Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Sunday 21st August 11

Well a quiet day at home but did do a compost collection from Country Fresh, and then after that, got my fancy dress costume ready, so I could participate in the York City Cycle Races, in the opening race, on a Brompton (a small folding bike) as one quarter of Team Green.

Andy D'Agorne had organised this, texting me a few days ago and saying we had to decide by the end of the day.  I said yes, without knowing very much about it.  I did check abut the fancy dress, so I put on the most colourful and barmy clothes I've got.

So I cycled in on my usual bike and locked that up and met up with Andy, Jane McWeeny and Ginnie Shaw.  The Brompton race was first, at 5pm, and I took the chance to try the Brompton and check out the route round the city centre before the race, a good idea as I knew which corners were toughest and could judge what speed to take them.

Andy had said he wanted to go first, then me, as I'm about the same height, followed by Jane and Ginny, who had the seat-post lowered.  I was surprised how slow Andy was... he later admitted that he thought the circuit was dangerous and he hadn't pedalled as fast as he could have done.  Maybe he was wise as another team, the General Practitioners team (family doctors) didn't finish as one of their members crashed and was taken to hospital with broken ribs and a damaged liver.  However, I cycled as fast as I could, managed to overtake one other team, and crossed the line feeling I couldn't have done better.
Out of the six teams who entered, we came fourth, not bad considering our combined ages (all in our 40s and 50s!), and our fancy dress caused a fair amount of mirth and merriment.  I believe that some money was raised for charity, too.

We had a few group photos taken but I didn't stay to watch the other races.
I cycled home, via Grape Lane and Swinegate where there were assorted festivities taking place, and felt pleased that I'd taken part in my second ever bike race.

Saturday 20th August 11

I had a fairly late start but got myself together to get to New Earswick for lunch and a 1.30pm start for the AVP meeting.  I'm the Health and Safety Officer for Alternatives to Violence Project, North East and East Midlands, and people from all over the region had come to attend the meeting at Hartrigg Oaks.

This was a good meeting which I enjoyed, and Roswitha gave me some beetroot and Gill gave me some plums.

I enjoyed the cycle back into town with Alan, who'd come over from Bradford, but at the cycle track I peeled off and turned towards Burton Stone Lane as I'd agreed to go and see a friend who everyone knows as J or Jx, who'd asked my opinion about composting, or disposing of, some pyracanthus twigs. I said I'd come and chop them up and put them in paper sacks, and take them for composting.  So we stood and chopped and chatted, which was really nice.

I think it took about an hour, after which I cycled the length of the cycle track to St Nicks, picked up a sack of compostables at Freshways, and called in on Bob as I had some bread for him and his household.  Here I met Lou Mason, whom I've been wanting to meet up with for ages, as I was friends with her brother Tom, and then I saw some art done by Lou and I have been wanting to meet her since.  One of those chance meetings, random and surprising.  Hopefully we'll get to go for a cuppa together sometime.  Would be good to meet at Millers Yard as there's a bench there in memory of Tom Mason, who worked there as a baker when I first moved to York in the 1980s.

Friday 19th August 11

A really good day as we met up with my parents for the first time in ages.

The arrangement was that they'd meet Gill and the boys off the bus in Pocklington, and take them to Swing Bridge Number 6 on the Pocklington Canal, at Melbourne.  As the car only carries 5 people, there was only room to pick up 3 passengers. So I cycled the 10 miles out through Elvington, Sutton on Derwent and on to Melbourne.

I set off at 10.15 and the others got the 10.24 bus. They arrived in Pocklington at 10.54, and I got to Melbourne at 11.05, ten minutes before the car with canoe on top arrived.

The canal has lovely clear water and plenty of fish.  We sat on one of the jetties which boats moor up against when the bridge needs to be moved, and ate our lunch.  I fed the fish crumbs from my sandwiches.

My father first took our eldest out on the canal, and Gill and I chatted with my mother, and we all enjoyed watching the damselflies and fish jumping.

Then I went out with my Dad, with him at the back steering and my youngest son in the middle, me at the front.  We went along the canal towards Pocklington, and the canal gets very blocked with reeds and vegetation.  I picked a load of watercress, which I'll clean up and make into soup.  It's not a good idea to eat wild watercress raw, as there's a chance of getting a parasite, but if cooked it's completely safe.

We got back to the landing area and I took Gill out for a very slow paddle, as she's not used to boats and was a bit nervous.

No-one else wanted to have a go so we stopped there, at about 2pm, and the canoe went back on the car, and Daddy drove it up the muddy track without the other 4 passengers, as the uneven ground meant that the car had 'bottomed out' with the extra weight on the way down.  So we all walked up the track, and then they all got in and turned left to Pocklington and I turned right to York, and cycled fast all the way home. 

I worked for David from 6 til 8, got on well as usual!

Thursday 18th August 11

A bit of a nothingy day to be honest.

I took the tent down as it was dry and our eldest has decided not to use it for his birthday next week.

I did a couple of hours composting and a bit of wooding.

Did more pears.

