Thursday, 30 June 2011

Wednesday 29th June 11

I got up early to load up my trailer with the shredder.  Then at 8.30 I cycled in with our youngest and when he was in school I got the school extension cable and ran it from a socket in the sports hall to the path next to the compost heap.  A few weeks ago the school was decorated with a vast amount of vegetation, which before I arrived would have just been thrown in a pile and forgotten, once it had been taken down.  However, I asked for it to be put next to the compost bin I built, and today was the day to process it into something compostable.

I spent about 3 hours dealing with it, and also started to manage the existing compost bins, a pair of New Zealand bins, full to overflowing with uncomposted sticks and quite a lot of soil, and ants.  I pulled out lots of sticks and shredded these too.  I'll be riddling all of this material quite soon, so that Dave the gardening teacher can have some nice composty soil to do things with.  He commented that it looked a bit time intensive, so I told him it would make great compost and not need riddling, like the unruly pile of soil and sticks would... and that will take some time!  I got quite prickled with the bits of rose stem in amongst the shreddables, and bitten a lot by the ants.

I chatted to several people whilst working, all pleased to see something being done with the compost.  I'm glad the school are positive about it!  Much better than Lord Deramore's; that was a battle.

I came home for lunch and spent an hour on the computer before going back to pick up our little cyclist.  I went via Country Fresh and collected about 80kg of stuff, some of which I put on top of the woody shreddings, to help rot them down.

When I got home I did another batch of riddling, compost and loam, to make a potting mix for some tomatoes and cucumbers, which I proceeded to plant up.  I also did some weeding under a hedge in preparation for cutting it soon.

So a productive day outside.  In the evening I lit the stove and did a massive wash up, and prepared 24 'Chiquita Minis' for drying, tiny and very sweet bananas, from Country Fresh.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Tuesday 28th June 11

Spent the entire morning helping Gill deal with the accounts.  I went through the diary, April 2010 to April this year, and checking with my blog to find out my 'John the Composter' gigs and compost sales.  I managed to focus on this and by lunchtime had got all of the info from these sources to allow us to nearly finish the accounts. There is one more jobette to do; to work out the phone costs.  With the Phone Co-op it is possible to sort outgoing phone calls with a code which you put in before dialing.  This means I can accurately say how much I spend on different phone calls.  But I have to add VAT to each figure and we haven't done that yet.

So after lunch I did some more enjoyable things, out in the garden.  I fed a whole lot more turf through my mechanical riddle and got 2 wheelbarrows full of lovely fine loam, which went into the raised bed.  Then I did two wheelbarrows of compost, from a dalek with very mature and reasonably dry crumbly stuff in it.

At 3pm I cycled down to the Steiner School with our youngest's bike, and collected a box of material from Country Fresh which I put on my rack.  This was good for a nitrogen-rich layer on the new compost heap which I'm creating. We cycled back quickly and I continued in the garden, finishing off the raised bed and planting it up with a load of sweetcorn, a few beans, a cucumber and a few small squash plants.  I might get some crops off this, who knows?

I also responded to a message from a Freecycler I'd sent a request to, for a 500g bag of oats.  So I cycled over to some new housing on Heworth Green and 'got my oats' and came back via the cycle track, picked up some logs, and chatted with John Horsley who was cycling in the same direction.

I got a sack of stuff from Freshways and did some more time in the garden before it got too dark to continue.  I had a very enjoyable evening with a nice phone chat with a friend, and did a big wash-up whilst listening to

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Monday 27th June 11

I had a relaxing day in some ways following a busy weekend.  I got up after 9 and had a fairly 'normal' morning with washing up and doing assorted paperwork and dealing with a couple of phone calls, emptying the vacuum cleaner, and other jobs around the house.

It was really hot outside but I did a bit of stuff in the garden around lunchtime, but then later, at about 4pm, I did a good lot, loading up a compost bin, shredding some bits and bobs which have been hanging around for ages, and then preparing several sacks of lumpy turf for the raised bed by bunging it through the motorised riddle.  I got very hot so spent an hour working naked... the hedges are thick and no-one overlooks the garden so it was just really nice in the late afternoon heat, especially when it started raining a bit at about 5pm.

However at 6pm I came in and had a quick solar-heated shower, a bite to eat and then at 6.45, got on my bike and sped down to David's, as he was planning to go out to City Screen tonight.  He supports the York Blind and Partially Sighted Society, and tonight was an 'open mic' fundraiser in the Basement.  So I heated up his tea and after that we toddled off to the City Screen, had a coffee and then went to the Basement and got a good place to sit and watch. 

There were an assortment of stand up comedians and a couple of bands, and my friend Debra arrived so I stood up and let her sit with David.  She was glad of the seat, I didn't mind standing.  We left at about 10pm, during the interval, but he'd enjoyed the event.  I left him at 10.30 after he gave me my June cheque.

So a late night as Gill had been to a parents evening at the Steiner School and spent a long time telling me all about that.  And then I played a bit of Scrabble, watched YouTube videos of some UFOs in London a few days ago, and wrote this up.

Monday, 27 June 2011

Sunday 26th June 11

The hottest day of the year so far, and unfortunately I was working.  However, despite the heat, it was a good day.

I got my trailer loaded up with all my Fiddlesticks stuff and at 9am, set out for Acomb to hopefully get to Alison's for 9.30.  I was a few minutes late but she wasn't ready.... her two teen offspring were coming too so I had a few minutes to wait whilst they got themselves ready.

Alison works for Wakefield Council and was partly responsible for the Green Living Day at Waterton Countryside Discovery Centre.  She is an energy advice person and the stalls at this event were a mix of solar panel installers, cycling advocates, the RSPB, Woodland Trust and the like.  I found a reasonable place with some shade, and hard-standing for the unicycle toys.  I was busy from 11am all the way through til 4pm, with just 10 minutes break for lunch.

I did get very hot and a bit sunburnt, but there were a constant stream of contented punters which was good... kept me busy!

I dozed on the way home to Alison's and then woke up (fortunately!) for the cycle back to Hull Road.

Gill made me some tea, a really good salad, and then at 9 I went out and did an hour and a half of filling the orchard raised bed with 4 barrows of rich compost, and 2 barrows of soil.  It isn't full yet but tomorrow I'll finish it and plant it up.

Enjoyed some more of the Glastonbury coverage but not everything, I really wasn't into Beyonce.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Saturday 25th June 11, Sheffield Green Fair

Well another day of work, but one of my favourites, despite last year breaking my ankle at the Sheffield Green Fair.  So I got the 9.35 train and chatted with a nice lady who was heading to a cricket match in Gloucester with her husband and son.

I got to Sheffield at 10.20 and walked up to St Marys, took about 20 minutes.  The Fair started at 11 so I was in good time.  I had a wander around and chatted with one of my favourite Sheffield Green Fair people, Richard Clare, who is heavily involved with the Sheffield Organic Food Initiative, Grow!Sheffield, Abundance, Landshare and Allotment Soup.  He had his usual seed packets and I bought a few which I hope I'll get round to planting.

I got a vegan spinach and mushroom roll from New Roots, a volunteer-run veggie, vegan and fair-trade food shop (two shops!), and chatted with the nice folks at Waste Wood Briquettes and Litton Logs, who are one and the same thing. Finally I found the inside area with the Sheffield Humanists and a nice wood-turner who told me that on the Sheffield Woodturning Club wetbsite there was a page of links to other woodturning groups, where I might be able to find a buyer for my big cherry logs.

