Saturday, 24 December 2011

Tuesday 25th October 11

Long lie-in, such a peaceful house and such a late night last night.  My Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome is really kicking in without Gill around to make me feel guilty about being up and about at 2am or 3am.  I was doing things around the house til 3.30am last night, and slept til after 10am.

But I got going with my usual bowl of cereal and did the usual facebooking and catching up with emails, before lunch and then some chainsawing, as Mark Windmill my gardener friend had delivered some elder and probably Leylandii logs to me yesterday.  So I chopped, split and stacked all of them, and at 6 got ready to go to the Hull Road Ward Planning Panel where we had some interesting planning dilemmas to look at.

I made myself a cauliflower and macaroni cheese with garlic for tea, cooked entirely on the woodstove.  What a treat to have something so garlicky, as none of the rest of the family like garlic as much as me, so as they're away, I'll have a few things I like and they don't.

Edward came round to ask me to sign a few cheques for York in Transition, and gave me a set of papers to give to the Council, to allow us to access some grants we've been awarded.

Up til well after 3am pottering around and listening to music, peeling fruit for drying, etc.  

Monday 24th October 11

Gill and the boys went early, via taxi, to the station, to get the 08.30 train down to Peterborough and then on to Norwich, where they are staying for a few days with Linda, Gill's sister.

I went to Country Fresh at about 9.15 as Catherine had asked me for 4 pumpkins for Pumpkin Evening at St Nicks.

I delivered them to St Nicks where there was a Rotters meeting at 10.  This went smoothly.

Pottering round the house over lunch.

Got the 16.26 train to Manchester to go to a 'clothing optional swim' at Levenshulme Baths, and to meet up with several friends, including Janie and Chris... but when we got there, the event had been cancelled as the staff member who was supposed to be looking after the event was off sick.

So we went to a hotel and had a walk and spent the rest of the evening together.

Came home on the 10.22 from Stockport, getting into York just after midnight.

Good chats with Mike and Juliet on facebook

Sunday 23rd October 11

Lovely to get a lie in til 10am, and a good day with various bits of housework, and then another stint up the pear tree in Sally's garden.  I finished there... not all of the pears are picked, but all the ones I could reach are, and that's most of them, filling 29 trays.

Then I took the ladders round to Dave and Marion's as they too have a huge winter pear, and they'd like some of the pears and are happy for me to have the rest.  I filled one recycling box completely full, and left that in their shed.  I'll get a load of fruit trays from Richard soon and place the pears carefully in them so they can all be inspected individually, any mouldy ones removed and then ripening ones taken out for use.

I picked pears nearly all day, nothing else of note happened.  I do love being up a tree, though.

Saturday 22nd October 11

An early start, up at 7am as had to leave the house by 8.15 to get the 8.44 to Wakefield.  I enjoyed a good conversation with a chap picking up a vehicle from Barnsley and taking it back to Newcastle.

I was picked up by Will, the father of the birthday girl.  He took me to a hall where his partner Katie and their two daughters were waiting, the eldest is 5 tomorrow and the youngest 1 next week.

As usual, it was a good party, and loads of parents stayed, which I like as I can do the two levels of humour.  Some really nice teenagers too, several of whom messaged me on facebook later, and put complimentary comments on my Professor Fiddlesticks Facebook Fan Page.

Got back into York at 2ish and delivered posters to the library, Millers Yard and Sainsburys on the way back home.

Had a bit of a relax, then picked pears, then Olly and Hydi came, then I picked more pears.

Friday 21st October 11

Had a lie-in til after 9 which was good, came downstairs to a very quiet house as Gill had gone to a meeting with other Steiner shop volunteers.  I had nothing happening until Marion came round with the fruit press and a good load of spare apples, which I'll give to Olly as a thank you for re-engineering the malfunctioning O-ring thing on the top of the screw-thread.

Marion chatted to me about her plans for an Apple Day at her church next year, and paid me the hire fee for the apple press yesterday, and sampled some dried fruit, and had a quick tour down the garden.

When she'd gone I messaged Olly to find out when he'd be able to pick the press etc up, and it'll be tomorrow, so I put it all away.  It needed a bit more cleaning, which I did with the watering can.

I took the wheel off the wheelbarrow as it has become deflated, and brought it in and re-inflated it... no sign of a puncture, so I put it back on and took a load of stuff down to the compost heaps.

Before work I popped down to Country Fresh, did some shopping and brought back a trailer-load of recycling, then got cleaned up and went to see David for 6pm.  I took him to City Screen and we met Trish and one of her friends, and Elizabeth, and Dave Taylor gave me some fliers for the forthcoming Green Party fundraiser.

We didn't spend that long at City Screen and when we got back to David's house, I made him his meal and drinks and got away for 7.45, and zoomed over to Peter's for a York in Transition Thermal Imaging Camera meeting.  We looked through our Awards For All application for funding and decided a few things about that.  I'm expecting to proof read it in the next few days, before it goes to Barry Graham as it's in his name.

Gill had made a stew and a lovely loaf, so that's what I had for tea at about 9pm when I got in.  

Thursday 20th October 11 Apple Day at Dringhouses School

A very satisfying but tough day.  I woke at 7 after less than 5 hours sleep and got myself ready, with the screw thread part and the spare ratchet bolt, and a couple of sacks of small apples which I'd either been given or foraged from somewhere, and some good examples of Bramley's Seedling and James Grieve to put on an example table, and set off at 7.50.

Gill left earlier, by bus (using a family day rover ticket) with both boys to the station, where she dropped our eldest off as he was having a school trip to London, and then on another bus to the Steiner School to drop off our youngest, and a bus back to the station where she got a train to Leeds to see her sister who's broken a bone in her hand so she wanted to go and see her.  Funny how injury brings out the best in people!

I arrived at Dringhouses Primary School at about 8.20 and helped move stuff into the hall where the press was already set up.  The children and their families had brought LOADS of apples in.... It looked like we'd never get through them.  There were two mums who were chopping the apples in half and checking for soft brown rot (which contains a toxin called patulin and shouldn't be put in to make apple juice, but is OK for cider as I think it's destroyed by fermentation.)  I started the first grinding and at 8.50 we had our first class... and I managed to do a full press full and got quite a few jugs of juice for them to try, just half a cup each at first, and then a top-up for those who liked it, which was most of them.

During the day I worked with 10 classes and did a grind and press for each class.  I imagine I got approximately 15 litres of juice out of each pressing, as the press can hold 36 litres of pulp.  As I did the grinding, the children came in twos to see the machine, as it has impressive toothed rollers which 'eat' or 'kill' the halved apples.  The smaller children stood on a little platform to see into the hopper.  As I was expressing the juice, they were able to ask questions, most of which I could answer.

We supplied apple juice to the kitchen staff, and in return they gave us a poached egg sandwich.  At midday I went for a little walk to the school nature reserve, a small woodland with a scratty little pond, two compost piles and a ring of chopped logs to sit on, amongst a few trees.  I ate my sandwiches here and came back to school to get on with another grind and press, to supply apple juice for people to have with their lunch.

In the afternoon I did a load more, finishing just before 3pm, and then taking the equipment out into the playground, where someone would hopefully clean it up. One of the dads helped me carry it to near a hose, where I left it.

During the day I'd received a text from Pauline, one of David's PA's, asking me whether I could take him to a lecture this evening, as she had a bad cold.  And when I got home, there was a phone message from one of the Stables Staff offering to pick up our eldest from the station, so that meant I could say yes to working for David.

So I didn't have long before I was going out again and got to his place on the dot of 5.30pm.  We had our usual evening... lovely.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Wednesday 19th October 11

Another good day, with an enjoyable visit to the Central Library, the University to the People and Planet 'Better World Cafe' and then more pear picking.

I'd been booked to do a York Rotters 'support the Council Officer' job, with my favourite Waste Minimisation Officer Sara Goodhead, who has been tasked to try to get as many Council premises to start composting as possible.  She wanted some help with getting the bin put in, so I agreed to meet her and two staff members at 11am today, at 'Explore'.  I got there first and she arrived 5 minutes later with a box containing a Green Johanna composter, which can officially take all sorts of food waste including meat and processed food.  She had to go and park her van and then we met up with a rather hassled staff member (the person we'd agreed to meet at 11 wasn't coming in til midday!) and Mick the Caretaker.  We went round the back to where the bins are, and there was a mossy passage which looked perfect for a compost bin.  I installed the bin, screwing it together as it is in sections, and between us we explained how it should be used and what could go into it.

During the afternoon I attended the University People and Planet 'Better World Cafe', presenting some info on York in Transition and St Nicks.

Tuesday 18th October 11

I had a lie in til about 10am and then had a fairly busy morning trying to organise the fruit press again.  I'd given the screw thread part to Olly the Blacksmith to retrofit something, with the assumption that my day with it in Dringhouses school was next week.  I was wrong, it is this week, and so I had to contact Olly to ask that it got back to me more swiftly than expected, and also to ask Marion from Dringhouses school to pick up the press from St Nicks.

After lunch, at 2pm, a Yellow Pages chap called Stewart came, to discuss the next lot of Fiddlesticks advertising.

After this I went round to Sally's garden to finish picking apples and pears.  I got a nice box of cooking apples and 3 trays of pears.

Then I cycled down to town to pick up my prescription for my asthma preventative, to the chemist to get the medication, and the building society to get two cheques.  I popped in on Debbie on the way back and swapped some pears for a box of Weetabix she didn't want.

In the evening, after the children went to bed, I lit the front room stove for the first time since spring, to burn off the dust which always smells the first time I light it after a gap of not having it lit. I love my little Clearview Pioneer!

