Saturday, 30 July 2011

Friday 29th July 11

Another work day, with an early start to get to Garforth soon after 9am to do a party for a Foster Care organisation at Garforth Miners Welfare Hall.  When I arrived, I was stunned by the venue, it is probably the best hall I've been into for, well, I can't remember a better one, certainly for a little place like Garforth.

It has a sprung floor, and a large stage with dressing rooms behind, and good lighting.  It is a really good size, I was told it is the only indoor venue in Leeds large enough for archery; the targets are placed at the back of the stage.  The decor is lovely and there's a kitchen and good disabled access.  I chatted to Dave the Chair of the organisation that runs it, and after my show someone turned up to interview me about my opinion of the venue.  The interview and photos will apparently be in the September newsletter!

The fostered kids and their carers arrived and there  was immediately enthusiasm from two pre-teen boys, who were dead keen to have a go on the equipment and it was all that I could do to stop them.  I started the show soon after 10am, with about 10 children present and a few more adults.  Half-way through the circus show, three more children arrived, so we had a good number.  Some of the adults were 'game' too, getting up and balancing feathers, and when the balloon bit of the show was on, helping the children make the animal models that I'd showed them how to make.

All in all it was a really good morning, although I'd have liked at least twice the size of audience.... I like 20 to 40 to have a rip-roaring show!  10 children is about the minimum I can cope with and have a viable show and workshop.

I finished on the stroke of midday, dealt with the journalisty woman, got changed and packed and walked the 10 minute journey back to Garforth Station.  I ate my sandwiches on the station before the 12.53 train to York came, and when in York I went to Boots to get a 'paddle' hairbrush, which I like to brush my hair (I lost one whilst camping in Hampshire, I think) and bought some mouse traps in Barnitts.  Then I went on to Alligator to pick up their compostables, and carefully balanced them on my bike to bring them home.

I did a bit of work in the garden putting this lot on the current heap, and then at 5.30 got cleaned up to go to work for David, starting at 6pm.  We went to City Screen and had a coffee and chatted about what we'd been doing over the week. I got my ticket for Just Do It on 15th August.  I made him his meal when we got back, and we worked out my July hours and he gave me a cheque.

I picked up a large load from Country Fresh on the way back and then spent til nearly 10pm filling up a pallet bin with at least 200kg of materials.

For tea at 10pm I had potatoes and mayonnaise, a thrown away avocado in bread and some fruit salad.

Managed to get to bed not too soon after 2am.

Friday, 29 July 2011

Thursday 28th July 11, Charcoal Dave at St Nicks!

Woke at 10 and within minutes of coming down stairs, I got a phone call which made me very happy.... the email I've been composing for ages to try to explain something had landed and been taken positively, thank goodness.  It felt like a risk.  But sometimes you have to follow your heart and go for it.  Thank you to somebody for a sensible attitude.

The rest of the day felt emotional.  But positive. I got two more invoices written and sent off.  I'm not sure what else I did today except it was nice and warm and I did a bit in the garden once the paperwork was emailed off.

However, I was looking forward to the evening meeting at St Nicks, the AGM preceeded by a demonstration and talk by Dave 'Charcoal' Hutchinson, a 'Master Charcoal Maker'.  I tried to get assorted family members to come down to the talk, but no joy.

I got there at 7pm and Dave was setting up a charcoal burner and getting ready to demonstrate how charcoal is made. He lives and works near Scarborough, in the Wykeham Forest and runs the Yorkshire Charcoal Company.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Wednesday 27th July 11

Another day trying to sort out my finances.  I managed to get two invoices written and sent off.  I have at least two more to do but I just couldn't focus.

We had Justin coming round in the afternoon so I got the affected area tidied and cleaned and ready for him to look at.   When he came he had 'Mick the brick' with him who said yes to filling in the gap, currently filled with wooden battens, with bricks, and then rendering over the face of the bricks so it looks like some sort of stone pillar.  Once that is done, Justin will come and do the wiring and put it in some trunking.  He found the plug socket which had apparently stopped working was in fact working.  Very odd.  And no sign of a rodent. 

I did a bit of cleaning elsewhere, too, whilst Gill went to get her hair done, mainly hoovering and washing up.

I attended the Cosy Homes meeting in the evening, and we have the first draft of the leaflet for tenants ready, and other bits of the project are ongoing.  I managed not to volunteer for writing minutes or anything else.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Tuesday 26th July 11

A busy day, got a fair amount done.  I got up fairly early and managed to get my head around the difficult email.... a compromise, I sent a simple message with hardly any detail, saying that if it was OK, I wouldn't need to send a more detailed one.

I then had a phone conversation with a Council person, re a grant I applied for to put on an energy saving event.  With my York in Transition hat on, I've been given £500 to spend on a one-day event to promote energy efficiency and domestic renewables.  I agreed to go to the Council Offices to sign the paperwork at midday.  I got wrapped up in the washing machine stuff with Gill, and then realised, at 11.43, hat I had to be at the office at 12... so i quickly got washed and dressed and on my bike and powered down to St Leonard's, getting there at 12.02. Not bad!  However, In waited another 10 minutes for the Council official to appear... so I needn't have rushed.

So I signed for this and I'll have the cheque in about a month. I need to find a venue and a date and stallholders and do publicity.....

I then went to my building society and withdrew a wad of notes to pay a good proportion of our Council Tax... and went straight back to the Council offices to pay that in.  From here I popped into Millers Yard to say hello to Dylan... and met a new resident of York, a hair-braider called Tamsin.  We talked about street entertainment and red tape.

Then home via Freshways... 2 sacks of compostables here. Came home to find Gill sorting out the conservatory, as she's convinced there's something in there, and it might have been responsible for causing the washing machine to stop working.  I helped her for a while, pulling the washing machine out and taking rubbish to the dustbin and compostables down the garden.

I then spent a bit of time organising my September visit to Basingstoke.  I'm going to travel down to near London on the Thursday and stay with a friend until Saturday, when I'll then travel to Basingstoke and do a Fiddlesticks and John the Composter gig, and come back to York after that.  When talking to the client, I'd found ticket prices which added up to about £70 for the three journeys.  However, today, I had a good poke around the East Coast website, and got the three tickets for £58... including one which was advertised at £10 but when I actually bought it, turned out to be just £9. So I was well pleased with that!

Gill couldn't see any nibbling on the electrical flex, and wondered if the damage had been done in the void between the back of the house and a freestanding wall, a gap which I'd boarded up and filled with insulation, and had been invaded by a rat or rats several years ago.  But she had a brainwave.... maybe the problem was the socket box... so she got the extension flex and plugged the washing machine into that, and Voila! It worked!  So as the wash was doing, and we were chatting about our not now needing a new washing machine, I removed the wooden shuttering and insulation.

Gill rang Justin, our electrical and plumbing angel, and by chance he was doing some tiling just down the road.  He said he'd be with us in an hour to see the problem.  He came, looked around, and said he'd bring a bricklayer to fill the void with bricks, and would see about fixing the electrics... tomorrow!  What service!  He's not cheap, but he is reliable and really nice!

I then spent ages on the phone trying to get to the Tax Credits renewal people.  I eventually got to them and told them our net earned income... which last year was the lowest ever for Professor Fiddlesticks.  The problem is partly that I still have the expensive directory advertising which now isn't bringing in as much work. 

So after this mainly sedentary day, I spent a bit of time in the garden and dealt with some compost and some weeding.

I had a small tea and at 7.30, set out for the Green Party fundraiser at City Screen.  This was very enjoyable, as loads of my friends were there. One person was there whom I've been playing Scrabble on facebook with for ages, but never met.  So I was very happy to meet Carol, who was sitting with her two friends and my friends Jane and David.  When the music started, Jane and David had a dance and some others joined in.  I particularly enjoyed the band 'BlueSaloon' which played funky blues numbers, and had a female guest singer for a couple of numbers, which was good.  My fiend Keith Jackman was the drummer for both bands.  I was very pleased to see him working... well, mainly hear him as where I was sitting I couldn't see him very well.

So, some nice music, good chats, a couple of pints of sweet cider, and I enjoyed the evening quite a bit.

Got home between 11.30 and midnight, lit the stove to get washing up water and continue drying off the fruit leather.  A late night, 3am bedtime.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Monday 25th July 11

A quite early start as had work from 10 til 12 at Dringhouses Library.

I cycled over in costume (not the hat, though) and got to the venue at 9.40 and helped move things around in the room to make a reasonable show and workshop space.  The reason I'd been booked to do this gig is because the summer reading challenge is Circus Stars, and there are a number of performance-related events on in York libraries during the summer.

