Monday, 5 December 2011

Won the bottle of wine!

Just been to the Transition Town quiz night and our team won! I suspect because our powers of deduction -and luck-of picking the right a, b or c answer rather than our in depth knowledge of the environment, but hey, what the hell!

I have to share a couple of stunning facts with you though. The first is that bloomin' Wirksworth uses 10,000 plastic bags a week. I'm ashamed. And when each plastic bag takes at least 100 years to biodegrade that's 1 million years a week that will be needed for all our bags alone. That's just terrifying.

The other is that 50 hectares of rainfores is destroyed every single minute.

Oh dear, we're not getting very far are we?

Under floor heating

How do you find someone who knows about under floor heating? It's such a new technology...we've got a pressure valve that keeps dropping to nought and we have to release it so it goes back up but every time it does, the heating doesn't work as efficiently. Nobody seems to know what to do about it. The people who provided it send us back to the plumber who sends us back to the people who provided it. Come on guys, get your act sorted!

PS. It's still warmer than my sister's Victorian house though!

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Never too old to reinvent yourself

Oh help, you'll think I've fled the country! I'm really sorry, I haven't blogged for a while but I've been starting up a new business that I'm so excited about. It's and it's a short break holiday company for women of a "certain age" who want to nudge themselves out of their comfort zone.

We are taking over lovely 4 star holiday cottages and a b and b up the road in the stunning Monsal Head area of the Peak District and we're offering weekend breaks for women over 45. They will be a mix of workshops in styling, confidence, travel writing, using a digital camera, cycling walking and just good old fashioned fun.

We want women who may be on their own to feel they can relax amongst like minded people and maybe learn a new skill or refresh an old one.

It fits in exactly with my ethos on life which is that you need to face each day with a grin. ( No, I didn't say a grimace, pay attention!) Sometimes my grin is a bit like the Joker's and a bit manic, but it's better than a frowny face!

So, have a look at the website. If I go quiet, it's just while I'm getting Re Boot Your Life up and running...I'm still trying to be Felicity Kendal and live the Good Life and I would just like to mention, my green tomato chutney was a triumph!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Shallow, shallow environmentalist....

So, when the chips are down, I lose all my integrity and head for Morrison's huh?

Oh this is sad. I am "mum sitting" while my sister is away and it is a constant round of cooking things she probably won't eat, preparing drinks she lets go cold and washing bedding and nighties to keep her feeling clean and nice. In between that, I'm trying to do bits of work so when I rush out to buy food in the hour she's asleep, what do I do? --go to the local butchers and greengrocers? Wander round several shops to find the organic or locally produced stuff?


It's straight to the aisles of the supermarkets I eschew at all other times, it's the cheap brands because I suspect she won't eat what I prepare and because I'm in such a rush, I buy packaged varieties.

I did take some plastic bags with me though. Does that count?

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Tent in Wales or last minute trip to Greece?

OK, now listen to me, God of the weather, I am very happy to be an eco champion and eschew a flight, taking my tent to the Welsh coast but I want some cast iron guarantees here.

1. I want sunshine..especially at breakfast time and glass of white wine time outside tent.
2. I do not want a flood running through my tent.
3. I want beautiful sunsets so I can sit on the harbour wall and breathe deeply
4. I do not want a frozen nose at 3am

Got that?

Then we have a deal.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Showing off our air source heat pump

We showed a young couple round the other day because they were thinking of putting in an air source heat pump. I think we rather overdid the enthusiasm!
How can you not be enthusiastic when you have 12 friends and family who live in big, but drafty houses threatening to move in with you over the winter! We can't help but feel smug when we read about gas prices going up.

I know, it's awful to be this superior but yer know what....

Ya boo sucks!

Monday, 20 June 2011

Anyone know of any rickshaw operators?

We are trying to extend our wonderful Wirksworth Farmers' Market to the top end of town so that the traders up there are more involved. The market is going fantastically well..everyone loves it! We always have music and events and of course, it is known as the friendliest market in the Midlands. On 2nd July, we have

11.00-11.45 Chevrette ‘Early music from medieval to baroque’ (Lesley Clarke 01522-750596 and 07775-685100

11.45-1.15 John OTranquil Autoharp music for pleasant listening”

as well as a fantastic array of local produce and crafts. There's also a cafe being run by the Stoneywood Group.

But we want to open up parking at the top end of town and as we all know, people are lazy, so I was wondering whether anyone knew of anyone who would like to offer a rickshaw service from the car park down to the market and ( concentrate on this word...) UP back to the car park-yes we live in the hills of Derbyshire! It's not a big hill, honestly, but it could be excellent training for someone!

