Wednesday, May 31, 2006


It came yesterday and it was a pleasant surprise. The electricity bill, online now as I want to save paper. I do not usually get excited at bills arriving on my doorstep but I wanted to see whether the changes we had made, had in fact had an impact somewhere like on the bill for all to see. It did, bearing in mind that this is for the last 3 months, our supply has gone down to such an extent that I am still in credit after paying the bill off so hopefully, even though prices are going up, my monthly contribution will stay the same. I can therefore say that the lightbulb changes do make a difference as well as turning off the lights and generally being more efficient in our use.

I have also stopped buying computer games. For many reasons, mainly because they cost a lot, rob my kids from family time and they are addictive, I want them to do better things than think a life can be zapped and started all over again when you press a button. I am renting them for the moment so they get a chance to wean themselves off the buying consumer wagon and gradually reduce the use. It also means they can have a better choice, i.e. play with them and then decide whether they are any good.( and I can censure the games as they have to be ordered via me!) They also have to wait for them to arrive which is also good as it means they do not expect instant gratification. I no longer have to go to town in the car using petrol as they arrive by post. This is the in between step. I also no longer will be encouraging games boxes into the house reducing clutter.

I personally do not spend time watching TV on a regular basis, even with 46 channels there is little to tempt me, I am now more in favour of fresh air, reading and enjoying my relationships.

So who would have thought that changing your lightbulbs would have such interesting effects. I dare you, change a lightbulb, change your life and help the planet.

By the way, the boys and I went into town to buy Dad's birthday gifts and the message is getting through, he will getting real useful stuff.......well thought out by the boys as well as handmade cards and a lovely home made birthday cake. I am looking forward to the day very much, I will be cooking his fav meal from scratch and we will really celebrate him and not be rushed into consuming. It was my monthly trip to town, to buy stuff, such as school trousers, spiced tea, school socks and birthday pressies which I cannot get locally. I have become a very focussed shopper, once a month. It feels satisfying.

One of the boys spent some money on a blow up pool, which they have been thoroughly enjoying putting together, filling with cold water and screaming the neighbourhood down..........sad about the fact its plastic, but then again, they have spent 3 hours working things out and splashing in there enjoying themselves. Just think, they could have been playing competitive computer games instead......there is progress. The message is slowly trickling in. Well I am confident that if the media can master advertising drip drip effect, I should have no problem parenting using the same style.

Friday, May 26, 2006


Its going to be tight, I have another 40 miles in my fuel tank and am beginning to feel fuel deprived. Not really but it just goes to show that managing on one tank of fuel is challenging. Its done wonders for our budget though and I am pleased with the fact that we have spent more thinking time than automatic behaviour, jumping in our cars and going out. This will be continued in June I think.

On clothes, I have far too many, will be giving some away again, and have decided to make notes in my diary about the things that I really need and then I can keep a lookout in the charity shops or make plans to make the items myself if that is feasible. I saw an article on how to make kitchen aprons from curtains which sounds feasible but again, I have 4 aprons and need only 2!
My yarn shash also has been put on hold, no more buying and it is pleasing to see what is happening and what space it is creating. I decided that my dog needs a new blanket and I will be using up all those bits and bobs I have saved from projects over the years. It will be gaudy I am sure but then as long as it is cosy the dog will not mind. It will keep me busy also.

To make changes this month I have had to look at the behaviour I have automatically taken on, which is probably induced by watching and reading ads a lot of the time. I have struggled in the past with' having the perfect bidy' but if it fits and I am comfortable in it......

