Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Move in minus 2 or maybe even 1 day..living on the edge

No, seeing as how you ask...we are not ready to move in! Nearly, granted, and it could all come right by tomorrow night but it's not there yet. All credit to the builders, they are pulling out all the stops to get us in and were still there at 7.30 last night, two of them stayed till 9. If you are reading this Moggs, thank you so much. We really appreciate it.

All we need are carpets in the bedrooms and the wooden flooring in..everything else can wait but we can't move anything back in until we have the floors down. Then there are the skirting boards to do. Ah me.

So I'm sitting in our little one bedroomed place looking at what I need to pack but there is no point doing it until the last minute. We won't be able to get anything out of storage until next week at the earliest so we will be sitting on mattresses in the lounge but we will be in, I confidently predict.

Wood burning stove going in today. This is so exciting.

I may be too busy packing boxes and working out how to live with no furniture for the rest of the week, so for anyone who has more time than me and is reading this blog, I'd like to wish you a really really happy Chrimbo. Make eco mistakes but remember, the reason we're all sitting here shivering is because we've all been wasteful, naughty people!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Move in minus 6 days

And I'm not nervous..no not a bit of it, especially not at 3am when I clamber downstairs for the chamomile tea. Are we going to make it? I'm assured by those in the know that we will but when I saw the house yesterday, I did have an odd little doubt. By 2.57am they had grown to huge panic. Twill be fine ! We may be camping out on floors surrounded by builders but we will be in.

Anyway, what I did want to share with you, and those of you with large, draughty old houses won't want to hear this...but oh, the warmth as you walk in! It's just fab. There's not a radiator in sight, the air source heat pump is gently ( yes, gently, no great noise) churning away outside and we have heat! I am seriously going to love this. I heard of someone who just laid their washing out on the tiles in the kitchen and came back in the morning to it all dry! As we have racks all over the one bedroomed little place we are in at the moment, that sounds just great.

The man from the window company ( A and M Profiles) came yesterday to see if we were happy, I put a hand next to the bedroom window and there wasn't one little bit of cold air. Yep, I'm happy.

We're waiting for the next snow--no please, no more, got too much to do and I've sort of done snow this year, but there is a little bit of me that wants to challenge the weather to do its worst so we can be exceptionally smug!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010


Well, you asked for some, so here they are. It's looking more like a house and we should definitely be in for 22nd, maybe even before????

Apologies to my readers!!!

I've had complaints that I haven't been updating on the house...see, I do have readers! Amazing. Nobody more surprised than me!

Anyway, it's move in day minus two weeks and one day. We are due to "camp out" with minimal stuff on 22nd which should be fun.

As it is minus 16 degrees with 2ft of snow still here, we will be thrilled to little mint balls to move into our completely insulated house that feels warm even now and only the dehumidifiers are on. Wait till we get the air source heat pump going...not to mention the wood burning stove!

I may never move out again till spring.

So, I will take some pix today to update you which means I have to go down at lunchtime cos otherwise it's dark. Kitchen is in, so I'll put those pix for now to keep you going.

Watch this space!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

To LED or not to LED? That is the question.

But what is the answer?

We've done the first fix for the electrics, all the cables are there waiting but we have been struggling to decide on the best lights to put in. We want to put LEDs in but there's so much conflicting information, that we've become befuddled.

I think the answer is to have recessed lights in the ceilings where possible--don't put the white LEDs in-you'll think you're in an operating theatre- and a tracking system in other places so that we can put in a mixture of lights.

We asked electricians, suppliers and manufacturers and none of them agree! It is a minefield.

Roll back the days when we used to buy a 99p paper light shade from Habitat!

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Crisp packets out of potato peelings? Bring it on!

Have a look at this.....http://http://www.edie.net/news/news_story.asp?src=nl&id=18795 it's about how Walkers are looking at using potato peelings for crisp packets. YESSSSS! As one of thousands of us who wander round picking up crisp packets on our streets, all I can say is- about bloomin time! Do pass the word and let's put pressure on Walkers to put their money where our mouths are!