Monday 17th October 11

I really enjoyed today as for a lot of it I was up a tree.  I like being in trees, up ladders, and especially picking fruit.

I didn't get a lie in and got dressed quite early, luckily, as Mike from The Pizza Farm arrived much earlier than he'd planned and delivered two sacks of logs, as promised, as part-payment for the work I did there a couple of weeks ago.

Then I took my giant stepladders round to Sally's house, which she rents out, and started picking her pear tree which this year has the best crop I've ever seen.  Some of the pears are really huge, 8 or 9 ounces... so that 4 big pears weighed a kilo.  I got 7 fruit trays full plus 4 drawers from old chests of drawers I'd rescued, literally hundreds of pears.  I also picked 2 trays of apples.

I was really thrilled with this haul, and as I'd nowhere to store them, I spent an hour at dusk removing all the tomato plants from the conservatory, as they've more or less finished fruiting, and therefore made space for some of the larger drawers which wouldn't easily fit anywhere else.  These are 'Winter Pears' and will ripen over the next few weeks and in December, should be really juicy and delicious, to be eaten raw, cooked, or dried.

Sunday 16th October 11

Another good day.... did a successful if quite difficult gig and then had an interesting evening out with David.

So, the party was in Bishopthorpe at 2pm, so I set out at about 1.20 and got there at 1.45, got set up and over 40 children piled in and excitedly ran round and round, noisy and, well, as you would expect of 5 and 6 year olds.

The party went pretty much as expected, apart I had to be more strict than I like, as they were very excitable and restless, and then when I demonstrated the 4 wheel unicycle, one axle broke.  I must remember to take a spare in case that happens.  It didn't detract too much from the party and, actually, meant we finished that part of the show on time.  Birthday tea took quite a bit longer than average, leaving only 25 minutes for the balloon modelling, which usually takes 30 to 45 minutes, so I had to cut that short at the end.

Anyway, several parents said that it was a good party, and one requested a business card, and by 4.25 I was away, heading for home.

I didn't have long, though, before going out to David's, as he was going to a lecture at St John's University, held by the William Temple Association. The talk was by Gill Martin, who amongst other things works at The Haven Project in Hull and Solace in Leeds.

She spoke about the different sorts of refugees and asylum seekers... those who have been smuggled, and those who are trafficked.  They include families and lone children/minors, and come from the Congo, Zimbabwe, Eastern Europe (eg. Kossovo) and more recently, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. They face a number of stresses, including what they've left behind (maybe war, religious persecution), the journey and what they've experienced once here in the UK, where they may have been used as slaves or prostitutes, and may be having difficulties with racism, the cold weather, unfamiliar food, language, isolation and poor housing.

York did not put itself forward to take refugees in 2000 when the Government decided to locate them in other parts of the UK.  Hull, Sheffield, Leeds, Huddersfield all did, but York does now have some and therefore we now have Refugee Action York as well as YUMI.  Gill Martin works with various organisations, and provides counselling and psychotherapy, support and advice.

The talk was very illuminating, and shocking, and there was a bit of interesting discussion afterwards.  Following this there was a short Christian service called Compline, with prayers rattled off like nursery rhymes... I didn't know any of them or the format of the service.  So, a fascinating evening, and David enjoyed it a lot.

I took him home and soon after 9.30 I left, and headed to Walmgate Stray, where the People and Planet students were having a little bonfire.  I chatted with several of them, and showed them the whereabouts of the pile of brash the Council has said they're going to burn, and brought a few branches over for their bonfire.

I spent about an hour there and went soon after 10.30, and was up til well after 2 doing assorted things, including fruit and washing up.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Saturday 15th October 11 Apple Day at St Nicks

I really enjoyed myself today.  I got a lie in and slowly got up, had a shave, shower, hair wash and late breakfast as I had to make up my muesli first. 

Apple Day was from 1pm til 4, so I went, in costume, and with my circus stuff in the bike trailer in case, and arrived at about 12.45.  I took my 'bee body' balloons as they make good apples, and thought that instead of a general circus thing, I could offer the apple juggling and balloon apples.

The apple grinder and press was already in action, and Anneliese was setting out her stall to create a long apple poem, with each contributor writing a single rhyming couplet.

The day went really well, with 2 lots of apple juggling, and helping out with the Apple Olympics and announcements. Towards the end, I met a very nice young man who saw one of the problems we were having with the fruit press, with the split ring thing which held the ratchet mechanism on. He explained he was a blacksmith, and wondered if he could solve the problem.  Olly turned out to be a really nice guy, there with his partner Hydi, and we discussed a solution.  Olly said he could drill a hole into the vertical screw axle, and make a screw thread which would take a bolt.  This would hold a washer in, replacing the split ring clip.  I instinctively trusted him and said if he would do this repair, he could use the press and grinder for free, as a thank you.  We both liked this deal, and at the end of the event, he went home with the relevant piece to re-engineer it.  He also suggested that our eldest might like to come and see his workplace, too, but he'd have to discuss it with his boss.

So, another good day. 

Friday 14th October 11

A really lovely day, as I'd been asked if I'd like to go and cycle with the Steiner School Sponsored Bike Ride which our youngest son was participating in.  So I did a few things round the house before loading up his bike onto my trailer at 10.40am and carefully rolling down there, getting in at 11 which was officially the time to gather and go.

I took some cake and paracetamol to Gill, who'd gone in the taxi earlier with both boys, our eldest walking further on to The Stables and Gill doing a stint in the shop and once we'd gone, she cleaned the classroom too.

Year 7 was to have a cycle ride out along the York to Selby cycle track, 11 children, one teacher, 3 parents.  Other classes were doing other things... the youngest were walking to Rowntree Park, Year 6 were following us on the cycle track but not going as far as we were.

I was pleased to have the company of Celeste, who's Serena's sister, and has a daughter in the class, and Polly, who's a nurse at the Monkgate practice I go to and also has a daughter in Year 7.  So we had quite a bit to chat about, which was good.

We eventually set off at 11.40, after tyres were pumped up and a saddle was adjusted.  The children were good cyclists; there's only one child in the class who doesn't cycle and I think he's going to get lessons in school time as it's almost mandatory that the whole school does this annual fundraising ride.  We had a brief rest at the bridge over the Ouse at Naburn Marina and then continued almost without pause all the way to the place where there are cycle jump ramps.... but we continued all the way to Pluto, which is the furthest the class have ridden.

We returned to the ramps where Year 6 had got to and stopped at, had lunch, and a few more adventurous children had a go on one of the jumps.  I picked up some good hefty logs to take home.  And home we went, felt quicker going back, despite the heavy load in the trailer.

A really lovely ride, very impressed by the cycling abilities of the youngsters.  I think we did about 18 miles.

Thursday 13th October 11

A good day, got up just before Gill went out, and I got quite a bit of writing done, and also took a phone call from a good friend who's going through some difficult times.  I got a letter from All Saints Hall in Poppleton with the invoice for the replacement of the window pane I put my hand through during the party there on 18th September.  That will cost £40.  I have to decide whether that's a business expense or not!

I did a lot of washing up and jarred up loads of apples and pears.

At about 4.30 I headed off to town to meet another friend who I haven't managed to have a chat to for ages (outside of committee meetings anyway) and I had a hot chocolate with him; he too is going through some difficult personal times but trying to remain positive.  At 6 I went along to David's and after a bit of chat, he asked to be taken to City Screen and we had a coffee and read papers, chatted to a few people, and spent an hour there.  I took him back home and made him his evening meal, drinks and left at 8pm.

Cycled up to Andreas' house and we talked about the management of York in Transition and the current project, the Thermal Imaging Camera.

I got back home after 10pm and was up til after 2am, as usual.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Wednesday 12th October 11 Treemendous York launch

I felt really happy today, although spent more time inside than I really prefer.

I was rung up by James Houston, who organises the Galtres Festival, shortly before I went to the launch of Treemendous York at 3pm.  He had been invited to the launch, but a childcare issue had cropped up and he was unable to go.  So he asked me to represent Galtres Festival if needed.  The reason he'd been invited was that at this year's festival, when people bought their tickets, they'd been invited to give a little extra to be spent on offsetting their carbon emissions travelling to and attending the event.  And therefore James was in a position to give a substantial donation to Treemendous York to be spent planting trees in areas of York with less tree coverage than average.

I got to the central library, 'Explore', in good time to meet the Council officer who was setting up the room, and to tell her that I was here instead of James Houston, and to help her put the Treemendous York leaflets out on chairs.

Kate Lock, who chairs the York Environment Forum, introduced the new project... which had been thought up following the York New City Beautiful report by Professor Alan Simpson, which included the vision of York with an extra 50,000 trees, and Hull Road being a tree-lined boulevard... so that figure had been lifted and the vision of a tree-filled city is hopefully going to be achieved by Treemendous York.  It's a partnership between the Environment Forum and the City of York Council, BTCV and The Woodland Trust, Wheatlands Community Woodland, Edible York and the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, and other partners will surely come on board in due course.

The aim is to record and monitor tree planting for 3 seasons, until April 2014, and to facilitate the planting of appropriately placed trees, including ones with fruit and nuts, and in public places, sides of roads, private land and gardens.

Councillor James Alexander then did a short speech after which the group walked through Museum Gardens, crossed Scarborough Bridge and ended up on the far side of the bridge where the grassy banks of the Ouse widen out and a hole had been dug for a ceremonial tree planting.  I cycled down, getting there first, and chatted to the contractors who had dug the hole.  After the ceremony, I took the two B+Q donated spades back to the library, and chatted with Steve who was there with his lovely child-carrying tricycle.

