Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Saturday 7th January 12

A good day, despite seeing my favourite veg shop being emptied and closed.

I'd agreed to collect Sally's compost this morning.  For a couple of years, she's been bringing her waste veg and fruit peelings once a week to Country Fresh, where they've been added to a box or bag which I've then taken home.  She is really keen on keeping as much as possible out of landfill and only throws away a tiny amount every few months.  So with the shop closing, she was in a bit of a difficult position, and rang me up to ask if I'd be prepared to collect the stuff from her, once a week or once a fortnight.  I agreed to do a weekly pick up from her back yard.  I then went to the shop and Rich wasn't there, but said (over the phone) that he'd be there in 20 minutes, so I collected two Christmas trees and cycled home... and back again to the shop.

I took a large quantity of the last of the fruit and veg from Richard, who was going to the skip site with boxes for recycling, and black sacks of mixed stuff for landfill.  I just did one journey back home, and asked Rich to let me know if there was more to help with later in the week.

I spent a bit of the afternoon sorting out some good fruit and veg from the genuinely compostable stuff, and loaded quite a few heaps high with sacks of materials.

In the evening our youngest went to spend time with a friend, and was invited to have a sleepover, and that gave space for our eldest to have a game of Scrabble with us, he joined forces with Gill and soundly thrashed me 359 versus 289.  I had a very unlucky game letters-wise.  No excuse really, between them they had some excellent words and I'm quite glad it ended up like that as our son will be more likely to play if he thinks he can beat me.

Friday 6th January 12

More paper shuffling in the morning, then went to town after lunch to have my teeth cleaned and polished, and went to my Building Society to shuffle yet more paper, to Dixons to ask what might be wrong with the phone, and then on to Alligator to pick up their compostables and buy some peanut butter.

When I got home, the phone was mysteriously working again.  Very odd.

I did a little bit of log splitting and stacking.

I had an early tea... soup with vegetables in, and then headed for David's where we went for a coffee at City Screen.  Thee was no-one there that David knew to talk to, so we read papers and came away in less than an hour, and I left his place at 7.30, and came home via a logpile.

Thursday 5th January 12

I spent a good part of the day dealing with assorted paperwork and admin stuff.  I really don't like doing this, but now and again it has to be done!

I found, much to my annoyance and dismay, that our home phone is not working properly... well, at all!  The buttons when pressed don't register the number on the screen with a bleep immediately, making me think that press hadn't made contact... so I pressed it again and thus got the wrong number on the screen... and then when I pressed 'call' it just wouldn't, and finally when I tried to ring it from my mobile the base station rang but the handset didn't.  Very annoying.  I do hope we don't have to buy another phone.

Gill went to the hospital to see why her right elbow was hurting so much, after her tumble.  She came back late lunchtime having had an X-ray, which revealed she has chipped her ulna and burst a synovial bursa.

I needed to make some phone calls and did a couple with my mobile but not those which I had to wait for a long time in a queue... and the lovely Maria round the corner came to my rescue, saying I could come and use hers, mainly for the call I had to make to Yell to deal with a problem with a recent invoice.  I'd already called with my mobile and the 0800 number, which is free from a landline, is not free on a mobile, so I wasn't happy to just wait for 10 minutes and pay I don't know what... so thank you to Maria for letting me do that call from her house.  I also got through to the chap at the Council who the compensation form went to, and he asked us to put Gill's new medical diagnosis in writing and send it to him.

Late in the afternoon I had a bath... washed hair as I was due to perform in Leeds, an event hosted by Leeds Green Drinks, called Yorkshire Green Laughs. 

This was a successful event, doing my balloon show plus banter.  I got some positive feedback. 

Wednesday 4th January 12

Woke fairly late, and had a good chat with a friend who's in a pretty desperate situation.  There's nothing I can do to help, really, apart from listening and being sympathetic.  Lots of this person's friends are offering advice and ideas and these don't help as the person is unable to make any decisions or change their situation.  It all makes me very sad as I'm very fond of them. I hope to go and visit sometime soon.

I didn't get a lot done today really... the only 'things' on were to go to Country Fresh towards 4pm to take some of the last fruit and veg, as today is the last trading day before it closes, and then to take our eldest to Cafe Scientifique in the evening.  I did do mountains of washing up, finished making the soup I started last night, and nearly finished making the passata - stewed, whizzed, sieved tomatoes.

However, I made the trip to Country Fresh into a circular journey, by going via Hazel Court recycling centre to put a load of drinks cartons into the carton bank, some low energy lightbulbs in the CFL barrel, some iron nails etc out of the stove grates into the metal skip, and a load of small plastic bottles in the plastic bottle bank.

Seeing Country Fresh was sad... I've enjoyed my relationship with them for nearly 10 years, helping to reduce the amount they've had to send to landfill.

Tuesday 3rd January 12

Well a very low key day in lots of ways.  Gill and I filled in her Council form to claim for the cost of her glasses, broken when she tripped up over the wonky pavement on the 27th December.  Her bruised right elbow looks horrendous and she's still got a painful forehead and achy knees.

Later, I cycled down to the EcoDepot to hand the form in, and then on to Country Fresh which is having a closing down sale of sorts.  I came back via Freshways and got 2 sacks from there, and there were enough tomatoes in them to make a huge pan of soup AND a pan of stewed tomatoes, which I'll make into a pizza topping or something.

I did quite a bit of washing up and fruit preparation, took a couple of phone calls (hooray, got a Fiddlesticks booking for the end of the month!) and did the usual round of facebook Scrabble and assorted discussions and arguments.

Just before bed-time I popped out and liberated a few more logs from skip-hell.

Monday 2nd January 12

I was woken by our neighbour drilling a wall at 8.40am. I tried to sleep on but couldn't and got up.

Did a good bit of compost heap loading and stacked a few logs. Tried to keep the children entertained.

Did some apples for drying.

Tin of soup for tea.

LETS meeting in Brigantes Bar in the evening.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Sunday 1st January 12

We saw the New Year in with Ros, and our boys stayed up with Ros' son who's their best friend.  I went out after midnight on a slightly naughty wooding trip, going into a building site where several trees had been murdered and butchered. I expect I was doing a favour for the builders, so they didn't have to heave the logs into a skip. I got in after 1am, bed after 2.

And up at a sensible time, a quiet day mainly, but mid afternoon I went out to do some chainsawing and a bit of splitting. One of my neighbours, next door but one came round to tell me off about this.  I think he's Christian and doesn't approve of people working on Sundays, as he doesn't.  He claims to get up at 5am 6 days a week, works hard (and told me that I don't work) and that on Sunday he requires me to not split logs as it is too noisy and bangy for him.  I had said to him a year ago when he came round to say the same thing in the same bullying manner, that I'd try to observe his preferences, but today, I'd forgotten it.

I once again agreed to not split logs on a Sunday.  I managed not to say anything about his car.

Saturday 31st December 11

Had a fairly quiet morning at my parents' house and at about 11am, Daddy took us to the station where we got the 11.47 train back to York.  Chatted with some nice folks who were heading to York for a short break over New Year, and then I read and deleted about 50 emails.

I cycled home and Gill and the boys got the bus, I called in to Country Fresh to do a pre-New Year pick up, and wish Richard a good 2012, and good luck with the changes.  The shop will open on Tuesday but then be closing down in the next few days.

I popped into Freshways to pick up there and got home shortly after the family got in.  I lit both stoves as the house was cold, and had lunch.

Friday 30th December 11

Morning with my parents, after lunch we were picked up by Anna, my sister, and taken to Middlewood, where she and her husband Douglas live, and we spent the afternoon with them.

In the evening we all got ferried back to the parents' house, for a second night.

Thursday 29th December 11

Getting ready to go to Sheffield.

I cycled down to town to put a cheque in, and onto the station where I bought tickets with the family railcard and waited for the rest of the family.  We got the 11.34 and by 12.20 we were in Sheffield, and we walked up the hill behind the station towards Norfolk Park, towards Thomas and Katie's house.

There was a strong wind blowing up the hill, and horizontal rain. I walked faster than Gill and the boys, with most of the bags of luggage.... and there coming towards me was Thomas, who greeted me warmly.  He continued on to go and meet the others, and told me to get on to the house to get out of the rain.

It was lovely to see his 3 kids, my nephews and niece, and see how quickly they're growing. Thomas had prepared some roast vegetables and I helped him make a nutloaf, and at about 2pm we had lunch.  Wholesome and filling... and immediately afterwards Tom and I went outside to split a large pile of cedar logs which had been dumped on his drive by a grateful patient.

Then Tom ran out of space to stack the logs I was splitting off, so we cleared out a couple of matured log stores, compacting them into a third area, leaving space to fill.  We really enjoyed working together, and did well over an hour of hard work.

However, they'd all been invited to a friend's house for 5.30 so at about 5, my Dad arrived in his car and the four of us decamped with him and drove the 10 or 15 minutes to Walkley where Mummy was waiting for us, and had cooked a lovely meal of...... nutloaf and roast vegetables!

We were given rooms for the night and were all very comfortable.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Tuesday 27th December 11

Well a fairly chilled day, although did go and do some log stacking whilst Gill and the boys were in town. 

When they arrived back, they reported that Gill had tripped over a raised paving slab and fallen flat on her face, scratching her glasses, cutting the bridge of her nose, bruising her elbow and knees.

She was helped by several people and one chap took a photo of the uneven surface, and later emailed it to me, and offered to provide a witness statement.

So that was really the (sort of) highlight of the day... not a highlight really, but the only 'thing of note'.

