Thursday, September 28, 2006

لن نسكت

It means we will not be silent

Friday, September 22, 2006

sowing the seed

Apologies anyone who is excitedly waiting for news of our allotment. Life took over for a few days and I was having a problem with updating the blog.

Anyway. Having cleared around half of the length of our allotment plot, we have been going back to start thinking about what to do with it. In this photo you can see in the far top left corner the big pile of soil and roots from the weeds (not really even compostable, just rubbish). Closest to the camera is a stake which we used to mark out the plot.

This bed, number 1, is actually our green compost plot. Green manuring is a technique you can use if you don't have a lot of compost, and basically what happens is that you plant a crop over the winter with the idea that it grows and you dig it in before sowing vegetables in the spring. As the green manure decomposes the growing plant can use nutrients released. Here is a more detailed explanation from our friends at HDRA. We have planted a variety of Rye intercropped with a Field Bean. Since we took this photo, we've had heavy rain which has caused the string to snap.

Here I am planting seed. This is a photo taken by Bethany. Quite lovely as I'm sure you'll agree, well done Bethany.

I am trying not to stand on the beds where we've sown the seed, but this is going to be difficult as the weeds start to come back. Hopefully the seedlings will come up in straight lines so we know where they are. Oh look, there's a flying pig.

A couple of other things, the tool to my right in this photo is a type of mattock called an Azadas
which is the kind of thing you see people in Africa using to bash the soil. Behind me is a bit of old plastic we found hanging about in the allotments (not on anyone else's plot I'll quickly say) which we are now using as a mulch to stop the weeds coming up in a bed we've yet to decide what to do with.

This is a photo overlooking our second bed, the first bed and the pile of rubbish (stop me if this is getting boring..). We planted Rocket in this bed, which is a type of winter salad. Not really my choice, but a free sample we received with the magazine Kitchen Garden which is quite an interesting read if you are into that kind of thing.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

catching up

We have been pretty busy with our allotment in the last few weeks. One of the things we have been thinking about is food storage. We have decided that if we think it is unethical to import tinned fruit from miles around the globe, we ought to make more effort to store our own. Further, we decided that our freezer should be used to store meat and that we should experiment with other forms of fruit storage.

This is our first experiment with fruit bottling. My mum had some very old kilner jars and we used them to bottle some of her damsons (that is the big one at the back). We also pureed some apples from the allotment (crop number 3!) and some bought peaches which we have bottled in more modern versions from Lakeland. They always seem to sell these on a 2-for-1 deal but they go off by the time we want to eat them.

We used the dry oven method to sterilise. In brief, you clean the jars in hot water and stick them upside-down in the oven at 150 degrees c and forget about them for a bit. Then you make up some syrup, put the fruit into the (very hot) jars and pour over the syrup. You have to stew the apple and add it to the jars when really hot. You then leave the whole thing in the oven for about an hour. Afterwards you leave to cool and the seal is formed as that happens.

It seemed to work quite well, I guess we'll have to see.

Friday, September 15, 2006


I was recently somewhere with someone talking about an idea of mine.

This someone is now all over the internet publicising his idea when a) the idea was not his, it was mine and b) he isn't doing anything other than talk at the moment.

Yet he has articles in several international publications about 'his' idea and is getting plaudits saying how wonderful he (and his idea is).


Tuesday, September 05, 2006


We went camping for a few days last week in Derbyshire. The campsite is at Crowden near Glossop in High Peak. It rained. A lot.

Anyway, we had a nice time and found some interesting things to do. Quarry Bank Mill is a working Cotton Mill owned by the National Trust in Cheshire. It is very good, although allow a good amount of time to see everything. Some of the machines are very loud.

The National Coal Mining Museum is a fantastic day out. We particularly enjoyed the underground tour where an ex-miner was a tourguide deep into the Caphouse Pit.

Both of these were enough to entertain our six-year old and her parents.

We also went to Holmfirth which is a famous-though-unpretentious village (though that might have been something to do with the weather keeping the tourists away) and the Standedge Canal Tunnel. Unfortunately the visitor centre at Standedge was closed whilst we were there, but maybe that is something to save for the next time.

Monday, September 04, 2006


As many of my friends have blogged, it is really hard to sum up Greenbelt 2006. We camped. We got pretty wet. We stayed up late. We went to a load of talks and a heard various kinds of music.

Strongest memories are of the grace of Shane Claiborne who is a fantastic speaker and also a gentleman. We spoke to a few of the 'star' speakers of GB but Shane went well beyond the call of duty and ate with us. And another thing - he makes his own clothes.

We also spent some time with Dave Andrews who some of you may know that I am a groupie of, and the guys involved in the organisation Servants of Asia's Urban Poor. Dave spoke passionately and convened some interesting seminars on radical christianity. Craig and the guys from Servants are - well, just amazing.

Dave is promoting the concept of a Plan B. Plan A is where you treat others as they treat you. So, if they attack your Twin Towers, you flatten their country.

Plan B - or as Dave calls it, Plan Be - is to live the Beatitudes as if they actually mean something more than words on a bit of paper.

So Shane taught us something about being normal whilst living in an extraordinary way. Dave taught us something about straining forwards to the ideal we continue to dream of - and refusing to be satisfied until we reach it. Interestingly, Dave and Shane have never met, even though they were both at Greenbelt - and are saying similar things. I wonder why that is.

On a negative note, I think that our involvement in the Generous project may be at an end. We've been 'in' since the beginning and have been inspired to change our lifestyle in various ways. This has included thinking about our purchasing, creating a business and so on. I don't want to underestimate the importance of this group on our thinking over the last two years. It was a great moment to see our children's T-shirts being worn by someone at a Generous event when two years ago there was no Freedom Clothing Project or Generous project.

But I feel that we are called to something deeper, something more radical, something less sparkly but more invasive in our lifestyles. I think this might be involved in Dave's Plan Be initiative, but I don't really know.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

we can be

A bunch of us think it is time we gave the bible a bit more of a public airing.

Specifically the beatitudes.

  • Blessed are the poor - or poor in spirit – who do not trust in status or riches
  • Blessed are those who mourn – who grieve over the injustice in the world
  • Blessed are the meek – who get angry but who never get aggressive
  • Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness - who seek justice
  • Blessed are the merciful – who are compassionate to all in need
  • Blessed are the are pure in heart – who are whole-hearted in desire to do right
  • Blessed are the peacemakers – who work for peace in a world at war
  • Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness - who suffer for just causes
Write it on your hands. Inscribe it on your heart.