Do let me know

Monday, 6 June 2011

Monty Don-eat your heart out

There is a very vague possibility that I shouldn't be allowed out into the garden. I am an undoubted disaster. So much for my green credentials.

Not only have my cabbages been stripped of any leaves whatsoever overnight but the "peas" I carefully staked have started sprouting lovely coloured flowers! They'll be sweet peas then.

You have to remember that this time last year, I carefully staked out emerging bindweed thinking it was beans.

Maybe I could write a book on gardening disasters. I may get drummed out of the Transition Town Growers' Group.

Talking of the Transition Town Movement, we went to the Green Fair at Regents Park on Saturday and the London branch was there. It's brilliant to see the TT net growing, we will report back to our core group here in Derbyshire tonight, but it was also great to see so many people there. The other thing I noticed was that there wasn't that much litter. That contrasted very sadly with Finsbury Park where we went for a picnic ( I know, blame elder daughter, it was her choice) on Friday night. It was absolutely foul, full of litter and rubbish. What is it about our nation? Why do we have to drop litter. People go to a green space and then completely ruin it.

What do you think? Any gardening disasters you want to share? What do you think about our rubbish problem? Have you seen CPRE's campaign to try to stop people throwing litter out of cars..that would be a start, don't you think?

End of rant, back to sorting out this quasi veg patch.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Il faut cultiver mon jardin

I remember that phrase from "Candide" when I was at Uni and as I sat at the bottom of my garden last week, glass of wine in hand, listening to the stream, the simplicity of nature struck me - and all right, I know I'm totally ignoring Voltaire's deep and meaningful philosophy from the book, but there are times when you need to be simple and shallow!

I've had a difficult time with an ailing mum and I needed to escape down to the bench and just close my eyes and listen to the bees, the babbling stream and the birds. It made me drop my shoulders and I definitely felt better.

Then the next morning, I got a text from the local Growers' Group. They are planting in the Community Garden and the text was all about what plants they were putting in, how the watering was going and what plans they had.

It made me smile.

There are moments, even when life is throwing the book at you that nature can remind you that plants still grow, flowers bud and blossom and spring comes.


Voltaire can have his cynicism, thanks, I'll just go and cultivate my garden for real.

Thursday, 14 April 2011

We've done fish let's look at fashion

Have a look at this blog:

We've had publicity about fish discard but what about the fashion industry? They are unbelievably wasteful. This sounds like a really good idea.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Our planet

What is happening to the world? What exactly is going on? Are we going to learn anything from all this?
If we get rid of tree belts, then tsunamis, lava from volcanoes and landslips can power through lands without having their force challenged at all.
If we build nuclear power stations then we run the risk of natural disasters causing a global catastrophe. Even in this country, their "safety" can be compromised by a terrorist attack or a plane crash.

Watch and learn, leaders.
If we work against nature then we will be the the losers.
We are small and insignificant and although there is little doubt the planet will survive, we may not.

All we can do is look after our little bit of the planet, plant our bulbs, grow our own food and walk instead of getting in our cars, but we aren't the ones who look after the bigger picture. Wouldn't it be nice if those in power would do what we're doing on a small scale here in Wirksworth in our Transition Town movement, on a bigger one?

Good job the sun came out today and I could sit on my bench and drink in the sunshine. Sometimes it's hard to be a Polyanna.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Transition Towns don't have to be woolly and homespun!

We had a meeting of the Transition Town core group last night which was a proper workshop about running a meeting.

I was lulled into the usual feeling of cosy warmth and welcome when the flipcharts came out! It was done really well and I learned a lot, especially about the fact that just because we are a sustainability group, that doesn't mean we can be wishy washy.

But running effective meetings, with goals, structure and engagement doesn't mean we lose sight of the essence of Transition Town which is that we involve the whole group, play to people's strengths and allow people to say no.

This was an interesting one because volunteers can get swamped and end up walking away.

Another interesting aspect was that you have a Mood Watcher..who keeps an eye on the feel of the meeting and if people are beginning to be glazed over or left out, then the MW pipes up! I thought this was a lovely idea and I was so grateful for the moment when the MW pointed out last night that we were losing the thread. Oh for one of those in some of the meetings I go to!

It's also about priorities. At various points in a meeting, you re-evaluate the time you have left and adjust your priorities so's you're not trying to do too much.

And then the one that is glorious to MUST finish on time.

I remember as a junior reporter going to council meetings where they would spend two minutes passing a £3m scheme and two hours discussing what toner to put in the printer. They needed a Mood Watcher!

Friday, 18 February 2011

The forests are still mine then!

That's really good news! But what's better news is that in our own little British way, we are just as rebellious as the Egyptians when we believe in something and anyone who thinks they can get their commercial little mitts on our forests have been brilliantly scuppered!

