Thursday 28 October 2010

cockroach nation

We live in a throw -away land. We chuck what we don't want on the dustheap and replace it with something new. Trouble is that dustheap has grown so large it's started to seep into our lives. It’s poisoning our water, contaminating our bodies, killing off the natural world. We're not paying attention: we’re distracted by the soap ads and the shiny stars and power figures on our screen, busy upholding a mindset that says we have to possess more and more, instead of getting back into balance - teaching ourselves to live with less, value what we have and transform what we no longer need.

The stats we know: we produce more than twice the amount of food we actually consume and waste a third of the foodstuffs we buy. We eat a highly extravagant diet, high in meat and dairy. We eat in profligate take-aways and restaurants, where sandwich crusts are routinely discarded by the ton each day. There are millions out there starving and millions here overeating. But, even though we might address these things personally, it's not just consumers who throw food away, or supermarkets that encourage people to buy more, restricted by sell-by dates, encouraged by special offers. Over-production is the key element to the global food industry: the more you waste, the more you need to produce, the more profit corporations can make. While you are eating your fish and chips, happy in the thought the beef fat it's cooked in is going to become bio-diesel, 40 to 60% of all fish caught in Europe are being discarded - either because they are the wrong size, species, or because of the ill-governed European quota system.

Walk along the edges of the potato and onion fields in East Anglia and you will find thousands of assorted, small, marked, "wrong-sized" vegetables that didn't make the grade going to rot in the winter rains.

Or maybe you won't. Maybe someone else got smart and has started to pick them up.
Getting smart about food waste is a point you get to when those mind-mesmerizing stats become action.. Last summer I was working for the waste management social enterprise Bright Green at the Latitude Festival. I was standing with Mark, like a pair of vigilante vultures at the Recycling Station in the Families camp site, occasionally pouncing on those should-know-better-slouchers who slunk past and left their bin bags unsorted. My eyes widened as tents, chairs, mattresses, clothes, sheets were dumped in a great pile without a quiver of shame. But most shocking all what was going into the food waste bin. At some point I cracked as I witnessed a whole side of smoked salmon being tossed in amongst the garbage: I put my hand into the bin and started to pull back out supermarket packs of organic avocados, strawberries, half-full bottles of wine, whole loaves of bread. We dined on it for a week.

Later that winter I ate my first roadkill . I picked up a dead pheasant, and like Alice in Wonderland found myself entering another world. Eat Me! said the bird in my hand. It's a boundary you cross. We live in a world where these boundaries keep us separate from real earthly life where death and dirt and gratitude for everything on earth lives. Don't go there, says our moral upbringing. This not your property, not your business, not nice, or proper or clean.

Freegans cross this line everyday; some because they are hungry and poor, some because they are activists, like Tristram Stuart ( Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal ) and working to put a crooked thing straight. Stuart has fed himself on throw-away food since he was a student and recycles food waste by keeping pigs and chickens in his back garden in Sussex (a practice now forbidden on a commercial scale by European law).

In the space of just two hours in December 2009, in partnership with FareShare, Save the Children, ActionAid, and This is Rubbish, he and his team fed 5000 people in Trafalgar Square with free hot curry, bicycle-churned smoothies, and three tonnes of fresh groceries, using only ingredients that otherwise would have been wasted. The Feeding the 5000 team have now launched A Taste of Freedom, turning unwanted quality fruit into fruit-based ice-cream-like treats that kids find irresistible, contributes to their 5-a-day, and raises awareness about food waste. In cities around the UK (including Norwich) the social enterprise Foodcycle collects waste food from local outlets, cooks it in unused professional kitchens and redistributes it to those who need it most.
When I looked at that salmon amongst the wet sandwiches and coffee cups and hooked it out, waste was suddenly not about stats. It was real.

Somewhere where I had been living in my own micro-managed world, shut off conveniently from everyone else, the line broke. It was not just my personal waste problem, it was all our problem. That’s when I found the free food on my plate. You think it’s about giving, but actually it’s about receiving.

You think it’s just physical, but it isn’t, it’s metaphysical. Which is why ancient and native cultures have scavenger gods in their pantheons: raven, coyote, scarab beetle, jackal, vulture, condor.
May we be truly thankful.