Wednesday 17th August 11

I enjoyed today as I had no particular things to do, get to, or any obligations, but I got a lot done. During the morning I interspersed watching Concrete Circus on 4oD with various jobs in the kitchen, but it was good to catch up with this programme which Gill watched on Monday night, whilst I was at Just Do It.  I'm a big fan of Danny MacAskill, and enjoyed his part of the film most... but all the 'urban sports' performers were good. 

Gill went to Malton with our youngest to buy two young female guinea pigs, which he's wanted to have for quite a while, and are his birthday present.  They came back after lunch with them in a travelling pet box, one is mostly ginger brown with some white bits and the other is mostly nearly black with some other colours.  Their names have yet to be decided but Fudge and Toffee might stick (haha!)

I got a message from Rich to go and pick up from Country Fresh and I did do, and got some eggs and veggies too, and some stuff for Debbie.  She had her daughter's friend Vicky there and we all had a nice chat.

I got a phone call from a woman who attended a recent Fiddlesticks gig, with her son, who had some very extrovert behaviour which made him stand out from the rest of the audience.  I had dealt with him in my usual way, made sure he was included and I didn't tell him off, but did explain a couple of times about how the audience was supposed to behave in a live show.  At the end, she apologised for his behaviour, and I said something like "no problem, he was great, and anyway, I have Aspergers so I know what it's like to be a bit different".  I had no idea what a profound effect this comment was to have on her.  She rang me to thank me for doing the show, and to tell me her son had loved it, and that she'd like to book me for his birthday party.  She has had several people suggest that her son has got Aspergers Syndrome, and she was quite mixed up and confused by it, as she's had quite a bit of negative reaction from some teachers who couldn't cope with the boy's intelligent questions and unusual ways, and my comments had really given her hope and some sort of positivity.  Actually, I don't really know what I did or said that had such an effect, but she was profusely grateful.  We spent quite a bit of time on the phone, and then chatted on the internet later, and her feedback made me very happy.   

I did another big pear tree pick, and got about 6 kilos of lovely Jargonelle pears, which will mostly be dried, as this concentrates the flavour and dried pears are my favourite dried fruit.  I got my 9 metre ladder fully extended and then climbed into the tree off the top of it, it felt quite dangerous and exciting.  These pears do not keep at all, most of them go bad in 24 hours, so drying is the best way to preserve them.  The ground underneath the tree is thick with fallen pears, wasps and Red Admiral butterflies, so I needed to harvest what I could.

The only other useful things I did were to do loads of washing up and help prepare tea. Oh, and load up lots of wire racks with halved pears.....

Tuesday 16th August 11

A slow start to the day, as didn't need to leave the house til after midday.  I got my kit moved from my bags which I use to carry stuff on the train to the Curver Box which goes in the bike trailer. And then, got the costume put in my pannier and four-wheeled unicycles in the other pannier... had my sandwiches and jumped on my trusty steed and headed to Poppleton Library.

The rain started.  I got soaked.  But it only took 35 minutes to cycle up to Poppy and I got to the library at 1pm.  My show was due to start at 1.30, so plenty of time to dry off, get changed and unpack my gear.

We had a 'full house' with at least 20 children and about 8 mums and dads, and we had a really good show, lots of participation and laughter; I really enjoyed it.  After my routine I did a circle game, throwing and catching, and then 35 minutes of free play.

We finished at 3.30 and by 4 I was cycling round the village to see Kate Houghton, who is an 84 year old who was great friends with Gill's mother, Betty Adelaide.  I had a coffee and a chat, and then another friend of hers popped in and it was 5pm, and time for me to go, as I was supposed to be working for David at 6pm.

I got to Stonegate before I needed to go and see David, so I went to chat with Purpleman, who last week suffered an unprovoked attack.  He's OK though, and resilient, and quoted Gandhi.

I got to David's a bit before 6 and he was pleased to see me and wanted to go to City Screen for a coffee.  There were quite a few people there whom we knew, gathering for a film about the history of railways.  We went to sit upstairs and got a lovely view of the river, and chatted briefly with various people.  But when the film started, we went for a wander, down Coney Street and then retraced our steps to go to Museum Gardens, went through and round onto Marygate and down to the river and back through the Gardens, and then to the Minster, round the back and along past St Williams College and along Goodramgate, where we bumped into Claire from Grace Preserves, and her husband whom I've not met before, and eventually home to David's, where he was very happy to get some tea, which was waiting for me to microwave for him.

Monday 15th August 11, 'Just Do It' film

A good day, a bunch of positive things happened.

Not sure why I woke up when I did but soon after I got a phone call which rang off after I failed to get to it on time, so rang back and it was my Mum, arranging a meeting for a family trip out in their canoe, at the Pocklington Canal, and we needed to fix a date; we're all busy people!  I'll be cycling out to the canoe launch site, Gill and the boys will be collected from Pocklington bus station and have a short car journey to the launch site.  I'm quite looking forward to it!