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Proper house innit?

Oh we are getting so posh! It's beginnning to look like a proper house with plaster board, insulation on the floors and the first fix lighting. As you may know, I have had a real problem with this build in that when it was a naff bungalow with swirly carpets, it was, at least, a home, with our things in it. Once they took all that away, all we were left with were the bare bones of the ugliest, most charmless, small building you can imagine. I hated it.
Well, I went down this week and now there is some plaster board and you can begin to see the spaces, I had a little moment of vision when I saw, for the first time, what this little house might look like. We went to see some friends' house and they are at the skeletal stage so I felt fo them and came back to find our floors insulated with gloriously thick padding. It felt warmer already. Also, we went to Grand Designs at the NEC on Friday and I did feel a smug little glow when I realised we were putting our money where our mouth was and were doing a really eco project that will be warm, cosy and best of all, cheap to run. It made me feel really good.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Transition Townies-- don't you just lov 'em?

Just been to Transition Town movement and we are having a party in February. In between organising the local sausages, it was mentioned that we should have a Tranquillity Team.

Now this is a term that one of our members heard at the Climate Camp and to begin with, I didn't understand what it was. Then I realised it was bouncers!

Firstly, I can't see that a Wirksworth party of families and transition town types would need bouncers but secondly, the term Tranquillity Team just made me giggle. That just sums it up really....why I love this movement, why I love this team and why I love this upbeat, fun town.

It really cheered me to know that instead of conflict, agression and confrontation, we only deal in calmness, co-operation and negotiation. Shame the rest of the planet doesn't practice that too.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

progress and ordered new kitchen

OK, close your eyes and imagine! This space will be filled one day in hopefully, the not too distant future, with a posh new kitchen. I know, I find it hard too but I'm assured twill be lovely. I'm not a designery person so I can only visualise what I can see, and yes, I see bare concrete, mud and muckyness when I am there but when I flick through magazines, I can see a beautiful house that's warm, eco and cosy.

We're having a warm roof put on so that it will be all toasty. Now we're looking at LED lights to see how they would work. I want some of Esther's ( Curiousa and Curiousa, downstairs in our office) lovely hanging pendant lights and she and KP have been pouring over a websites that has more attractive energy efficient lightbulbs than the orrible ones you buy in the shops, but I'm not sure nice, individually designed hanging lights are in the budget. Hmmm, shame. I may have to get more work so I can justify the expenditure. Haven't got time, too busy choosing bathrooms now!

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

End of destruction, beginning of construction!

I have been promised that that's it..the last of the demolition. From now on, it's onwards and upwards. Now, that picture of a block wall may look really boring but it is the first bit of new build and therefore, to me, it looks like the Taj Mahal.

We took a week's holiday last week--and spent it at Ikea. It was really sad, we even took sandwiches with us. I did look round for a post card but for some reason, they don't do them.

But on a positive note, we have recently talked to someone with a air sourced heat pump and they were really enthusiastic which is reassuring, because it is difficult to find out independent information on these things. At this moment, my other half is chatting to a lady who is planning her own eco build, she too is struggling for information.

If you want to, do have a look at this month's Self Build and Design mag, you'll see that I've bared my soul about our project.

Off to check the next course of blockwork now!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

This is the worst it's going to get...apparently!

So, it can't get any worse, there's nothing left to demolish. Now it's a matter of building it back up. I'm really relieved because, believe me, there's not much left at all.

Check out the pic of one of our builders shovelling all our rubble into a wonderful rubble guzzler..then we are able to use all that waste as hardcore for the floors. Such environmental brownie points!

Also, you can now see how high the kitchen through to the dining room will be, I think that 'll look good ( ok, so you need some imagination, but all those in the know...husband, architect and builder look up sagely and nod approvingly)

We're spending our " holiday" going round kitchen places, having arguments about worktops we can't afford anyway and generally playing with little pieces of graph paper. My lovely ideas about posh sinks and cookers are being downgraded daily until I'll be lucky if I get a bucket and a match.

