Archive for October, 2007

Quick update

Hello all,

Have been very busy rushing around with jobs, volunteering and stuff, and have also been a bit stressed out about it all, so done very little and had little time to write about it. Had some friends over at the weekend, which was lovely, and I was encouraged that they were also starting to talk about ‘green’ things. (We did have a bit of a go at one of our number about vegetarianism, mind….)

Am very excited as my spinach seedlings have just poked their wee green heads through the soil!! It’s weird – they sprouted, the next day I read the end of ‘Scenes from a Smallholding’ where he talks about how amazing the miracle of seeds turning into plants is, and then the next day I read this post on Bean Sprouts… Must be a sign of something!!

I’ve also ordered a dalek, so at some point within the next, ooh, 25 days it should have arrived, and my great composting adventure can begin….

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October 25, 2007 at 9:49 am Leave a comment

Is it wrong…

… that as a committed environmentalist and someone who generally finds Jeremy Clarkson supremely irritating, I am giggling at Top Gear?

*ponders*

October 14, 2007 at 7:26 pm Leave a comment

Well, the spinach seeds are planted. I bought some more compost at the hardware shop at the top of the road, where the shopkeeper was extremely helpful! I used almost a full bag in the one wine box, though, so with bags of compost at £2.99 and roughly £1.50 for seeds, each box I plant will cost about a fiver (if we spread the cost of tools, fertiliser etc across each), which means looking at investing in a composter and investigating seed-saving would be really economical options! Might think twice about eating the butternut squash seeds in the fridge…

Still, (depending on how much I grow, I suppose) a fiver for a load of veg is still pretty good compared to Waitrose…

I was watching ‘Jamie at Home’ and ‘The Wild Gourmets’ last night. ‘The Wild Gourmets’ irritated me a bit, as does Jamie Oliver if I’m honest – I really admired the school dinners campaign, but it annoys me when he seems embarrassed asking people to take time over their cooking, or to care about presentation. If you really believe it’s a good idea to cut your courgettes into pieces that are the same shape as your pasta quills, then for heaven’s sake, be proud of it, man! Don’t get all bashful about it!! Have some confidence!!

I digress…

My point was, that there must be vast swathes of people for whom the idea of growing your own veg or shooting game is completely weird. I think I failed to appreciate that for a long time – having always grown up with veg from the garden and pheasants hanging up outside, not to mention living in deepest, darkest Northumberland amidst abundant cows and sheep, where food comes from has never been a mystery. So, even though I find these programmes a bit annoying, I’m still glad that an hour of prime-time television was devoted to the message that if you want to eat meat, you gotta kill something… You want a carrot, you gotta pull a carrot out of the ground….

Am volunteering for Sustain, doing research, from next week. Financially daft choice, but I’m so excited about it, and hopefully it’ll make me more employable afterwards. Fingers crossed!

October 10, 2007 at 1:28 pm Leave a comment

Well, the spinach seeds are planted. I bought some more compost at the hardware shop at the top of the road, where the shopkeeper was extremely helpful! I used almost a full bag in the one wine box, though, so with bags of compost at £2.99 and roughly £1.50 for seeds, each box I plant will cost about a fiver (if we spread the cost of tools, fertiliser etc across each), which means looking at investing in a composter and investigating seed-saving would be really economical options! Might think twice about eating the butternut squash seeds in the fridge…

Still, (depending on how much I grow, I suppose) a fiver for a load of veg is still pretty good compared to Waitrose…

I was watching ‘Jamie at Home’ and ‘The Wild Gourmets’ last night. ‘The Wild Gourmets’ irritated me a bit, as does Jamie Oliver if I’m honest – I really admired the school dinners campaign, but it annoys me when he seems embarrassed asking people to take time over their cooking, or to care about presentation. If you really believe it’s a good idea to cut your courgettes into pieces that are the same shape as your pasta quills, then for heaven’s sake, be proud of it, man! Don’t get all bashful about it!! Have some confidence!!

I digress…

My point was, that there must be vast swathes of people for whom the idea of growing your own veg or shooting game is completely weird. I think I failed to appreciate that for a long time – having always grown up with veg from the garden and pheasants hanging up outside, not to mention living in deepest, darkest Northumberland amidst abundant cows and sheep, where food comes from has never been a mystery. So, even though I find these programmes a bit annoying, I’m still glad that an hour of prime-time television was devoted to the message that if you want to eat meat, you gotta kill something… You want a carrot, you gotta pull a carrot out of the ground….