My work consisted of a load of unicycling around, and then soon after midday a one-hour show which went well... in the middle of which I spotted my Mum so I shot over and said hello to her.  I continued the show and when I'd done the 'two tricks at the same time' finale, had lunch with her, sitting in the shade of a tree, eating sandwiches.  Good to see her, it's been a while. My sis Anna was there too, helping with the Sheffield Freegle stall, and quite a few other lovely people I know.

After lunch I did mostly balloons as it was too hot to be unicycling around, but I had a constant stream of eager kids wanting dogs, kangaroos, giraffes, and dog's dinners.  Oh, and a few fighting worms.  So I did another circus bit as I was getting bored of balloons, and this became pretty full-on with more children wanting to participate than I could cope with.  At about 4.30 I went to get my cheque and then went to get changed.... when I came out there were two more kids wanting balloon animals.  I made them an elephant and a mouse, and got out of there, walking down to the station. 

My train was over half an hour away so I had a mocha and watched a pigeon.  On the train I met a lovely mother-daughter combo, coming back from holiday in Taunton, and we talked about all sorts, it was a nice way to spend an hour and it made the journey go quickly.

Home by 7.30 and Gill had made quiche to go with the last of the onion soup.  A chilled evening followed, enjoyed half-listening to Glastonbury on the TV.

Saturday, 25 June 2011

Friday 24th June 11

Woke Gill at a minute past midnight and gave her a snog and cuddle for her birthday.  She fell asleep again and came upstairs with me when I went to bed after 2am.

I woke again after 9 when Gill had already left the house to work at the Steiner School shop, and I had some time with our eldest.

Gill came back and we spent some time discussing what to do for her birthday.  We thought about going to City Screen... but there wasn't anything on we liked the look of, nor at the Theatre Royal, and the Grand Opera House had Deacon Blue... not our cup of tea either.  So we decided that if Simon could babysit (he said he would) then we'd go to El Piano and have a meal together.

Gill and our eldest went out soon after lunch to watch the fire-jumping ceremony at the Steiner School.... it is some Saint's Day and they have a 'traditional' festivity, our lad's first, so Gill went to watch him.

I went to visit Carolyn, to discuss a few things regarding my work with David.  I got back at 5, Gill was just in with the boys.  Simon wasn't able to come til 7.30 so we said don't bother... I'd made a nice soup and Gill said she'd prefer that and a game of Scrabble instead.

So that's what we did.  Nice soup, we all liked it, and a game of Scrabble which didn't get finished.

Friday, 24 June 2011

Thursday 23rd June 11

A quiet day, woken by a phone call for a Fiddlesticks enquiry soon after 9, and so I got up and got myself together.  A non-eventful morning, and most of the afternoon too. 

The best thing to happen was that our eldest helped me make the raised bed in the orchard.  We collected a pile of old bricks, 'clamp bricks' from the shared pathway between ours and next door, and took them in the wheelbarrow to the orchard where we made a front wall to the bed, with the most visible bricks the old, nice looking ones, and the new bricks being used for the structural back to this front wall... no mortar, and it's only about 6 bricks high, so little risk of it collapsing.

I also did a shopping trip to Sainsburys... margarine, a kilo box of bran flakes, a loaf of lovely bread, some vegan ice cream, 4 kg of pasta.  I cycled home via Freshways and picked up 2 sacks of compostables.. but luckily there were a load of onions and a load of apples.  I decided to make some onion soup, and dried apples.

So, later in the evening I did make onion soup.... 7 free onions, one purchased potato, some home grown squash, the last of last year's crop. All cooked up on the woodstove.... great!

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Wednesday 22nd June 11

Gill took our youngest to school by taxi and I got up at around 9.30.  I had a relatively sedentary day attempting to get some writing done, but felt fairly frustrated.  I did have a few nice chats online though.

I got some of the WNBR notes done, but failed to finish the notes from last night's meeting. I am easily distracted.

I did lots of washing up and had to deal with some red-tape type stuff, a couple of phone calls and letters.  I couldn't decide whether to take my shredder to the Steiner School to deal with the pile of vegetation-decoration, and in the end, to save Gill going in again on the bus (as I wouldn't be able to take the child's bike AND the shredder) I decided not to, but to collect our son myself.

So, at 3 I cycled to the Steiner School with out youngest's bike on my trailer.  I met my old friend Andy White whom I haven't seen for ages and that cheered me up.  We cycled home quickly since I made my son's bike saddle higher and pumped the tyres up.  I stopped on the way home to collect a good big trailer full of scrap wood from a house having building work done, with permission of course.  My son didn't stop, and carried on home by himself.  I think he's old enough and a good cyclist enough to cycle all the way home by himself, but Gill disagrees. Having to do two trips each day to the Steiner School eats up so much of the day!

After I got in, I couldn't stand any more time inside, so I started on the raised bed I've been planning for a while.  I made the back wall, from bricks, to stop the soil going onto the fence.  I did a bit of composting and some planting up. 

I did some fruit drying in the evening, and listened to

But all in all a bit of nothingy day.  Hope I'm more cheerful tomorrow.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Tuesday 21st June 11 Summer Solstice

Well up earlier than I wanted but I needed to do assorted paperwork/admin stuff.  I cycled to Nunnery Lane to deliver the Election Expenses forms to Andy Chase and on the way back got a cheque out to pay for some advertising, and then headed for home to try to catch the Suma delivery.

This happened and it took quite a while to check it off and sort it out, as there were 5 other contributors to the order.  There's invariably a mistake, or something missing, or something which needs sorting.

Linda came to pick up her couple of items, and I got one item ready to take into school.... I also tied our youngest's bike onto my trailer to take to school, so he could easily get back home.  It rained heavily on the way down there, so I got soaked.  Luckily, on the way back it remained dry.

Then I got ready to go to Sheffield.

I had decided to meet my friend Lisa there, as she's moved from London to Newark, and we wanted to go to a talk in the Showroom Cinema Cafe called Psychology in the Pub.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Monday 20th June 11

Not too bad a day, got up at 9 despite really wanting a long lie in.  We were having a quiet morning when we got a phone call from the boys' previous school; one of our friends' children was ill, and we were the only people on his contact list who were contactable.  So Gill ordered a taxi and it picked her up, took her to school and picked up the ill boy, and came back here.  So that sort of scuppered any plans we had to make the raised bed down the garden.

Yesterday, one of my friends Melanie put in an order for the Suma delivery, but as she can't pay til two days after the delivery, I had to go into town and transfer £85 from my savings into our Suma account to ensure that the cheque we will pay the driver will be honoured.  A bit of a nuisance but I like cycling and I was only out of the house for an hour or less.  I took the opportunity to collect two sacks of compostables from Country Fresh on the way back.

I did a bit of compost-work in the garden and then got ready for work, a Fiddlesticks gig in Green Hammerton doing a one hour show with a Brownie pack.  I got the train at about 5 and was picked up by Jess, the 'Brown Owl', and she deposited me at the new Village Hall and made me a coffee as I got changed.

I had an audience of 24 youngsters and about 8 older girls and women.  The Circus Show and Workshop went very well and they all seemed to love it.  I was taken back to Hammerton station afterwards by Sarah and I got changed on the station platform as it was deserted.  I got home at about 8pm. 

I got some lovely messages from Jess and Sarah during the evening, made me happy.

