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.