I've another 4 library sessions, and then in October, I'm performing at the Central Library ('Explore') for the prizegiving event.

Today's show and workshop went really well, and I was pleased to have Chrissy and her children in the audience.  The freeplay workshop which followed was also successful, and I especially enjoyed teaching a couple of youngsters how to juggle, and a Dad how to do diabolo.

I got away fairly swiftly, but was spotted by Grace, whom I haven't seen for quite a while, and I stopped to talk to her for a while.  And then, a bit closer in to York, spotted Pauline, and I stopped to find out how her visit to Buckingham Palace had gone.  On the way back home, I decided to do a blog 'page' about people who inspire me, as Pauline does.

I got in after 12.30 and got changed, put circus kit away and had lunch, and at 1.15 set off for town to go and meet David, who wanted to attend a talk at the Central Library, or 'Explore' as it's been re-branded.  The talk was by Bridget Morris of the Rowntree Society, and it was about the Rowntree family and their legacy.  David used to work for Rowntrees, and so was very interested. We both enjoyed the talk, and David offered to help with their 'Rowntree Memory' project.

Just before 4pm I took David back to his house and soon got away, coming back home via the lemon drink stall (lots of squashed half lemons for me!) and Country Fresh, where Shirley had a half sack of gubbins for me, including some pears which I later dried.

I did some work in the garden including taking my compost toilet receptacle down to the dalek bin I use specifically for that, and putting about 80kg of fruit and veg on the current heap.

I had some rice for tea, left over from a couple of days ago, with freshly made tomato and veg sauce on top.  Later in the evening I was phoned by my contact in Basingstoke and offered a fee to go and do Professor Fiddlesticks and John the Composter which will make it worthwhile going all that way.  I'm expecting to include a social visit too, which will make it more than worthwhile.

Gill and I spent a large part of the evening researching washing machines as ours has stopped working.  However, Gill thinks she saw a mouse 'or other rodent' in the conservatory, where the washing machine is, and was wondering if the rodent has just gnawed through a vital cable or something, causing it to stop working.  I would quite like to get a more modern one, though, as I've had that washing machine for 20 years and it isn't energy efficient. 

Bed ridiculously late, after making a lovely-tasting fruit leather out of bananas, the last of the loganberries, first of the blackberries and four waste limes.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Sunday 24th July 11

I woke to find that the wasp stings had started to turn into tiny spots or pimples, where the wasp had actually stung me.  This revealed that I had two stings in my groin... so I was stung 7 times.  The red patches around the stings are still sore and a bit itchy.

However, another work day, with a gig for the City of York Council at Burton Stone Community Centre,  a 'Family Fun Day' from 11am til 3pm.

So I reorganised my equipment into the trailer box and set off at about 10.30, in costume as it's easier than changing there.  I cycled along the Sustrans cycle path all the way to Wigginton Road/Crichton Ave, and then over the railway and to the Community Centre, it took about 15 minutes.

There was slight confusion about where I was going to work... I was down to do a show inside at 1pm, and there wasn't really a good place for me to work outside but I found one so I could be busy all day, which is my preference... the day goes more quickly if I'm busy, and the client gets better value for money.  I certainly didn't want to be hanging around til 1pm!  So I did a good 90 minutes of workshop, then moved inside to set up, but had to wait for some dancers to do their thing, so I watched them whilst eating my sandwiches.

The show I did went OK but the audience was obviously unused to live entertainment and there was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing, but some core audience stayed for the hour and there was enough participation to make my usual show possible.  Afterwards I did some balloon models in exchange for youngsters trying out the unicycle toys... the balloon were a reward for doing the four-wheeled unicycle, really.  The last hour was therefore quite easy, with a stream of children trying the various unicycles and me making balloons for them.  I finished on the dot of 3pm, and zoomed home.

I quickly got changed and unloaded, and immediately set off for Country Fresh, as I knew Rich would have stuff for me... he did, about 4 boxes which I condensed into 3.  I got some veggies too, potatoes and onions and a couple of avocados.

There were about 10 bags of spinach leaf in with the compostables, so I washed the lot and picked out some good leaves to add to my tea, and cooked them to have with the last of the nutloaf and a potato salad.

I managed a half hour outside before coming in and trying to write an email that I've been trying to write for weeks.  Sometimes it is so difficult to know how much or how little to say.  I guess this is why I've been putting it off.

I got a phone call from my Green friend in Basingstoke about a potential gig there, and had to research train times and prices.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Saturday 23rd July 11,

A really good day until I heard the news after work.

When I woke up I realised I had a sixth wasp sting, on my right arm, which I hadn't noticed yesterday.  Today it is red, swollen and itchy like the other 5.

I set off for town at 11.45 as I was working for David at midday.  We'd planned to go to Rowntree Park as I thought that the 90th birthday celebrations were going on today... however, that was last week.  But we went anyway.

On the way there, at the Arts Barge, we met David and Claire Kennard, and chatted with them, and David Bellis and Barry Male, and had a quick hello with them too.

At the park we wandered round the assorted fitness and activity stalls.  Pushing the wheelchair on grass is a great fitness activity, for me at least!  We visited the bandstand end and then made our way back, spotting June Tranmer pushing imaginary things around, Tai Chi style.

We had lunch in the cafe... David bought a sandwich and I had a selection from home.  Then on to the Millennium Bridge where we watched canoe racing.

Up into town along New Walk and Blue Bridge, and a stop off at City Screen.  Here we met Richard Shiels, then Scilla and David's friend Elizabeth, then we were joined by someone else... but David wanted to go.  We walked on to Museum Gardens where  my lovely friend Jenny Borrett said hi, so we chatted with her.

Then back to David's house, where I left at 5pm.

When I got in, I made a nutloaf, and prepared water for a bath, as work tomorrow.  When Gill and the boys came in, they loved the nutloaf.  I had a bath and hair wash after midnight.

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Friday 22nd July 11

A fairly nothingy day, but Gill and I got our accounts from 2010-11 finished.  My income has gone down again.  In a recession, kids entertainers are one of the first things which get cut.

In the afternoon, I bombed into town on my bike.... stopped at Country Fresh to pick up a huge load which I repacked, much to Shirley's amazement, and got it all into the trailer and a box of old plants on the rack, including some onions which I might plant out.

From here I went to Cycle Heaven, where I got a receipt re-issued from March this year, to put into the accounts.  I'd paid a large bill by cheque, and hadn't got the receipt to prove that I'd spent that money.  Cycle Heaven were happy to oblige.

Then to the station. where I used the machine to get the tickets I bought yonks ago for our summer holiday. I called in to Clarks in Coppergate, as Gill had suggested, and found the reduced price sandals.  I quickly found a pair which had originally been £50 and were now £30.  I hate shopping so I tried them on and bought them... no point of trying to get  a cheaper or better pair; these will do.

Then I came home, stopping at Freshways for just one of two sacks they had for me... I couldn't get the second on the trailer as it was already overloaded with about 100kg on.

So I came home and loaded the wheelbarrow, and took a load down to the Compostumbler which I emptied a day or two ago.  I went to investigate a mature heap, and disturbed it... and a wasp's nest in it.  They came out and attacked me; I ran as fast as I could and shook most of them off, but got several stings, including some under my clothing, which was horrible.  I got one on the top of my head, one on my arm and in my armpit, one on my leg and one in my groin.  It was horrible... although I don't dislike wasps and am happy for them to have nests in the garden, I prefer not to get stung.

I didn't come in immediately, but did a bit more work before tea... Gill had made some rice and veg, with home grown beans in, lovely!

Did some washing up before bed, and took some antihistamine to see if I could make the swelling go down a bit.

Was pleased to see that this blog has had 50,000 hits since September 2008, according to my Bravenet counter widget.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Thursday 21st July 11

A bit of a lie in for me today, and then a day writing and dealing with phone enquiries.  I finished writing up my blog posts for my weekend in Hampshire.  I chatted to an organiser from the Sheffield Green Party Conference, where I've been booked to do some entertainment, but it looks like there might not be many (or any!) children to entertain, and a chap from Basingstoke about a possible gig in September.  I spoke to an agent who'd booked me last year but not paid me what was agreed.

Gill spent a long time doing the accounts, and going through things with me to check she was writing them up correctly.

I went out in the garden quite late on and did some weeding in the pond-to-be area and got my fix of outdoors.

I made my own tea, some broad beans and onion, pepper and mushroom, with a salad made of home grown cucumber, tomato and some waste olives.  It was lovely!

In the evening I had some lovely chats with assorted friends.  I feel very lucky to have my friends.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Wednesday 20th July 11

Well a very slow start to the day as Danny had said he'd be really happy with a lie-in, til 10 if possible.  I was up at 8.30 despite going to bed much later than him, and I lit the stove as I needed to wash up and dry pineapple.  I made Danny a coffee at 10 and took it into him, he got up and had toast for breakfast.

