Saturday, 30 April 2011

Friday 29th April 11

I got up at 9 and spent an hour making up my muesli, mainly cracking hazelnuts and extracting the now slightly shrivelled kernels.  However, they're still good for my muesli.  Gill was watching the run-up to the wedding on the telly but I didn't want to watch it so I went outside and split a few logs, did a bit of stacking, some compost riddling, digging out, and weeding too.  I had a lovely morning in the sunshine.

I came in at 1pm and watched some post-ceremony telly... Gill still entranced.  I saw the highlights on the news (which is all anyone needed to see really!) and then had a short time out in the garden before 3, when I got cleaned up and ready to cycle to City Screen to meet David and one of his other PAs Pauline, who had collected him to go and see The King's Speech... and David had got me a ticket too.  This was partly because Pauline had to go at 5, and therefore I had to take David home afterwards.

I really enjoyed the film, one of the best I've seen for a while.  David enjoyed it too, and lasted til the end, when we went for a coffee, and then a short circular walk along Coney Street, Ouse Bridge, North Street, Wellington Row, Lendal Bridge and back to David's house off Stonegate.

His tea didn't need any preparation, so I left at 7.30, half an hour earlier than planned... but I was happy with this and came home swiftly and Gill gave me some pasta and flatbread.

Friday, 29 April 2011

Thursday 28th April 11

I had a good lie-in. I finished the risk assessment for the York World Naked Bike Ride and sent it to my two colleagues. Then more work out in the garden, including building the start of a new woodstack on the right of the front door, and unloading more boxes of biodegradables into the new Anderson air-raid shelter compost bin.  For the curious, this is made of two sheets of corrugated iron, as seen in this image, the ones with the curved tops.  Put on their side, like two letter j's, they form a good compost bin.  I line it with cardboard, and chuck in layers of shredded hedge and layers of unwanted fruit and vegetables.

I had my care-work at 6, and David and I had a good time.  We set out to go to the Library to return an audio-book, and then to the Theatre Royal to reserve tickets for The Crucible.  He couldn't buy them as we hadn't yet had confirmation from Lotte that she could go on the date chosen, a Matinee.  Then we went for a coffee at City Screen, and I got a reply text from Lotte, saying yes.  So once we'd finished the coffees, we went back to the Theatre and David bought his and Lotte's tickets.  I got a free one as I was going as David's PA.  Then I took him back to his house... I got his meal ready and sorted out his recycling... lots of newspapers and some old shirts which probably need to go for shoddy.

I came home soon after 8 and had an out-of-date tin of soup for tea, plus a cheese sandwich.

In the evening I did a big wash up and prepared a load more apples thrown out by the shops, and excellent for drying on my racks above the woodstove.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Wednesday 27th April 11

Woke slowly and spent much of the morning on the computer  but got into the garden before lunch and did a bit of work outside.

One thing I forgot to report yesterday was that the duck, which has been sitting on her nest in our fernery for 3 weeks, hatched her ducklings, and today, she took them all to our neighbour's pond, where it was just possible to work out that she'd got 11 ducklings.  Gill went round to next door and filmed them... she's very excited by all this.

I got a message from my friend Jackie that she was coming to York to participate in a 5 Rhythms Dance session, and could I meet her beforehand.  I said yes, and got on with chainsawing and splitting, just half an hour or so, whilst listening out for my mobile phone.

Eventually it bleeped and I replied that I'd meet her at 5pm n Parliament Street.  We decided to go to El Piano (not a surprise!) and sat outside in their courtyard behind the shop.  There was a table set out for preparing food (chopping boards, knives, onions, carrots) and soon, one of the El Piano staff came out and with her, two people I recognised from the Bejazzled night a few weeks back.  They were Ross and Leah, and they were having one of El Piano's 'learn how to cook' sessions.  They were having a go at bhajis and tinas, both deep-fried vegetable fritters held together with a floury batter.  Bhajis are onions with slightly spiced gram flour, and tinas are "a Bolivian delight, quite simply carrots & spring onions, a sprinkle of salt and sugar, rolled with rice flour and lightly fried" (see the El Piano menu pdf).  I was amazed that this 'how to cook' session cost only £2.50 per person, included a large glass of wine, and you could eat all the food you made!  This must be the best bargain in the whole of York, and I strongly suggest you, dear reader, try this activity as soon as possible, before the lovelies at El Piano realise the price is far too low and they make it a tenner per person!  It would make a fun activity for groups of people wanting to do something unusual which involved a glass of wine and a bit of food.  And you go away having learned how to make these classic dishes, taught by experts.

So, Jackie and I were offered quite a few bhajis and a few tinas by Leah and Ross, who were very friendly and lovely.  They left at 7 to go to something at the Grand Opera House, and I paid for our hot chocolate and pot of tea... and I took away a sack of the little wooden plates that the restaurant uses, and normally throws away.  They compost well... slowly, as they're thin wood, but it's an excellent material for bulking up my tumbler.  I walked with my bike and trailer up to Priory Street, left her there and cycled home.  I put the El Piano donation into the Compostumbler and did some weeding, and at 9pm, came in and had a small plateful of old noodles that hadn't been eaten by the kids.

Later I lit the stove and did the washing up (wishing we had wooden recyclable plates!) and had my usual evening of Scrabble, facebook, LinkedIn discussions and other communication.

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Tuesday 26th April 11

Another good day.  Got up at a civilised time when the phone rang and it was Bridget from the Rowntree Society, replying to my enquiry about David donating some memories to their memory project.  She's going to invite him to an event on 17th May.

The rest of the day unfolded slowly... I did some more work out in the garden, including, at last, planting a third of the potatoes.

At about 4 I cycled down to town via Dower Court, where I was eventually able to get in and put 36 leaflets into letterboxes.

I got a cheque to pay my National Insurance and paid in a cheque which repays me for my train ticket down to UK Aware.

Then at 5 I met Helen at El Piano, which was lovely, and then we both went to see David, and we all went to City Screen, and met Dave and Chris.  Helen got the 7pm train home and David and I wandered back through York to his house, and I got him his food and went at 8pm.

Back at home, Gill had created a curious meal... a very 'short crust' pastry base which had failed to contain a quiche... so it was a cross between a quiche and an omlette.  I enjoyed it though.  Then I had an hour's phone call with a woman I met through a facebook friend who's going to open a small eco-friendly campsite in France, and she wanted to pick my brains about compost toilets and how to heat shower water.

Later, I did a bit more work on the York World Naked Bike Ride, and various other writing jobs.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Monday 25th April 11

I slept in late and woke after 10, and realised that I'd agreed to go to Debbie's at 10 to deliver Green Party leaflets with her.  So I rang her and apologised, and quickly had breakfast and got dressed and round to Deb's.  We walked down to Heslington Road and did the delivery... then Debbie went on to see a family member and I walked home.

