Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Isn't it easier to save money than to earn it at the moment?

I was talking to a friend at the weekend who travels from Worcestershire to Warrington to work and he's apparently the lucky one! There is one person in his office who travels from Doncaster every day and another who travels weekly from Exeter to Warrington.

I always had to travel to work and the stress of it was one reason why I gave up. That night on the M6 when I missed a lorry by one inch as I raced back to the studio for a deadline made me think very seriously about what I was doing. I had two children at home and they didn't care whether or not I was going to be the next Kate Adie.

But the recession has put us all under strain. We are all saying yes when we should say no.

So this morning, maybe we should all think how we can cut down on our consumption so that we need to earn less. Yep, that's a good idea. We are about to hear whether we have planning permission for an environmentally friendly house. If we do, it means we can cut down our bills on heating, water and electricity by conserving what we do use better.

To me, that seems a very good idea for an optimistic greenie who likes to wander home from work and look at the hills rather than the exhaust from the car in front. I know I'm lucky but this recession has hit me too. However, I am trying not to panic and to remember what is important to me. So, the cheap lentil bake is on the menu for tonight, I'm not replacing my old jeans and am constantly wandering around looking very smart in my one pair of black trousers and I am turning lights off with a vengeance. It's easier to save money than to earn it at the moment.

I heard this lovely maxim on Ray Mears's programme the other night:

Nature will provide for our needs, not our greeds.

I like that one.

Have a good Tuesday and keep your fingers crossed for the planning permission.

Friday, 27 November 2009

So how do we answer the climate change sceptics?

Just been listening to the wrangle going on in Australia about whether to ratify a final vote on the government's carbon trade plan.

I have one thing to say to these climate sceptics:

If you were standing in front of a juggernaut that was coming towards you at 80mph, would you wait to see who was driving before you jumped out of the way?

Hmm, thought not.

Maxim for a Friday night: When everything's coming your way, you're in the wrong lane

Have a fun weekend and enjoy your trundle to the compost bin

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Let's call a halt to bottles of water

A water fountain has been re-introduced into Trafalgar Square. Yipee!


There used to be public water fountains everywhere and then....we discovered little plastic bottles!

Now there are 6m bottles of water that are sold in the UK every single day. That's an awful lot of little bottles to send to landfill.

I have one. I re fill it every time I go out. It saves landfill and guess what, it saves me a fortune too!

No brainer!

Monday, 23 November 2009

Will my tea leaves save the planet?

I had a wry smile this morning as I was told off by Chicken Licken for putting tea leaves down the sink.

As I scooped up the said 26 tea leaves and transferred them smugly to the compost bin, I wondered whether it would make any difference to Main St, Cockermouth. I suspect not.

But then I thought of 26 tea leaves multiplied by the 2000 houses in my town. That's ( hang on, while I get the calculator...no, you silly woman, you can do that even if you didn't get maths O' level) so that's 52,000.

On a roll now, let's multiply that by 26 million for all the households in the UK and that's (ok, now I really do need the calculator) that's 676,000000. And the world? AGGGHHHH .. I start to lose track of the noughts now...but let's see..nope, can't do it..but there are 6.7 billion people in the world, so that's a phenomenal amount of tea leaves not going to landfill.-- ok, so some people drink coffee and some can't even get access to clean drinking water but you follow my drift.

We now clog up our back kitchen with stuff for recycling, empty our compost bin every few days before dodgy smells pervade the kitchen and our waste bin is only about half a bag a week. If we all do that, then we won't need to dig as many holes for landfill.


Just like to say to Chicken Licken that driving to work just 'cos it's raining negates all concerns about tea leaves!

Maxim for this wet Monday: We cannot all do great things but we can do small things with great love.

Just as well I really loved scooping out wet, soggy tea leaves from the plughole!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Are these people in the real world?

A plane to carry a vet to help her dog have puppies?


Oh dear, Mariah.

It makes me feel so much better about trundling down the garden in the rain to my compost bin to know that celebs are doing their bit too!!!

Maxim for the weekend for you: I started out with nothing and I still have most of it.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Is it green to buy a SATNAV?

Supposed to drive 5 miles less a week huh?


They've obviously never driven with me. It all started on the A6 in Manchester when I set off to Flixton and ended up in Stockport. For those not north of the country, I will elucidate. The A6 goes two ways. No-one ever explained that to me.
I bought a cheaper satnav last Christmas for my daughter and I, as she has obviously inherited my complete lack of sense of direction, but the satnav had somehow inherited my genes too. "You have arrived at your destination" it would claim triumphantly, as I peered out at a piece of derelict land.

I know that our mileage count rockets whenever daughter or I take the car out. This afternoon, I was on automatic pilot....a very dangerous occupation and I found myself going past the same road in Derby three times, twice on the wrong side of the carriageway.

