Wednesday, 30 July 2008

How to Recycle Plastic if you live in Bristol

On my way to the pub last evening my attention was drawn to our local Aldi car park by a loud rattling noise. I peered through the bushes to discover that it was caused by a Recresco van emptying the plastic recycling container. I've never given much thought to how the container is emptied but I now know that this is achieved by connecting it to the lorry with a large plastic pipe and sucking the bottles out into the lorry where they are compressed. Apparently plastic is very expensive to recycle on account of its volume, and compressing it to a tenth of its original size makes collecting and transporting more efficient and therefore more economic.

I'd been minded to contact Bristol City Council to clarify exactly what kind of plastic I could legitimately place in the recycling container, but seeing the Recresco lorry prompted me to go straight to them instead. Their website was most informative and I have pasted below their definitive instructions regarding the recycling of plastic using their containers. This has cheered me up as it allows me to recycle even more than I thought I could!


This is a question we are asked a lot! It's difficult to list every single type of plastic container, there's just too many. So here is a guide:

We would like Plastic containers with ID numbers 1-2 as long as they are not excluded in the list below. If there is no Plastic ID on the item, the general rule, “Plastic Bottles” should be followed. This is because most plastic bottles are type 1 or 2. So you can be fairly certain that your plastic bottle will be acceptable. Any of the items described above can be recycled regardless of whether it has been recycled previously, that’s the great thing about recycling!
We do not accept:

- Plastic Type 3, 4, 5, 6, 7,
- Plastic Toys
- Plastic Bags
- Cling Film or Bubble Wrap
- Non Plastic Items
- Video Cassettes- Drain Pipe
Any items that do not fit through the round opening in the bank as these damage our machinery.

Tuesday, 29 July 2008

The Tate Bedminster

I mentioned in my birthday blog that I had received a card from my younger daughter which I was going to stick up on my kitchen cupboard door. So I thought I'd lead a guided tour around my existing collection.

I'm starting with the corner cupboard. Top left is a list of Riverford organic fruit and vegetable boxes, out of date as they now offer many more than the three boxes featured. They have an excellent website from which I order online. A couple of weeks ago we ordered our first meat box. Some of it's still in the freezer but what we've eaten so far has been excellent, the porchetta being particularly delicious.

Immediately below is a Corn Street Market postcard which I will deal with later.

Bottom left is our refuse collection schedule. Bristol's making serious attempts to reduce the amount of refuse that ends up in its landfill sites. We have a weekly kerbside collection (paper, cardboard, glass, cans, kitchen foil, battery, shoes, rags) and a kitchen waste collection. All other rubbish is collected fortnightly. Christmas trees are collected in January. Plastic bottles have to be taken to collection points in supermarket car parks (why do they make it so difficult for pedestrian recyclers who have to take their lives in their hands to reach the bins?). A recent development is the tetrapak recyling point in the Asda car park. The recycling website is reasonably helpful.

Bottom right is a flyer for St Nicholas Market. This is a vibrant shopping centre in the heart of Bristol. Running right through the centre is a row of stalls selling the most tempting food from around the world - pasta from Italy, olives from the Mediterranean, pies from Bristol, Jamaican curries, fresh soup and salads, wheat grass juices, North African couscous, local sausages, Portuguese stews and Welsh cheese. Oh and round the corner there are more curries, this time from India, and a whole food cafe. I sometimes pop in for lunch on Wednesday and am spoilt for choice.

On the open cupboard door is a picture of Nelson Mandela, one of my heroes, about whom I blogged on his recent 90th birthday. What more can I say? The man is truly a legend. I keep his picture here to remind me to continue to strive to be one of that great generation.

The two postcards below were picked up at Bristol's recent Ethical Expo. They advertise Fig1 a shop in Totterdown which sells fairly traded goods. I'm very rarely in that part of town so I can't claim to have shopped there but I liked the artwork and the messages they illustrate.

So there it is. Part 1 of my collection. Part 2 to follow.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Brushing for the Planet

Ever since I read Amost Mrs Average's blog about her wooden toothbrushes I have been worrying about the impact my dental hygiene routine has been having on the planet. I almost certainly don't change my toothbrush as often as is recommended, but when I do it eventually ends up in our local landfill. I use the word 'eventually' advisedly as we keep a supply of old toothbrushes to help in cleaning things with grooves and other inaccessible recesses. Mrs A had discovered wooden toothbrushes and had just ordered one for each member of her family. I wonder how she is getting on with them. I admired the concept but baulked at the price tag of £4.25.