Lunch, and then outside to the garden.  I did quite a bit.... dug out the air-raid-shelter compost bin (made from two sheets of corrugated iron, both in a j shape) and filled 3 daleks with the contents, which was semi-finished and this is it's first proper turning.  I cut a hedge, with shears, and shredded the results, with my electric shredder.  I did a bit of riddling too.  I failed to finish the raised-bed work.

I had a use-it-up meal... the last chunk of Gill's pie, plus a bit of leftover noodle and veg mix.  Lovely!

Monday, 25 April 2011

Sunday 24th April 11

I had a bit of a lazy morning but after lunch got busy in the garden and I put more material in the current New Zealand bin, and in the Compostumbler, and I did a bit of riddling and weeding in the soon-to-be potato area

At about 4pm I came in and rang Pauline, who had asked me if I would help with setting a York stone flag into her garden... and she was lacking a spade to break the compacted soil.  So I took a spade round and sorted her stepping stone, setting it onto a bed of sand.  She had some scrap metal she wanted me to take to Hazel Court... it just fitted into the bike trailer, with a plastic kitchen bin which she'd been using as a compost bin... except she's now got a proper one which I think will be much better.

I had a glass of juice and a chat, and at 5.40 pedalled off towards town to go and see David, for my 6-8 work slot.  He was pleased to see me and we had some discussion about what to do... and we plumped on a walk up towards Clifton, along the river.  However, next Friday there's a showing of The King's Speech at City Screen, and David has already got tickets, so he invited me... and we popped into City Screen and I got a ticket.  Then we headed up Lendal, and down to Dame Judy Dench's Walk next to the old Water Tower, and slowly up river looking at the assorted boats, and eventually right up to Water End.  Here, David had a choice... turn around and return, cross the bridge and go to Leeman Road and back to York, or back via Clifton Green and Bootham.  We headed back to City Screen and had a coffee... and just as we were thinking of getting back to his flat, at about 7.30, his friend Lotte came and said hello, and we went over to say hi to her and her friend Jonathan, and we chatted for half an hour.

So we got back to David's place and I microwaved the meal which had been plated-up by one of his other carers, and got away just after 8.30, and was back home (via a box left for me outside Country Fresh) at 9pm.

I was ready for tea... Gill had made pastry; a pie with carrots and onion and sweet potato, with potato and cauliflower alongside.  It was really delicious!

Bed soon after 2am....

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Saturday 23rd April 11

I got up early as was expecting Tracey Smith to be here at about 10am.  The plan was to walk into town and to go to El Piano, and maybe meet up with people who wanted to meet her.. but only one person had responded with a 'maybe', and then I got a message to say she was running late, so I cancelled the cafe meeting and waited for her to arrive.

As it was, I don't think she'd have wanted to go into town... she wanted to have a cuppa, a chat, and a wander down the garden.  She was making a film with her camcorder about people who were either downshifted or in the process of downshifting, so she interviewed me in our front room, and then took more footage down the garden.  I was showing her one of my wormeries, which has some adult drone flies emerging... their larvae are one of my favourite compost beasties... they're 'rat tailed maggots' and they like the wet areas at the base of my fruit and veg rich compost bins, and, apparently, wormeries.  Anyway, I found a newly emerged adult, with wings not yet inflated.  I had it on my thumb... and a robin swooped in and snatched it.  For me, it wasn't that surprising, as the garden is full of robins which follow me around and love me for the invertebrates I uncover and make available.  However, Tracey was delighted, and said she'd like to try to capture it on her camera.  I found another fly (which don't actually do a lot of flying; they seem to prefer to walk, certainly when newly emerged, even with fully pumped-up wings) and put it on my hand... and within less than a second, the robin had had it again!  Luckily (or unluckily for the fly) I found a third, and waited for Trace to get her camera ready... and bingo, she got the shot... followed by the robin very close to her, eating the hover fly.  I really love the way I help turn unwanted waste into robins!

So, we moved down to the riddling machine, and beyond to the radiator beds and the current New-Zealand bin which is running at close to 60 Celsius.  I think she was quite impressed!

I gave her a bag of riddled compost and she took me to her car where she had a present for me... some freshly laid eggs from the chickens belonging to her previous host, Denise Nesbitt.  Near her car was a table top sale run by two young children... they were getting rid of unwanted toys and things they'd grown out of, so  I suggested Tracey add this to her downshifting and recycling film.  I found Jo, their  mum, and Tracey interviewed her and the children.

And soon it was time for her to go.... I'd have loved to spend more time with her, show her St Nicks, and the best bits of York... but another time maybe!

After lunch I cycled up to the house with the shredded wood available, as the owner there had asked if I wanted any more of the shredded tree.  He was wrestling with a huge base of a holly tree, and had quite a bit of root material and other wood, so I took a load of woodchip and on the next journey, the burnable stuff. He hadn't sawn up the huge holly trunk, but said to come back later.

Then I visited Richard at Country Fresh... and he had some tomato plants in; I bought 4 different types.  I got potatoes and tomatoes, and 5 boxes or bags of gunk for the hot heap.

The Press was delivered, and we paid our weekly bill.  I was surprised to see that on page 3 there was a photo of the Easter procession of the cross being taken through the streets of York, with Dr. Sentamu at the front just behind the cross carrier.  I had said hello to him whilst pushing David up Spurriergate... and the Press photographer had caught this and today, the picture was published.  I rang David to tell him... he was about to ring me as he too gets the Press.  He asked if I could get a copy of this picture for him.

Then I did a load more riddling and when it was cooler, I started work on the raised beds which have become a bit neglected, and need planting up with crops.  I have potatoes chitting so I took out lots of weeds (bramble seedlings, goose grass and others)  and I found that the ultra tough winter has killed our fennel, which has been growing really well there for many years.

Just before tea I visited the house up the road and picked up the holly trunk... about a metre long and over 30 cm diameter, I could only just lift it into my trailer, it must have been over 50kg.  And I popped into see Debbie and picked up a load of aluminium cans she's saved for me.

So a busy day, hot and sweaty, so lit the stove and got bathwater ready for a 1am bath before bed...

Saturday, 23 April 2011

Friday 22nd April 11

Not sure why I got up early but I was first downstairs and after breakfast, got busy in the garden.  I did an ENORMOUS pile of riddled compost with my Scheppach thingy.  I loaded my trailer with another 8 carrier bags of freshly riddled compost for my friend in Bishophill.  After a thick layer of sticks and peach stones, from the back end of the riddle, I put another layer of limp mooli and fenugreek, chopped green potatoes and wrinkled chillies on the current compost heap.