He got his laptop talking to our WiFi and he had a productive morning, I also spent most of the morning on my computer.

I bought Danny's book, 'The No Nonsense Guide to Climate Change', and if I get time to read it, I'll review it on this blog.

Before he went, I persuaded Gill to read Danny a couple of her poems which it seemed he enjoyed.  Gill then went into town and I looked after the boys, although they made their own lunch which was good.  Danny went between midday and 1pm, and walked into town... was going to the Minster and to have a pudding at El Piano before catching his 3pm bus to Saltburn, which was his next gig.

I had lunch and spent some time sorting stuff in the garden and had a generally  quiet and easy day.

After tea there was a knock at the door and it was Bill Eve and two other Edible York people, to have a tour of the garden.  A third person arrived and I spent an hour chatting about all sorts of bits and bobs, from the failed greywater collector to the problems I've had with squirrels.  I think they enjoyed the visit.

Later I dealt with a large pineapple, slicing it so I can easily dry the slices, but keeping the cubes left after the slicing, to use with fruit salad or on cereals, and putting these in the fridge.

Tuesday 19th July 11, Danny Chivers event

Good to be at home and to be able to have my normal muesli for breakfast!

I had a fairly computer-based day, although also did some phoning and other admin stuff connected with sorting out a problem with the conservatory, selling David's old port and Champagne and contacting a housebuilding company to see if I can have the trees they are going to have to cut down to build a couple of houses nearby... and I hopped on my bike and cycled to Thomas's to buy bread.

I had a text from Danny Chivers to say he was going to be at the station soon after 4.30 and I offered to meet him and take him to City Screen where he was due to perform this evening.

So I got ready to go down there at about 4, and cursed the very heavy rain which soaked me as I cycled down.  Dave Taylor met us at City Screen, and after a coffee Danny made sure his laptop worked with the projector the Basement uses, after which we went for a short walk to see the Minster, PurpleMan and Barley Hall, and then to El Piano to have something to eat.

I asked after Rachel, who has finished working for El Piano, apparently, and was told she'd be in later for a meal with her parents.... and then she appeared, and beamed at me in her usual way, and we chatted about what she's going to be getting up to.  I shall miss her as an El Piano person, but hope we'll continue to meet in York occasionally.

Danny and I enjoyed our meal and at 7 set off for City Screen again to get ready for his talk, 'Undercover And Over The Top, How an Undercover Cop Made My Climate Trial Collapse'. Danny explained that back in April 2009 he had been minding his own business in Oxford and a friend had asked him if he wanted to come and find out about a demonstration against a big polluter.  The demo was top secret and he would have to go somewhere and meet a minibus which would take him to a secret meeting... so of course, Danny, being an inquisitive person, and keen on preventing CO2 emissions as they are rapidly rendering this planet uninhabitable, said 'Yes!'

The minibus took the group to a school near Nottingham, and behind the school were some meeting rooms which had over 100 people in, all curious to know what was being planned.  Only a small number of organisers had the whole picture... they were suggesting that some of the assembled 'climate campers' and other activists might want to shut down the second biggest coal-fired power station in the UK, at Ratcliffe on Soar, which was close to where they were.  The group heard about how some of them could get onto the coal conveyor belts, others might block the gates, and others could scale the chimney and prepare for a week-long occupation.  They were told that national electricity supplies would not be threatened, as e-on, the owners, would switch on a gas-fired power station or two... but they preferred to use the coal powered one as it was cheaper to run, despite emitting twice as much CO2 as a gas-powered station.

As Danny was preparing to go to sleep and wondering whether he would take part, the police arrived and smashed down the doors and arrested all 114 people there, under the new crime of 'Conspiracy To Commit Aggravated Trespass'.

What the group didn't realise was that one of the group, a chap called Mark Stone, was in fact Mark Kennedy, an undercover policeman who'd been part of the Climate Camp (and others) for about 6 years, and had gained the trust of the group.  In fact, as he was a driver, and knew the Nottingham area well, he had been one of the original scouts for Ratcliffe, and driven some of his friends there to have a look at it in January, when the action to stop it's CO2 emissions was being thought up.

The activists were eventually let out of the police stations and over the coming weeks and months, most of them had their charges dropped, but for some reason, Danny was in the group of 26 who were told they'd be going to Crown Court.  20 of these were convicted, although the Judge gave them the lightest sentences possible as he was convinced they were genuinely good people who were acting with the best possible motives.  The 6 who were left included Danny, who had said all along that he hadn't made up his mind whether to participate by the time he was arrested, and therefore wasn't guilty of 'conspiracy'.

However, quite separately to the slow legal process, some of Stone's friends had become suspicious of him and then found documents in his real name and confronted him and he'd confessed to being a police spy.  This sent shockwaves through the activist community, and the mass arrest in the school then began to make more sense. The police had known about the plans since the very beginning, and could have stopped the process much earlier as they knew all about it and who was more centrally involved.

The 'outing' of Kennedy meant that the defendants in the trial knew that the police had the information which would prove them innocent, but the prosecution said that they didn't have any such information..... until the very last minute, when they said, oops, yes, something has come to light and we're dropping the charges, you six go free now.

This information also meant that the head of the Crown Prosecution Service also invited the 20 who were convicted were invited to appeal against their convictions, and TODAY their case has been heard and they have been exonerated.

However, the existence of Kennedy raises a lot of questions about the CPS, as they brought the prosecutions, yet they knew all along that the protesters were innocent.... or at least that their convictions wouldn't be safe.

Danny told us his account of this debacle, with a few slides to illustrate, and with discussion as it was a small audience, and finished off with an interactive poem about climate change deniers.  My friends Allison, Rich and Julian sat with me, and I really enjoyed the evening.

Danny, Allison and I walked up to the Rook and Gaskill and were joined by Rich and later, a musician called John, and stayed there til chucking out time whereupon Danny and I walked back home, and he bedded down in the front room, and I stayed up til 2am doing assorted writing, mainly.

Monday 18th July 11

Up early to get all my stuff ready to go home.... I'd had a comfy night in the hostel and Serena had been happy in the Yurt.  I had breakfast, helped Tim move crockery, helped Serena move stuff to the car, and visited the Woodland Burial site which is part of the Sustainability Centre.... it was a lovely place, with unmarked graves under trees, and some of them with a tree planted into the mound of soil above the grave.... really nice!

But in order for me to be able to get the 10.18 from Petersfield to London, I needed to leave the site soon after 9.30, and Serena managed to pack everything and me into her little car and take me to the station. 

I had another absolutely trouble-free and on-time set of train journeys back to York... in fact the trip from Kings Cross was very enjoyable as at my table was a couple with an allotment and an interest in sustainability, and a chap who was a keen cyclist and an architect who designs eco-friendly buildings.  We talked all the way back... and we were soon in York, just after 2.30pm.

It was lovely to be back home and see the family.... but at 6 I was due to go and work for David.  We went to City Screen and I told him about the Little Green Gathering and the interesting times I had there... then took him back home and made him a meal and scooted off soon after 8, taking with me a large collection of port and wine ready for the auction.

I had 380 emails to deal with and various other things but I came to bed soon after 1am as over the weekend I haven't had as much sleep as I need.

Sunday 17th July 11, Little Green Gathering final day

The last day of the Little Green Gathering.

I was really looking forward to doing my talk on composting and I had a small handful of people eager to learn.  However, I was saddened that a young mum was there and her child was making lots of noise and being distracting, so she soon went as it wasn't fair on those who were trying to concentrate.  However, that wasn't fair on her!

I enjoyed lunch and the chats during it, and then Jenny and I went back to Ella and Peter's to see how things were.  Both were sober and Peter was a lot more coherent, and Jenny had quite a long conversation with Ella, and then did some ringing round Social Services and got their case registered and a social worker promising to ring back.

We explained to Ella that we would be leaving the area today or tomorrow, but we'd stay in touch and we took their phone number.  She was very grateful for our intervention.

From my perspective, this 'stuff' took up a lot of my weekend, time-wise and emotionally.  However, being 'Green' isn't all about caring for the environment, harping on about carbon and animal rights.  For me, and others, it's about people care, equality and fairness, and what had happened to Peter, although sad and possibly partly his 'fault', was not fair.  He had, in his time, paid a lot of tax and contributed to the country, and in his current state, deserves looking after.

We walked back to the site and very soon it was my last Fiddlesticks appearance, doing a balloon modelling show and workshop, which went really well and was a lot of fun.