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Tiny shoots of recovery

Not the economy, but us. It's been a tough winter with house renovations, work pressures and husband falling off ladder but yesterday, I spotted some snowdrops and the first shoots of daffodils.

This is why the environment is so important.

We need to know the world is going to renew itself. I need to know that the earth will re-emerge, just as green and beautiful as it ever was. I've been watching our little community of birds re-emerging looking for the food I put out. I was even pleased to see the magpie, although I haven't seen the one with the broken wing who amazed me with its ability to hop around using props to get from one place to another. Maybe it hasn't survived the winter.

Ok, this is waffling now.

I've been watching Richard Bilton's programme "Who gets the best jobs?" and then one called "Young, jobless and living at home" ( this is on I Player cos getting an aerial sorted in this dip we live in seems to be a mammoth task). So, the answer for our offspring is to work for nothing for at least a year, being supported by rich Daddy. Went wrong there then.
Work has to be worthwhile, you have to feel good about yourself and the job you are doing so what is the point if our youngsters aren't valued enough to pay them a living wage. Are we going backwards?

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Been slacking in my duties!

Oh help, I've been so absorbed in our house that I've ignored issues in the big wide world! I feel I'm only just able to worry about the rest of the planet again.

Let me start at the top: we have no telly as yet cos the aerial isn't up, but I've been watching Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall's Big Fish Fight and I've just watched the last one. It's disgusting what we are doing to our fish stocks. I feel really incensed. We throw away tonnes of cod and other good fish because we use purse seine nets ( had to Google that one!) which just catch everything and then they're all dead by the time they throw them back because they aren't allowed to catch them because of fishing quotas. Why can't they just go out fishing less and keep the whole catch?
Also, we feed good fish to feed farmed salmon. He was saying why can't we eat the good fish in the first place instead of the ubiquitous cod.
And then there's fish and chip shops. Why can't they sell mackerel baps instead of it all being cod and haddock?
We are really going to have to act on this one..come on, folks. Sign up!

And then there's our tree in town. We heard the other night that the Town Council were planning to cut down the beautiful plane tree because the roots were coming up through the tarmac and there was a danger someone might trip over. We raced up to the Town Council meeting and asked them to think again. It's a nonsense that just because they have put tarmac down instead of paving slabs that could be taken up, sand put down and the roots accommodated, that we have to lose this beautiful tree. Thousands of urban trees are being taken down because of health and safety or lack of water because of too much tarmac. Trees make our streets special. They make them human. We suggested there should be a seat put round the tree so that people can sit under it. We hope they were listening.

You can see I've emerged from house building!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

pink house-with spots

That's an interesting development! We have a pink house with spots on. It looks like something out of a fairy tale- it looks just so silly, it can't be real. Oh but it is.

It's all in a good cause however, dear reader. This is the insulation that is going to keep us toasty and warm and cheap! Tomorrow it will be meshed and then after that it will be rendered, so hopefully at the end of all that, its resemblance to the 'orrible 1960s' bungalow will be ended, over, caput, finished.

I had a masterclass in the underfloor heating system yesterday and I think I've got it. You leave the heating on all the time but as soon as the room reaches the temperature on the sensor, it cuts off, so throughout the year, you can probably leave it on because it won't use any electricity. That's the theory, I'll keep you updated as to whether that's the fact or not. We haven't had our first electricity bill yet. But the air source heat pump is very quiet and doesn't bother us at all and once we get this insulation finished, we should notice even more of a difference. I am getting very used to a constant temperature of 25 degrees and get a hell of a shock when I come outside!

And yes, thanks for asking, Peg Leg is improving. Shuffling around nicely now.

Friday, 7 January 2011

Life doesn't always go according to plan

Well, 2011 has arrived with a vengeance. We are in the house, we sort of camped before Christmas and that was OK. Then last Sunday, KP fell from a ladder and has been in hospital since with various broken bones that should eventually mend OK but not what we envisaged for the beginning of the year.

I am trying very hard to do my Polyanna act so..

He will recover
We are no longer in a one bedroomed place with a loo downstairs
It wasn't snowing ( shouldn't have mentioned that is now)
It wasn't before Christmas

Ok, that's it, that's all I can think of on the positive front. Off to pick him up shortly and I suspect we are going to both need all our patience and fortitude to get through the next two months.

Just made a round of cuppas for the builders who've watched me through all this move, build and accident. They've been very sweet. Especially the day I couldn't even find a room to have a howl in!

So, 2011, you'd better do better than this. So far, I'm not impressed.

PS: the house is looking lovely and is very comfy and warm but so far I haven't been able to imagine it without builders.