Thursday, 22 April 2010

We are Master Gardeners! (The first of many on this subject...)

Jam and I went on a course at the weekend to become Master Gardeners through Garden Organic.  It was the first course ever and we had such a great time, learnt so much, met some entertaining people, worked on fabulous ideas, visited a beautiful community garden (pictured) and ate tasty organic lunches.  We are so lucky to be involved in such a fantastic project!  There was so much energy in the room ~ it was a breathe of fresh air!

Our local community gardeners group, which we are members of, has won an Edible Islington award to turn some waste land into allotments.  We are now challenged with finding ten households each to become part of our Master Gardener plan.  The allotment has ten plots, and there is another lady from the gardening group who will become a Master Gardener at the next session, so we shall all work together, with the other Master Gardeners on supporting each other to grow the nation of organic growers! Organic gardening will take over the world!  Especially with things like volcanic eruptions disrupting the import of foods we need to be more aware than ever of what we can grow and do locally!

Everyone can become involved even in the tiniest way through the One Pot Pledge, look it up, it's so simple and such a great starter for becoming addicted to making things grow on your own doorstep.

The name Master Gardener was discussed, as it seemed a little pretentious or odd to say ~ hey I'm a Master Gardener ~ especially if you don't have heaps and heaps of gardening experience.  It is actually about being able to offer advice and support to local people wanting to try growing their own food, organically.  We have been given the tools to provide this advice, supported by Garden Organic.  It is about making other people aware, attending shows and events to promote the cause, going into schools and meetings to give talks and presentations.  Whatever way we can promote it, we will do it!  Like now, right here, on my tiny little blog with only 8 wonderful organic followers ~ are you thinking I'd like to be growing my own organic food?  Oh! If only I had the support of a Master Gardener...well now you do!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

A double edged sword

I'd like to say that it's good news that we haven't had any trouble from the kids recently, but the reason being is a very sad one indeed.

A young man, aged 20 was killed outside the pub around the corner the other night.  The canal has been cordoned off and the roads around us.  The pile of flowers tributed along with a bike, T-shirt, candles etc. are piling up around a lamp-post near the pub.  There is a sadness in the air and all the land across the way has been hacked down as the police look for the murder weapon, they even had a team of divers searching the canal yesterday.

We didn't know the man but apparently he'd just come out of prison and was having his first drink in the pub, there was a dispute between two gangs, he was stabbed to death with a broken golf club outside the pub, died not long after at the hospital, he had led the memorial service for another murder victim not long before, which just highlights how sad it is that this has to happen and keeps happening in this area. Not only does it affect the families and friends involved, but the whole neighbourhood suffers, even the wildlife!

I cannot understand the mentality behind it all, why kids these days have to be in gangs with knives and weapons and kill each other.  I guess now that I am having one of my own it makes me want to understand even more and try to do something to stop it.  I was actually meeting my 20 year old brother, who was coming up from Devon to stay with us for a week as the murder took place, I had to give him other directions because the road had just been cordoned off, I thought something had happened to him at first, it was a terrible feeling and a really great welcome for him - hey brother good to see you, welcome to London, murder city, watch your back!

Monday, 12 April 2010

A Family of Soft Towels

The other morning I was up before Jam, reading one of my numerous pregnancy and birth books, curled up on the sofa.  I somehow managed to get myself worked up into a bit of a tizzy by reading the page on stillbirth, followed by the page on sudden birth.  Jam heard me sniffle and came in to catch me bursting into tears ~ wooooh there honey what's the matter? How long have you been crying alone for? ~ I had to gulp back the tears and a little giggle came out as I sobbed ~ I've been reading this book and... and... you have to read all this and know what to do and... and... we... we... haven't got any clean soft towels, all our towels are...are... hard and old...sob... giggle...sob, Jam coos calmly that we've plenty of time to buy some more towels and everything will be fine.

So the next day I take a day-trip to Birmingham where my Aunty K lives and Mum is staying there for a week with them and it seemed like the perfect chance to see my Mum without having to make the huge journey to Devon.  So imagine my surprise when Aunty K gives me a bag with a big soft blue towel and a child's giraffe beach towel in it!  I told them my story about sobbing on the sofa and we all laughed, I think my Mum cried a little too, what with all the excitement of seeing me pregnant as well!

Now this part is where my family are magically connected.  I came home from work today and there was a huge parcel waiting for me from my gorgeous sister Oli who's residing down under.  In it were two huge soft John Rocha organic red towels, two huge soft white towels and a baby yellow towel with a duck on the hooded corner and a little mitten too!  So now, we are the proud owners of red, white and blue towels and two baby towels and I can use all the old hard towels as covers for the new sofa, so that whatever comes out of baby Squirrel doesn't stain it!!  Nice!

I've never owned really good quality organic cotton towels, I somehow feel all grown up and posh! Life is changing ~ it starts with a towel!!