It's fun, this bit, though. At least it would be if a certain person's eyes wouldn't keep showing cash registers like Tom and Jerry.

Monday, 16 August 2010

chimneys and badly built bungalows

So the chimney wasn't keyed into the brickwork huh? So it had to come down when we took the support away. It's really good to know that when we have finished this 'ere house, it will stand for years. It does show how standards have changed. The pile of rubble is growing though.

It's really looking like a building site now..especially since the downpours last week. It's strange, I hate the whole building at the moment. I lived in it quite happily for three years, knowing that one day we would change it and I would wander round muttering cheerful obscenities against the green kitchen, the green bathroom and the green carpet, but now that it's not recognisable in any shape or form, I loathe it. I look at it with furrowed brow and clenched teeth. It was like my Auntie Ida with her knitted tea cosies--dated but sweet, and with our things in, it did have a feel of home. Now, it's more like a cardboard cut-out of a property, without character or charm and certainly nothing to do with us.

Fortunately, I think we're almost at the end of the demolition road so hopefully, it will start looking like something more interesting.

The debates re air source heat pumps, photovoltaics and water harvesting continue but in rebellion against momentous decisions, I went and weeded my veg patch at the weekend which was quite restorative and made me remember that, yes, this is my home.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

No wonder we're all confused

We are trying to our bit..we are trying to do this house in an eco friendly way, but when you read things like this.... http://www.edie.net/news/news_story.asp?src=nl&id=18533 ...you begin to wonder.

So do we put in a water harvesting system or not?

There's so little independent advice available on building in an environmentally friendly way, it's hard to make the right decisions.

But on a good note, just been to see the house and you see all that rubble? Well, it's all going to crushed on site and re-used. That's good, n'est ce pas?

There's so little left of the original bungalow now, I do wonder whether we should have knocked down the whole thing and started again. That would have saved us VAT but in this upside down world, you pay VAT on a re-build where you are saving parts of a building but if you get rid of it all and import all new stuff, then you don't. I do so love joined up thinking by government.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Day 9 of build: anyone got any info on air source heat pumps?

Mixed day: one quote on posh, modern, double glazed windows has come in . It's only a little house for heaven's sake, not Chatsworth!
Photovoltaics could make us money. We could pay off the cost in a matter of months. These feed-in tariffs are brilliant.
We think we're going for air-sourced heat pump but can anyone tell me, what happens when it goes to below minus 10? We've heard they're not at their most efficient when it's that cold..surely that's when you need the extra heat? Any thoughts welcome on this. It's hard to find the information.
LED lights. Talked to Mike at Peli Deli today in Wirksworth. He's having LED lights fitted and reckons the installation will be paid back with 9 months. Again, we've asked him for information cos it's hard to get independent advice on these things.
Maybe blogs like this are the way to go to gather information?
So, off to have a look at today's demolition work. Will post pix tomorrow.

Just one thing, we have a " death spot!"..the builder has gruesomely gathered three dead mice and a bluetit on my daughter's bedroom window sill. Too much information!

Friday, 6 August 2010

Day 5 progress

This is sooooo exciting. It's amazing how much serious damage can be done in a week to a naff bungalow. It's still hard to see how good it's going to be but I am assured by those in the know that the wreck that now stands before me WILL be a lovely little house. The little is important because this is not a Grand Design. This is a compromise project. I went up to my sister's this week to keep an eye on my mum while my sister was away and by the time I had been up and down the stairs 46 times by 10am, I realised why she is losing more weight than me who trundles 6ft along the corridor to the bedroom. But, theoretically, there is only the two of us so at least we won't get lost and I can still hoover from one plug which has to be a major plus in any woman's life.

I am using the excuse that I need to water my tomatoes to go and have a daily nose at the progress and taking the opportunity to take a picture diary.

See below or above or alongside, wherever this blog puts pix and I will keep you posted.