I came in for lunch at about 12.30.  Whilst eating lunch I started doing the risk assessment for this year's York World Naked Bike Ride, the aim of which is to show the police that it would be better if they offered us an escort like happens in Manchester and Sheffield.   Then got my knees cleaned up (I do a bit of kneeling whilst doing the compost riddling) and set off with the compost, my silly hat, a bag of small jam jars and a new bag of modelling balloons.... because today was the launch of Yorkshire Truly, headed up by Claire from Grace Preserves. I had offered to go and support this launch by doing some giveaway balloons.  Claire's business partner Karen was there, and they'd booked a face painter and a guitarist busker chap called Rod, I think.  So it was quite an occasion, and the visitors/customers seemed to enjoy the ambiance.

I had quite a busy time, sitting with the facepainter, and enjoying the music.  I stayed longer than planned as a friend who'd suggested a coffee at 3.30 didn't turn up.... but it was OK as I was having a good time.  So at about 4.30 I packed up and was given some unsold scones as a thank-you, and I cycled up to Bishophill to deliver the compost.  I was due to work for David at 6 but I was ready by 5.15, so I let myself in and met his carer and friend Pauline.  David was unsure what to do so I suggested that we could go to Rowntree Park, which he hadn't visited for several years.  On the way there, my old pal Julian overtook us on his bike and we chatted, which seemed to make the journey go even more quickly. 

In the park we watched a young woman doing poi, and then went to see the skate ramps area, the ex-bandstand area and then I took him over Millennium Bridge and back up the East side of the river.  We had an ice cream and watched the boats, and then popped into City Screen for a quick coffee, and back to his flat where I heated up his meal, and left at 7.45.

So a very satisfying day, I was really glad David enjoyed his Rowntree Park trip, and he asked if we could do it again sometime.  Suits me.... I am happy pushing the wheelchair and enjoy David's company.

When I got in I had a use-it-up meal and spent some time doing assorted fruit for drying.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Thursday 21st April 11

A really relaxing day on the whole.  I got up at 10 as I was expecting a call from a Freecycler who'd asked for some woodchip for her allotment.  I'd suggested she could go to the house up Hull Road where a big tree has been taken down and shredded, and I thought she'd ring.  She did, and I checked the 3 builder's bags were still there, took another 4 sackfuls for myself, and popped a note through the door to tell them that Emily might be coming to pick some up, plus her contact details.

I didn't have any other bookings or appointments, so I just spent the day mostly in the garden, riddling compost, adding stuff to the current heap and the Compostumbler, moving stuff so Gill could mow the lawn.

I did a bit of chainsawing, stacking and other wooding, collected some logs from a grateful neighbour, and later, visited my friend Debra for a brief chat about her son who went awol but is back now. 

Much later, got a notification from Tracey Smith that she'll be popping in to York on Saturday morning, so I organised a meeting for people to attend if they want to chat with her, at El Piano on Grape Lane, at 11.15am.  Tracey is the author of The Book of Rubbish Ideas, and founder of International Downshifting Week and a good and inspiring speaker.  She's currently involved in  a knitting project called a 'Community Blanket'.  I'm looking forward to seeing her again.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Wednesday 20th April 11

A work-full day...  Yesterday Anne  from S.N.A.P.P.Y. called me as they'd been let down by another activity provider, and asked if I could come in during the morning.  This fitted well with my booking for Knavesmire Kids Club in the afternoon. 

So, at about 10am I set out with my bag of sticks, the big unicycle and a full set of balloon show stuff, heading for The Groves where they have their base. I went in costume, and when I arrived I was shown that the chairs etc had been set out in the playground, outside in the sunshine, which isn't great for balloons.  But never mind, I got busy blowing up balloons and slipping them in the spokes to hold them.  Then when I was ready, and all the audience were assembled, I introduced myself with a bit of devilsticking and then started demonstrating various balloons, including a rocket balloon, which was popular.  As all the people there had moderate to severe disabilities, I wasn't expecting them to be able to do much of the balloon modelling themselves, but some did manage it to some extent.  Most of the youngsters had one-to-one care, so the carers did some balloon bending.  It all went very well, although the nature of some of the behaviour made it quite difficult... for instance, one lad picked up my unicycle and ran with it and threw it.  Fortunately it is designed to take a fair amount of knocks!  So, I finished by 11.30 and Anne took me to the office to give me a cheque.  I cycled home via St Nicks, to ask about it being a venue for Tracey Smith's visit on Saturday, but it will be closed.  I also told Catherine at York Rotters that I wasn't really able to help with most of the Compost Awareness Week stuff, as I'm just about fully booked.

So, home for a while, lunch, and then at about 1.30, set off for South Bank with all my gear for a full playscheme set.  I did my one hour show and workshop, then a session of free play workshop, followed by a balloon workshop.  Three hours, no breaks, was tough, but successful.

I got back at 5.40, Gill gave me tea which was a simple pasta dish, and at 6.15 I bombed into town as I was due to work for David at 6.30.  He was pleased to see me, and I suggested a walk (well, him in the wheelchair, me pushing!) in Museum Gardens, which he agreed to.  This was most enjoyable, with the evening sunlight coming through the copper beech trees, and after a slow circuit, we headed to the library, where the cafe was just closing, and then on to the Theatre Royal, where a very slow lift allowed us access to the cafe, where we had a coffee and cake.  Didn't spend long here, and went on to walk through Dean's Gardens and then back to Coffee Yard via Goodramgate.  I then got him his tea, washed up, chatted and at 8.30, went.

I stopped off at a skip for wood on the way home, and Freshways, and got in well after 9pm.  A long day.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Tuesday 19th April 11

I got up fairly early and after breakfast, went to Kexby Avenue and the roads off it to deliver the last of the postal voter letters.  Well actually not the last of them, as I couldn't deliver quite a lot of them... either couldn't find the road or block of flats, or couldn't get into the block to put the letter in the voter's letterbox.  This is one Green Party job I will not be doing again.

I came back and helped Gill sort out the conservatory, which is going to have the guinea pig cage in it.  I prepared a load of kitchen paper rolls by cutting them in half and filling them with seed compost, and planted a lot of climbing pea beans.  Gill found several succulents which had succumbed to the cold weather... but had got a few living bits left on them, so I potted those up, with the hope that they'll regenerate.  I also took a pot-bound succulent and split it up, getting over 40 individual plants from it, all of which I potted up. 

I found a load of batteries, ferrous scrap rescued from the fires, some old electrical equipment and soya milk cartons, so I loaded up the bike trailer with these plus the old microwave oven, and took them for recycling at Hazel Court.  I came straight back, and continued with helping Gill.  We got a metal rack shelf thingy down from the loft and installed it in the conservatory, which makes more storage space there.

I got an emergency booking for tomorrow morning: SNAPPY had been let down and rang me up to do a balloon modelling session tomorrow morning, which fits in nicely with another playscheme in the afternoon.

I then got some compost ready for delivery, and at about 5.30, cycled to Priory Street to deliver... and then on to David for a two-hour visit.  On the way there I met Paul and Gill, who are Trouvère, and they know David, so when David and I left his home, I found them and they chatted to David for a few minutes.