My computer has had some problems with a loose connection to the power supply, and it has been getting worse, so I visited two local computer shops for a verdict.  One said it would be £80 to go inside and take out the DC port, and £10 to replace it, and £40 for a new power pack, and £40 to £100 for a new battery pack, since that too is old and only gives me 20 minutes battery time.  The other shop said £60 to go into the computer, and £15 to £40 for a power pack (they said they'd look on Ebay) and an unknown price for a battery (again, this shop uses Ebay).  I was a bit dismayed at the potential cost, so I emailed Ben to ask his opinion.  He rang me back quite soon and said that he'd be happy to look at it, to confirm whether he agreed with the diagnosis.  I walked round and left the laptop there and within the hour he'd tightened up the connections inside and done a little re-soldering on the plug which goes into the back of the box.... and the problem is (temporarily) solved!  He wants paying in £10 worth of dried fruit and a £5 note!  Wow!

I then cycled our eldest son over to his friend's house in Fulford, and noticed a pile of waste logs so once son safely delivered, I cycled back past them and brought some back with me.

When, towards 5pm, I went back to pick him up, I collected another load.

I had a bread and soup tea and then towards 7pm headed to City Screen to meet up with Nick, who had agreed to go to see Just Do It with me.  I've been looking forward to this film for quite a while, as it is about a movement I care a lot about, admire, and am, in a small way, part of.  Also, it was really good to see Nick, I'm very fond of him.  We always have great conversations.  And whilst having a pint with Nick, David Ward Maclean came to say hello.

This film is about a group of people I feel close to, people who care enough about our planet to put themselves in situations of personal danger and risk in order to try to highlight the issues and reduce the perceived problems.  I feel close to them not because I do what they do, but because they are equally passionate about the same things.  My way of 'doing direct action' is to live every day of my life in a low carbon, ethical manner, rather than get involved in noisy colourful protests and camps, although I did attend a Climate Camp at Drax.  They may have lifestyles which emit more (or less!) carbon than me, but they get involved in direct action with Climate Camp, Climate Rush, Plane Stupid and other groups and actions.  I have HUGE respect for these people, and the film followed a few of them for a year, including getting busy at the Copenhagen Conference in 2009 and the Vestas factory on the Isle of Wight.

The film was very inspiring and I hope moves people to get involved with actions which have positive effects for future generations of people and other species on this planet.  I believe that anthropogenic climate change is the biggest challenge that Humanity is facing, and in order to turn the problem round, we have to not only drastically reduce the rate of CO2 emissions, which continue to rise year by year, but we should find ways to reduce the actual amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, which has risen from a generally accepted 270 parts per million pre Industrial Revolution, to 392ppm today, primarily because of the amount of fossil carbon we're emitting through burning fuels, plus the reduction in forested land and increase in other activities which emit CO2, such as draining peat bogs.  So far, there is no tried and tested way of sequestering atmospheric carbon in the amounts needed to reduce the concentration..... but we need to stop emitting so much as a starter!

After the screening, Emily James the Director answered questions, and there was a chap from the Free Frank Fernie campaign too. I was amused when Emily noticed someone filming this speaker and was holding the camera on 'portrait', and she grabbed the camera and turned it to 'landscape' which, as she is a film-maker, she knows gives a much better picture. 

I loved Just Do It.  I think it will be a testament to those who heeded warnings and took the action they thought necessary.  Whether they/we are successful in these endeavours, only history will tell. 

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Sunday 14th August 11

A work day but not an unpleasantly early start; had to be in Leeds to be picked up by Alan at 1pm.  So I set off for the 12.15 train at 11.45, although a minute into my journey I realised I'd left my rucksack with costume and balloons in back home, so I turned round and went and got it.

But I got to the station in plenty of time, and bought my day return and was waiting at the meeting area for 12.50.

The weather was not perfect for doing outside entertainment, as just as my audience were gathering at Middleton Park, it began to rain.  It isn't possible to do devilsticks in the rain, and wet diabolo string doesn't behave as expected, either.  So I changed the order of my shows and did the balloons first, filling the time when I was blowing up balloons for the workshop with getting volunteers out of the audience to try to blow one up.  It is nearly impossible for an ordinary person t inflate modelling balloons (260s anyway!) with their lungs, so whilst I blew up about 40 of them, a succession of mainly children failed to blow any up. There is a knack to it, but basically it's strength, pure diaphragm and chest muscle power.

So the balloon workshop went well and was attended by over 60 people. I didn't have enough balloons to go round with the ones I'd shoved into the spokes of my unicycle, so I had to blow up more to accommodate the large numbers of participants.  At 3 I did a shortened version of the circus show, and we had about 35 minutes left to have a free-play workshop.  Everybody had a good time, and Alan, the chap who books me, seemed happy.

Alan took me back to Leeds station and I got the York train 10 minutes after getting there.  I was back in York soon after 5pm.

When I got back home I immediately got the big ladders out and picked a load of Jargonelle pears... lots are falling off the tree and therefore they're ripe.  The wasps and butterflies are having a great time!  I picked 2 buckets full but also took out a lot of dead wood and climbing hop and honeysuckle which has got somewhat over vigorous. I spent over 2 hours up the tree.

During the evening I sorted out lots of the pears, setting them to dry, as they don't keep at all.