Fairly soon after this was the 'report back session' to say how we thought it went, and this happened in the outdoor classroom, such a lovely building.  It was generally agreed to have been a success, despite the wet weather, and there was discussion about how to improve it if it happens again.  This isn't certain, as the main organiser, Tim, dedicated many months to making this one happen, and like many event organisers, is not paid for what he does.

Tim said that as a few people were staying over, after most people had left, that there was space in the hostel, the tepee or yurt, if anybody was fed up with camping.  So Serena and I went to look in the tepee, and that didn't look too great, but she took one look at the yurt with the stove and bagged it.  I decided to go in the hostel, and I took my tent down during a dry period.

We ate in the hostel, some baked potatoes which were going spare, with hommous and a spicy bean stew.  Very filling.

I spent some time in the yurt with Serena and her little boy before going up to the hostel for a really good night's sleep.

Saturday 16th July 11, Little Green Gathering, second day

Not that comfortable a night in the tent, as the position under the trees meant that large random drops of water fell on the tent and the taut material acted as a drum skin, and it was quite loud. 

After breakfast I attended a talk/discussion with Peter Doggett talking about music and politics, initially about the 'revolutionary' 60s, but the conversation also covered mind expanding drugs, punk and some more current themes including the recent stuff about Bono not paying his taxes in the way that some people would like to see him do.

The rain meant that I couldn't use the main stage for my show, so I set up in the Meeting Room and did a 10.30 til 12 slot, which again went well, more of a workshop this time though, as the youngsters who saw me last night were all there again!

At lunchtime I was approached by a woman called Jenny who's husband had overheard my story.  Jenny asked me if I was planning to go and see these people again, and if I was, would I like some support?  She felt that I shouldn't have to have that burden on my shoulders by myself.  I told her that yes, I'd been considering revisiting and yes, I'd be grateful of support.  So we walked round there together.  I told her what to expect, but when we got there and Ella invited us in, it was still a shock. 

Peter was still in the chair, all wet with urine, drunk and semiconscious, there were more flies and the stench was enough to make Jenny retch.  We got a key to open windows, and gently asked Peter if we could help.  He did want help, and Jenny went into 'nurse mode', despite not being a nurse.  She asked Ella if she had some dry clothing, and a nightshirt was found.  With some difficulty his dirty hospital shirt came off and a dry clean one was put on.  However, it took the best part of an hour to get him to agree to change his trousers and pants, and getting him to stand up... it was a nightmare.  Ella provided a bin bag to go on the chair (moisture barrier) and a dry towel to sit back down on.  The trousers and undergarments went in the bin.  The poor man had the beginnings of urine-burns or bedsores.  We couldn't wash him, just put dry pyjama bottoms on, and Jenny asked if the hospital had provided any incontinence wear.  No, nothing, so Ella was persuaded to find some pantie liners belonging to her daughter and Jenny explained that these would help soak up just a little bit of urine, so helping to reduce the re-wetting of the clothes and towel.

Ella showed us a photo frame with photos from just 10 or 12 years ago, with Peter and his young daughter (who we found out was now living with an aunt, because of her parents' alcoholism), and Peter was a handsome, healthy looking guy in his mid to late 40s, a company director.  This was perhaps the saddest thing for me, to see the deterioration into a nearly-dead shell of a person, only in his late 50s. Shocking.

Jenny also talked to Ella about what would be needed to look after Peter, but that care probably wouldn't be easily available until Monday.  I was so grateful that Jenny had come with me, as I wouldn't have been able to do this myself.  We walked back, having promised Ella that we'd come and see them tomorrow, both shellshocked and upset.  Jenny couldn't work out why the hospital would discharge someone with no incontinence provision or wheelchair, as he was incapable of standing up on his own, let alone walking steadily.

The ambulance people had done nothing as this apparently wasn't a medical problem but a social one.  Well as far as I'm concerned, this 'social' problem was rapidly becoming a medical one, and regardless of how these people ended up in this state , they deserve care.

Serena arrived back on site and we spent some of the afternoon together, before my next Fiddlesticks show, at 5.30, which was the first time Serena had seen me at work.  This was followed by a nice vegan BBQ and then an excellent gig from Seize The Day, who are perfect for green festivals and camps.  I really enjoyed them, despite chasing round after Serena's child who wanted to play and climb all over the outdoor classroom building.  Serena was I think quite tired after her gig last night, and rather a lot of driving.

I had a more comfortable night, maybe because I was much more tired so I just slept through the rain and stupid bouncy airbed.

Friday 15th July 11 Little Green Gathering Day One

Had a pretty bad night in the tent due to being cold and not that comfortable on the air bed.  However, I was tired and fell asleep early, but woke at intervals, cold, until I put my fleece on, which gave me added insulation.  But then at exactly 4am, a very loud and weird cock crowed, and woke me again.

However, I had enough energy to respond positively to the request to help put up the main stage.  This was a bit of a jigsaw, and at one stage of the process, we had to undo a load of the marquee scaffolding and redo it.  But the team effort worked, and the little stage was built.

Mid afternoon, Serena went to London to see one of her musical idols, Melanie. She'll be back on site tomorrow.

The Little Green Gathering officially started at 3pm, so soon after this I registered and was given a leaf badge to wear, to identify LGG people, as members of the public also use the facilities.

I did my first show, on the main stage at 5pm, and it went really well with a small but keen audience.

At 7pm it was the first mealtime and as I approached the cafe, there was a woman who seemed to be propping herself up against the building, as if she was disabled or had a painful ankle or knee or something.  I offered her my arm and said would you like some help.  She accepted graciously and I walked her into the building.  I asked her which local Green Party she was from... she wasn't a Green Party member.  I asked her if she was with the Little Green Gathering, and no she wasn't, she just wanted some food. She readily confessed that she was drunk and was an alcoholic.  I said I'd see if I could sort out some food.  I asked Tim and he said yes, ask for a donation, and he suggested £5.  I got the food for the woman, whom I'll call Ella.  The cook said she'd been hassled by Ella earlier and was not happy with her begging food, but I said that she was willing to give a donation and after that I'd ask her to go.

Ella gave me a £10 note so I went to get change from Tim but she didn't want that, and said keep it, money is not a problem.  She ate and I went to get my meal.  After she had eaten, Tim ushered her outside, but she came back in and was drunkenly interacting with people, so Tim said to me, 'You brought her in, please can you get rid of her?'  So I gently took her outside and explained that it was a private event and that it might be best if she went home.  We talked about her alcoholism, and I said I understood as I had a friend in a very similar situation.  She was quite emotional, and moved by my compassion and sympathy.  Some people think that alcoholism is a deliberate situation that people have an option of just stopping, whereas I see it as a mental illness which people accidentally find themselves in, and once in it, it can be extremely difficult to extract oneself from it.  I suggested getting a taxi home but she told me she only lived a few minutes away, so I asked her if she wanted to be walked home.

She was very grateful and accepted.  She took me out of the Sustainability Centre and along to a very wealthy estate, with huge detached houses and manicured lawns, and her house was similar.  She had asked me to come in whilst we were walking to the estate, and I'd said that I'd walk her to the front door and then come back.  She told me her husband was an alcoholic too.  When we got to the house she again invited me in and I said I'd prefer to go back, but she was very insistent so I relented and went in with her, she wanted me to meet her husband. 

She took me through to a living room where her husband 'Peter' was slumped in an armchair, unconscious, his trousers soaked in urine, and the chair, and the carpet around it too.  He had a hospital gown on, and his face was covered in a crusty substance.  The smell was disgusting, and there was a couple of flies showing a lot of interest in him. It was a shocking and sickening sight.

Ella started trying to rouse him, thumping him on the chest, but I told her not to thump him.  He did come round though, and I managed to get some information out of them.  Apparently Peter had come out of hospital a few days back but had sat in this chair since.  This was a situation I couldn't just walk away from.  I asked if they had any friends or family nearby.  They hadn't.  Ella gave me her daughter's mobile phone number and I rang that but her phone was off.

So I was a bit stuck.  I found the number for NHS Direct, but was told there was a four-hour wait... and I didn't fancy hanging around for that.  I asked about the hospital visit, and found the hospital number, but they wouldn't tell me anything about his stay as it was confidential, and I was put through to A+E.  They too didn't think that Peter's situation was worthy of being brought into A+E, but I said I couldn't really just turn my back on the situation.  They said ring 999 for an ambulance. I reluctantly did, and explained that it wasn't an emergency but something had to be done...

When they arrived I explained why I was there and what the situation seemed to be.  They went into action and during this Peter said that he had been diagnosed with cancer 5 years ago and had 2 months to live.  However he hadn't had any chemotherapy or radiotherapy or medication, which seemed odd.