And then on to City Screen where Carolyn was waiting for us; I got drinks with David's membership card enabling a discount, and I got myself a bowl of what was said to be leek, tomato and olive soup, but it was more of a stew, delicious, with a warm bread roll. Trish Scott was at City Screen and it was good to see her again... but all too soon it was time for us to go. 

I heated up David's tea when I got back, and cleaned some pigeon poo from his yard, and he let me go just before 8pm.

I cycled to The Seahorse Hotel for the World Naked Bike Ride meeting with Tony and Hugh, a good and productive meeting.

Home at about 10.30.  A bit of a late night; did a lot of reading, including this really good article about people who preach green but don't live it, and I found an event I'm going to participate in, on the 12th May, called Mass Observation, a one-day diary.  Should be easy for me! I also enjoyed watching a short film about a woman, Pat, living frugally off the land, a film made by a facebook friend of mine, Josie Gallo.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Monday 18th April 11

Up late... well, fairly early but then went back to bed, so that really counts as a late start.  But once I'd got up, I went with the family up to Ros' house and picked up her unwanted guinea pig hutch.  It went on the bike trailer with no problems and then Gill and the boys cleaned it up.  Now all we need is two female guinea pigs.  Any offers?

I cycled into town with some more of the postal voters letters, and had another frustrating time trying to get them into the letterboxes inside flats... the outside doors have a keycode or a buzzer, some have 'Trades' which opens the door, but not all, so I only managed to get about another 10 delivered. 

I then headed for the Building Society where I put in my cheque from Saturday, and got out a cheque for my agent, who requested a 'finders fee' for a gig I did last week which he may or may not have had anything to do with.  However, I need to keep him sweet as he gets me some good work, so I gave him the benefit of the doubt.  He is a nice bloke and I don't want to lose the goodwill.  I cycled down the river after going to the Orange shop for a replacement SIM as my mobile phone keeps on telling me it isn't there, and gave him the cheque.  All very amiable.

Came back for lunch and then got busy with the chainsaw... took it slowly, chopping and splitting and stacking each in short bursts, so not to get worn out doing one activity.  Got very sweaty though, as it was warm.  Carolyn stopped briefly and invited me to go and visit to see her lift, which very occasionally has got stuck, so I said I'd visit her later.

I had rice for tea, some rice Gill cooked up a few days ago and made far too much.  But it was still nice.

Then went to visit Carolyn, and we had coffee and pistachio nuts, and then I saw her amazing lift, which if it goes wrong, someone has to wind it down, and I'm now on the list of people she can call to sort it out.  Then more chats and I made my excuses and came home... as I had to sort out some train tickets for a gig in Bristol, and finding cheap tickets is not easy.

Lit the stove and did some washing up.  Played Scrabble on facebook.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Sunday 17th April 11

Woke fairly late but got busy quickly as it was a lovely day.

After lunch I took the Green Party letters for postal voters and tried to find the various roads... I delivered to Lamel Beeches at The Retreat (involved a wait for staff), and then other roads off Heslington Road including flats at Dower Court, which involved another long wait for access, and Barbican Road, a few places off Cemetery Road, but there were quite a few places I couldn't find.  I eventually found Regent Street... but some of the houses had been demolished and the residents were now in the new replacement bungalows.  I managed to find two of these people.  Others here were flats and several people wanted to chat about Green Party policies and their issues.  I discovered Barbican Mews and delivered to Farrar St.  But I'd only done half of them and I'd spent nearly two hours, and was quite annoyed it had taken so long.  I don't mind delivering several hundred leaflets one after the other, down one side of a street and up the other, but next time I'm asked to deliver to two or three houses in one street, and with some of these flats and tiny streets impossible to find, I think I'll get a book of second-class stamps, as my time is precious!

I visited Country Fresh in the middle of this delivery, and collected 4 sacks/boxes, and on the way home, a sack from Freshways.

I got home and needed to spend time in the peace and quiet of the garden... well, relative peace, if you count the loud song of the robin as peaceful!  I dug out the Compostumbler and dumped the contents in a newly emptied ex-cylinder tumbler, an equivalent to a dalek.  I riddled a lot of mature compost which was in the bottom of a builders bag, and several sacks too.  I came in just before 9pm and had some noodles for tea.

And a fairly peaceful evening, I kept out of the way and did some work in the kitchen whilst listening to Robert Plant on BBC4.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Saturday 16th April 11

A very busy day and arrived back home too late to be able to do a full blog post.

All day, York in Transition Community Energy Projects conference.

Evening, Professor Fiddlesticks gig at the Suzuki Strings, near Thirsk.

Then, when I got back at 11pm, went to Jennie's leaving party. 

Got back well after 1am, and had over 100 emails to deal with, HELP!

Saturday, 16 April 2011

Friday 15th April 11

Another good day; woke fairly early and watched the delivery of building materials for next door's 'orangery' from a flat-bed lorry with a sort of hydraulic crane-grab thingy.

Gill was getting ready to go out to go to the Harrogate Spring Flower Show with her sister Jane, so she left just after 10.30 to get the bus down to the station.  I went in the garden to sort out the pots from the conservatory, and found a newly emerged beefly, which was rather interesting with it's proboscis sticking straight out and it was vibrating it's wings to warm up.  I showed the boys and our youngest did a really good drawing of it, from memory.... which looked just like the picture that our eldest subsequently found in the Oxford Book of Insects.

I got busy down the garden, putting about 10 large pots of last year's growing media through the riddle, and carefully removing the Chinese Yams which have started growing, which I'll replant.  I love the way they curl around the base of the pot!  I was disturbed by a commotion above a nearby tree... a heron was sitting in the top, and being mobbed by several crows.  Lots of noise as they divebombed it.  The heron eventually flew off.

I made the boys some lunch and one of their friends came round.  I got the wheelbarrow and took split logs to my dry storage area down the garden.  I bagged up 3 carrier bags of potting compost for Owen, who'd asked for a delivery.

At about half past four I set off for town, to deliver the compost and go to David's, for a 5-7 shift.  Owen was pleased with the compost, and I got to David's dead-on 5pm.  He was delighted to see me, and asked to be taken to Marks and Sparks as he wanted to buy a jumper.  Unfortunately they didn't have the sort he was looking for, but we did meet Neal Guppy, one of his old friends and a well-known York person.

Then we headed for City Screen and David had a coffee and I bought myself a grilled blue cheese on walnut bread plus chips with some sort of mayo.  I felt it was an unhealthy treat, and it filled me up.

Took David back and got him something to eat, and we chatted about the York Arts Centre (where he was a Trustee) and various other things.  I finished on the dot of 7pm, and cycled over to the Friends Meeting House for Tobi Kellner's presentation of the Zero Carbon Britain 2030 report.

This was really good, although disappointing how few people had turned up, considering the importance of the subject.  This report shows how by 2030 we on this island can be energy independent, and zero net greenhouse gas emissions. 