In order to reconfigure our world, we have to let go and let in, enter the process of transformation. We have to enter into the kinds of exchange that occur naturally within the soil and in our compost heaps. This is not just about doing the four Rubbish Rs and getting smart about anaerobic digestion. We have to become alchemical beings ourselves, stoking our inner furnaces with old thoughts, emotional patterns, ways of being, fuelling our lives with our own refuse. Within our culture, the poet and activist Gary Snyder wrote in The Real Work, we should act as fungi and insects in mature forests, liberating energy from the dead trees and animals that lie on the forest floor. We need to liberate energy from the past and give energy to the living, and thus become symbionts rather than parasites on the earth.

This week I came home with my hands full of food that people had given me out of the kindness of their hearts: perfumed quinces, Japanese burdock, home-made chutney and ginger cordial, beyond-its-sell-by date pesto and avocado oil, a bottle of red wine, tomatoes that had split in the rain. I came home with sweet chestnuts and wind-fall apples from the neighbourhood trees in my pocket. I came home with an unexpected golden afternoon, with a glowing half-moon appearing in the darkening sky, with a fresh breeze. I sat down to supper and everything tasted good. I licked my plate clean. Nothing went to waste.

(originally posted on the collective Transition blog, This Low Carbon Life for a week on Waste 2011)

Photos: Rubbish pic by Reuters; pheasant on the road; wearing a Proper Waster Sort Your S**T Crew T-shirt from Bright Green.

Wednesday 20 October 2010

A Lifeboat moment

Last night 25 people gathered in a downtown pub in a market town in the East Anglian borderlands. It was Tuesday night and raining cats and dogs and the pub was almost empty. The backroom however was full: heads were craning forwards to tune into the mood of the moment. The big cuts were about to be announced (at 12.30pm today) and the Sustainable Bungay sub-group on Economics and Livelihoods was about to be launched.

"We need to learn skills with working together, said Gary Alexander who had been invited to share insights about visioning a sustainable community outlined in his booklet, Sustainable Diss. Here is the Good News, he said and outlined what the town c.2030 had achieved and how people only got into exchange and relocalisation when they had no other choice.

When we discussed our imminent future we were sharing the Bad News. Wheat will go from £150 to £700 a tonnne in 10 years, said Glenn, a farm manager, and filled us in on how tractors now use more fuel, so that carbon emissions can be reduced. David told us from his experience in Africa how it takes two years to reskill a community to do small-scale farming. Cathy "in the spirit of the gift economy" brought some chard from her garden to share.

"Are you coming to our Apple lunch?" asked Netta from Sustainable Beccles.
"If the exhaust hasn't fallen off the car!" I laughed, and thought about the cost of petrol and how hard it's getting to travel from place to place.

It's difficult to see how we can effect change in our economic structure, not just because we lack financial or political power, but because we have been distracted for aeons from looking at the truth of the matter. We prefer ideas to reality. We like to handle facts as if they are our property and preside over them like CEOs. The fact is we are small and the iceberg that looms before us is large and invisible and the best response I can think of right now is what I was doing one hour earlier in Josiah and Elinor's kitchen, mapping out our Transition workshop alongside Iris (almost one) eating a biscuit, playing swords with Reuben and Tristram, and chopping up some (local organic) veg for dinner.

It's cold outside, but in the kitchen it felt good. We were all in Transition together, and that counts in ways you can't evaluate on any form. The pub was warm too, but disquieted.

"490,000 public sector jobs are going to be axed," said Josiah by the bar as he invited us to debate the issues around small wooden tables. What were we going to do as a community to build an infrastructure, to give each other a hand, to start up small enterprises within a hostile atmosphere?

