Monday, 2 April 2018

Saturday 31st March 18, Richard Clare Memorial.

Another busy day, up at 9 and was working by 10 to put all the logs in one place, all the twigs in another, and to redistribute the compost heap and to reinstate the compost bin, this time on top of the pear stump, so it will have no chance at all of regrowing.  There is now ample space for the plum to be put in, and I think Daddy will help with that.

I wanted to get down to the Ponderosa by midday, so at quarter to, I packed everything into the panniers and rucksack and cycled down to the memorial for Richard Clare. He died 5 years ago, and is still fondly remembered for all his tree planting, seed swapping and assorted green activism and teaching.  His aunt and uncle came down from Aberdeen, Marion and Keith, I think, and Ed Smith was there with his girlfriend, and three other of Richard's friends. We talked together for about half an hour, didn't have any ceremony, but did have a seed swap, of sorts. I learned that Richard planted all the trees around this edge of the Ponderosa, getting funding and organising planting crews. Brilliant, what a thing to leave!

I got a train back to York and cycled round to see Kiri to arrange what she was going to do this weekend whilst Joy is in Manchester. We booked a bike ride on Sunday.

I was glad to get home and was pretty tired.

Friday 30th March 18

Going over to Sheffield today, to see if I can give blood and resume my platelet donations, and then do some work in Anna's garden.

So I got to the station and bought my ticket to Sheffield and got an earlier train than I'd expected an arrived in Sheffield at about 11.30, and slowly made my way to the blood donor centre near the Cathedral, which I knew opened for the afternoon session at 12.30. I sat next to the Cathedral for 40 minutes watching the world go by and then walked my bike up to the Blood Donation place and waited there for a few minutes. A member of staff came along at 12.15 and I asked if she knew if they had any spaces for the afternoon session, and she said she'd ask. A minute later she came back and said they were completely full, so I thanked her and cycled up towards the University and Walkley.

Daddy had delivered the long ladder the previous day, using a sack barrow he'd tied it to as a convenient sort of trolley.  I untied this and leaned it up against the pear tree and started using my big Fiskars loppers to remove branches.

The pear tree was a variety called Jargonelle. We have one in the garden more than twice as tall as Anna's. The pears are quite small, between 4 and 10cm long, and ripen in the 3rd week of August, approx. They almost immediately go bad from the centre. They are an intense 'pear drop' flavour, and, traditionally, were used to provide the flavour for pear drops. If you search 'jargonelle', you will probably find a boiled sweet, named after the pear.  Our tree is very straggly and chaotic in character. Because there are many other pear trees nearby, we get excellent fruit set, but Anna's (last year) had a very poor fruit loading. It could have been a bad year, or it may be missing the two other varieties of pear nearby which it needs to pollinate with.

I am sad to take this 100 year old tree down (that's a guess) but, it's not nice or useful to the current custodians of the land, and they have bought a replacement tree, although it will never grow nearly as big.

The wood will be dried out and Daddy will use the logs in his woodburner, somewhat replacing fossil-fuel use as he doesn't need his heating on when the burner is going.  I was sad to take this tree down but if I didn't do it, someone else would have done. 

I took the tree down slowly and carefully, using a rope to tie some branches to the tree so they didn't fall dangerously.  Daddy turned up and helped me a little bit, using a long rope to pull some branches onto the lawn, away from the ladder and fence.  I used my Oregon battery chainsaw for the up-ladder cuts and then the Worx plug-in for the trunk.  I was able to get some little discs for Anne who wants to have them for some kind of place mat, and left the trunk in two large chunks for turning or carving.

Anna fed us well and I had a bath to get the sawdust out of my hair, and was in bed by 2am, early for me!

Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Monday 18th September 17, Launch of Two Rivers Radio

Quite an exciting day as York's new online radio station, Two Rivers Radio was launched, broadcasting from The Corner Pin pub on Tanner Row, in the centre of York.  I was keen to listen as I'm starting my monthly show in a fortnight, and I wanted to get a feel for the thing.  So I listened on-and-off for the first three hours from just after midday, before I had to do some work outside.

I did quite a big pick from the back garden.... hazelnuts, the last of the walnuts, pears from the 'Family Tree', James Grieve apples, nasturtium seeds for salting and pickling.

I composted a vast pile of bread.

Then I had to take the hot water urns back to Red Tower and pick up the Edible York gazebos and cycled them up to the Dormouse where the apple pick was just beginning. I had my long extendable picker and was able to get a couple of trays of nice eaters, and went with some others to try to find a pear tree, which we did eventually find. The difficulty was, the tree was so big the pears were too high up to be able to get, although I did reach a dozen or so.