The gardening has become my earth gym and I am quite contented at the moment. That is a first too......always on the lookout for the next adrenaline rush at work, and now I am just happy standing in the polytunnel munching on the odd strawberry that ripens. Feels good.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


Why do we buy certain things and how come we can do so and simply be unaware that we are adding to some consumer addiction.
Its still raining by the way so am focussed on the inside of the house for the moment. I am glad it is raining as the garden really needs it and can turn my hand to my summer and winter clothing. I felt an urge to go and get the colourful summer things out and take a stock of what is actually in my wardrobe. I have managed to fill a complete bin bag with clothing to go to the charity shop; items such as coats that moved with us here 3 years ago and have been hanging in a closet, as well as a suit my husband has not worn for 15 years. I could hang onto it if it was of a certain quality but even that is dubious.
What I gathered from the clearing up is that I have a fetish of black trousers. I have 10 in my collection. How many can I wear at a given time, 1 actually. So I have made a little note in my diary about things not to buy, such as black trousers, coats and black and blue skirts as again, I have a large collection of those in any possible black you can imagine. ( There is only 1 black colour actually). The styles are a little different but they are basically still the same item. When my friend emptied her wardrobe and I had a portion of it, yes you guessed it, I went for the black trousers bringing home another 3 pairs.
How many items does one need in a working wardrobe? Anyone any suggestions as if I could just create a capsule wardrobe that suited me and that was flexible, I might only need a few items each season if I wanted to have something in the fashion colour of the day. That in itself is debatable at the moment.
Do any of you have a list of clothes?

Monday, May 22, 2006


Its been raining now for 3 days, which in a way is great as the plants really need it but it hampers any work outside in the garden.
Lettuce is still on the menu most days, and the chickens are enjoying eating fresh greens that are going over. I need to really manage the amount I grow as a pinch of lettuce seeds every 14 days should be enough to last a family on lettuce. Potatoes should be ready soon and that will be a welcome surprise.
The first strawberry in the tunnel was lovely, not enough there to make a dish with, but the occasional one on my granola makes a welcome change.
Monday's is my ' get the house straight' day and I have been up there polishing mirrors, cleaning out bins and recycling the rubbish. Any moment now, the sun will shine and I will be out there again.
I am enjoying the new way of life, a little slower, a smaller life and the stress is dropping away. I just did not realise how tense I was..........the here and now is on the menu and here and now is simply great.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


I have forgotten how to play. Not only cricket with my boys, or the game of 'monopoly' but to spend time doing what gives me a feeling of wellbeing and peace and joy. So yesterday, I got my big pot out, some yarn and dyed it. It started with white yarn, blue, yellow and red colouring and have ended up with something completely merged, different and unique. Maybe that's how life works out for each of us, take a life, add some colour and you get a unique person. All I had to do was to provide the right environment, softly tend to it and stand back in awe that what I thought would happen actually had not and what I was presented with was a unique colourway. I will never look at my children in the same way.

On a more serious note, I am preparing plants for the village plant sale this weekend, adding to community and hopefully will bring back some plants I do not have in the garden. I have 25 tomatoe plants left, some purple sprouted and red cabbage plants and just cannot bring myself to put them on the compost heap. I am sure it will help some of those ' busy' folk who buy plants. I had fun tending to them but 25 left over is just too much. I have made a note not to plant so many seedling out next year but then you never know do you? There is plenty to do in the garden at the moment but its looking good.

Today I am cultivating and nurturing relationships in my life, sharing soup with a friend so we can catch up with what is happening in our lives. Not far away as my fuel allowance is carefully running out and this trip will be combined with a plastic bottle recycling trip.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


Not sure whether its just me and the winter was really awful, but the festival of blossoms around us is breathtaking. ( probably also not that good for asthma sufferers), but wisteria is great, apple blossoms are plentiful and everything looks simply great. Rain in April. Flowers in May.

I love May, its really makes me feel that spring is here and so for the moment I am enjoying in wonder and awe, the beauty that surrounds me. Most of all, watching all these colours and feeling inspired is entirely free!

Monday, May 15, 2006


There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique.
And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and will be lost. The world will not have it. It is not your business to determine how good it is nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours, clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware of urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.