Am volunteering for Sustain, doing research, from next week. Financially daft choice, but I’m so excited about it, and hopefully it’ll make me more employable afterwards. Fingers crossed!

October 10, 2007 at 1:28 pm Leave a comment

In praise of HFW

Managed to pick this up in WHSmiths for a tenner! I think there’s a new edition coming out, which is why they were selling them off cheap, but I’m more than happy with a bargainous old one! I almost bought the River Cottage Family Cookbook too, out of sheer love for HFW, as it was only £5, but it would have put the fear of god into the boyfriend, so I restrained myself…

It’s absolutely fascinating. I read ‘Hugh Fearlessly Eats It All’ a few months ago and it was just like someone putting much more coherently everything I already believed or suspected. The combination of intelligent social commentary and sheer enthusiasm for good food is exactly in line with my own approach to eating and farming. And now I have a beautiful, shiny, 500-page tome of anti-intensive farming arguments and exciting recipes to occupy me. *glee*

It’s already inspired me to buy half a Welsh lamb for the freezer from someone on Downsizer/River Cottage forum. By far the most economical way of doing it, and hopefully we should be getting some very good quality meat! Very exciting.

In other news, I bought loads of dried fruit to soak in brandy for my Christmas cake today. Unfortunately, I forgot the brandy. Oops…

October 6, 2007 at 10:53 am Leave a comment

A green song

to sing at the bottle bank

One green bottle,
Drop it in the bank.
Ten green bottles
What a lot we drank.
Heaps of bottles
And yesterdays a blank,
But we’ll save the planet,
Tinkle tinkle clank.

We’ve got bottles –
Nice percussive trash,
Bags of bottles
cleaned us out of cash.
Empty bottles,
we love to hear them smash
And we’ll save the planet,
Tinkle tinkle, crash.

– Wendy Cope

October 5, 2007 at 4:11 pm Leave a comment

In which Hamster endeavours to come one step closer to her dream of planting winter spinach…

Me: “Do you have a drill?”

Boyfriend: “No.”

Me: “Do you know anyone who has a drill?”

Boyfriend: “Not sure.”

Me: “Can you borrow one off people at work?”

Boyfriend: “Well, I don’t really know who’d have one…”

Me: “I’m not asking you to know the drill-owning habits of all your colleagues. I’m just asking if you know them well enough to send round an email asking if anyone has one you can borrow.”

Boyfriend: “I guess…”

Me: “Look, it’s very simple! You just have to write an email saying you need to borrow a drill because your girlfriend needs to make some drainage holes in the bottom of a wooden wine-box so she can grow spinach in it!”

Boyfriend shoots me a look that plainly indicates he could do no such thing. I suggest he tells them he needs to do some manly DIY thing instead.

I am now anxiously awaiting his return from work to see if I’ll be able to make holes in things or not! My winter spinach seeds need to be planted soon…. The whole endeavour has already resulted in me getting far more Ronseal on my hands than I’d like. Grrrr. And these (free) wine-boxes are going to form the bulk of my container gardening initiative next spring, which is going to require epic quantities of varnish. *sigh*

This is the one jar of jam I managed to get out of my blackberries. Am itching to try it, but I have to wait till we’ve finished the jar of gooseberry jam we’re on at the moment… Still, it set well. This jam malarky isn’t half as hard as I thought it would be!

This here is my one little coriander seedling! My first ever seedling! Note the creative and environmentally praiseworthy re-using of yoghurt pots.

(Also pictured: our recycling. Hmm. What a lot of bottles. Reminds me of that Wendy Cope poem…)

October 5, 2007 at 3:36 pm Leave a comment

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The Heritage Crafts Network

Rob Hopkins, Transition Handbook

“Environmentalists have often been guilty of presenting people with a mental image of the world’s least desirable holiday destination – some seedy bed and breakfast near Torquay, with nylon sheets, cold tea and soggy toast – and expecting them to get excited about the prospect of NOT going there. The logic and the psychology are all wrong.”

Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

"Food is that rare moral arena in which the ethical choice is generally the one more likely to make you groan with pleasure."

Carlo Petrini

"A gastronome who is not also an environmentalist is an idiot. An environmentalist who is not also a gastronome is, well, sad."

Sharon Astyk

"I am, of course, firmly opposed to consumerism and corporatism in all its forms, and I believe that we are deeply confused about material needs and wants. Now let me explain how books and yarn are totally different than the material things that other people want ;-)…."

Raj Patel, at Slow Food Nation

"Biofuels, which is the preposterous policy that we should grow food not to eat it but to set it on fire."