Saturday 13th August 11

A really enjoyable day, showing Loony around York... her first visit here.  I collected her from the Bed and Breakfast and we got a bus to Clifford Street, then walked to Parliament St to wait at the fountain to meet Grant.  I chatted to a chap with a huge sandwich board with a message offering a reward of £50,000 for information about corruption in the West Mercia Police.  He was quite an interesting person to talk to, but I didn't have long as Grant turned up, and we all went for some lunch.

Then we wandered over to Coffee Yard and visited David, and had a coffee and a chat, made David's day a bit more interesting anyway!  Then Grant parted company with Loony and me and we went to see the Minster, and then to Monkgate Bar to go along the wall to Bootham Bar.  By this time, Loony had done enough walking so we got a bus to Rougier St and then a Number 10 to Hull Road, and Loony had a cuppa and met Gill and the boys, and walked down the garden and back, before we went to the Co-op and on to her Bed and Breakfast on Heslington Road.

I didn't stay long as we were both tired, and I have work tomorrow and she has a long bus journey back to Bristol.

Friday 12th August 11

Mick the Brick arrived to finish off the job he started yesterday.  He put a final layer of render on, making it really smooth and it looks lovely, both inside and out.  I paid him and by 11am he was gone.

I did a small amount in the garden and more in the house, working with Gill a bit to get the conservatory more tidy and usable.

At 4.15 I cycled down to town, via Country Fresh, to meet Loony off the bus which was due in at 5pm.  We walked all the way through town to Heslington Road, where her Bed and Breakfast was, and when she'd got herself together after such a long bus trip from Bristol, we got a taxi into town.

We went to El Piano as a birthday treat for Loony, where Bob the chef was doing an offer, if you bought a drink, you got a tapas dish with it.  So we sat outside, under a huge umbrella awning, and had a couple of drinks each and 3 tapas dishes between us... a tomato salsa and tortilla chips, a refried beans and corn fritter dish, and finally, vegan sushi... my first experience of sushi!  Loony had a sugar free and fat free pudding too, made from banana and coconut.  

Thursday 11th August 11

Woken comparatively early considering the late night, by 'Mick the Brick' who had come to do our little bricklaying job.  He had lost our contact details and that's why he hadn't rung us to forewarn us.

He did a great job, first removing the wooden battens which covered the gap between the back of the house and the wall which was there before we built the conservatory. He used bricks which I'd been given by Gillian round the corner, left over from building the raised bed down the garden.  He laid the bricks slightly recessed from the existing front surface, with the intention to cover the bricks (which don't match the 'clamp bricks' of the house or free-standing wall) with a cement render, to make it look like a pillar or something.  All the wires and things he put in the cavity between the bricks.

Gill and I were delighted that this will stop any rodent ingress and it feels a lot more secure with bricks not wood, which was eaten through by a rat several years ago... and I had to pile bricks up against the outside to make it rodent proof since then.

Our youngest's 24 hour party came to an end at midday and all involved had enjoyed it.  The sleepover in the tent, with 5 of them, was obviously very exciting and fun.

I went to work at David's at 6 and we went to City Screen and had a nice chat with a solicitor and a physiotherapist from Elvington, I think.  David likes it that I have an uncanny knack of being able to strike up a conversation with just about anyone!  When we got back to David's I sorted out his washing machine and got him his meal, and left him to it.

Wednesday 10th August 11

I got up at 8 as I had to be on my bike by 9 and at Huntington Library by about 9.40 latest.  It was raining hard.  I got there in about 25 minutes, including the slight diversion when I almost took my bike into the GP Surgery next door, by accident!

The librarian let me in once she'd seen me at the door, and I had a look around the venue to check it was OK to wheel my bike in.  As it had a wooden floor, the wet bike was no problem, so in it all came.  I got changed and talked through the format of the morning.

At 10 the punters arrived, a gaggle of children with Mums.  I was introduced by the librarian and then proceeded to do my usual 'warm-up-act' where I invite an 'entertainer of the future' to come and try out their skills (usually a joke or a cartwheel or something similar!) and then I got on with my show.  I particularly enjoyed the workshop, as one of the Mums proved to be really good, quite unexpectedly, at first the diabolo, then she did devilsticks surprisingly well, and when I suggested she might want to try juggling, she said 'no, I could never do that' but she was doing a three-ball cascade within a matter of seconds.  I was astounded, and I think she was too, although she wasn't one to express her emotions much.  She was just a complete natural, but had never, ever been exposed to a situation where she could try these skills.  I cycled home feeling very emotional.

In the evening I met Catherine, a student, in the Three Legged Mare, for Green Drinks, as she wanted to interview me about green groups in York. Several other people arrived and it became a more open discussion.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Tuesday 9th August 11

Working for David.  I met up with him at 2.30 and took him to the Theatre Royal to see Peter Pan.  This had been organised by Carolyn, who had brought her two grandchildren with her. 

It was a good production, and David enjoyed it a lot, which was far more important than what I thought. I did enjoy it somewhat, but it was aimed at children, mainly.

I started to try to catch up on the backlog of assorted paperwork, blog posts, etc, and all the other jobs which don't get done when on holiday!