Martha Graham as told to Choreographer Agnes de Mille in Dance to the Piper.
Source : The Circle of Simplicity by Cecile Andrews

The above spoke to me when I was reading it and wondering what had happened to my joy and happiness and what I had done over the years to compensate. I had to go back in memory to when I was about 6 and completely care free and when my passion for nature and all things tactile was apparent. Gardening, cooking, music, singing, spinning, weaving, crochet, sewing etc all flourished as well as a great sense of compassion. I can pinpoint when it went by the way.......when school came to the forefront and expectations to do this and that. Suppressing all these ideas and energy eventually was not good for me. I have asked myself over the last year why I go shopping, watched TV and spent so much time on the internet. What I am in denial of? For me personally I was denying the things that made me happy, that made me feel connected and that used the unique talents I was given in this lifetime. I am still decluttering and spending time dealing with mistakes pre downshifting. We all have the opportunity to reassess, make different goals and strive towards an authentic expression of how we live.

My son spends much time on the internet talking to his friends .....and it takes some persuasion to get him out there on his bike, playing football and enjoying the sunshine when it is here. Yesterday he went out with a friend and they came back completely soaked to the skin after having fun 'river jumping'. I saw a glimpse of happiness and a carefree child, more worried about how I was going to react to wet trousers, soaked shoes and a child walking barefoot in the house making marks on the floor. How did we get to this?

Add to that the emotional expressions we are no longer encouraged to do, we are not encouraged to talk, to deal with conflicts by words and not deeds etc........can we change this.

My DS who is beginning to formulate an opinion on the world came out with the following comment :
I think Western Europe and the USA will be third world countries in the future, maybe having had everything they could from the earth but missing the point.

He was, I think, explaining that we are missing the point that people come first, then money and then things. Happiness ,is that in anyone's country quota?

Thursday, May 11, 2006


A simple life, where we effortlessly go forward, focussed in the moment, the here and now, at a pace of life that suits our individuality.

Is there time in our lives to find out what that pace is? Do we respond to change of pace in life? What suits us when we are young and vibrant with energy may be different when we are more mature? How does society respond to that? How do we respond to that?

Here and now, a positive moment to be enjoyed, usually we have everything we need in this moment. Open your eyes and see the sun, the green fields, the smile, the laughter, the warmth and compassion of human beings, the fun that surrounds us, the air we breathe, the tears..........remember how good it is to be alive.....

Can we soar high and fly, drifting on an air current, swimming like a dolphin following the current in the ocean, or do we need to paddle and struggle...... I know which image I would like to aspire to.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006


Working out your travel allowance is good, having said I was going to have 1 tank of fuel this month. Its the 10th and I am half way through which is not that promising. I am thinking about transport and how we use it, I am reducing my need to use it and I still feel that 1 tank is a realistic target.
Just to prove a point I met 2 women today who have joined a gym, its costing them:

membership £30.00 per month
travel to town £ 27.00 per month ( thats just fuel based on 3 trips)
Refreshments £ 40.00 per month they meet for lunch after the gym

The aim of one of the women is to look better on the beach this summer. At £ 97.00 per month that is quite a price to pay to look good, and uses some planet's resources. I wonder what they will be doing :
Usual expectation would be rowing. stairwalking, lifting weights, stretching. Oh and they do get a personal trainer as well as working out while they watch big screens and listen to music.

Alternatives could be:

Daily walk to the local shop. ( 2 mile round trip)
carrying shopping home ( in backpack or 2 bags whilst flexing muscle)
Cleaning a couple of floors
Digging the garden.
Cycling about 3 miles on a regular basis.
Dancing for joy to some upbeat music.
Having friends around for a potluck dinner.
Listen to some lovely relaxing music and watch nature through the window or walk in nature every day.
Cost --------very little.
Cost to the planet ----very little

That could save the planet transport costs, it would bring the community together, it would make them fitter and they would benefit from fresh air.

The only thing thats missing is the personal trainer.....I suggest a pair of scales and a weigh in each day, that should do it as would a friendly pat on the shoulder saying, well done.

Am I missing the point here?

