Monday, April 28, 2008

Our new patch

As part of my rather domestic day (including making some kiwi bread) I spent a couple of hours clearing ivy off a patch of the border in the garden. This grand patch of a garden is mostly grass and looked after by some gardeners, but as they don't do anything with the borders I'm reclaiming it for a vegetable patch!

Not that I know anything about growing vegetables but this should be a good time to start. It'll be small and close to the house and if it all goes horribly wrong then I can always let the ivy grow back:) I am extremely grateful for some offers to dig the patch and I also managed to borrow my neighbour's tools for the time being so that's good too. We don't know what we're doing but HM2 and I are particularly keen to give it a go and see what happens. Should be fun! And lots, and lots of digging.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The End of Suburbia

I have just watched the documentary "The End of Suburbia". I thought I had seen this before as I was very aware of it when it came out in 2004, but I hadn't actually. It discusses the declining energy supplies in North America and what effect that might have. I believe this is doing the rounds and one of the oft-mentioned films when groups are looking at issues of declining oil and natural gas supplies and the concept of peak oil.

I can't say any of it was particularly new to me as I do have the advantage in moving in such circles where issues of these sorts are talked about and taken seriously. But I can see how it might be an effective wake-up call of sorts. Personally I was slightly less inspired.

I'm still committed to the concept of peak oil - but I think despite of this documentary rather than because of it. I, and others around me, are looking into the Transition Town model and reading Rob Hopkin's Transition Town Handbook. There are at least 30 copies spread out in the borough due to the work of the REN coordinator who is very enthusiastic about this idea. It looks at the twin problems of peak oil and climate change, and then proposes action in the form of encouraging local resilience and powering down our dependency on a substance about to get increasingly expensive. This is a massively inspiring take at community design done by a community and not forced on them. It is definately something I want to be a part of!

My main gripe with "The End of Suburbia" is that the only people interviewed are white men aged around 50. Fair enough, they've got something to say. But what about the rest of us who are going to be equally effected? Don't we get a chance to dream and vision a different future too?

This is the time for grassroots networking and getting the idea of Richmond becoming a Transition Town/Borough off the ground. The time to get groups grappling with the idea of what we would like to see happen - and then try to do it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Squatters on the move...

A different take on the daily London (tube) blight: 'The Metro'.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Egg Watch

Last Saturday I was at the Wetlands Centre and we've got some Indian Runner Duck egg's in an incubation chamber. Some of them were starting to hatch while I was there which was a little distracting in the process of running the weekend activities for children. I had to keep popping upstairs to see how the four ducklings were doing and coo over them... I learnt so much about eggs and the hatching process on Saturday. I've never seen anything being hatched before (being a city-girl most my life) and I found it so remarkable standing there watching them. I can't believe they can fit a duckling into an egg!!

The weather was freaky - hail followed by bright sunshine followed by rain followed by sunshine stc - but we still managed to orchestrate an egg race that involved families building a chariot to pull their egg along in. It was technically a children's activity, but the parents got involved straight away and seemed to enjoy themselves too.

The ducklings should be outside in a little run by next Saturday (which is when I'm next in) and the Ed team has got joint responsibility over them so we'll get to feed them and clean the pen. Can't wait!

Friday, April 11, 2008

A Quiet Day

Today, as a household, we went for a quiet day to Worth Abbey. This is the place "made famous" by BBC2's show 'The Monastery' in 2005. I haven't seen any of that show myself but it was an interesting place to visit regardless. The picture shows a view of the Abbey from the Quiet Garden. And it is in a beautiful area of West Sussex among the trees and the hills whichwere striking if only for their not-Londonesque quality (I may have been in London for too long...)

The day started off with Father Stevens ( a former abbot of the place and resident since 1961) leading a Lectio Divina for our group and then we spent the rest of the day in quiet - absolutely divine! Life has been particularly full-on at the moment with very little space so I really appreciated today. And I think that's true for all three of us, and it was generally quite a fun thing to do as a household. The Quiet Gardens are particularly lovely and I had a gorgeous walk following the stream down through the forest in a glorious peace and did not see another human until I emerged again. My soul was too happy to care about all the mud I was walking through...

Not really knowing what to bring along to a monastery for a quiet day my bag was rather full but actually I found that what I really wanted was to walk around doing nothing else. Suddenly a week long silent retreat makes a lot more sense to me now as a concept as i could have easily carried on and only felt like I had started at the end of the day... Maybe next time? :)

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Sunflowers and snow

The weather really has been all over the place. From flip flops on Friday to snowmen on Sunday and then back into a sunny spell! It was quite something seeing 'our' Narnia lamp post and the magnolia tree behind it covered in snow. There was lots of talk about seedlings and how they would cope with the snow and general pitying of the flowers... I'm pleased I know so many people who are growing their own food. It vicariously feel like I'm doing my bit too even if all I've got growing at the moment in a pepper plant, some kitchen herbs, and a sunflower!

Our friend down the road has declared a sunflower growing war with us... He planted his sunflower the same time HM1 and I did and the whole thing has degenerated into a competition. Actually, to be fair, it did start off in-house with HM1 placing a Buddha statue next to her plant and hers is doing better than mine...:) This must be a well known principle as when I went to a garden centre the other day there were several Buddha statues scattered around amongst the plants! However it has now gone wider and is Sandover House vs York House.

It kind of reminds me of my friends' wedding. They wanted lots of sunflowers at their wedding and asked several of their friends to grow some, so during the run up to the wedding where ever you went people had lots of sunflowers everywhere! It was lovely!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

It's Marathon time of the year again

HM2 is running the London Marathon this year. He did it last year too, which obviously wasn't enough to put him off doing it ever again. I've been admiring him and his running regime. He's gone out in windy and cold and rainy weather, run round Richmond Park TWICE etc. HM1 and I agree that it's challenging enough running to catch the bus so we are very impressed with him indeed.

The day of the Marathon is coming up soon, April 13th, and I just hope it's not going to snow or anything horrible like that! HM2 has managed to raise a lot of money for Christian Aid on both years and that is an excellent reason for doing the run - although it is still well beyond me. :)