Saturday, 31 July 2010

Saturday 31st July 10

A lovely day, woke slowly and had a nice breakfast and after a bit of email/facebook stuff, then got busy in the garden.

Gill had got up early and pruned some lilac and holly, and removed a Buddleia, and she asked me to process this. In fact she suggested that the lilac tree could be taken right down, to maybe chest height, to make more light into the part of the garden currently made a bit claustrophobic by several large trees.

So I got the ladder from the conservatory and, with the bow saw, removed the top branches (with a diameter of about 10cm) and then cut down the trunk, which had a diameter of about 20cm. A nice big log for the front garden and soon for the logpiles. It's good to be able to grow our own fuel!

However, this generated a huge pile of shreddable material, so I spent quite a long time with my Mountfield Quiet Shredder (see this humorous YouTube video of one, worth watching right to the end, and enjoy the Joan Baez song) and got a lot done. I ended up with about 7 sacks of holly and lilac, some of which I used immediately on the current pallet bin, which I nearly filled with fruit/veg and shredded twigs, in layers, surrounded by cardboard to stop the material falling out. It was a very satisfying day.

When the post arrived, there was a lovely get well card from Sheffield Green Party, who had met recently and asked Nigel to send it on their behalf, following my accident at the Green Fair on 26th June. Well, today I've been working in the garden with just wellies on, and my ankle has felt OK, although when I go away tomorrow, I think I'll wear my support, just in case. But it will take several more weeks before I'm completely back to what I was able to do before the accident.

Before the shop shut I visited Richard, since I won't be able to tomorrow, and got a few veggies plus several sacks of resources for my compost heap.

Gill made a nutloaf with grated butternut squash in it... really good! I continued working outside until nearly 10pm, and came in and had a bath.

Both of us are preparing for a busy day tomorrow; I'm working in Pickering and then camping in Thornton Le Dale with the boys til Tuesday, to give Gill a break, and to have some fun with my sons. I'm hoping we can hire bikes on Monday and explore Dalby Forest...

Friday, 30 July 2010

Friday 30th July 10

A nice late morning, although was woken by one of my offspring at sometime after 7am, I went back to sleep. So, up after 9 and a harmonious household.

I did a bit of housework and the day sort of disappeared. Richard rang and I cycled down to Country Fresh and brought back 2 big sacks and 2 boxes of resources. I felt comfortable to cycle down without my Aircast plastic ankle support, as it's feeling a lot better.

A bit later I dealt with a patch of garden which I've watched becoming more overgrown, so I weeded that path, pulling up ground elder and then cutting back a long length of hedge with the shears, which will allow the squash plants in the radiator raised bed to crawl along the hedge and have a secure hold. This is where I grew my prize pumpkin last year, with the roots in the radiator bed (which started off as a compost heap) and the vine growing along the hedge. This year, I've got Zucchetta Rampicante Tromboncino squash again and already there are some good fruits hanging down... one is already over 30cm long. I picked Jack Edwards Pea Beans and courgettes and brought them to the house for tea time consumption.

In the evening I spent an hour watching a Gardeners World whilst stripping electrical flex, cutting the plastic insulation with my penknife and removing the wires inside, then pulling the wire with the copper centre over the knife blade so I can separate the insulation from the metal. I bin the plastic but the copper is quite valuable, and I'll take several kilos to the metal merchant in the next few weeks...

I've been getting fed up with my email inbox filling up and sometimes messages bouncing back to their sender, so today I went onto the Tiscali website and bought £13 worth of extra space. Suddenly my inbox which was 99% full was only 8% full... Woo hoo! However, I will continue to try to keep it at a sensible size. But at least if someone sends me a huge file, it will be accepted.

The other thing Gill and I did today was to organise a little camping expedition early next week. I'm working in Pickering on Sunday, and am going up on the bus. I finish at 3, and will take the bus to Thornton Le Dale. Gill will go up to Thornton Le Dale with the boys and the tent, sleeping bags etc and put up the tent at the Prospect Farm Campsite in the village. Gill will take my jugglestuff home on the bus and I'll stay with the boys, for one or two nights here. If the first night is OK, we'll hire bikes and go up into Dalby Forest on the Monday. So, if no blog posts appear around then, that's where I'll be, giving Gill some space and peace and quiet!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Thursday 29th July 10

A good day... spent from about 9am til lunchtime finalising some paperwork with Gill, and then I phoned in the information to the relevant authorities. This was a big relief.

During the afternoon I sorted out the front garden, tidying, chainsawing up some logs, splitting them. Tara popped in briefly to pick up some muesli base; we got 20kg from Suma last time and usually I only get 10, so I've spare, and when she asked last week about the next Suma order, I said we'd just had one, but her request of a bit of muesli base could be granted.

Once she had been and gone, I went down the garden to continue with the pond area, which I'm really enjoying doing. I put a load of ground elder roots in the centre of the newly vacated 'New Zealand bin' made of pallets raised up off the ground, with a load of vegetation and twigs under them (and some fruit and veg 'resources') and will put a load more on top... the roots will cook!

I came in at 6ish to have tea, a pile of pasta with the rems of tomato soup on, with home grown courgette and our first tomatoes too! Then it was off out to go to the St Nicks AGM.

This slowly got started, after a glass of elderflower wine and some cakes, with a presentation from Lizzie Freeman about Edible York. Lizzie explained how this group had formed following the York in Transition 'Food Open Space' meeting and a visit to the Incredible Edible Todmorden conference. She told us that this local group was part of a much wider move to grow food locally, including Grow Sheffield, Edible Middlesborough and Shoreditch Vacant Lots. We were told about the two current EY projects, Abundance and GardenAble.

For me, Edible York is a very exciting project... and I'm delighted to have donated 30 sacks of compost to the Paragon St raised beds. There are quite a few future sites, including perhaps a big area in the Museum Gardens and, if lucky, a raised bed near the Theatre Royal.

After a break, the AGM proper started. Gail chaired and after her intro, introduced Catherine from York Rotters, Jonathan the new Volunteer Co-ordinator, Rachel the Schools Education Co-ordinator, Tom who's in charge of the recycling collections, and finally Ivana the Centre Manager. There were presentations from all of these people. Ivana told us about the most recent award, given yesterday, the 'Green Pennant', which St Nicks has earned for it's high quality green space.

Then there were the simple elections of the Chair, Vice Chair, Secretary and Treasurer (Tina Funnell is the new Chair, the Treasurer post is now vacant.... anybody want to volunteer? If so, contact St Nicks!) and the Management Group were all voted in too. Several people were leaving their voluntary positions and got thanked.

I didn't hang around to chat once it had finished; I put a small donation in the perspex-fronted compost bin and cycled off towards the University, where a tree has been taken down and the logs left for people to pick them up. Goody!

Home after 10.30pm, and later, I lit the stove to get rid of some of the assorted paper and card etc, and to get some hot water for a late night wash up.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Wednesday 28th July 10

Spent nearly all of the day looking through this blog from July to April working out how much compost has been sold down at Country Fresh, to visitors to the house and stuff I've delivered. This works out at just under £200, my best year ever for compost sales. It's not much, but I don't do it for the money, that's just a nice extra.

So, Gill did paperwork all day and I did computery stuff all day... until 6 when I finished, jumped up and down (gently, my ankle is still delicate) and went to do some work in the garden.

We are now in a position to do our tax returns, which is really good as most years we leave it to the last minute. This year will be less stressful.

The highlights of the day were a nice chat with my Aunty Lizzy on the phone in the evening and a chat with a local person who'd got my details from Country Fresh, and wanted to get some advice about composting. I spent about 20 minutes on the phone with her and she was very happy with the outcome. I also enjoyed my tea, which was noodles, beans and nuts, with veg of course, sounds like a weird combination, well it was and it was delicious!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Tuesday 27th July 10

I had a late start and a quiet remains of morning.

I spent much of the day in the garden... the pond area is coming on nicely and I spent several hours removing vegetation and roots to make the area as bare as possible before moving soil around. I was lucky to be joined by our eldest son who helped for half an hour, which was a real pleasure.

I finished digging out a compost bin which I started doing a few days ago and continued with Janie yesterday, and put in a load of stuff which has been building up, including ground elder roots and brambles. I riddled another sack of very mature compost and will bag up all the riddled stuff soon.

During the evening I watched a series of programmes about cycling and bicycles on BBC4 which was nice, but my mood was saddened as I tried to chat with someone I care about, using facebook chat, but they were rude to me and removed them self from the account I was using. I felt sad all evening about this.

However I did manage to get some minutes written from the last York in Transition meeting, and sent to the other participants for checking.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Monday 26th July 10

A bit of a rude awakening as I'd promised a Freecycler to have a skip-salvaged CD ready for her when she called at 8.15 this morning.... but I hadn't got it ready.... so when she arrived, Gill woke me up and asked me where it was. I knew exactly where it was, and came down and retrieved it.