Monday, 22 August 2011

Monday 8th August 11, Return to York

I took the tent down, not easy with windy weather.  But I was helped.  Then we got shoehorned into Rob's car, we only just fitted!  He took us to St Austell station, where we had quite a bit of time to kill, so I walked into town with the boys to find lunch and spotted an internet cafe, so I returned and had a short time using their WiFi to catch up on emails etc. 

Then we got a series of trains, one to Plymouth, and a quick connection to the Leeds train, where at Birmingham, a pair of young men got on and got out their Nintendo DS machines, and our boys, who both have one as well, connected with them and had some fun racing Mario Carts and various other games.  These chaps were even able to share some software to let our two play a game which wasn't installed on their DSes.  This made this part of the journey go very quickly.

Finally, a train to York, getting in after 10.30pm, so we got a taxi back home.  The taxi driver, when prompted to tell us what if anything had happened in York over the past week, told us there'd been a hurricane in Dunnington.  Our eldest tried to explain that it wasn't possible to have a hurricane in Yorkshire (although possible to have hurricane force winds) but the guy assured us it was a hurricane.  Later, looking through the newspapers, I confirmed that it was a tornado, not a hurricane.

It was good to get back and find everything as we'd left it. Happy to be home and have comfy beds!

Sunday 7th August 11, 9th and final day in Cornwall

Today was another fab day.... we'd been invited to go back to the marquee for midday to have a pastie lunch.

However, I had to organise the transport back to either Truro or St Austell tomorrow, and I discussed the bus situation with the chap in the office.  He explained that there wasn't a good connection between one bus and the next, and that one stopped in Veryan and then we'd have to walk a mile to Ruan High Lanes to catch the one to Truro.  So we asked about getting a taxi to the bus to Truro... or all the way to Truro or St Austell.  When I explained that we wanted to travel tomorrow, on Monday, he said he was happy to take us into St Austell, if we thought we'd fit in his car.  Well we were very grateful, as this made the journey much easier, and we said we'd see him at midday tomorrow.

So, with this sorted, we wandered along to the field with the marquee, and it was a much less organised and formal day.  The DJ had gone, and the caterers too, just leaving the marquee and tables, and kids playthings.

A good selection of pasties were supplied, and some cakes too, and lots of opportunities for conversations and getting to know people, deep discussions with our nephew Jonny about the introduction of a new green technology, and great games of frisbee with Dankie and family, mainly. 

We spent all afternoon there, just having a really super social time.  However, it started to get thinner on the ground and eventually the marquee was going to be left done up so it could be taken down the following day.  We walked up the road to the campsite, and just as I was thinking about Robin Harford and how that tomorrow morning I wouldn't have time to go to his foraging workshop, and there was a car driving into the site and it reversed and Robin leaned out of the window and said 'Blow me, it's Cossham' (or words to that effect!)... and then apologised for swearing with my family there.... and I introduced him to Gill and the boys.

A bit later, I went on a short walk with him, and then took the boys down to the beach for a little wander (we had fun throwing a golf ball up a cliff to see it randomly bounce down) and then, after dark, Gill and I went for a coffee with Robin and his wife, who was really nice.

I think this is what happened today anyway!

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Saturday 6th August 11, Helen and Jason's Wedding

A really lovely day.  We got all our gear ready to go in the taxi to Portscatho, or more accurately, Treloan Coastal Holidays Campsite, south of Gerrans.  The taxi chap had arranged to meet us up the hill where it wasn't quite so steep, at 10am.  He had had difficulty last time on the steep slope and it was easier for us to lug all our gear up to him than him drive down to us and risk getting stuck.

So, we took the taxi the 13 or so miles to the campsite... it took half an hour and cost £35... but this was much quicker than (and probably a similar cost to) getting a bus to St Austell, a train to Truro and a bus to Portscatho... and later, we realised there is no direct bus from Truro to Portscatho, you have to get off one and walk for a mile to catch the connecting bus between Veryan and Ruan High Lanes, which is a complete nonsense when it comes to accessible public transport.  So we were very happy to have a quick door-to-door service, and Carl the taxi man was nice.

We got to the campsite before 11am and our pitch was not yet vacated, so whilst the other campers were striking camp, I explored the site, and was surprised to find a poster featuring my friend Robin Harford, the wild food forager, who was running a short foraging workshop on the following Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.  I was pleased to see this but saddened as we were due to be going on the Monday morning, so I wouldn't be able to attend.

I erected the tent almost single-handedly.  As it was quite windy, I pegged it down before putting in the poles, which was sensible as it was at risk of blowing away once the poles were in. It took less than an hour to do it... this was just the second time I've put it up, and last time I had lots of help.

Soon after I'd done this, it was time to go and wait for the bus that Helen and Jay had organised, so I got changed into my smart clothes in the tent, as did the others, and we went to the campsite office.  There was already a well-dressed gent there, and we asked if he was going to the wedding, and yes... he was waiting for his family to join him too.

The bus was a preserved vintage one from King Harry Coaches, really beautiful and special-looking, with a wedding ribbon on the front.  There were already quite a few people on it, and we picked up others along the way, including Linda, Gill's sister, and her daughter Nancy with her boys... all looking very smart and happy.