Monday 26th December 11

I was stacking logs in the morning when our neighbour Dave came out and asked me not to build a logpile next to the hedge any higher as he didn't want to be looking at it.  He also mentioned the pine tree next to the house, which he'd asked me a few years back to take down as the falling leaves/needles were filling their bay window gutter.

I'd been taking it down bit by bit as I didn't want the ground to swell and cause cracks in our walls.  But today I responded to his comment by getting the ladders and removing all the rest of the branches, just leaving the main trunk, which I'll need help with to take down.  I'll need someone on the end of a rope to pull it in the right direction.

So I did a couple of hours of wooding and processing, and at 3 set off to see one of my friends who's been sectioned and is in Bootham Park Hospital.  However, she wasn't in, and was with friends somewhere.  I left my present of dried fruit for her and cycled through town, via a logpile and home.

Later, I went to Celeste's to see Serena, and spent an hour and a half there, before coming back via the lovely productive logpile again!

Then Gill and I had a game of Scrabble which was really nice!

Sunday 25th December 11

I was having a bit of a lie-in and at 9.30, our youngest came to wake me up to get me to come downstairs so they could open their presents.

We didn't have many presents this year... normally we don't 'do' Christmas that much, although Gill always puts a tree up and a few decorations. We've used the same 1960s artificial tree that belonged to Gill's mother since we met and started living together... apart from this year as I obtained a real tree with roots, very cheaply.  However, back to the presents.  I got 3 pairs of thick socks (excellent present) and a bar of chocolate and a wordy dice game called Alphabet Soup.  The boys got calendars and books.  Gill got a cheque from her sister.  And that was about it.

In the afternoon we all went out in the garden and I did a lot of tidying and composting.  Really enjoyed being outside.

We didn't do any special food... the tomato soup I made last night was much appreciated, and Gill did some potatoes to go with it.

I had a couple of good telephone conversations, including one with my Aunty Lizzie who has managed to move house and is now living close to cousin Bob in Beccles.  

Saturday 24th December 11

Not sure I did anything much in the morning apart from cycling round to the bread shop.   I did a bit of chainsawing in the afternoon, and splitting, and then cycled down to Country Fresh where I picked up some fruit and veg, and a couple of sacks of compostables.  Rich had 3 Christmas trees left, with less than an hour of being open before closing for Christmas, and he offered me one 'for a donation'.  I pondered and asked how much he'd like for one.... and he said 'a couple of quid' so I bought one.

My decision was based on the fact that Gill has apparently lost the feet to the old artificial Xmas tree we use every year, and that the trees Rich had are rooted, in pots.  I carefully bungeed the tree onto my pannier rack and went round to Alligator. 

I picked up there just before they closed, and cycled carefully back with my unusual load.  The family were delighted with my surprise buy.  I left them to decorate it whilst I sorted out the compostables.

Friday 23rd December 11

Didn't have to get up TOO early.... about 8.30 so I could leave the house at 9.15 and get the 9.45 bus to Leeds.  My platelets donation appointment was at 10.50, and it all went very smoothly, I gave 3 units in 78 minutes.  The woman next to me, a psychiatrist doing her first donation, was on a timer of 87 minutes to give two units, and the chap beyond her was like me, donating 3 units, but he was doing it in 95 minutes.  I have no idea why I'm so quick.  Is my blood hyperactive too?

I collected quite a few aluminium cans on the way back to the bus stop, and got a message from Glenn saying he was ready to meet me.... I was still in Tadcaster when I got this so I asked if he could hang on til 2.30.  I visited Country Fresh and Freshways on the way home, and got in at 2.25, Glenn arriving 10 minutes later.

It was good to see him, we chatted as I lit the stove, had a sandwich and then after an hour, I had to go out to pick up something from the chemist, so Glenn went on his way... he'd been doing some shopping  in York and was heading back to Scarborough.

I did a few bits and bobs around the house, emptying the vacuum cleaner, washing up, filling log baskets, contributing to the evening meal.... and later, watched 'Titanic' on the telly, which was really good.  Gill's seen it twice before but this was my first time.

Thursday 22nd December 11 Winter Solstice

Well the actual Solstice was at 5.30am but I slept soundly through it, as expected.  I think some of my friends got up early in order to 'be there' and celebrate.  I don't celebrate the Solstice but I recognise it as a turning point in the year, and I'm looking forward to more daylight.

I woke in time to get myself together to have a meeting with Simon from Solar Energy Savings, who rang me yesterday asking me whether I'd considered getting PV panels installed.  I had several conversations with various people at the company, and although I said it would be extremely unlikely that I'd be able to say yes to getting them, I agreed to have the sales person come round.  At the back of my mind was the idea that they might want to come and have a stall at the Energy Event I'm organising in March.

Simon was nice, he saw immediately that I didn't need the technology explaining and we spent over an hour chatting about all sorts of related things, including the reduced Feed In Tariff and how this could be a good thing, and the scheme they have which means that a few 'early adopters' have their house used as a show house and get their initial investment back after 5 years.  This looked an attractive idea... I just wish I had £9k to play with!

In the afternoon, I took a cheque to CVS and then met up with the rest of the family on Petergate to take the children to my dentist, their new dentist, and Gill went for a little wander to see if she could find anything suitable for their Christmas presents.

After this they went home on the bus and I called in to Country Fresh to pick up the compostables.  I had a chat with the shop owner, Richard's brother Martin, and he told me about his sad plans to close the shop, as it wasn't making any money.  His wholesale business is, but it doesn't make financial sense to keep the veg shop going.  I was very sad to hear this as I've REALLY enjoyed my association with this shop, helping them to reduce their waste stream by buying all their unsold fruit and veg at a penny per box and composting it.

I've done very well out of this arrangement, as some of the fruit and vegetables have been usable... for soups and stews, and fruit for drying. In addition, I've been given some groceries at wholesale prices as a thank you for helping with the recycling.  I will miss this relationship enormously.

So I came home, subdued, and got on with assorted housework, did a bit more stacking to get chopped logs into a dry area before tomorrow's forecast rain.

Wednesday 21st December 11

Nice long lie-in and later, a trip to town to take the wine auction cheque into the building society, and then to David's to give him half the proceeds.  Very generous sharing it 50:50 with me... he supplied the goods, I found the auction house, and organised the transport of it to go to Manchester and took it over on the train.  I think we're a good team!

I also went shopping for a few bits and bobs... didn't find my Trees For Life Diary but did get a 'Nature In The Garden' diary, which might suit one of us. I visited Shared Earth, The National Trust Shop, WH Smith, Waterstones, Anti Gravity, Barnitts and Waitrose.  I got 4 items. I really don't like shopping.

So, came home a bit frustrated, and phoned Trees For Life, to find out they haven't published a diary this year, as their distributor went bust.  There'll be one on 2013.

I did quite a bit of sorting out sweet chestnuts and a pineapple.

Tuesday 20th December 11

My first Pantomime!

David has been going to see pantomimes since he was a child, and he goes to see the York one every year. So this year he organised tickets to go with Carolyn and her grandchildren.

I was lucky enough to be asked to be his personal assistant.  Thus, I got to see my first panto!

It was 'The York Family Robinson'.  The plot was less important than the traditional content that pantomimes have built up.  Berwick Kaler is the regular 'pantomime dame', and this was his 33rd year. He also writes and directs.

I was unaware of all of the traditions beforehand... I knew the audience participation with answering back 'he's behind you' and the like, but not all of them.... which I looked up later in the day.

I did enjoy it, to some extent.  I liked the way it was made, and liked it that lots of people were having a really good time.  David enjoyed it, so that was the most important thing for me.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Monday 19th December 11

A reasonable day, late start and bit of housework in the morning, but after lunch cycled in the rain to the Cemetery to attend Chris Benney's funeral.  Chris was David Taylor's partner, and although I didn't know her well, she was always friendly and jolly when she met me.

She died at the beginning of December, after seemingly going downhill for a while, and drinking more than eating, so a sad end to what by all accounts was an interesting life.  She'd been with Dave for 26 years, after two failed short-term marriages.  She had not done brilliantly at school but had discovered education later in life and got a degree and a Masters, and had done some lecturing.  She was passionate about social justice and environmental issues, as one would expect of someone partnered with a Green Party Councillor.

I have very few regrets, but one must be that on a couple of occasions I had the opportunity to get to socialise with her and didn't take it, so I never got to know her that well.  However, I had met  her several times and I liked her.

I arrived at the Cemetery just before 2pm and walked up to the Chapel in the rain, with Ginny who had arrived minutes before me.  The Chapel was already nearly full, but Dave was outside and welcoming people in.  I sat with Ginny.  Chris's coffin was encased completely in wool felt, a final humorous aside, as Chris often complained about being cold, so Dave decided that a woollen jacket would be just the job.

The celebrant was Rob Livesey, and he did the ceremony very well.  It was a Humanist, non-religious service; however, there was a lovely anthem which I heartily joined in with, William Blake's poem 'Jerusalem' set to the music of Hubert Parry.  I never join in with hymns as this would be hypocritical, but this song seemed fine.

Chris was buried in the Victorian part of the Cemetery.  There was a reception in the Chapel afterwards... I had a glass of Cava and some canapes, and a few conversations.  I didn't stay long, though.

I came home via a logpile and filled my trailer.  I got in about 4pm and settled down to my usual pattern of things.

After tea, which was a wholesome stew, I went round to see Ben and Jill... to get Ben's signature on some LETS bank account paperwork.  We chatted for an hour about all sorts of things and Ben put in an order for for some pears.

