Friday, 13 May 2011

Thursday 12th May 11 'Mass Observation Day'

Today is Mass Observation Day.  I am using my blog, as my method of recording my day and I'll be publishing it at intervals throughout the day with latest updates.

If anyone wants to take part, here are the instructions about what to do and where to send your electronic diary.

Woke at 8.30 to the sound of my youngest son laughing, before he was put in a taxi and went to school.
I had my bowl of branflakes, home-made muesli with crunchy granola and soya milk, and Gill asked if I wanted to watch the news, and she put the telly on.  I put on my laptop and replied to an email from Kay about delivering compost, and got a notification about a Linkedin message about Grocery and Supermarket waste composting which I added a comment to. I started this blog post.

I had 11 notifications on facebook and then my facebook friend Phil wanted to chat about the forthcoming World Naked Bike Ride.  I checked my answerphone messages and rang one of them back to sort out a Professor Fiddlesticks appearance later this summer.  I went to get dressed soon after 10am.

I lit the woodstove from the embers from last night; we have two Clearview Stoves, both smokefree and very efficient.  We use them to heat water (on top) and at the moment I'm drying red pepper and pineapple, all from thrown-away stuff which I get for composting (and drying, making soup, etc!)

I got my electric chainsaw and tried to do a bit more of the huge logpile which is outside our front, so we can keep the stoves going next winter.  But a concrete mixer lorry arrived; our neighbour Ken is building an Orangery and he's laying the floor.  He'd got a small team of helpers and I offered my wheelbarrow to one of them who hadn't got one... but she was the 'Supervisor' and so Ken said I could help if I wanted to.  I asked him if he'd like me to help, he said yes.  So I spent the next hour helping move 4.3 tonnes of concrete from Ashbridge and chatting to John the delivery man about all sorts of things... the carbon footprint of concrete, bike trailers, our mutual friends and contacts.  I came in at 12.30 to put my teeshirt in soak as it had got tiny flecks of cement on it, and as it's one of my favourites (with Jimi Hendrix on it) I didn't want it to be spoiled.

I made a coffee and decided to have lunch, as I've a York Rotters meeting at 2pm.

For lunch I had my usual organic crunchy no salt peanut butter plus Marmite sandwich, in granary bread, and a dairy-free mayo and avocado sandwich.  I had some 'freegan' crisps, rescued from a bin (but nothing wrong with them, just after their sell-by date), and I had my coffee afterwards.  I watched the BBC One O Clock News and was pleased to see the item about the new wind turbine mast factory in Chepstow.  Whilst having lunch, I usually go online and today I sorted out my itinerary tomorrow... I'm going to take two sacks of compost to Kay before leaving my bike and trailer at the station and getting on a bus to Leeds.  I'm a regular blood donor, and last month was invited to donate platelets.  This can only happen at either Seacroft Hospital (on the bus route) or in the centre of Leeds (accessible by train) so, because of the cost (£6 return) I chose the Seacroft.  So that's tomorrow sorted.

At 1.50pm I cycled down to St Nicks for the York Rotters management meeting.  This was a short one, just under an hour, and I got back at 3pm, and after a quick coffee, got my wellies on again to do more tidying in the front.  I'd had a delivery from my gardener friend Mark, who'd taken down an Ash tree and if he'd taken it to the Council recycling depot, it would have cost him to put it in the green waste skip.  But I'm (nearly) always happy to accept logs.... but I had a lot of tidying and sorting to do.

Gill came back with the boys, she'd taken our home educated son to town to buy a diabolo, as he's been using mine (thinking I didn't know about it) and then she went on to collect our other son who's at the Steiner School.  I did more chainsawing and then went round the back and planted 30 borlotti beans in toilet roll tubes.  Thanks to Glenn for giving me these seeds yesterday.