It didn't take long to get to St Just in Roseland Church, down a narrow leafy lane, looking almost tropical in its abundance.  The church is down some paths through gardens, and the church overlooks the sea... well, a wooded inlet which is really pretty.  All the guests milled around and chatted, and then after quite a wait, we filed in and as we were the Bride's family, we sat on the left of the church... which gave us a great view of the couple when they were going through the ceremony.

Helen was walked down the isle by Mike, her father, and she was smiling and giggling and obviously revelling in the moment.  The vicar who presided over the ceremony was a very humorous woman, just perfect for Helen, who is renowned for her sense of fun. Jason is slightly more sober and sensible and I'm sure helps balance Helen's giddy personality. 
After the ceremony, we all filed outside where a pair of photographers got all the different groups of people to line up for the official photos.  I took a few as well, these are my favourites:

From the church we all got back in the two old buses and we wound our way back to Portscatho and a field just beyond Treloan, where a large marquee had been put up.
This was a wonderful reception venue.  There was Pimms served and then a lovely meal, and the traditional speeches.  Children had straw bales to play on/with, and frisbees, footballs, cricket equipment and more.  I think it was the best reception party I've been to, and I really enjoyed meeting our new relatives, Jason's side of the family, as well as the relatives we already know and love.
The party continued til midnight... there was a brief rainstorm and a rainbow, and plenty of sunshine, fun, conversation, food and drink, and later, music and both Gill and I danced.

I dedicate today's blog post to Jason and Helen Kenneally. I hope they have a long and happy life together.

Friday, 12 August 2011

Friday 5th August 11, 7th Day

Our last full day in Mevagissey.

Another lazy day mostly. I didn't go to Heligan as the children didn't want to go, and although Gill wanted to go, she was very achy and anyway, what would we do with the children if we both went?

I had a potential friend to go with, a gardener friend I know off Facebook, but in the end she didn't come... it was a reasonably long way to drive from Totnes, so I understand why she didn't show up.  Things got a bit 'pressure cookery' in the house, as really the boys need structure and something to do, and it all went mental when I tried to do a little video of the house, to show friends what it looks like, and I eventually decided to clear off out for a few hours to let the teen moment pass.  I spent well over an hour in the Mevagissey Museum, on the harbour, and I really loved this.  I chatted to several people there and enjoyed looking at the big stone apple crusher and stone cider press.  It is a lovely museum, with lots of handwritten notes, many with personal anecdotes, something you don't see in big modern museums.  It was a joy to wander around.  But eventually I'd had my fill of nostalgia and thinking about a low carbon, post peak oil future where hand-powered things will re-emerge as the most appropriate way to do some tasks.  These type of museums, with gadgets, gizmos and tools, could be an inspiration to Transitioneers.  For instance, they had a good collection of irons, for pressing clothes, which were heated on the range, in exactly the same way as the flat irons I got for us to use on our stove, which Gill has occasionally used.

I then went to the little beach where I skimmed some stones and practiced some devilstick moves.  I rang Gill and found out that they'd all gone back to the model railway museum, and things had calmed down a bit.  I went back to the cottage and had some peace and quiet before they came back.  It was good to get an apology, I apologised too, and we had a subdued evening.

We got things together for going tomorrow, and later on in the evening, my 5 days of BT FON net access finished.  I've found it really useful to have.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Thursday 4th August 11, Day 6 of Cornish Holiday

A very quiet and fairly relaxing day with a whole lot of not very much happening.

Gill went to St Austell mid afternoon and I took the boys to the 'World of Model Railways' exhibition in the village.  After maybe 45 minutes here, we walked down to the little bay just on the North side of the harbour, and skimmed stones, and I had some devilsticking practice which attracted a bit of attention and I let several people have goes with the second devilstick and my diabolo.

Gill texted me to say she was on the bus so we walked back and whilst waiting for her to arrive, I got the boys an ice cream.  I carried the bags of shopping back to the cottage and Gill made a simple but effective meal of rice and veg.

An altogether relaxing day, marred only by news of Gill's sister Linda having to have her dog put down, as it has been suffering from Cushings disease.  Very sad.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Wednesday 3rd August 11, Fifth day of holiday, visiting The Eden Project

Woo, one of the main reasons to come to Mevagissey was its proximity to The Eden Project, and today we got a family day rover ticket with Western Greyhound and got the 09.45 bus to St Austell.  We met a lovely Norwegian family on the bus, and a woman called Pamela Caswell from Crewkerne, who was doing a mammoth walk all around the SW peninsular, raising money for the air ambulance services of Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset.  She had got a sunburnt nose yesterday and was going to St Austell to get suncream... and to the Air Ambulance shop to give in her latest charity tin, which included a huge haul of coppers and small change donated, she said, 'from someone's ash tray'!

We changed buses at St Austell, and got another Greyhound bus which took us to the top of the quarry that The Eden Project has transformed from an open wound in the Earth's surface, to a veritable oasis of vegetation and wonderment.  We walked down into what seemed like a valley with winding paths all going towards the entrance building.  We showed our rail and bus tickets and this got us a discount on the adult tickets (£18 each) and because of our use of public transport, the children went free.  We walked out to the other side of the first building, and there, in front of us and in the huge crater of the old quarry, were the enormous bubble-like domes which contain the two 'biomes', one humid tropical, the other a dry Mediterranean environment.

