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.

Sunday 6th November Our Wedding Anniversary, and Fiddlesticking at Eid Celebrations.

Up early, to get the 9.52 to Leeds, in order to get the 10.45 replacement bus to Batley.  However, the 9.52 stopping train was late, and I was told that the 10.15 express would arrive 2 minutes earlier than the late stopper, so I waited and got into Leeds with less than 5 minutes to spare before the bus.

But I enjoyed this bus journey and at 11.20 I was delivered to Batley station, my unicycles and juggling stuff disgorged from the boot of the bus. I only had to wait a few minutes for Priya, my hostess, to arrive, and take me to the mosque and meeting space, which the Shia Muslims call a Jama'at-Khana.

I was given a tour of the Jama'at-Khana by a confident teen girl, whom I think was the daughter of one of the leaders of the community. She told me about the Ismaili community, who certainly came across as very friendly.  They are from Uganda, India and Afghanistan, and consider themselves as modern and forward-looking compared to some of the more traditional Muslims.  In this country there is fortunately little or no conflict between the Shia and Sunni Muslim groups. The Ismailis also do a lot of charitable work, and give 1/8th of their income to charity.

My role today was to help them celebrate Eid, one of their holy days, when they have a feast and entertainment.  They invited me to have some food, which was lovely, and then I got changed and did my Professor Fiddlesticks circus show for them.  This was followed by various performances by many of the children, which I enjoyed watching... and I did some balloons after this.  It all went really well.

This was a really enjoyable day, as I love learning about different cultures, and these people were most welcoming and easy to get along with.

I had an easy journey back, the trains had resumed normal service and I got back to a happy house.  Gill and I did acknowledge that we'd been married 12 years, and that we've been 'romantically entangled' for 18.  Ah, lovely!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Saturday 5th November 11

A pretty low key day for me.  Gill and I did quite a bit of sorting out, going through piles of paperwork and trying to find our TV licence demand.  It is overdue.  I got a phone call from Ben who once again had come to the rescue and helped with my laptop woes.  Ages ago the power jack had come loose and recently there was only an occasional connection, and my battery was only lasting 20 minutes (it is an old laptop), so he'd attempted to mend the jack but had been unsuccessful.  So I asked if he'd be prepared to find a new power supply and battery pack.  Today these had been delivered to him, so I went round to pick them up.  The battery looks like it has twice the staying power of the old one did when new, and the jack fits snugly.  I paid him and came back home.

After lunch I went down to town to take money out of the building society and put it into the bank so we could pay electronically, but the bank was shut so I couldn't top up our account (depleted because of the washing machine).  However, I did check out the Big Green Market and had a nice chat with the organiser, Jane, and discussed its green credentials, as I had seen loads of things with a massive carbon impact (metalwork, ceramics, meat) and imported things, and gifts and extras which are most definitely wants not needs.  If we're to achieve an 80% reduction in carbon emissions and resource use, we really have to stop consuming many of the things being offered at this 'green' market.  However, I like the fact that they champion fair trade, and artisan crafts, and have over the years stopped some stallholders re-booking because they didn't fit the criteria.

I cycled home and on a short cycle path (Dixon Lane) between Piccadilly and 
George St, there were 3 women walking up in the same direction as me, one on the footpath and the other two, one with a pushchair, in the cycle path.  I used my bell and they heard me and moved to get out of the way, but quite slowly, so I braked and stopped to let them get onto the pedestrian path.  As I cycled away, I got a torrent of abuse; saying 'slow down' and 'f***ing maniac', and worse, so I stopped and got off my bike and told them that I was going slow enough to stop in time, and actually they shouldn't have been in the cycle lane.  The all started shouting at me and verbally abusing me, and I answered, probably more loudly than was necessary, and the oldest hag then said she was ringing the police as I was causing a disturbance. She did something with her mobile phone and then either spoke to the police, or more likely pretended to.  What I should have done, in retrospect, was to stay with them and wait for the police, as it was they who started the commotion by shouting abuse at me as I accelerated away from them after stopping to let them go onto the pavement. But I cycled away, not wanting to have more cat calls.