The ambulance chap suggested that I probably couldn't do anything else now and so I said my goodbyes and walked back, feeling shellshocked and tearful.  When I got back to the LGG I went to the live music on the main stage and told a few people about what I'd experienced and witnessed, and started to get back into the relative normality of the camp/festival atmosphere.

The rain got more persistent so I retired to the Hostel common room, and enjoyed live music there and chatted with Katie, a lively activist from London, whom I liked a lot.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Thursday 14th July 11

A busy morning getting ready to go to Hampshire for the Little Green Gathering, where Professor Fiddlesticks and John the Composter are appearing.

I'll be back on Monday, and therefore there'll be a rare gap in the daily updates here.

I had a bit of a pile of compostables to put on a heap so I went down the garden in my dressing gown to do that, and as it was such a nice warm day, discarded the gown and worked naked in the privacy of our own garden for maybe an hour. I was taking stuff out of sacks and chopping it up with the big knife I've had had since I worked in an abattoir when I was 20, and taking plastic wrappers off, and making sure that there were plenty of layers of woodchips and shredded hedge in between the layers of putrescible carrot and melon.  I really enjoy the peace and quiet down the garden, and the way the robins come and check out what I'm doing, and if I get apples or grapes, that I can throw these a short distance away and blackbirds will come and feast on them.  This feels very close to nature and it is wonderful.  And of course, I'm processing stuff which would have gone to landfill otherwise, and turning it into a valuable resource which is good for the planet and its biosphere.   I don't often go naked in the garden, this was only the second time this year, but I like the feel of the air and sun on my skin, it's very sensual... not sexual or erotic though, as some people who haven't tried 'naturism' might think.

I came back in at 10 and got my rucksack sorted, chose enough circus stuff to do shows and freeplay workshops and a balloon activity on the final day, plus tent and airbed and sleeping bag, and an LED lamp Gill got as she worries about my using a candle in a jar as lighting.

I had a bath and hair wash, and then at about 1 I set off on the bike with my rather heavy rucksack, my juggle-kit bag, my unicycle and my diary and reading matter bag down to town, put in a pile of cheques to my building society and headed to the station.

I got the 1.55 to London and had a trouble-free and easy trip to Kings Cross, then the tube to Leicester Square and on to Waterloo, where I got an earlier train than expected, and sat in the First Class of the Petersfield train as my equipment was in the lobby of that carriage and the First Class had plenty of space.

I got to Petersfield at about 5.30 and waited for Serena to pick me up.  I got a call to say her little car had overheated in a traffic jam and she'd be late.  I didn't mind; I went to the nearby Tesco and got some bread and hommous, and a couple of bottles of perry, and had sandwiches sitting in the bus stop.  I had a nice conversation with an unusual woman who was travelling through the country using just her free pensioner bus pass.

Serena turned up, with her 2 year old son who I met on this year's World Naked Bike Ride.... not a naked rider though, too young to make that decision!

I only just managed to squeeze into the car and the satnav took us to the village of East Meon and on to The Sustainability Centre.

This is an ex-military site, with some ugly buildings and lots and lots of beautiful trees, some open glades, and a view of the sea in the far distance.  There's a small woodworking site, making green oak wooden frames and chestnut shingles for roofs. There's a natural burial site in amongst the woodland. They have a hostel where people can stay and self-cater, or school groups can stay to explore the area, or learn about sustainability.  There are some lived-in yurts and a couple of
tepees and yurts which can be hired to stay in.  And there's a wonderful outdoor classroom, built by Ben Law.  And a project called Rural Crafts which has people with learning difficulties doing gardening, and a cafe which anyone can visit.... it's a wonderful place!

We looked for someone on site to ask where to camp, and I rang the phone number I'd been given when I booked the extra days camping.  There was no answer.  We had a wander around and met some of the people who lived on site, in one of the yurts.  They showed us some camping areas, but because I snore I didn't want to inflict my noise on anyone else so I found a place in the woods and put my tent up there.

Later a few LGG people showed up and we agreed to help put the main stage up in the morning.

Wednesday 13th July 11

Gill spent most of the day doing her first stint at the Steiner School.

I had limited contact with the boys, who were very happy to spend a couple of hours, once breakfasted, on their computers.  I wrote a letter which has been outstanding for a long while.

After lunch, the boys helped me put the tent up in the garden, to check it was all there, before I go to the Little Green Gathering tomorrow and need the tent.  The last use it got was when our youngest went camping with the school, and they put it away so I needed to check it was all there.  They'd not separated the inner tent from the flysheet, so it was more difficult to put it up... but we managed.  I separated the two and folded them so that when I put it up it should be really easy for one person to do.

I did a bit more preparation before the St Nicks and York Rotters Garden Party at 5pm.  I wasn't really in the mood for the garden party as I've such a lot to do, but I did have a few nice chats and I enjoyed it.  The food was nice, and I had a chat with an illustrator who does a wide range of art work, who had only just started volunteering at St Nicks. Her last job was a shop front!  Also, a City of York Councillor came with a nice young Doctor from Egypt called Amma, and I gave him a brief tour.  The Councillor and I had an interesting chat about another newly elected Councillor, which was interesting!

At about 7.30 I cycled off to town as I'd agreed to attend the Green Drinks.  I spent some time by myself, sorting out my bum bag, and then Kit came, and another chap who's name I've forgotten, and then Tomas and Eleanor, and Melanie.  Enjoyed their company.

Cycled home via Freshways... 3 sacks for me there.  Put some down the garden when I got in and then came inside to collapse.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Tuesday 12th July 11

Quite a good day, got up early as was due into the Steiner School to move furniture at 10am.  I took in my composting stuff as I wanted to continue to sort out the New Zealand bins. 

When I got there Gillian was nowhere to be found but I spoke to a couple of people and asked them to pass my message on that I was available to move desks etc out of the office.  I went to get on with the composting.  A bit later, Gillian came to see me, and told me that the carpet people had said that the desks could stay in the office.  So I just continued doing the compost bin.

There were a trio of small boys playing in the front of the school, and I asked them if they'd be able to help me.  I asked them if they could build the brick walls of the finished compost area, and they happily went to get the bricks I showed them, and had great fun finding huge spiders, and carried up to 6 bricks at a time to the enclosure I'd started to make, and they got it to be 4 bricks high.

I worked til after midday, and got a big pile of the most wonderful finished compost, plus materials for the new heap, a good layer of sticks (chopped up with my secateurs) and uncomposted moss and other bits and bobs.  When I'd done enough riddling I chopped up a sack full of fresh fruit and veg materials I'd brought with me, and spread that on top, and on top of this, another layer of the vegetation which had been used to decorate the place last week.

But I wanted to come home for lunch, so I left and popped in to Alligator to pick up their resources.

Gill had taken the boys to Scarborough for the day, on the train, so I had a couple of quiet hours over lunch to catch up with emails and other messages.  I found out that the bottle of Port from David might be worth £100, and that there's an auction site which would sell it for me.  I rang David and told him, and he agreed that I could sell all of his Port via this Manchester-based auction house, and he'd split the money with me!  Exciting!

I lit the stove and did assorted washing up, and made myself some tea.... a tiny throw-away squash, half a huge onion and some cooked rice which had been in the fridge for quite a long time.  Fried this all up on the woodstove.  It was passable.

Then soon after 6 I emptied my trailer and cycled off to Tang Hall Library for the Hull Road Ward Planning Panel.  I'd not put a change of start time into my diary and the meeting had started at 6, so I was late.  But glad I went, as one of the new Councillors was there, Neil Barnes.  We had some interesting applications to look through, and we didn't finish til after 7.30.

I did a little bit more work in the garden after I got in, just an hour til 9pm, when I came in and had a fairly 'normal' evening for me!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Monday 11th July 11

Today I had agreed to go into the Steiner School for 11am and take part in 'work week' where parents do a day's work helping to clean and decorate the school.  I'd agreed to help move furniture out of the office so that the carpet could be removed and replaced.

So I got up fairly early and at about 9.45 went to get assorted stuff from the garden to enable me to take the old compost heap apart... and riddle the sticks and uncomposted stuff out of the stuff out of the usable material.

I got to school at about 10.30, via Country Fresh who let me have 2 bags of goodies to help the school heap work nicely!

I let Gillian in the school office know that I was available to help move furniture when she wanted me to, and got on with sorting one side of the New Zealand bin which has been filled up with lots of assorted stuff, including whole branches, over the past maybe 3 years.  There were lots of ants in it, but I just got on with riddling the nice stuff out and putting the sticks and unrotted moss in the new heap.  There were also loads of stones and a bit of rubbish too, some glass, plastic ties, etc.