Monday, 2 August 2010


So, the builders have bought the tea bags, the electrician has isolated one plug they can use for their kettle and we have moved out. Well, we moved out before the builders came,

but you probably realised that and I'm still tired from the move!

We can't find anything as most things are in storage but after 3 years of undoubtedly unnecessary agonising, we are finally re building our naff bungalow into a much more tasteful and eco house. I will blog progress and let you know how we are getting on. We are intending to put in solar panels, shed loads of insulation, water harvesting and lots of other eco type thingies. We will also, finally, have a house that reflects us and our taste and, even better, no more swirly carpets, artex or gas fires with pink and light brown stone surround. Yipee!

You have to understand, dear reader, that all this is being done because of my Christmas tree.

I have struggled for three years to make that house look pretty and festive at Yuletide but I have failed. Yep, despite the individual wooden figures from Prague, despite the discrete little white fairy lights and despite the little red lanterns with twinkling candles, it has looked wrong, so wrong. I mean, if you can't make a house look nice at Christmas, what hope is there?

So now the house is being designed around my Christmas tree and I have been promised we will be in for 17th December, you can follow my increasing tension here.

The tasteful 1960s' bungalow that will be no more. This is the last time you will see it in its present state, it will undoubtedly look worse before it looks better!

Monday, 21 June 2010

The Alan Titchmarsh of Derbyshire...or not

Found some lovely little plants where my beans had been last year, so I re-planted them in nice neat rows, staked them with canes and string and watered them.

It was only yesterday when friends were visiting, I found I had been lovingly tending bindweed.


Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Is this what our future holds?

Just have a look at this..it isn't science fiction! http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2010/jun/16/centre-for-alternative-technology-eliminate-carbon-emissions

Can't say it makes me feel too depressed-I can live like that, just might have to get rid of my car if the cheapest electric is £20k!

Sounds OK to me. Bring it on.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Tipi living

We've been playing at being red indians...actually we were a bit blue at 3am when the fire went out, but that's beside the point. We went to Hay on Wye Festival ( yes, scarf draped around linen shirt to blend in with literary types) and again stayed in a tipi, which is just fabulous. Next year it will undoubtedly rain because we have had two fantastic years but we sat at the tent door watching the flames from the fire in the middle of the tent and gazing at the stars. It was magical. (Try it, but not at Hay time, cos they're ours!...Hay Outdoor Training)

We went to several talks about the environment but they did prompt a few comments:

Nik Gowing reckons we will survive as long as we have GM crops and high yields but like nuclear power, we are creating a monster that we don't know how to control so no thanks, Mr Gowing.

Michael Pollan talking to Montague Don ( that's like saying Mr F.W. Woolworth) : don't eat anything your grandmother wouldn't recognise: I like this one, a low fat yogurt contains three and a half cubes of white sugar.

Rosie Boycott and a panel talking about people displaced by climate change: one fact I remember is that £200 billion would save all the people who are left homeless by hurricanes, floods etc. That's a lot of money until you realise that £32 bn was paid to bankers in bonuses in the US. Not so much then. Cafe Direct got a bit hot under the collar when someone suggested that they had patronised people in their film by getting them to say they WERE Cafe Direct...that they somehow were being assimilated like the Borg into the brand. Bit far fetched I thought but shows how your message can get twisted.

Stephen Green, chairman of HSBC, is a former vicar! Does that give us more hope than some bankers have more ethics than the fact above would suggest?

David Remnick on Barack Obama: more about race than environment but the best talk of all! He sounds like the sort of US president you'd like to have round for a cuppa! Maybe he'd like to see my veg patch.

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Guerilla gardening

Don't tell anyone but I'm becoming a subversive!

We had a Transition Town meeting and we've decided it's time for a bit of guerilla gardening. Suffice it to say, we are all armed with sunflower seeds, peat free compost and torches.

I can't tell you more because then I would have to kill you.

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Mass murderer!

Oh help, I suspect we are responsible for mass murder!