The remainder of the day was fine, lots more housework, cooking, fruit drying and the like.  The boys went out with a friend to a bonfire/fireworks do. Gill cuddled guinea pigs.  I had 15 minutes watching fireworks and Chinese lanterns from the loft window, before making tomato soup for tomorrow.

Friday 4th November 11

Well I got up at 8am as Gill went out with the boys on the bus, and as we were expecting the washing machine delivery between 8.17 and 9.37 (they offer an accurate 90 minute delivery window!) I was ready to get the delivery at quarter past.  However, they were a bit later than that, sometime before 9.  They took the old one away and also the polystyrene packaging from the new one.

I then got ready to go to Ginnie's to finish off the coal-hole job.  It was raining but still a nice enough day, and I enjoyed the cycle there apart from one idiot outside the Minster who wasn't looking where he was driving and looked shocked when he saw me almost too late.

I didn't have much more scraping and shovelling to do in the coal hole, but I did have a load to take back so I did that.  I got back at midday and after unloading I went straight back and got the final load, which included a wooden ladder which had rungs missing and Ginnie said was only fit for firewood.

I had lunch on the dot of 1pm.  I'm not sure what else I did today, apart from get the washing machine installed, which involved removing some bolts which stop things moving around during transit, and fixing hoses etc.

Thursday 3rd November 11

Quite a good day... although it started badly with a lot of teenage shouting downstairs, and I had to get up quickly and jump on my bike before eating breakfast and cycle to school with our youngest, who is an excellent cyclist but not yet completely comfortable crossing the one difficult road on his journey to school.  I gave him a couple of suggestions about how this could be made easier and safer, but did go all the way to school with him, and came back via a good big logpile I've discovered.

I enjoyed breakfast.  A lot.  Lovely home-made muesli.  Gill put the washing machine on last night and when she opened it, the stuff was still wet and hadn't washed.  She tried to make the machine work and it just wouldn't.  It has been misbehaving for months.... which isn't surprising as it is over 20 years old.  We'd already done some research about washing machines when it started preparing to die, but now was the time to finish that research and make a decision.  Despite being broke.

So, I rang the Co-op electrical people and bought a £400 washing machine.  It will be delivered tomorrow.  It's an A+++ rated one.

I worked for David at 6pm.

Wednesday 2nd November 11

What a wonderful day.  Although I was woken by teenage shouting, and I came downstairs at 8, the day got better.  Gill took the boys to school on the bus and I had breakfast and my usual diet of facebook and emails.  Gill came back and I spent some time with Gill before she went out to the Dentist.

I had to stay in as I was expecting the Yellow Pages chap; I'd said to him last week that I needed to spend less on advertising as I was earning less as during a recession, people spend less on entertainment than when there's more spare cash around.  So he came and sorted out a package with me which he said would double the amount of work I was getting, but would cost more.  He said it would more than pay for itself.  I said I needed to check it over with Gill, and was unable to sign for that package there and then, and I wasn't happy that although I said I needed to spend less, he'd actually given me a more expensive package.

Anyway, he came back today and spent some time re-doing my advertising so it was reduced in size and cost less, and I signed for it.  The chap was interested to see the garden so I quickly took him down... I think he was a bit mithered about his posh shoes getting a bit of mud on them!  Nice enough guy though.

Anyway, I then could think about planning the rest of my day.  I needed to take my bike into Cycle Heaven again, as the dynamo stopped working, or rather didn't work when I got on it at Ginnie's yesterday night.  I needed to be at CVS for 3pm as Melody had asked me to be there to accept an award for YorkLETS.  And then I needed to be at the Scoop Shop at Wentworth College at 6pm.  I decided to have lunch and take my bike into Cycle Heaven and leave it there whilst I was at Priory Street.