Sunday 18th December 11

My annual gig with the Black Sheep Brewery in Masham.  I always look forward to this gig, but not the travel, since I have to get a train to Northallerton, then a 14 mile taxi journey to Masham... and then the same journeys in reverse.  I would go by bus from Northallerton or Harrogate if it was in the summer, but winter timetables, on a Sunday, don't include Masham.  Hence a £50 taxi fare.

I had also tried this time to find out if any of my friends who like driving (and I don't know THAT many of them!) fancied going on a winter walk in the Dales, and could get me to Masham by 11.30 and take me away after 3.30... but no, too few of my friends drive! 

So, I left at 9.30 so I could get the 10.13 Northallerton train, which I got without any problem, and the taxi was waiting for me, the same driver who's taken me for the past few years, so it was good to catch up.

I was at the brewery by 11am and in costume and ready to entertain by 11.40, and visitors son started filtering in, and I got busy doing balloons and devilsticks. I didn't stop til just before 3 which is when I'd asked the taxi to come and pick me up, as I wanted to get the 3.30 train, as the next one was at 4.50, just a bit too late.  However, the driver got to Northallerton at 3.19 which meant I could get the 3.22 train, direct to York, instead of the 3.30 which involved a change at Darlington.  There were 4 lads from London on the train who took an interest in what I was doing and requested balloon models, so I obliged.... a bit of fun, hey?

This made the short journey go very quickly. I called in on Rich at Country Fresh on the way home and picked up some cheap sweet chestnuts.  I had a quiet evening after getting in, including watching Sacha Baron Cohen's film 'Bruno' which I didn't enjoy very much.  I liked his Ali G character much more.

Saturday 17th December 11

Nice lie in til after 10 and didn't get dressed until after midday... I like mornings like that!

However, after lunch I had a very busy 2 hours sorting the front garden, and got the majority of the logs which have been there all summer chopped up.

I also got a chance to do some composting but I still have a bit of a backlog.

Then I had a bit to eat before going to David's so I could take him to the Bach Choir.

Friday 16th December 11

A very early start.  I had to be in Meltham near Huddersfield before 10am... meant I left the house at 7.30 to get the 7.55 train which got into Huddersfield at 8.44, and I then got the Number 324 bus to Meltham at 9am.  It all went very smoothly, which is pretty normal for public transport.

I found the venue for the Pre-School Playgroup building, a Church Hall, very easily but couldn't find the door as two seemed sealed shut and one was locked.  However, the locked one was eventually unlocked and I was let in.  I talked through what I was going to do and what their timings were before getting changed.  I had only agreed to do the circus show for them but I thought that for the money they were giving me, they could have the balloons too, and they were pleased with this.  My only deadline was to be finished for 11.45 for Father Christmas to visit.

The shows went well, although they weren't easy as the children were very young and that has it's difficulties when you've a circus workshop show and a balloon workshop... however, the grown-ups seemed happy, no child burst into tears and nothing went wrong.  And I finished on time, got paid, and was waiting for the bus back to Huddersfield by 12.10.  The train came 10 minutes after I got to the station and I was home before 2pm.

I then got busy with the chainsaw as I really want to clear the front garden, as I'm expecting to get more logs over the winter, and I need to make space.

I made some tomato, onion and red pepper soup when it got dark at 4ish, and at 6 the family had that, along with bread.  Delicious. 

Thursday 15th December 11

Well I got a message first thing today from Randall saying yes to the compost.  He'd asked last night if I could supply him with some compost for a garden he's working on... I said yes, he asked 'tomorrow?' and I said probably!

So he said could I deliver two trailer-loads of compost by 4.30 today to a property in Fulford.  So this took up a good chunk of the day.  I got 5 sacks of well rotted compost loaded into my trailer and one on the pannier rack and set off after lunch.

Rand had pruned some trees and had got a pile of sticks, some of which I loaded into my trailer to take home.  Then I took a second lot, 3 sacks in the trailer and one on the rack.  This time on the way home I popped into Alligator to pick up their 'unsold resources' to take back home and put on the current compost heap.  I also pucked up 2 boxes from Country Fresh, so had a heavy load to barrow down to the bottom of the garden.

At  York Skeptics on Tuesday I got chatting to Ian and he mentioned he'd like to do some volunteering, and I suggested St Nicks.  I told him there was a volunteers party there on Thursday, and arranged to meet him beforehand to show him the site (despite it being dark!)  He came here at about 5pm, and I then cycled down there and he drove, and I took him on a walk round the nature reserve, telling him a bit about the history of the site, and at 6 we got back to the Environment Centre and joined the growing numbers of assorted volunteers.  I spent most time chatting with Ian, but also had a good chat with Dan, who does database management, and a couple of French visitors.

It came to a close at 9pm and I came home, to upload the sponsored blog post from Gr8fires.co.uk  and to work out my transport arrangements for tomorrow. 

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Wednesday 14th December 11

I slept later than I really wanted to... I have on the previous several Wednesdays taken pears into Scoop for 10am, or soon after.  However, today, I hadn't collected the pears together the previous day, and I got up late too... so I got some pears from some I've got stored in the garden, and took a tray-full in at 11.30.  I bought a tub of peanut butter as we've run out.

I came back via a large pile of leaves and collected a dumpy bag full, which I brought back on my trailer, and added these to my leafmould enclosure.  I did a little bit of work down the garden, sorting out an empty pallet compost bin which had collapsed.

Then, due to worsening weather, I came in and focused on editing a 'guest blog' which someone had emailed me about.  The idea is that I publish an article on something, which has a link to a website, and get a small payment for it.  I get a lot of offers to do this but this one, on wood-burning stoves, is the first one I've said yes to.  I get a lot of really unsuitable offers, nothing to do with anything I'm interested in, or low carbon living.  However, this one looks good... and I edited together two articles, adding my own stuff too, and then emailed it back to the chap who sent it to me, and now await his decision.

I also wrote a 'note' on facebook about a study design I have been thinking about which I think would ascertain whether homoeopathic remedies work.  This stems from a discussion with a good friend who's into complementary and alternative therapies, and said that you couldn't test homoeopathy in a scientific manner.  I'm also interested as a few years ago, I knew someone who consulted a homoeopath about her bi-polar disorder. The homoeopath advised her to stop taking her medication and start with homoeopathic remedies instead, and a couple of days later, my friend had committed suicide.  I don't know the name of the homoeopath who did this, and if I had done, I would have reported them to the police as I hold them partly responsible for my friend's death.  I also accept that my friend was partly responsible as she'd listened to the homoeopath and done as they had suggested.  As far as I'm concerned, homoeopathy is based on 3 illogical and unscientific 'laws'... and is no more than a placebo.  I'm a huge fan of placebos, they often work really well!

I also dealt with an enquiry, from a chap in Leeds who runs Leeds Green Drinks.  Next month he's running a Yorkshire Green Laughs event, with a comedian, and he asked me to help with publicity, as I run the York Green Drinks facebook group.  I told him I'd be willing to do some entertainment too, and have got myself a gig.... no fee, but it's exposure, which is great, and I get my train fare paid!

Later, I went out to collect unsold pears, and then to town to see David and take him to YAYAS.

Tuesday 13th December 11

Well quite a good day, with a fairly leisurely start, a bit of work outside and then, after lunch, a cycle out along Tadcaster Road in the wind to see Edwina, and her garage conversion... now her living room!  Her garden, too, is looking a bit different, with a new raised bed, paths with slate chippings, a decking area with a pond, and a conservatory on the back of the house.

We had a coffee and a good chat and catch-up. I didn't stay long as the weather was looking like getting worse.  I flew home with the wind behind me, going over Millennium Bridge and through the Barracks to pick up some logs.  I chopped up the sticks delivered yesterday evening by my gardener friend, using loppers, and stacking them in wooden fruit trays.

I then watched a bit of a cycling video with my son, and Gill came in with our younger son, and we had a happy harmonious evening.  I sorted out yet more pears for drying, and enjoyed a programme on Leonado da Vinci.

Monday 12th December 11

Up bright and fairly early... as was due to be at David's house in Tang Hall for 10.30, with chainsaw, rope and other tools and equipment. When I'd visited David to see his dead Eucalyptus tree, he'd said he'd got a step ladder, but I don't think it was very big, so I decided to take the bottom two sections of my huge ladder.  I got it balanced on my bike, with one rung on my saddle and another on the handlebars.  This meant I had to walk my bike round... but it only took 10 minutes so I think I was more or less on time.

I removed the small top twigs first, and then fixed a rope to the branch and got David and his friend to pull it towards the grassy area beyond the end of their garden.  I bowsawed it off at about 2.5 metres from the ground, and it went exactly as planned.  The tree had 3 main branches, each of which were pulled successfully to the grassy space, and the two chaps then used my loppers to dismantle the branches into twigs (for their brazier) and sticks and branches for my stove.  Finally, I took the trunk down with the chainsaw, and this time Angela, David's wife, pulled it into the garden, with the aim of avoiding a raised bed.  This took just over an hour.  Then I cut up the trunk into 4 pieces, and put the saw over the fence so I could despatch the branches which had been pruned down, and walked round to do that.  David took his van round and loaded up the chunks onto the roof... he had a net to contain them, and was happy to drive them round to our house.

I then had a coffee break and then installed the compost bin I'd got for them. Angela cut back a privet and a holly, I cleared a space on the ground and did my usual trick of cutting a bit of a trench and covering it with chicken wire before putting the compost bin back, and weighing the base down with some of the soil I removed.

Finally I put some spent chicken bedding in the base of the compost bin, and explained about the optimum conditions to rot it down.