He brought a paper by Tom Crompton (WWF) to our attention. It was written for Common Cause and argues that what is really required at this point is a change of values:

"The values that must be strengthened – values that are commonly held and which can be brought to the fore – include: empathy towards those who are facing the effects of humanitarian and environmental crises, concern for future generations, and recognition that human prosperity resides in relationships – both with one another and with the natural world. Undoubtedly these are values that have been weakened – and often even derided – in modern culture. They are not, for example, values that are fostered by treating people as if they are, above all else, consumers. But they are values that have an ancient and noble history within Western thinking, and they still fundamentally inform much public debate. They are there to be activated and strengthened. We believe that everyone – individual citizens, civil society organisations, government and business – can play an active role in strengthening them. Indeed, they are values that must be championed if we are to uncover the collective will to deal with today’s profound global challenges. "

The problem with this is not its premise, but it's position. We are used to seeing the bigger picture from the outside with our minds rather than from within the situation with our actions. You stupid human what a mess you have made! You wrong people need to do this and that. Change your behaviour! Shift that consciousness!

No matter how intelligent or visionary or noble our words, we remain above the situation. We're not in the thick of it, saying how it feels, speaking as one of those stupid humans who have been trained to think that how we live is normal and OK and "civilised". We're not seeing that when our assumptions are challenged we either start commanding the idea of reality ("Pepsi and ASDA now say our agriculture is unsustainable") or start inventing happy endings for ourselves.

Somewhere in our scaredy-cat minds, we're thinking . . . any minute now the cavalry will come and I'll be rescued. I'll win the lottery. Someone I don't know will sponsor me, pay for me, let me off the hook. I'm thinking one day I'll be able to go back to America, to Mexico, my books will sell, I'll wake up one morning and my bones won't creak anymore. One day everything will be all right. And even though the world is crashing around our ears and I know my agent won't call and I'll never be able to fly or put my legs over my head again like Iris, I'm holding out somewhere. We all are. And that somewhere isn't here in the room.

This is it. We are the people we are waiting for.

When I woke up with this morning I realised. Those Titanic thoughts have to go, or we won't make the lifeboat. Gotta get real.

Poster for Green Drinks: half a cider at the Green Dragon; Cathy's abundance of chard and damsons at the Library Community garden; discussing the future

Tuesday 19 October 2010

Life at 13 Degrees

Suddenly it came as it always comes one moment in October. I was standing in my neighbour's garden at six in the morning in the dark with the alarm bells ringing wondering whether there was a burglar in the house (they were away) and I realised . . .

"Jesus, it's COLD!"

This time last year as we were warming up to our Low Carbon theme there was a flurry of emails in the TN2 google group about that key peak oil-and-climate-change subject, central heating. We were all putting off the switch-on moment, swapping stories of waterbottles, woollies and stern morale. Stuff it said Elena at some point in the October shift. It's 14 degrees in the living room and it's going on.

We persevered, keeping ours off, only switching it on to dry clothes when there was no wind or sun outside, as the gauge slipped further and further down, hitting an all time low around February at 7 degrees. We wanted to experience what winter was like without oil. Dealing with the cold formed the backbone of all our Transition Circle meetings. And something in those communications, our ability to write about it on the blog, enabled us to keep going. What would this year be like?

Like all physical memories, you tend to forget the harshness of winter when it's summer, even a damp, grey English one. Yesterday as I walked down the lane, I couldn't go into Indian summer denial anymore, it was a serious autumn day. The ivy flowers were buzzing with the last of the summer insects: bees, hoverflies, wasps, hornets. The hedgerows were crackling with blackbirds after the haws. I was wearing two cardigans. When I got back from posting my blog, Mark was energetically sawing up dead elm branches.

"Chris just rang," he said. "He had an evening celebrating his new wood burner with singing and friends last week."

It was our first fire of the year, stoked with foraged ivy, elm, oak and some birch and ash logs from last year. The stored sunlight poured into the damp cold room and made it come alive. There is a certain attention you pay when you're by a fire. The heat enters your bones in a way a radiator never can, just as standing under the shade of a tree cools your body the way no a/c can. To live with winter cold means you have to be active, rather than passive. And just as chopping wood, energetic walking, deep engagement in the physical world brings its reward, so gatherings of people in the colder months take on a different collective mood. A kind of singing together.

We've have several this week: Green Drinks on Economics and Livelihoods tonight in Bungay. Low Carbon Cookbook meeting in Norwich on Wednesday, taking part in a Transition workshop at the Waveney Rural Summit and Bungay Community Bees outing to the Vanishing of the Bees to Poringland on Friday. We'll be reporting on these this week as well as looking at the "Big Society" and urban agriculture. Stay warm. Stay connected!

