Treasures

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Getting hold of a wider range of goods and services without using the car usually involves a journey across the estuary, and what a delight it is. A short walk takes us to our local ferry and a bumpy ride over the sea transports us to Fleetwood, a town packed full of interesting architecture and a good range of independent shops.

Designed by Decimus Burton in the 1830’s, the town was originally designed to accommodate the working classes in  ‘golden sands, sea, air like wine and breath-taking views across Morecambe Bay on clear days.’ It certainly felt that way as we enjoyed a beach side picnic today.

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A train load of books in Fleetwood Library…

And so to more domestic matters…..

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Planning this year’s harvest- inspired by the permaculture movement we are going to plant some full-size trees this year..more later

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Finding a much prettier alternative to filter cartridges

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A handwritten letter from a dear friend on the most gorgeous notepaper

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Making naan to go with our lentil and tomato curry.

The Beauty Of Zero Waste – part deux

Having a family can certainly add to the waste we produce, an estimated 1/2 tonne of disposable nappies are produced every year per child- nappies in landfills take up to 500 years to degrade and around 200, 000 trees are lost each year to make disposable nappies for babies in the USA alone. The arrival of a baby often means that we are inundated with ‘essential’ items from well-meaning family and friends or from exhausted shopping trips in a vain effort to secure the one item which we believe will make our lives easier.

The simple truth is that having a home with just a few good-quality baby items make parenting much easier on both our health and pocket.

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Baby bathing essentials: muslin cloths, baby balm in a glass jar from a good friend, coconut oil and a gorgeous washbag made by a lovely lady.

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Toddler mealtimes- metal cutlery and enamel ware espresso size cup – perfect for little hands

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Washable nappies from Bambino Mio and bamboo wipes from Ma Petite Chou

For those precious spare moments….

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Fountain pen from Allan Lloyd in Kendal, ink, blotting paper and writing paper- for those times when only handwritten letter will do.

 

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Shopping kit

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Woodstore, wormery and apple trees ( taken last May)- for time spent in the garden ( either alone or with my little boy) – bliss!

The Beauty Of Zero Waste

That’s the thing about sustainability, it’s just so darn nice to look at. Alternatives to plastic are usually far more beautiful as well as kinder to the pocket and the environment. According to the Greenpeace Energy desk news, the UK government quietly reduced recycling targets for plastics last year- meaning that even more plastic is finding its way in to landfill.

Concern over plastic in our food is highlighted in the BBC’s ‘Trust Me I’m A Doctor ‘ – in the programme scientists drew attention to how plastic leeches into our food and disrupts our endocrine system, or in other words, our hormones. These disruptions can cause cancerous tumors, birth defects, and other developmental disorders. The episode particularly drew attention to the need for pregnant women to be careful about eating food wrapped in plastic.

A great start to reducing plastics at home begins with swapping your single use items for their more beautiful alternatives:

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Bamboo toothbrushes ( available from here), baking soda, body lotion ( made by the lovely Clare) and crocheted cotton rounds.

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Cloth napkins, tea towels, knitted dishcloths and cotton food covers.

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gorgeous bamboo sanitary towels, made in the UK from recycled fabric

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Shopping bags

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Soft, laundered vintage handkerchiefs

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Air fresheners and medicine cabinet.

These lovely items enhance our home environment and ensure that no waste is generated. If properly cared for, these items should serve us for many years to come ( and personally they just make me smile every time I use them).

 

 

Into The Woods

Where dips the rocky highland
Of Sleuth Wood in the lake,There lies a leafy island
Where flapping herons wake
The drowsy water rats;
There we’ve hid our faery vats,
Full of berrys
And of reddest stolen cherries.
Come away, O human child!
To the waters and the wild
With a faery, hand in hand,
For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

W.B Yeats

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It’s been a week of contrasts. Reading the brave words of Tina Rothery as she recounts the days spent fighting energy giant Cuadrilla makes me feel so very sad and proud in equal measure. The brave team of people who are slow walking the trucks in an effort to save our water and air are heroes observed by many in Lancashire; as a mum of a small child, it wouldn’t be safe for us to be there during the week, but we can show our support on Solidarity Saturdays.

As activists we need to continue to thrive, take time for ourselves against the seemingly endless onslaught of bad news. We need to make sure that our families engage with nature and learn those precious lessons that only being outside shows us. After all, it is our love of the natural world that will save us, we only protect and cherish what we know and love. Being outside is so very good for our physical and mental well being and reminds us all of what is at stake.

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Time spent nourishing our minds and bodies strengthens us and makes us more effective.

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Today we spent time in the woods and baked a nourishing loaf. All my love to the activists in the world today, wherever you are. XXX

Raisin Bran Loaf

In a large bowl mix together;

1 cup sugar

1 cup of sultanas ( or any dried fruit such as dates)

1 cup of bran fibre (all bran)

1 cup of milk ( soya or cows milk work equally well)

Soak for one hour.