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Smiles and Hellos

On Saturday some friends were visiting from Brighton and I thought some other friends were visiting in the morning so I went up to the shops to gather ingredients for lunch and to bake cakes and the likes and on my way back was surprised to get 8 in a row of Smiles and Hellos - just a little game I play with myself, where I smile and say hello to someone as I pass and see how many in a row I can get - 8 is a record! It must be the beautiful sunshine making everyone feel so good ~ oh yes, the sunshine fun is coming our way!

The canal is a picture when the weather is good, as long as you ignore the group of kids that are throwing stones at cyclists and boaters, with young children on deck too, the picture is beautiful and it's lovely to see so many smiley faces out and enjoying our wonderful waterways.  The groups of fisherman that come and sit opposite, joking and laughing, not catching anything but sunburn and a glimpse of what it must be like to live on the water.

The weather also seemed to delay all our friends, but that was fine for it gave us time to get on with some work on the boats and most importantly to have a practise of some music for our friend's surprise fancy dress birthday party at the end of the month, where we're going as buskers.  You have to go as something beginning with B... It was brilliant playing music together again, Jam even managed to teach me some things without me getting in a huff and stopping playing, which is a massive breakthrough!

Paddy went on a bender of a boat trip, to play tennis at Regent's Park, but he ended up picking up lots of friends along the way and having a barbie instead of playing tennis, and a big ol' party when he got back.  He called us in the morning apologising and hoping that they hadn't woken us, but we'd been woken instead at 3am by a wrong number calling the landline, and when I said 'no this isn't Josie, do you realise it's 3am in the morning?' I felt awful for the poor chap on the other end who was trying to get hold of his brother because his father had just died!  I pattered back to bed oblivious to all the revelling and I do believe that Paddy's bender is still going on now, ahh, the memories of party times like that!

Sunday morning saw me scrubbing diesel off about 100 ballast bricks that had been in the engine bay of Ithaka, whilst Jam painted a red-oxide paint in the engine bay to seal the metal and help prevent rusting.  Some friends of the landlady are coming to stay for a few days whilst they do some work in London, so I got the bedding ready and we made sure everything was in order.  I feel quite frustrated that I can't do more to help with all the work that needs doing and poor Jam ends up doing all the hard work but I make sure that I cook some good healthy and hearty meals and I think he really appreciates that. 

The lovely Sasha visited in the morning with a huge bag of goodies for me and she was looking great and wearing trousers!  We had a surprise visit in the afternoon from some friends in Bow in their kayaks and luckily for them there was some flapjack left over from the previous day's baking.

Now it's time to turn in and watch some more of David Attenborough's Life in the Undergrowth ;)

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Pesky kids!

Oh dear.  Easter should have been so much fun but all our activities were clouded over by the trouble we had with the local kids.  I guess it only comes to be expected that you will get some trouble from bored kids throwing stones and hurling abuse, when you are surrounded by estates and some of them housing quite rough groups of kids who are causing trouble most days.  What is heartening is the swiftness of the Parks patrols responses and the police in coming to our aide.

So Paddy was on his way back from an eventful trip down the canal with friends and family, when they got stoned by about twenty youths all throwing rocks from the top of the bridge above the tunnel. Quite frightening and extremely dangerous to say the least. 

The next evening he was out and Jam was in the shower when I heard lots of shouting from the kids sitting on the bench opposite Paddy's boat, and it looked like they were looking across at his boat and shouting to someone on our side, I knew something was wrong and ran out, grabbing a broom, and chased the boy away screaming like a banshee 'what the hell do you think you're doing?' He had just finished undoing the ropes that moor the boat up, but luckily the boat is padlocked to the mooring.  I was screaming to Jam to call the police (he was already and the call took so long he had to put the phone down to come to my rescue!) and the boys on the other side were throwing stones at me and shouting 'shut up you slag we've got your laptop anyway' (charming!) - even though they hadn't but that comment alerted a member of the public to stop a passing police van who quickly came to our aide along with the wonderful Parks patrol team, who really are amazing guys. 
I was quite shaken by the event and found myself in tears, but I managed to pull myself together and we showed them where the boy had come across the bridge and onto our side of the mooring.  We called Paddy and he came home and we all tried to calm each other down, whilst munching through the last of the Easter chocolate.

The next day, we made sure all the neighbours and people who could help us were aware of what had been going on, emails galore, then in the afternoon, I was on the mooring on my own when a group of ten younger kids started throwing stones and climbing across the bridge and down onto the mooring.  This time,
I stayed put and didn't go chasing them off, I called the Parks patrol and the police and they were down really quickly and gave the kids a warning. ' How would you like it if someone stood outside your home throwing stones at it?' 'Oh yeah, we hadn't thought of it like that...' yeah right!

That evening we had an impromptu surprise party for our friend Scarlet's birthday, but Jam spent all evening grinding off old pipes the kids were using as footholds on our side of the bridge and painting the fences with anti-climb paint.  Signs were already up but the paint had long since gone.  It had to be done for peace of mind and Jam was finished in time for the birthday cake with an indoor firework as the candle. Fantastic!