I had breakfast and did a bit on the computer, but at 10ish I gathered some bags of riddled compost together as Caroline had asked me to supply 8 carrier bags full, and I'd agreed to deliver as I was heading for the station this morning. So that was my first stop, and she was generous with £20 for 8 bags.

My next appointment was with the 11.35 from Manchester; Janie was visiting, and I suggested she bring her bike so we could explore more easily. We cycled through the city and ended up at St Nicks which I think was a bit of a revelation for her, and it was good to see Jean at work on her 'square foot garden' and to show Janie the different foodplants growing there. Then home and Janie met Gill and the boys, and then helped me down the garden, mainly doing some riddling of several sacks of compost. But although I could have spent all day down the garden, I thought that Janie might get bored, and anyway, I wanted to show her Country Fresh and Alligator before they closed. So after a coffee we set off to visit these two shops, and I had a laugh with Shirley at the first place and then Cherry at Alligator. Cherry recounted an old tale of her as a child tormenting me at the Buddhist Centre, nicking my circus equipment and winding me up. Funny, I don't remember, I find that the majority of children are perfectly OK, and I think I deal with them without getting too worked up!

Anyway, we wheeled down to the Millennium Bridge and stopped a while there in the rain, but then headed for the Cafe in Rowntree Park and sheltered there for a bit, chatting.

Then it was time to go to the station and send her back to Manchester..... what a nice friendly day, good to spend this time with her.

I came home and cooked a home-grown courgette and a thrown away pepper to have with a pastie Gill had bought for my tea.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Sunday 25th July 10

A nice relaxing day in many ways... didn't do much in the morning but after lunch I cycled down to see Simon and Melody who have a glut of redcurrants, and invited us to make them a Yorky offer for a couple of punnets. From here I cycled through the University to Heslington Road, popped in to Richard who had a sack and a half of gubbins for me, and then down to town as I wanted to see the YUMI festival, and I picked up a half sack of halved lemon peels from the lemon juice stall.

I was impressed with YUMI Celebrates event. A good proportion of Parliament Street had stalls with food, crafts and activities from local people who originate from all over the world. York is much more of a multicultural place than it was when I arrived in the 1980s. I had an Asian friend who visited with her European boyfriend, and I have memories of them walking through Newgate Market holding hands and all the market traders staring, and me being embarrassed by this. I grew up in Leicester where inter-racial relationships were common, and the attitude of people in York was very different. I'm glad York is more cosmopolitan now.

I chatted with a volunteer steward called Penny and she expressed a desire to volunteer with YUMI, and a couple of minutes later I spotted Sasiki so I introduced them to each other.

I also went into town to see the city centre cycle races, and I was there as the under 14s race got underway. It was good to see them really going for it! I popped into see Sarah and Matthew in their 'Gluggles' shop, and then cycled home via Freshways who were happy to let me have two sacks of goodies.

I came in for a coffee and then got busy in the garden, coming in at 7pm for something to eat. I was pleased that my suggestion that the boys help in the garden was taken up... I asked if they could smash up an old pallet which they did with gusto. Excellent!

I found more interesting stuff in the pond-to-be area.... another clay pipe and something which might be ivory. It's going to be fascinating to see what else we unearth here.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Saturday 24th July 10

Up too early for my liking, left the house at 8am and was on the 8.38 to Malton... which got there just after 9am. My work today was a 5 hour session in the new WHSmith in Wheelgate in Malton, just 4 minutes walk from the station. So I got started early, before my 9.45 official start, and although I went to the venue in my removable aircast, I took it off for the gig and wore both my colourful Fiddlesticks boots.

I had been booked to do balloon models but I took my juggle-kit too, which proved handy as there was a fair amount of interest in juggling, balancing peacock feathers and trying out flower sticks. I did about 120 balloon models, had 20 minutes for lunch and was busy for the full 5 hours.

There was a nice face painter called Becky who arrived after I got set up, and she did some really lovely face painting... and arms and hands....

I left soon after 3pm and got to the station just after the 15.10 to York, so I had the best part of an hour to read my NewScientist, this was most welcome.

However on the 16.10 home I nearly fell asleep as the tough day began to hit me but once I was on my bike again I was OK, and I got to Country Fresh just before Richard closed the shop, and I was able to thank him for the fantastic gig The Falling Spikes did on Thursday. He told me that the band had really got off on the audience reaction and thought it had been their best gig ever.

I spent some time sorting out the compostables so they fitted in my trailer alongside the bag of juggling stuff, and was soon home and spent an hour relaxing and eating tea, the last of the bulgar wheat and home grown squash, with a small portion of cauliflower cheese and pasta.

But then I thought I ought to load up the stuff I brought home today so I spent til nearly 10pm in the garden, dealing with the two tumblers and then doing some nettle-pulling in the pond area. This part of the garden seems to have a lot of rubbish in the soil, bits of glass and pottery, and I found a well-preserved clay pipe, just the mouth-end of the stem missing, and the bowl perfect.

Later Gill and I watched Catch Me If You Can which was a very entertaining film.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Friday 23rd July 10

Up early, as had to be getting going soon after 9am for an appointment, and had an achy neck...the sign of a good gig last night!

Gathered a couple of sacks of compost, to swap for logs, and loaded up the trailer with this, the wrecking bar and fork. I headed over to the other side of town, I thought I'd memorised the route but I missed the turning and had to ask a local who had a map. I soon found Tara's house and she showed me her back garden and told me her vision for it. She trusts my knowledge when it comes to gardens (don't know why!) and I told her that in my view, her vision was do-able. We've known each other for a while but haven't seen each other socially for a couple of years.

Part of her vision is a vegetable patch, currently part of a lawn of couch grass surrounding a large block of concrete which once held a washing line. I'd offered to help break up or remove this concrete. Hence the wrecking bar. So I got busy excavating around the offending lump and dug down until I reached the base, about a foot down, and then I started to lever it up, Tara pushing down on the bar and me inserting bits of broken concrete slab which she conveniently had available. After a bit of time we had the thing out of the hole, and the hole full of bits of broken slabs and half bricks. The lump of concrete was about 2 feet by 2 feet by a foot deep, and I was unable to break it up other than to chip some bits off the edge. I gave up as my hands started to blister. We had lunch, a veg stew, baguette and nutloaf, very nice! We spent a bit of time sorting through some beech hedge offcuts, which provided me with a trailer load of fuel and a green bin of compostables for the Council compost system.

I had to get back as I had other things to do; 4 cheques to put into the building society, a York in Transition cheque to give to the Council re the Mansion House Alternative Energy event in October, and then to Alligator to pick up a lot of not very nice sacks of materials which had sat far too long, and were 'fragrant'.

Home to get them into two tumblers with lots of shredded twigs, and then a bath, as I was going out tonight and working tomorrow. Lovely to have a bath with the gas not kicking in at all, a 100% solar heated bath. Gill wasn't happy with the stuff I'm bringing home, and if I'm to do it, it needs to be regular as it gets horrible quite quickly. I guess my ankle being broken might have affected my collections a bit, but that's no excuse really.

A quick bit to eat and then cycled over to Lord Mayors Walk to St John's, where I'd booked two tickets to see Satish Kumar's lecture called 'Soil, Soul and Society'. Gill didn't feel like going, so I offered my spare ticket to Ivana.

As one would expect in a small city like York and such an inspirational speaker as Satish Kumar, I knew lots of the attendees and it was good to see some old friends, and newer ones!

Satish Kumar was born in India and in 1962 he heard about Bertrand Russel's 8 day protest walk from Aldermaston to London, his response to the Cuban Missile Crisis and the lunacy of the nuclear arms race. He decided he couldn't just let this situation happen, and thought he ought to walk to Moscow, Paris, London and then to Washington to protest about the madness which was/is the nuclear weapon situation.

On the way out of India, crossing the border to Pakistan, a friend wanted to give him money and food, but Kumar refused, as he was determined to do the whole journey without money, and just accepting whatever nourishment was offered. On the way to Moscow, he met a couple of women who worked in a tea factory, who offered him and his friend a cup of tea. Because of their support of his mission, one of them had a bright idea.... and gave him 4 boxes of tea, saying they weren't for him, but for each of the leaders who had their finger on the nuclear button. She asked him to pass on this message: 'If you are about to push the button, please just stop and have a cup of tea and think about what you are about to do.'

So, Kumar walked to Moscow, Paris and London, delivering the tea and message, and in London met Russel, who bought the travellers a ticket to New York on the Queen Mary.

Another unfinished blog post... I WILL write out my notes as this meeting was excellent, but not now.