Yesterday, the natural little pond that has formed across the stream from us next to the public footpath, dried up. Lots of little tadpoles were spotted gasping for life but before I could get out there with my little bucket, someone else had come to their rescue and had whisked them away to the Junior School pond.

But this morning, we had water gushing out of a manhole at the bottom of our drive.

It doesn't take much of a brain to work out that we have a leak somewhere on our property. That leak could have diverted the water from the natural pond and eh voila, we 'ave no water for the little tadpoles.

I would now publicly like to confess that we are undoubtedly responsible, albeit inadvertantly, for the death of thousands of tadpoles who may have breathed their last on account of our leak.

I am waiting for a call from the water people who are coming, hopefully, to mend the leak but I know that every time I see a frog this year, it will give me THAT look. I also have to keep my head down in shame as I pass all the small children who rush every morning to the pond to see how the wonders of nature are progressing in what was a really lovely natural phenomenon.

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Never mind the election, what about my veg plants?

There's a real sense of excitement and anticipation...no, not because of the election..but because I've put some veg in. I admit here and now, I have no idea what I'm doing with this veg patch but it keeps surprising me as it seems to be developing a mind of its own. I hadn't got round to taking out my purple sprouting broccoli from last year and lo and beyold, it's flowered again and was very tasty with mackerel, thank you very much! The curly kale has used hair straighteners and is reaching skyward and I suspect may be like cardboard and I have four leeks left that I'm saving for a special occasion.

The problem this week has been that, in typical style, I raced out in the sun to put in some veg plants only to hear yesterday that there was likely to be a frost at night, so in my pjs, in the dark, I raced out clutching 3 metres of fleece to tuck it in! Trouble is, I keep forgetting to take it off during the day so the "sun" can get to it. I remember when I get in from work--bit late in the day.

The transition town meeting was brilliant except we had an excellent but thoroughly depressing talk from local author and well known scientologist ( and a member of the Government's Cobra emergency group) Bill McGuire who wrote "Seven Years to Save the Planet. His words were so sobering, all our excitement and optimism plummeted. But despite our bravest efforts, we in Wirksworth can't save the whole world, only our bit of it, so we rallied.

Judith ( reduce, recycle, r-use) turned up looking very glam in "Cat Protection" chic, Glennie ( community and fun) urged us all to take our sunflower seeds and guerilla garden and I tried to persuade people to support our excellent, independent shops. Then we all had a drink and felt better.

That surely is the whole point of this blog. I know that millions will die in global warming; I know that we will all run out of electricity and that countries will disappear without trace, but I can't live feeling that life isn't worth while. The Sword of Damocles has to take a few days off in my life.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

pedal power!

So, we've all strangely survived not being able to jet off on hols have we? Apart from the man who missed his son's wedding and one poor child who couldn't get to an operation, I found it hard to join the general feeling of crisis and disaster.

I did want to share this with you though: A hotel has linked up the exercise bikes in its gym to the grid and are giving a free meal to anyone who produces 10 watt hours or electricity or more! Genius. http://http//www.edie.net/news/news_story.asp?src=nl&id=17946

Oh and the Transition Town movement in Wirksworth is gaining momentum. We're having our second meeting on Monday and it's really getting the town buzzing. As you can see from the photo, the only thing we need is some youngsters to join us!!!

Monday, 12 April 2010

Wirksworth clean up day. Hope our town stays sparkly and clean for a long time to come..do you know we spend £2.1 million a DAY cleaning up after 5% of the population who don't know how to clean up after themselves and their dogs. Dunt it make you mad?

Sunday, 11 April 2010

reclaim the streets....with the sunshine

Yesterday, we had a clean up day in Wirksworth and about 35 people turned up to wear fluorescent jackets and make our town sparkling ready for a beautiful spring-- shouldn't have to if dingbats wouldn't drop litter--but it was a fun community event. As I handed back my jacket I passed this lot enjoying the sunshine and I thought I would share the picture with you. Wirksworth houses often don't have gardens and that's one of the things that makes it the close community it is. Once you sit out and people go by, you tend to talk to them--far better than hiding behind fences and hedges.