I came home via the health centre where I ordered a repeat prescription, and got in shortly before our eldest son came hurtling home on his bike, followed soon after by Gill and our youngest.

I attended Green Drinks in the evening, and tried to work out how to make it better, with help from Randall. Wrote some notes which will be published on facebook, to hopefully get some feedback from the members of the group.

Tuesday 11th October 11

I got up at 8am after 5 hours sleep and got slowly ready to go to Leeds to donate platelets.  My appointment was at 10.50 so I aimed to get to the station for 9.45 and get the bus to Seacroft.  I had a nice chat with a guy who'd just arrived from Pakistan whilst waiting at the bus stop, he had an electronic ticket and was concerned that the bus was late.

I dozed on the bus but kept half an eye on where I was; didn't miss my stop.

The platelet donation went very smoothly, I gave 3 units in 67 minutes, which is awesome.

On the bus on the way home Gill texted me to ask if I could pick something up for her so I got home eventually after 2, and had some sandwiches for a very late lunch.

And a fairly quiet day then progressed; sorting out the tomatoes which started drying last night, having the soup which I started making last night which Gill finished this afternoon.  Cracking hazelnuts.... the usual type of evening!

Monday 10th October 11

I would have liked to spend some time outside today but I kind of got trapped inside. However, I did make a nutloaf for the evening meal.

At 3.30 I cycled down to town via Country Fresh, where I picked up 3 bags and a box, and about 30 punnets of tomatoes, all of which had several manky ones, but quite a few good ones in between them.

I got to the Guildhall for the Environment Forum just before 4pm and met up with Steve from Local Works, who'd come to do some research about the  Sustainable Communities Act.  It was a full meeting.

I went to Randall's birthday bash later in the evening at The Duchess, to see a singer-songwriter called Sarah Blasko.  I enjoyed the support artiste more, Fred Kimbon, but the evening was pretty good, and it was good to see Rand, Anzir, Alison and others.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Sunday 9th October 11

Yay!  A lie in til after 10am, which was a real treat!  I watched most of Country Tracks and did assorted stuff on the computer, and in the afternoon did a lot of compost clearance, as stuff has been piling up, and I've been too busy to deal with it.

At 5.30 I got myself sorted to go and work for David, arriving at 5.50 and than taking him to City Screen.  We had a jolly time, very social.

Saturday 8th October 11

I went to Manchester today, for the regular cafe gathering, and to take David's port and Champagne to the auctioneer who will sell the 15 bottles in December.  The bottles were picked up from outside Night and Day, I got a receipt.

In the evening I had been invited to Milladio's and Pebbles' party, but there was a message on the invite page saying that if it was raining, it would be cancelled.  So as it was raining when I got back to York, I decided to go straight home.

Friday 7th October 11

I did loads of work in the front today.  Chainsawing and stacking, got a whole stack done outside the front door, which should keep us going for quite a while.

I went to get bread before lunch and did loads of apples in the evening, loading up all the available racks to dry the James Grieve crop.  They don't keep very well, so drying them is a good way to preserve them.  If the dried fruit is put in airtight jars, they last for ever.... well, as long as the lid stays on and they don't get eaten!

Thursday 6th October 11

Well I was supposed to have a lie in but Gill woke me up and asked me if I would cycle to the Steiner School as our youngest had forgotten his water bottle.

But whilst I was eating my breakfast, she said that actually, he had some melon in a plastic pot, and water was available at school so I didn't have to.

So I stayed in and dealt with fruit and washing up. A quiet and nothingy day.

I went to work for David at 6 and we went to City Screen... but there was no-one to chat to so we came back after about 40 minutes and I left his at 7.25, having warmed up his tea and got him his fruit juice drink.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Wednesday 5th October 11 My Cafe Scientifique presentation

Spent bits of the day tweaking my presentation.

At midday I arrived at my dentist's and had a clean, didn't take long.

Home via Richard's and then spent most of the afternoon indoors, and dealt with several phone calls, including one from a place near Easingwold which is hoping to put on events, and I spent quite a while talking through my show so the enquirer understood what I offered.

I got a message from my contact at City Screen suggesting I should get there at 6.30pm, to be ready for doors open at 7pm, to start the talk by 7.30.  I took my laptop down and got there on the dot of 6.30pm.  My laptop and their data-projector worked perfectly together, which was pleasing... and I got hooked up to their wireless internet to show WorldClock, which I knew would be of interest for illustrating part of my presentation.

Carolyn arrived, and shortly after, David plus Pauline, one of his PAs, and a few other Cafe Scientifique regulars.  I chatted with Stephen, from the Yorkshire Philosophical Society, who are now sponsoring Cafe Scientifique.  I told him I thought I could get my talk done in 20 to 30 minutes, and then we'd have a break and a discussion.  About 20 people turned up, and I started by zeroing Worldclocks, and then using my slides, started my presentation which I'd called 'Climate Change, Peak Oil, Sex and Death'.

My first topic was climate change, and I explained that climate had changed naturally over geological time, and was driven by a variety of factors but mainly by the composition of the atmosphere.  I introduced the greenhouse effect, and explained that water vapour, carbon dioxide and methane were the main gases which trapped heat. I explained that over many millions of years, plants had absorbed carbon dioxide, changing it into solid lignin and cellulose, and some of this had become coal and other fossil fuels... and that we humans were extremely rapidly putting huge quantities of this carbon back into the atmosphere by burning oil, gas and coal.  I touched on some interesting feedback effects such as a warmer Arctic region allowing permafrost to melt, so releasing lots of trapped methane, which would warm the region still further, a 'positive feedback'.  A less easy to understand feedback mechanism would be that a warmer atmosphere can hold more water vapour, and more clouds are likely to form, and clouds can both trap heat in the atmosphere and also reflect the sun's energy back into space, having a cooling effect.

I then showed a video which shows really well how CO2 absorbs heat,and then a video of a graph showing how CO2 levels have changed over time.  So these set the scene for a bit about what is likely to happen on a warming planet: climate in chaos, with various feedback mechanisms (two of which I explained), more floods, droughts and more energetic storms, seasonal changes and shifting habitat zones, and sea level rise due mainly to the thermal expansion of water, but probably to be exacerbated by terrestrial ice melting.  Not easy things to talk about without getting emotional, but I think I held it together. I mentioned changes in forest cover, as it is possible the Amazon rainforest could become grassy savannah, that patterns of disease would change, that crops and food availability would become an issue, and that the biggest centres of population were close to current sea-level.  I think I mentioned the end of civilisation.  I don't think I was over-dramatic, though.

My next slide was about peak oil, so I gave a brief overview of King Hubbert's prediction about oil extraction in the US, and that being uncannily accurate, and his prediction for peak production globally being 2005-2015, and the fact that over the past 6 years production hadn't actually increased, despite consumption continuing to go up.  Basically my suggestion was that we are at the peak of oil production now, and that it can really only go down from here on in.

The next slide was a graph of oil consumption, going inexorably up, and then one of those two graphs sort-of superimposed, with the line of oil availability falling off, and the consumption still rising.... showing what I sometimes call 'the scary gap', as it indicates rising commodity prices, shortages, rationing, and worse.

However, this 'energy gap' might have some positive consequences, including making renewable energy more competitive, and a re-localisation of how our communities run. Travel and imports would become too expensive, and might be possible for people to develop healthier lifestyles, with more exercise, stronger communities, local food, growing their own food!  Well, I'm an optimist, and try to find positivity even in the face of somewhat potentially difficult circumstances.

So, we'd done climate change and peak oil, so now the sex and death.  Well the 'sex' bit was simply the fact that the global population is still rising, and to demonstrate this, I had found a graph of this and put it on my presentation.  I also clicked back to Worldclock, to show how much the global population had increased in the 30 minutes since the start of the talk. I firmly believe that population pressure is the other side of the resource-use and pollution emissions coin.  If the world had fewer people, we wouldn't be using so much oil, or emitting so much CO2.  I suggested that if everyone in the world had a carbon footprint of the average Indian, we might be OK, or if we had only a couple of billion people, we might all be able to have the footprint of the average American.  But with close to 7 billion people on the planet, it just wasn't sustainable to have so many people with two and three planet lifestyles. 

And so to death, our final footprint. As both cremation and burial have considerable pollution impacts, there is a new technology being worked on, which I feel very positive about: the freeze-drying and composting funeral, Promession. This has a much lower carbon footprint, as the liquid nitrogen used is a waste product from the oxygen industry, and the remains are recycled into soil in an aerobic process.  Although this isn't yet available, it should be soon and I'm already excited about it.... not sure why, but we can't help what we're interested and moved by.

After the talk, there was a short break and then some questions.  There was only one anthropogenic climate change denier there, but most people seemed pretty au fait with the science and asked how I got my carbon footprint so low, and there were some other interesting queries and observations.

I went for a drink afterwards and had some more good conversations, but I didn't stay long.  I was happy with how it had gone and so were the organisers.

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Tuesday 4th October 11

Spent most of the day trying to master the LibreOffice presentation programme, had some help from Ian and the partner of one of my facebook friends Julie, a lovely guy called Mike who explained that I'd have to download the YouTube videos I wanted in MP4 format, not 'flv', and he suggested a 'plug in' to download which might do the trick.  It worked.... eventually!

In the evening I attended the Hull Road Ward Committee, with my Hull Road Ward Planning Panel hat on.  The most interesting thing to happen here was that I had a chat with the old chap who is very much part of the furniture of this ward, John Horsley, and he told me he had terminal cancer and would be dead soon.  But he was laughing about it, saying he'd had a good life and was (I think) 80 years old and that was plenty.  I had a quiet word with one of the Councillors to see if there was anything we could do to acknowledge his contribution to York life, and it may be we can do something before his time is up.  I think it would be better to do this before he dies, to thank him.  It would mean less to him if he wasn't there to see/hear the thank you!