Monday, 20 June 2011

Sunday 19th June 11

A good day, hardworking.  And an early start which I didn't appreciate much.  But I needed to get the 9.15 train over to Huddersfield, to get the 10.15 bus to Golcar, to be at Colne Valley Garden Centre before 11 to start work.

My role today was to be part of the Green Fair that the Garden Centre had put on.  We had agreed that I would do some Professor Fiddlesticks until 12.30, and then a talk on composting followed by lunch and then back to more Fiddlesticksing until 3pm.  Sounded like a good mix.

The public transport worked exactly as planned, and there was a very cute little baby I kept on making giggle, which passed the time.  I got to the venue with at least 15 minutes to spare. I was shown an area where I could work, in one of the undercover retail areas, and I asked to see the outdoor possibilities as it was quite a nice day weather-wise. The outdoor area was a bit further on than the greenhouses and covered area, and would have less 'footfall' so I opted for the under cover area, but asked if I could swap the facepainting area for mine, and I got a better 'stage' area.  The face painter, Julie, seemed happy with this.  I got changed and immediately there were families who wanted to try the devilsticks, or the 'four wheeled unicycle', diabolo or juggling.

So I had a pretty full-on time with hardly any breaks in the flow of children and their parents or grandparents, and I was surprised when Sami, my main handler, came in and told me it was almost 12.30.  Time flies when you're busy.

There were just 3 people wanting info on composting.  But this was good as I could deal with their concerns individually.

After this, Paddy, the Centre Manager, showed me the outdoor area again, which the company are developing.  He told me about the difficulty they'd had with a 'bottle digger', as the garden centre is on an old landfill.  However, they've built a pond and a kids play area, and have chickens, and are wondering about opening up the wood beyond as a nature trail or something.  I suggested that they might want to come and see St Nicks as that is also on a landfill and is now a nature reserve, and a wonderful community resource. He asked me to email him with details.

I had a quick chat with two chaps from Gardinia Windows, who are a Huddersfield company who have just started fitting photovoltaic panels.  They also had an ingenious display, a glass pyramid, with each side being a different sort of glass.  Inside was a pair of lamps, ones which gave out a substantial amount of heat.  One side was single glazed, and the glass was hot to the touch.  Then there was a pane of standard double glazing, which was a bit cooler.  I'm not sure what the third side was, but the fourth side was argon filled and the most energy efficient sort of double (maybe triple?) glazing, and it kept so much heat in it was quite cold to the touch.  I thought this was a really good way of showing the difference between the various sorts of glazing available.

I then got on with what I'd been contracted to do, and entertained more families and chatted to Julie the facepainter, as it was a bit quieter.  3pm soon came and I over-ran slightly, but the manager paid me, I got changed, bought a Sempervivum (houseleak) which I liked the look of and went to get the bus.  Julie chatted with me at the bus stop but she was heading down to the shops so she went there when I got onto the bus. 

The transport back was once again trouble free and I got back to York at about 5.15. 

A fairly nondescript evening followed, with washing up and getting bath water for our youngest, and a nice chat on facebook with Serena, one of the World Naked Bike Ride participants I've made friends with.  Happy John.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Saturday 18th June 11

A fairly late start, and didn't do anything active until I cycled to the bread shop at midday, and then almost straight away on to St Nicks to the launch of Bearing Fruit, the new project there.

This meeting started at 1pm, in the Environment Centre, with an introduction from Jonathan, one of the Bearing Fruit team and the St Nicks Volunteer Co-ordinator.  The project is a local community orchard, funded by ecominds.  The basic idea is that there will be some fruit and nut trees, and soft fruit, all planted in various places around the nature reserve, and looked after, and available for local people to pick and eat.  The project is a partnership with the Community Recovery Team, and the aim is to help people who've experienced mental health difficulties to recover, using outdoor physical work, which has a value and meaning, and is connected to 'nature' and wildlife, and amongst people who understand the shared difficulties, so fostering a sense of community.

So far the project has done some mapping, looking at existing vegetation, soils and potential sites within St Nicks. A bit of planting has already taken place; however, the fruit trees planted in a recently cleared area next to Melrosegate were snapped off by vandals, and it's only the hidden trees which have survived, a few cherries and rowans in other parts of the site.  We talked about how to reduce the amount of vandalism, and including the local youth who use the site in the planting of trees was one idea, with some attempt at 'ownership', and another was to plant much smaller less conspicuous trees which won't get noticed, and would blend into the background more easily, hopefully escaping the attention of destructive youths.

Dave Broughton from Edible York and Abundance then gave a talk, with the history of the Edible landscape movement and Abundance projects.  He put the York Abundance map up on screen, which I've added to in the past, and said the various new Edible York raised beds would be added.  He told us that last year, between 2 and 3 tonnes of apples were distributed to various homeless shelters, the Red Cross, and at public events, plus some other fruit.  This year the project is going to decentralise and split into more locally run groups (like Planet South Bank and Haxby+Wigginton in Transition, for instance), and that allotment surpluses would be collected too. There's also a 'virtual orchard' planned.

We then had a walk through St Nicks to see the various places where fruit trees, nut trees, soft fruit and native herbs could be planted.  After which there was a chance to chat over the project whilst drinking apple juice and eating cake.

I got home in good time to go to work, at David's. I took him for a walk with him using his walking frame, which he's getting much better at, and then I took him in the wheelchair along to City Screen.  We sat next to some women who were chatting, and it turned out that one of them knew quite a few of David's family, in rural North Yorkshire.  They chatted animatedly and I was very happy.

I had something to eat at the same time as David ate, back at home at about 8pm (I'd brought a pasta salad with me, he had his microwaved fish stuff) and after that I went to Lynn's birthday party, and although I didn't spend long there, I wasn't in a fit state to complete my blog post on the day, so I caught up later in the week.  I really enjoyed the party though, and saw my friends Al, a participant in last year's WNBR, and Philip, whom I haven't seen for ages, and Anna, who thanked me for my support of her in the local paper recently.  I think Lynn enjoyed the party too.

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Friday 17th June 11

Another good day, maybe not quite as up-beat as yesterday!

The best thing that happened was that our youngest son came home from his camping trip from school, and we've missed him.

As for the rest of the day, well I caught up with some paperwork during the morning and in the afternoon, cycled down to town and transferred some money from two accounts into our Suma account, and put a cheque in too, as on Tuesday we'll be getting a Suma order and will need to pay the driver.

I only did a short time in the garden, dealing with the bags of decorative vegetation from Barley Hall, using it roughly chopped up as a woody/carbon-rich layer. I'd also got some stuff from Country Fresh and Freshways, and a small amount of this went on the current heap.  More tomorrow.

For tea, I had a 100% free meal... some free (as past it's sell by date) quinoa, cooked on the woodstove, a large tomato and some red pepper, both discarded because of surface blemishes.

At 7.30 I arrived at the Black Swan for the last meeting of the York World Naked Bike Ride, the 'post ride debrief' with Hugh and Tony.  It was a long and rambling meeting, and once again, I took notes and promised to type them up.

I came home after 11 and got hot water together for Gill to soak her feet, and later, I did a bit of washing up.  Bed early, just 2.30 today. 

Friday, 17 June 2011

Thursday 16th June 11

A really good day, some very positive things happened. 

As usual, I had a fairly gentle start to the day, getting up at 9 and not doing anything very active until I needed to get dressed because I was due to meet Harry, a MSc student from the Centre for Alternative Technology, at midday at St Nicks.  He had approached me as he wants to do a PhD on composting hemp and lime plaster.  He thought I'd have a few answers and pointers for him.