Over lunch I got 3 phone calls, all Fiddlesticks bookings.  One was from a woman at a Mosque in Batley, wanting to book me for a show this Sunday for Eid.  She also invited me for lunch.  Then I got a December booking for a nursery party in Meltham, near Huddersfield.  Finally, a chap whom I'd met on a train rang me and said he wanted to book me for a private workshop with him and his girlfriend, learning basic balloon modelling.  He too was in Huddersfield.  Oh, and Rob from Robin Hood's Bay rang and I confirmed that I was able to go up with the family for their Victorian Christmas event, in exchange for 3 nights B+B in a hotel. So a flurry of pre-Christmas bookings which is good.

I went out at about 2.15 to take my bike to Cycle Heaven, so Ash could try to solve the 'spooky dynamo' problem.  I walked up to Priory St and waited for Melody at CVS, and at 3 went to find her in the big room, which was hosting the Annual General Meeting.  One of the items on the Agenda was the Colin Stroud Award.  Colin was the Chief Executive at CVS for 23 years until last year when he stepped down, and the staff wanted to do something to acknowledge his input and dedication.  So they decided to have a weekly or monthly collection of a few coins from all the staff, and then present this money to a worthy cause at the AGM.  YorkLETS had been suggested as a worthy recipient and it was chosen to receive £500 to spend on anything it wanted to! Amazing!  The chair introduced the award and Colin said a bit about YorkLETS, and then handed me the cheque and shook my hand. I thanked the meeting, and said I was especially moved by this as the money didn't come from a big donor giving out £500 here, £10,000 there, but was from the staff and others connected with CVS, and in my eyes, was all the more valuable because of this.

I walked back to Cycle Heaven after this, picking up several aluminium cans to take to the metal merchants when I eventually go.  Ash had found the source of the problem: a wire had worked itself free of some insulation and was shorting on the frame.  The dynamo was fixed!

And I needed it as my next trip out was to the University at 5.45, to be at the Scoop (Student Co-op) meeting at 6, with a sample tray of pears and dried apple and dried pears. The meeting was to decide how best to sell this produce, and the price.  After quite a bit of discussion, a price of £1.70/kg of fresh pears was agreed, and 70p/100g for the dried fruit, and Scoop will add 5p to that to help them cover breakages, leakages and food that they're unable to sell (for instance if it goes out of date).  These prices were based on a bit of research I'd done in Country Fresh and Alligator, and my desire to give the students the best price possible. At the end of the meeting, all the remaining pears and dried fruit was sold, and I'll take a load in next Wednesday morning.  I'm really pleased with this as there's no way I can eat all the pears myself... even if family members join in!

Which for tea, they did!  I had some soup, garlic bread and veggie sausages followed by a fruit art explosion made by our eldest.  We all had a bowl of carved orange slices, pear, ginger biscuit and chocolate drops.  Nice!

I had a nice evening after this doing more fruit, watching telly and chatting.

Tuesday 1st November 11

A hard-working day.  I went to Ginnie's to dig out her coal hole.  I'd spent some time thinking hard about this issue. 

Ginnie moved into the house about 20 years ago and there was a pile of coal in an outhouse... they didn't use solid fuel and it sat there.  She's selling up and wants the place as tidy and clean as possible, so she asked me if I wanted the coal.  Our stoves are 'multifuel', meaning they'll burn wood or coal in a smoke-free way, so that meant I was in a position to say yes.

However, this carbon was fossil carbon, extracted from the air millions of years ago.  And I've made a conscious decision to be as 'low carbon' as possible... that's mainly fossil carbon, but it also pertains to not wasting renewable energy too.  So, a dilemma.  What to do with this coal?  Should I say, no, I don't want it, and let her find someone else to dig it out, bag it up, drive it somewhere and burn it?  Or should I spend time bagging it up, to help Ginnie, and then take it to Hazel court to be landfilled, or find somewhere to bury it?  These last two options would mean the fossil carbon would be locked up underground, the ideal situation. But if I used the coal, it would add a little to my carbon footprint... which is about a twelfth of the UK average... so this 'carbon expenditure' wouldn't make my footprint particularly large, just a bit bigger than it would be if I'd just carried on using wood.  It would add carbon dioxide to the air, probably a similar amount that the logs would, that I would need to burn to get the same amount of heat. There is a theoretical difference between carbon locked away millions of years ago and that sequestered by plants more recently, although the molecules of CO2 are exactly the same.