Transition essentials: Long johns and fingerless gloves modelled by Andy; wild Mexican marigold and Tarahumara sunflower seeds collected by Mark

Monday 18 October 2010

Beginning again

So the start of the new blog year . . . and what better place to start than with Apples and Angels?

Yesterday I watched a short film from a collection called Beginnings. Amongst the five first shorts by English film directors was one called Amelia and the Angel. It's the story of a girl who steals her angel wings from a school play and loses them. It was a beautifully shot little film made by a director who made some of the most poignant documentaries about English composers - Ken Russell.

The film was shot in 1958 and it was like watching myself in a London I was born and raised in. I too played an Angel (Gabriel) in a play and coveted feathery wings (though mine were so heavy I had to wear a harness to carry them). Here is Amelia with her recovered wings in the very park I played in all my childhood. But what was extraordinary about the film was seeing the city as it was then: the solid feel of the shops and stations, the almost empty streets, the old market woman dancing, the man and his performing dog. It was from another time. What struck me was that though it appeared no more beautiful or kind, it felt more intact, more itself, more magical.

What is it about apples that contain all these things? What is it that though we can dine like kings on pineapples and star fruit, mango and mangosteen, exotic fruits from all over the world, drink the sweet, fragrant juice of oranges and pomegranate at any time of the year, the sight of an apple press on a street can evoke such a sense of right place, of right time, of simplicity, starting over?

When I was a child in the city my world was black and white. I wore a stiff dark dress like Amelia. But when I went to a cottage in Kent, I played half-naked amongst the apple orchards. When I look back everything was in colour. It was my own Avalon, place of apple trees. And maybe that's why we long to remember the names of the apples on our trees and bring them shyly to these new stalls cropping up all over the island this week. We're looking to reclaim our own paradise. The one in our own hands.

Amelia and the Angel by Ken Russell, 1958; Red Windsor and Egmont Russetts form Jim Cooper's organic orchard, Clarkes Lane, Ilketshall St Andrew; holding apples from Bungay Abundance of Fruit stall, Apple Day 2010.

Saturday 16 October 2010

Our Low Carbon Year at a Glance

This blog began last October with the intent to show what a low-carbon way of living looked and felt like. Most of the contributors were part of the neighbourhood Transition Circles which had begun earlier that year. Others were active in other Transition groups, writers and artists or contributors to the News bulletin.

On the last day of our retro-blog this post is a quick glance through our first 12 months, as we all experience the full range of carbon reduction, from allotments to zero waste. Happy reading!

Peak Oil - Joy of a Full Woodshed - OCTOBER
Blog starts with our second anniversary party on 4 Oct. Jon Curran introduces the five day week with posts ranging from foraging for sweet chestnuts to wind power. Charlotte on Car-Free day and Autumn Equinox on the river (wood pile by John).

Economic Downturn - Market Forces - NOVEMBER
Five day week explored by Charlotte, Mark and Jane. Transition themes in Norwich streets, kicking the hot water habit and the Transition East Gathering. Elena bakes low-carbon cumin and carrot scones, Mark discovers long johns (Market stalls by Jane).

Climate Change - Waving Not Drowning - DECEMBER
We take to the streets in Norwich and London. Snow falls and we photograph a white world and reflect on a dark one -weather, transformation, new year resolutions and the winter solstice. Weeks by Mark, Charlotte, Jane. (Mark at the Wave photo by Charlotte).

Transition Patterns - Permaculture - JANUARY
Weeks by Tully, Andy and Mark. Indoors we look at home carbon reduction, burning marmalade, permaculture and the health system. Outdoors it's snowing still. John writes about wood burners. Erik joins the blog and posts about food preservation, Helen join the blog and brings laughter (Permaculture Principles photo by Mark)

Powerdown - Changing the Dream - FEBRUARY
Weeks by Charlotte, Jane and Elena. Low Carbon Loves, teaching children in the woods, looking at food in the city. John finds the first newt of spring (Russet apple twigs for grafting in community orchard by Mark).