Add 1 cup of sr flour and a teaspoon of mixed spice.

Bake in the oven at around 160C for about 1 1/2 hours.

Finding The Joy In January

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Watching Lapwings against blue skies along our beach.

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Savouring the final winter crops of sprouts.

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The texture of chunky teal-coloured aran.

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Feeding hungry winter birds from the birdtable (a gorgeous Christmas gift from my brother)

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Baking Aunt Bev’s Country Seed Bread with my little boy.

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The first British daffodils in a Cornish jug.

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Adventures with family in the Yorkshire Dales- Settle Station.

A Little Village with a big heart sends a special Valentine

A small village in North Lancashire is preparing to send an extra special Valentine in 2016.

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Knott End, a small village tucked away on a peninsula north of Blackpool, famed only for its brief connection to the painter L.S Lowry (he painted the Knott End ferry during his holidays there) is preparing to demonstrate how much they love their village.

For over a decade, this little place has battled with the energy giant, Halite, fighting to stop this fossil fuel Goliath storing gas in salt caverns under the River Wyre. Despite  objections from Lancashire County Council, Wyre Borough Council and Knott End council, not to mention thousands of Wyre residents that the storage scheme could pose significant risks to both people living in the area and the environment, Halite has been given consent.

The proposed scheme is within an area of a large number of homes, a significant concern since similar schemes in the US have resulted in explosions and, in the recent case case of Porter Ranch in the USA, a gas leak that affected the health of thousands of residents and took months to stem. There are also concerns about the impact on the wildlife of Morecambe Bay, (a Site of Special Scientific Interest) as many gallons of highly-concentrated brine are pumped out into the sea. It seems as though these are deemed insignificant against profit and the firm has been given the green light by the current government.

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Sadly this scene is becoming only too familiar with families fighting to protect the areas where they live from increasing threats from energy firms, keen to make vast profits at the expense of the environment. It seems incredible that the shareholders of energy firms are deemed more important than clean water, air and land. Fracking opponents point to the millions of gallons of radioactive water produced by hydraulic fracking and the unacceptable risk posed through leaks.

At a time when 195 countries have adopted the first-ever universal, legally-binding global climate deal, the UK government appears short-sighted. As nations strive to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels, a unique opportunity to pioneer and boost the renewable energy sector has presented itself. Investment now could reap dividends for many generations to come, not just in terms of the environment but also our economy.

But love will save this place , a true, fearsome love of our land, our air, our water and our love for our children.

The power of this ferocious love is what the resource companies and their advocates in government inevitably underestimate, precisely because no amount of money can extinguish it.

Naomi Klein

Our village is beloved and we will fight for the safety of its people and our land. As communities come together in their millions in unprecedented  grass-roots movements determined to defend their little corner of the globe, they will continue to fight for the land that is theirs. They will battle in the name of love and ultimately, because this is the strongest human motivator, they will win.

(Knott End will be taking its Valentine ( a large collection of postcards) to the energy minister Amber Rudd and my baby boy and I will be with them.)

A Very British Coup

The election of Jeremy Corbin as leader of the opposition has raised eyebrows amongst Britain’s political classes and many members of the establishment.

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Click here for 24 things Jeremy Corbin stands for

As a rank outsider, party members had seen Mr. Corbin as an additional candidate who would not gain a large share of the vote, but was necessary to ‘represent’ the left wing opinions within the party. Winning 60% of the vote in a landslide victory, Mr. Corbin took the established stalwart members by surprise.

In a move unprecedented in British politics, labour membership applications (for the mere price of £3) were used by many outsiders to have a say in the selection of the new opposition leader, ensuring that the new leader had views which were in line with environmental and social concerns shared by many.

I for one am delighted that we finally have someone in the House of Commons who is a committed environmentalist and anti-austerity campaigner.

A Greener Baby

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While it could be said that having a baby is not the best thing for the environment, we have certainly tried our best to reduce our little boy’s impact on the planet and build a better future for him. From the outset we were certain that we didn’t want to overwhelm our little house with baby equipment and paraphenalia. We were also determined that we would buy second-hand wherever we could and, where we had no choice; such as a new mattress, we would buy as sustainably as possible.

Fast forward several months later and we do seem to have managed to limit the amount of equipment, although this has sometimes left us feeling ungrateful when we turn down kind offers from friends and family. Most friends and family members know us well enough to ask about what is actually needed, or have sent things which were as green as possible. The generosity of friends and family never fails to amaze us, gifts have included the most thoughtful and useful items, such as moccasins handmade in Canada, stunning hand knitted cardigans and blankets, handmade toys and a wide range of clothes.

