Saturday, 24 February 2007

22nd Feb 07

How nice to have a lie-in this morning. My wife Gill nearly always gets up early and breakfasts the children and cycles with them to school, and I do the collecting at the end of the school day. So I woke shortly before 9am, had my habitual branflakes and home-made muesli, and went back to bed for an hour. Luxury!

After I got up I cycled speedily to town via St Nicks, to see if York Rotters would pay my £10 fee for next weeks Community Composting Network event at Offshoots in Burnley, on Food Waste Composting. Keely, our project manager, said yes, so long as I make notes and give her and several other interested parties a talk about it the following week.

I collected one potato sack's worth of sad veg and unloved fruit from Out Of This World and cycled home for lunch. After sandwiches I processed some dried fruit I'd started last night. I'd taken some some previously dried pear slices, made on my Clearview Woodstoves on cake racks, and immersed them in lime juice and a second batch in orange juice. These were then re-dried, making a fantastic tasty snack. I've experimented with apple rings in blackberry juice and have used squishy raspberries this way too. It's a little fiddly but the results are just amazing, dried pear with citrus overload. And of course all the ingredients are more or less free, I give my favourite greengrocer Richard (from Martin's Country Fresh on Heslington Road) a penny per sack for unsalable fruit, cauliflower stalks, green potatoes etc etc, and compost most of it in my garden. However, some fruit is worth drying, and as I have woodstoves going much of the time, I dry apple rings, bananas, melon slices, pear halves, and make dried tomatoes which I then put in extra virgin olive oil, for 'woodstove-dried tomatoes' .

I spent a few minutes splitting logs for the drying pile, and my neighbour came out and complained that it was making his house shake. I suppose it is annoying, but I've never complained about having to inhale petrol fumes when their cars start-up from cold in the morning. I've never mentioned to him how this makes me feel, and I wonder which has the worst long-term health effects, breathing in Benzene or a bit of banging now and again? I'll try to stick to using my electric hydraulic logsplitter, although this increases my elecrticity bill and it takes time to get it set up and put away again.

As I was leaving for school my friend M phoned. She was stuck in traffic, and would I pick up P if her hubby hadn't made it into school by hometime, and bring him home. P is good friends with us, and although his behaviour has been difficult on some occasions, I have never found him to be particularly different to other children. However, problems at school and certain behavioural traits have led his parents to get a diagnosis, and he has Autistic Spectrum Disorder. When all the children came out, so did he, expecting to see Dad or Mum and to be taken home for his usual Friday after-school routine. I told him that his parents couldn't make it and Mum had asked me to take him home, where he would be collected. He ran back into the school screaming. He was obviously completely unconsolable and refused to come home with me. My boys had some extra time cycling round the playground, as I reasoned with P. Several staff members got involved, and were very understanding, and were gentle with him, explaining the situation. He still refused to budge. Several phone-calls were made and it was agreed to leave him at school to be picked up by whichever parent arrived first.

His recent diagnosis helped me understand this unusual behaviour, and seeing the behaviour helped me understand why he had recieved the diagnosis. I got a phone call minutes after getting home, mum thanking me and saying she'd arrived soon after I'd gone and P was allright now, and happily back in his expected routine. Poor old P, I'm very fond of him and now I feel I understand a little bit more about him.

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