Thursday 22nd July 10

Another fairly quiet day during the day, but a most enjoyable evening.

Gill and Linda went out to meet their older sister Jane, so the three of them had lunch together, which is the first time they've all been out together for as long as any of them could remember.

I did some stuff on the computer, did the washing up, watered the plants in the conservatory, visited Woodlands with my volunteering application, and then at 1.30, Melody rang me and asked me if I'd help put up the gazebo she'd got out of a skip (which they call the 'special shop') on the playing field at the Outgang in Heslington. The Lord Deramore's year 6 had their last day today and there was a bit of a party fun time planned on the Outgang, so Melody wanted to put up the gazebo and couldn't do it with just Natalie, so asked me!

I got down there at 2.10 and we spent over half an hour having fun putting it up. I picked up lots of beer bottles and cans and almost filled my trailer, but on the way home i found a butchered tree so put logs on top, which stopped the bottles and cans rattling so much.

I had a short time in the garden at around tea time, and then went out to The Duchess for an interesting gig with four acts all wanting to impress the BBC.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Wednesday 21st July 10

I had a lot of tidying to do and spent the whole day sorting through a very large mountain of paperwork and creating a number of paperwork molehills..... some went for recycling, some got replied to by letter, some by email, some went to the compost heap, some for the stove, and others put in a 'to do' list and I started to do them too! Awesome! (but deadly boring...)

Linda, one of Gill's sisters, arrived at about 3pm, whilst Gill was at school picking up our youngest. It was lovely to see Linda and we had a good chat before Gill got home, followed by our eldest and eventually our youngest. They are both looking forward to the end of term.

I had a bit of time in the garden as I needed to do something active. I came in after 6pm to have tea, and at 7.15 I headed into town on my bike to attend a York in Transition meeting at the Hansom Cab. I ended up sort of chairing AND taking notes (how did I allow that to happen?) but it did allow me to get it sorted relatively quickly. The main thing that happened at this meeting was that I asked at the bar for a pear cider. They had no pear cider, but the barman offered me a cherry cider, which I said I'd try. It was DISGUSTING and I tried valiantly to drink it.... but then gave up and took it back to the bar and asked them if they thought it was 'off'. The barman said he'd talk to the landlord.... and 10 minutes later she came over and told me that the barman had sold me a bottle of cherry beer not cherry cider, which is why I found it undrinkable. I was offered a draught cider instead, which was quite nice.

The other good thing which happened was we discussed possible formats for the Carfree York meeting. I have a much better idea of how this might work.

Home just in time to say goodnight to Linda and see my friend Justin Rowlatt on Newsnight talking about there now being 500 million people on facebook.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Tuesday 20th July 10

More paperwork today... but I started by visiting the Woodlands MS Respite Care Centre, over the road, to sort out whether I can help with their logs and trees 'problem'. I had a tour round the back with Richard the Grounds Maintenance chap. He's been overseeing some clearing and there is a lot of usable wood. There is also some 'crown lifting' needed. However, if I'm going to go and do that, I have to go through the volunteer process, and get CRB checked etc. What a bind... but I'm going to go for it. It will be worth it in the long run.

I came back and tried to do some paperwork (including the application to be a volunteer) but got distracted, and ended up outside as it was a nice day, warm and muggy but not raining.

Later in the afternoon I visited Rich at Country Fresh, to get veggies and three or four sacks/boxes of recyclables. I then emptied the medium Compostumbler into a dalek and began to refill the tumbler. I also visited some builders at about 4pm who had said I could have a load of untreated timber offcuts from the extension they were building.

Gill made a pasta and home-grown green bean tea (mostly Jack Edwards Pea Beans) which was enjoyed by all. Our eldest made a lemon cheesecake which I liked.

So, a low key day, lots of recycling and preparation for keeping our logpiles well stocked!

In the evening I watched a film I've been wanting to see for quite a while, on More4, 'The Cove'. This is an excellent film about the unnecessary, cruel and stupid slaughter of tens of thousands of dolphins in the town of Taiji, Japan. Very few people in Japan know about this, but the meat is on sale labelled as whale, and it contains extremely high levels of Mercury, which causes babies exposed 'in utero' to have disabilities (see Minamata). The Japanese do not want this slaughter to be exposed, and local people made it extremely difficult for the film-makers to document the practice. But they managed to do some really well thought out covert filming, including cameras hidden in pretend rocks. The film is exciting, moving, shocking, informative and very memorable. For me, it is just more evidence about how we are mismanaging the Planet, abusing other sentient beings and, in this case, polluting our own species!

If you missed the film, you can buy the DVD (or download) There are also practical actions to try to stop this slaughter, which takes place every September.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Monday 19th July 10

No lie in as the phone rang and woke me. But I'd got quite a bit to do so I got up.

I first worked out the train times to Harrogate and the whereabouts of the Cedar Court Hotel, as I've got my first RSA meeting tonight. I used Googlemaps to pinpoint the hotel, and drew a basic map on the back of an envelope so I could walk from the station to the hotel.

Gill was doing accounts, and we worked together on this task, mainly me interpreting scrawls in the diary! She asked me to tell her how much I'd earned selling compost, so I looked through the diary and marked things there, but also needed to check my blog, to see how much has been taken to Country Fresh, so I spent quite a long time checking this blog for any mention of taking compost down to the shop, and started listing these loads plus other compost sales. I've done April, May and June. OK, 3/4 of the year to go!!! I had two Fiddlesticks letters to deal with and one phone call. I spent most of the day doing this, until 3pm when I got dressed and had an hour and a half in the garden.

But at 4.30ish I came in as my train was at 5.17, in order to get me to Harrogate by the 6.30 meeting start time. I took a sandwich with me to eat on the train and chatted with a chap who works for the people doing the 'Scores On The Doors' website which tell users of catering establishments how good the place is from the perspective of the local authority hygiene inspectors.

When I got to Harrogate it was raining and I followed my map, but unfortunately the Googlemap had the hotel in the wrong place, and I had several minutes of being confused before retracing my steps and asking a local where the Cedar Court Hotel was. So I found it and there were already quite a few Fellows there.

I said hello and went to get a drink, a pint bottle of pear cider was a whopping £4.50, very expensive. I won't be drinking there again! The meeting was good, met some interesting people, quite a selection, although most (all but one, I think!) were older than me. We had time to chat and move around, then the facilitator, Marion Simon, introduced a gentleman who wanted to float an idea to have a regular meeting in a Community Cafe in Harrogate, to attract young people to make a difference and perhaps get better employment possibilities. He also mentioned about promoting low carbon lifestyles and low carbon businesses, which made me take more notice. I said I might be interested in getting involved to some extent, and suggested that the Transition process might be a good one to look at for inspiration. No-one in the group had heard of Transition Towns... I was flabbergasted!

There was a bit of discussion and a few more ideas floated, and then it kind of drifted into the end of the meeting, with no real way forward other than the suggestion of doing 'something' at this cafe. I look forward to the notes being sent out to see if I had a 'petit-mal' and missed a whole chunk of the meeting somehow!

A few people wanted to chat to me afterwards so I must have made some kind of good impression, a chap who knows Edward Harland and another who's about to get involved with the Credit Union.

I was offered a lift to the station in a posh car which was going in that direction anyway so I accepted.

Uneventful train trip home, nice cycle home, and during the evening I contacted both Googlemaps and the Cedar Court Hotel people about the inaccuracies in their map.

When I went on my blog to write up the day, I noticed that today I've passed the 30,000 visitors mark with the Bravenet Counter thingy I installed in 2008! Amazing. Thank you to all visitors who've enjoyed reading my diary.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Sunday 18th July 10

Up earlyish to get ready for a fairly long day, Crayke Gala. Crayke is a lovely village on a hill 15 miles North of here, it overlooks the whole of the vale of York, and from it's south-facing slope you can see York Minster, and even on a clear day, the cooling towers of Drax, some 35 miles south. It is one of my favourite places.

Professor Fiddlesticks had been booked to perform at their Gala from 12 til 4, so I left the house at about 10am, as I always estimate a speed of 10 miles per hour, so getting there should take an hour and a half. I went along the cycle track all the way to Wigginton Road and then North past Rowntrees, over the York to Scarborough level crossing and then out over the ring road and past Wigginton right up to Sutton on the Forest, where I turned left to Huby. I got to Huby at 2 minutes to 11 and stopped at the village shop as I wanted something to drink. The shopkeeper was just about to close (open 9 til 11) and I got a can of ginger beer and chatted whilst he started to close the shop. Whilst I was there, four small boys came to spend their pocket money and then someone else arrived too... so I hope the proprietor was happy with the extra business just before he closed!