So I continued using my nasty plastic brush until today when I came across the Preserve toothbrush in our local Sainsburys. This brush is made from recycled plastic including yogurt cups from a nearby supplier. It comes with a reusable travel case with ventilation holes. When it's time to replace it you can send the brush and its case back to Preserve to be recycled into plastic lumber for picnic tables, boardwalks and decks. And it only cost £1.99 (although I seem to remember it being on special offer at the moment).

To be fair Mrs A did mention the Preserve brush in her blog but was put off it by the need to ship it back to the States for recycling. Well she need worry no longer because the bush and case can now be returned to an address in Haverhill.

I bought two brushes for the girls for their trip to France. I shall be buying another for myself as soon as my current brush is too worn out to be any longer effective

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Summer Street Party

Inspired by BeanSprouts' recent offering on the subject of her local farmer's market, I thought I would post a few lines about our local Sunday market and illustrate it with some photos taken on my new camera (see Coolpix below).

Our market is held every Sunday in the car park behind the Tobacco Factory. It's an interesting mix of food, clothes, jewellery, art, cleaning products etc. There are a few regulars and other that surprise us. It used to be held once a month but then increased to weekly. I feared this might be too much to hope for, but it appears that I was wrong, and it continues to thrive, even in the most inclement weather.

I don't make it every Sunday but when I do my favourite stalls are those selling food - cheese, jams & pickles, coffee, tea, olives and pies, but I have from time to time picked up various pieces of jewellery as gifts. The best thing about local markets, apart from the quality and freshness of the food, is the opportunity to talk to the producers about what they are selling. They are always very passionate about their wares and, in the case of food, are a mine of information about how to store and prepare it.

Today was a special Summer Street Party. The road outside the car park was closed and there were extra stalls set up along the pavements including a barbecue and bar, with tables and chairs sprawled across the street. It was hot and sunny, Fromage en Feu were playing the tango and the party was in full swing.

If I can remember how to set it up there are photos on my Flickr slideshow to the right, and for those within sustainable transport reach of the Tobacco Factory there are two more Summer Street Parties on from 10:30 am t 4:30 pm on 17 August and 21 September respectively.


Yesterday Alan bought me my birthday present - a new camera. My old camera broke a couple of years ago and I have been borrowing the girls' camera on and off ever since, much to their annoyance.

But now I have one of my own again - a Nikon Coolpix P50 - which is small enough to fit in my handbag and which takes good enough photos for my purposes ie to illustrate this blog. I took a few photos on the way home including this one of the window in the Arnolfini bookshop.

When I was Hungry ...

On Thursday evening my elder daughter took part in a performance of At the Border, an oratorio composed as a sequel to Tippett's A Child of our Time, which she had performed at Easter.

The oratorio was composed by Richard Barnard and written by Peter Spafford, in collaboration with students from my daughter's school. It is, according to the programme, a piece about the effects of ethnic hatred and violence whose aim is to help the students, and the audience, to a better understanding of the plight of those who are forced to flee their homes as a result of war, political oppression or religious persecution.

I was moved by the performance which skillfully combined what I imagine to be the traditional oratorio form with children's songs, an electro-acoustic piece using sound recordings taken at Temple Meads station, a traditional English ballad and a Zimbabwean chorus. The script dealt sympathetically yet honestly with the reasons that force refugees to leave their homes and the reception they receive in the communities in which they seek refuge.

Back in my country, men with guns.
Here in my country, men with forms.

To flee with your life from a land of pain
To lose your life in a land of pain.

In no man's land I become no one,
Future barred as my past fades.

It made for uncomfortable listening but, here atleast, the tide turns when a refugee is offered a token of acceptance, a cauliflower from an allotment!

I can never grasp your way of life.
Yet it clings to my skin changing what is within.
Once there were two countries,
The one in my heart, the one where I live.
Now there are two countries in my heart.

We shall find peace.
We shall see the sky sparkling with diamonds.

I always enjoy listening to my daughters perform, even if they are 'only' one musician in an orchestra. I played the piano at school which, compared to the violin and viola my girls play, is generally a solitary instrument, and I have always envied them the experience of being part of a larger sound.

PS For Steve Broadway's account of the same performance see at the border.

Monday, 21 July 2008

Happy Birthday to Me!