Monday 3rd October 11

Quite a frustrating day as I spent a LOT of time trying to master the Linux equivalent of Powerpoint, a thing called LibreOffice Impress. I managed to make a set of 5 slides with some writing on, and an image from my desktop, but I was just playing with it with no real help or idea what I should be doing to create a working presentation to help my talk on Wednesday evening.

I got very frustrated by my inability to take a YouTube video and put it onto my desktop so I could put this into the presentation.  I got some online help from my friend Ian with one problem, but I still couldn't get it sorted very well.

I had a phone call from a TV production company about an aspect of my lifestyle that they're making a documentary on, but again, I'm not going to feature in the programme.

In the evening there was a LETS meeting which is always nice.

Sunday 2nd October 11 Beverley Food Festival

Woken by my phone at 8am and went down to the breakfast room.  Sharon, I think her name was, wasn't expecting me, as somehow the message had come through that I didn't want breakfast.  I NEVER don't want breakfast.... it is the most important meal of the day for me!

Anyway, I had a bowl of cereal and some toast, beans, tomato and an egg fried hard, and three cups of coffee, and an orange juice.  I then went to my room, got changed, and went to the Market Square to find Helen, my handler today, to find out where she wanted me to be.  She had disappeared but her colleague Helena suggested working in front of a building which I've done my show in front of each time I've done the Beverley Food Festival.  However, it was no longer an empty cinema, but a Browns department store, and it looked like it was going to open later that day.  So I couldn't stay there.

I went and devilsticked outside the main marquee whilst the event was being opened, and then one of the Beverley Town council people suggested I work outside a Building Society which wouldn't be opening today, so I got set up there, and got a Council van moved as it was part blocking the view.

I was busy from then on in, continuous workshops and interaction and all sorts, 100% full-on.  At about midday I took a short break to go and buy a pie for lunch, and I also got two 750ml bottles of 'Gold from the Wold' Cold Pressed Extra Virgin Rapeseed Oil for £10.  But this only took 10 minutes, and another 5 minutes to eat the pie, with various children hanging around and watching for my last mouthful, to then home in and ask if they could have a go with the 4 wheel unicycle, or Deborah the Diabolo (Derek's blind sister) or juggling...... but I wanted a change so I did an hour and a half of balloon modelling, finishing at 1.55 to go and sit in the Market Cross building to do a composting workshop.  Only 4 people turned up to this.... but it was still worth doing.

So from 2.20 through til after 4pm I was busy with more circus and balloons, without a break, full-on again.  That's how I like it as the day goes really quickly!

I waited ages for the bus home.... including walking down to the railway station to see if it would be quicker to go that way, but it wasn't.  Beverley really needs a direct rail link with York, in my opinion!  Anyway, the bus came and I dozed on it all the way to York and collapsed when I got in.  A busy weekend.

Saturday 1st October 11

A busy busy day: cycled up to Haxby in the morning to help with the York Rotters compost bin sale.  I took the jars of different sorts of compost from yesterday with me, and showed lots of people what they might expect to get from the bottom of their bin in a year or two.  I took the leafmould jars and the jar with lots of worms and other beasties.  I stopped at 11 and cycled back, collecting some sticks on the way, and got back at 11.40.

Then at 1pm I set off, in Fiddlesticks costume, to the Central Library, 'Explore' to do the final show for the Summer Reading Challenge 'Circus Stars'. I called into the Anti Gravity Shop to buy a new 'two wheel unicycle' as my old one has got too old to support my weight.  I did my show from 2.10 til 3, and had a lovely response. I'm now in a position to submit an invoice for all my summer's library gigs. 

Came back home via the cobblers to re-stick my Fiddlesticks boot sole, and via another place to get new shoelaces.  Then came home via Richard, and collapsed as I was really hot and tired.

Later I got all my kit together and jumped on a bus to Beverley, and dozed on the bus, got myself booked into the Cross Keys and had a quiet night before the Beverley Food Festival.

Friday 30th September 11

Up early to cycle out to Tollerton to work at The Pizza Farm.  They grow wheat (and make flour and pizza dough), tomatoes and onions (and make pizza sauce) and pigs (to make Parma ham, apparently) and cook pizzas in a wood-fired oven... and have school trip visitors to learn about food production.  Normally they have about 40 kids, and split them into 2 groups, but today they were due to have 58 kids, so needed to split them into 3 groups, and felt my composting talk would complement the food growing and food preparation sessions.

So I took a range of food packaging plus some food 'on the turn' and various sorts of compost, and a selection of compost beasties.

I set out early in order to get there for 9.30; it was an hour's cycle, and the children were due at 10am.  I was given a place near a hedge, with a table for my materials, which I placed in 3 areas: assorted food packaging, some of which was recyclable, and some which generally isn't; a load of lovely biodegradable things... including things starting to biodegrade, and a collection of jars of assorted composting things... some still just recognisable, from the top layers of a heap, and another of more mature compost.  I had one jar of year-old leafmould, another of mature riddled leafmould.  I had quite a few different animals, beetles and beetle larvae, centipedes, millipedes, woodlice, slugs, worms... and finally, a jar of well composted 'humanure' and sawdust, as I know children love anything to do with that sort of thing.

With each group I started by inviting a child to pick a packaging object and to tell me what it was made of and how it could be recycled.  With a few different sorts of packaging chosen, we covered glass, metals, cardboard, paper and plastic, and got quite a bit of information over.  We covered landfill and incineration, and how different sorts of materials can be recycled and why.  With the mouldy food, we covered bacteria and fungi, and how food is normally preserved. Then with the compost I was able to talk about the carbon cycle and methane from landfill, and the benefits of home composting, helping to make soil fertile for food growing, wildlife value, etc etc.

One of the other two groups was learning about food growing and processing, and the others were making pizzas and having them cooked in the wood-fired oven.  Part of the deal today for me was that I got pizza for lunch... it was really delicious!  The other part of the deal was that I'd get partly paid in logs; Mike's son runs a fuel-wood business, so once I'd done the third group, after lunch, I was shown the logging area. I was really interested in the machine that the logs are fed into which cuts and splits them.  There was a builders' dumpy bag full of bits and bobs which weren't the right shape or size to go in the 'onion-net' bags which is how the logs are packed and sold, and Mike said I could fill my trailer with some of these.  He also promised a delivery of a couple of sacks of other oddments when he was next passing our house.

So I cycled home having had a very satisfying day teaching about sustainability, paid a fairly small fee, but fed and given logs in lieu of a more substantial payment.

In the evening I went to John Brierley's leaving party.  He's been the St Nicks Centre Manager for 8 years, I think, and done really good work, but he's decided it was time for a change and so he's resigned and tonight was his main leaving do.  I found Kennedy's, just off Stonegate, and spent a couple of very happy hours there chatting to friends old and new.

Friday, 28 October 2011

Thursday 29th September 11

Not too bad a a day.  Had some time with Gill... good that the boys are being more independent and giving us some time together again.  Most welcome.

Got a phone call from Robin Harford, who's in York to run his foraging course.  He wanted to visit, so an hour or so later, he turned up, on his friend Atul's bike, and I gave him a tour of the garden and we had lunch together.

I did some work in the garden during the afternoon... mainly compost stuff, but also preparation for tomorrow when I'm off to The Pizza Farm to do a series of talks on compost to some schoolkids.  I also worked out where I was going using Googlemaps.

After 5pm I got ready to go to work; got to David's just before 6pm and took him to City Screen to meet up with Lotte, also met Esther Lilley (whom I know from when she worked at Lord Deramore's school) and her husband to be, Daniel, and we all had really good chats... I got on very well with Daniel, with a shared interest in architecture and sustainable buildings.

I took David back to have his tea at about 8, with Lotte who left her bike in David's yard, and David and I worked out my hours and monthly payment.  Home via Country Fresh, where I picked up some waste furniture.

I did quite a bit of washing up and fruit preparation, played Scrabble and other laptop-based stuff.

Wednesday 28th September 11

A fun day with good social interaction.  I got up fairly early but spent quite a time on the computer.  Gill went round to Maria's and I had an early lunch before heading off into town to meet a new friend Antonella, whom I'd offered to show the Millennium Bridge.  She's not from York and didn't know the walk from the centre down to the bridge and up through Rowntree Park, and it was really nice to be able to show her.

We parted in the Clifford's Tower car park and I foraged a few sweet chestnuts.

Came home via Richard at Country Fresh.  I then had a final session picking walnuts off the tree.  Those I couldn't quite reach from the stepladders, I whacked with a stick to make them fall.  Later, I laid out most of them on trays to dry... and there were over 300.

Robbie came round, with a bottle of home made cider, as last year I'd given him a load of brewing equipment, and this was a thank you!

Philip came round at 8pm and we had 3 happy hours chatting, me shelling hazelnuts, and catching up as we haven't spent an evening together for a very long time.

Tuesday 27th September 11

Well a low mood day for some reason, despite getting quite a bit done.  Got up late and had a normal morning doing stuff inside.

Mid afternoon I did some chainsawing and stacking, trying to get the front garden clear, although it'll take a while.

In the evening I went to the 'Powering York; Our Sustainable Future' meeting at Priory Street.  This was a joint meeting between the Open Planning Forum and the York Environment Forum.  There were 3 speakers, Professor John Whitelegg, from the Stockholm Environment Institute, Jacqui Warren the Sustainability Officer from the City of York Council, and Amanda Botterill, from the Yorkshire and Humberside Microgeneration Partnership and it was chaired by Julia Booth, from BBC Radio York.