Crayke was just 3 miles further on, and as I turned up the last mile of road, I was joined by an old gent on a road bike with drop handlebars. He was Don Chandler, from Richmond, aged 76, and he was on an 80 mile round trip today. We chatted for a few minutes and then I turned left towards the playing fields and he went up and over the top of the hill. I hope I'm still cycling when I'm his age.

I've worked at Crayke Gala once before, maybe 6 or 8 years ago. So I knew where to go and what to expect, and I met my handler, Diane, and she showed me where she thought I could work, which was in front of the teas marquee. I got changed and by 12 midday I was doing my devilsticks and attracting a crowd. I wandered round, with the devilsticks.... if I hadn't had a broken ankle I'd have been unicycling round. I visited the stalls marquee and bought some plants, a Chocolate Mint, a sorrel with red veins and a weird looking greenhouse plant with flowers like a bottlebrush, apparently!

Then it was my job (alongside Claire, the wife of one of the sponsors) to judge the fancy dress. Only three children had been dressed up as pirates (this year's theme) and so they all won. They were too young to understand, I think!

Then at 1.30 I did my show. This went well... and then I was busy all the way through to 4.30pm with workshops and helping people learn to juggle.... a really lovely afternoon. When I packed up and wheeled my bike to the clubhouse I got a small bottle of cider and sat down for half an hour to rest my legs, before cycling home the same way as I came. I noticed a roadkill deer on the way back and stopped to see if I could remove it's head so I could prepare the skull, as I liked it's antlers. But I decided not to bother as I was tired. I got back at about 6.45pm.

I rested for an hour and had tea, and then had an hour working in the garden, put the bike away and then came in to relax. I watched a film called XXY, about an intersex or 'hermaphrodite' person which was very moving and thought provoking.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Saturday 17th July 10

A work day today, had to get over to Huddersfield quite early, so was up well before 8am and then on the bike at 8.25 to get the 8.58 over to Leeds and beyond. I had a quiet journey, reading the latest Resource magazine which arrived a minute before I left. There was a very good article explaining about the different sorts of 'energy from waste' technologies which is very timely, as this is being discussed locally at the moment.

So I was soon in Huddersfield, it takes less than an hour, and I waited on the steps outside the station for someone called Neil to come and find me. He did... but he wasn't driving as he'd had been drinking the previous night, so his daughter Amy was the driver. The event I'd been booked to work at was Meltham Memories, an annual 1940s weekend where lots of people dress up in period costume and remember the Second World War and many of the things which happened. I was delivered to the Wagon and Horses pub in the centre and greeted by Sam, who described herself as Pam's partner, and I'd been told to ask for Pam. Sam said that Pam was dressed as a Wren... and of course in my mind I immediately thought she would be dressed as a small bird.... duh! Anyway, Pam turned up and showed me the road closure they'd organised, with tables and chairs for the children to have their lunch on. I helped move some of the tables and chairs to allow them to see the performance area, and then waited for the first one, supposed to start at 11.30. I had a coffee in the pub and chatted with locals.

At 11.10 I went to get changed and then went to the road closure.... and it was raining. I cannot do devilsticks in the rain... they don't work if wet. Also, asking children to sit in the wet and eat lunch isn't very nice either. So we scurried along to where there was a marquee, and it looked ideal. However, someone else came along saying there was a back room of a hall available, and it would be unlocked in 10 minutes, so we went there and I waited whilst the organisers went to get the food for the kids lunches.

They put the start time back to midday, and by midday I had got myself ready. I hadn't expected to be inside, so I hadn't taken my feathers which only work inside. So I inflated a dozen balloons fully and made 'balancing worms' to allow the show to have easy to balance things suitable for inside use. The children arrived, got their lunch and I started the show once they were all sitting down, finishing at 12.50. Then a repeat performance from 1pm til nearly 2. Both shows were good, enjoyed by audience, performer and organisers. I was given some sandwiches and crisps for lunch, and I went to get changed, was given my cheque and got the bus back to Huddersfield.

I missed the train by a minute and had 30 minutes to wait for the next one. I finished my Resource magazine, and read some NewScientist. On the train I dozed. Quick cycle home via Richard who showed me the Press, and the nearby Spar's Press A-board proclaiming 'call to pedestrianise city centre' or words to that effect. My letter sent in response to Phil Shepherdson's letter hadn't been used on the letters page, but as the basis of an article. As expected, the comments on the website were a mixture of supportive and immature, stupid, offensive rubbish written by idiots hiding their real identity behind names like 'piaggio', 'theendoftheworld' and 'yorkbornandbred'. They seem to take delight in being as offensive as possible. Glad I've got a strong constitution!

I had an hour sitting with the laptop and then spent a bit of time in the garden, but it was a quiet evening. Bed a bit earlier than usual as I've got work tomorrow.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Friday 16th July 10

Up bright and early as had an appointment at 10.30 at the hospital outpatients to have my lipoma looked at by a plastic surgeon. This lump on my forehead has been growing for several years and is very noticeable; several people each week ask me if I've bumped my head, and I have to explain each time what it is. Also, at several recent committee meetings, another attendee has been looking at my forehead rather than at my face and this is somewhat offputting.

So, I showed it to the Doc and told him about my experiences. He without any hesitation said that he would be happy to remove it... because it was still growing and as it was affecting my life in the way that it is. He said it would be done under local anaesthetic, in Leeds, and the procedure would take about 20 minutes, although with all the preparation and stuff, it would be an afternoon.

I did ask if this was a sensible use of resources and he again assured me that it was a small operation and that in his opinion it was definitely the right thing to do. There is always the chance of infection with any surgical procedure, and there will be a scar which may well be red for 6 months and might take up to 2 years to disappear... and there's a possibility it could become a keloid scar, raised up, but that's only a small possibility. So, sometime in the next 16 weeks, I'm due for a lumpectomy.

Before I went I had my nose swabbed for MRSA... I'll be informed if I carry this bacterium and I'm not sure what they do if I have it.

I was out of the hospital before 11am and cycled down to the Museum Gardens to go to a public consultation at the Hospitium. This was about the proposed 'Allerton Waste Recovery Park' which will, if built, deal with the problem of landfillable household waste from York and North Yorkshire. Currently York recycles 45% of household waste via kerbside boxes (and some bring banks) but this leaves 55% to deal with. Currently this is landfilled. There are two main problems with landfill.... space is running out and they emit methane whilst being constructed (although when full, they are capped and this is captured and often used to generate electricity). They also need the liquid pumped out and treated. So, what is the alternative?

Well this project aims to sort the rubbish and remove at least another 5% of recyclable materials (glass, metals, plastics, 'WEEE') before the organic fraction is removed and put in an anaerobic digester, where some of the carbon is extracted in the form of methane, which can be used as a fuel... maybe cleaned up, liquefied and used to power the fleet of lorries which will be needed to bring the waste from all over North Yorkshire. The AD process leaves a sort of compost, which can be used to cover landfill or in landscaping. It is not high quality material as it has lots of contaminants. The remaining non-recyclables and non-organics are burnt in a carefully controlled environment, generating heat for electricity. The ash/clinker left is used in building materials. The emissions in modern incinerators are very low, and I talked to an independent air pollution expert, and she described the assorted arrestation technology used to reduce and capture dioxins, furans and the like. I had several long conversations with one of the gents there, and we covered lots of different areas.... including the possibility that they could build a special AD plant for 'source separated' food waste, which would produce methane but also a high quality digestate/compost.

One of the final things I did was to introduce Jonathan Tyler, chair of the Environment Forum, to Andrew, the chap I had been speaking with. The Environment Forum will be given a presentation in August and a chance to discuss the wider picture of waste with him.

I then came home... walked through town, cycled to Country Fresh, picked up 4 boxes of resources, chatted with Felicia, met Peter, walked to Hull Road with Peter and got home at about 1.45 for a late lunch.

Gill had gone to our youngest's leavers assembly. I had a quiet hour on the computer.

Later I had some very good work in the garden; I moved the SunMar 400 and completely filled it with the materials I'd picked up today and a day or three ago, plus the shredded stuff... it will get very hot!

Gill made a quiche and I had the last chunk of nutloaf.

Not sure where the evening went... but I chatted with facebook contacts, played Scrabble and, via Laura, found a fantastic animator called Cyriak and if you want a giggle, and like cows, do watch this video. I'm an instant fan.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Thursday 15th July 10

A lazy start to the day and a nice morning with Gill. We both worked inside the house for most of the day... I had assorted paperwork and admin to do and Gill did a bit more work on my accounts. I got a booking in Malton next week and to the Beverley Food Festival in the Autumn. I enjoyed reading this NewScientist article about the value of friends on social networks.

A bit later I did some work outside but really this was a comparatively uninteresting day. I harvested some ground elder for tea and rescued some broad beans from the unsold 'resources'; Gill made a nutloaf with yesterday's rice plus breadcrumbs and cashew nuts, grated carrot and chopped onion. This was lovely, a delicious tea.