Today is my 49th birthday. It's been a funny old day. I had to be up early to make a special packed lunch for my younger daughter who was setting off on a week's school trip to Wales. While I was cutting the sandwiches an old friend rang and sang Happy Birthday to me over the phone. My younger daughter gave me a retro card which reads 'Oh My God! My Mother Was Right About Everything!' which I shall add to the collection on my kitchen cupboard. She also gave me two bars of Toblerone with a promise of something else to follow when she returns (and, presumably, has saved up enough money!). I found a pile of cards waiting for me when I got to work but didn't take in any cakes/biscuits as I had to leave early to take my daughter to catch her coach and then on to a (boring) course in the afternoon. Fortunately it ended an hour earlier than scheduled and, thanks to a lift from a friend, I was home in good time. My elder daughter had spent all day making me a fabulous cake (an Autumnal Birthday Cake from Magnolia via Nigella Lawson) and a classy homemade card. She gave me a CD of the music from Once, one of my favourite films this year. Our French exchange family phoned from Bordeaux and my sister phoned from Edinburgh. Alan came home and poured me a glass of white wine and has just called me through for dinner. Not a bad day after all.

PS There would be photos of all of the above but our camera's broken and the girls' one is in Wales. However, Alan is going to buy me one for my birthday. He just hasn't decided which one yet.

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

I am Striking

Well ... maybe not in the supermodel sense of the word, but as in taking industrial action.

Although a socialist since I was old enough to hold political opinions, I've only relatively recently joined a union. There was, unsurprisingly, no union action in the firm of solicitors I worked for in the City of London! I'm not an active member. Indeed I must confess that I didn't vote in the strike ballot. The envelope remained unopened until after the deadline had passed. I'm not sure I 'd have voted to strike. However, as a staunch believer in democracy, I 'm ruled by the majority decision and have withdrawn my labour for today and tomorrow.

This morning I joined a couple of hundred other strikers for a march from Castle Park to College Green. The sun shone and motorists beeped in support. There were a couple of rallying speeches denouncing the government and congratulating us on our solidarity, and then we sang a song. It was called 'Soidarity Forever' and was sung to the tune of 'John Brown's Body'. The words were hilarious, the second verse in particular, which went like this:

Is there aught we hold in common with the greedy parasite
Who would lash us into serfdom and would crush us with his might?
Is there anything left for us but to organise and fight?
For the Union makes us strong.'

Rousing stuff eh?

I'm not convinced the strike will have the desired effect. However, it did feel good to have joined with others (mostly women I noted) in letting the government know how strongly we feel about our 2.45% pay award.

PS It's my sister's birthday today. Happy Birthday Morv!

Saturday, 12 July 2008

The End of An Era

This evenng I attended a party to mark the closure of our local post office. Despite considerable opposition the government did not back down from its decision to close numerous local post offices. Our postmaster shut shop at 1 pm on Wednesday 9 July and the signs came down the following day.

Hang on a minute. A party to celebrate the end of a livelihood? Yes indeed. Instead of just walking away our postmaster threw a party to acknowledge the support he had received from the local community. It was a bring and share event in the church across the road, with food and wine, music and singing. We arrived some time after it had started, not knowing what to expect, and were surprised by the attendance - over a hundred people of all ages and backgrounds, from an elderly man in a wheelchair to a babe in arms. Despite the sadness of the occasion this was a community come together to show appreciation for an institution and a person who have served us well over the years.

I wish him well whatever happens next.

Sunday, 6 July 2008


I spent all of yesterday in retreat with a dozen or so women in a boathouse on the Floating Harbour. In the afternoon we spent an hour or so in creative activity. I chose to flick through a couple of magazines, cut out images that apealed to me and create a collage to illustrate who I am. This is the finished result.

I brought it home and showed it to my elder daughter, who giggled and remarked on the number of images of food!

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

In Praise of Morris

William Morris said “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”.

I first read these words in the window of a shop down a side street in St Ives and they struck me then, as now, as being a very wise principle by which to manage one's possessions.

I am, by nature, an inveterate hoarder, the result of which is a cluttered house. Friends are kind enough to say it looks lived in but I know it's often a mess. Not only is it difficult to keep clean but it's also a terrible waste of stuff that would be better off elsewhere.

Lately I've been attempting to 'downsize', in other words, get rid of stuff. It's not always easy but there is a real sense of liberation in filling a charity shop bag and carrying it out the front door.

The other side of the equation is attempting not to acquire any more stuff to take its place. This is harder but William Morris' maxim might help.