When I arrived, I was startled to see someone I thought I recognised, my friend Lorna.... but it was actually her identical twin Clare, whom I haven't seen for a couple of years.  We had a good chat before and after the meeting.

Monday 26th September 11

Gill got the boys off to their schools in a taxi, to the Steiner School, and our eldest walked from there.  She stayed at home, and that enabled us to spend some child-free time together, a very rare thing these days. 

But we had a busy morning, Gill made a fruit cake for David, using home made dried fruit and then icing it with a pretend 'Waterlilies by Monet' picture on the top.  It is David's 78th birthday tomorrow.

I carefully took the cake in a bag dangling from my handlebars down to town when I went in for 6pm.  He was thrilled.  We went to City Screen for a coffee and chat, and we met up with Susan, who came back with us to have a slice of cake.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Sunday 25th September 11

Got up soon after 9am and had a slow start to the day.  The boys had a friend round, but our youngest had a homework task to do, to draw a river (I think) so I walked down with my bike to the River Foss with all three boys and Gill, via Hull Road Park, St Nicks, Hazel Court and James Street, and over Foss Islands Road to see the new bridge between Navigation Road and Hungate.  I left them here and cycled back home, via Country Fresh, to pick up several bags of goodies.

Later in the afternoon, I picked all the remaining walnuts from our little tree... I say little, it's about 8 or 9 metres tall.  I used my big ladders and got most of the nuts, it's a good crop, I'm very pleased. The chilli powder and vaseline trick must have deterred the squirrels.

I worked for David in the evening, went to City Screen as usual.

Saturday 24th September 11

I had a fairly slow and relaxed morning, but towards midday, started getting my stuff together to cycle up to Snowball Plantation, where the Cubs, Scouts, Brownies and Guides have their camp.  I'd been invited to help with the Strensall Brownies weekend camp, with the theme of circus, by performing my show and workshop, and running a free-play workshop.

I took about half an hour to get there, it's less than 6 miles via Heworth and Stockton on Forest.  The girls were just finishing of their post-lunchtime clean up and when the room had been hoovered, I took my bike and trailer in, and got myself unpacked and changed.

The next two and a half hours went very smoothly... lots of fun, excitement and skill sharing. I got everybody doing things, including the three adults and three helpers.  I finished off by showing them a few balloon animals; they'd made some basic ones this morning with one of the adults, but only made dogs.  I showed them a rabbit, bird, giraffe, elephant and dogs dinner.

So, it all went to plan, and by 5pm I was cycling back home... I decided to go via Warthill and Holtby.  When I arrived at the roundabout at the junction of the A1079 and the A64 I noticed a cyclist on the grassy verge, obviously having difficulties with their bike.  I always offer help to other cyclists... and then I realised it was Councillor Dave Merrett, whom I've known for almost the whole time I've lived in York.  I helped him get his chain back on.... and then cycled down the Hull Road with him.  We had some nice chats on the way into York, but he stopped off at Badger Hill and I was glad to get home and relax.

Friday 23rd September 11 York Food Festival

A really busy day, with two Food Festival events.  My friend Steve had said he might be able to move the fruit press, as his cycle can carry heavier loads than mine, so I called him and asked if he'd be able to come in half an hour.  He said 45 minutes.

I got it ready, in the drive, and collected some apples from down the garden, and some plastic sacks for the pressed apple pulp, and a few other bits and bobs.

I took the crusher on my trailer and we managed to fit the press into Steve's Danish load-carrying Nihola tricycle. We cycled slowly in to the City Centre, and unloaded in St Sampson's Square, next to all the 'Edible Schools' stalls.

I had a stall with several trays of apples and pears, delivered by an Abundance volunteer, along with a chopping board, some plastic cups, jugs and bottles and a bucket for washing the apples, as some were windfalls.  I'd brought a couple of bottles too, and a knife for cutting the apples in half.

I got busy and prepared a load of apples before the first group arrived; my job was to show small groups of York school children that apple juice came from apples.  This might seem obvious to some readers, but many kids are so completely separated from nature that if you ask them where apple juice comes from they'll say 'a carton' or the name of a supermarket.  So a project has been set up called Edible Schools, to help educate children about food.

I did a series of crushing and pressings, going all day, one group after another... getting the children to operate the crusher quite a bit and then dishing out apple juice to anyone who wanted it.  It went down really well!  Lots of people came to see what was happening and had a bit of juice.  I really enjoyed myself, but was glad when the last group had gone, and I cleaned up the equipment with a hose which was in St Sampson's Square, near my stall.

Steve came to pick it up again and I zoomed home, only to come back in again for a York Rotters stall in the evening.  This was fairly quiet, but I had a nice time with Pat, and some free food.

A long day, but really worth while.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Thursday 22nd September 11 World Carfree Day

Got up at 8 so I could cycle with our eldest over to Bishopthorpe Road.  On the way there, his mudguard got very loose and then fell off.  I put it in my pannier and pocketed the bolt... but the nut was no-where to be seen.  From his school, I went to the bank to see how much money was in our account as we have bills to pay.  I took £250 to the Council to pay another installment of Council Tax, and then popped in to see Dylan who had a box of mostly mouldy oranges for me to dispose of.... I cycled them over to St Nicks, and sorted out about 20 good ones for the volunteers there, and washed them, put them on some plates for people to take.

From here, via Freshways and back home.  Gill was just getting ready to go out and I got a phone call from St Nicks, who'd been contacted by a BBC Autumnwatch researcher, who wanted to know what sorts of animals could be found in, or connected with, compost heaps.  Well there was no-one at St Nicks who could go through the range of wondrous beasties, so I rang the researcher and spent 40 minutes chatting, and describing springtails, worms, staphylinid beetles, several sorts of fly, slugs, ants, and vertebrates like newts, frogs, toads, slow worms (my favourite reptile), grass snakes, mice, hedgehogs, rats, magpies.

Later, by email, I told her about woodlice, millipedes, centipedes, mites and pseudoscorpions.  It's unlikely that they'll want me to go onto the programme but it was nice to be able to help!

I was able to do a bit of work outside... not much, and then at 3 I was off again on my bike to go and pick up our son.  I found the nut which had fallen off his mudguard on the way into school, which was lucky, I think.  Once I'd collected him, we popped into Cycle Heaven and one of the kind guys there tightened up his mudguard by inserting a sliver of rubber before re-tightening the fixing.

We came home along the roads, rather than go all the way to the Millennium Bridge... an interesting experience, especially when a large lorry decided it wanted to share the bike lane (Sorry Mate, Didn't See You - SMIDSY syndrome) but my lad was impressed how I dealt with this.  Actually, I was impressed too.  And glad that he didn't witness his Dad being knocked off or squashed.

I got a Fiddlesticks booking for a 5 year old's party in Wakefield, and then later in the evening, the chap from Poppleton brought my apple press back to me, in time to take (somehow!) down to town tomorrow for the Edible York stall at the Food Festival.  I spent several hours peeling a huge load of pears for drying, and played bits of Scrabble on facebook between times.

Wednesday 21st September 11

Up earlyish again and quite a good day... cold receding, cut getting better.

I did assorted admin, including chasing up the whereabouts of my fruit press (should be arriving back on Thursday eve, to be used again on Friday) and ordering £80 worth of modeling balloons. 

Took delivery of 5 sacks of apple bits from the people who borrowed my crusher and press over the weekend, and they gave me a bottle of apple wine from last year as a thank you.

I did some compost heap loading, mainly the apple pulp, and guinea pig bedding. I love being outside, really good for my mental health!

At 4pm I went to the Ecodepot and took part in the first Snow Warden training. The Council wants to help volunteers all over the city deal with snow on footpaths this winter, if we have snow... and gave us training and a snow shovel, hat, gloves and hi-viz jacket.  The training was hilarious, with a very over the top health and safety risk assessment and dead-pan humour from the officer delivering the training.

At 10pm I went to Priory St as my friend Jackie said she was coming out of 5 rhythms dance then, but her train was at 11.15, so would have time to chat.  But when she came out she was deep in conversation with her friend Vicky, and they went for something to eat, so I came home again, via some thrown out wooden chairs, two of which are broken, so are for firewood, and one is in good nick so it will get used.... or put on Freecycle.

Tuesday 20th September 11

Up surprisingly early, thought I'd had a lie-in and came down at 8.30.  Weird. Maybe something to do wih my cold?

However, I made reasonable use of the time, today doing loads of apples for drying, making up my muesli, dealing with correspondence and phone calls, washing up, writing.

One thing which was quite exciting was I made a charcoal retort, and successfully made several batches of 'biochar', and next year I'm going to experiment with adding this to my potting mixes to see if it increases productivity.  The retort is a metal container or tin made of steel, with a close fitting lid which slides on and off.  In this I've punctured a pin-hole.  When any organic material (in the chemistry sense, ie anything which has come from living things, and is composed mainly of carbon) is subjected to high temperatures in the absence of oxygen, the water is driven off, then the volatile materials are driven off (and burn in a jet coming out of the hole) and that leaves a matrix of almost pure carbon, or charcoal, or biochar, which has a variety of uses.  I'm interested in its use to add carbon to soil, and its supposed ability to increase soil fertility and crop productivity.  I made a batch of willow twigs, which made really good drawing sticks, like are used at the Steiner School.  I will probably make a big batch of willow stick charcoal to give to the school later this year.