At 8pm it was the Edible York AGM and I sensibly didn't get myself put forward to become a trustee. I was glad to be there but sad I was missing Kate Lock's first Two Rivers show. I cycled back into town and popped into see Joy who's come back from a weekend with Alan, ad then onto the Corner Pin for the last hour of the show, which finished when the pub shut at 11pm.

I got home and spent quite a bit of time sorting out some of the fruit which needs drying immediately, rather than storing it which I hope I can do with some of the trays.

Monday, 21 August 2017

Sunday 20th August 17

Old Goole Gala today, quite a hike, literally, so an early start.  Got up before 7 to get to the station for the 8am train to Doncaster where there was a half-hour wait before the Goole train.  I'd already worked out the route from Goole station to South Park, Google maps had it at 1.4 miles, so a 35 to 40 minute walk with all my equipment, which is further than I generally like to walk before a gig to get to the venue.  I usually have a rucksack with my costume and the 2-wheel and 4-wheel unicycles, the one-wheel kids uni over my shoulder and pushing the adult uni, plus my tennis racquet bag with devilsticks, juggling balls, diabolos and more; this is the heaviest bag.  I usually have a bag for my sandwiches and other stuff, so this time I had taken some pumpkin seeds to shell for my muesli, whilst waiting on station platforms.  But at least the route was easy, south from the station and straight through the docks, over 3 swing-bridges and rail crossings. just following the main road.  So I arrived at the field, which had a funfair on it, soon after 10, so that I could be ready for an 11am start for the parade.

After I got changed in the inaccessible disabled toilet (door wouldn't open due to an obstruction, no light meaning the door had to be left ajar) I was directed to join a marching band who were going to be picked up by a lorry and taken half way back towards town for the start of the parade.  The marching band I was with all had big yellow plumes on their hats, and had a good range of drums, xylophones and little girls carrying batons or pompoms. They were from the Goole and Humberside area.  Another band had come over from Nottingham.  We all got onto the lorry and sat on straw bales for the slow journey along to the start point.  I just took my favourite devilstick, with the intention of going behind a nice funky band and dancing round with my sticks, spinning them and twirling round, throwing it up high, in my usual flowing fashion. I kept away from the bagpipe band as that doesn't work for devilsticking to!

So the hour-long procession started, and wound its way through Old Goole, watched by people from their front gardens and pavements. On a couple of occasions I spotted someone with a walking stick watching, and I went and grabbed it, offering my devilstick in swap, and did an impromptu 30 seconds of spinning the walking stick before giving it back and continuing on my route behind the marching band.

I was glad to arrive back at the field and as I was setting up my area, I had my sandwiches as I knew I'd not get time to take a break once I got started.  So then the full-on workshops and shows started, mainly focusing on devilsticks, unicycle and 3-ball juggling. This went on til 5pm, although towards the end it tailed off a bit and I got a group of more challenging participants.

One was a gobby teenager who was a bit of a show-off and demanded a go on the 4-wheel unicycle, and was fairly average, not being steady enough for me to allow her to try the 2-wheel pedal go unicycle, as this is much much more difficult. She was verbally aggressive and very offended that I'd told her she wasn't good enough to do the more difficult skill.  She told me I was wrong to tell her, or anybody, this, although I do this because of safety concerns, as several people have come off the 2-wheeler and got hurt, one even breaking a bone in her foot. She was very persistent and I said that if she waited her turn she could do the 4-wheeler again and show me how competent she was, and this time she was much more careful and focused, and did the 4-wheeler perfectly. I said she could now go on the 2-wheeler and again, she was actually reasonably competent on this and I apologised, saying I'd misjudged her. She was surprised to receive an apology, as I expect most adults don't easily apologise to children.  So I surprised her further by telling her that if she worked with a couple of her friends she could have a go on the children's one-wheel unicycle, whilst I supervised younger children on the other equipment.

But fortunately my finish time was coming up and I was able to gently get them to leave me alone to pack up. I got changed and went to see the organiser, to check she was happy with my work, which she was, and she was apologetic that she couldn't get me a lift back into Goole, which she had told me I'd get when we chatted on the phone.  So I walked back into Goole, getting to the station shortly before 6 which is when my train was due. I fell asleep on the train and was woken at Doncaster as someone asked me to move so she could get out.

There was a 40 minute wait before the York train, but on that train I chatted to a rail weld checker, who'd come to York to oversee someone who'd had some complaints by colleagues.  A fascinating conversation.

