Friday, 21 May 2010


I'm a Barbie Girl in a Barbie world. I'm all plastic.It's fantastic.

The words are ringing around in my head at the minute. Why ? Because I live in a plastic world. Can't get away from it. I live in a world that is cushioned and padded and far removed from the world others inhabit. I was watching a series of programmes on TV called Blood Sweat and Luxuries which follows a group of young adults who find out how their consumer goods are produced. They have travelled the world taking on jobs in the industries that manufacture our merchandise, working alongside their foreign counterparts. They experience the third world lifestyle which produces the cheap goods we are all enjoying. Things like cheap trainers, gold and jewelry, computers,etc. A large part of the cost of our affordable luxuries is paid for by these workers who are on minimal wages living in squalid conditions. We are unaware of their living conditions because they live half way around the world. Out of sight, out of mind. We have passed laws to prevent our own people being abused by industry. We have raised the nations standard of living. We have health care for all, a benefits system that ensures the weak and frail and unfortunate can enjoy a dignified life, and laws that ensure more than fair working conditions for all., with a legal system to enforce it. Industry it seems has not so much taken this on board and adapted to it, as simply moved on - moved further afield. I used to lament that we had lost our manufacturing industry. Gone were the jobs and opportunities ! Where was all our engineering expertise ! Where were our textiles. But industry is alive and well - just look at the staggering stuff in the shops ! It's just moved abroad to where there are less ( if any ) safeguards and rights afforded the workers. Wages are cheap. Life is cheap. The industrial revolution's human cost is still being paid , just not in our own backyard.

I have taught my daughter to think about these things. I've pointed out that shops hide the true cost of their goods in the homes of workers abroad who can't possibly be paid enough when you consider the cost of the finished clothes on display. I sew, but I can't make anything for the prices they charge for the completed goods which have been shipped halfway round the world and passed through many many hands. How can so many things that were luxuries when I was young have suddenly become so cheap to produce ? Why have we become a throw-away society ? It isn't good for us. We are creating mountains of rubbish which will not break down. What's more we're shipping some of our garbage abroad ! ( I know, I know - we take in other people's garbage as well . Nuclear radioactive stuff !!! Stuff I don't want to know about or think about because my brain is too small - and that's why it's happening. There's not enough people to complain. ) There are children in foreign lands smashing up old computers and electrical goods, trying to get tiny components out to sell. Fibres of wire, tiny dots of something on a computer thingummy ( circuit board ? ) are worth the price of children running barefoot through broken glass and sharp fragments of plastic and goodness knows what else. These mountains of garbage are in places where the people have no knowledge of their potential hazards, and they don't have a say in whether the stuff gets dumped there or not. These countries are poor and are dependant on us for jobs and I dare say we pay them to take our garbage. But it means it's out of our sight.

It means we are not fully aware of the consequences of our actions or the actions of big businesses. I think it's important to start being more aware of the consequences of our purchases on the world. And this is happening. This programme has gone a long way towards making people more aware - anyone who watched it, anyway. Now we just need to have the message repeated every so often. Perhaps we are waking up. But we all have to vote with our wallets. That is the only message big companies and businesses hear.

I was looking on the Huffington Post site and an interview of Thich Nhat Hanh by Marianne Schnall caught my attention. (posted 21 May 2010 )

When we take time for relaxation and meditation, and turn off the constant drumbeat of advertising we've been inviting into our home, we find we actually need very little to be happy. We already have so many conditions for happiness that cost us nothing at all. Just take our eyes, for example. Our eyes are miraculous, they are like a pair of jewels. We only need to open them to see the blue sky, fluffy white clouds, beautiful flowers, the faces of our loved ones. Or our ears; anytime we like we can take in the sound of inspiring music, of bird songs, of a burbling stream, of the wind whistling through the pine trees. These are wonders of life, accessible to us at any moment through our eyes and ears. Our body's still healthy, our legs are healthy, and these are wonders in our very own body.

Well said indeed !

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Being Happy

I was rereading some entries for earlier in the year when I was at my wits end and it strikes me I'm in a really good place right now. I'm taking the view that I have my miracle. I am healthy and alive, and I'm really enjoying it. I have been in a dark place and that was a blessing in its own way. How can you appreciate how good something is if you haven't experienced anything else ? How can you recognise warmth if it's all you've ever felt? You need to experience cold to draw a comparison, to have its quality drawn to your attention. I am very grateful to be here, to be alive, to have woken to this lovely sunny, crisp morning full of possibilities. The sun is glistening off the lawn and a group of 5 ducks has just landed in front of my window.Oops, they're off again ! There's so much activity out there. There's a wren nesting in last years floral basket that I left out over the winter and is sitting on a table over by my veg. patch. I pulled the dead plants out, leaving a little hole in the side and a wren took up residence before I did anything else with it. My untidiness has provided a home for a family ! Talk about making a virtue out of a vice - namely lazyness and untidiness ! There's so much life out there that it quickens my heart to look on it.