I worked til 1pm and then went to the office to say that I was going to get lunch, and was told that there was a bit of lunch provided.  I was pleased with this! I chatted to Jonathan and Hannah the Gym teacher, who wants to start a circus skills class after school next year.  I had a chat with her about purchasing equipment.

After lunch Gillian asked me to move one thing in the office, and if I might come back tomorrow to finish the job.  As I have loads more compost riddling to do, I agreed... and anyway, parents agree to do one day's work to help the school during work week, and I'd only done half a day so far.

I tidied up my composting stuff and cycled home.

At 4.30 I got ready to go to work; David was expecting me at 5pm.  He asked me to do 2 jobs in the cellar, replacing the old lightbulb and removing stuff from around the back of the metal beam which is holding the house up, and has some moisture around one end.  The structural engineer who looked at this said that removing any loose material from around the beam would help the moisture evaporate.

There was a part-case of very old Port down there, and David said I could have a bottle.  It was a bottle of 1962 port, bottled 1966.  He thinks it will be undrinkable.  I wonder if I should try to find out, or whether it would be better to sell it?  Ebay doesn't allow alcohol sales, so I wonder how I could get this to a buyer?

We then went for a coffee at City Screen and shared our stories from the past week.

I finished working for him at 7pm and went to the Seahorse for a York in Transition Cosy Homes meeting; I didn't take notes or chair, which was really nice!

Home for about 10pm, did a pile of washing up.

I wrote my blog but then the internet went down and so I copied it and saved it in an email to myself, and got to bed at about 2am.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Sunday 10th July 11, Disability Awareness Day,

Wow, what a day!  Woken early by Janie as we had to leave the house at about 8am.

Janie had gone to the trouble of getting soya milk for my cereal, very thoughtful.

Mark was too tired after his travels yesterday so he didn't come, it was just Janie and their 14 year old son, and me and my equipment.  Last year, Mark had come to the Disability Awareness Day and had his first game of blind cricket, now he's playing all over the UK and is in the best team, heading for medal-success.

We got to Walton Hall gardens in really good time, and parked in the free 'exhibitors' parking.  I eventually found my little patch of grassy lawn where I was suppose to work; it was in a corner and not a good place, and it started raining and there was no gazebo or anything over the area.  I sensed I'd be doing a lot of unicycle-about today!

I went to the entrance place and picked up a programme and asked where I might find out about a good dry place to work; they suggested the stewards' area.  I went to the Stewards' area and explained my 'issues' and was told that Dave Thompson, the chap in charge, was 'on the case' and was finding a gazebo.  I was shown the performers changing area and I got changed.

The gazebo appeared and a notice went on it saying 'facepainting, circus skills and storytelling'. The facepainters arrived and set up their tables and chairs... definitely no space for circus skills there!

I got started at 10am, and did a fair amount of unicycling around the site, first without devilsticks (as it was raining a bit and they don't work in the rain), then with, and then just walking around with the whirling sticks and giving people balloon models and joking and being daft.  I had a ball, was in my element. I did take a break to watch my friend Laura in her choir, and I met her parents which was good as I've wanted to say hello to them for a while.

Later, when it dried up a bit, I did a bit of workshop which proved very popular and then I had a short break for lunch, just 10 or 15 minutes, watching some lovely dancers, the 'Urban Gypsies'.These were very good: 3 women, one obviously a beginner, all dressed up with post-punk hairstyles and loads of colourful ethnic clothing, looking quite tribal, plus a chap with a mobile sound system playing really good music.  They also had hula hoops but I didn't see them use these, sadly.  I think this was my favourite single act today.

The afternoon was a manic and full-on mix of going around the site and interacting, and doing impromptu workshops and balloon silliness, and posing for photos, and doing all sorts of other things.  I worked continuously as I love the event and wanted to give it my utmost. Also, I don't really like breaks as this slows the day down, makes it drag. I had a regular hanger-on today, a 9 year-old girl who was into circus and had a stage name JoJo I think, and she spent a lot of the day with me, and did all the workshops and I was really impressed with her ability.  I met a wide range of other people, from children with learning difficulties who just wanted to hold the stick or juggling ball, through to groups of deaf people who I communicated with through an interpreter, through to stallholders who were just enjoying working at the event, like I was.  I really really love this event, it's my highlight of the year.

By 4.30 I was flagging a bit and was interviewed on Warrington Radio, and at 5 it was time to finish.  Janie offered to take Laura into Warrington, after which I used the DAD map to get us back onto the motorway back to Stockport, and Janie dropped me off at the station.

The train journeys were very straightforward, a short trip to Manchester (where I made two balloon models for two Manchester Festival organisers) and then the train to York came quite soon, and I found myself chatting with a mum and daughter, heading for a theatre in Newcastle where the daughter was doing a work placement and Mum was a fundraiser.  I was on quite a high from the day's excitement and was perhaps more animated than usual.

I got back home (via Freshways which had 4 sacks for me) at about 7.30, and Gill had made a quiche and pasta salad.

Collapsed and ate and did not do the washing up!

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Saturday 9th July 11,

Up early as had an outstanding job to do, to take the cooked cherries and separate the flesh from the stones.  I decided to try to do it using a sieve and wooden spoon.  This meant I got a good lot of cherry juice and some solids, and some flash/stone mix, the stones I extracted manually when I became aware of them, but I didn't have time to remove all of the stones.  I froze an ice-cream tub full of cherry juice and a bag of flesh with a few stones left in it.   Obviously the pile of extracted stones will get composted.

By this time it was midday and I'm due to go to Manchester because tomorrow I'm at the wonderful Disability Awareness Day.

So, time to go offline and get my Fiddlesticks kit together and get down to the station!!!

I got to the station with all my clobber in the trailer and bought a ticket to Stockport.  I got a train in about 5 minutes... lucky!

Met a nice granny on the way over to Huddersfield, and after that read my NewScientist and was soon in Manchester Victoria.  Headed straight over to Night and Day, was pleased to see Sean, Swin, Laura and Colin, Robert, and later Simon and Ian arrived.  I had a mocha and enjoyed chatting.

People started drifting away at 5 so I went back to Piccadilly with Colin, Laura getting a ride on his wheelchair.  I then took the train out to Stockport, where Janie said she'd meet me.  I was very pleased to see her again, it's been a long time.  Her son was waiting at home and it was good to see him too; we get on well.  Her older son and husband Mark were in Cardiff, supposed to be having a game of blind cricket, but they'd got there and it had been rained off.

I had a bowl of soup, really nice carrot and borlotti bean, and then, helped by the younger son, cut their hedge with the electric hedge trimmers.  Janie finds this quite difficult as the machine is a bit unwieldy, and Mark finds it a bit difficult as he's blind.  So I was happy to do it for them.

Janie went to the station to pick up Mark and their eldest, and when we'd settled down for half an hour, Janie and I walked into Marple to get some drinks.  On the way back I suggested looking in a supermarket bin... and there were large numbers of packets of frozen fish fillets and breaded chicken fingers.  We filled Janie's bag with enough to fill her freezer.  I love being a Freegan, even if it's not the sort of stuff I eat!  Miles better than landfill....

So, then had 2 bottles of pear cider and some good chats with Mark and family, and relatively early to bed, and was able to borrow a desktop computer to do my blog and play a bit of Scrabble before sleeping.

Friday 8th July 11

Quite an odd day.

I had arranged to do a children's party in the afternoon near Bishopthorpe, but when discussing this I realised I had a platelets donation appointment in the morning.  So what we agreed was that I'd cycle my kit to the venue and then walk over to the bus stop on Tadcaster Road, go to Leeds, donate platelets, come back, walk back to the other side of the Racecourse and then do the party.

Well it didn't work out quite as planned... I left home at about 9.15 and got to my client's house within 20 minutes.  There was no-one around, so I put my bike and trailer in the marquee in the garden and walked over to Tadcaster Road, which took about half an hour I think.  There was a bus stop near the top of Middlethorpe Drive, and I had less than 10 minutes to wait until the bus at 10.18.

Some nice Polish visitors on the bus, and we were soon in Seacroft where it was just starting to rain, but I got to the Blood Donor Centre before it tipped it down.  All went smoothly until the nurse put the needle into my vein to let the blood flow into the centrifuge, and it hurt a bit, which is unusual, as usually it's not uncomfortable at all.

The machine started doing it's pumping and whatnot... and when it got to the returning my blood minus platelets, the nurse noticed a bit of swelling around the needle area, and it became obvious that the pressure of the return had ruptured my vein and some blood was getting into my tissues.  It might have been that when the needle went in, the wall of the vein had got damaged, but impossible to say.  The procedure was stopped, amid sincere apologies.  I invited them to try the other arm but no, they didn't want to do that, or weren't allowed or something.