I decided to help Ginnie, and to bring the coal home, and use it to supplement our log piles. 

So I filled lots of sacks and bags with the whole lot, probably about 250kg, and did several cycle rides back home with them in my trailer.

Later, I asked my facebook friends what they suggested I do with it.  Several said 'make an artwork' out of it (my mind boggled at how I should do this!) and several others said yes, just use it, as my years and years of being low carbon would not be undone by this small high-carbon act.  The burial solution was mentioned too, but by this time I'd spent several hours digging the stuff out, and the idea of chucking it away wasn't that appealing.

I'd love to know blog-readers' opinions.  Am I a hypocrite?  Am I just taking advantage of a freebie?  Does this 250kg coal being burnt 'matter' in the bigger scheme of things?  Should I burn it with a clean conscience?

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Monday 31st October 11

A good day, despite going to bed at something like 4am and being woken up at 8.50am by a phone call from Ben, asking if I'd like to take my laptop round to have the power jack repaired.

So, after breakfast I went round with my laptop and power lead, and some fresh pears, and a bag of dried apples and pears, and some walnuts.  These were partly as a thank you for his offer of help, and partly as it is his birthday.  He asked me to come and collect it later.

I then spent a good hour or more dealing with the last of the pumpkin seeds left over from last week's York Rotters Pumpkin Evening.  I put the pulp and seeds into a bowl of water and the seeds tend to float, so I can skim them off into a drainer and from there onto sheets of paper to dry in front of a stove.

The rest of the day was a bit of a blur.

Sunday 30th October 11

I had a quiet morning, keeping out of the way of Gill and the boys who were getting ready to go to Sheffield, to stay with their grandparents, see their Uncle Thomas and their cousins, and take part in Sheffield's 'Fright Night'. I had already agreed to work for David tonight, so I couldn't go.

Also, I was feeling lousy.  A running nose, sneezing, blocked sinuses.  So I had a very sedentary day, and during the afternoon, I decided that I should tell David that I wasn't well enough to work.  However, his phone wasn't answered, so I kept trying.  He still wasn't answering at 5.40, and I became worried that something had happened to him, so whether I was poorly or not, I had to cycle in to see him.
The cycle ride made me feel somewhat better, and when I arrived at David's I wasn't feeling like going home, although I told David that if he wanted me to go I would.  However, he was happy for me to take him to the William Temple Association talk, and he had a nice time. 

Saturday 29th October 11

I woke having had an odd dream that a young foreign woman had come to the door saying her business needed to recycle some food scraps, and would I help.  Gill had answered the door and sent them away saying that we didn't need yet more composting going on, and then I got to the door and called the woman back and it turned out she was from somewhere like Norwich Union, and I got a contract with them to set up a Jora system, composting at their premises, and managing it too, so an ongoing 'job'.  Funny dream!

There wasn't much morning left after I got up and breakfasted and got dressed....

The afternoon was good as I went up Marion and Dave's Winter Pear tree again.  I saw Marion on the way down the garden and she said she was very happy with the 3 trays of pears I'd taken up the garden for her, and I could have all the rest.  I'm very happy with that!  I picked a load more but there's still more to get.

I'd agreed to go over and see Anna, Douglas and Loony, in Sheffield, and Anna had suggested we have a meal out, and said could I be at the station for 5.30?  I got the 4.09 which went via Leeds, and I chatted a bit with a pleasant young law student called Natasha, from Newcastle, and visiting a friend in Birmingham.  I also took my pumpkin seeds (last years) and peeled the outer layer off them, one by one.  I got a lot done, on both legs of the journey.