The highlight of the evening was getting 74 points in Scrabble for TOILETS. Oh, and a nice chat with Kerry whom I met at the Northern Green Gathering a couple of years ago. She is currently what NewScientist would call a 'weak tie' but I think she'll get on well with another of my friends and my prediction is that we'll all meet up in the next few months. Then it will be a stronger tie. My friends are some of the most important parts of my life, and my life is considerably richer because of the assorted social networks I'm part of.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Wednesday 14th July 10

Spent the morning reading and writing.... wrote a letter to the Press about a carfree York, in reply to a letter published yesterday.

But in the afternoon I did quite a bit of garden work, including transferring the contents of one dalek into the one next to it for maturation, and harvesting a load of worms to restock a wormery. I shredded the large pile of woody shrubbery which I cut down before my ankle broke to give the redcurrants more light. I despatched another two rodents to rodent heaven (a hot compost pile!)

In the house I did some washing up and hoovering. I had several Fiddlesticks phone calls. Gill has just about finished the accounts and this past year (09/10) is about £2000 down on last year on the gross income. In a recession, people cut out non essentials, and bought-in entertainment is in many cases a non essential. I really do have to find some other way of generating income.

After the children came home I cycled down to Country Fresh and got some veggies plus 4 boxes of 'resources', some of which I was able to load up into a dalek which has space.

After tea I cut some hedge with shears and the sky got dark and thunder rumbled in the distance, then got nearer and there were a few flashes and a bit of rain. I came in and dried off.

I got an email from a neighbour up the road saying there was a branch waiting for me outside their house so I went out again to pick it up in my bike trailer, and found a couple of broken chairs too which had wooden legs and backs which looked suspiciously like kindling to me...

I popped into see my friend who is fighting alcoholism, and they had news of their friend who has had a liver transplant, needed because of the same illness. Later on I chatted with two friends both of whom are fighting difficult internal mental battles.

Later, my laptop developed a problem with the power supply and kept on shutting down. I wonder if the battery needs replacing, and why was the mains power not keeping the machine going? I wonder if the mains power thing has gone wrong. I feel a visit to Ben might be in order!

But, I was able to use Gill's laptop to type this up, but it's not the same as my machine which has all my bits and bobs on it... like a button which sends me straight to a dictionary website.... and a 'favourites' list, etc etc.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Tuesday 13th July 10

A good day, up early and encouraged the children to get out to school on time, and then went on the computer to do today's emails and facebook messages.

Gill had an appointment mid morning so I stayed in to deal with the Suma order which arrived at about midday.

During the afternoon I got a lovely message from someone. The message says it all:

"You may not remember but I watched you do a Professor Fiddlesticks show a few years ago and afterwards we had a chat about juggling. I just wanted to write a quick note to let you know that I've recently been reading your blog and I really enjoy it, your positivity is a real inspiration to me. I feel the world would be a better place if there were more people like you."

I replied with a big thank you and an invite to come and visit, and maybe see St Nicholas Fields.

The reply was incredibly moving and left me in tears:

"I'd wanted to write to you for a while but I was concerned it would seem odd (I have some issues with anxiety or 'nerves' which cause me to overthink things) I looked your name up out of the blue one day to find out if you were still doing Professor Fiddlesticks and I was amazed to see all the good work you did on the green side of things. As I read on through the diary I could really feel a positivity and enthusiasm that inspired me during a slightly dark time. My 'problems' were nothing major, just some concerns about what I wanted to do in life and whether I had made the right choices. I found what I needed in your words to reassure me that you can do whatever you want to in life. The fog lifted then and it was a wonderful realisation, there are people out there who lead a somewhat modest life and are happy and others who have lots of material things who are not. At the moment I'm doing some work down south so won't be back up north for some weeks but I would love to come to York to shake your hand, see the environmental centre and ask a few questions about my own green living aspirations."

I thought about this for the rest of the day. I feel it is just as important that I get positive feedback about my lifestyle choices as it is that I encourage and support other people (which I do a lot of, mainly privately and not explaining in great detail on the blog). We all have doubts about how we live and the choices we've made, even people who come across as very sure about their path, and for me, this message was very life affirming. Thank you to the person who sent it and I look forward to meeting you soon.

In the afternoon I decided to have a go at protecting my walnuts from marauding squirrels, so I put several bunches in plastic bags. I've had success in previous years with plastic bottles, but getting them onto the tree is not easy. I have no idea if bags will confuse squirrels, or whether they will just laugh at them and tear them open to take the walnuts out. Maybe I should consider getting a squirrel trap.

After tea I dug out a New Zealand pallet bin and put it all into the newly reconstructed Komp 700 on a solid based pallet, hopefully this will be less easy for rodents to access. My rat trap is working well at the moment, placed inside covered containers and baited with bread.

I also did quite a bit of Fiddlesticks stuff today, several phone calls from people booking me and a chat with my agent about a future gig. However, the most important bit of 'paperwork/admin' I did was to initiate a CarFree York group, on facebook initially, but I hope to expand this to a website and meetings, actions etc. This felt like a positive thing to do.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Monday 12th July 10

A very relaxing morning, much needed after a busy weekend.

But the afternoon was more active... at 1.45pm I cycled down to the National Centre for Early Music off Walmgate where our youngest son was performing with his class in a musical journey about Sir Francis Drake. Gill had cycled down earlier to secure tickets and I arrived with 5 minutes to spare, and sat with Gill . As well as singing, our son played the figurehead at the front of the ship, when the group were in their 'ship' configuration. They did a lot of moving around, and sang from the back of the hall, sang in 'rounds' and played instruments as well as doing some basic acting. There was a narrator and a chap playing a harpsichord. It was very good and quite moving to see these 10 and 11 year olds doing such brilliant work.

I cycled back quite quickly, picking up two sacks of resources from Freshways. I noticed that these contained quite a few chillies, and Melody and Simon's son had asked me to tell him when there was a good haul of chillies, as he wants to experiment with fermenting them to make a sauce. So I rang them and was told that he'd come round between 5.30 and 6 to help sort them out.

I then filled the medium Compostumbler completely with the sacks of material I collected a day or three ago. I came up the garden just in time to meet the chilli expert and we spent 25 minutes sorting out four bread-bags full of assorted chillies from the other unwanted, unsold stuff. He was delighted.

I came in for tea and then had a fairly quiet and relaxing evening... watched a programme about Concorde, and dealt with two unloved but very edible pineapples. And had the stove on, so I could wash up in really properly hot water!

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Sunday 11th July 10 Disability Awareness Day

One of my favourite events of the entertaining year today, the fantastic DAD at Walton Hall Gardens near Warrington.

I had as close to a usual breakfast as can be had in someone else's house; Janie had even gone out of her way to get soya milk, and there were a good mix of cereals to start me off for a very long day. I was really pleased that all the family decided to come to DAD; Janie drove and Mark and the boys went in the back... with me with my chunky plastic foot sitting in the front. We got to the site just in time, just before the 9.30 cut-off time to go and park in the performers car park at the back of Walton Hall.

I showed them where I was working, in the Arts Marquee, and dumped my equipment and costume and walked down with them to the pedestrian entrance where we picked up a programme which has a map and list of exhibitors and attractions. Then I got back to the Arts Marquee and got changed and launched into a 10am til 5pm shift.... devilsticking, teaching diabolo, encouraging timid kids to try the yoyo balls, showing teenagers how to juggle, letting people try the four wheel and two wheel unicycle, and I got through nearly 100 balloons too. Laura turned up.... I met her at DAD last year and we've been in regular contact ever since. Now she's got her own flower stick (like a devilstick but with tassels on each end) and a twirling staff.

My hosts had a good time too... the best news that I heard was that Mark had somehow got himself involved in a blind cricket match, where the ball is identified with sound... and he turned out to be really good at it, and got invited to join the team. Apparently they train fairly near Stockport and this is a fantastic opportunity. I look forward to hearing updates! Well done Mark!!!

I hope the lads had a good time too, although I didn't get much feedback from them, although both of them did some circus stuff. Oh and Janie is now a juggler too.... she can do a pretty good 3-ball cascade of at least 6 throws in a row, which I was very pleased with.

5pm came and I packed up to go... and Laura invited me to have something to eat before I caught the train home. So we walked down towards the free bus, but stopped to talk to the people who are campaigning for Walton Hall not to be sold to be converted into a posh hotel by the council. This decision would mean that the Gardens around the Hall would be much less likely to be used for events like DAD. If you want this area to remain in public use, please check this website and sign the petition and join this facebook group.