We walked down into the base, where there were several large structures, a big top, dwarfed by a much bigger white tent, where No Fit State Circus were due to perform Labyrinth.  When I found this on the website yesterday, I was very excited... but then reality kicked in... it cost an extra £30 per adult, and £17.50 per child (our family would be £90), and secondly, it was from 8pm to 10.30pm, and the last bus for Mevagissey leaves St Austell at 10.50pm.  Gill suggested that I should get a ticket for the show, and they'd go back to Mevagissey and I could stay on to see No Fit State.  However, I couldn't see how I or we could get from the bottom of Eden to St Austell in 20 minutes, and if I got a taxi all the way from Eden to Meva, that would add £15 or £20 to my £30 Labyrinth ticket, so I put the idea out of my mind and just enjoyed what I got for the entrance price.

I spoke to one of the people in the big top, about the times for the circus workshops, and was told they'd be on at intervals throughout the day.  Then we headed for the first set of giant greenhouse-bubbles, the hot and humid tropical biome.  This was wonderful, a real reminder of some of the tropical vegetation I've been lucky enough to experience in Montserrat, Trinidad and Tobago, and parts of Zimbabwe. It was a sunny day so the massive greenhouse-like structure got very hot, and it's kept humid with sprays and waterfalls.  I loved this, could easily have spent much longer here.  I decided not to queue for 45 minutes to get up to the viewing platform at the top of the dome, and went to the lunch area to eat our sandwiches which we'd brought with us... although the food looked enticing and was served on thick wooden platters. 

Then we explored the 'Warm Temperate Biome', or Mediterranean, which had plants from Southern Europe and North Africa, California, Australia and a few other mainly dry warm areas.  This area had some good foodcrops on show, including tomatoes and chillies, oranges and sorghum, olives and nectarines.

From here we went to the 'educational' building called The Core, which I was looking forward to a lot, as it has at it's centre a sculpture called Seed, by my favourite sculptor, Peter Randall-Page.  I went straight to see Seed and was well pleased.

Tuesday 2nd August 11, Day Four of Holiday

An excellent day... another late and lazy start... in fact the boys didn't have breakfast until after 11am (their choice!) and we eventually got going on a walk along the Coastal Path.

We got as far as the steps up the cliff to go to the sandy beach just South of Mevagissey, called Portmellon, but Gill didn't feel like climbing them and urged us to go on, leaving her to stay in Meva.  We reluctantly agreed.

We walked up the cliff via steps and then along a path which led to a viewing platform, and then along the road to Portmellon beach, about 15 minutes walk.

The tide was right out but the boys wanted to just sit and chat, in the shade of the sea wall.  I walked out in bare feet to the sea, and paddled, and then walked back up the beach in a stream, which I thought was ripe for damming.  I persuaded the boys to come and investigate the sea, and they loved it, we found some razor shells, and there was a good deal of splashing and horse play.  We then spent quite a bit of time damming the little stream coming across the beach, and made friends with an 11 year old boy from near Brighton, who helped.

We then went to sit down again and I got a text from Gill saying she'd accidentally forgotten to put the boys' lunch in the bag I was carrying... we'd got buckets and spades (which we didn't use) devilsticks and diabolos (didn't use these!) and juice and water, which we did have.  Gill said she was bringing the stuff to us, and we'd meet at the top of the cliff.  We walked back and met her there; she'd found a less steep way up, ans we sat for a while enjoying the view.

Bought pasties on the way back, had new potatoes and salad with the pastie. 

A real 'proper' seaside holiday day!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Monday 1st August 11, Holiday Day Three

A good day with not too late a start, Gill got up at 7am as she wanted to go to St Austell to do some shopping; stuff not easy to get in Mevagissey.  But she missed the 8.47 bus and got one an hour later.  I had a lazy morning, invited the boys to have breakfast but they didn't want any... weird, as breakfast is always really high on my agenda as soon as I wake up!

Anyway, they eventually had 'brunch' and then I got a call from Gill saying she'd be at the bus stop next to the ice cream shop at 11.43, so our eldest and I walked down to collect her... and the shopping.  We all stopped to get veggies in the only greengrocer in Mevagissey, and the woman in there is a composter, had quite a good little chat. I posted 5 of the postcards I'd written.

Then back up to Turnstone Cottage and before lunch, I went with our eldest down to the harbour where there's a nice little beach exposed at low tide, where we played diabolo and devilsticks for a while.  Then we had a few goes at skimming stones ('ducks and drakes') across the water's surface, and about 10 people then copied us.  We came back for a late lunch.  After this we all went down to the harbour, to show the other two the nice beach.  Towards the end of the day we had a look for the Fowey Ferry times, and decided to get the last one over there, and back... there's a deal on the last crossing of the day which means you can go over, and come back for the price of a single journey.