As the sun comes out, why not take your chair to the front of your house rather than the back and talk to everyone who passes. Try it, you'll be surprised what fun it is.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Find out whose policies you really agree with

Try this, it's fun and very revealing. You pick a set of policies without knowing which party it is.


The only problem is that so much of the language is woolly and inaccessible...do they really want people to understand them? Why don't they speak in plain English?

Oh, and just in case you're wondering, I came out mostly Green Party which was slightly smug-making!

Let me know your results

PS: bought everyone the little Lindt bunnies for Easter..a sort of compromise on packaging cos they're only wrapped in foil but after watching the programme about chocolate and Nigeria, I wanted to buy Fair Trade but they were encased in cardboard..being a greenie is all about compromise and weighing it all up. Now I have weighed myself up and frankly, no chocolate at all would be the "weigh" to go this week!

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

My kinda town!

So, we're off! Transition Town Wirksworth here we come! A packed meeting full of enthusiastic, upbeat people who want to make our town into a green utopia. Sounds good to me! My favourite bit was the idea that we should have lots of fun events that helps the community to come together. So, veg swaps, skills swaps, tool swaps..all those sort of pooling of resources sounds like an ideal way to start us off. But I also liked the idea that we could find out what one thing people go to supermarkets for and then see if the shops in town can supply them. We have a fabulous array of independent shops but there is an odd thing you can't get here so if we tell them what those things are, then maybe they can supply them. But it was a really upbeat, inspiring meeting, so I'll keep you in touch.

Monday, 22 March 2010

gardening help for jam

We've got our first major Transition Towns meeting tonight and I'm talking about the economy. I'm hoping that people will come up with loads of ideas but I'm starting off with the Letts Scheme which I heard about years ago, where you swap skills, knowledge and help. It is such a brilliant idea. It's breathtakingly simple..you just offer what you're good at or what you like doing and then use other people to fill the gaps to help with what you hate or aren't good at and there's no money involved.

That might mean I can get help and advice with my veg patch, but I can help people write a difficult letter. It means that Grannies can help teenagers with advice on how to deal with difficult parents (!); older people can find out that young people in hoodies can actually help you set up a conversation with your grandchildren in Australia without mugging you and stealing your pension; gardening help can be swapped for car maintenance; ironing can be swapped for babysitting..the possibilities are endless and not a penny changes hands. It brings the community together, makes them all feel valued and we all get those irritating jobs done! Perfect.

I also want to stress how lucky we are in Wirksworth that we have such a brilliant range of independent shops. I save a fortune by shopping in town which is against everyone's perception of local shops. By only buying what I need I save masses of money. I think we need to start to value that and pledge to support our local services more and maybe have a loyalty scheme.

It's all really exciting and I hope people will be inspired. I'll let you know.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Transition Town here we come!

Wirksworth is going to be a Transition Town! How exciting is that? We are going to look at ways to be sustainable in transport, food, renewable energy, housing developments, improving the natural environment, reducing/re-using and recycling,local enconomy. But the one that made me woop with delight was the developing community/having fun one.


Isn't this what it's all about?

As we all tucked into cake and slurped our tea, we all bonded as members of a vibrant community. We planned, we wrote lists, we got inspired.

It's fun to be green, no really, Mr Daily Mail reader who worries about microchips in bins, it is. It gets you together with your neighbours, it saves you money and it opens up all sorts of opportunities..what's not to like?

So, I'll keep you in touch with how we get on. First, we have to inspire the rest of the town in a meeting to show them the vision of what we can become. Then we have to do it.

That's it then. Sorted.

Oh, and I meant to let you know what my floppy leeks were like..well, they tasted fine in a soup, but I'm not sure whether they would have graced a dinner table. But maybe some help in growing my veg is something we ought to put on our list for Transition Towns.

Maxim for the day: I've had a fabulous life, I just wish I'd realised it earlier: Colette.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Is London recreating Logan's Run world?