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


I have been away for a few days. I would not call it a retreat but a place of quiet and rest which has been very interesting. In the past I would have been far too busy to veen contemplate going away and giving myself time away for reflection but it has been a useful thing to do.
I am sure that our spiritual development gets neglected in a fast moving world. No Tv , radio or newspaper went through my hands, no internet available just a simple furnished room, plentiful nourishing food, good company and time to rest. The gardens were magnificent and there was time to walk around, engage in conversation, fellowship and prayer, all things I would probably have shied away from saying' there simply is no time'.
The nearest we got to that in the past was going on holiday but instead of relaxing, there was a lot of stress in getting ready, making the most of our holiday and actually not appreciating the time we have together, the places we visited and what I call home as my sanctuary.
What was excellent was the fact that I have realised that I spend a lot of the time on the internet, which could be reduced somewhat and that there is time to engage into fellowship and relatiionships with the people around me. I wonder whether I used the internet as a ' fix' to meet with invisible people? Maybe you too can ponder on that question.
I am reading the Circle of Simplicity by Cecile Andrews which is an very thoughful and reflective piece of reading.
Coming home I was surrounded by the usual family hustle and bustle and today I am spending time in the garden to admire what has visibly grown during my absence and to tend to the plants that need some attention.
Gracious living....I feel thats a new concept to explore.

Thursday, May 04, 2006


The lettuces in the raised bed are doing great , I wonder if you can see the bits bitten off by the pheasant....plenty in any case to keep us going.

As a downshifter I am saving money but from time to time we have to invest in some machinery.....what can the above be? Its a beanslicer. I am getting ready for the time when the runner beans are plenty and I start preserving them. My Dh remembers his Mum having one of these and when I spotted it on Ebay I thought it was a bargain. Someone else probably would have thought it was rubbish but the machinery produced for use in the kitchen was manual and heavy. Its bound to last a few years.
I have been reading up on canning but cannot find the equipment over here in the UK. The jars are easy to find but not the pressure canning equipment and the water bath canning equipment. I need to do some more research on that....keep looking you never now when someone unearths something in their attic and wants to recycle it.
Maybe AJ and Matt will find it in Nova Scotia?


How does nature manage to make such perfection? ( Dont answer that one) If you look very closely you can see the little dew drops perfectly balanced on the tips of the leaves.
Now that I am not rushing so much I do have time to stop and stare and capture with the camera what I can see. These are strawberries in a hanging basket, vertical gardening in the polytunnel.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006


On a day like today, full of warm sunshine you just have to bathe in it like the plants do. It has been very busy getting the seedlings out in the garden, hoeing and weeding and watering the plants in. Its coming together. I really do not feel that I am doing that much in the garden, most of it is done automatically and mother earth seems to do the rest.
I have managed to have too many plants so will be sharing them around the neighbourhood.


I am so pleased, so far filled the tank up and have done 29 miles to date. Thats about right on target and I am not planning on using the car for the rest of the week.

The boys shared outdoor work this weekend, one washed the car and let the water run onto the flowerbeds, one did some strimming on weedy areas in the shrub border and little DS helped DH with the additional flowerbed.


Silly beautiful creature loves my luscious lettuces in the polytunnel. They now sport a sort of cerrated edge which is not unbecoming but it looks different and definitely eaten. If its not something like slugs its other creatures. I spotted her in the polytunnel and gave her a bit of a fright....then she strolled as if nothing had happened and just sort of passed me by. Cheeky bird, is all I can say, they follow the chicken coop because of spilled corn and other bits and there is plenty of green stuff for them to eat, but instead....they have to enter the deli of the polytunnel. Wrong season but otherwise I could plan on killing a pheasant in the autumn season.

Monday, May 01, 2006


May Day is a busy day in this household. We had a really fruitful talk yesterday with one of our new friends in the village about pig keeping. It is on the list in the future but will not be for this year. This year's goal is about producing and canning vegetables and fruit and so far its looking promising.
The tomatoe seedlings are plenty and have shot up this week, as have all the squashes, pumpkins, cucumbers and melons. I always grow too much and need to make a list of what we grow and how well it performs.
DH and DS3 are building a raised bed for the squashes so they can ramble in the heat and later in the year I will plant it with onions and broad beans to have some variety.
Guess I am going out there in the sunshine again, admiring the plants, cosseting my future larder projects and reading up about canning and preserving.