I walked home with the ladders and chainsaw and a few of the sticks which hadn't ended up on the roof of the motor vehicle.  David said he'd be round at 2pm, so I walked quickly home and had 10 minutes to make a sandwich and eat, before David arrived and I helped him and his friend unload.  He gave me some eggs and a tin of chocolates as a thank you... as well as a good load of fuel!

I thin got busy cutting the branches down to usable lengths and attempting to split the big trunk-chunks.  I could only split them once I'd put a chainsaw cut along the side of the log.  Dead Eucalyptus is tough!

Sunday 11th December 11

A really good day... mainly because I got to spend quite a bit of it outside!

I cycled down to Country Fresh to do some shopping and pick up compostables... just one sack today!  But I did a couple of hours compost heap loading and tidying up in the garden, including rescuing the last of the small-but-tasty apples from the £6 Radio Times tree, which has become a really good cropper.  The birds like them too!

I got ready for tomorrow's tree work, finding a rope to pull the tree the right way away from David's pergola, and checked my other tools, sharpened my chainsaw blade.  My only worry is that the ladder David has won't be nearly long enough.  I'm considering taking mine.... on my bike!  Could be fun!

During the evening I washed out 4 little tiny glass jars to fill with red pepper paprika for the Stables teachers' Christmas present, and 4 jars of dried pears, all containing exactly the same number of pear halves.  We are donating these as we can't afford to give money for a seasonal present.

Gill did lots of cooking... including 4 lemon cakes... which meant that I had loads of washing up to do.  Watched a moving documentary about the Japanese tsunami.

Saturday 10th December 11

A good day, feeling completely recovered, no headache!

Woke at 9.30 and felt sprightly, got busy around the house but was quietly looking forward to the LETS party at Maryvonne's at 2pm.

I'd helped organise this as whenever I post a message from the YorkLETS website inviting members to come to the regular monthly meeting, Maryvonne often replies, saying sorry she can't come as she's busy somewhere.  So when we were thinking about how to include Maryvonne with LETS in some way, someone suggested asking her to host our Christmas Party.

It was a good party, with a mix of LETS people and some of Maryvonne's friends.  There were a couple of children who were happy with some balloons.  When it drew to a close, I walked Debra home, which meant she didn't need to walk into town to get a taxi.

A very enjoyable event.  

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Friday 9th December 11

Woke feeling a bit better.  But my headache was still present all day, but fortunately it didn't stop me doing stuff.  I did quite a bit of log stacking, and took some compostables down the garden.

I got two cheques in the post (hooray!) and cycled to town via St Nicks to collect my Apple Day cheque, and then went to the building society to put them all in.

I collected two bags of compostables from Country Fresh, and apologised to Rich for not being able to come and support him tonight at his gig.

I sorted out some of the last of the pears... there are hardly any good ones left, which is a real pity. I've only been able to save perhaps half of them, and storing them in drawers was a mistake as most of the fruit had gone rotten.  I think they need the more open containers, stacking fruit trays.  It's quite upsetting to see dozens and dozens of delicious winter pears just turned to slop, especially after all the work picking them.  But I prepared another couple of rack-fulls of halved pears, and stoked the stoves... combining keeping the house warm with preserving pears.

Thursday 8th December 11

Headache most of the day.... didn't go out anywhere, sent message to York in Transition colleagues saying I wasn't up for the meeting.  I really wanted to go outside to see if that would get rid of my headache but the atrocious weather meant I just didn't feel motivated.

I slept for some of the afternoon, came down for a bit of tea which I wasn't feeling like eating and then tried to go back to bed but my legs wouldn't keep still so I got up again.  However I did get an early night... interrupted by one of the smoke alarms batteries running out and it bleeping occasionally... really annoying, lying there awake and waiting for the next bleep. Eventually I had to get up and take it down and take the battery out.  That shut it up. What a crap day.

Wednesday 7th December 11

So, got up soon after 8 and got stuff together for Scoop... I finished washing out several more 340g jars and put them to dry on the stove top, and then filled them tightly with a mixture of dried pears off the top of the stove (moist and chewy) and some out of bigger jars which are slightly drier and even more chewy.  I got a tray full of ripe pears from the store I have in the garden and carefully loaded it up onto my trailer.  Gill wrote out some labels for the jars.

I gingerly and slowly cycled up to the University and delivered the pears.  I've a feeling some of the fresh ones will be rejected as over-ripe.

I came home and immediately cycled up to Blacker Steel in Osbaldwick, where I knew I'd be able to get my trailer welded up again.  They did it before... a 5 minute arc-weld, and this time, again, one chap said 'no problem' and within 5 minutes had sorted it, and sprayed the weld with some protective 'galv-spray' to stop it rusting.  Excellent service, no nonsense, friendly.

It was chucking it down, sleeting, when I cycled home so I came in and didn't do any work in the garden.  I do have more log stacking to do, but not in this weather!

I retrieved a load of pears from the studio, and sorted these out, loading up two racks, and getting some pears ready to make some pear leather.  At about 5.30 I cycled in to the University again to pick up the unsold pears, and yes, there were some as I'd expected, as this batch contained some which were rather soft.

I went on to David's, where I was due to do a 6-8 shift.  I took him to City Screen, as requested, where we had a coffee, he read the paper and we chatted with a student nurse called Rachel.

I finished at 7.30, after doing his food, and bombed home, not worrying about the integrity of the pears which had already bounced around and released some juice.

I finished the pear leather job in the evening, halved, cored and skinned, washed and all the soft 'sleepy' bits removed, then whizzed a saucepan full of these with the hand-held liquidiser, put the slop through a sieve, to remove the stony bits which abound in Winter pears.  I filled two trays with slop, as I've run out of space in the freezer, and balanced them on the stoves.

I also really enjoyed David Attenborough's Frozen Planet, about the climatic changes at the polar regions. 

Tuesday 6th December 11

I woke slowly at about 9 and got up and did some housework, and we got ready to go out to the National Railway Museum to meet my parents. They came over on the train, and Gill and our eldest (on his day off school) went to the station by bus.... I cycled down a bit later and met up at the NRM.

We all ate in the 'Brief Encounters' restaurant, which was really nice, and wandered round both halls for an hour or so, before walking into town where I suggested they might want to meet David.  I popped in to see if he was visitable and was pleased to meet Richard, his cousin, and yes they were happy to have visitors.

Gill and our eldest went to pick up our youngest and my parents and I chatted for half an hour with David and Richard.  I then left my folks in town, and cycled home. I then did an hour or more chainsawing and splitting, before it got too dark to continue.

At 6pm I went to the Hull Road Ward Planning Panel at Tang Hall Library.  We dealt with some interesting and difficult applications.  One notification was a refusal for an application we discussed a few weeks ago. We had recommended refusal because the 2 story extension is too big and overshadows the neighbouring property, cutting out a lot of light and leaving their garden in permanent shade.  However, the build is already underway... it's up to the first floor already.  So either they'll appeal, or submit a revised application (single storey maybe?) but this is going to be interesting.  It is quite common for builders to start work before planning application is sought.  We discussed an application for a change of status from retail to a restaurant and take away, and several other house extensions.  I enjoy the Panel work, as we're a diverse bunch with very differing views, but we work well together.

Back home to do more washing up and then a treat, a BBC4 programme about decay, bacteria, fungi, insects and compost!  Excellent stuff.  After this, sorted out some grapes to make into raisins.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Monday 5th December 11

Up early so we could catch the 8.04 bus to Scarborough.  I'd asked the hotel staff about breakfast, and they said that cereals and toast would be available from about 7.30.  So I got all my stuff ready for 7.30 and taken downstairs, ready to go.... and we all got some breakfast.

And we got to the bus stop on time... but the bus was a few minutes late and the road to Scarborough was busy, so we missed the train which went just 3 minutes after we were due to get into Scarborough.  So we had a coffee and waited for the next train, an hour later.  Our youngest attempted to concentrate on some French homework, and I deleted emails.

I continued on the train, and got a lot, several hundred, out of my inbox and into 'trash'.  We were soon in York.  Gill put our eldest onto a bus to go towards The Stables and went home with our youngest, so he could finish his homework, and go into school this afternoon when Gill goes in to see his brother's puppet show.

I cycled home and lit both stoves to take the chill off the house, do the washing up, go buy some bread and vegetables... that sort of thing.

I sorted out some of the pears which had dried nicely whilst we were away, and halved, cored and peeled another load.  When I visited Country Fresh, I bought a job-lot of 'seconds' kiwi fruit, and I put these to dry too, as dried kiwi is really good.

At 7pm, after a really good home-made meal (much missed whilst in Robin Hoods Bay!) I cycled over to Priory St for our LETS meeting.

Sunday 4th December 11

Up early as I needed to be absolutely ready to start work by 10am.  The format of the days work followed yesterday's but after the balloon show I did a bit of street work, with live music to devilstick to, and people happy to make donations to the RHB Tourist Association for balloon models.

A good day, enjoyed being with the family, and making it possible for them to be there.

Saturday 3rd December 11

Well, slept well and woke at about 8, in good time for breakfast at 8.30.  Had cereal and a full veggie breakfast... hash browns, beans, scrambled egg, tomato, mushrooms and sausages. And coffee.  Then went to re-arrange the 'family room' where I thought I was due to do my show at 10.30... but I hadn't been provided with a programme, which said start at 10.  So I got down there at 10.15 to find an audience already waiting!  Whoops.

However, 2 minutes later the show was happening and it went really well, loads of interaction and fun.  At 11 I stopped and joined Father Christmas on his wander down to the Dock, where I was due to do my balloon show at midday in the Old Coastguard Station.  I went upstairs when it was vacated and blew up a unicycle wheel full of balloons.  I did just the right number for the people who turned up... amazing!