Just been to London for the weekend and there are two words to describe it--both beginning with ex---exhausting and expensive! Still, it gives a hick towner like me a kick up the backside occasionally to go and see how the other half live and the National Gallery and Portrait Gallery were fab..and free. How lucky are we to have that free facility?

But what did interest me was the trendy world my sister and I infiltrated on Saturday night following in the wake of 20 something offspring. The crowds almost parted like the Red Sea as these two women of a "certain age" came in. We could have been from another planet.

I looked round and realised that most of London after 9pm on a Saturday night is between the ages of 20 and 30. There are no old people. On Saturday afternoon, we'd been to the Albert Hall and there had been children there! My daughter realised she never sees children..that they're squirrelled away somewhere most of the time.

The last time I went, my daughter and I found an elderly lady holding onto a wall. She'd felt dizzy as she tried to cross the road. We insisted on escorting her to the pub she wanted to go to, and one she obviously went to on a regular basis to have a Guinness but when we got there, it was a trendy bar with no room for a little old lady who just wanted to see something else apart from the four walls of her flat on a Saturday night.

I worried all night about her. London is not for the infirm, the little or the incapable. It is like the film Logan's Run, where they got rid of anyone who was over 30, if I remember rightly.

All the way home, I found myself quietly singing "Streets of London". It is too close to the truth.

How can people care about the planet when they don't even see the people less able than they are?

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Can I give up my bacon buttie so my dog can eat meat?

I listened to Costing The Earth on Radio 4 last night and apparently my dog has a bigger carbon footprint..sorry, pawprint..than the average person in Vietnam.

Hmm. Well, she's on a low fat diet so there's lots of rice but it does say it's got chicken in there as well.

I love my dog. Seriously love my dog. Therefore, we ate a mushroom omelette last night and watched her tuck into her meal with noble martyrdom. Perhaps we should have just fed her two tennis balls instead as she looks as if she prefers those!

Are you impressed and does that help you to have an occasional piece of meat, Mr Vietnamese?

Thursday, 18 February 2010

Hotel waste

Well, it's been a while, but put it down to poorly mums and work. All improving now though, thanks for asking.

I found myself having a little tut recently. I've been staying in hotels and bed and breakfasts for work and sitting there on my own trying to look occupied, a few thoughts occurred that I thought I'd share with you and see what you thought.

Why don't British B and Bs and hotels have a "company table" where people who are on their own can choose to join other people. They do it in France and it's lovely. It's even nice when you're with your husband of 35 years and you are on hols for a week and run out of conversation about offspring/news items/house projects. Sitting fiddling with a mobile phone while you eat your breakfast is boring.

Why do they have to have those little plastic milk/marmalade/butter containers. What's wrong with a little ramekin with them in? Much less waste. I ate half a carton of yogurt one morning with my fruit and asked them to keep the other half for the following morning. I got that "Oh dear, we've got a right nutter here" look.

Why do they have to have individual small containers of soap and shampoo..a dispenser would make so much more sense?

Apart from that, it was a nice change and I did try to use as few towels and pillows as possible, but I suspect they just bung the lot in the wash..oh, one more thing..how do they get their towels and sheets so white? My towels go creamy coloured within three washes or maybe it's because I do them on a low energy wash. Ah me, you can't win!

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Hey ho, it's January. Now the snow's gone, it looks really grim and miserable. The worst thing is the litter that's been lurking under the crisp, white, pretty snow. Litter is such an unnecessary evil it makes me bloomin' hopping mad.

So it's a year on since Obama took the reins. That's a bit scary. Where did those 12 months go? Has he achieved what we hoped for? I've been reading about this musical called Hope that's on in Germany about his rise to fame. I hope it doesn't turn into a dark thriller!

I inspected my veg patch with shame yesterday. I still haven't got round to picking the leeks and the curly kale looks very sad but I'll try the leeks tonight and let you know what they're like. I'm not really sure what I'm doing with this 'ere veg patch. How long can you leave leeks? And can you keep picking kale?