Reconnection with Nature - All Hail Great Spring! - MARCH
First of our topic weeks on the Elephant in the Room, Flying, led by Jane. Last 5-day week by Gary. Three- day weeks begin with posts by Jon, Charlotte, Mark and Helen. Charlotte talks resilience, Jon talks transcience. Mark has a rethink about peak oil and hedgerow medicine. Reports from the Low Carbon Roadshow. (Snowdrops by Mark)

Reskilling - Weaving the Web - APRIL
Topic week on the Industrial Food System, led by Chris, Garden photoblog suggested by Elena. Three- day weeks continue with Tully on economic breakdown and Erik on the biosphere's carrying capacity. Nettle soup, bike revolutions in London, new moves in NR3. Blog's first video ("I can sing a rainbow"). (Knitting with Pride by Helen)

Celebration -The Kind of Party I Vote For - MAY
The blog is strewn with flowers. Everyone is talking gardens and bluebells. Elena hosts a Seedling Swap, Mark makes a Medicine Jelly. Topic week on the 7 Deadly Resistances, led by Helen. Chris reviews Tribes by Seth Godin (Strangers' Transition Circle and the Wholefood Co-op by Mark)

Networking - Transition Conference - JUNE
Topic week on Cycling led by Chris. Kerry joins the blog with Doodle power. Charlotte goes to the Transition conference and reports on the Stoneleigh effect and Transition Patterns (Grand Opening with Sophy by Ed Mitchell)

Low Carbon Travel - On the Transition Road - JULY
Three-day posts by Jon, Charlotte and Mark. Start exploration of Transition Patterns (Standing Up to Speak, Becoming the Media, Pause for Reflection). Transition Book Week, led by Jon. Kerry's first log from the Otesha tour (My Bike by Kerry)

Inner Transition- Sunrise on the Edge - AUGUST
Mark leads week on Personal Resilience. Reports from the outside world: holidays, bees, vegetables in the garden from regular and occasional bloggers. First week on Transition Food patterns in celebration of the Norwich CSA, led by Charlotte (Mark and Sun by Charlotte).

Transition Food Patterns - Foraging - SEPTEMBER
Second week of our Food Fortnight. Including Market Gardens, Artisan Bakers and Wholefood Co-ops. Make Do and Mend week, led by John. Features week on Magdalen Street/ NR3 begins, led by Helen (Parasol Mushroom by Charlotte).

Neighbourhood - Magdalen Street Celebration - OCTOBER
Features week on the Magdalen Street Celebration, followed by a retrospective of our first year.

With love and thanks to all our contributors (in order of appearance) Jon, Mark, Jane, John, Elena, Tully, Andy, Erik, Ed, Helen, Gary, Chris, Matt, Tom, Chris, Kerry, Josiah and Rachel (photos of the Big Day by Andy Croft).

Friday 15 October 2010

One from the Heart

Years ago I read a book called The Dancing Healers. In it the author, a psychologist, goes to work on a Native American reservation in New Mexico and meets an old medicine man who tells him: "the true healer is not there to fit his patients back into society but to help them recognise their dance. That the most healthy, most meaningful thing in life is not a person's function, status, nor even their family, but their dance, the unique pattern they weave as they go through this changing world."

I wrote that last sentence in a book published in 1994. It was my last published work. When I created this blog with my fellow Transitioners last October, it was a kind of liberation. Suddenly I was no longer alone.

Life on earth, I learned, is a dance and nothing makes you hear the music, find your steps, like writing. Nothing busts you out of your isolation quicker, puts you in contact with your fellows, with the creatures, with the plants, than finding words for your experiences and communicating them. You write to dig deep, to sing praises, to honour everything you see, everyone you meet. Turning everyday struggles into gold. How I see it, this blog is like a dancing floor. Each post is not just a solo act. It's people learning to dance together. Weaving another pattern. Creating our own culture.

What's that got to do with climate change and peak oil? Because we live increasingly in a monoculture that controls, diminishes and flattens life. It's the wheat fields of the Mid-West. Life lived as competition. Bio-diversity celebrates and communicates. The forests of the world, our small gardens. It's life lived as co-operation.