The balloon show went well and after this we just enjoyed being in Robin Hoods Bay.  

Friday 2nd December 11

Got up at 9am and got busy with phoning Equity as I found that my membership expired on November 30th and I need to be insured for this weekend.

I paid for 3 months membership by phone and card, and got a certificate of cover on the Equity website, which I was able to take a copy of and email to my client in Robin Hoods Bay.

I went to buy bread, and installed a compost bin for Eve up the road.  Then I went to St Nicks to pay for that bin, which Keely delivered a few days ago, and bought another to install at David's house.  I put it over his fence as he wasn't in.

I got home for lunch and after that, moved a few bits around in the garden, as Gill had asked me to, and then made a batch of gungo pea, carrot and tarragon pate, similar to hummus but all the ingredients (barring some rape oil, bouillon powder and soy sauce) were free, and it was all cooked for free... and took just 5 minutes of hand-held whizzer to convert it into 7 tubs of delicious spread.

It didn't take me long to get myself ready to go away for the weekend.... Gill went to pick up the boys by taxi and I cycled down to the station with all my stuff plus a cool-bag of food.  I paid in two cheques in town and got out some cash to keep us going for the weekend.  I met Gill and the boys in the ticket place and got our tickets to Scarborough, using our family railcard which halved the cost.  The train was crowded but we all got seats, but not together.  I chatted with a lovely 80 year old woman called Jean, and the journey went really quickly.

Our bus to Robin Hoods Bay came 10 minutes after we got to Scarborough, and we got a family rover ticket as it was cheaper than 2 adults and 2 children.

We arrived soon after 6pm and walked to The Victoria Hotel, where Rob, the chap who'd booked me, had arranged for us all to stay... I won't get a fee, but do get a family break for 3 nights... in a really quite posh place!  The boys had a twin room, and we got a double... but they got the sea view!

Gill had made a quiche earlier, so we had that and then went down into the bay to see if we could find some chips.. a bit of a treat.  The chip shop fries in beef dripping, so wasn't suitable for us, but a hotel did some quite expensive chips but in vegetable oil, so I got 4 take away chips and we ate them on the slipway, buffeted by a strong wind.

And back to the hotel. I went to ask to borrow an iron and ironing board, and Gill did my costume so I'm tidy tomorrow...I've a show at 10.30 in the family room of the hotel!

The hotel has free WiFi so I was able to do things on my laptop, which kept me occupied.

Just as we were settling down for the night there was a huge crash which made us both jump, and a picture had fallen off the wall.  Very odd!

Thursday 1st December 11

Gill woke me at 9 with an apology.  She'd sent our eldest to school without something important, rang him and said... on the spur of the moment, that I'd bring it in to him for 10am.

So I got up and had breakfast and took the thing in, came back via a woodpile which made the trip doubly worth it.

I spent a few minutes doing my computery stuff and having a coffee, and then got busy out the front, chopping up pallets and splitting logs, did some stacking too.  I also did some compost heap loading, and spent some good times outside, good for my mental health!

I was out the front with my chainsaw when Gill and the boys got home, and our eldest asked if I'd be able to take him to a meeting tonight at 7.30.  It was a visiting speaker, Anton Kimpfler.  He is an author and workshop leader, and this was a talk at The Stables.

So we cycled down together.  Anton Kimpfler is German, and needed a translator which made things interesting.  His talk was called 'Might and Misuse of Money: what can we learn from the worldwide financial crisis?' It was apparently based on a book he wrote 25 years ago.  He said that money itself was neutral, but the people who trade are capable of misusing it.  He told us about an Anthroposophical Bank, which he said was founded in 1968 but Wikipedia says 1974, and was the first 'ethical bank' and was a template for Triodos and The Co-operative Bank.  He also told us about a voucher-money system in Argentina where the design of the system meant there could be no speculation, and money circulated faster. And then there is the Chiemgauer Currency, started in a Waldorf School, which has seen huge success.

At the end of the talk, I was able to explain how LETS worked, and there was a bit of discussion before we cycled home. 

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Wednesday 30th November 11

Up bright and early to take pears into Scoop. After which I collected some logs and did some good work in the garden, mainly taking last year's leafmould out of its wire cage and bagging it up in sacks.  The chicken wire cage was then empty, and ready to refill with the sacks of leaves I've collected over the past few weeks.

I discovered a couple of patches of very large fungi which I couldn't immediately identify.  They were growing out of the base of one of my humanure compost bins, so no wonder they were so big, all those nutrients!

I came in as the light faded and at about 5 started cooking tea as Gill and the boys were due to be late in due to congestion in town.  I made a rice dish... 2 onions and a leek in the wok, and some carrot cut into little sticks.  When that was all soft, I added rice and boiling water, and when the rice was nearly cooked, a tin of kidney beans and some reclaimed cherry tomatoes.  The family came in at 6.  I served the food but the rice could have been cooked for another 5 minutes... it was long-grain brown rice which needs a good 25 minute boil... however, both children said they really liked it 'al dente' and I was pleased they ate it all up.

At 6.20 I got a phone call from David... whoops, I was supposed to have been at his place at 6, but I'd forgotten.  I quickly bombed down to Scoop to collect my empty pear tray, and on to town where I got to David's at 6.45.

We went to City Screen where David met one of his old friends, Lotte's Mum, Janette, and I chatted to Janette's friend Sue.  However, we didn't spend a long time there and we got back home at about 8, I got him his food and we worked out the November hours, and I got a cheque.

Due to the large numbers of people in town today, there were lots of aluminium cans to be collected... I think I should go and cash them in soon!

Tuesday 29th November 11

I woke just before 10 and realised that I had stupidly made an appointment for 10am at the Nationwide, to get a quote for house insurance.  I rang them and rescheduled it for 1pm.

So, housework and got all the past couple of months' soya milk cartons together, loaded my trailer with two sacks full, and bombed down to Hazel Court, where I bunged them all in the recycling bank with no hassle at all, despite a new anti-bike notice going up (which of course I ignored).  From here I went into town and spent quite a time at the Nationwide, where their quote was quite a bit higher than the Co-op.  So that's where I went next, and tried to work out a way to get the premium down, but no, varying various things (like the 'excess', the amount you pay if you claim... you pay the first £100 or £150 or whatever) didn't change the premium significantly but did incur a management penalty, so I settled for a straight renewal.  I did this on the phone in the Co-op Bank office and paid with my card.  Hooray, the house is insured again!

Home via Country Fresh where I collected a job-lot of compostables and bought £4 worth of veg.  Lunch was at 3pm.

Later, I jarred up a load of dried pears and had a good conversation about the value of dried fruit and fresh fruit; per pear, the dried fruit is much much cheaper, despite it having been peeled, cored and dried.... all that processing doesn't add to it's value at all.  However, the more I dry now, the fewer will go bad and be lost.

The empty racks meant that I spent another hour preparing pears and putting them to dry.  I also sorted out some good ones for taking to Scoop tomorrow.

I got a message from one of Sue Wallace's friends David, who had a dead tree in his garden and Sue suggested I might be the right person to deal with it.  I volunteered to go round and check it out.... it was a Eucalyptus which hadn't survived last winter.  I said I'd be able to take it down, but would need to tie a rope to some of the branches to ensure they didn't fall on their pergola or small fruit trees. I'll have to do it on a weekend when neither of us are working.  It won't yield a large amount of wood but it will help a nice chap, and Eucalyptus is a good wood for burning.... especially if it's stood for a year, drying!

I could have gone out tonight, to see a film or to go drinking with Owen on his birthday, but I just felt staying in was the sensible thing to do. Gill was grateful and I was happy to do that.

Monday 28th November 11

A good day topped off by a really interesting film at City Screen called Gasland. This was a shocking portrayal of how a relatively new way of extracting gas has impacted on a large number of mainly rural American communities.

The extraction method is colloquially known as 'fracking' (hydraulic fracturing) and involves drilling into gas-bearing rocks and then breaking up the areas around the bore hole with explosives or high pressure water, and pumping in a mixture of liquids, and somehow this causes the gas to come out.  The liquids pumped in contain several toxic chemicals, and these have turned up in peoples' drinking water where their supplies come from wells and bore holes.  Most shockingly, some of the methane released by this method also gets into the drinking water, so that it can be ignited, and jets of flame come out of the taps, see, for instance, this video from the film.

Unfortunately, fracking is beginning to be explored here in the UK and I really don't think we should be doing this.  The fossil hydrocarbons should stay trapped exactly where they are and have been for millions of years. The exploratory fracking has also caused a mini-earthquake and the drilling rig occupied by protesters.   There are several campaigns to try to stop fracking, such as No Fracking UK, The Campaign against Climate Change,  and Greenpeace

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Sunday 27th November 11

I had a good long sleep, til after 10, but got up and watched some of Country Tracks and had a shower and got slowly ready for work.

I set off after lunch to go to a birthday party in Clifton Moor, so I cycled down to James Street and then onto the cycle track to Wigginton Road, up to the Bumper Castle and over to the Community Centre on Rivelin Way... in about 25 minutes.

The party went really well, the 7 year old boy and his friends had a good time and I was pleased that his Mum had booked the space for 2 1/2 hours, so there was no hurrying and I even had time at the end to make a teddy bear and a Weeble, which I don't usually do in my balloon show.

I came home an even quicker way, along Water End into Clifton and then straight through town and home in 20 minutes!

I had a peaceful evening, enjoyed a baked potato and the mushrooms I picked on Thursday, which I cooked and bunged in the fridge.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Saturday 26th November 11, Leeds Summat

An intense and full and busy and awesome day, and one that's taken AGES to write up!