Anna and Douglas like a particular Chinese restaurant called the Hong Kong Wok, and they'd booked a table. I had spring rolls and a green pepper in batter for starters, and then tofu and veg with egg fried rice for main meal.  It was lovely to have some relaxed chats with Anna, sitting opposite me, and Loony's 3 year old daughter was very entertaining too.

We spent just over an hour here, and then Anna drove us back to Middlewood where she and Douglas live, very close to the end of the tram line.  I had a coffee and shelled more pumpkin seeds, and at just after 9 set off for the tram, the 9.26 which would get me to the station for my 10.06 train back.

A late night but all went like clockwork, very smoothly.  A lovely evening, thank you Anna and Douglas.  

Friday 28th October 11

A really excellent day.  I was woken up just before 10 which gave me about 45 minutes to get ready and out of the house to get to work.  Quick breakfast and emails, gathered jugglestuff together, Gill plaited my hair and I left with all my work equipment at 10.45 to get to the station for a train soon after 11, as I was being met at midday in Leeds.

Nice conversation on the train with a couple from Darlington, heading for Stockport, which made the journey go quickly and I was in Leeds by 11.50.  Paul from Middleton Park met me at the back of the station and took me to the usual place, the building in Middleton Park which is due to be knocked down soon and a new centre built, hopefully by next summer!

This gig they'd booked me for was not well advertised, as they'd got some extra funding quite recently to put on kids events during this half-term, so it didn't go out in their usual literature, but was on their website, in the papers and on the radio.  So at 1pm, when I was all dressed up and ready to entertain, a family group of 4 wandered in.  And then a few more.  There can't have been more than 20 people there all day, but several of them worked really hard with the circus skills, and I got nearly everybody, including grown-ups, having a go with the flower sticks owned by Middleton Park, and with some juggling too.  It was a very successful event, because of the amount of one-to-one teaching and other interaction.  I really enjoyed it, despite not following my usual routine.  3pm soon came and I helped tidy up and by quarter-past, I was in Paul's car heading for the station again.

I soon got a train to York and was home by 4.45.  I had planned to do some stuff in the garden before going to work for David, but I had to do some sorting out about the gig tomorrow in Ashton Under Lyne.  I'd got a provisional booking for an event there back in July, and as usual, just put the contact name and phone number in my diary, and waited for confirmation.  Nothing came, so I left it as I don't tend to chase people until I need to.... either when I get someone else wanting me on the same day, or as the date get nearer, to check that the client still wants me.  Well this person was playing hard to get.... a phone number with either an answerphone, or engaged.  And then they left a garbled message on my answerphone with no phone number to ring and a very indistinct email address which neither Gill or I could work out what letters were being said.  However, this evening, the client rang and I spoke to him!  Hooray!  Except he cancelled the booking.  He sounded shifty about what had happened... first saying he'd booked me and the event was going ahead, then saying he'd booked another entertainer, then saying the event was cancelled.  I have no idea what the truth was, but I'd rather not work for someone so disorganised, and, to my mind, untruthful.  It would have been far better if he'd said that he had made a mistake, which is what I think the truth was.

So then I went to work and got to David's on the dot of 6pm.  We had a little chat and then I took him to City Screen, and after that to the Envisions light show (Illuminating York) which was at the Castle Museum.  This was mindblowing, really good.  Neither of us expected it to be so powerful and enjoyable.  We got a really good place right in the centre, and saw the whole sequence right from the start.

I got him back to his place and made some food and was finished by 8.10.  I rang Gill to suggest that if one or both of the boys were ready to go out with me when I got back, I'd take them to see the show.  I was really pleased that our eldest was up for this, so I got his bike and we went the quiet way down to the Eye of York and waited about 10 minutes for the show to get to the change over time, and took our blanket thing and sat down right in the middle, at the front.  It was well worth it.  Here's one YouTube video of it, but there are plenty of others.