So I was given a leaflet about bruising and told to have a drink and sit down for a few minutes before leaving.  I was asked to come back in 8 weeks, which would give my arm plenty of time to recover.

Back to the bus, which came in 10 minutes, and I was soon back in York, £6 poorer and nothing to show on my donor record for it.  I walked back over the racecourse through the woods and arrived at the party venue soon after 1pm.  I had a bit to eat with the other guests and at 2 got changed so I could do my show at about 2.30, in the marquee in their garden.  We were lucky to have this, as a thunderstorm arrived, with heavy rain which was so loud on the roof that it was quite difficult to do the show at times. However, the 6 year old birthday boy and his friends all had a good time, and the adults enjoyed it too.

Whilst the cake was being 'done' I blew up plenty of balloons for the second show, which again went as expected, and was fun for all concerned.  Some lovely feedback from children and their parents at the end.  And a cheque from the lad's mother.

I changed and cycled off at about 4.30 and was back home exhausted by 5pm. I took all the circus gear off the trailer and put the bike away, and came in to relax for a while.  Gill microwaved a potato which I had with the last of the nutloaf.

I did an hour in the garden after this, chopping up some comfrey for putting on top of the soil in the planters of tomatoes in the conservatory.  I did a few other jobs too, before it got too dark to do any more.

And another late night, writing, chatting, sorting out my things for the weekend ahead.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Thursday 7th July 11

Well a generally relaxed day, culminating in a fabulous gig in a youth club.

I got up slowly and gently and didn't need to do much during the morning, apart from reading and some computery stuff.

Gill went out with our eldest to Leeds to meet a friend who home-schools her son.

I dealt with the corn on the cobs and made a nutloaf so Gill didn't have to cook when she came in at 4pm.

At 3 I set out for school, with our youngest's bike on the trailer.  When he emerged, we cycled into town so I could collect my Fiddlesticks boots, which I have had re-soled for £12.99.

We cycled back and got in at about 4pm, Gill came in soon after. She's vowed never to go to the Royal Armouries ever again.  In fact, she said she'd never go to Leeds again!

At about 5.30 I loaded my bike with all my circus workshop gubbins, including 3 unicycles, two four-wheel unicycles and one two-wheeler.  I cycled up to Haxby to Oaken Grove Community Centre for a 2 hour gig with a youth club, 30 or so 9 to 16 year olds.  I did my show first, was quite tough as they were excited, noisy and cheeky.  Everything went well apart from when the largest chap in the group was trying the four wheel unicycle and one of the axles broke.  Very unfortunate, but quite funny.

This was followed by a 45 minute workshop, which was good... especially when several youngsters 'got' 3-ball juggling.  I love it when I show someone how to juggle and suddenly, they are a juggler!

It all finished at 8.30 and I cycled home, had a slice of nutloaf, and finished my evening's writing at 2am.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Wednesday 6th July 11

I enjoyed today as I had no appointments or meetings.... the only one that was possible, Cafe Scientifique, I didn't go to, as our eldest, who comes to these meetings with me on occasion decided to go and see his younger brother performing in a puppet show instead.

So I had a day mostly spent indoors, avoiding rain.  I typed out the York in Transition notes from last night and sent them off to all participants, which was a bit tedious.

But at least one good thing happened.... I was out the front during a dry spell, chopping up a load of Viburnum sticks given to me by a gardener down the road, and a young chap stopped and asked me if I knew where Thief Lane was.  Well it's very close to here so I showed him the two ways of getting to it.  He thanked me and wandered off.  10 minutes later, he was back.  He couldn't find 140 Thief Lane.  I got the laptop and found it on Googlemaps, and offered to walk with him to see if I could help him find it.  When we were on Thief Lane, I spoke to a resident and she said that the road only went up to 114 on that side.  I suggested that he might have been looking for 114 not 140.  It began to dawn on the chap; he must have mis-heard his friend on the phone, and heard 'one hundred and fourteen' as 'one hundred and forty'.  He called at 114 and it was the right house.  Poor guy, was embarrassed, but he thanked me for coming with him to try to solve the puzzle.  Weird that if you put a house that doesn't exist into Googlemaps, it still comes up.  Maybe the algorithm thinks it is between 139 and 141?

I called on Country Fresh to get eggs and bananas, and brought back another generous load of rubbish, sorry, resources.  I spent a considerable part of the day preparing food; 6 sweetcorn, boiled on the stove and stripped of their kernels, and an immense number of cherries, I think 90 punnets, with some bad cherries in each one, and some good ones.  I sorted through as many as I could and stewed a massive pan full.  Not sure what to do with them.  Decide tomorrow.  I also picked a lot of loganberries, which Gill mixed with sponge cake mixture and cooked in the microwave.  Her microwave cakes are always really good, especially if choc-full of fruit!

I got a phone confirmation about working at the Galtres Festival, from Mary Passeri, who's doing the kids area.  There is also news about the composting, but I don't know what that is yet.

Boys were happy with the school puppet show.  Although I enjoy the Cafe Scientifique, I was glad to have an evening in, for once.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Tuesday 5th July 11

Another long day... working in a school near Leeds.  I had decided that to get me there on time, I'd use a taxi from Leeds station out to Farnley Park Maths and Computing College.  So I worked backwards to get my start time.... Work at 11, so needed to be at the college at, say 10.30, so needed to be in Leeds at 10ish, therefore needed to leave York 9.30ish, and leave the house at 9ish. 

Actually, most of these times got shifted forwards by about 10 minutes, but I got to the College at 10.40 and was changed and ready to perform by 11, as contracted.

My role was to be part of a 'Gifted and Talented' day, for about 60 kids who were all 14 or 15 years old... so hardly children any more!  I had 3 one-hour shows, each one a circus science and maths thing, my 'Professor Fiddlesticks Fun Physics' show.

This starts with me about to do the juggling and then I stop and say, oops, I'm supposed to do some maths here, aren't I?  Let's get it over and done with, so watch this please and tell me where the maths is, and I throw a single ball up and let it come down onto the floor nearby.  From this we often get a comment of 'gravity' and then, with prompting, the other forces of pushing it up and pushing it across. These three variables (although gravity isn't really a variable here) make the lovely parabolic curve.

So, with that out of the way, I get on with devilsticks and then explain/show the way that the baton balances on the fulcrum if either side is of equal weight, but falls off if one side is heavier.  If allowed to fall, inertia keeps the stick rotating, so it's easy to catch on the second stick... and if caught off centre, it falls off in the other direction, and can be caught by the first handstick again.  Easy physics, so then I make it much more interactive and invite two volunteers to come and have a go.  With young children, there's a forest of hands goes up, but with 15 year olds, they need persuading.

The next thing is easier to get them to participate in, the feather balancing.  And this is a good way to demonstrate friction with the air, or air-resistance, as the feathers have much more surface area than a simple stick.

The diabolo shows gyroscopic force, and yo-yo balls chaos.  Then the 4 wheel unicycle is usually popular, and only a select well-balanced and controlled few get as far as the 2 wheel unicycle.  No-one got as far as the one wheel unicycle in any of the 3 shows I did today.  I then finish the show with devilsticking and unicycling at the same time, as a 'clever' finale.

So, I did one show before lunch and two after, and all seemed to go well.

At about 3 I got changed and walked up to the bus stop, and the bus took me to within 4 minutes walk of the station... and just managed to get a train home, with one minute to spare.

When I was in York I remembered that I needed to get my Fiddlesticks boots re-soled, so I went to the cobblers behind the Spurriergate Centre and left then there, to be collected on Thursday.

So was home before 6pm, had a bit to eat and went to a Transition meeting at 7.30, at The Seahorse.  There were a young couple using the parlour, but they were quite interested in what our meeting was about so they stayed, and contributed.  Dave Merrett, Kit and Ivana turned up, and we discussed the various ways we could get a Community Generator project going; I have some notes to type up and weblinks to forward.

Home before 10pm and then a late night followed......

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Monday 4th July 11

I came back from my visit in the morning, arriving back at about 1pm, in time for lunch and sorting out some assorted paperwork. I was glad to have had some space and time to read two complete NewScientists, mainly on the train.

I dealt with some stuff in the garden but didn't do much, but got ready to attend the LETS AGM, although I didn't have a lot of preparation to do as Melody had got it all in hand.