This finished at about 9.30 and I cycled over to Clement's Hall to the Bejazzled dance event, where I'd agreed to sit on the door from 10 til 11.30.  This allowed Jane, the organiser, to have a bit of a dance and enjoy herself.  I chatted to several people, including a gent called Peter who's just taken an office in the building and was interested in my services as a gardener.

I came away at 11.40 and bombed home, good to see Gill and hear about the Flower Show which she'd enjoyed a lot.

Friday, 15 April 2011

Thursday 14th April 11

An early start as Peter Tatham came to pick up compost soon after 8am.  He was heading for a 'trailer training' session at 9am, held just down the road in Lawrence Street.  So, I gave him a quick tour of the garden and showed him the Scheppach soil sifter and the rotasieve.

He had come for a load of potting compost, and took 5 large sacks, plus 6 smaller sacks of unriddled compost, a large sack of riddled leafmould and a very heavy sack of loam.  He gave me a sack of spent hops from a brewery, and I swapped this for a loganberry plant, one which rooted last season.  He'll work out how much he is able to give me for this load and then I'll invoice him. 

I had a bit of time inside and then did more work outside, riddling a load of material out of last year's containers, a large volume of peat-based growing media from the thrown-away pansies etc that I rescued from Country Fresh over winter, and several buckets-worth of fresh loam/leafmould/compost mix. This yielded two big sacks of potting medium and I'll use a mixture of this and the 100% new stuff to grow this year's crops in pots.

I had work, with David, at 2.30; we went to the bank, and then Marks and Sparks, where by chance we met Carolyn, and we arranged to go to have a coffee with her.  She suggested the other M+S which has a cafe, so I pushed David there and then he waited at the table whilst I queued, then Carolyn rolled up so I got 3 coffees and we spent the best part of an hour there, chatting.

On the way back to David's flat we met Lynn, which meant that soon after we got in, my two hours was up and I got my bike ready to go home.

Gill was getting ready to go out, as she was attending a focus group about ethical consumerism out on the Tadcaster Road.  I split a few logs and had a rice-based tea, then watched a nature programme with both boys which was really nice.

Gill came in just before that finished, I made the boys' supper and a very good-natured and peaceful evening was had by all.  I planned bits of my weekend, most of which is going to be very full, and made time to play a few goes of Scrabble.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

Wednesday 13th April 11

I had a message yesterday from Peter Tatham (who I spent a day with in Bradford last week) and he's coming to York tomorrow and has asked if he could pick up some potting compost, and some unriddled compost.  So today, I spent a lot of time sorting out a very large amount of growing media mix.

However, first I needed to deliver the last 5 sacks of compost to the beds at St Clements Church, and I'd been invited to go to the Green Party Office to stick labels on envelopes.  So, the compost was loaded up and when I got there, several people were busy dealing with the compost I'd taken down previously, so I helped them move the sacks to where they were needed, and I brought the empty sacks back with me.

The Green Party office wasn't ready for me to do the envelopes, so after waiting for a while, I came away, via a skip next to Holgate Villas, where a chap who was filling it gave me permission to mine it... in fact, he helped me get some wood out of it.  I also got a nice bucket and a load of cloth 'bags for life', 24 in total, which I gave to Richard at Country Fresh, to give out to people instead of plastic ones.  I came back with 2 boxes of compostables from there.

Back at home, after lunch, I already had 3 large sacks of mature compost riddled and waiting for something to happen to them. I got a load of leafmould, that had spent a year in the chicken wire enclosure and had been shoved into plastic sacks, and brought that up the garden to the soil sifter, and handful by handful, put it through.  The smallest bits fell through, and lumps, sticks, stones, cigarette filters and plastic rubbish all arrived at the other end of the cylinder, and fell into the builders bag, where I was able to sort out the rubbish from the stones and sticks, and put the remaining leafmould into a bag, giving it a rub between my palms, which broke up lumps and un-digested leaves, and this material I put back through the riddle, just once, to extract more powdery stuff.  This way, I got 4 really big bags of riddled leafmould, one big bag of still-recognisable leaves, plus a wooden fruit box full of sticks and other re-compostable material, and a few waste stones and bits of plastic string, smokers' litter, chocolate wrappers, etc.

I bagged up all the riddled leafmould and did a similar job with a load of loam.  I got 3 wheelbarrows full of old turf from a turf pile, material rescued from a skip several years ago.  I bunged this through the riddle, which screened out all the roots and mats of old grass, and stones, etc, but gave me a really large pile of very fine dusty loam.

So these three ingredients were what I needed to make potting compost, or 'container growing medium'.  However, I also got some old pots from the conservatory which I'd grown tomatoes in last year, plus a bit of sand which came from the Barbican Beds last year.  I then put 3 handfuls of leafmould in a bucket, plus 4 handfuls of compost, 2 handfuls of loam and a small handful of both sand and old soil, and threw this mix into the riddle, which seemed the best way to mix it up.  I did this again and again, and ended up with 9 large sacks of home-made growing media.  Some of these will go to Peter tomorrow morning, the others will go in our pots for growing veggies this year.

This took all afternoon... I came in for tea at about 7 and then went back out til 8.30, when it got too dark for the work to continue.

Then, after a wash, I went down to Green Drinks at the 3 Legged Mare.  Jennie was there, her last one as she's leaving to live in London, and Tom, Tomas and Eleanor, and then Peter Gay arrived, and Melanie, and June and Dave Taylor, and others... it was quite busy!

I came back via Millers Yard, and picked up some logs on the cycle track on the way home.... I got in after midnight.

Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Tuesday 12th April 11

A good day, long day though...  First thing I cycled over to the hospital to give in a stool sample container as a family member isn't well, and needs a bit of investigation.  From here I went to pay in my Edible York cheque and get out a Yell Limited cheque.

On the way to the hospital, on the cycle track, I saw a tree had been partly blown over and chopped into chunks, so I wanted to visit it on the way home.  This fitted well with my next destination; Gill had asked me to go to Sainsburys to get the latest Harry Potter DVD, as it was only £9, compared to some of the other advertised prices.  So, I did this, and then hit the cycle track and came back with a trailer full of willow logs.

I then filled 5 sacks with riddled compost, the last of the current Edible York compost order, which I'll deliver tomorrow morning.  Then I got ready to go to work, a Professor Fiddlesticks show at a wedding at the Lady Anne Middleton's Hotel in York.  I went in costume, and arrived about half an hour early to undergo the short safety induction process, and have a coffee, and be mobbed by the children....

I eventually took the bike and trailer into the semicircular room, and had a reasonably good show; the children were excited and noisy, but most seemed to enjoy it, with good levels of participation.  The balloon show went just as well, and the groom was happy and paid me before I left.