The last time I did this was on my first shift at Radio Derby when I took the radio car out and had to stop to ask someone how to get back to the office. They looked in disbelief at the emblazoned car with the radio station's logo and I went into garrulous explanations that verged on the lunatic before slinking back the way I had come.

Please do not tell Chicken Licken this. He already thinks I'm loopy and if I'm beginning to risk the planet because of my tarmac wanderings, not to mention putting mileage on the ageing car, then I will get smug lectures from the man who never has to ask directions, never gets lost and obviously would never try to tell me that the road south is facing the sun in the southern hemisphere. ( Think about it)

So, rather than driving 5 miles less a week, perhaps I could pledge to look at a map more.

Would that make me a good little greenie?

Maxim for the day ( particularly apt, I feel) Everyone makes mistakes...the trick is to make mistakes when no one is looking ....and I presume that also means don't tell anyone on a blog!

Monday, 16 November 2009

What is happiness?

Ok, I know it's early on a wet Monday in November but a 23 year old we all know and love bemoaned last night: I just want to be happy. Tall order.
I wondered whether I now, at this vast age, qualify to become a tribal elder full of wisdom to impart and decided, as I take the vitamin tablet to keep the old bones working and hide the hair colour in the bathroom, that yep, now was as good a time as ever, so here goes.
As a 90% -of-the -time -Polyanna, I've always held on jealously to happiness, knowing that life has a way of throwing spokes in our wheels while we're busy making plans, so it's a sort of panic approach to happiness...buy it now before it goes. Happiness is not something on a cloud that floats past you or something that lands on your lap. It sneaks up on you when you are least expecting it. It comes from doing something that you love, something that touches your soul. It comes from suddenly giggling with someone you love and from watching your children grow into strong, capable adults or from looking down from a hill on an autumn day.

Oh, Christmas, this is beginning to sound like Thought for the Day! But maybe, because I am an optimistic person, I guard happiness with a tiger-like defence.

So, I am giving due warning to world leaders ( because they obviously read my blog), mess up this Copenhagen meeting and they'll have me to deal with!

Well, that'll work, Shirley!

Oh, and to the 23 year old: if you can't see the bright side of life, polish the dull side.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

There are more of you out there than we know!

I keep getting messages from friends --yes, I do have some---saying they agree with me that we can't wear a hair shirt all the time just because we care about the environment. I'm still learning how to maximise this blog shenanikins so I have no idea whether anyone except long suffering friends and relatives are out there, (you know who you are!) but I shall carry on wittering just in case. Anyway, it's good fun on a dark, Sunday evening between the crossword and The Archers and who knows, we optimistic greenies may eventually take over the world.

So, today, I picked up a pile of litter including three cans and a pile of plastic, not to mention those infuriating polystyrene chip containers. We had some friends coming and I wanted my beautiful town to look lovely, so I ended up trying to juggle the dog lead, the cans and the litter between my two hands which was fine till Molly saw a Jack Russell that looked like an interesting find and took me leftwards with a sudden jerk. I may be fast getting a reputation as the bag woman who, with hair flying, lurches from one side of the path to the other flaying bits of plastic in all directions. I suffer for my art!

Maxim for a Sunday night: You can't have everything. Where would you put it?

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Wear blue if you can't go to the Climate Change march

Now I'm torn. On 5th Dec we have a farmers' market followed by a makers' market with wonderful artists using our outside stalls from the morning to have an evening event with mulled wine and roasted chestnuts. I'm involved with the organisation so I am really excited about a fab Wirksworth day with loads of events going on, but it's the Climate Change march in London and there's a coach going from the town. I'd love to be there to let these leaders know that we're not prepared to let them mess up the planet for political reasons, but I'll have to just wear blue which is apparently what we're all supposed to do to send a wave of feeling down if we can't go.

Chicken Licken has been in the stream that goes down out garden in his wellies, trying to measure how much water comes down. I know, strange man, but there is a reason for this.

We are planning to knock down most of this 1960s bungalow and make a nice little more environmentally friendly house instead. We're looking at harnassing the water power in our little stream but it's quite hard to find out info about hydro power. Anyone got any info they can give us?

Maxim for the day ( from yoga class this morning as I was trying to ignore the fact that I'd had two wines last night and was not in the right frame of mind to hang upside down): Harness the chattering that goes on in our heads and calm them into a focus. I like that one. The chattering's been really loud this week!

Thursday, 12 November 2009

hmmm, we only need to plant seven trees each to make us carbon neutral. Chicken Licken is a landscape architect and has planted millions, does that let me off then?

