Sunday, 1 March 2015

March Challenge

During a recent long weekend visiting family in Scotland I was dismayed not only by the sight of so many people glued to their mobiles but, more importantly, by the realisation of how much time I spend checking for updates on my social media sites.  It has become an embarassing habit.

So the challenge for March is to spend less time on my mobile and more time living.  There will be no more peeking at Facebook, Twitter or Instagram at the beginning and end of each day, during breaks at work, on the bus or in cafes.  There's really no need for it.  Instead I will give my full attention to the people I'm with and the world around me, and confine my internet browsing to half an hour or so in the evening.

I'm hoping it will make me more mindful of my surroundings and reduce my stress levels.

Let's see.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

February Challenge: A Review

Although I didn't succeed in buying absolutely nothing in February I did manage to confine my purchases to pretty much the essentials ie food and drink and bus fares.  Drawing up a list of the contents of my kitchen cupboards helped.  However even after a month of raiding the shelves for ingredients they are still remarkably full.  So, as was the case with January's Dump the Junk Challenge, it is definitely work in progress!

Friday, 20 February 2015

Rising Up

 This morning I visited the Rising Up camp off Frenchay Park Road, where a group of people are protesting against the destruction of prime agricultural land in order to develop the site for the Metrobus scheme.

The background and history of this campaign can be found on the Rising Up website.  No one is denying the importance of public transport but the Metrobus scheme has been discredited, while the land it threatens is Grade 1-3 Best and Most Versatile soil and home to smallholdings and allotments.  All this takes place in Bristol's year as Green Capital of Europe and the United Nations' Year of the Soils!

Back to the camp which is well organised but, after yesterday's rain, is wet and muddy.  The site is dotted with tents pitched on pallets to keep them dry, a communal kitchen with a fire on which to cook and gather round to eat, and a compost loo.  There are variety of shelters in the trees, including one designed as a birdbox, and protestors take it in turns to sleep up in the branches.

I spent an hour or so looking round the site and chatting to the protestors, asking them why they were there and how they were coping with living in the wild.  They are a diverse bunch of individuals but with a single commitment, to protect this piece of precious land from the developers.  I admire their courage and determination and feel slightly ashamed of my reluctance to join them.  I left them a rucksackful of food and a gingerbread cake by way of compensation.

If you live in or around Bristol and would like to support them in some way they have drawn up a list of  ten things you might like to do.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Wolf Hall: The Year in Books

I was only a day late in finishing my January book (We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler).  However, considering I was only a third of the way through it on Friday, I was rather pleased with myself.  On the Saturday and Sunday afternoons I did what I haven't done in a long time.  I curled up under my fleece blanket on the sofa with a mug of tea and read for a few hours.  It was sheer luxury.

So, what did I make of it?  I'm not sure.  I raced through the first few chapters and then ran out of steam.  I only had enough time to read a few pages a day which didn't work well with the non linear narrative.  I had to keep flicking back through the pages to refresh my memory.  It wasn't until the weekend that I go back into the story.  

It's a tricky book to review on account of the dramatic twist it takes fairly early on and which is intrinsic to the story line.  I wouldn't want to spoil it for anyone.  So I'll settle for saying that I enjoyed it, but no more than that.  It's carefully researched, well written and the story moves on apace.  It deals with a fascinating subject.   But I didn't really care very much for any of the characters and it ultimately failed to grip me.

My book for February is Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel.  I bought the hardback copy for £3 from a charity shop some time ago and hoped to have it read by the time the TV series began.  I didn't but watching it has inspired me to pick it up again.  I'm taking it up to Glasgow next weekend to leave it with my daughter so I'll have to get a move on.

I'm joining in The Year in Books with Laura over at Circle of Pine Trees.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

February Challenge

Having got rid of 396 bits of stuff last month I am anxious not to replace them.  So my challenge for February is not to buy anything I don't need.

My original plan was to restrict this to non food items.  However, given that I don't normally buy an awful lot else, and having enough on my shelves and in the freezer to provide us with the foundation for a good many meals, I've decided to extend it to include food.

Part of the reason for this glut is not checking what I have before going out shopping and coming home with stuff already in stock.  So the first step is to make a list.

Meanwhile I have today bought the following:

3 kg of demerara sugar
for a second batch of marmalade
essential to catch the Seville oranges before they disappear from the greengrocers

1 tin of chickpeas
to make a bowl of hummus
 to eat with the loaf of semolina and sesame seed bread I bought at Mark's Bread yesterday

Tonight's dinner (Thai green curry with noodles) will be prepared entirely from stock.

Saturday, 31 January 2015

Dump Your Junk: Day 31

31 marbles.

The end of the challenge.

When I finally cart the last load of junk down to the charity shop next week my house will contain 496 fewer things than it did at the beginning of the month.

To be honest there were times when I wondered whether I'd find enough stuff to get rid of.  It turns out I needn't have worried.  I could carry on dumping for (at least!) another month.  The real challenge lay in sorting through drawers, cupboards and shelves, identifying items, cleaning them, deciding where they should go and disposing of them.

There were days when I struggled to find time to gather enough together, days when I had to play catch up.  But it's been a strangely liberating, almost addictive experience, and one which I vow to continue, in a less formal manner, until I reach a comfortable balance with regard to my possessions.

My thanks to Mrs Green at My Zero Waste for inspiring me to embark on this journey.  

Friday, 30 January 2015

Dump Your Junk: Days 28-30

Once again time has been against me.  So here you have it - three days for the price of one!

Day 28
I've been rifling through my wardrobe and have am horrified to discover how many coat hangers I possess.  I've kept the good ones, but am getting rid of the flimsy ones cashiers automatically slip into your bag.  I now make a point of refusing them, for reasons apparent from the picture above! 

Day 29
A pile of some of the clothes I'm dumping.  My wardrobe is still full of garments I hope to fit into again one day.  They are now on borrowed time.

The hoop at the back is a canopy my younger daughter would have liked suspended over her bed but, for various reasons, it never even emerged from its packaging.  Hey ho!

Day 30
I said I'd discovered a wardrobeful of coat hangers!

I'm not sure what to do with them.  I'll check whether any of our local charity shops would like them.  If not I'm afraid I'll have to bin them.  

Unless anyone has any novel suggestions?