So, I met him just after 12; he'd come over from Leeds and cycled from the station.  I gave him the briefest of tours of St Nicks and then over our sandwich lunch, he asked me a very wide range of questions to do with all sorts of aspects of his proposed PhD.  The aim of this was to find ways of reusing the hemp-lime render/plaster from end-of-life buildings, by composting it alongside the more usual biodegradable materials to create a soil amendment.  I was pleased to be able to provide some very sensible answers, including ones based on my insights into commercial composting operations and economics, my understanding of the chemistry and physics of composting (stuff like forced aeration and Effective Microorganisms) and had suggestions such as contacting the planet's top mycologist, Paul Stamets, to see if there were any lime-loving or lime tolerant fungi which could be used to inoculate the material, and seeing if there was anything similar going on at the Leeds University composting department, with Professor Ed Stentiford.  Another American resource I use is the US Composting Council, which has a newsletter and an email 'listserve' Compost Discussion List, which I participate in, and a forum, which I don't.

After this, and meeting John from St Nicks and Catherine our head Rotter, and signing up for the next York Rotters free training, I took him on a bike tour of the nature reserve.  I asked if he was interested in seeing the EcoDepot, as it's made from straw panels and lime render, and so I arranged for him to be shown the room where the straw can be seen through little windows in the render.  Whilst in there, I was highly delighted to spot something which assorted York Rotters have been talking about for months: a cut-away display compost bin, something we use on stalls and events to stimulate interest and discussion.  We used to have 4 of these, but one had mysteriously gone missing and several people had been wondering about it.  It had been left in the EcoDepot, and they didn't know where it had come from, yet were loath to dispose of it as it was obviously a 'nice object'.  Why they hadn't connected it with York Rotters I don't know, but never mind.  Had the done, I wouldn't have had the chance, once I'd said goodbye to Harry, of putting it securely on my trailer and carefully cycling it back to St Nicks.  I felt SO pleased to be able to go to Catherine and tell her I had a little present!

So from here I went home, very happy.  I didn't have long at home as I was working for David at 5, and after we did a bit of stuff in the house, we went to City Screen.  We met Carolyn, and Dave Taylor and Andy D'Agorne, and then my friend Azra came in and it was just lovely to see her... and then I spotted Melanie and I chatted to her... a very social time.  David loves the buzz of it all too.  I took him back at 6.30 and got him his tea ready, did his recycling and left at 7, with 4 large sacks of Barley Hall decorative vegetation in my trailer.

I went to Edward's house, and he gave me a bowl of home-made leafy soup, with produce out of his garden.  Then other York in Transition people started appearing and we had our first meeting about the thermal imaging camera project.  I took notes and enjoyed the cut and thrust of the meeting.... and contributed some useful bits I think.  However, writing the notes out took over an hour on the laptop, but I got them done before writing my blog.  Bed after 3.30am, whoops! 

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Wednesday 15th June 11

I was woken with a phone call just after 9 from my friend Gary Haq, who had been rung up by Radio 5 Live, who wanted to interview activists who had an opinion about Mark Kennedy, the undercover policeman who as Mark Stone, got rather too involved in the Climate Camp... and his role caused the trial of some people allegedly planning to shut down a coal-fired power station to collapse.  Gary said that when he spoke to the researcher, he thought of me, and he offered to pass my phone number to the researcher.  A few minutes later, she rang me, and we had a few minutes chat.  However, my views about him were not polarised enough to warrant them ringing me back for the show at 10.

I listened to the show; they had an interview with Mark Kennedy which was interesting, and several people who had known him, and a selection of people who were either damning him or praising him.  Our son listened to the programme with me, and learned about various legal acronyms and other words.

However, I was due to be at David's at 12.15 so I couldn't stay and listen to the whole programme, but what I heard was interesting.  I cycled down to town and met Alanah at David's, another of his PAs, who had got him breakfast and ready to go to the organ recital by Francis Jackson.  He is one of York's best known organists, and David's been looking forward to it for weeks and weeks.

I took him to St Helen's Church and we were almost the first there, and positioned ourselves in a good position to watch Francis doing his thing.  The church filled up, as he's very popular.  Francis is 94 years old and has been involved in making music in York for 83 years, since he was a chorister in York Minster. He played some Bach, Vaughan Williams and a piece he wrote himself as a retirement present for a colleague.  He didn't just play, he introduced some of the pieces and was quite a character.  In one of the last pieces, something by Karg-Elert, he made a mistake right at the end, and he got up and said, 'I'll do that again' and he played the last few chords again.  He came across as a really lovely chap.  And David's seen him perform on numerous occasions and spoke with him afterwards, which was nice.

Then we went to the bank, and to the Library where we filled in a questionnaire about eye health, and then back to David's home.  I made him some toast and got away at 3pm.

Lynn had asked me to come and visit, and give her the caffeine-free coffee we'd been given, so I had a late lunch and then went round for a proper coffee (ie with caffeine!) and a good chat; it's been ages since we spent any time together. I took her some climbing beans as a present and we caught up with each other's news.    I went from here to a Freecycler called Tim who'd advertised a Le Creuset lid, 24 cm across.  I'd measured the pan I found in a skip in 1999, and have been using all this time with an ill-fitting aluminium lid with a plastic Marmite lid on top, which allowed me to balance trays of fruit on top.  I emailed and said that I thought it might fit, but if it didn't, I'd put it back on Freecycle. When i got home and tried it, I was hugely delighted that it fitted PERFECTLY!!!! Gill and I were so pleased!  Tim had the lid spare as he'd dropped his pan and it had shattered, as they are fairly brittle cast iron with enamel on.  At least the lid has another new life!

At 7 I'd agreed to go and visit Sherry, Melody and Simon's lodger, who wanted to make use of our Suma order.  I cycled down there and she got about £10 worth of dried fruit.  I came back via a logpile.

Then I spent some while chopping up the sticks given to me yesterday, and dealing with a load more kindling-style stuff, putting it neatly into fruit boxes.

A nice simple tea... potato, bought pizza, asparagus.

And a fairly good evening, trying to catch up on some writing tasks which are outstanding.  Bed at 3am.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Tuesday 14th June 11

A peaceful day, woken by Gill as my friend who had given me their bank card came round and wanted it, needed to go shopping.  Later I called round and my friend had bought cider.  Alcohol is a powerful addiction.

I had a fairly lazy morning but soon got busy in the garden, weeding, planting squash and sweetcorn.

I cycled down to Country Fresh and got a bag of fruit and veg for us and some fruit for a friend, plus two bags of compostables.  I went to pick up some sticks from someone who had pruned a lilac tree, and emailed me offering the sticks to me for kindling.  Another trailer-full, just needing to be cut in half or thirds and put in a paper sack for drying.

I was down the garden when Andy D'Agorne came round to see how my tiny camera worked, he wants to use it to film the occasionally dreadful driving behaviour outside his local school.  We had a good chat, but it meant I didn't get my evening meal til after 9pm.  I used some past-sell-by-date quinoa, some spinach from the garden, the tomato stuff which didn't go through the sieve when making soup on Sunday, some coleslaw and a slice of 'Mediterranean Bread'.

