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