I'd wondered about going to the Leeds Summat for some time, and decided last night that I would go... even though it entailed a very early start.  I unhitched my trailer and left it at home (trailers aren't allowed on trains) and cycled to the station to get the 8.25, which got in just before 9am.  It only took me 5 minutes to cycle up to the University from Leeds station, and I found the venue, the Student Union building, very easily.  I haven't been there for years.

I had a float around and chatted with a young politics student before the opening at 10am, had a coffee and a croissant and went to the Riley Smith Hall.  I was pleased to meet my friend Justin Rowlatt, the journalist who became 'Ethical Man' for a year.  He and his wife have family in Leeds.

He was on stage for the opening session, along with Rommie Smith, a poet, Hilary Benn, MP for Leeds and ex Environment Minister, a trainee barrister called Maryam Mir, a chap from Land Securities called Gerald Jennings, Maurice Glasman, a Labour Peer, and a local activist, Nic Greenan.  The host or chair was Harry Gration the TV presenter.  Between them they introduced the Summat, which was framed with the recent 'Arab Spring', the Occupy movement, the recent riots (which didn't happen in Leeds due partly to some intervention from youth leaders), and the 200th anniversary of the Luddite Uprising.

There was a wide ranging discussion, which identified a key cause of the problems, which we think is inequality.  Maybe there should be a maximum wage?  Land ownership is another massive issue, another sort of inequality.  Justin identified that he thought that there was a lot of ideological baggage in the green movement, and he is pro-nuclear power, and pro-genetically modified organisms.  He told us that there are a lot of positive things happening, as he's just come back from the Amazon rainforest, and seen how that moves are afoot to stop (or at least slow) the deforestation.  However, time was against us and that session ended, and I went to the next thing I was interested in.

This was an introduction to the Enneagram, which is a way of analysing one's personality. I've been interested in exploring personality traits for a long time, partly because I have an unusual one, and in some areas, I'm quite extreme and this has caused some problems and clashes. My favourite was the Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicators, but I'd never heard about Enneagram.  All the participants stood around a large diagram laid out on the floor, with the 9 different personality types, Challenger, Peacemaker, etc etc, and a couple of chaps explained how it worked and what the various things meant and how it could be used.  I was fairly interested, and might explore it further.

However, the next session was really good; I chose to go and see Mary from Incredible Edible Todmorden talk and show her slides.  I am, like many, very inspired by this project, and indeed, it has inspired the formation of Edible York.  It was good to hear one of the founders talk us through the project.

Then I went to a session called Activism and Social Change in the main hall, with Justin Rowlatt, Peter Tatchell the veteran human rights activist, Khadijah Ibrahim founder of Leeds Young Authors, Benny Wenda from Free West Papua, and at least one other.  I particularly enjoyed hearing about Tatchell's 'citizen's arrest' of Robert Mugabe, and the overall message of this session was believe in yourself, listen to others and learn from others.

Finally, there was a session hosted by Green Drinks Leeds, which also resulted in a few good conversations.

In the evening I cycled over to a different venue nearby, and there was a bit of live music and some good food, and I met my old friend Louie, whom I've known for years and years from festivals. He was there with his daughter, and I was really glad to see him as he's a very jolly fellow.  I didn't spend a long time at the evening gig, and cycled back to the station and got back to York at about midnight.

This post took months to complete as I have so much happening in my life, not helped by computer breakdowns and still writing a daily post.  However, I do like to publish in sequence, so once this post is made public, I'll post a whole load more in batches, which were days with a bit less happening and less to write about.  I may even catch up and publish the day's blog on the day it happened, like I did for a long time....

Friday, 10 February 2012

Friday 25th November 11

Quite a good day, the most productive part was the York in Transition Thermal Imaging Camera meeting at Andreas' house in the evening.

As for what else happened, well it was so mundane and ordinary that I couldn't even be bothered to write about it!!!

Thursday 24th November 11 Hedge Laying

For maybe 20 years, one of the many things in my list of 'I'd like to try' was hedge laying... a way of pruning and managing a field boundary which rejuvenates the vegetation, and looks attractive, and makes it 'stock-proof', ie sheep and cattle cannot get though it.  Well, today I had my chance!

However, it meant visiting a place I have boycotted since it got built: The McArthur Glen Designer Outlet Centre, which was built on the site of the old Naburn Hospital, and the site of my first Non Violent Direct Action, trying to prevent an out-of-town shopping centre being built.  Part of this site was an old orchard, and fortunately, although hundreds of trees were cut down to build shops and car parking, the orchard escaped.  More recently, there were plans to build a garden centre over the orchard area, but the community who valued these trees rose up and stopped the development.  McArthur Glen has entrusted the orchard to Fulford Community Orchard.

So the Southern edge of the orchard is a belt of trees and an old overgrown hawthorn hedge, with some of the trees making this hedge having trunks up to 20cm across... not the best size for trying to lay at 90 degrees to the way they naturally grow.  I arrived at 9.30 and some BTCV volunteers were taking tools towards the hedge, and Paul, the leader took us through the basics, what the tools were, a brief health and safety talk, and then he put me with an experienced hedge layer, who showed me how he did it.

The hedge had already been thinned out a bit, and the tops taken off, so the height was perhaps 4 to 5 metres, and some of the dead wood removed.  The method was to make a horizontal cut with a bow saw quite near the ground, and then to cut away above this with a billhook, making a sloping cut, to allow the top of the plant to be carefully bent over to near horizontal, where it rests on the last one laid down.  The important part is there needs to be a little bit of bark hinge connecting the now horizontal part with the roots, so it can keep growing and be a living hedge.  However, these old plants had quite brittle stems as they were old, and some broke off as they were carefully bent over.  But this is OK really, as they are staked into place with the still living stems, and other cut wood put in too, to make a 'dead hedge', filling in the gaps and making the hedge more solid. I found using the billhook quite difficult, as it's a two-handed tool, and I'm used to using a machete, which is one-handed.  But we got our stretch done, and I was really pleased with this.

I left at about 2.30, as I wanted to collect some fungi I'd seen on the way in; I got a good bag full of shaggy ink caps, which have a wonderful delicate flavour, one of my favourite mushrooms.

I got in just before 4pm and had an hour and a half before going out to work for David... we went to City Screen and he caught up with a newspaper, and I met up with my friends Jonathan and Trish.

Wednesday 23rd November 11

Well today I was due to go to donate platelets at Seacroft Hospital in Leeds... I took pears to Scoop, and spotted the preparation on Walmgate Stray to burn the big pile of brushwood which had been piled up since summer when the new fence was put in, and I'd asked the Council not to burn, but to leave as a wildlife resource.  As I cycled down to Scoop, at about 9.30 the little bulldozer was being taken out of a trailer behind a tractor, and as I cycled past again, the workmen were setting fire to the big pile of brash.  This is bad practice; if having a bonfire, it is far better to move the material to be burnt to an area near the storage pile, which may very well have got wildlife living in it.  The fire should have material added to it from the initial pile, but on Walmgate Stray, the big pile was torched in a very lazy and uncaring manner.  I was quite angry, and started composing a letter complaining about this.

I cycled on to the train station to get a bus. I had a bit of a drippy nose, but thought this might be an allergy, rather than a cold, so I decided it was OK to donate.

I donated 3 units of platelets in 67 minutes. I didn't feel that brilliant during the donation, and the staff asked me if I was well enough to donate.  However, I do get a runny nose fairly often, and have done since childhood.

Bus back, came home, flopped, and went for a lie down.

However, I needed to collect the unsold pears from Scoop, and then there was a seminar on sustainable development, organised by the University International Development Society.  The speaker was Professor Piran White, Deputy Head at the Environment Department.  It was a good overview about what sustainable development entailed.

Later, I wrote to the Press about the Council's bonfire, and copied in Andy D'Agorne, who'd been party to the discussion earlier this year.

Tuesday 22nd November 11

Bit of a lie in, and a fairly relaxed day. I was supposed to take my bike into Cycle Heaven in the morning but I didn't get it together til mid afternoon.

Ash told me that they had this one last Weber hitch left, and their supplier couldn't get any more.  However, I'm not that happy with the Weber trailer hitch, as it wears through (with the hammering I give it!) really quickly... this last one has lasted about a year.  So this one might be the last one that Ash fits, and he showed me another trailer hitch which might be more suitable for my needs.  However, he doesn't know if it comes separately from the trailer that it's attached to!

I left my bike and trailer at Cycle Heaven and walked into town to pay our water bill, get a cheque out for my Leeds Yellow Pages, and put two cheques in.

That didn't take long, so I walked up to see Pauline, who was in, and seemed glad to see me.  We chatted for half an hour and then I walked back to Cycle Heaven, paid for my trailer hitch and cycled home.

Had a quiet evening, didn't do much apart from turn out the pear leather from it's tin onto a non stick sheet to continue drying.

Monday 21st November 11

Slept til after 10, as it was a long weekend and I didn't get to bed til 3am.

I rang Cycle Heaven about the Weber trailer hitch I asked them to get for me, and the chap said there was nothing on my records about asking them to order a trailer hitch.  He said it would be available in a couple of weeks... I protested, and he said he'd speak to the boss and see if things could be sped up.  Later, I got a message on the answerphone to ring them... and apparently they DO have one in stock, and will fit it tomorrow!  Brilliant, but a bit of a heart-stopping moment to think my trailer wouldn't be usable for a fortnight!