Later in the evening I watched 'The Pipe' on More4, a documentary about an Irish community resisting the imposition of a Shell gas pipeline across their village and traditional fishing grounds.  I support direct action in defence of Planet Earth.  We need to stop spending on fossil fuels and invest heavily in renewables.  Every pound, dollar and euro spent on oil, gas and nuclear means less money is available for investment into wind, solar, tidal, wave, hydro and other less polluting technologies.  I'd like to know the outcome of the Rossport pipeline debacle, as the film ended with the damaged pipelaying vessel leaving Irish waters.  I wonder if it came back to resume it's damaging activities?

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Monday 13th June 11

Up early as our youngest was off on a school camping trip, and I wanted to see him off.  Actually he woke me with his laughing and singing.  The Steiner School is really good for him.  Things at home are so much better.

So Gill went in the taxi with him and I had breakfast with our eldest.  I read a message on facebook from Tim, the local Vicar, that there was a tree being taken down in Hull Road Park, so a bit later I cycled round and picked up a trailer-full of logs.

I did some work in the garden, but after lunch, Gill and our eldest went into town and I made 5 tubs of gunko pea and red pepper pate.  The beans I'd soaked and boiled a few days ago... I rinsed them and brought them to the boil again for 10 minutes, chopped up 5 waste red peppers, half an onion, 3 thrown away garlic cloves, a bit of bouillon and some soy sauce, oh and two spoonfuls of cooked quinoa.  This was all tipped into the blender goblet and whizzed up.  This made up 5 tubs of bean pate, so saving over £5 on hommous costs!

I sorted out my extra night of camping at the Little Green Gathering in July.  It starts on Friday 15th July but I'm travelling down on the Thursday, so I'm not hurrying on the Friday, as it's quite a long journey down to Hampshire.  I'll be helping to put up the stage on Friday morning, and contributing several Fiddlesticks appearances and an Advanced Composting talk.  There will be quite a few people going whom I'm really looking forward to seeing.

I was due to go to work at about 5pm, so Gill made up a pasta salad from yesterday's unwanted pasta and veg, and I cycled down to David's.  He fancied a walk using his walking frame so we trundled around the block, stopping to chat to Purple Man before going back to David's... and I got the wheelchair and he asked to be taken to the Library, where he looked for audio-books and leaflets, and we had a coffee.  I took him home via the Minster, where we met Paul Jennison the autoharp player, and chatted with him outside the Minster.

Then back home whee I cooked David's tea, already plated up by his previous PA, and I had my tub of pasta, made him a cup of tea and went by 7.20.  I headed straight for the Seahorse Hotel for the York in Transition meeting on 'Cosy Homes', a new project we're starting to try to increase the energy efficiency of rented properties.

That went on til 10 after which I came home and had a lot of writing to do, bed way after 2am.

Monday, 13 June 2011

Sunday 12th June 11

I was lucky to have a bit of a lie-in.  But only til 9.30, but a very unhurried day.

It was raining which meant that I didn't feel like going out, either to the LETS walk or the Democracy Picnic.

I did a HUGE wash-up, getting through a backlog of things whilst Gill was out getting things ready for our youngest to go camping with school.

I listened to Equinox Radio and got quite animated, reminded of my early 1990s raver days.  Good memories.  Helped me with the housework.

Gill came back with a rucksack, roll mat, wellington boots, and a few other bits and bobs. 

I rang David as he'd mentioned yesterday that I would be seeing him this evening but it wasn't in my diary, so I rang to find out which it was... and he said he would like me to come and see him.  I said if he wanted to change his mind, to just ring me, and mid afternoon, he did and said as the weather was so yukky, not to come out.  This suited me fine, having a fairly lazy day.

I did venture out at one stage, to reset my rat trap and just get a breath of fresh air and see how the garden was. I planted up some basil in old cycle helmets and hung them up.

But I spent much of the day finding out how various things worked on Ubuntu, and lamenting the loss of my World Naked Bike Ride videos, and putting comments on various places including the Press website and facebook. I discovered and listened to The Falling Spikes.

I watched a bit of telly and helped Gill with some cooking, such as sieving the tomato soup that our youngest is taking with him on camp.

Quite an indulgent day.  A good day.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Saturday 11th June 11

I got up surprisingly early, considering what time I felt sleepy enough to go to bed last night.  And unusually I got dressed quickly, as my friend who had given me their bank card to prevent spending on alcohol was due to come and collect it.  So the card was collected, and I got stuff ready to take to St Nicks for the Give and Take day.  I had a few bits and bobs in the garage, some kids toys, bike bits, a nice lamp base, some videos.  I took these in on the way to see David, as I was due to arrive at his place at 12.15. 

However, when I got to David's, there was a group of people decorating Barley Hall for a wedding, adorning parts of the building with vegetation.  There was a lot of waste offcut stuff around, so I asked them if they'd like me to take it and recycle it.  Positive response led to me getting 3 sacks of unwanted greenery.

I had my sandwiches whilst chatting with David before starting work, and we left at 12.30.  I took him into St Nicks via Peasholme Green, Foss Islands, James St and Hazel Court.  He hadn't seen St Nicholas Fields in it's current glory, and loved the birdsong.

The Environment Centre was already open when we arrived, and David gave in his bag of tins of soup.  We had a poke around and he found a cookery book for one of his PAs, Linda, who loves cookery books.  We chatted to all sorts of people.  Linda turned up and I chatted to her daughter Louise, who lives in the eco-friendly housing near St Nicks.

I found a few courgette plants and just as I was leaving, a dalek composter base was brought in.  Gill also turned up with a lot of childrens' shoes.  I then took David on a tour of the nature reserve and back home.  He loved it, said so several times.  I got him some toast for lunch and left at about 3pm.

I called in on St Nicks to collect my courgettes and composter base, and then on to Richard at Country Fresh. I picked up one sack of recyclable stuff plus some vegetables for Debbie and tomatoes for us, to make soup for the Steiner School holiday next week.

I planted up some of the freebie plants and dumped stuff on the current heap.

Did lots of washing up and other housework, before getting to bed at a more civilised 2am.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Friday 10th June 11

A day dominated by going to Leeds to donate platelets for the second time.

I had an appointment at 11.15 so I got down to the station for soon after 10 and there was a bus at 10.23, which got me to Seacroft Blood Donor Centre for 11.15.  I was on the platelet removal machine by 11.45 and in 61 minutes I donated 3 units of platelets.  Two minutes slower than last time but still much better than the average donation of two units in 70 minutes.  My count from last time was down on the count done when I gave blood and had it tested for platelets, where it was 165,000 per cubic millimetre, down to 135,000... but this is still much higher than the average of 200,000 to 250,000.  I wonder what it will be this time.  I'll only know when I return in July.

I came out of the building at 1pm carrying a bag of crisps and some biscuits, and wandered over to the bus stop.  I collected a load of aluminium cans, and then watched the bus go past.... I was 1 minute late, all for about 20p worth of cans.  Never mind, I had the crisps and biscuit and chatted to a nice chap, and waited just half an hour for the next bus.  I enjoyed reading my NewScientist.

When I got to York I collected my bike and popped in to the building society to put in my cheque from Middleton Park, and visited the bank to see if a cheque had cleared.   I visited Richard to collect compostables and he gave me 4 boxes full and a large pile of strawberries.  When I got home I spent some time on the computer and then in the garden sorting out the compost donation, chopping several tens of kilos of potatoes. 

I came in for a late tea, at about 7, and Gill had done a nice simple rice dish.

Amongst other things I washed about 5kg of strawberries and sorted out some nice ones, and bits of nice ones, and liquidised them with banana, to make a puree which I then wiped through the sieve to get rid of as many seeds as possible.  This filled two trays which I carefully put to dry, balanced on the stove.  Banana and Strawberry fruit leather here we come!