Oh, all right, it was just a thought. Just been to a meeting about litter and dog poo--I know, this is life in the fast lane of glamour and excitement--but one of the issues raised by the local school was the amount of plastic bottles that the kids throw away (hopefully in bins!). Has anyone any ideas as to how schools can get recycling facilities installed? Our recycling centre isn't far away from the school so the local authority probably won't do it so we're going to have to think out of the box so any ideas welcomed.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Greenies without hair shirts demand cakes!

Cakes and fun! Apparently that's what we need to get people on board in the environmental movement. Well, I'm all for that. The suggestion came at an environmental conference without an agenda that was held in our little town on Saturday. It was really inspiring and what was even better, it was so much fun!

I was helping out at the local farmers' market in the morning, making trays of tea and coffee, so I could only go in the afternoon, but by the time I got there, there was a white pad plastered with loads of ideas from car sharing to garden sharing and from bike racks to sharing information about best practice as well as how we become a transition town. But the main thrust of the day was that we all wanted to enjoy ourselves, we wanted to feel positive about what we are trying to do and we wanted to have cakes!

The day was punctuated with some lovely goodies kindly provided by the organiser, Steve and the little breaks for lunch and afternoon tea provided us all with an opportunity to mix, chat and giggle.

Just perfect!

Exactly up my street and completely in line with this blog's philosophy which is that we can all do our bit to protect our bit of the planet but who says we can't smile and have fun while we're doing it. Personally, we're saving money by turning off things, by cycling and walking and by shopping locally, which means we don't buy lots of things we don't need and as you might guess, that even makes Chicken Licken smile !

Bring on the cakes and fun, say I! ( Well, I just may have to cycle and walk a bit more!)

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Do you ferret in bins too?

Well, I woke up this morning wracked with guilt. Last night, I cleared out the fridge and there were loads of very suspect half consumed jars of dodgy looking stuff. It was late and I was tired so I chickened out of getting a spoon and scooping all the mouldy contents into the bin and chucked the lot.

Oh, the pain, oh, the guilt, oh the horribleness of this all talk and no action person that assailed me this morning when I woke! So in my pjs, before I could change my mind, I gave in, got down and dirty in the bin and scooped them all out. Yuk! It was absolutely revolting..a gungy ( does that have an e?) mess that even the dog looked askance at. But I then rinsed the jars and put them out for recycling, feeling very smug and all in all, a much better person. You'll also be glad to know, I've put the pjs in the wash! You see, Al Gore was right, if we make being green a more spiritual thing, we'll all feel uplifted. I stop short of worshipping my recycling bin though. The Daily Mail this morning was saying we mustn't make being green into a religion following the case yesterday about the guy who was sacked for objecting to his boss getting someone to fly his phone over to the US http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1225358/Daniel-Johnson-Damn-false-God-How-sanity-green-religion.html

What do you think about that one? Leave me a comment and let's have a debate

Here are a couple of chirpy bits of green news to cheer you up this morning:

http://www.edie.net/news/news_story.asp?src=nl&id=17209 : business could save more than £6.6bn by taking simple energy saving measures

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/8339647.stm feeling grumpy is good for you : I'm not telling Chicken Licken though. He doesn't need an excuse!

Have a wonderful day.

Remember : if you're feeling smug, ring your mother!

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Barn's burnt down....now I can see the moon ( Masahide)

I have a problem. I can't be pessimistic about the future of this planet.

It is too easy as an environmentalist to be surrounded by gloom, doom, disaster and gnashing of teeth but somehow, I felt incredibly chirpy when I walked my dog on the field behind our house this morning. The sun was shining, the colours were beautiful and, even as I picked up a plastic bottle that had been left on the path to put in my recycling bin ( no bother, Mr Idiot, who left it there), I couldn't help but think that life is good.

I bought a card for my husband, who has, it may have been mentioned, Chicken Licken tendencies, ( from now on, he will be known on this blog as Chicken Licken or even CL if I'm in a rush) and it had the lovely philosophy on the front. I am getting it framed. It sums up how I feel about life, the planet and the universe. We are a resourceful species and, without being complacent, we can treat this climate change situation more of an opportunity rather than a threat.

So, I have decided that the voice of this blog will be an optimistic one.

If you want the doom, gloom and disaster, look elsewhere, I want to find the good news that will make us all feel better about doing our little bit. I believe that people will be more likely to make the changes we all need to change if they feel there is hope.

Each time I post a blog, I promise I will find something that will make you feel better about what you are doing in your little corner of the world to be greener.

And there are so many positives to this: if we turn off lights, we don't have to earn as much and we can spend more on lovely goodies at our local farmers' market. Sounds fun to me!