Gill didn't want to come so I made sandwiches for us to take on the boat, for if we were hungry, and we went down to the bottom of the harbour for the 17.40 sailing.  The three of us cost £15, which I thought was a good price for the three of us to have the experience of going across the bay.  The trip over there was nice but the trip back, heading into the wind and waves, was really exciting.  I've always loved bouncing about on boats; it brought back memories of one of the rare times I went on holiday to mainland Europe with my family... we went on a hovercraft, and the whole family were seasick apart from me who was just loving the way the vessel moved over the surface of the sea, in  a very responsive way to the rather large waves on that day.  Well the Fowey to Mevagissey leg wasn't exactly rough, but we powered ahead at 12 knots, using about 250 horsepower of the 500 hp engine.  An exciting thing for the boys was that as we left Fowey, but before we hit the open sea, the Captain allowed our youngest to pilot the boat, which was a huge treat, great fun.  We didn't see that much wildlife, although earlier in the day, on the 11am crossing, they'd seen some Basking Shark. 

We had a bit more to eat when we got in and had a peaceful evening. 

Sunday 31st July 11, Holiday day two

The sofabed was a bit hard but a reasonable night... woke after 10 and had a lovely lazy morning, watching Country Tracks on the telly and playing with the boys.

They all went out as Gill ran out of money on her mobile phone and needed to top up; I spent some time trying to work out how to use Shotwell to organise/manage my photos on my newish operating system, Ubuntu/Linux.  Shotwell is probably the only bit of Ububtu I don't like.

Later I went to the little shop in the centre square and got two tins of baked beans and a tin of sweetcorn, and half a dozen eggs (total cost £3)... so for tea, Gill made eggy bread with beans and sweetcorn for all of us. 

I also got 6 postcards and stamps, and spent a while writing them.

We didn't go out all together today... after tea I went for a walk with our eldest, headed North and looked at the lovely Valerian and the disgusting Hydrangeas, the plentiful snails and found just 7 blackberries.  We ended up back in the village, and got us both an ice cream.

So a lazy laid-back day really.  Nice to not have to DO anything!

I'd taken my laptop with me, primarily to delete emails from my inbox, but I found that I was in a BT FON 'Hot Spot' so I paid £15 for 5 days internet access, so I could get my emails into my Mozilla Thunderbird, send email replies via Tiscali webmail (Thunderbird never allows me to send emails when I'm away from my own WiFi connection) and go on facebook and other webpages. I was really glad of this, as I do like to stay in touch!

Saturday 30th July 11, Holiday day one!

Well a good but pretty manic pulling together of all the bits and bobs related to going on holiday.  The children were ready by just after 10am but Gill was still getting ready when the taxi came at 11am. 

I suppose it didn't help that I really wanted to make sure that when we got back, the walnuts were still on the tree and hadn't been removed by the squirrels.  We haven't seen any squirrels in the garden this year but they could come at any time and it wouldn't take them long to strip the tree.  So yesterday I purchased 30 pence worth of hot chili powder from Tullivers, and this morning mixed a teaspoon of this with a teaspoon of Vaseline.  I mixed this on a tin lid and then put a smudge on every walnut I could reach, about 200 of them.  There are others higher up the tree but they'll have to chance it.  Squirrels apparently don't like chili, and I spotted a chili spray in Barnitts yesterday which is supposed to repel them.  I hope my cheaper, home made version does the job.

Anyway, a taxi to the station and we got the 11.45 to St Austell.  We enjoyed the journey as we were all at a table and had quite a few laughs.  I chatted with a nice guy between Bristol and Exeter who was keen on composting and even keener on knowing about Promession, which really fired his imagination.  It was a pity he had to go so soon!

We then chatted with a local couple who live close to Mevagissey and admired the wonderful Cornwall countryside, particularly the places where the line goes right next to the sea, and over some wonderful bridges, including one by Brunel at Saltash.  But we were soon at St Austell, on time, and none the worse for the 6 3/4 hour journey.  Gill had ordered a 'Carls taxi' last night when in York, and the driver was there waiting for us.  We thought that a taxi would be best as we didn't know quite where the bus would drop us, and we did have quite a bit of luggage, which we wouldn't appreciate dragging around trying to find the house.

I'd memorised the Googlemap of the village so I was able to direct Carl, the driver, with 100% accuracy, to the cottage, which is on a very steep hill called Cliff Street.  We explained that we were going to go back to St Austell on Friday by bus, and then get the train to Truro and then the bus from there to St Just in Roseland, and he said, wow, that'll take ages and be quite expensive... why don't you take a taxi, it'll only take half an hour and cost £35.  Well this sounded like a much better option, despite our love of taking timetabled public transport.  So we booked him to come and take us to St Just in Roseland at 2pm on Friday.

Carl had to reverse back up the hill and he ran over a plastic clip on one of the rucksacks, which sent our youngest son into fits of laughter as it shattered into lots of pieces.  All in all this was a very good natured and jolly trip down, really easy, and cheap, costing £77.40 for the four of us to go from York to St Austell, plus £17 for the two taxis door to door.

After we'd explored the cottage a bit we all went on a walk down to the harbour, and popped in to the Aquarium which has some impressive fish and other marine life, and came back via a fish and chip emporium which we found fries in veg oil, so we had a tray of chips each. 

When back at the cottage we got our sleeping arrangements sorted, the boys in twin beds upstairs and us on the sofabed downstairs.  A fairly early night!