I cycled in costume over to David's.  I'd warned him I might be in costume, and he said he wanted to see me dressed up.  After I got changed, we went to El Piano, as I'd told him about it and he said yes this time.  I bought us both a drink and some onion bhajis, and then later, back at his flat, I made him some food, and by 8 was finished, so only did 90 minutes with him tonight.

Was pleased to get home.  Had a tin of soup and a Gill-made veg pastie.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Monday 11th April 11

Today I only had one appointment, which was to go and give blood at 2.10.  I'd made this booking at the end of the last session, but when I arrived at the Merchant Taylor's Hall, they had no record of it.  However, I was processed quickly and I got as far as the blood iron test, to check I'm not anaemic.  I'd been told at the last session that I could apply to be a platelet donor, so at this juncture I said that I was interested.  So when I was lying down, a nurse came to check my veins, and as they were OK, some blood was taken for testing for platelets.  I was told that if I was accepted for platelet donation, I wouldn't be able to give blood, but would be asked to go to Leeds every 4 weeks and donate platelets... the blood is taken out, the platelets removed and the blood returned.  And, the best thing of all, each platelet donation counts as two blood donations.  This was my 26th blood donation, so in theory, I could be on my 50th in a year's time!!! I think that's cheating, actually!

Anyway, my blood flowed nice and quickly and I had a juice and a biscuit, filled in a complaints/feedback form about the booking procedure and also being called 'Mr', which I don't like, and zoomed off.

At about 4pm I went round to Debbie's with some Green Party leaflets, and we walked down to Fishergate to do a round that someone else wasn't able to do.  We walked back through the allotments, and just as Deb was saying that she'd love some rhubarb, I spotted Carol, working next to her rhubarb patch.  I asked her about her rhubarb and said that Debbie had just been saying she'd like to take some and leave some coins in return... and Carol said she could have some.  This made Debbie's day, apparently!

After tea, I spent some time stacking the very dry wood from John Bibby's tree trunk... I have a phenomenal amount to do, over 2 cubic metres of it. 

Later, I had a phone call from my Aunty, saying she didn't want me to come to my Uncle's funeral on Wednesday.  She was worried that a particular family member who doesn't understand or like my lifestyle would cause a scene, so it would be best if I didn't come.  I was quite upset as I didn't realise how much my perceived lifestyle has threatened this person, but I'll go and visit my Aunty another time.  I certainly don't want to be on the receiving end of loud criticism at a funeral.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Sunday 10th April 11

A very hardworking day... but a real goody.

Last night I emailed John Bibby as today I had provisionally agreed to go and finish off his huge tree trunk, but we hadn't agreed a time.  So this morning I was having breakfast, my usual bran flakes and muesli, and we spoke on the phone.  He suggested getting there before 11, so I got washed and dressed and took my new chainsaw, 50m of extension flex, maul (splitting axe) and extra oil all on the bike and in the trailer, and got there for 10.45.  I had a coffee and got working.

There was about two thirds of the tree trunk left, and I cut slices and then walloped them with the back of the maul, or tried to split them off by hitting the cut with the sharp-end of the axe.  John and Shirley went out on their bikes to see some Open Studios, and I filled their car with big lumps.  I stopped for a sandwich and drink, as it was very hot working in the sunshine, but I wanted to get it over and done with and eventually I got it all sorted.  I got a car full, and about the same volume (over a cubic metre) sitting on a blown-over fence panel.   I locked up the house at about 2.30 and came home, exhausted. 

John rang and came round with the first car full, and I filled and overflowed a builder's bag with the lumps.

I got washed and tidied for 5.30 as was working for David this evening.  I took him in the wheelchair to City Screen where we had a cuppa, and then I cooked him a meal and sorted out another cupboard of tins of mainly soup, some of which were 'best before' 2007 and 8.  So, as requested, I took anything pre 2010 and promised to 'dispose' of it! 

And guess what I had for tea when I got home?  A lovely tin of cream of tomato soup, circa 2007, was lovely, improved with age, methinks.  I followed this with a slice of Gill's quiche and some pasta and tomato salad. 

Then at about 9.30 there was a knock at the door and it was John Bibby and Will with the second lot of lumps, again, these filled a builder's bag and more, so I've a huge amount of stacking to do...  

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Saturday 9th April 11

A really good day, seemed to get a lot done...

First of all I got a letter from Chloe who chairs Edible York, with a cheque for the 45 sacks of compost I supplied to the Peaseholm Green raised bed and the top-up for the Barbican bed.  This was a great start to the day!

Then at 10, well, just before 10, I bombed down to the Discus Bungalows area to meet with my York Green Party buddies for the Press launch of our election campaign, a photo opportunity and interview with Len Tingle from the BBC.  He interviewed Liz Barclay, who's not a candidate... almost all the people there were, and due to the forthcoming election and media rules, none of us could be interviewed. Anyway, we squinted into the bright sunshine, and the results will be on the York Green Party website soon, I think.

I then cycled on to Country Fresh for fruit and veg, up to Sainsburys to get the mayonnaise I like, and a kilo box of branflakes, and home.

Then I cycled up to B+Q to take advantage of their 20% off deal today... I was going to buy a chainsaw this weekend, but then saw the advert for 20% off if you spent £100... so yes, I went for it. I got a Workx electric chainsaw and a litre of lube oil.  This came to just under £108, so I paid £87, which I think was a good deal.  Then I came home, and chatted to a nice builder chap called Kev, from Malton, who was filling his little lorry with logs.  He had taken down a large tree in the back garden of a house which is to be renovated, and he gave me a few logs and offered me as much shredded tree as I could take away.  When I got home, I got on with filling the 9 sacks of compost I still have to take to St Clements. 

Later, I took another 4 sacks of best riddled down there, so just one more load to take. 

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Friday 8th April 11

Mostly a good day, though it started badly but rapidly got better as I persevered with my parenting duties.

I had a visit from Vanessa who wanted some decorative logs for a ripped-out fireplace in her home.  Good to see her although she had no time to stop, or see the garden.

I did a bit more stuff outside and after lunch did a grand round trip, calling in on Space 109 for a quick chat, then delivering two carrier bags of jam jars to Claire, of Grace Preserves, and met one of her friends, Dani Mitchell who makes delicious vegan chocolate and dehydrated raw vegetable bars.

Then on to Pauline who had requested some sawing, and a chat, and in return, offered a fruit juice and ongoing friendship.  Then I delivered my next 5 bags of compost to Edible York at St Clements, only another 9 to go now!  I've delivered riddled compost this time as I think it's better quality, and I wasn't happy with the amount of plastic litter in the previous stuff.  And it's good to get the big mechanical sifter going and in use!

From here, came home and had a fairly nothingy evening apart from a nice phone call from Nomi, and a visit from Sue to buy a bit of dried fruit off me.  Oh, I had leek and potato soup which I made earlier, using Lynn's leeks. It was lovely!