I did quite a bit of washing up, and wood stacking, and some composting, and later in the afternoon, because Gill was out, I made a nice tea.  Boiled spuds on one woodstove, fried leeks and onions on the other one.  Put the nearly cooked spuds into the leek/onion with the remains of the tomato soup stuff I made a few days back and has been in the fridge.  This I cooked up with some Marmite water (cleaned out an old jar with hot water) and whilst that was cooking on the stove top, I made a breadcrumb/pumpkin seed/walnut/goats cheese crumble topping, which I put on top and put more grated goats cheese on top.. and 20 minutes in the oven to crisp off the top.  This was ready just as Gill came in with our eldest, and it all went, and was appreciated.

In the evening I cycled round to Edward's for a York in Transition Directors' meeting.  Good to see Barry and Colin too, it was a productive meeting.

Home to jarring up pears and turning out the pear leather, halving, coring and peeling more pears for drying, and answering composting and wormery queries on facebook.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Sunday 20th November 11

A good day, despite a tough gig.  I was roused at 8.45 and dragged myself up and got ready to go to work on the 10.40 train to Hull.  I chatted with a nice Manx couple, now living in York, she a Barrister and he a writer.  They were off to explore Beverley... I was getting off two stops later in Driffield.

There were no taxis at Driffield Station, so I asked a local and he said that there was a taxi firm in the centre, so I walked there only to find a notice on the window with a telephone number.  Glad I had my mobile phone!  I said to the taxi driver who answered that I'd be happy to meet at the train station... he said yes in 10 minutes and I walked back, and he was there waiting for me.

He took me to the other side of Beeford where I'd been invited by the grand-daughter of a 90 year old 'birthday girl' Mary, to entertain at her big family gathering. The venue was wonderful, a huge hall, and shortly after I arrived, and before I got changed, I was asked to press the camera shutter for a group photo or three... with everybody else in the photo, I was the only person available to do the photography.  The camera was on a tripod, which made it very easy.... Then I was provided with food, which was delicious. 

Then it was time for the entertainment.  There were relatively few children, and I always find it more difficult to do a good show if there's less than 15 or 20 audience members.  Also, several of the older children decided it was going to be 'bait the entertainer' day, and did their best to annoy me.  I pushed on with the show, which was enjoyed by some of the children and some grown ups... but it was a difficult gig, at one end of a noisy venue, and a distracted and very 'at home' (ie, NOT on 'best behaviour'!) audience.  I did the balloons too, again, I had been told at the start that I'd do this show immediately after the circus, but then a different person said could I wait until after the speeches, and I had to say that, no, actually, I was being picked up after the balloon show was scheduled to finish so I had to start very soon!  I really like it if the plan goes smoothly, and isn't changed during the event.  Anyway, I gave a balloon teddy bear to the lovely 90 year old, and got myself ready to go... got paid, and went to stand at the end of the drive where I hoped Joanne would pick me up. 

It was getting very foggy, but her sat nav thing directed her correctly and she picked me up, and drove me to Scarborough.  The best thing about this journey, apart from chatting with Joanne, of course, whom I'm very fond of, was some HUGE wind turbines looming up in the fog, and my surprise, although it seemed like there was no wind, they were spinning round and I fell in love with wind turbines all over again.

We picked Glenn up who was walking from work to home, and then I chatted with Joanne as Glenn created a delicious meal.  It was lovely to see them again and we had some good conversations.  Glenn took me to Seamer station where I got the train back to York, getting in late and feeling very tired, but happy.

Saturday 19th November 11

A good day, with a lovely and successful gig.  I got up fairly early as Gill had to leave the house in time to get to the Steiner School by 10am, as our youngest wasn't feeling too brilliant, so Gill offered to do his shift on the hot chocolate stall. She'd ordered a taxi as she was too achy to cycle in. But before she went, at 9.40, she plaited my hair.

Our eldest was full of energy and decided to cycle in, leaving at the same time as Gill. I got my bits and bobs together and asked our youngest if he'd like to go to the Advent Fair, either cycling in, or getting a lift on my rack.  He volunteered to cycle in, so at 11.15 we both set off together, me with all my Fiddlesticks stuff.

We parted company at Fulford Road, and he cycled along to the school and I went straight over, to the Millennium Bridge and over Bishy Road, to Tadcaster Road and within 15 minutes, to the Foxwood Community Centre.

It was a very good gig, really enjoyed it... and when I enjoy performing, the audience enjoys it too.  This seems to be the general pattern.

Later, I worked for David, and took him to the Bach Choir at St Michael Le Belfrey.  This choral music was absolutely not my thing, I find it really boring as I don't understand the words, it's religious, and it brings back memories of being taken, often under duress, to classical concerts as a small child.  Fortunately I was taken to a few classical things I liked (Carmina Burana and The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra being two I DID like) but I'm afraid tonight's offering was very much David's thing; I gritted my teeth and tried not to fall asleep.  I'm really happy that David loved it. 

Friday 18th November 11

Woken by a huge rumpus so I came downstairs and sat quietly blinking on the couch next to the culprits, and it quietened down, thank goodness.

Gill went to school with our youngest as she was working in the shop, getting it ready for the Advent Fair tomorrow.  I'd agreed to go in from 12 til 2 and chop vegetables in the cafe.  So at 11.30 I closed everything down at home and set off on my bike, popping in to see Gill briefly in the shop before going up to the cafe.  I spent an hour chopping red cabbage, then had a few minutes eating a sandwich and chatting to a nice woman called Pam, and then chopped up 14 big onions, finishing at 1.55.

I came home via Alligator, picked up a trailer load of compostables and another couple of boxes at Country Fresh, and one at Freshways, and got in after 3pm, ready for a coffee!

Thursday 17th November 11

Well a late start and felt a bit grotty, sneezing again.  Cold or allergy, I don't know.

But I had a quiet day, dealt with some paperwork and mid afternoon went to sort out the pear branches I took off the tree overhanging next door, which I chucked over the hedge back into our garden.  I chopped off the smaller twiggy bits with secateurs and fed these into the shredder, and kept any slightly bigger, straight bits for kindling... I'll chop them down to length and bag them up in paper potato sacks, for use in a year or two.

I worked til dusk, and came in and decided to have a nap, and had two hours sleep, getting up again just before 8pm.  Gill had made a nice stew with a cobbler topping, using one of the parsnips given by the allotment woman yesterday.  Lovely.

Wednesday 16th November 11

Woken by shouting.... a bit of a to-do about whether or not to take some dried fruit to school. However, I got up and slowly got myself together and got the pears ready that I need to take to Scoop.

I set out just before 10 with the pears very carefully packed in a box with special moulded cardboard which would hopefully stop them bouncing around and getting damaged.  I'd agreed to help at the People and Planet allotment at 10.30 with my big riddle, as a compost heap needed digging out, so I carefully placed this on the trailer and the pear box on top of this, giving it extra cushioning and suspension!

The pears arrived at Scoop in perfect condition, and the lovely Phoebe took them off me and I zoomed off, pearless, to the lottie, and found two students there who were more than willing to help dig and riddle the entire heap. We removed loads of 'contraries', mostly bits of plastic, but also wire, spoons, glass and other rubbish.  A neighbouring lottie holder gave us some parsnips, which was kind.  Mature compost often seems to have lots of contraries in it... this is because it is very easy to accidentally put a bit of plastic or some cutlery into the compostables, and then when this rots down and reduces in volume by 90%, the numbers of contraries seem to be 10 times as numerous, and they're easier to see as the mature compost is uniform, and the contraries stick out.  However, this compost was especially bad and full of uncompostable bits.  We did a lot of hand-picking.

I got back home via Country Fresh and in time for lunch.

I had a fairly quiet and frustrating afternoon, trying to work out how I can cheaply get to Bristol, and I can't.  My visit might not happen, or might be put off til after Xmas.

I took David to the Friends Meeting House in the evening for a YAYAS meeting.  Tonight it was a fascinating look at the Magnesium Limestone area of Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire, and how mapping it shows where the different pre-Roman tribes were, and some information about how they lived.  Ian Roberts, from West Yorkshire Archaeological service, told us about crop marks, barrows, henges, chariot burials, brickwork field patterns, and how quarries are good for archaeologists!  We both enjoyed the talk, as it was new information for both of us.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Tuesday 15th November 11

Woken by a phone call, just missed the answer machine, so rang back and quite soon the woman rang back, asking if I was available next Sunday to entertain at her Granny's 90th birthday party in the middle of nowhere in East Yorkshire.  I was available and I said that if the public transport allowed, I could do the gig.

I did a bit of searching on a rail timetables website and found that yes, I could get to Driffield, and I'd get a taxi from there.  The fee offered would easily cover the train and taxi fare, and leave a good fee on top for my business.

Later in the day (before lunch) I did a bit of compost heap loading, including putting a lot of guinea pig bedding onto a new heap, and getting ready to shred the Wisteria. 

And after lunch, that's what I did. I sorted out all the thicker sticks and our eldest chopped them to the right size for bagging up to dry in the garage, and I patiently fed all the thinner stuff and foliage through the quiet shredder, creating about 2/3 of a cubic metre of shreddings, in a builders bag.

Monday 14th November 11

Quite a good day, got a lot of garden work done.  I had left my ladders next door as Marion had asked me if I wouldn't mind taking off a couple of branches off our pear tree which overhang their lawn, and every August their lawn gets covered in fallen pears, making it slippery and attractive to wasps.  Marion is concerned that Dave, her husband, who isn't very steady on his feet, might slip on the pear mush, and their grandchildren get stung by a wasp.