The free bus queue was entertaining but we were soon at the bus station, quite close to a Chinese 'all you can eat for £8.50' restaurant, where we both had a good selection of things. It was lovely to spend this time with Laura, and then at the station afterwards waiting for my train. I feel very lucky to have her as a friend as she is a totally unique and fun individual, wacky sense of humour, very caring, never short of something to say.... hey, a bit like me really!!!

My train came and it was a fairly uneventful journey apart from chatting with Jo, trainee accountant from Leeds, wearing a 10:10 round her neck, which sparked some conversation.

But soon back in York, and home by 10ish.... glad to see my lovely family who had been in the Treasurers House garden watching our youngest perform in a play connected with the Mystery Plays.

Later, I watched 'Bend it like Beckham' on the BBC which is a really good film.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

Saturday 10th July 10

Busy day.... up at 8am to get 10 sacks of compost down to the Barbican Edible York raised beds. I took the first 5 down and then continued into town to refill the Suma account as we've got a delivery next week and we'll have to pay the driver a cheque.

I popped into Country Fresh and Freshways on the way back and then took that lot down the garden and collected the next 5 sacks, and took them down. Lots of cycling!

Back at 11.45 to get ready to go to Manchester where I'm meeting with friends and then staying with Mark and Janie before going to DAD on Sunday.

The train journey was uneventful and quick, and I met Laura in the station, and in Cafe Nero we met Nomi and Jess, Ian, Amy, Simon (his birthday), Fiona, Katie popped in... and out, and in again, and there were others who's names I have forgotten or didn't learn. Then at 5ish I got a train to Stockport and Janie picked me up and we drove to Marple. It was good to meet Mark her husband again, and their two sons whom I get on well with, and it was interesting coping with their two overenthusiastic dogs.

As it was a nice evening I helped cut their front hedge, using a, electric hedge trimmer for the first time I think. Fun!

Tea was nice, pasta and veg stew, and as darkness fell we had a bit of juggling fun.

Later when the boys were in bed, I showed Janie some assorted videos including the Ethical Man ones that I am on.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Friday 9th July 10

I had a bit of time in the morning to get stuff done (making up Muesli, washing up) but then at 11 I cycled down to town to meet up with an old friend Ayesha, whom I knew as a teenager and I last met briefly when I was 21. So it's been a very long time.

We've met up through Friends Reunited and then facebook allowed us to communicate easily, and a day or two ago we decided it would be a good idea to meet up. Anyway, Ayesha arrived shortly after 11.30 and we walked into town for a hot chocolate at El Piano. Then we walked through town to Clifford's Tower and down to Millennium Bridge, and from there up to the Rowntree Park Cafe where we had a late lunch. We carried on wandering up the Ouse and got as far as Scarborough Bridge where we crossed again, and I wondered if we were in time to visit Isara, York's Community Boat, but it had just left its daytime mooring, so we walked to the Minster via Museum Gardens, and then back into town to a CAFE NERD on Kings Square.

Ayesha's train was soon after 7pm so we wandered back in good time for her to catch this.

It was really good to meet again after all this time and talk about old times.

When I got back home I had some tea and then went out to fill up some sacks of compost as I've an order for 10 sacks to be delivered tomorrow to the Barbican Edible York raised beds. I'll have to do this tomorrow morning as I'm off to Manchester in the afternoon.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Thursday 8th July 10

A kind of busy but nothingy day.... although lovely to be doing things in the garden and I did quite a bit of compost heap management including taking a very heavy solid pallet down the garden which will serve as a base for a Komp 700 hexagonal compost bin I've got, which I've recently emptied and removed the previous base, as it had been breached by a rodent and I don't welcome that.

I did some filling of a medium sized Compostumbler which is working very well... not the 14 days waste to compost as the company deceitfully boasts, but it is quick, and allows the wet stuff to rot down quickly and get hot before it is taken out after a month and allowed to sit and finish off for a year or two. The value of these tumblers is that the initial decomposition is very rapid indeed, reducing the bulk and preventing the problem of stuff getting compacted and anaerobic... in quickly built 'sit and wait' heaps, I occasionally find mummified oranges etc in layers where they have been compressed and the acidity has reduced the bacterial activity. Composting things in a tumbler first avoids this problem, as the pre-tumbled material rots very well once it has been placed in a maturation bay or dalek.

In the evening I cycled down to Bikerescue as I want to talk to Bernie about something, but she wasn't there so I left a message. Then I went on to the Millennium Bridge to meet up with Dave Broughton and others from Abundance, an 'al fresco' meeting. I was a bit early and spent a few minutes picking up litter left by picnickers or end of term revellers. Candy and Anna B turned up, and then Andy D'Agorne, and about half a dozen other people dropped by and chatted which was great! Enjoyed this social a lot.

Cycled home through Walmgate Stray and the University.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Wednesday 7th July 10

A lie in... woke at 8 but then slept til about 11... bliss.

A very restworthy day actually, although I did stack all the logs I cut and split yesterday, and in the evening attended the post-ride meeting of the York World Naked Bike Ride at the Yorkshire Terrier on Stonegate. Hugh and Tony were there already when I turned up, and we were joined by Hedley and Richard. We reviewed the feedback from riders, and discussed how we can have a better ride next year, especially concerning a protocol for the police and our stewards.

After the meeting finished I stayed on with Tony and had a really good chat with him, before leaving soon after 11pm.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Tuesday 6th July 10

A good day, it is SO good to be able to get around more easily in the 'aircast walker' and today was more or less a normal day movement-wise for me.

So at about 10am I got a load more compost in sacks from down the garden and loaded up my trailer with six sacks of mature unriddled and at 10.30 took them down to the new raised beds at the Barbican Cycle Path, and left them there behind the raised beds.

When I got back I got a phone call from a tree surgeon, Glynn, whom I met at the Bishopthorpe Road Open For People street party, asking me whether I'd like to have a bit of Horse Chestnut delivered? Well, of course I was happy... and he said he'd be coming at 4pm.

Nick Haines rang and he wanted to come and see me at 6pm to collect some compost, so I knew I had a fairly busy day ahead.

I did a bit of chainsawing and stacking, to make some space for the unknown quantity of Chestnut, and did some layering of the current compost heap.

I also made some time to put my foot up without the aircast on, which was great!

So, the tree surgeon came and had about 8 slices of trunk about 40 to 50 centimtres diameter and quite a few branches, plus a cherry trunk. I showed Glynn the garden and then chopped up and split most of the long branches and the cherry. I didn't split the rounds... which I was later glad of.

Nick arrived and he filled 4 sacks with unriddled compost from a builders bag of very mature and dry compost whilst I dealt with some more fruit and veg 'resources', and then we riddled the four sacks so all he took was fine material with most of the contraries removed, and all the sticks and uncomposted bits put back in a working heap. So he was happy with the four sacks of riddled, and paid me for them... but on the way out into the front garden we started talking about edible mushrooms. Nick wants to grow some, and has discovered Gourmet Woodland Mushrooms, which is run by my friend Adrian (although I haven't seen him for over 3 years) and is where I got my mushroom plugs from... and the website has several photos of my mushrooms on it (top right photo and conservatory photos of Pearl Oyster on Poplar log) (both right-hand photos of Chicken of the Woods on Cherry trunk) So, Nick might be having the Chestnut logs... I look forward to hearing if he is going to be able to use them.

Then I had tea... a sweetcorn on the cob, pasta salad and a veggie roll thing in pastry.. and a quiet evening after this.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Monday 5th July 10

I had a busy and enjoyable day.

My first job was to try to finish the notes from last night's YiT meeting, so I got up before 8am and started transferring stuff from my notebook to an email, to send it to the others who attended the meeting so they could check the notes before they are sent out to the rest of the group.

But I got distracted by wanting breakfast and in order to do that I needed to wash up....... so I did a batch and had breakfast, and I didn't get the minutes completely done before I had to go to St Nicks to attend the Rotters Management meeting, starting at 10.

I really enjoyed this meeting; the current team is working really well together and I really like Sara our Council Waste Minimisation person, as she's very positive and easy to work with. We had a brief talk about Edible York and the possible development of a Master Gardener scheme. We reviewed the recent York Rotters events and some forthcoming ones. One thing we want to do is to make a video about our work, so we watched a couple of local films from local film-makers and discussed why we wanted it, what message, who it is aimed at, how it would be used. I volunteered to do an initial script, to work out how much info we can fit into the time available. We discussed the future of commercial waste recycling and whether we can promote composting in commercial premises. Again, I have a bit of work to do to find some info about this. Finally, it has been suggested in some parts of the media (Telegraph) that teabags should be torn up before adding to the compost heap, as some bags are made of non-biodegradable materials (ie certain sorts of plastic). We think that the advice is not necessary and might become a barrier to recycling these items, and lots of people don't have a problem with teabags. I do find some uncomposted tea bag 'ghosts' in my finished compost and I either ignore them or take them out along with other 'contraries'.