Friday, 8 April 2011

Thursday 7th April 11, visit to Fagley Youth and Community Centre, Bradford.

Up far too early for my liking, but because of a visit to see a new growing project in Bradford. 

Some time ago I met Peter Tatham at the Northern Green Gathering AGM and last week he told me he'd landed a new job setting up a growing project, to help people understand where their food comes from, and to supply some fresh, healthy fruit and veggies.  He wanted to pick my brains about composting and about the direction of the project generally.  So I agreed that if he paid my train fare, I'd go over and see the site.

I got the 08.40 and got into Leeds just after 9, with some of the WNBR Risk Assessment written, Peter met me near where his van was at the back of the station, and drove to Bradford, to the Fagley Youth and Community Centre.  An area of ground had been leveled and fenced, two polytunnels put up.  Peter had collected 10 sturdy pallets and some other materials, which we moved into the garden compound.  We didn't have wire or secateurs, so went for an explore down the Killinghall Road, and found a DIY wholesalers which sold both those plus some wire netting and other bits.  I asked for some cardboard and they were able to supply several flattened boxes for us.

We spent quite a long time doing the first compost bin, but after lunch, we did the second really quickly.  We lined the pallets with wire netting and I think they'll make good compost bins.

After several hours working here, Peter showed me his other place of work, and a pile of soil-like material from Yorkshire Water, and then the new piece of land given to this project.  And then he delivered me to Leeds Station again... there was a train waiting and I got to York quickly, chatting to a Boots pharmacist.

And a goodly zoom home via Country Fresh, and glad to see the family.  Nice simple rice tea.  Online research about chainsaws.  Phone call with one of David's carers, confirming dates for the next couple of weeks.  Hopefully not too late a bed-time....

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Wednesday 6th April 11

Another good day, the morning mainly inside and a good bit of the afternoon outside.

At 3pm I went round to see Lynn, who had asked me to help her 'do' her compost bins.  The fullest one needed the top layers taking off, which I'm happy to do by hand... the stuff washes off, and doing it by hand means lumps can be broken up and bits of plastic removed easily.

So the top layers, with bountiful worms, went in the less full bin, and then Lynn found a dustbin with a lid which I filled with more or less finished compost.... I'll lend her a riddle and that will enable her (or her children!) to separate the fine compost from the unrotted sticks and plant stems. 

However I could only spend an hour there as Gill had gone to the Steiner School for a meeting with our lad's teacher, and so I had to get home to make sure our eldest was OK.  But instead of Yorkys or money, Lynn gave me several good sized leeks that she'd grown.  I was very pleased with this barter.

When I got home things were a bit fraught, Gill hadn't managed to get to the Steiner School and was wondering where the taxi was... it came and she got to school on time.  Our youngest came home in a taxi and Gill, after the meeting, took the usual two buses.    However, our eldest was happy helping a friend with his homework, so I went out the front to split logs, and got distracted by a possible chainsaw sound, which turned out to be a strimmer.  However, I collected the last of the sticks from Jamie... except he said there was another load coming, as he'd done a bit of tree surgery work for someone.  Suits me... except I have to sort out a chainsaw!  Argh!

I made myself some tea... the second lot of home-grown Shiitake mushrooms (had some yesterday too) fried up and put with a bit of couscous salad, some olives and a few bits of tomato, alongside a potato and chive salad, and an unwanted hommous sandwich rejected by one of the boys.

Then at about 9pm I loaded up my bike trailer with 4 sacks of compost, and one on the pannier rack, and cycled it down to St Clements.  I was back home 25 minutes later.

Had a peaceful evening, prepared melon slices for drying.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Tuesday 5th April 11

An enjoyable day spent mostly in the garden, but also with a cycle delivery and a Fiddlesticks gig which went well.

So, once I'd had breakfast and done my usual round of emails and facebook messages, I got outside and put another load of compost through the rotary soil sifter machine.  This results in 6 streams of material.  The highly desirable (I hope!) riddled compost... small particles, hardly any 'contraries' ie bits of plastic, wire, stones, other bits and bobs, and this I bag up into plastic carrier bags.  Then there's the stiff which doesn't go through the riddle, but out the other side... five streams, oversize sticks, avocado stones, roadkill animal bones etc, for re-composting; small sticks etc which are bagged up for a mulch, or woody layer in new heaps; chunks of compost which I'm bagging up for Edible York; stones and bits of pottery, brick, etc; and finally the stuff for landfill... mainly plastic tape, film and glue strips.  I really enjoy working through this and getting the sacks of mature compost screened and sorted through and cleaned up.

By 5pm I had got 5 sacks of compost ready for Edible York so I cycled them down to St Clements.  Met one friend on the way home, stopped off at Country Fresh, and then showed Will next door my soil sifter, and finally got into the house at 6pm.  Gill had made some little rissoles from yesterday's left-over rice, with assorted veg and a potato and chive salad.  Yummy!

Then I got changed into my Fiddlesticks gear, loaded up the bike with all my workshop stuff and headed over Walmgate Stray to the Millennium Bridge and then onto the Scout hut on Lorne Street.  This was the second gig with these youngsters, so I did a 5 minute intro, reminding them of the 'how to' and some basic rules, and then we did a one-hour free play session.  Then, 20 minutes from the end, we did a show, with individual children coming up and performing their trick, or tricks.  Most of them were awarded the Circus Performers badge, and I was very surprised, and honoured, to be given one as well.  I waited around for the kids to go and then my contact, James, paid me and I signed the receipt he'd prepared.

A nice cycle home and a relaxing evening followed.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Monday 4th April 11

I got up at 9; Gill had taken our youngest to school in a taxi and we were expecting Will to come and do maths with our home-schooler. 

Gill came back and I got busy in the garden, doing more mechanical riddling and filling sacks with mature compost for Edible York.

I came in for lunch and went out for another short time, to load my trailer... 2 big sacks in the trailer plus the little one's bike, and a sack on my pannier rack.

I cycled down to the Building Society to get out a cheque for Jim Semlyen, to renew and delivered that cheque.  Then on to Cycle Heaven to get a new cycle helmet for our youngest, who's grown out of his old one.  He wanted a green coloured one, so I picked the only green one.  However, this was £54, and I'd wanted to pay only half of this!  So he got a red one for £30.  I then delivered the compost to St Clements, and headed off to the Millennium Bridge to go to the Steiner School.  I did 15 minutes of compost heap management there... the new bin is now ready for some fruity stuff from the daleks next to the playground.  So that's my next job.

My son liked the new skid lid, and we cycled home together... but he did the last bit on his own as I wanted to pop in to Freshways to collect compostables.

I did more work in the garden until just after 6 when I came in (with a good crop of Shiitake!) and Gill told me I could do my own tea... so I did.  Rice based, with Shiitake mushrooms, home grown and fresh off the log!