At 4pm I got ready to go to work at David's.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Monday 19th September 11

I got up early in order to take my eldest into The Stables but in the end he went on a bus with Gill.  So I had a quiet day, feeling a bit low... not just the unnecessary early start but also a cold which got steadily more annoying, with successive sneezes and an increasingly drippy nose.  The downside of being very social!

I did a variety of admin stuff, phone calls and the like, plus relaxing with 'Eat Static Radio' on Last FM, which raised my spirits considerably.

I prepared several racks of sliced apples for drying, and at 3 put our lad's bike onto my trailer and cycled down to The Stables, where he'd fortunately had a good day.

At 4.30pm a chap from Everest came round to check our front and back doors, fitted in 2008 I think, and I had a very amusing conversation with him... nice chap!

I really wasn't feeling like having tea but Gill made something irresistible and I had a small bowl full.

I was looking forward to the evening's meeting of the Co-operative Members Group, which tonight was at Co-op FuneralCare on Cromwell Road in Bishophill. I got there at 6.55 and over a dozen other people turned up.

I took notes but didn't get around to writing these up until October, and I don't like to publish subsequent blog posts until I'm done for that day (hence a gap in publishing posts).

So, my write up of the Co-op Members visit to the Co-operative FuneralCare premises.  We were welcomed by Philip Taylor, the manager, and we were offered coffee and biscuits.  He told us that the Co-op is one of three funeral providers in York, all of whom have a more or less equal share in the market.  This means that the Co-op arranges just over 900 funerals a year in York, although this is dropping by about 2.5% a year as the current demographics change and people are increasingly living longer.

Funerals are an expensive business, the average one costs £2900. That's partly because the York Crematorium is one of the most expensive in the country, costing £665 plus £147 for the necessary documentation. York has mercury abatement technology too, which has added to the cost.  Some people opt to pay for their funeral before they die, and whatever is charged then is the full cost of the funeral, even if the person dies many years later and the cost has gone up.  So buying your funeral whilst you're young is quite a sensible thing to do, from the point of view of the client... but not the funeral provider!  Some funerals are paid for in installments beforehand, and others are paid for by insurance, after the death has occurred.

There's quite a bit of interest in 'green funerals', and most people think that this equates to a cardboard or willow coffin. These caskets are 'greener' than solid hardwood, but the biggest part of the carbon footprint of funerals isn't in the materials used for the casket.  And the figures for different sorts of funerals are interesting. In York, 87% are currently opting for cremations, the rest are burials, very few in churchyards and more in ordinary cemeteries.  The interest in 'green burial' or 'woodland burial'  is low, only about 10 a year, and only once has someone asked for a burial with just a shroud, which is one of the 'greenest' ways to be buried.  However, about 40 people a year are requesting bamboo, cardboard or willow coffins.

The Co-op has invested in Resomation, the 'alkaline hydrolysis' disposal method where the body is dissolved in chemicals and flushed into the sewer, and the bones ground up to make the 'ash' which is collected in an urn for burial or sprinkling.... Philip had never heard of Promession, which surprised me, and I hope the Co-op gets behind this technology.  It is lobbying for the legislation to change to allow these sorts of technology to be allowed in this country.

For more about my interest in this subject, please visit or contact me direct and I'll be happy to explain anything.

It was a fascinating visit... we did have a brief look at some of the rooms in the building, ones where coffins are put and family members or friends can say goodbye to their loved one, but for me, hearing a funeral director telling us about his job was the most interesting thing.  Thank you Philip and the Co-operative Members group for arranging the visit.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Sunday 18th September 11

Woken by my children being inconsiderately noisy.  Good to be back.

So, no lie in and had a reasonable morning and got myself ready around midday to go to work, up in Poppleton.

It took about half an hour to cycle there... including checking out if the sweet chestnuts were fruiting already (nothing on the ground, yet!) and I got there in good time to set up and get changed.

The show went well, just my normal routine, until I did something very silly.  Occasionally when I get on my unicycle for the first time at the end of the show, I deliberately ride towards a door (which, if I've done my risk assessment properly, I've checked beforehand!) and as I approach it, I strike it with the hand the audience can't see and pretend to bang my head on the door.  I then unicycle backwards, or turn to look at the audience and hold my head, or some comical activity designed to entertain and get a response.  This time, I rode towards the door, hit it with my hand, but, stupidly, on a glass pane.... which shattered, cutting my wrist where it joins my hand, and my thumb, just superficially.  The main cut started bleeding immediately.  However, after a short halt, to put some tissue on the cut, which I held on with my other hand, I quickly finished the show, with the 4 wheeler unicycle and two wheeler, and a few participants having a go on the four-wheeler.

The kids went for their birthday tea and some adults helped me by getting a plaster for the cut, and a cuppa, and sweeping up the glass and covering the broken pane with a taped-on sheet of paper.  I did the balloon show without a problem, and after this I signed the accident book, leaving a note saying that I was willing to pay for the repair.

So, an accident-free cycle home and then a bit of fuss from Gill when I did get there, her going into 'nurse mode' and putting home made steristrips on, and a good plaster.  The cut was quite deep as it bled quite a lot, even under the plaster.  Gill said that if I'd had gone straight to A+E, they would probably stitched it, but with the fairly long gap, I'd missed the err, 'window of opportunity' ho ho ho.....

Friday, 23 September 2011

Saturday 17th September 11, Basingstoke Green Fair

A packed day, with a 4 hour stint at Basingstoke Green Fair.  I used my mobile phone alarm for the first time ever, to wake me up at 7.30, then went to have a bowl of Serena-style cereal and then we were off, in Serena's car, to the station and then she was taking her son swimming.

I got a slightly earlier train than expected, a London Underground service, which took me into a connection on the Bakerloo line.  I'd been given a connection to go from Marylebone to Basingstoke, but when I got to Marylebone, they said I needed to go to Waterloo.  My other connection was from Paddington, quite close to Marylebone, so I thought I'd give that a try... and fortunately there was a train going to Reading from there at 10am which I just caught, which connected well with a Basingstoke train which got me in there just after 11am.  Phew, glad I didn't heed the Waterloo advice!

I soon found my way West out of the station to the 'Victory Roundabout' on Churchill Way, which I went under, to get to Victory Park and very soon I saw Brookvale Village Hall with stalls setting up outside, and a plethora of scarecrows propped up and tied to various things.

I found Cal, my contact (Malcolm MacInnes), and we talked through the format of the day... he wanted me to do Meet and Greet on the unicycle for an hour, then a talk on composting at 1, then a Fiddlesticks static show at 2, followed by balloon modelling and participation in the procession at 4pm.  There was some debate about the best place for my show; in the end we plumped for three spaces in the car park, which we kept vacant using a row of chairs.

Everything went reasonably well... apart from the composting talk which, like the talk from Basingstoke Transition Network, didn't pull a crowd.  However, I did have several good one-to-one conversations about the subject, and was able to provide each person with some suggestions about how to improve their composting situation.  I enjoyed chatting to Martin from the local Transition group, which is just 6 months old, and has already got plans for a renewable energy co-op, and photovoltaic panels on the roof of the Village Hall.

My circus show had a small audience, and a rainstorm which slowly threatened, so I zoomed through it and finished just as the rain set in.  I packed up and went into the village hall and competed with Morris Dancers with my balloon animal giveaways being a bit more popular amongst the under 10s.  I enjoyed meeting the Deputy Mayor, Martin Biermann,and his excitable wife Chansophia, the friendly Town Crier David Craner, the local MP Maria Miller, and a hardworking gaggle of volunteers, one of whom, Serena, recognised me from UK Aware.

Suddenly it was 4pm and the place gradually emptied and stalls were taken down, and I filled in some paperwork for Cal, which should enable the Brookvale Community Association to release a cheque and send it my way.  As soon as this was sorted, I walked back to the town centre, and wandered round a supermarket to find some food for the journey back home and walked up to the station, where thee was still 50 minutes to wait  for my train.

On the train, there were a large group got on at Reading who were very noisy and merry after being at Newbury Races, and delighted to find out that I could do them some balloon animals.  I did some hats too... it was riotous, and I (and other passengers, I'm sure) were happy to see them get off relatively soon.  Then I met a young performance poet called Anna McCrory heading up to Manchester to do a poetry slam tomorrow,  and I enjoyed finding out about her.

The rest of the journey was relatively quiet.... except after Chesterfield we came into Sheffield via Totley and Dore, and had a bit of a slow journey along that line as there were children on the tracks, apparently.

But got home on the dot of 11pm and came home swiftly, glad to see family, tried not to go to bed too late as work tomorrow.

Friday 16th September 11

A really lovely day, quite a slow one, doing nothing very hurried or busy.  I enjoyed breakfast with Serena (Weetabix and Cheerios) and her delightful and engaging 3 year old son. After this I popped along to Tescos on my unicycle to get a few bits and bobs for lunch, to go with the bread that Serena had got.... hommous, sun-dried tomatoes and olives, a cucumber, and a single bottle of pear cider for the evening.  Over lunch I was introduced to the delights of 'Rosie and Jim' on video, which is a series for children based on life on a canal boat.  Topical, and actually very well made and clever.  Both Serena and her little boy are fans of this.... and I might be a convert too!

During the day I met Serena's son's Dad, Julian, and one of Serena's best friends, Mike, and her long term best friend, Jeff.  It was really good to see the sort of community she lives in... quite tight-knit, where people know about each other, help each other, and trust each other.... for instance, any  strangers coming into the community are observed, and may be interrogated, partly because making a boat secure is not that easy.