Then I got washed and ready to go to my care work, which is at 6pm.  I got to David's house, in the centre of York, at five to six and we discussed the doors on his wardrobe which need their hanger/rollers re-attaching, so he asked me to buy some screws to do this with, on Saturday when I'm next working.  He's also had his recycling box delivered (I contacted St Nicks, which do the City Centre collection) and so I sorted out a large pile of newspapers which he (or one of his PAs) had thrown in the dustbin.  David wanted to go to City Screen for a coffee, so I got his wheelchair ready and he walked downstairs and out of his yard, and I took him along Stonegate, St Helen's Square and Coney Street.  David gave me his membership card and a fiver, and I got him a filter coffee and myself a mocha.

After this, and a few short conversations, we visited the loo and then made our way back to his place... and he wanted to have a go with his walking frame.  He is keen to get back into better shape after his illness, so he did a 'round the block', doing Stonegate, Petergate, Deangate, Minster Gates and back to Stonegate and home.  I prepared his meal... basically a microwaved 'ready meal', but with a few extras on it, such as garlic mayo and spicy onion chutney.  One of his other carers had observed that his microwave was a bit rusty and she couldn't get it to work properly (I think she just needed to centre the revolving plate more carefully) so he'd said chuck it out and buy another.  I said I'd get his old one recycled in one way or another.

At 8 I left, with my bike trailer full of a sack of shredded paper (for my compost heap), the microwave, some drinks cartons, which aren't included in the recycling collection, but I can cycle round to the Hazel Court recycling depot with all our soya milk cartons once a month or so. And some batteries which also shouldn't be landfilled, but recycled.

I whizzed home with the wind behind me, and witnessed an appalling bit of driving with a fellow cyclist nearly getting knocked off by a car driver.  Makes me think I should get a little gadget camera which goes on cycle helmets and can download up to 2 hours of film and sound to a computer.  They're not that expensive, I saw one advertised recently online... but can't find it now.

When I got back, my neighbour Ken told me that someone had been snooping round the back of his house, looking through a window and leaving footprints on the still moist concrete.  He warned me to be aware that there were opportunists around, and to keep doors locked.

I did more work in the garden before the light went completely, including putting maybe 100kg of greengrocers unsold and unwanted fruit and veg on one of my big compost heaps, sandwiched between two sacks of woodchip, which like greengrocers throw-outs is in plentiful supply if you know where to find it!  I also did a bit of weeding, a perrennial nuisance called Ground Elder, which although edible, spreads and takes over. I put it in the compost, as my heaps get hot and nothing can survive this.

I found a blackbird had got into my live trap which I set to catch rats.  I released it.  I like 'live traps' as when I used rat traps which snapped shut, I caught a few birds and even a frog once, as well as the intended prey.  I wasn't happy with this, so now use a wire cage trap.  If I get a rat, they are easy to kill, although I still don't understand why I quite like, and tolerate mice, but if I spot a rat, I immediately set the trap. I don't actually like killing rats, but if my neighbour sees one, he always tells me and seemingly blames it on me as I have lots of compost heaps, and I do occasionally get one burrowing in, but if this happens, I just turn the heap and they don't like the disturbance, and they move on.

I tested David's old microwave and it worked.  I put it on Freecycle, and hope someone will make use of it.  Gill had made a leek and cheese sauce with slices of sweet potato, so I had that, followed by a coffee.  I watched Chris Packham on TV, with his Coastal nature programme.

Much later, at midnight, I went for a little cycle ride to go and check out a skip I'd spotted earlier.  I also visited a supermarket which leaves me their fruit and veg waste.  On the way back I saw my friend Jamie, walking back from town.  He's been looking after his wife for some time as she's had cancer.  I asked how things were at home... and he told me that she'd died on Monday, and his family had come to York to see him, and he was in a daze.  I said how sorry I was to hear this, but he said that it was a release as she was not in pain any more. 

Whenever I hear of a death, I'm reminded how short life is, and how important it is to use every day fully and not waste time.  I try to pack as much in as possible, and do as much 'good' as possible, and consume as little as possible.  I think today has been a pretty standard day for me, except I've written about it in more detail than usual. 

I donate my 12th May diary to the Mass Observation Archive. I consent to it being made publicly available as part of the Archive and assign my copyright in the diary to the Mass Observation Archive Trustees so that it can be reproduced in full or in part on websites, in publications and in broadcasts as approved by the Trustees.

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