The meeting finished at about midday and I came home for an early lunch as my next appointment was at 1.40 at the Hospital, to have my plaster cast taken off and something else put on. I didn't have more than 15 minutes to wait before I was invited into the inner sanctum and 10 minutes later had the temporary pot cut off. My ankle and foot was quite swollen, and I admitted that I hadn't managed to take it easy. She asked if I'd elevated my foot at all, and I said that I'd had it up on a chair. She pulled my foot right up in the air and said 'like this?'... well I hadn't been told to do acrobatics! She said to reduce my swelling I had to raise it right up in the air, above my head! Then she explained about the two alternatives, and looked at the X-rays and prodded my foot. She decided on a removable plastic 'walker' with an inflatable inner to immobilise the ankle. This would allow me to exercise my foot with it off, and wash, but support it when up and about. I was very happy with this decision, and only had another 15 minutes wait for chap to fit it, and show me how to inflate it.

So I left the Hospital and cycled into town, popped in to see Dylan at Millers Yard, (seven sacks of oranges and coffee grounds!) went to the Guildhall to see about the hire of the Mansion House for a York in Transition Energy Event, and walked across town to cycle home.

Near the Barbican I noticed that the old compacted beds near the cycle track had been given low sides (raised beds) and filled with sand, which was a bit odd. A few yards further on, there was a queue of traffic on Kent St, pointing towards Fawcett St, and there was a female cyclist coming down the 'off side' of the line of traffic (nearer the centre of the road, presumably because the nearside, next to the kerb, was blocked by a thoughtless driver) and suddenly, a 4x4, I think it was a land rover, pulled out and did a U turn, very nearly knocking the cyclist flat. I was quite near and had a word with the driver and he was horribly abusive towards me. I wish I'd got his number plate as I would have reported him to the police. The lady cyclist was stunned and couldn't continue on her way for a few tens of seconds.... she must have been in shock that her life was so very nearly snuffed out. This kind of motorist behaviour makes me very angry.

Anyway, I managed to put my violent thoughts aside and got home.... and then found a message on email about the raised beds... Chloe, the contact person for Edible York, had asked the men putting sand into the beds to stop, and had asked if some compost or top soil could be put in. I messaged back saying that if she'd asked for compost, she'd get the YorWaste composted woody waste stuff, which is really an insult to the word compost, as it's only fit for mulch. It is composted green waste, processed hot and quick, and has few nutrients and when added to soil, is bound to rob the soil of nitrogen as it is very carbon-heavy. So I said that I would be happy to supply some rich 3 year old proper compost, to try to make these beds a bit better. So I cycled 7 sacks down at about 5pm, had a bowl of soup at 6 and another 7 sacks there, arriving at 6.30 when the work party was just getting going. My compost was most welcome. We removed some of the sand and bagged that up (I took 3 sacks away) and mixed in the council woody stuff with the sand and my rich well rotted compost.

Lynn Turner arrived as she was going to the LETS AGM, and there was also my friend Bill Eve, a lady called Ann who has visited my composting demonstration garden, Dave Broughton and several other Edible York stalwarts. After half an hour Lynn and I went to the Seahorse to the AGM, which I was chairing. This was a lovely meeting too... better attended than we'd expected.
Meeting details to be continued.......... too late to think straight.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Sunday 4th July 10

A work day that I was not entirely looking forward to... I was wondering how my ankle would cope and what I'd be able to do. I was happy that my travel arrangements were taken care of by Chris offering to pick me up at 10.15.

So I got ready and packed in good time and was picked up by Chris, who leads meditations, and his wife Collina, who is a very keen gardener, in a hire car.

The journey was quick and easy, with a quick stop in Pocklington for Chris to get some cash out, and on to the Madhyamaka Buddhist Centre, at Kilnwick Percy Hall. I got my gear out of the car quite near the main lawn and found a good place which would accommodate my four-wheel and two-wheel unicycles, and got myself settled to do some workshops and balloons. I was kept busy all day, but was able to sit for much of it. I was offered a vegeburger and salad for lunch, and Collina got me a coffee. It was a very successful day, and the people in charge paid me my agreed fee, despite my not being able to unicycle round. I was very grateful and pleased. The trip home was just as easy and quick, and I was back home at about 5.30.

I had sandwiches for tea, and then at 7.15 cycled off to Anna's to participate in a York in Transition Events Team meeting with Ivana and Andy D'Agorne. I took a few notes and offered to write them up. I'll do that tomorrow, I hope!

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Saturday 3rd July 10

Today was a relaxing day.... I did virtually no physical activity apart from washing some spinach from the garden. Gill did a stir fry with it in.

Gill told me that I had to rest, so I did. Mostly with my leg up. Spent most of the day playing Scrabble, reading stuff, chatting with Gill, showing her things on facebook, things I found on Flickr... a very quiet and sedentary day. The boys were relaxed and happy too.

My friend Melanie came up trumps with a solution to tomorrow's transport. Her friend Chris is driving to the Madhyamaka Centre in Pocklington tomorrow and is happy to take me. So I'll go in costume and will take as much workshop stuff as I can, plus lots of balloons. I'm sure that I'll be able to contribute reasonably to the event, and should be offered all or most of my fee. I'm really glad that I persuaded them to keep my services. I'd like this accident to not prevent me working at all. I need the work, need the income!

Friday 2nd July 10

I was supposed to have a relaxing day and a lie-in..... but Gill came storming upstairs at 8.30, desperate to get our youngest off to school as she was late, and she'd had the bright idea to get him on his scooter and that would speed things up. But she couldn't work out how to open the steering stem into a right-angle to the foot platform. I did it instantly, whilst half asleep, but it woke me up.... so as Gill was doing the school run, I came down and did the washing up before breakfast.

I didn't do much until lunchtime, and after lunch I had a shower, with Gill holding the shower curtain and a towel so my plaster didn't get wet, which was good. Nice to wash my hair.

Gill went to school and I got ready to go to work; St Wilfred's Roman Catholic Primary School on Monkgate, their Summer Fundraising Fair. I'd already warned them that I wouldn't be able to unicycle around... but I had a very successful afternoon of juggling workshops, a bit of diabolo and devilstick, letting children try the unicycle toys, and giving away LOADS of balloon models. The event finished at 7.30 and I managed to do my last model at 7.45.

I got paid... because I couldn't do the full range of my tricks, I was offered (and accepted) a reduced fee, and I got changed and set off for Blossom St, where behind the Reel Cinema there is the Crescent Working Men's Club, the venue for the party to finish off the CarFree Cities Conference. Despite the discomfort and pain I was in, I had a lovely time and chatted to quite a few friends old and new, loved Rory Motion's set, he always makes me cry with laughter, and listened to all of Hot Fudge's set, and enjoyed most of the tunes and all of watching people dance.

I didn't stay to listen to DJ GreyGold's set and cycled home slowly, getting in at 12.15. Very tired, but watched Glastonbury on the TV and caught up with emails, facebook and blog.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Thursday 1st July 10 Towards CarFree Cities IX Conference, day four

Another fairly gruelling day, getting up early to be at Priory St for 9am, then making notes in each presentation, then participating in the Bishopthorpe Road Street Party.

The first part of the day was centred around why we need to go carfree.

James Woodcock, The Health and Environmental Benefits of reducing Car Use: Low and Zero.

The health impact of two strategies which were modelled.

1)Low carbon cars such as hydrogen/biofuel (low carbon in tailpipe emissions only, not looking at the carbon from the making of the hydrogen, which is mostly from fossil gas, and the often very high carbon footprint of biofuels)

2)Active Travel such as walking and cycling

Looked at London, made a projection to 2030 but no basic modal change, just the type of car changing.

BUT also a big shift to more walking and cycling.

So, CO2 emissions modelled, hardly any reduction in emissions with first scenario and less with the active modes, a 60% reduction if both low carbon cars AND active travel.
The health benefits from low carbon cars are minimal, but MUCH larger with active travel.
The methodology was explained, how the morbidity (ill health) is factored in.
So the reduction in road traffic collisions AND better air quality adds to the gains in health. Physical activity gains... all sorts of conditions, diseases.

DELHI A different spread of modes, more motorcycling, walking.
The projections show an increase in cars even if low carbon ones.
There is more uncertainty about how much Delhi will grow, but car use is expected to increase significantly. Only the combination of low carbon cars and active travel will reduce Delhi's CO2 emissions. Health benefits larger as there is more ill health from collisions and pollution, and there is more ill health generally than in London.
So, the conclusions are that lower carbon driving AND active travel give the best benefits overall.