Then it was the LETS meeting.  I took notes, and wrote them up afterwards.  I seem to have a lot to do.  Not an early night.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Sunday 3rd April 11

Woke up with a bit of headache but got up as some of the family were going with Simon and Melody to a car boot sale at Murton.  Melody arrived and loaded up the few bits and bobs we'd gathered together, and our eldest went in the car with Melody, whilst Gill, Simon and Simon and Melody's son cycled up.  I stayed at home with our youngest.

I got my quiet shredder out and mangled-up all the cherry twigs I pruned off yesterday, depositing them into a builder's bag which was easy to haul down the garden.  This will make a good few layers of woody, carbon-rich material for my heaps. My headache disappeared.

I came in for 11am and watched Country Tracks whilst preparing apples for drying.  I lit the stove and did some washing up.  Gill came back and there were tales of assorted sales.  One of my parcels of NewScientists had been bought... by Simon and Melody!!!

During the afternoon I got out my Scheppach rotary soil sifter and put several sacks of compost through it, and this made 10 carrier bags of lovely fine riddled compost, a very large sack of medium lumps (maybe 30kg?) and 2 buckets worth of sticks, peach stones, avocado stones and skin, and other bits destined to be a woody layer in a working heap.  Oh, and loads of bits of plastic from wrapped cucumbers, fruit labels and glue strips.  I worked til 7pm in the garden, loved it, just loved it.

Gill told me to come in then, and sit and have tea whilst watching Countryfile.  Later, I researched how I'm going to get to my Uncle's funeral in the depths of Norfolk the week after next.  I'll need to make it a day trip... I reckon a train to Peterborough and a bus from there. 

Sunday, 3 April 2011

Saturday 2nd April 11

Woke with a headache again.  But I wasn't going to let that stop me doing what I needed to do, so I got on with stuff, including sorting out the large piles of old magazines from our bedroom, as Gill and the boys are going to a car boot sale tomorrow and I wondered if a few bundles of NewScientists might sell.  I also went in the loft to find a few bits and bobs.  I did quite a bit of hoovering as the dust was impressive, and I had to empty the cylinder twice (well, once before I started, but filled it with stuff from our room!)

I wanted to go to the LETS seed swap and plant share at Simon and Melody's, so did a round trip.  I went first to Country Fresh and bought some veggies, and picked up about 75kg of compostables.  Then on to the lottie, to visit the People and Planet Allotment, which has a compost heap in need of some material, so I spent over half an hour chopping up twigs and woody stuff to layer the fruit and veg I piled on.  From here I went to Heslington, and was the LETS event's second visitor.  It was good to chat with Melody and Simon, we always have a joke and a laugh.  I bought a Yorky's worth of seeds from them, some Butternut squash and purple curly kale.

Although I was feeling grotty, still with a headache and bit of a cough, I decided I wanted to support the York in Transition and St Nicks 'Knees Up' fundraiser, so at 8 cycled over to Dalton Terrace and paid my £5 to go and watch the Ceilidh band and dancers, and have some snacky food.

I was really glad I went, as I had an interesting conversation with an unusual woman called Helen, who popped her head round the door to see the inside of the church hall, as she went there with her granny as a little girl.  There were lots of friends there, Edward, JZ and Maggie in the kitchen, Laura Potts and friends dancing, Kate Lock and her daughter, Rich Lane who as usual gave me some sensible feedback on an idea I'm working out at present, Ivana, the main organiser of this event, and John Brierley of course.  I was really please to meet one of Kate's friends, Pauline, who makes costumes, and she provisionally agreed to consider helping York in Transition with a Clothes Repair workshop, as part of our basic skills series of courses. I chatted to lots of other folks too, and enjoyed the buzz of it.

My headache disappeared completely during this event and by the end of it I was feeling back to about 95% of normal.  I really enjoyed the cycle home; the new brakes work really well... which is lucky as a woman was crossing the road in front of me and I aimed to go behind her, thinking she'd continue crossing, but she froze... meaning that I nearly hit her... but for my brakes and good cycling skills!

Home at about 11pm.  Had a bit of a late night......

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Friday 1st April 11

Woke fairly early with headache which lasted all day, despite medication.

Spent the morning doing stuff in the house, including replying to my agent (which I later hand-delivered).

I went to buy bread and got a good 'yesterbake' deal from Thomas the Baker on Tang Hall Lane.  I chatted with the guy who delivers the unsold bread and rolls etc to this shop, where it's sold for half price and two for one, so effectively quarter price.  Anything still unsold after this goes to a dog biscuit manufacturer in Doncaster, I think he said.

On the way back I said hello to Jamie, who had 'news' for me... a tree had blown over in his garden overnight and he was busy chopping it up for me to take away!  He also showed me his petrol chainsaw which he is thinking of selling; he showed me how it worked, which it did first time.... but then it refused to start again. 

After lunch a BT Openreach van drew up and our next door neighbour explained that the cherry tree in our front garden had swayed around so much in the wind that it had pulled his phone line out, as the lines to his house and ours go through the tree's top branches.  The good thing is that since the tree is ours, and the damage to our neighbour's line, he doesn't get charged for the repair.  BUT if our wire comes off due to our tree, we'd get a large bill for the repair.  So I got my big stepladder which reaches up to 9 metres, and spent over an hour carefully lopping back quite a few branches so there were none brushing up against either of the wires.  Then I spent more time pruning these branches down into stove-length sticks and shreddable twigs.  The smaller sticks went into a paper potato sack where they'll sit for a year or more to dry off.

I collected our youngest son, taking his bike down on my trailer, via my agent's house which is near the Steiner School.

In the evening I cycled to the York Open Studios event at Bar Lane Studios. My good friend Jonathan, who is the artist Dexter, was showing his work, as were dozens of other people..... I met loads of my friends and really enjoyed myself.

Came home via Freshways and brought back a trailer full of compostable goodies. 

Aiming for another early night, as feeling ropey.

Friday, 1 April 2011

Thursday 31st March 11

Up quite early to see Liam who was heading off in a taxi at 8.45, so he could get the 8.20 train and get to his interview in Durham.

I made up my muesli, had breakfast and then went back to bed for a doze.  Luxury!  I just had an hour, but I wallowed in it...

Then I had a busy morning doing assorted housework, paperwork, admin and the like.  I wasn't feeling very bright... tired, headachy and I've got a cough which is really annoying.

I did a bit of work in the garden and collected logs from Jamie's house and tidied up after the strong gusts of wind which were blowing things around. Working outside made me feel a bit better.

I got a message from an old friend who wanted to talk, so at 5.30 I went to The Brown Cow and had just over an hour of quite intense but enjoyable conversation, after which I cycled 3 sacks of compost down to the St Clements Church beds which Edible York is doing up.  Dave gave me a tour of the area and there's a lot of soil which could do with improvement.  My 30 sacks will be a minimum.  Volunteers were stripping turf, so I came home with a load of that, which should come in useful.