I had a nice chat with Mike, and his friend Jane, whilst Serena had a quiet few minutes with Julian, burying a chicken which had died.  Then I helped Julian shift a trailer-load of topsoil, which he'd rescued from a skip and was going to use to raise the level of his canalside land. Then, Mike, Serena and Julian, all of whom have unicycles but cannot ride them, came down to the car park which had a good smooth surface and a sturdy fence to hold onto, and I gave them a unicycle lesson.... mainly theory, but some practical help too.  This was fun... and then another boat-dweller arrived, Ben, and proceeded to jump on and ride every unicycle apart from mine (it was too tall, and the height can't be changed after so many years in one position)... but he's been riding unicycles since he was a child, so he was actually better than me.

A group of us went out to a 'Harvester' pub for a meal.  The vegetarian selection was poor and overpriced but there was an option to have as much salad from the salad bar as you wanted, so I had two visits to that.

Serena and I didn't have a late night as we had an early start the next day... but she did put her stove on, to take the chill off the boat, and I enjoyed seeing her stove working.   I really enjoyed today, as we didn't have to go anywhere or have set things to do.  My life has a lot of 'having to be somewhere' at specific times, so it was a treat just to float around (literally!) and slow down.  Pity I couldn't stay a bit longer....

Thursday 15th September 11, York to Rickmansworth

Up fairly early and slowly and chaotically got my stuff together for my trip to Rickmansworth and Basingstoke.  I got the stove lit, and later had a bath and washed my hair.  I collected a few apples, pears and nuts together as a thank you present for my hostess for the next couple of days.  I made sure I had all my performance stuff, plus balloons, my last bag so I'll have to order some more.

At about 11.30 I set out to town to catch the midday train to Stevenage, which is exactly 2 hours away, so I had my sandwich on the train, and put my computer on so I could get on with deleting emails, as my inbox is permanently congested and any time I can get to weed it is really good.  I was pleased with this trip as the advance ticket was especially cheap, just £9 for the single journey. 

Once in Stevenage I found the bus station and the bus to take me over to Luton.  I decided on an all-day Rover ticket, costing £8.  I thought this would probably save me money, as the 50 minute journey to Luton was £3.70 and therefore the nearly 2 hour trip to Rickmansworth would possibly be twice that, although the driver in Stevenage didn't know.  In Luton there was quite a wait, but eventually the 321 service came and a very friendly driver took us down to Watford and on to Ricky.  I chatted a bit with a woman who must have been in her early 60s who was listening to dub reggae on her personal hifi and reading Oscar Wilde, and heading back to her 'lovely Rasta Man'.  I love public transport!  You just wouldn't meet such a variety of characters if you were cooped up in a tiny metal box all by yourself.

Serena was waiting in the station car park in her little car..... and we again just managed to fit all my weird-shaped gear into it, the last item going in on top of me.  She called in on a supermarket before going home... her boat doesn't have a lot of storage space, so she needed to get a few bits and bobs.  I'd bought my tea whilst the bus was stopped in Watford, so she didn't have to get anything for me really, although I was glad of the coffee and soya milk.  The fruit went down well... Serena's 3 year old son especially liked the James Grieve apple.

Serena's son's Dad Julian lives on a narrowboat, but he also has a 7 or 8 metre launch or cruiser which is kitted out to be able to be lived in... but it's not being used, so Serena had spent quite a bit of time cleaning it and getting it ready for me to sleep in.  This was my first ever night on board a boat.  I had a really comfortable night, very cosy, tucked into the bow or prow of this little vessel.

Wednesday 14th September 11

Well a good day... spent the morning with our eldest son who was off school, watching a really interesting video, explaining how to understand annual percentage growth rates and the exponential curve.  We both really enjoyed it, and I feel it is an important concept to understand if you class yourself as 'green', or use the word 'sustainable', or enjoy a bit of maths, or are involved in public policy.  It renewed my belief in having a zero growth economy.  It is truly the only way we're going to get through the next few decades.  It also features the work of one of my favourite oil scientists, M. King Hubbert.

I'm looking for resources with which to illustrate my Cafe Scientifique presentation on 5th October, which is titled 'Climate Change, Peak Oil, Sex and Death'.  I need to make a Linux equivalent of a 'powerpoint' and I'm not too sure how to do it....

In the evening I visited Helen and Phil round the corner to talk them through using the apple press which has found it's way from Brunswick Organic Nursery to its next group who want to use it.  They are getting together with a few friends and want to make cider.

Tuesday 13th September 11

Quite an exhausting day.  I had a platelets appointment at 10.50 so I cycled down to the station to get the 9.53 bus to Seacroft.  I used the new entrance to the station, the one between the river and Leeman Road, which avoids the potentially dangerous roads around the station front.  The only disadvantage is that there's no bike racks around that North end of the station, and I had to walk and scoot down to the other end, along the platform.

However, it is still a better way to get into the station.  I like it.  I went to the bus stop and minutes later, had my £6 return to Leeds and began to read my NewScientist.  But at one of the next stops, my old friend John Redpath, who used to be the Town Cryer of York, got on, and we sat together.  I was pleased to be able to have a conversation with him, as after the Peace Festival, several people said to me that I should be a town cryer, as my voice would easily allow me to do it. He gave me several tips and suggestions about how I could approach becoming the town cryer, if I wanted to!

We were soon on the outskirts of Leeds and I got off at Seacroft, and walked back to the Blood Donor Centre.  I was swiftly processed and on the platelet machine, and this time the needle didn't go through my vein, but properly into it, and I was able to donate 3 units of platelets in 77 minutes... a bit slower than the previous donations, but still 3 units, when most people give only 2.  I like being a superdonor!

I had a bag of crisps, chocolate biscuit and coffee from the Donor Centre for lunch, and got the next bus back.... I felt sleepy and couldn't concentrate on my magazine, and was soon back at the station in York.  I cycled via the Building Society (compost cheque in) and my dentist, who had seemingly forgotten me and not invited me back for a check-up, and Millers Yard (picked up one sack of half oranges) and then home via the cycle path and St Nicks.  When I got in I was surprised to see it was already 3pm, and I was due to collect our youngest at 3.30pm!  I had a quick sandwich and bombed off to Fulford Cross.

I part walked, part cycled with him sitting on the rack, and we were home soon.  I spent an hour relaxing on the computer, before getting ready to go to work for David at 6pm.

We went to City Screen, and met Ceri and Richard, and had some good conversations.  And soon back to put his meal in the microwave and I got away at 7.45, so I could zoom home for my tea, and more pear peeling.

A very busy day, was quite tired during the evening.... but no earlier to bed, sadly!

Monday 12th September 11

A fairly low key day with a lot of hard physical work in the front garden, chainsawing all the remaining pallets and quite a bit of other wood, and stacking it, and a lovely social visit to Anita, who is back from Spain.... and therefore we had a couple of years worth of chat to catch up with.

However, in the morning, I got my phone back... I'd left it in Newark by accident and Lisa had popped it in the post.  Tomorrow I'll put together a donation of assorted dried fruit as a thank you, and send it off in the same padded envelope. 

So, at 3pm, I arrived at Anita's, avoiding two fallen trees in the St Nicks area. We had two coffees and our usual frank and direct conversations. I really like Anita.

I came back via a logpile, Freshways for a big sack of vegetables and 7 loaves of unwanted bread.  When I got back, there was a message from my friend Peter in Bradford, inviting me to ring one of his colleagues as she was looking for an entertainer.  I rang her and talked her through my shows... and she'll get back to me tomorrow with an offer.

I did another hour or more of wooding before tea; Gill had made a really nice pasta, cauliflower and broccoli mix with a cheese sauce.

In the evening I had some interesting facebook conversations and peeled yet more pears for drying.

Sunday 11th September 11

A fairly quiet day, woke at 9.30 and had a slow morning, did quite a bit of fruit prep, and before lunch, cycled down to Country Fresh as Gill wanted some potatoes and I knew there would be quite a bit of compostable stuff for me.

I called in on Debbie and she was in a happy mood, and on the way back I saw Gladys who invited me in for a cup of coffee and to ask me to pick up a load of pears from the tree overhanging her garden.  I didn't really need any more pears but I took 4 bags of them away... most will be composted as they're windfalls and are bruised.

Got back for a late lunch and Gardener's Question Time on Radio 4.

After this I did a bit more sorting in the front garden.... I've done virtually nothing all summer apart from sometimes add to the pile of planks and logs.  So now I have to chop them up and stack.... this will be several days work.

Gill started bottling of the pears I prepared yesterday, by bringing them up to the boil with some sugar in the water, to make a syrup.  I helped with moving the jars when they were hot. One didn't seal properly so we'll have them soon.

So a good day, not hugely exciting or that amazing, but OK.

Saturday 10th September 11

A funny old day as I was planning to go over to Manchester to the regular cafe meet-up I go to, and see friends including Laura, who told me she'd got something for me...  And then I was going to go to Sheffield to the Green Party Conference.

But in the end, I stayed at home... Gill needed me around.

I did a bit of cleaning (not much, I rarely do a lot!) and washing up (I always keep on top of that) and some composting and weeding... I even had an hour of chainsawing and stacking.

But what I did mostly today was pears.  I washed and halved them, cored and peeled, and filled a big saucepan with them, ready to bottle them, and filled all my racks with the rest.  Finished at 2.30 am.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Friday 9th September 11

A good day, although very busy... cycling over to Bishopthorpe Road with my eldest son first thing (8.30am) and then calling in on Country Fresh to pick up compostables.  Richard gave me a bag of green beans which I made into a soup with an onion and a butternut squash, also a 'second' as it had a hole in it, making it unsaleable, but not inedible. For tea, Gill modified the soup by putting half of it into a pan with a tin of tomatoes, cooking it and whizzing it and putting it through a sieve.  The boys liked it, and when I eventually got in, I did too!