Up til after 3 doing this, washing up and finishing off my writing.

Friday, 10 June 2011

Thursday 9th June 11

Well, I got up at 9.30 but didn't get dressed til midday, spent a couple of hours doing stuff on the laptop, trying to do various jobs which were easy with my old system but now I'm using a non-windows system, I'm not sure how to do some things.

So, I got dressed and got busy outside, I finished off the digging out of one NZ pallet bin and dumping it into the next-door one, and started to refill the recently emptied one with a layer of twigs and sticks, a bag of sawdust, weeds and then a good thick layer of fruit and veg, which I seeded with some old Bokashi bran that I'd been given.  There is a chance this will help reduce any smells, although my heaps don't often go anaerobic.

Towards 5pm I loaded up a few bags of compost for a friend and got the bike ready to go to town, as I was due to work for David at 6.  When I got to his place, I told him about the fundraising gig for St Nicks, at the Unitarian Chapel tonight, and he was interested in going to check it out.  However, he fancied a coffee at City Screen first, and we met a chap called Richard whom David knew.

Then I took David to the Chapel on St Saviourgate and the performers were practicing so we heard what they were like... David liked it and bought a ticket and I took him in, and we got a place right in the front of all the seats.  The concert was performed by David Hammond on piano, Ellen Jordan on cello and Rob Caruthers on Spanish Guitar.  There were some pieces which were for piano and cello (Saint-Saens and Shostakovich), one for cello and guitar (Bellafonte) and the last one was an arrangement of a piece by Piazzolla which was for all three instruments.  Once again, this sort of music was outside my sphere of knowledge, as I had an overdose of classical music as a child which poisoned my appreciation of it, but as I get older I'm beginning to appreciate it a bit.  It's nowhere near as exciting as 3 electric guitars, synth and drums and plenty of effects pedals, but that's the sort of stuff I liked as a late teen and my love of it will never go, even though I'm now incredibly sober compared to my hippy trippy days.  Maybe my sobriety means I'm OK with this more staid music... although the Shostakovich was pretty mad and I enjoyed the simple guitar of the Leo Brouwer piece.

This finished after 10 pm so I zoomed David home and got him his tea and came home to have mine.  I chopped up a thrown away plantain (a cooking banana) and boiled that, threw in some out of date freegan beans I cooked yesterday and a few lumps of red pepper... and had that with a coleslaw.... delicious!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Wednesday 8th June 11 Performance/Installation in Leeds

I got up relatively early, before 9am,despite going to bed at 3 last night. I had my usual morning of muesli and laptop.  A friend came round and asked me if I would look after their bank card to stop them spending money on drink.  As I was at the front door, I noticed that the robins in the logpile had fledged and left the nest.  How lovely!

Then I did some work outside, dug out a compost heap and turned it into the New Zealand pallet bin I emptied a day or three ago.

After lunch I got my well-loaded bike and trailer ready for going to St Nicks with Pauline's stuff for the Give and Take day.  But just before I set off, it poured with rain and hailed.  Never mind, I had to go as I had a deadline to meet in Leeds.  So the stuff got delivered, albeit a bit damp round the edges.

Just a few days ago, a friend involved with the World Naked Bike Ride had sent a message from someone putting on an art installation in a strip club in Leeds, and they were looking for people prepared to be naked in this environment and interact with members of the audience.  I emailed the organiser with a request for more information and wasn't told much, just to be at the venue by 3pm and we'd be provided with food and drink, and things to do, and that it wouldn't be too arduous. So I decided to give it a go.

I got the 2.14 slow train which took 35 minutes to get to Leeds, and walked quickly up to the Headrow to Wildcats. Waiting inside were Tony and Hugh my WNBR collaborators, plus several other naked bike riders, one of whom I knew by name, Stan.  We were taken downstairs to the changing rooms (although we didn't really need to change, just take clothes off!), and I bundled up my shorts, teeshirt and bum-bag into my bag and brought it up to where we were supposed to be, a kind of lounge area with armchairs, other seating and tables, and a kind of tented area with enclosed cosy booths in it, which I guess must be for 'private dances'.

The young women who were in charge of the event brought us a pile of books, a game of Scrabble and invited us to have something to eat and showed us the coffee-making facilities.  They told us just to chat, play card games and do what we wanted to do, and the audience would be brought up, one by one, by young women dressed very plainly and saying nothing.  The visitor would spend just a few minutes with us and be taken away again.

So we drank coffee and chatted and milled around, and audience members started being brought up to us.  They had previously been made to wait in a queue, and then in the lobby area, before being taken into the pole-dancing area.  Here, they witnessed a 'cleaner' wiping down the pole, and a couple of bored-looking 'strippers' talking on mobile phones.  Then they were brought upstairs to us, presumably expecting something maybe erotic or exciting, to see a bunch of naked middle-aged blokes (and one naked middle-aged woman) chatting and drinking cups of coffee.  We engaged in a bit of small-talk with them... I, for instance, said hello and asked if they'd ever been to a strip club before, and most answered that they hadn't, at which I replied that nor had I, and I didn't know what to expect really.  Other people also engaged with visitors, and a couple of times the organisers came in to ask us to do something slightly differently, or to say it was all going brilliantly.

Towards the end, visitors were being brought up in twos, and then in groups of four, which rather changed the dynamic, but it was still an incongruous situation, being brought silently into a room full of naked people, all very at ease with being nude, and the naked ones chatting away almost as if they were clothed and in a 'normal' environment.  The person who looked most uncomfortable was actually one of the tutors, a middle-aged chap himself, but many of the younger ones were seemingly completely happy with it.  Most of the audience were students from the Northern School of Contemporary Dance. 

Afterwards, in the pub, we learned that the organisers were all students from the NSCD, and had thought this up very carefully as their 'Collaborative Arts Project'. It was called 'One Free Dance'.

So we had some good discussions in the pub, quite a bit about naturism, as most of the participants were naturists, and a bit about the WNBR as some of us had attended that, and many other related subjects.

I left at 9 and headed to the station, having had a very thought-provoking time, an enjoyable time.  I had to wait 40 minutes for a train but got back home at 10.25 in time to watch Newsnight.  I lit the woodstove, then washed up, chopped up some fruit leather and put it in a storage jar, had a bowl of muesli and dealt with a huge pile of emails and admin before writing my blog after 2am.  Went to bed nearer 4. Whoops!

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Tuesday 7th June 11

Woke at about 9am and Gill had taken our youngest to school, and I spent quite a bit of the morning on the computer and doing housework.  Gill suggested we take he tent down, before it rained.  As we finished doing it, it started raining!  Good timing.  Will came round as I was typing up the LETS minutes, and I told him about David, whom he said he'd like to meet.  I suggested that we could meet up this evening at City Screen.

I had an appointment at 3pm with Pauline, who had asked me some time ago to help her get rid of a pile of stuff from Clements Hall and take it to St Nicks.  Pauline had her great-granddaughter with her who was cute, and I went into kids entertainer mode and was a bit daft, which didn't chime with Pauline's mood.  However, we walked round to Clement's Hall and I carefully packed all the gear into my trailer and panniers, and went to the Environment Forum meeting.

This was in a small room at the Council offices at St Leonard's Place, and we had several presentations about renewable energy in York.  The most interesting one was from Jacqui Warren the Sustainability Officer, about the potential for different sorts of renewables, but the other presentations contributed to the picture. It is clear that York could generate significant amounts of low carbon energy if it had the political will, and it needs to if it's to achieve any of the targets it's agreed to.