Any advice gratefully received.

Maxim for the day:Don't take life so seriously. It's not permanent.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Still snowing here in the glorious hills of Derbyshire. Can't get to meeting in Shropshire so will have to join colleagues in local cafe for hot soup instead.

I really think I should hate this snow but I don't.

It's made everyone slow down, talk to each other and take time to appreciate what we have around us. Our local shops are saying it's like Christmas Eve every day as people shop there instead of struggling to supermarkets, the streets are less litter-strewn because a can of fizzy drink shows up like a belisha beacon in the whiteness of the snow, people look less stressed because they can't go anywhere. As my husband and daughter struggled off to work down our skating rink drive this morning, I know there are downsides, but overall, it's been fun!

I have, however, had the heating on more but I'm driving less so does that let me off?

It has made me smile though, when the first snows came, everyone panicked but now, as we've had almost constant snow since before Christmas, we've adapted to it and just get on with life.

Meanwhile, in the environmental world, we now have our first marine conservation area http://http://www.edie.net/news/news_story.asp?src=nl&id=17514 which I think is a great idea. Can't wait for the guided tours!

Take time to make a snowman and wear studded boots.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

HELP! Turn the heating off, put another jumper on, make a flask of hot drinks..we're running out of gas! See the Guardian front page story. ( It must be the cold, it won't let me copy the links this morning)

I've discovered that living in the glorious Derbyshire hills has its interesting moments..the small garden wall disappeared this morning as the 8 inches of snow on the path reached it--very confusing for the dog who walked into it.

Anyway, I'm OK, cos Jonathan Cainer, http://www.jonathancainer.com/---

my mentor in these matters says I can choose to be optimistic today. So that's it then. I'll look out of the office window and see the beautiful blue sky, the pure white, snow encrusted hills and take a moment to stop and stare. It's just fab! This is the view from my office window this morning.

Monday, 4 January 2010

I watched part of Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee the other night ( rest to be watched tonight) and it was horrific how we just walked over the Native Americans to get our own way and then I got a campaign leaflet from the Co-op urging us to stop the expansion of Toxic Fuels....it's being fought by the Cree Indians at Beaver Lake and I couldn't believe it....here we go again!

It's a campaign with WWF-UK and it aims to combat the global trend of extracting oil from unconventional sources, such as tar sands and shale oil.

The tar sands development in Beaver Creek in Canada have already destroyed the Cree Nation's traditional lands by deforestation and pollution and the Beaver Lake Cree Nation have launched a legal challenge against the Canadian and Albertan governments to enforce recognition of their treaty rights and to protect their environment and traditional way of life.

I cried when I read the book about what we did to the Indians in America. I thought the least I could do was have a look at goodwithmoney.co.uk/beaverlakecree and see whether I can add my voice. Do join me!

That's a very positive start to 2010, Shirley! Hope I can keep it up.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

Hi did you miss me? Happy New Year to all. Sorry I've been so rubbish but there have been reasons:
-I was sulking about the muddle at Copenhagen and couldn't find anything positive to say
-I've been poorly. A bronchial infection, yes thanks, a lot better.
-I was unbelievably behind with Christmas
-it's been freezing cold.

well, I know that isn't an excuse but I live in the Derbyshire hills for heaven's sake, and when it does "cold" it really does "cold".

We've been sledging today in glorious sunshine on the hill behind. We met a couple on the path as we went with our sledge and the dog and they looked at us to see where the children were..they probably thought we were crackpots..two 50 somethings plus dog and sledge. Ah well, ne'er mind. I've never had a very sophisticated image.

So, my new year thoughts on being an optimistic environmentalist?

It's hard. It's like being on a diet. You start off with great intentions but at the first hurdle, you fall. My presents were wrapped in paper that was thrown away, I bought too much food that was thrown away, I keep driving up to the shops instead of walking because it's freezing. So, I hereby promise to try to do better!

Have a wonderful 2010 and stay with me, please. It's nice to know people are reading this.