It's too nice a day to waste inside, so the plan is to do more work in the garden and soak up the sunshine while I can. I have some baby plants to put into my beds, and some new seeds to sow. It's all so exciting !

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Gardening For This Beginner

May is nearly, though not quite half way through, but we still have frosts, and had one last night. I have started off some seedlings and my gardening year starts here. I'm starting late, but at least I'm starting ! I was given a very pretty journal for valentines day by my husband and I'm recording all things gardening in it. So far that's included a weather report since the beginning of May. It also contains my plan for the garden so that I have a crop rotation record for the future. I grew things in the beds last year - my first year of veg growing - but I didn't understand the crop rotation thing then, and my soil was brand new, so vegetable growing seriously starts this year, here and now. I have 4 beds and will allocate one each for

  1. onions and greens ( salads )

  2. roots

  3. legumes (peas and beans )

  4. brassica's ( most important for cancer fighting properties )

I will also have pots of edible flowers for my salads - I've already had some violets which I sprinkled over an avocado salad and they looked delightful. I was really pleased with myself. Unfortunately the weather had turned cold and they lost a lot of their scent by the time thought about using them and picked them.

On Bank Holiday Monday I finally got my act together and started seeds off in pots and trays. The following is what I planted :-

Tray 1

  1. Kale - Scarlet, Dwarf Green Curled, and Nero de Toscana

  2. Kohl Rabi

  3. Turnip

Tray 2

  1. Swiss Chard

  2. Swede

  3. Sprouting Broccoli

  4. Nasturtium

Tray 3

  1. Peppers - sweet, and hot

  2. Leeks

Tray 4

  1. Tomato - Moneymaker

Tray 5

  1. Peas - Mangetout

Tray 6

  1. Peas - Hurst Green Shaft ( Sugar snap ) and Kelvedon

Tray 7

  1. Broad Beans

  2. Dwarf Beans

Tray 8

  1. Beetroot

Tray 9

  1. Sunflower seeds for micro-greens

Trays 10, 11, and 12

  1. Peas - as before

A tray of broad beans in pots.

So far some have come up, but not others. I'm putting them out in the greenhouse - a tiny plastic and tin thing - during the day and bringing them into the shed at night. I can't wait till they're ready to stay out all the time and be put in the ground. My beds are looking empty at the moment, but that won't last long I hope.

Monday, 10 May 2010

Scan Results Time

I have just had my latest scan and the results are in. I am really relieved. The scan shows no change. Everything is stable. I was really frightened that it had woken up. I have been very stressed lately and haven't been looking after myself so well. So to say I'm relieved is an understatement. So I'm going to make a fresh start ( how many times do I say that ?!) and my healthy eating demo was just the kick up the bum I needed. So here's to the next 6 months !!

A New Challenge

I have just given my first demonstration of juicing, and healthy recipe making to a small group of women, hand selected by my friend who teaches and demonstrates flower arranging and floristry techniques. And it seemed to go well. So well that they have asked me to come back and teach them in a series of 2 hourly sessions. The drinks and recipes I demonstrated on the day are as follows :-

  1. a power packed porridge
  2. wheatgrass and apple juice
  3. apple and beetroot juice
  4. a virgin mary
  5. a really good vegetable juice - recipe by Nigel Slater
  6. a mango smoothie
  7. a mango sorbet
  8. a green smoothie
  9. a quick almond nut milk
  10. a courgette hummus.
  11. courgette pasta
  12. sprouting seeds

For lunch I prepared and served :-

  1. Celeriac, carrot, and pepper salad with nut mayonaise
  2. cauliflower cous cous
  3. quinoa salad
  4. green salad with raspberries
  5. a nut "feta" cheese
  6. lentil pate
  7. mushroom pate
  8. assorted sprouted seeds
  9. no wheat mixed seed bread
  10. sesame "raw" crackers

My friend has encouraged me to do some cookery classes, and expand on the day in 2 hourly chunks which I have agreed to . And I have suggested a healthy eating club similar to a book club, where we share healthy recipes and ideas. I'll just have to see what develops and take it one step at a time. I'm just pleased the day went well. I can't remember what I said, and the demonstrations are hazy in my mind. I was understandably nervous. But the feedback was very positive and I had a great day.