Yesterday, I heard about a scheme in the US that is turning algae into oil. Finally, real money is being put into developing something that find an alternative to oil: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/8338164.stm

Al Gore's sequel to "An Inconvenient Truth", out today, (http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/nov/02/al-gore-our-choice-environment-climate) emphasises we should all have a more spiritual approach to climate change. What? More time spent appreciating what we have in this beautiful world rather than racing round the shopping mall. Bring it on!!

World Wildlife Fund are hosting a seminar this week looking at our use of water (http://www.prweb.com/releases/wwf_water-security/climate-change/prweb3150544.htm) any chance we could stop putting drinking water in our toilets then?

I'm off now to pick the last of the beans.

Smile! It may not save the planet, but it might save you frowny wrinkles!

Thursday, 29 October 2009

Thursday: Discovered I can have a breakfast rant in peace on this site and no one can interrupt me! Read in Daily Mail this morning typical over the top reaction to Stern's suggestion we eat less meat. A couple of meatless meals a week isn't going to kill us for heaven's sake, it's not an attack on our traditional egg and bacon breakfast or Sunday roast thus our whole traditional way of life. And less red meat will undoubtedly save a few lives as well. Oh get a life and keep it in proportion! I love my roast lamb and bacon butties but I will think about the mid-week shepherd's pie.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Hello all, welcome to my blog. Now I feel really famous! I did start one several weeks ago and spent hours trying to get exactly the right tone between professional and personal. Frankly, I thought it was Goddammed good! Unfortunately, I sent it off into the ether and I have never been able to find it again. So I'm starting again, knowing there is a clone blog out there somewhere.

So, why should you read my blog? Probably because you're bored, the dog doesn't need walking, the work is tedious and your partner hates you. I will, in that case, take my responsibilities very seriously, and try to chat to you in an interesting, cheerful way.

I'd better introduce myself. I'm a very uncomplicated mix of a mum, wife and journalist. They don't conflict at all. I'm able to juggle them all, keep unbearably chirpy and be totally professional, a perfect cook, a social whirl and am totally unlike the stressed, snappy woman who falls asleep on the sofa during any sensible TV programmes.

Well maybe sometimes I am like that, and I can get pretty snappy when it's past my bedtime but generally, on the whole, I probably am a bit of a Polyanna, which drives my family mad and amidst Chicken Licken warnings of the sky falling in, I do tend to be relentlessly optimistic. That's fortunate, because actually, I'm an environmental specialist and things ain't looking that good on the environmental front with dire warnings of "The Day After Tomorrow" about to strike. But here's where the optimism comes in. I think we can limit the impact of whatever's happening to the planet if we all act together, make small changes and stop being so bloomin' precious about our consumer absorbed lifestyle. My whole day is involved with getting the environmental message out there...I have a media company that deals with ethical, often environmental organisations and companies, we do ethical PR, training courses to help people improve their communication skills and we make DVDs. My background is as a journalist across newspapers, radio and television and I spent most of my career trying to look very important with an A4 red producer's book tucked under my arm, wandering in a purposeful manner round the endless corridors in the BBC, attempting to find my own particular door.

I left the BBC 9 years ago on a bit of a wing and a prayer to set up what is now Harvest Creative So, here I am, nine years later with a perfect lifestyle! I cycle to a little office in the gorgeous hills of Derbyshire, I work the hours I need to with time for the fab diary entry of "meetings" which may, or may not, I'm not prepared to say..include lunch with friends, a natter with my mum or a walk in the hills with my dog.

Of course, the recession's hit and while my husband panics about the decreasing bank balance, I'm having great fun going out to networking events in snazzy scarves casually draped around my shoulders, trying to look trendy and creative. My mind is racing and I don't know whether to start the book, set up collaborations with fantastically creative people or find funding for the brilliant little DVD series idea I've got. I could also just go and play in the veg patch or rant about how we can save the planet, which is my other hobby of course.

I had great fun last week when I went to the House of Commons as one of four finalists in the Energy Saving Trust's Green Voice competition. I never expected to get to the final but there you go, I did! Piper Terret got the job and I know she'll be fab. (see her blog: frugal-life.spaces.live.com/ )Michael Groves, Tom Callow and I were the runners up but I'd had such a fun week doing radio interviews, having my very own soap box to stand on and talk about one of my favourite subjects, which is how we can all make small changes to make a huge difference. I will rant about this at length, be warned! If you want to check out the videos we all made, see http://www.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=04757FC70FB58896&search_query=green+voice+finalists

So, to finish for now. I have more emails to send, more work to find and some soup to make for lunch!

Stand by and the fantastically fascinating world of Shirley Mann will be revealed tantilising bit by tantilising bit. It would be lovely to know who's out there and is reading this, so do talk to me, otherwise I will become Shirley Valentine and talk to walls!