Interestingly, there is evidence that as the number of cars owned goes up, injuries for pedestrians increase, up to a certain level, and then as car ownership increases further still, the numbers of pedestrian injuries goes down, as the numbers of pedestrian goes down.
Is there safety in numbers for cyclists? Well, to some extent, especially if there are fewer cars because they have switched to cycling. As the number of cyclists increase, there would be a change in policy and infrastructure which will affect the numbers if cyclists injured and killed.

James also looked at the time spent travelling in different modes, also by age. The data from London showed that most people do a small amount of active travel, the median was 55 minutes per week.

However, it is more beneficial if certain age groups do the exercise.

We were shown a series of graphs showing the different levels of active travel in different scenarios, and the health effects of the different scenarios.

Getting rid of motorcyclists had a big reduction in injuries and deaths overall, so the current policy of encouraging more motorcycling in London is not a good one for public health.

The public health benefits of a big increase of active travel was significant. Freight movements were also factored into these scenarios. Legislation which reduces speeds helps health, but a reduction in congestion tends to increase speeds, which increases the deaths and injuries.

Different collisions have different outcomes, so bike-car, mostly injury to the cyclist, but bike-HGV, mostly deaths, so a reduction of freight in HGVs results in a reduction of cyclist deaths.

Michael Glotz-Richter 'The Real World Experience of Bremen in bringing together walking, cycling, public transport and the role of car sharing.
Bremen in the N of Germany, 500k pop full title is the 'Free Hanseatic City of Bremen'
Famous for trams, backbone of transport system.
Bike provision in streetspace, also cafes, art.
Data on travel mode 40% cars/motorbike, cycling 25, Walk 20 public t 14%
Congestion has reduced, as transport volume has reduced, increase in shared transport and cycling.
The car is not the number one status symbol, the iPhone is... allows you to get public transport info!
For older men, the car has reduced in importance, Michael thinks because of viagra!!!
Clean diesel buses introduced, so a huge reduction in emissions from that fleet.
Compressed Natural Gas vehicles being introduced in car fleets... no change in look of street, just air quality.
Trams popular as priority in junctions. Wheelchair etc friendly, good real time info, good announcements give people the feel that they are more in control, which is an important aspect of which mode is chosen.
Walking and cycling.. the ultimate zero emission transport. So, when renewing streets, good provision for cycle lanes.
Increasing cycling and walking helps the CO2 reduction. Walking is a feeder mode for public transport.
Compared shopping trolley with cars, a very clever device.
So, car sharing as alternative to car ownership... smart card, pay for usage
So, 5800 customers, 150 cars, 40 stations, replaced 1000 private cars, has saved 20million euros in infrastructure impacts, lower car mileage, and more use of public transport, walk, cycle
size of cars reduced.
Target to increase to 20k car sharers, as there are still a lot of people who don't know about it. Many people use the public transport every day but the car at weekends only, this car ownership could be replaced by shared car membership.
Tram has advert 'always the right vehicle', nice tee shirt
influenced Shanghai with their first car sharing in Sept after their EXPOpart of the CIVITAS initiative

I had a chat with Gillian Chefrad from CoYC about helping access aa certain school to get Bike It in there, and I'm hoping that I'll be able to help.

Car Free - Low Car, what's the difference? Steve Melia
3 different types of car free development around Europe (discussion, benefits of cf development)Defined, European Style carfree development traffic free residential area
Designed around other travel modes inc car clubs
Limited parking, separated from the housing, typical parking 1 per 5 dwellings
Vauban model
Stellplatzfrei free from parking spaces
Car free centres with residents
Vauban, Freiburg 2000 homes, 5000 population, built on a redeveloped military area, new tram line built into area
17500 euro fee for having a parking space
No street level parking allowed, although some infractions, but mainly self policing
Absolute priority for kids playing.
Colonge Stellwerk 60, limited access private development following a citizens referendum, and a competition for developers to 400 units including 70 houses, not finished yet, mostly owned not rented, motor vehicle free interior, public space, some private space for gardening.
Car parking costs 16000 euros.
Access exceptions for emergency vehicles, maintenance, disabled patients deliveries to edge, removal vans
No taxis allowed, no private car
Bike deliveries to centre

Amsterdam Westerpark GWL-terrein 600 flats on brownfield plus commercial use
50% social housing, 50% owner occupied (deals with the gentrification problem)
Parking ratio 1 vehicle per 5 homes, some peripheral parking, no access to centre

Hamburg Saarlandsrasse 111 flats, second phase 53 flats, 5kn from centre near public transport links

Hamburg Kornweg 10km from centre 64 flats and houses

Edinburgh Gorgie Slateford Green
80%+ social housing 120 units
eco architecture with reedbeds, solar etc, compact development, although space to play, kids not seen. It is also gated with a barrier, only service vehicles have access.
Car ownership in these areas low, use very low
Pedestrianised Centres such as Groningen
Lots of city centres are pedestrianised, but mostly because of retail.
So, Groningen: no through traffic, half pedestrianised, 16500 residents.
Initially centre divided into 4 segments, so access to all quarters but no through traffic
Lots of opposition from Chamber of Commerce, but politicians stood their ground, now Chamber of Commerce a big advocate, and lobbying for secure cycle parks
'sustainable bypass' here: an inner ring road which is cycle friendly and public transport friendly

Exeter UK, 120 new flats with 23 parking spaces in new shopping centre.
First phase of flats had no parking, wondered whether they would sell... prices were high, but people queued in the street overnight to be the first to buy these flats in March 2007

Cycle/pedestrian can work if well designed and thought out. If not, there can be some degree of annoyance and conflict. It usually means that cycles go more slowly.

People moving to carfree areas often choose it because they are carfree already, but others become carfree after moving.
Carfree living is low carbon living if there are other services such as local shops etc
Residents of carfree areas and C footprints compared with a very similar area which was not carfree: was there a rebound effect? No there wasn't: ie money saved on car was not spent on more flights. Tend to shop more locally Embedded carbon high in most developments - concrete and steel..

Spring Hill in Stroud CoHousing, shared space within the building as well as private space
Lancaster, another eco-architect-built development
A comment about the embodied energy in many of these developments, such as 70 tonnes of CO2 emitted per BedZED home, is a huge use of carbon to enable a low use year on year. So, over a time frame of 100 years, this is low carbon, but we don't have 100 years to be low carbon, we should be rapidly going low carbon within 20 years, and cannot really afford, in carbon terms, to invest 70t/c in each low carbon home.

Issues of deliveries in carfree areas

Benefits of Carfree development:
reduces traffic particularly in dense urban areas, more efficient land use, better urban environment esp kids direct benefits and indirect benefits, local environment and global environment indirectly: includes environment, quality of life, health
Carfree developments can happen where public transport is good enough, where services are available, and where parking can be controlled in local surrounding area, potential demand... do people WANT to live there carfree?
WHO...carfree choosers, carfree possibles
'CarFree Housing' a UK concept, not used in other areas, applies to any housing with no parking available. Does reduce car ownership but has few other benefits.

Louvain la Neuve, Belgium new town built around a University Campus following conflict between Flemish speaking and French Speaking students: bike/pedestrian routes put in first, no attempt to go car free, but it has affected the chosen modes of transport. External travel is pretty typical, but internal travel is different, as mostly walking and cycling, known as the Pedestrian Town

Social Marketing Workshop for Cycling, Geoff Gardner - Atkins,transport policy but also builds bridges and ports etc
Marketing is not advertising

Planning is more important than creativity
Social marketing... team effort, partners, needs an exchange
bottom up, shared understanding allows all to arrive at the solution so, key issues are what is the product being sold
Workshop, identify 3 groups you could target to increase cycling
should be easy to identify and likely to respond differently to other group capable of quantitative measurement of change
Those who can cycle but haven't in past few years, requires asking the question
Those who drive a short way to work, through the workplace
Biggest gainers 'What's in it for me?' Time saving, more reliable,
Schoolchildren start young, get in the habit
Senior people in companies

Was Jamie's School Dinners an example of good marketing?
Did it involve all partners in the beginning?
Fruit before cakes sells more fruit, opt out donor cards 'Nudge' book Thaler and Sunstein
Goals always include
Behaviour change,
Knowledge objectives, belief objectives, behaviour objective
Promotion, the marketing
Communications mix advertising personal selling direct marketing find out what the customer wants
And finally, a quote from Dave Holladay:
'plagiarise plagiarise, let no-one else's work evade your eyes, but be sure to call it research!'

I then came home and at 5.45 pm left again to go to Bishopthorpe Road for the Street Party.
I listened into the stewarding instructions and was given a radio, and then when the road was opened to people at 6.30, I did the entire 3 hours as a balloon modeller. A really good, well attended party.

Back at 10.30, tired and did my blog. These are more in note form so far, might make them more readable... but again, now after 2am....