I popped into a supermarket on the way home to buy some brandy which Gill needs to soak some fruit for a cake she's making. And home soon after 8pm, absolutely exhausted, but Gill had home-made pizza and chips for me so that was lovely to come back to!

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Thursday 30th March 17

Another home-based day spent inside, on the computer or preparing food, and out in the garden, where I had a productive day.

So, in the garden I weeded the long raised bed and put some compost on as a top dressing, and did some log stacking, emptied a tumbler and started refilling, added piles of veg to another two compost systems and put sticks in trays for drying.

I did some sleuthing work to find out if Sally was a Jehovah's Witness, as was suggested by the woman who'd found her body, and reported that to the police officer. I rang someone at the JWs and they confirmed that Sally had been in their congregation, so I hope they will take care of the funeral. I've asked to be notified.

I took the NOx tube down from the tree in the front garden and put it in the post back to the FoE who will analyse it and get a result back to me. It's been passively sampling for a fortnight, and will give an average reading.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Saturday 25th March 17

Another full day........... with the Edible York Spring into 2017 event, and then a gig in Alne.

So, I got up early so as I could get to Tang Hall Community Centre for 10am, with some planks which Ruth had asked me to bring so they could be made into signs or plant labels. I cut them into 30cm lengths.  Sadly, the event was poorly attended. Very disappointing, and difficult to understand why. However, Jonathan and Melissa came, and there were quite a few other people I was glad to see.  I came home with some seedlings and seeds, and a possible compost order or two.

The event finished with lunch, and we wound up at about 2pm.  I collected some compostables on the way home including 10kg of very green potatoes. I spent some time chopping these into the tumbler, and soon it was time to get the trailer loaded for my gig this evening.

I needed to be in Alne for a 6pm start, so after checking the route, I reckoned that if I left at 4, I should be there by 5.15 which would give me time to cool down and get ready for the show.

I left at 4.08 and got there at 5.20.  Good estimation!  So there was no rush to get ready and I had a sandwich that Gill packed for me, before getting changed and doing the two shows, the audience were disabled adults, so quite a difficult gig, but there were several who definitely had a great time so I was happy with that.

I took my time getting home, going via Overton which is a narrow and unlit road, which I'd hoped would be safer than the main road with cars zipping past at 60mph. However there was a surprising amount of traffic on this little road, including meeting several on corners, meaning they didn't know I was there until the last moment. I did use the cycle track through the woods but then rejoined the main road just before the junction with the outer ring road.  This cycle home took over an hour and a half and left me very cold. Cycling in shorts and sandals in warm spring sunshine is different to when it is a starry windless night.

Very happy to get in, and Gill had some pasta and veg ready. I lit the stove though as she'd been too creaky to do it. It took me over an hour to warm up.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Friday 24th March 17

An excellent day.  I'd arranged to meet Michelle at El Piano at midday, but I woke up at 11.17 so I quickly chucked some muesli down, got my bike out and loaded what I needed for after Michelle, and arrived at El P at a minute to midday, just before they opened. Michelle appeared 3 minutes later and we had a tea and a mocha - and the usual excellent chats. She really is one of the most sensible and sorted people I know, although she might not see this about herself.

This wound up at about half one and I cycled over to Bishy Road to see Ben, who'd asked me to come and do his compost bin, a Komp 250 which was nearly full. I removed the top half of material and put it into bin bags.... probably about 80 litres, and then dug out the rest using a Compost Mate and a trowel, and filled 6 bin bags, so maybe 120kg, and popped those in my trailer. The fresher stuff then got thrown back, along with some dry autumn leaves. The job took just under 2 hours and Ben paid me £30 which we were both happy with. I'll be able to mature the material he didn't want (although I did put about 10kg on his garden) and it should make good compost. It was one of the cleanest batches of compost I'd seen, with very few plastic 'contraries' compared to many bins I deal with. I did find a tea spoon though!

So I cycled home with that and decanted it into a barrel I use to mature nearly-finished compost in, and then topped it with some really nice material from a dalek which had rotted down to 25% of what it was 2 years ago. 

I then chopped up some sticks from a pruning job I was doing yesterday to reduce tree/hedge height near my raised beds, as they were too shaded last year. I put those in wooden fruit boxes to dry for a few months.... they should be ready to use for kindling by next winter.

I came in at 7pm as it was getting too dark to work, and had some salad and a vegan pastie Gill had made.  I got the stove going and by midnight had got enough hot water for a bath and hair wash.  Bed before 3am, as have the Edible York event tomorrow, and a Fiddlesticks gig.