After this, which finished at 6pm, I went to David's to take him to City Screen for our regular coffee and chat... and this time to meet up with Will, who has a new found enthusiasm for art, literature and history.... all David's subjects.  They got on well.

At 7.30 I took David home and cooked his tea and by 7.50 I was finished, so went home and Gill made me some tea.

I did quite a bit of admin/paperwork in the evening, two invoices and some other bits and bobs.  I also had a good chat on the phone and downloaded a load of WNBR photos.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Monday 6th June 11

Another full day.... starting off with a bit of a difficult assignment.  Ian and Lyndsay had hired bikes on Saturday but wanted to bring them back to the shop on Sunday.... but were dismayed to find that the shop wasn't open on Sunday.  So, that meant either staying over on Sunday night (which they were welcome to do, but couldn't because of Ian's having to be at work) or let me return the bikes and get the deposit back to Lyndsay.  Ian suggested I send it to him by PayPal.

However, as the shop wasn't open on Sunday, and they went home last night, I needed to get the bikes to Monkgate/Lord Mayor's Walk for 9.30.  I put one on my trailer, shielding the frame from scratches with a wad of newspaper, and tying it on with several bungees.  The second bike was relatively easy to push whilst I rode mine, one-handed all the way, of course, and in the same gear all the time!

I got there on the dot of 9.30 and once both bikes were in the shop, I passed on Ian's message about the poorly positioned chain and the fact that there was no oil on the chain. The shop staff were surprised and grumpy about this, after all, the bike should not have gone out in such a condition and therefore someone slipped up.  And although I had the paperwork, they were not happy with giving me the deposit.  However, I was fine about that, as I know Ian preferred the BACS way of transferring money, and the shop would be able to do that more easily than I could do PayPal.  So I got a receipt and left.

My next port of call was the Green Party office to give back the megaphone and radios that Graham had lent us, and from here I went for a coffee with Serena from the Bike Ride, and it was very nice to get to know her a bit better. 

I got home at around midday, did a bit of computery stuff and had lunch and did a good block of compost heap work, at least two hour's worth.

The next notable thing was the LETS meeting at the Seahorse, at 7.30.  Kay arrived just after me and Melody a bit later still.  We had an efficient meeting... when Melody's around, it is always efficient!  I took notes and will write them up soon.  I was just thinking of going when will arrived, so I stayed and we had a really good chat.  Was a very nice conversation; I'm very fond of him.

I didn't get home til nearly 11pm... lit the stove, did some washing up, did emails and facebook and blog.... the usual stuff til the wee early hours...

Monday, 6 June 2011

Sunday 5th June 11

A really busy day... starting with going down the garden to see Ian and Lyndsay and inviting them to come to the house for a coffee...

Ian said he would be able to sort out my computer, which has been running very slowly and saying there wasn't enough space to download my cycle camera videos.  Ian is a bit of a whizz at sorting computer problems, and is a fan of (and contributor to) open source software, which is written by 'ordinary people' (and some extraordinary ones!) and is free and responds to things very quickly... so if there's a virus threat, a patch can be available in 24 hours, whereas with Windows, it might take months.  So he offered to take all my files off my laptop and store them on the external hard-drive that the children have for big Spore files, and then dump Windows and install Ubuntu.  Removing all my files might take a while, so he set it going before I went to work, and they went out to explore York, and I got my stuff together for going to Leeds and entertaining at Middleton Park.

I got the 12.18 train and on it were some of my friends from Edible York, off to Todmorden to visit the Incredible Edible Todmorden project. Bill was with them and we sorted out a date for Edible York people to visit our garden to see the composting.

Leeds soon came and we all got off, they to change trains and I to go and wait for Alan to pick me up and take me out to Middleton Park.  The gig there went very similarly to the previous ones... apart from there were 60 people turned up to see the show!  Alan and his volunteers were extremely pleased with the turnout and the show, and from where I was, the show went really well.  I did the circus show and workshop preceded by the 'warm-up acts' and followed by the free-play circus stuff, and balloon giveaways.  I managed to finish on time, at 4pm, and Alan took me back to the station and I got a train immediately.

I was back in York by 5.10 and home before half past.

Ian had got the computer ready and he showed me how to install Ubuntu and how some of it worked.  I rang David and asked about whether it would be OK to start work at 6.30 rather than 6pm, which was fine.  Gill gave me a slice of quiche, hot out of the oven.... yummy!  Then I said my goodbyes to Lyndsay and Ian and cycled down to town, arriving just before 6.30.  David had arranged to meet Carolyn down at 'Frankie and Benny's' and have a coffee.

However, we had a dessert too, I had a tiramasu. Delicious, but overpriced for what it was.  We chatted... or rather, Carolyn led the conversation, and was surprised when she realised the time was 8.15.  I took David back home and got him his tea and sorted out the bins and recycling.  I got away at 9.15. 

On the way back I picked up a bag of compostables and visited a bin which I know sometimes has 'freegan' goodies in it, and hit paydirt, several kilos of assorted beans and pulses, all in sealed packets.  Great stuff! 

I was surprised the Ian and Lyndsay were still at home, seemingly entertaining our boys!  Ian showed me a bit more stuff on the newly cleaned computer.... he'd cleaned the fan which had layers of dirt on it, and was not functioning at all well, and the vacuumed the keyboard... it's almost like having a new laptop!

Ian likes free stuff and was happy to have a couple of kilos of Gunko Peas and other beans.  We collected sleeping bags from the tent and they got off, back to Cheshire.  I really enjoyed their visit... but have one last thing to do for them; they hired bikes from Bob Trotters, which wasn't open on Sunday, so the bikes have to be back on Monday morning before 9.30am.  So that's my job, to take them back tomorrow morning.... not that easy, but I'll do it!

I spent a long time trying to work out how to do various things on the new operating system.  Some is exactly the same as before (like writing my blog) and others are more complicated, such as opening photos from an email, and playing Scrabble on facebook, neither of which I'm able to do right now.  But it won't take long to learn how to do these tasks, and I'm glad to dump Windows which was clunky and slow.  I had a lovely conversation with Serena who was on the ride on Saturday, and we agreed to go for a coffee tomorrow.  And I washed up at 2am....

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Saturday 4th June 11 The Sixth World Naked Bike Ride

I had booked three tickets for a screening of 'Home' at City Screen, so I could take my sons to the cinema as a treat... but as usual I didn't get it quite right.  I thought a film with fantastic aerial photography and a good environmental message might be a treat.  But neither of them were keen, so I didn't force them to go.  This meant  that I didn't feel like going either.

However, I needed to go to town to get some bamboo canes for the World Naked Bike Ride flags, and Richard had messaged me too, asking me to pick up today. So I decided to make best use of the journey and take in the accumulated drinks cartons to Hazel Court... and I had some space in the trailer so I took some steel tubing which has sat in the garden for ages... I think it came from a rusty hammock which someone gave us.

So the metal stuff went in the metal skip and tetrapacks in the drinks carton recycling skip.  I went on to Barnitts to get 10 bamboos and then went to Richard's to pick up the 4 boxes of compostables he had for me.  In such warm weather, stuff goes off really quickly.

I had quite a long time chatting with Rich but as I hadn't gone to the film, I had plenty of time.

