Saturday, 22 June 2013

Round up of the month

I know, I know. It is already 22nd June and I have only written one post this month. Atrocious! I will try to rectify this over the next week.

Summer is here and everything is manic. There are so many activities that are only suitable for nice weather, that it is difficult to cram them all in. With only 3 weeks left of school before the summer holidays (we break up early in Leicestershire), every day is filled with performances, sports matches, school trips, school fairs, prize-giving and charity events!

I thought that the pictures below may give you the essence of last week. This was the day when I was straining a large bowl of cooled chicken stock, with my dog as close as she could get hoping that I would drop something. As usual I was multi-tasking, cooking lunch with the work surfaces covered in dirty dishes. I hope you can picture the chaos. I knocked a bottle from a shelf. It hit the ladle, which showered stock everywhere, and overturned the large bowl of stock onto the dog’s head, and all over the cupboards and floor.


I tried my best to clean up the dog whilst she tried her best to clean up the floor, but it was no use. The dog needed a bath, but as it was raining I thought what a good time to walk her and get her clean at the same time. Unfortunately, within 5 minutes of leaving the house, the light shower turned into a full on storm with thunder and heavy rain. I found that my old waterproof coat is no longer waterproof, and that doggy poo-bags are very useful for keeping your mobile dry when every pocket is wet, even though they are environmentally very bad.

On the plus side, the dog was clean J Life throws us good days and bad days, regardless. It doesn’t matter whether you are trying to be an environmental saint, you still get the bad days thrown into the mix.

This week has had some good days. For a start I have learnt lots of new things from all the lovely blogs out there. For instance I found out about Bircher muesli on Everyday Life on a Shoestring. It is 1/3 of a cup of porridge oats mixed with the same amount of milk and yoghurt and left overnight to soften. Fruit and nuts can be added too. It is a delicious, summery replacement for porridge and it saves on energy cooking the oats, which means no saucepan to wash either (win win win!).

On the same blog I found a comment about Geocaching. Somehow there have been 2 million ‘treasure chests’ or caches hidden around the world with clues to help you find them. Am I the only person who didn’t know this? Ok, so the ‘treasures’ are little things that kids love, bouncy balls and party toys, but there is a lot of fun and nettle stings to be had finding them.

Of course having found out that there are caches hidden in the woods behind our house, my youngest was desperate to have a look and hurrah, we found them! Yesterday, I collected my daughter from school, along with 3 of her friends, and walked the long route home with the dog, passing 5 caches. We managed to find 3 and had to give up on 2 as we had no signal. It took us 2 hours to get home and despite all the walking, mud and stings, the girls all wanted to do it again today!

The photo below shows a common weed called Plantain, which is excellent for stopping a nettle sting from stinging. The underside of the leaves have ridges down them, which helps to identify them. Just bruise the leaves and rub on the sting. Essential knowledge if you like the sound of Geocaching! Otherwise wait until Autumn when the nettles have all died back to avoid getting stung.

Then Jo at All The Blue Day has been looking into the dangers of plastic for our health, and sharing her ways of reducing plastic packaging. It is a shock looking around at all the plastic in our home. It is everywhere, especially encasing our food and seems such an enormous task to start to reduce it.


I felt really pleased that we only have 2 to 3 carrier bags of rubbish to throw away each fortnight. But I have been turning a blind eye to the 2 wheelie bins full of recycling, which includes paper, cardboard, glass, tetra-paks and plastics. A lot of this waste is bulky, and often unnecessary, packaging. Even if it does get recycled, it has still used a lot of energy to make and we are paying for something that is of no use to us. We try to reuse as much as we can, especially plastic tubs, which are always useful for storage. I am off to the car-boot sale on Sunday to see if I can find a suitable non-plastic alternative for storage. I also want to replace the plastic bottles we use for carrying water. My friend uses glass bottles with kilner lids, though these are not ideal for kids to take to school. The one metal flask we have, nobody likes. There must be alternatives?

Saturday, 8 June 2013


Sorry that it has been a while since I last posted. Last week I went away camping in Cornwall, so this week has been totally manic trying to catch up with everything.

Well, we are finally getting the sunshine I have been craving for. This is my youngest daughter about to cartwheel down the sand dunes in delight. There is nothing like sun, sea and sand to lift the spirits J

The week didn’t start out sunny, in fact we had a few grim days with very cold nights and even frost. (I didn’t think you got frost in Cornwall!) It was so cold in the tent that we spread an emergency space blanket over us, and slept in socks and jumpers, zipped up to our noses in mummy sleeping bags with blankets piled on top. (In case you ever find yourself in that situation, the emergency space blanket definitely felt warmer, though it rustled every time someone moved.) Luckily the weather broke and the last half of the week was spent on the beach in the sunshine.

I love camping. Despite the traipse to the toilets, getting covered in insect bites, being woken up by the rain, and everything being messy, I really love it. It must be all the fresh air, seeing the stars at night and waking up to the dew on the grass. It feels cosy, all of us together, snuggled in our sleeping bags, with the dog spread-eagled across us (She was only allowed in because she was shivering out in the living area!)

Camping makes you re-consider all the belongings and clutter that seems so necessary for everyday life. There is also much more time spent together, as you can’t shut yourself away for some privacy. So I am thankful to be home and planning more family time. I feel even more aware that a serious de-clutter is required soon and I am being very strict on any new stuff.

I had a small post about population featured on clickonwales just before I went away, which you can read here if you are interested.

I am planning the next post about energy again, especially with the increased energy consumption for us Brits this year, as a result of the pro-longed winter. My direct debit for gas has been increased by more than double, and I’m not alone.

There is a project that will run over the next 2 years and is aiming to save 15% on energy bills for community buildings. When you consider that the price increase predicted by British Gas for this year alone is 15%, then these savings will be needed just to stand still. So if your energy bill is £1,000 for the year, you will need to put aside an additional £150, just for price increases, unless you can reduce the amount of energy you use. I had a friend who would set a budget for his energy bills and if the bills were more than he budgeted for he would switch the gas or electricity off until the budget balanced. This is a fairly extreme scenario, so hopefully I will have some better suggestions than that for you in the next post.