So during the day I did a few more pears and a bit of paperwork, until 2pm when I shot out, put in two cheques to my building society, one cheque into the bank, then on to Millers Yard to pick up oranges, and on to Pauline who'd responded to my request for a working toaster, as ours had gone phut.  She also gave me some plates and a lovely saucepan.  The house she manages has new tenants and they want it completely unfurnished.  Her compost bin needs some attention so I'll do that for her soon.

At 3.25 I cycled to Bishy Road to collect our son and we cycled home together, which was nice.  Then soon after 5 I set off for town again to meet up with David and Graham from the Minsters' Rail Campaign, which I've joined and want to help. They want to open a railway between York and Beverley, linking Stamford Bridge, Pocklington and Market Weighton.  This would also probably make it easier to get from Hull to York.  We had a good meeting and I agreed to make a facebook 'page' for the organisation.

Then, just as that meeting was drawing to a close, my new friend J arrived, and we had a good hour and a half chatting about all sorts of things.  Very nice to meet someone new whom I get on with really well. I got in at 9pm.

At 11.30pm I unhitched my trailer and bombed down to town to see the start of the Friday Night Ride To The Coast, which I was considering gong on but realised that my weekend was too busy to do everything.  I cycled with them until we got to our house, where I stopped and watched all 37 of them disappear up towards Hull.

Did more pears and watched News 24.

Thursday 8th September 11

Up early, got the 8.30 train which got into York at 9.23, earlier than timetabled.

Cycled briskly over to St Nicks, trying out the new bike access which allows entry into and out of the station onto the little path between Leeman Road and the River, parallel to the Scarborough Line.  I think I like it; if I used this access it would mean using far less busy road and several sets of traffic lights. 

Got to St Nicks early for the York Rotters meeting.

At midday, Geoff and three Brunswick volunteers/employees arrived and I talked them through using my apple press.

Cycled home and had lunch, cycled back to Monkgate for an appointment.

Cycled back home and did my emails, then at 3 got our eldest's bike bungeed onto my trailer and relatively slowly cycled over to Bishy Road to The Stables where he'd had his second day.  We cycled back over the Millennium Bridge.

I did various things in the house until Gill and our youngest got in, then I did a little bit of compost heap management, and came in for tea at about 6.  At 6.30, when I was just finishing my tea, David rang and asked where I was.  Whoops, I'd forgotten!

I zoomed into town and was with him by 6.45.  I took him to City Screen and there we met Carolyn, then Mary Machin and her friend Jill, then Lotte and her sister Alice, then Geoff Beacon turned up!  Such a lovely social time for David!

I took him home at about 9 and made tea for him and shot off by 9.15.

Met Sue Wallace on the way home and had a good conversation with her about Promession and she suggested ways that the Church would find it acceptable.

Wednesday 7th September 11

I had quite a busy day and at 4 got on a train to Newark to go and see Lisa, my friend from London who's just moved house. It only takes an hour to get to Newark, and I didn't have to wait long until Lisa showed up at the station and we walked into Newark, collected her daughter from the after school club, and then had a wander around the town, along the canalised river and eventually back to Lisa's new house.

We had a low-key evening, a bite to eat and some nice conversations.  Lovely to see her again.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Tuesday 6th September 11

Two appointments today.... working for David from 1.30 til 3.30, and an Environment Forum meeting at 4pm.

I stayed in during the morning whilst Gill took our eldest for his first day at The Stables, and quite early, the Suma order arrived. I checked it in and everything apart from Maria's stuff was there.

I took David to Asda, which has replaced Netto.  He bought a select few items and we went back home.

I finished there at 3.30 and went to the library, sorry, 'Explore' and participated in the Environment Forum meeting which was interesting. I shot off at 6pm as I thought I might have a Planning Panel meeting... but when I got to Tang Hall Library, there was no-one else there, so I concluded that I'd made a mistake.

So, home and collapse, quite glad I hadn't got more work to do (apart from drying pears!)

Monday 5th September 11

I woke fairly early and came downstairs for breakfast and emails... but after an hour, felt so headachy and tired that I went back to bed.  I got up for a late lunch, but didn't feel like having much.  I got a phone call from someone who'd been to a Fiddlesticks appearance in a library recently, and she booked me for her 6 year old's birthday party in October. 

A bit later I got out into the garden to put the two sacks of paper plates and waste food into my Compostumbler, which was steaming with lots of wonderful aerobic activity.  I found that one of my small pear trees had gently dropped most of it's pears, so I came up the garden with a very heavy box of them, most of which I'll hope to dry. This spell outdoors helped blow away my hangover (I admit it) and I felt a bit better during the late afternoon.

I'd rescued about 10 vegan hot dog sausages at the end of the Peace Festival, so Gill and I had them for tea, in bread rolls, with pink fir apple potato salad, which is just wonderful!

At 7.15 I cycled down to The Seahorse to the LETS meeting. Melody, Geoff and Kay were there, but it was a short meeting, although I chatted with Geoff afterwards, until Gill rang me and asked if I'd come home to take bathwater upstairs.  So by 9pm I was home, dealing with one son's bathwater, the washing up, and a mountain of pears.

Sunday 4th September 11 York Peace Festival

I got up fairly early as I'd agreed to go down to Rowntree Park and help York Rotters set up.  I got there soon after 10, took nothing with me apart from a couple of large sacks to collect paper plates and waste food, and a bottle of pear cider in case I fancied a drink after my obligations had ended.

St Nicks had just arrived and their tent was up but not pegged in.  I helped a little bit and when they were ready, had a cycle around to say hello to people and see what was up around the park. At 11 I was back at the St Nicks.Rotters stall to do my first hour with them.  This went well, Pat my minder was around, and Ivana and John too, but at midday I went to the main stage to see The Falling Spikes.  I met Richard's mum... she'd never seen her son's band, or heard them.  Randall and Annie dropped by and I sat on their mat to listen to the band, who did a 40 minute set which I really enjoyed.

I then had to get back to the Rotters stall for another hour, after which I'd agreed to do an hour on the Green Party Coconut Shy.  I've never run a coconut shy before, but I really enjoyed it. I made it into a kind of show... and drew people in with my loud voice.  I stayed for 90 minutes and estimate that in that time, made about £60... there were times when there was a queue!

However, I was pleased to be free of the volunteering and enjoyed the Dub Barn Collective, chatting to Vanessa, Sally and Kate, who are also friends from many years ago, and met Jessica, who I vaguely remembered from the late 1980s.  I had a bottle of perry whilst the Dub was on.... made it last a long time, was quite a treat! I enjoyed dancing, and watching others dance.  A really super gig, and the highlight of my day.

The event came to an end at about 6pm, and people started to disappear.  I got my two heavy-duty sacks and started to go through the bins nearest the food stalls, to rescue the paper plates which had been specified by the organisers as the only acceptable plates to use for serving food.  I collected two compacted sackfuls, I estimate about 30kg of plates and waste food, plus a carrier bag of coffee grounds, maybe 5kg.  Great stuff for my Compostumbler! Great it didn't go to landfill.  I didn't have to do any litter picking this year, as Dylan and team had got it organised this time. 

I had been invited to go and see Jennie, back in York to print off her thesis and get it bound, and staying with Peter.   Peter had decided to have a little party and bonfire in her honour.  I popped into the York Beer and Cheese shop near Alligator, and got two small bottles of perry, or 'pear cider' as it seems to have been re-branded.

Peter had created a vegan lasagne which was really nice; I was just in time to have some.  I texted Gill to tell her where I was.  I enjoyed chatting with Jennie and Peter, and then Barry turned up, and a colleague of Jennie's.  The most interesting part of the evening, in some ways, was trying out a new form of making bread, by wrapping dough on a green and whittled stick, and cooking this over the embers of the fire.  I did one lump, it was lovely.  I drank both bottles of perry.

I got home before midnight.  Happy.... perhaps a little too happy!

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Saturday 3rd September 11

Quite an early start... had been asked to be in Chapel Allerton by 11.30, to be working at midday.  So I worked back and left the house at about 9.15, and got a train bound for Leeds at 9.57, due in at 10.30ish.  This all went smoothly.  I then walked along to Vicar Lane to the bus stop outside the Co-op Bank which I'd found out (by phone this morning) was the place to wait for the Chapel Allerton buses.  I got chatting to two lovely people, who used to live in Chapel Allerton, but now live in another part of Leeds, but who go to the Chapel Allerton Festival every year.  They were in their 80s, and the woman was very chatty and lively, curious about my unicycles and entertainment.

The bus came.  As I queued, the bus driver shook his finger at me through the windscreen.  He said 'no bicycles'.  I politely told him that they weren't bicycles, but in fact unicycles. He was adamant that he wouldn't have them on the bus, and he began to sulk.  Several people, including the 80+ year old couple, chimed in and said things like, 'he's going to a charity gig' and 'they are the tools of his trade', and eventually he, grumbling, let me have a ticket.

The journey didn't last long and the lovely old couple told me when to get ready for the correct stop.  As I left the bus I slipped the driver a pound coin and said 'get yourself a half pint on me'.  He still looked grumpy.

The day got a lot better from here on in.  I found my 'handler', Amy, who talked me through what she wanted me to do.  I did a half-hour very quick run through my show, then a fair bit of unicycle-about and when it got too crowded, some walkabout, and later, a one hour show, followed by more random interaction... mainly giving out balloons.

It all drew to a close at 5pm and I was glad to get on a bus (easily this time) and then walk to the station and come home.  Another tiring day.