I got home and Gill was complaining about my compost heap smelling.  I went down the garden and couldn't smell it.  Gill went to buy bread or something and came back, apologising as other people were complaining of the pong... it was a nearby farmer, presumably, spreading something pungent on the fields.  I went on the computer and found the Press had published the piece I was asked to write last night.  I was pleased with it, and also that comments were not enabled on it!  The WNBR always gets the bigots sniping.

I had lunch and did a bit of sorting in the garden.  Then at 2pm, I was expecting Ian and Lyndsay, but they didn't show, but I continued getting my stuff together for the ride.

So at about 3.30 I set off for the Millennium Bridge. (tbc)

Saturday, 4 June 2011

Friday 3rd June 11

Another busy day, and boiling hot.... perfect for the Manchester World Naked Bike Ride, which I'm really sad I'm not going on.... The weather is forecast to be slightly cooler tomorrow for our York ride, but not cold or rainy...

So, first thing I was awoken by Gill saying she thought that there was a swarm of bees in our big pollarded willow.  She wanted to ask me what we should do about it.  I groggily went to have a look and was unsure whether they were honeybees or something else.  It certainly wasn't what I understand as a swarm.  Just a load of bees obviously going in and out of a cavity in the tree.

So I got up and rang a beekeeper who's number we have, and then went on the York beekeepers website and rang some of them.  A bit later, Tom, who has I think he said got 90 hives, came round with his grand-daughter and he identified the bees as bumblebees, not honeybees.  He said they'd be there til about August and then the males and queens would fly off and the colony would disperse.  But it's a really good thing to have as they are excellent pollinators.

I had a fairly busy day, including doing a bit of digging out of a cubic metre of compost in a NZ bin, transferring it to a builder's bag. I did get out on my bike, visiting a friend in town to have a conversation about a mutual contact who's been taking advantage of vulnerable women, and I've collected a few stories about him, and am hoping to do something about it.

It was a very hot day and I got quite sweaty so before I went to work, I had a really good hot shower, a totally solar shower.  Soon after 6 I got off to Naburn Village Hall for a charity fundraiser, where I was doing a balloon modelling entertainment.  The event was to raise funds for an orphanage in Uganda, and it was a lot of fun.  I may get time to write more about it, but I was also invited to write something for the Press website so I am going to get on with that.

Friday, 3 June 2011

Thursday 2nd June 11

Such a busy day!  I had postponed the visit to Brunswick Organic Nursery from yesterday and I also had to deliver the 'hard copy' press releases for the World Naked Bike Ride which the Press and Radio hadn't responded to after they were sent by email.on the 27th May.

So that was my first trip out.  I set out with the two press releases and then returned 3 minutes later as I'd forgotten the fliers.  I then bombed down to Gillygate to the Radio York building and gave in the press release and discussed how best to publicise the event through the radio.  From here I popped round to Millers Yard and Dylan was happy to have the fliers.  Then a swift walk through the centre of town to the Press office.  I had a look through the paper which had just been published; they hadn't responded to our press release but had printed the letter I sent in a couple of days ago.   Then I had a chat with Dan, a reporter, who took the press release and fliers and said he'd try to get something in on Saturday.

From here I shot off down Fulford Road, over Millennium Bridge and out to Bishopthorpe.  I was pleased to meet friends at Brunswick, including Adam, and gave out a few fliers for the WNBR.  I found a good selection of squash plants and one or two other things, including some Marigolds for Gill, by request.

Then home, for a late lunch and a bit of a sit down and then off again to see if I could get a better quality 'Micro SD' card for my little camera.  I saw a YouTube video of a 'before and after' with the Micro SD which came with the camera (jerky, not the best quality) and then after a SanDisk SD card replaced it.  Much better, a smoother film.  I cycled to Staples and they had a replacement 8GB card for £18... but not from SanDisk, but Lexar, which they said was a good quality product.  I wanted the 8GB one as that's what the camera came with... I could have got a SanDisk 2GB or 4GB for considerably less... but I bought the £18 version, and was told that if the quality was not what I wanted, I could bring it back.  I put it in the camera and did a test film on the way home.

At 6 I cycled out again, to a Freecycler who had offered some Basil seedlings.  I offered to swap them for a bean or two, so took two toilet-roll grown Pea Beans over to her.

After tea, which was linguine with home grown spinach, we put up the new tent.  We bought this last year and hadn't tested it, so it was a group exercise to erect it.  So, team effort and one hour later, we had the 4-person tent up, only just enough space, but much excitement from the boys.  They wanted to sleep in it with their friend who's spent much of the day with us.

So Gill and I got it ready for them to spend the night there, and by 11.45pm, all was quiet there... apart from the duck in the next garden quacking intermittently.

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Wednesday 1st June 11

A good day, with a reasonably late start but once I'd got going, I got quite busy in the garden for a short time.

However, I had a decision to make... I need to go to Brunswick Organic Nursery, town to pay David's cheque in, pay my cheque in, pick up from Richard, take 3 sacks of clothes to a charity shop and go and buy a second pair of shorts from the Woodlands shop... Gill bought one pair yesterday and they fit perfectly, and there was a second pair there which Gill suggested I might like... or need...

So... I took the clothes to the Woodlands MS Respite shop and bought the shorts, for £1.50.  Then zoomed down to the Council office to pay David's cheque in.  Then to my Building Society to pay my cheque in.  Then via the lemon stall (donation of lemon halves) to Country Fresh where I did a little bit of shopping and loaded up my trailer and pannier rack with biodegradables. I came home and took some of the stuff down to the current heap.

I decided that there wasn't time to go to Brunswick, so I'll do that tomorrow.  After tea I walked to town with our eldest to attend the monthly Cafe Scientifique, which was a short talk from Professor Jonathan Reece, on various aspects of the subject of skin.  It included a bit about the genetics of skin and hair colour, and the way that DNA analysis allows us to see where people came from and where they travelled after leaving Africa.  A bit about sweating and body hair.  Quite a bit about UV radiation and skin damage, Vitamin D production and more.  It wasn't the best talk we've been to but it was still worth going.

Graham delivered the megaphone and walkie talkies to City Screen and I picked them up after the talk, and my son and I had some good conversations on the way home.

When I arrived home, Tony rang and we discussed the latest developments re the World Naked Bike Ride on Saturday.  I then wrote a letter to a participant who had contacted us, and did a variety of other bits and bobs. 

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Tuesday 3s1t May 11

A good day, messing around with my little camera which by sundown I'd got sorted.... using a pair of cable ties to allow it to be mounted onto my tri-bars, although with the test ride, the camera fell out of it's holder (which stayed secure on the bike) and onto the road..... and kept working.

I also repotted the tomato plants from the Sports Day yesterday, and the courgettes.  I bunged a huge pile of weeds onto a compost heap.  I met Abul as he came to borrow some drain rods. I chopped up two pineapples into slices for drying and cubes for a fruit salad. I filled in a questionnaire with Gill about 'car free developments' for a friend of ours who's researching the subject, and dealt with several phone enquiries.

At 5pm I cycled down to town to meet with Tony Wood, a Structural Engineer, who inspected the steel joist in David's cellar and said the small amount of corrosion was nothing to be worried about.  I also visited the gun and knife shop, where the owner said he'd got nowhere with persuading the other shop owners to contribute to the cost of unblocking the inspection chamber, so he offered to pay half, and paid me cash there and then, which I signed for and went to give David.  David gave me a cheque for the whole amount to pay the Council.

For those REALLY interested in the video I made, just a short cycle around the block, it's on You Tube.