Sunday, 23 June 2013

My garden grows...

One of the reasons I have not been posting recently is that I'm in the final stages of my PhD and its unsurprisingly taking precedent!

But here are some pictures of my ever jungle becoming garden! This year I have runner beans, hiding on the left, broad beans (front) and potatoes (behind). Can't wait for harvesting!

This is it now...

A little while ago...

The start of the growing season!

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Fixing things 2

Who knew a broken cooker knob would be so easy to replace?!

Making presents

I love giving people gifts, but I like them to be something they would actually want and use and to be personal to them. For christmas last year I made a couple of things, and here's one; a peg bag for my uncle. He is notoriously difficult to choose a gift for but my Mum helped me out by telling my his beg bag was almost falling apart. So I decided to make him one, in a suitably 'male' fabric!

I used a Kath Kidson pattern and it look some concentration to get the middle opening nice but here is the finished article which I was pretty happy with.

And my uncle liked it so yay! 

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Climate change opinions in relation to natural disasters

Flicking through my reading list today I came across this very interesting comment about what kind of reaction people make to natural disasters and whether it is likely to make people more or less receptive to the idea of climate change and doing something about it. Worth a read!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Break the Bag habit campaign

How do you persuade people to reuse bags instead of that oh so easy 'do you need a bag?' 'yes please' at the checkout?

It's just too easy to take a new bag, too easy to forget to take your own when there are no consequences. But what if retailers were forced to charge for plastic bags like in Ireland, Wales and many European countries?

The Break the Bag habit campaign was started by Keep Britain Tidy, Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), the Marine Conservation Society (MCS) and Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) and calls for Government to introduce a compulsory charge to reduce plastic bag useage. Please think about signing it.

In England plastic bag useage is increasing each year - with 254 given out every second. Just thinking about that for a second (!) and that's 254 bags - that is a crazy amount. Yet after the introduction of the charge in Ireland and Wales plastic bag useage reduced by up to 90%!!! That's incredible, and apparently public support for the charge in wales is 70%. 
(For more info see here.)

Interestingly, when looking up about this campaign, I found a very negative stance about this here. Apparently 'Industry' slams the campaign. Actually its The Packaging and Films Association (Pafa) and Carrier Bag Consortium (CBC) who don't like it, funny that. They are claiming that carrier bags require less resources to make than bags made for multi-use. But they are missing the point (probably on purpose)! If a bag is reused then it doesn't need to constantly be remade.

What do you do when you forget your shopping bags?

I always try to remember to take shopping bags with me so I don't have to take more plastic ones from the shop. I prefer using my cloth ones but I do have a stash of plastic ones too. These almost entirely enter my house via my housemates - boo. Maybe I should put a note on the back of the front door or something to remind them... 

Anyway, where I was actually going with this was, what do you do when you forget your bags?

Option a) take plastic bags from the shop

Option b) manage without

Yesterday I popped into a shop on my way home to buy some milk. That was all I was intending to get and I didn't have a bag with me. I ended up buying two bottles of milk, 5 oranges, one pack of pate, one pack of cheese and two bars of chocolate.

I'll admit I did think about taking a bag but with my car only just outside it felt such a waste. So, I managed to cram the chocolate, cheese, pate and oranges in my handbag, leaving the milk and my purse which I could then not fit into my bag to carry! The till lady looked at me a bit strangely but it felt much better than taking a bag.

Luckily I'm normally on my bike on my way home from work when I normally make unplanned shopping trips so I have a panier with me which I can normally stuff everything in. But I should probably put a rolled up bag into both my panier and hangbag to make sure.

On this occasion I also did consider popping everything back into the basket and unloading it into my car. I wonder whats the craziest amount of shopping someone has managed to carry when forgetting their bag and NOT taking a new one?

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Spring is here!

The vernal equinox (first day of spring) was on March 20th but it still felt pretty wintery then! (As an aside, yes I thought it was always March 21st too, for an explanation see here.) Even the snowdrops poking up their heads seemed to be a bit confused and saddened by the weather. But now it truly feels like spring is here, the last couple of weeks the weather has been much better, in particular I spent a gorgeous day in Scarborough the Saturday before last, daffodils are starting to come out, I've even seen some Hawthorn starting to come into bud, and best of all is the light - now it doesn't get dark till 8pm I no longer have to cycle home in the dark. Big bonus! And it makes me feel like I can do more things in the evening rather than just slump in front of the TV.

So, what to do now its spring?

1. I have just turned the heating down to only half an hour night and morning from an hour night, morning and getting home from work time. In terms of energy usage this is progress but it'll be good when it can go off completely. I live in a terrace which helps keep the heat in which is a bonus. 

2. The washing can go outside again with a realistic chance of drying! I don't have a tumble dryer but dry clothes on airers inside during the winter. Getting home after dark means the washing is cold and dewy when I get back if I put it outside during the winter. But its not ideal drying it inside, I get condensation etc etc so this simple thing makes me happy!

3. I can start planting things :) You probably cant see in the picture above but under the washing are 10 big pots with potatoes planted in them. Can't wait for them to start coming up!

And I've also planted some broad beans which did pretty well last year although I need to be slug and snail vigalent. For some reason we don't seem to get many birds in the yard - despite me putting up a bird feeder, maybe I can encourage them with something and they might eat the snails at the same time?
Here are the beans starting to show. (Sorry about the bad pictures - its the sun's fault so I'm not complaining!)

4. The dreaded spring cleaning ... to be continued...