I got to the Seahorse at 7 at the same time as Melody.  We'd ordered a buffet, but as the management of the hotel are seemingly changing on an almost daily basis, and the current bar person was only on her third day, there was no buffet.  So Melody popped to the corner shop and bought a handful of snack-type things which would have to suffice for the buffet... a large pack of 'onion-ring' crisps, some olives, Bombay mix, and some muffins. The AGM was fairly poorly attended, although great to see Geoff and two new members Carol and Andrew.  All four core group members were there, and later, Melanie arrived.  Melody got us through the AGM with humour and efficiency.  We had the snacks.

I stopped by the Edible York Barbican bed on the way home and did some weeding and picked some peas and courgettes.

When I got in I tried to work out how I'm going to get to my gig in the morning, over to Leeds but then a bus or a taxi to Old Farnley?

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Sunday 3rd July 11

I had a nice lazy morning, and was pleased to see my friend Simon and his son, who came round to collect our eldest, and take him out to find fossils on the East coast.  Simon's son is a keen mycologist like me, and we excitedly chatted about mushrooms and other biological things.

I then got ready to go away, visiting friends near Manchester, and I won't be back until Monday, so no web access and no more blog til Monday.

Saturday 2nd July 11,

A hard working day, but very satisfying.  I got up in time to get the logsplitter out for Tony Castle to see if he can replace or refill the hydraulic fluid and make it work, as he said he'd be here at 9.30. 

I had breakfast and got myself ready to cycle to work, in Haxby, at Headlands School.  Tony Castle didn't turn up at 9.30 so I rang him and left a message.  I decided to cycle to Haxby in costume and that would mean no faffing around when I got there.

It didn't take me long to get to Haxby, less than half an hour, and my handler told me my first show was in the school hall at midday, and then at 1.30, a second slot outside in the playground.  So at 11, when the event opened, I had about an hour of unicycling round the playground and playing field, and when I got too hot to unicycle, I just devilsticked madly to the music, which was mostly 60s stuff, and I enjoyed this.  At midday I got an audience inside and I did my usual one-hour show, which went really well.

I had a quick lunch at 1pm and then got set up outside... i had to wait a little while as the Fire service were doing a display, but after this I did a series of workshops, and a few balloon giveaways.  I was given my cheque at 3 and I spent a short while helping to tidy up a load of aluminium cans, and came home, arriving at 4pm.  Tony hadn't been, despite Gill leaving a message on his mobile.

I had an hour of collapse and then something to eat, and at 6 set out to David's, as he was expecting me at 6.30 to go to see the Torelli Quartet.  This was at St Helen's Church, and comprised 2 violin players, a viola and a cello.  David paid to get in but as his carer, I didn't need a ticket.  I got David installed at the front, and ha chatted to a couple sitting behind him, holidaying in York.

The first piece was some Haydn, it didn't grab me and I nearly fell asleep during it.  The second was by Barber and I didn't like it at all, lots of discords.  After a short interval, there was a better piece by Tchaikovsky, which was bearable.  I think violins are my least-favourite instrument.  I liked the cello being played pizzicato, that is plucked.   But this concert for me was a painful reminder of an overdose of classical music when younger.  There is a very limited number of classical pieces which 'speak' to me, and none of these did it.  I think the composition is clever, and the musicians talented, but I just don't like it.  I guess we can't help what we like and don't like.  I can't explain why I dislike Jazz and Opera, but love Ambient, Psychedelia and Reggae.  I cant easily say why I don't like the sculptures of Barbara Hepworth but adore Peter Randall-Page, or why I love pear but hate grapefruit.  I guess that it's one of life's great mysteries, and for me, it's a good thing that such diversity exists.

David chatted to two women called Sally in the interval, and had a couple of conversations afterwards, before I took him to City Screen for a coffee. Then home where I put his meal in the microwave and sorted his fruit juice out, before leaving at 9.30.

I got back and noticed that our variegated maple tree, we call it the blond tree, had got several prominent non-variegated bits, plus dozens of small dark green shoots.  So I got the big step ladders and spent an hour cutting the green bits out.  I was surprised how much there was!

It was well after 10pm when I came in, really knackered, but then stayed up til after 3am doing things including the washing up and various online things.

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Friday 1st July 11

A bit of a lie in.  Gill went to school to do her volunteering in the shop.  So, a late start and I then spent an hour finishing off the notes about the WNBR meeting we had ages ago but I got stuck.  I did finish them and send them off, hooray!

I also phoned Sargent Dave Horn, the police officer who looked after the ride, and asked if it was OK for our report to describe how the ride was policed, as what actually happened on the day was so very different to what the other officer said would happen.  I wanted to make sure he didn't get into trouble if I described how the police had controlled the traffic, which according to the ACPO guidelines, they're not supposed to do.  He was quite happy for me to say what happened, as he'd filed his own report on the night of the ride, and what he'd done was to do a risk assessment for each junction as he came to it, and with each non-traffic-lighted junction, he'd decided to get the ride over in one group, and momentarily stopped any motor vehicles getting into the middle of the group, to reduce the possibility of anything dangerous happening. 

So, my next WNBR job is to write a brief post-ride report.  I'll wait until my colleagues get back to me re the meeting notes.

Then I went to buy some bread, and came home to have lunch.

So, then got outside, did some clearing up in the studio, so tomorrow I can get the log splitter out and hopefully Tony Castle will render it well again.  I think it needs some more hydraulic fluid, but he's the best person to know. 

I visited Richard who'd asked me to come and collect a shed-load of compost able materials.

At 6 I was at Davids to take him to City Screen for a coffee and a chance to spot Carolyn on a boat.... we did spot her, waving at us.  After this, I introduced David to Richard, who as about to have an evening as Ray Spike, raising money for Alzheimer's research with his band The Falling Spikes, in the basement of City Screen.  I decided not to go to the gig as I needed to finish off in the Studio, digging out the log splitter, and sorting out the mountain of crap Richard gave me, and I don't need to be hungover tomorrow as I've got work in Haxby.

And I need a bath, so got the stove going for hot water......

Friday, 1 July 2011

Thursday 30th June 11

Gill came to wake me up at 8.30 as she was going in a taxi to school, with our youngest to drop him off at school, and with our eldest, who was being taken for a day out to explore Selby, getting there by bus.

At 11 I set off to see Melody the funding advisor at CVS, in the rain which had started just before I set out.  I'd booked to see her with two York in Transition projects in mind, the Thermal Imaging Camera one, and the more difficult Cosy Homes idea, about how to persuade private landlords to insulate their properties.  We had an hour's chat and she helped me understand a bit more about how to take these projects forward.

I called in on my opticians as they'd written to me telling me I needed my annual check up, and I was pleased to get an appointment for 6pm tonight.

I put 2 cheques in, collected some squashed lemon halves from the lemon juice stall to add to my compost and collected a big bag of maybe 50 Chiquita Mini bananas from Country Fresh, plus an avocado, all for £1. Then from Freshways, a sack of mixed compostables including some orange tomatoes which were in good enough condition to make soup out of.  So after lunch, I made soup.  I used one onion, one potato, 10 orange tomatoes, some basil and bouillon.

I had some loganberry juice leftover from Gill freezing a load of loganberries, so I soaked some dried apple rings in it and they soaked it up, and I re-dried them, making 'loganapple rings'. I also prepared and laid out for drying about 34 tiny bananas.

I wrote up the Melody info and sent it to YiT Thermal Imaging people.

At 5.15 I headed to Millers Yard as Dylan had asked me to pick up his halved oranges, after which I went on to the opticians. I was very pleased that I don't need glasses yet, although my eyesight is slowly getting worse.

Home, quiet evening in, although the internet went down at a crucial time, so Gill and I did a diary check, which was good as she hadn't got all of my summer bookings in her diary.

I am very intrigued by what I'm seeing in my 'Feedjit' thing, which tells me where blog-visitors are coming from and how they arrive.  At the moment, and over the past few days, I've been having a lot of visitors from Sri Lanka, many of whom are entering a search term 'Do low carbon lifestyles lead to discomfort of the people' and similar.  I think someone must have set a project or essay title with something like that, but I'd love to know! 

And the answer is 'no', my low carbon lifestyle is quite comfortable, although things like public transport need a bit more thought and planning than just jumping into a car.  And, mentally, I feel good about it.  I feel that I'm doing the right thing.  I feel that the resources I'm not using are being made available for others.  However, it does sometimes feel like a bit of a lonely furrow I'm ploughing, as so few people in the West are taking the issues seriously.  For the vast majority, it is 'business as usual' even though many people are warning of a forthcoming climate emergency.  We'll see.  Time will tell whether I'm doing this in vain, or whether people like me will be hailed as the heroes who cared enough to try to do something about it.  Thing is, I won't be around to know the answer, as I'm over half-way through my life and might have, at best, another 30 or 40 years to go.