest ready to go with his grandparents to spend a few nights in Sheffield... they were due to arrive at 11am on their way back from a short break in Kettlewell.

Just before 11 we got a phone call... the traffic was heavy and they were the other side of York, and were stopping for a toilet break. But they did eventually get here, and after giving an Easter egg to out eldest, they disappeared off to Sheffield.

I got ready to go to work... loaded my Curver box up with all the circus gear, slipped that in the trailer, put two unicycles and the 'two wheeled unicycle' on top, costume in the pannier, bag of balloons in the other, and at 1pm, I set off for Copmanthorpe via Bishopthorpe.

Nice cycle, took it slowly so I didn't end up sweaty. I got to Copmanthorpe WI Hall before the partygoers but the Dad, Andre, arrived with his three excited daughters, the youngest of which was having the birthday... and the elder two greeted me warmly as they had seen me at the Burton Stone Community Centre a few weeks earlier.

I got changed and Yinka, their mum, arrived, and then the guests started trickling in.

After 10 or 15 minutes, when most of the young partygoers were present, I called them together and got them sat down, with some Mums and Dads sitting on chairs behind them. I always start the show, if I can, with 'warm-up acts' from the audience... one child came up and told a joke, another just came up and didn't have a skill or anything to do... but got a round of applause for being brave enough to stand up. And then it was my hour-long routine... which as well went very well and easily. I, as usual, enjoyed myself a lot.

I blew up all the balloons as they had their tea, and had a cuppa and some sandwiches, and let some of the children have goes on the 'four-wheel-unicycle' before the birthday cake was brought out... which was swiftly followed by the balloon modelling show and workshop... which also seemed to go well. And bingo, it was 5pm and parents were coming to pick up their little ones.

I got paid, got changed, reloaded my bike trailer and cycled home. I'd asked Richard at Country Fresh earlier if he'd like to leave me a box of compostables out for me... and yes, it was waiting so I popped that on my rack, between the peacock feathers and the bag of balloons. I then cycled past Freshways and they had some bread, tomatoes and 5 litres of out of date Cranberry Juice... however, all this was a tad difficult to load up and cycle home, but I'm not a circus performer for nothing, and things got balanced precariously but safely on the crossbar and handlebars, and all came home in one fell swoop... to coin a phrase!

When I got in, Gill was by herself. Our eldest was having a sleepover with our friends in Heslington, Simon and Melody and their son, and tomorrow, Simon is taking them both to the East coast to go fossil hunting. So... tonight was the first time in 12 years that we'd had a night in our house with no children. So.... we watched some telly, had a nice stir fry with fresh shi-take mushrooms from the garden, and a game of Scrabble, which was close right up til the end... but I just won by 10 points.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Friday 2nd April 10

A very late start.... didn't get up til 10 and then spent some time making up my muesli. Lots of dried fruit. A lazy morning, the whole family nice and relaxed.

Not very much happened (apart from a bit of chainsawing and splitting) until about 4pm when Nick came round to pick up some compost... he had a cuppa and we worked on a Press Release for the hand over of the spare seeds from the York in Transition seed swap, which are going to YUMI, who are developing a garden to grow food in, for their cooks to use... and York in Transition likes their ethos, so we're happy for them to have the seeds.

Then we went down the garden and I got him a big sack of very well rotted but unriddled compost, two small bags of riddled, a bag of leafmould and a bag of loam, plus some worms for his new wormery. I really like helping people like this!

During the evening I did some dried fruit wrangling, sorting stuff which has dried, and preparing more fresh(ish!) fruit for the racks. But that was probably the most exciting thing to happen this evening, and Nick's visit was the highlight of the day....

Thursday 1st April 10

Gill woke me just before 10 by telling me it was midday.... and then said 'April Fool'. She came to bed and then I got up and had breakfast. I went up just before midday and said, right I'm going to go and get our youngest now (fooling her that it was 3pm!) and we had another good laugh.

I spent most of the morning enjoying April Fool jokes posted on facebook... there were loads. I easily spotted the Garden Organic peas with faces one, the student living in the library one, the excellent 'Google translate for animals'(love the videos with this one!), making string out of Runner Beans, and my favourite, the AA Jet Pack one, which also has very well done videos. However, the April Fool by the Council for British Archeology had me thinking for a few minutes and therefore was the best, as it did have me fooled for a short time. I enjoyed them all. One of my friends posted something about Reiki, and I thought that was one too....

I enjoyed Anita Sancha's animation for The Big Green Idea, and the new campaign from Yorkshire Water, Edna and Mary 'Ow Much? . I also had a phone conversation with someone from this campaign, about all the ways I reduce my water use, and I said I would do something on this blog to explain what I do. I'll do that soon, in the 'Pages' section, top right.

Anyway, I came off the computer and got on with helping Gill move something heavy and then I did some stuff outside, and then at 3 I did actually go down to school to pick up our youngest.

I was extremely happy to see that Lord Deramore's School have finally bitten the bullet and got some compost bins installed!!!! Only 6 years or so after I suggested it might be a good idea, and tried to encourage them to do it!!!! The volunteer parent who was putting something into one of them didn't really welcome my offer of a suggestion that it would be better if the bin wasn't balanced on top of the soil surface, and my offering to put it down slightly into the soil, by digging a little channel for the 'foot' to sit in. This makes it slightly more rat resistant and also more stable. I guess that I'll just have to leave them to find out, by trial and error. Or I might indulge in some 'guerrilla composting' and bed the bins down for them. I did go back to my old ways and rescued some fruit bits and bobs from the bins, and put a load into the new compost bin... I just cannot help myself. The two bins there will be joined by one more, but this won't be enough for the 8kg/day the school produces. Also, they are positioned in a North-facing area, and will never get any direct sunlight, so decomposition will be slower than when mine were installed in full sun. But, again, they'll learn, I'm sure. They might even ask me what my advice is... I wonder? I doubt it somehow, I'm pretty sure they are completely pissed off with me.

I cycled my little one home and did a bit more outside work, before cycling down to La Tasca for 5.30pm, to meet Ali, her daughter and PA, who have spent the day in York, and invited me to share a meal with them. It was lovely... lots of different Tapas, and I had a bottle of cider. I did a little errand after the meal; cycled round to the station and collected Ali's suitcase from left luggage, and took it to her hotel room. I was really pleased to see my friends' daughter Emily Rhodes Bernays working there... I last spoke to her when she was a little girl and was one of the biggest Professor Fiddlesticks fans. She is now a beautiful young confident woman... what a difference 10 years makes!

And back to La Tasca, and Ali came with me to the Black Swan for a meeting of York Abundance, which is an offshoot of Edible York, which itself formed following a York In Transition 'Food Open Space' event. This was only the second meeting of Abundance. The idea is to find existing fruit trees and to ensure that any spare fruit is put to good use, and goes to local people who need it most. It was a fairly unstructured meeting but very productive. An abundance of bright ideas. Ali and I both contributed positively, and I managed not to volunteer, well done John.

I went back to Ali's hotel with her and spent a bit of time talking before cycling back home, where Gill was enjoying Sliding Doors on the TV. She'd had a good evening too.