Despite not knowing many parents of small children ourselves; being older parents, we were so very fortunate that a friend of my mother loaned us a beautiful crib, as well as passing on numerous toys, clothes and a simply wonderful mobile which plays the theme from Dr. Doolittle. The mobile and a wind up giraffe ( which also plays the same tune) were given to us several months before CC became the musical director for the stage version of Dr. Doolittle, it still makes us smile every time it plays and our little boy simply adores it. The joy that these pre-loved  toys give is immeasurable, and certainly trumps just going to a shop and buying new.

Nursery equipment has been purchased mostly second hand, his cot bed was such a bargain and the lady selling it was delighted that another little boy would enjoy the cot after hers had grown out of it. The only items we have bought new were the mattress and protectors which have to be new for the sake of safety, these we bought from The Little Green Sheep company using a generous financial gift from special friends in Canada.

We have also opted for washable nappies which are simply wonderful, really soft and colourful. Unfortunately, despite a thorough search online, I couldn’t buy these second hand, so we opted for the gorgeous designs and durability of Bambino Mio’s two piece nappies. Thanks to a great summer we have been able to line dry these the vast majority of the time and use our trusty wooden clothes horses the rest of the time. (I am not sure how lucky we will be with this during the North’s typically cold and damp winters though, we will certainly try to dry them outdoors as much as we can.)

We also use recycled bamboo fabric as baby wipes which are beautifully soft and are just thrown in the nappy dry bucket to be laundered with the nappies.

Having a new little human being in our home has certainly required some adjustment, when people talked about ‘not getting anything done’ I had assumed that I would be able to organise my way out of the chaos…..how very wrong I was! At three months we are just beginning to get the hang of balancing time with our son and time to grow our vegetables, cook and make. Today I managed to bake rock buns while our little boy was napping and plant winter vegetables such as spinach, winter salad and kale. I am determined that we will have some organic vegetables from our newly remodeled garden during the winter. Living in the north of England means that the hours of daylight considerably reduce from August on wards and this impacts on the length of the growing season, cloches and greenhouses can only retain heat and not provide extra daylight.

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It really felt like Christmas yesterday as a parcel of a second hand bundle of baby boys’s clothing arrived, 25 items for £12 ! The most beautiful coat made in France, gorgeous dungarees by Osh Kosh, a fox design jumper to name but a few of the delights. Also included was a wet suit suitable for a 3-6 month old, although I’m not sure he’ll need it, you never know!

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Why the issue is so much bigger than fracking

Fort McMurray, tar sands Alberta, Canada
Fort McMurray, tar sands Alberta, Canada

The energy industry would have us believe that fracking is a safe procedure which would ensure our ‘energy security’ . Our government is enthusiastically promoting fracking as an answer to our energy needs, pushing forward new licences for much of the UK.

For a fossil fuel company, such as Cuadrilla, its one imperative is to maintain its ‘reserve replacement ratio’, put simply , this means that in order for these companies to maintain and improve their share prices (their ONLY consideration) , they need to constantly seek out new supplies of fossil fuels. It is essential that energy companies have as much fossil fuels in reserve as in their current production if they are to stay in business. These companies will continue to seek out new sources of oil and gas infinitely, continuing to locate new areas to drill and increasingly damaging methods of extraction, such as Alberta’s tar sands and Shell’s attempts to drill in the Arctic.

Without concerted international attempts by governments to restrict these companies they will continue to expand their destruction and increasingly drill using even more environmentally damaging methods. This is the only way in which companies can maintain their share prices, they will never extract enough to be ‘satisfied’.

All of this is devastating news for our planet, aside from the high levels of pollution and environmental damage, scientists now predict a 4 to 6 degree rise in planetary warming if we continue to burn fuels at our current rates. Four degrees of warming would ensure catastrophic rises in global sea levels by a predicted 1 to 2 metres by 2100, condemning much of the coastal areas of Britain, Europe, Asia and The Americas. With this will also come deadly heat waves , flooding and other extreme weather events and a dramatic loss of crop yields globally.

According to 97% of climate scientists , global warming is now significantly impacting our environment. Of the remaining 3%, many are sponsored by right-wing think tanks dedicated to maintaining the status quo of a tiny percentage of the super rich. It’s not hard to see why companies whose very existence relies of the continued extraction of damaging fuels, pump fortunes into defending their drilling rights and ensuring unprecedented access to government.

This is why CC and I changed our energy supplier to one which guarantees 100% of its energy comes from either hydro or wind power. Our gas is guaranteed ‘frack-free’- not perfect since it’s still gas, but a step in the right direction. All of the profits from our energy company are spent on increasing green energy methods. ( see http://www.ecotricity.co.uk/ )

We can only hope that we can apply the brakes and change the direction in which we are travelling for the sake of our little son and his children in time to build a brighter future for the next generation.