Thursday 27th October 11

Well a bit of a frustrating day in a way, as I spent quite a long time sorting out my laptop, or trying to... I plugged it in near the WiFi box and plugged in the Ethernet cable, and Ian talked me through how to let the machine complete the process of installing the new Ubuntu version, which had got stuck... possibly because my computer switched itself off because of it's problem wobbly jack-plug.  Anyway, Ian got it back to a working computer, but the plug was so wobbly that I still cannot use it and I messaged Ben to ask if he'd sort it out.  I will pay him handsomely when he fixes it, which is probably just a 20 minute job.

At midday the Yellow Pages guy came back, with his colleague who I think was a more senior chap, and had re-done an advert for me with two versions, neither of which I liked.  I like my existing advert, which looks like a bulls-eye, but I said I was happy for him to tweak it to make it stand out more. They spent quite a long time working out a trial Google Ad Words thing for me, and I was prepared to try a 4 month trial at £39.50 per month, but when it came to the crunch, they asked for my bank account number and I don't pay anything for my Fiddlesticks work from my bank account; I use a dedicated Building Society account, and I do not do any Direct Debits.  I said I'd pay for the full 4 months in advance, by cheque, but they apparently can't accept cheques for Google Ad Words.  I said either they should change the rules or I'd have to put £39.50 from my Building Society into my bank to have the DD go out of my bank, and I wasn't prepared to do that.  So I said scrap the Ad Words idea.  They were here for 2 hours, but eventually left as they couldn't get the form to work that they'd have wanted me to sign.  I didn't want to sign today anyway as I wanted to ask Gill about this cost.  He said he'd call tomorrow but I'm going to ring him and ask that he comes next week.

I popped out to get two cheques made out, one for the glass I put my hand through at the gig in Poppleton (cost me £40), and one for my National Insurance contribution.

I made some soup, out of the pumpkin bits I was given yesterday.  I put in onion, butternut squash, a cooking apple, some carrot, and flavoured it with herbs, Balsamic vinegar and a bit of soy sauce.  I had it ready for when Gill and the boys came back at 7pm.  They were glad I'd done that!

The other annoying or frustrating thing today was that I tried to contact someone who has provisionally booked me to work this Saturday in Ashton-Under-Lyne near Manchester.  I'd rung the number which is in my diary, and got a message through to the answerphone, and he'd rung me and left a very fuzzy message on there, and crucially not left his contact number or email address.  In my message I clearly ask that people leave their phone number if they want me to get back to them.  I phoned the number I have got about 30 times during the day, and each time it was engaged.  When I went out to buy bread, ARGH he phoned and once again didn't leave a contact number.  How incredibly frustrating.  I am available to work on Saturday, but I need to know where it is, what it is, and how much I'm going to get paid.

Gill came back at 7 having had a really good time in Norwich with her sister.  The boys were happy too.  I then went out, at about 7.45, to see my favourite local band The Falling Spikes.  I had a lovely evening, one of the tracks they played had me in tears it was so wonderful.  The band they were supporting weren't nearly as good, for me, and I left halfway through their set.

Wednesday 26th October 11

Woke soon after 9 and had a productive day, including another round of pear picking.  I picked 4 trays full, and took 3 up Marion and Dave's garden and left them near the house, so they can put them in their garage and wait for them to ripen.  I went to Alligator to check the prices of pears there, and also dried fruit, to get an idea of how much I should ask Scoop to pay for my pears and dried fruit.

I collected compostables at Alligator and Country Fresh,and then headed over to St Nicks to help with the pumpkin evening.  I served soup and showed children how to peel the outer shells off pumpkin seeds.  I was impressed by the size of the winning big pumpkin, which came in at 25 stone (about 160kg) and I asked the growers if they would be willing to let me have some seed.  I wonder if they'll send me any?

I came home with all the pumpkin innards, and spent some time sorting out some of the seeds, and also saved a load of the flesh to make soup out of.  Did loads more dried pears, and a few apples.