So I took off two lower branches, using the loppers to take off smaller branches and the bow saw to remove the thicker ones.  The biggest was only about 15cm in diameter, so not a big limb.  I took off one smaller branch higher up, and funnily enough the tree looks nicely balanced and by next spring it won't look like any major surgery has taken place.  I shoved all the branches over the hedge and tomorrow I will chop and shred that material.  There's quite a lot of work to do there, but will give me some valuable 'carbon-rich' compostable materials and a bit of stove-fodder.

Then I took down the Wisteria at the front of the house.  Ken, our other neighbour, is worried about a small crack in the concrete of our shared driveway.  He thinks the roots of the Wisteria might have done damage to the drains, and he doesn't like the leaves which fall either.  So these reasons, as well as the plant being very unwilling to flower properly, are why I took it down.  I expect I'll have to take up some concrete to remove the roots, and I think this is when Ken will take up more concrete to check his drain.  I'm not that worried about the drains... there is a drain running from one end of the driveway which goes to the sewer at the back of the house, but this only drains the driveway and isn't critically important.  However, I think that checking it is intact and that water isn't draining into the house foundations is a sensible thing to do.

I finished taking the Wisteria down at about 5pm, so I came in and put some food together.  Gill had gone into town to collect the boys from school and then to go and see Matt Baker arrive in York on his rickshaw.  I had my tea and at 7.10, set off for Priory Street to the North Yorkshire Humanist Group.

This was Tim Stevenson's take on 'Introduction to Humanism'.  I've considered myself a Humanist for some time, without knowing all the details about what it actually is, just the basics.  In a nutshell, Humanism uses science and reason to help us decide what kind of society to work towards.  I enjoyed the meeting and if readers are interested in what Humanism is, this website would be a good place to start.  For me, this makes more sense than anything else I've heard about how to live, plus 'explanations' about why we're here and what it's all about.  The website has a little questionnaire that is easy to answer (it's multiple choice!) and this will tell you whether you're a humanist.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Sunday 13th November 11

Another goodly day; although woken by a phone call soon after 9, from Rob in Robin Hood's Bay, confirming my performances for the Victorian Weekend.

But I'm glad I got up as I had a relaxing morning before going to work in Haxby, I set off soon after 1pm, in costume, and cycled the 5 and a half miles to the Memorial Hall which was the venue for the party.  The 4 year old boy (about to turn 5 on Wednesday) was very excited, and had invited his whole class.

So about 25 children turned up, with them about 30 grown ups who nearly all stayed! So there was a fabulous audience and we had a really good show.  I really enjoyed it, and the balloon workshop went well too, with lots of adults getting involved in that.

I managed to finish on time... just... and soon got packed up and left.  I decided to visit someone in Wigginton whom I bought a unicycle from a few years ago... and they had emailed me months ago to ask if I wanted to buy another.  Their son had gone through a unicycle phase and out the other end, so there was a spare uni available.  I will probably pass this on to the Steiner School who are setting up a circus school.

So I came home with 3 unicycles on my trailer.  Once I'd got unloaded, I did very little during the rest of the evening, apart from some more pears, some washing up, and watched The Secret Millionaire on Channel 4.  It is a brilliant concept, and the end part of the programme makes me tearful without fail.

Saturday 12th November 11

An enjoyable and productive day, again starting off with a phone call, this time from someone who had found me through facebook and asked about a Professor Fiddlesticks party, and I'd said yes, please ring and we can discuss it.  So that's a booking for next weekend.

We spent some of the day getting our youngest ready to go for a sleepover with a group of friends.  But as we were doing this, Gill spotted someone in our front garden and she told me to come and look.... but it was just my friend Wendy who was unloading used guinea pig and rabbit bedding for me to compost.  I went to say hello and she and her 17 year old son Ryan came in to see our two guinea pigs, and spent quite a bit of time chatting with Gill and our youngest, and cuddling the guinea pigs, and sharing tips about guinea pig care, etc.  I left them to it!  But I learned that they like bark to nibble, especially willow bark (maybe it dulls their pain?) so I gathered a load of willow bark from some old logs for her to take away, and some apples too, which all her pets (50 guinea pigs, 20 rabbits) love eating.

Our youngest went out, then our eldest went to see a friend... which gave us a 'window' of 2 hours to do with what we wanted.  We used it very well.

On the dot of 4 our eldest came back, his friend coming to have a sleepover here a couple of hours later.

I spent some time doing yet more pears for drying, and was pleased that Charles, an old friend of mine, came to visit and chat, drink tea, and sample pears both fresh and dried.

So a fairly sedentary day, but nice and social, and lovely to have some time with Gill with no pesky kids around!!!!


I was woken by the phone and it was a nice Fiddlesticks enquiry... I'm not available on the date the mum wanted but she's going to get back to me when she's spoken to another mum and they might book me for a joint party, the week after the date she wanted.

I had a quiet day, although in the afternoon I did some chainsawing, splitting and stacking.  I got quite hot and sweaty doing it; it's really good exercise!

I had another Fiddlesticks enquiry, did some fruit, washed up, made up some more muesli, but not a huge lot else happened.

Thursday 10th November 11

I was due to go to donate platelets today but I woke up sneezing and with a runny nose, so I rang and cancelled, as they like you to be well, and I just wasn't feeling like it.

However, I felt better during the day, and did some composting and chainsawing, and at 6 went to work with David, and we went out to City Screen, where we had half an hour of peace and quiet, then we were joined by Geoff Beacon, and his and David's mutual friend Alec, who was an interesting chap.

I left David's at 8 and visited a logpile on the way home, coming back with a good load on my trailer.

Wednesday 9th November 11

A sensible start today, up at 8.30 so I could gather together the pears I wanted to take to Scoop.  I took two trays full, hoping that more than half would sell.  I took the kilo of dried pears and 500g of dried apples.  I set off at 9.45, very slowly so not to damage the pears which were very soft and juicy.

When I got there, the shop was shut and 3 students waiting for it to open.  And the bumping around in the trays had damaged some of the pears, which was a pity.  I'll have to find a better way to transport them.  One of the students found a porter who unlocked the door and let me put the pears and dried fruit in the room, and then locked up again.  Apparently the shop was short-staffed as quite a few students had gone to London to the 'stop privatising education' march.

I went home via a logpile and then went to have a coffee with my friend Julie B, which extended into lunch.  I got back in good time to go to Country Fresh and then on to the Guildhall to attend the Environment Forum meeting at 4.30.  I got there at about 4, and got a very rude haranguing from the caretaker who said 'what would happen if I got injured in the room before the meeting?'  All I was doing was sitting reading quietly.  Ridiculous man!

The EF meeting was good.... a presentation from Matt Barker from the City Car Club, a car-share scheme.

Then there was an update about Treemendous York, and following that, a chat with Professor Alan Simpson, who authored the 'York: New City Beautiful' report last year. 

Nothing much happened in the evening.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Tuesday 8th November 11

Well whoops, I was due to be at Seacroft Hospital to donate platelets at 10.50 and I woke at 10.30.  I rang the hospital and rebooked for Thursday.  They thanked me for ringing.

So, a bit of an unexpected morning as I thought I'd be woken at 8 and be leaving the house at sometime after 9 to get on a bus to Leeds.  As it was I just did some more fruit and got the dried fruit ready for Scoop tomorrow.  I was surprised how light apple rings are, and how many jars of them it took to make just half a kilo.  The pears are much denser, and I easily got a kilo from about 3 and a half jars.  However, the student price I agreed is quite a lot less than I get if I sell some privately, a jar full (used to contain 700g peanut butter) goes for about £4, but the student price is £7 for 3.5 jars of pears and I think I put about 4 jars of apple into a bag and that only weighed 500g, or £3.50 student price.  The fresh ones are looking like a better deal, as there's no processing, just several days up trees, and I'm getting £1.70/kg for them.  Anyway, I'll get a bit of money and the lovely Scoop-ers will get some delicious and fairly cheap dried fruit!

I used the afternoon to do some chainsawing and splitting as I've started collecting logs again. 

Then at 7pm I headed over to the University to attend the New Generation Society (affectionately known as 'Thinking and Drinking'!), a presentation by Ieuan Ferrer called 'Why Meat is (usually) Murder'. This was good, quite thought-provoking and very well put over.  The argument was based on the premise that eating meat increases the demand for food (as the food animals eat a third of the food grown, which could be eaten directly by people, and are inefficient processors, converting only a small percentage of the grain/soya or whatever into meat), and suppresses the supply of food (same reason) and increases the cost of food, all of which contribute to some of the problems regarding our global diet... malnutrition in some areas and in some communities, obesity in others. There was a debate afterwards which I contributed to, after which I came home via a logpile.

Monday 7th November 11

Gill woke me up at 9.30 with a chap on the phone who wouldn't explain what he wanted to her, and when the handset was given to me, he spoke so fast that I couldn't understand him, so I asked him to repeat what he'd said... and he put the phone down!

However, it got me up and I got busy with some admin/paperwork, and found most of what I was looking for, and put several letters and cheques in envelopes, and before lunch cycled down to the post office on Melrosegate and put stamps on the ones which needed them, and sent them off.

I had lunch and washed up, and then went into the garden for the first time in a while and dug out a compost heap in order to refill it.

At 5 I put our eldest's bike on my trailer and cycled down to The Stables to pick him up. He'd started and evening class to work towards a GCSE English.  We came back via the logpile and Heslington.

In the evening I went to the LETS meeting which had changed venue, and was at the Priory Street Centre.  Melody was on good form and Sue was there too. Sue came with me to see Rory Motion at City Screen after the LETS meeting.  Rory was on fabulous form, and I really enjoyed the event, and it raised some money for York Green Party.  I walked Sue back to her van afterwards before cycling home.