Creativity is repressed by monoculture. We are taught instead to control the world with our wills and justify our acts with unkind thoughts. If we are to survive and flourish and regenerate the planet however we're going to have to bust out of our rationality and start creating new pathways and connections. Not just in our minds but between each other. We're going to have to remember our unique dance that reflects the diversity of this earth.

I could choose so many posts within the fabric of the year - all those already mentioned, plus others not yet selected. But the three posts I've chosen today are by my fellow "regulars" who have kept the rhythm of the blog going through the year:

Jon: because he has a great eye for detail and can turn any everyday object or encounter into a Transition story. The A&E department, a kettle glowing in the dark, baking buns with his daughters, a road trip to Ireland. Sartre on the Tube is a brilliant example of how ordinary life can reveal great treasures.

Mark: Because he writes truthfully and boldly and sometimes with poignancy - from oil tankers on the horizon to the medicine flowers at our feet. Because he is naturally inclusive and generous, and has the courage to show his face (literally!). The People in the Room weaves baking bread, the Strangers' Circle and a Permaculture course together with great humanity.

Helen: because she has during a year consistently sung a song of neighbourhood, bringing people together to create something beautiful - from knitting a huge rainbow scarf to organising the Magdalen Street Celebration. Because, like Mark she takes really lovely photographs. Because, as this post shows, she mixes the suffering and joy of creaturehood (and climate change) into three short paragraphs.

Here's to all of us who dare to dance. May our next year be as wonderful!

Me at The Wave, holding the Norwich Climate Emergency banner, December 2009

do you believe in dog? by Helen Simpson Slapp - 29 April

I found out the other day that my contribution to global warming is much greater than I realized. I was minding my own business having a nurse take blood from my arm as part of a drugs trial. Anyway she says to me ' i will be back in a minute, I just have to give this sample to the courier he's waiting outside to take it to Gatwick'. Part of me thought ' I cant give up the drugs trial so i might as well forget the whole green thing as i will always be part of this project that relies on flights to Geneva'. It got me thinking about how much we rely on the pharmaceutical industry and how that relies on oil.

What is my inevitable positive response? Well I have invented a new therapy that does not rely on oil ( I should say that i may have invented it or i may have been told about it and forgotten that it was someone elses idea).

All you need is a dog. Preferably your own or one that you can borrow for a while without the owner wondering where it is. Get yourself in a comfortable position and snuggle the dog into you so you can feel him breathing. Close your eyes and focus your attention on the dogs breathing. Ideally you can feel the breath on your skin (with our dog is it better if you cannot smell the breath). While you are doing this note the feeling of his fur and the weight of his body against yours. Simple! Gradually become aware of the room again and try to keep the feeling of relaxation with you as you go about your daily life and coping with the evil look from the other dog you own who did not get the same quality time with you.

Monday 4 October 2010

Looking back, Looking Forward - A Year of This Low Carbon Life

Today this blog is one year old. We started out with a party held in an art studio off Magdalen Street, and ended with a street fest down there. In between we went just about everywhere in time and space.

We wrote for a week, for three days, on Sundays. 12 contributors. 300 days. We organised topic weeks, ranging from Flying to Inner Resilience, We looked at allotments, A Pattern Language, breakfast, community, climate change, deadly resistances, ecology, flowers, food (a lot of food!) and all the way down the alphabet (check out those labels!). We did it deeply, broadly, lightly, at length, in short colourful bursts, in all seasons, all weathers. We were serious, funny, beautiful, challenging, philosophic, practical and cosmic. We photographed ourselves, each other, in our kitchens, our gardens, in the street, in the wild, on the beach, dancing on the edge. We paid attention and held many things within our certain downshifting gaze.

This week we’re celebrating the year in a retrospective. Each of us are selecting one of their favourite posts and introducing it during the following fortnight. It’s a hard call because there are so many to chose from. Different outlooks, different styles. We deliberately have no censorship or rules about content or length. So long as it’s within the frame of Transition and carbon reduction, everyone writes what they like – it’s an “experiment in community blogging”as the intro to this site says. Creative diversity at work. This is unusual in an era when most communications (including in Transition) are more interested in brand marketing. Saying what things should be, rather then how they really are. This Low Carbon Life is not-so-strictly editorial. We’re communicating what Transition looks like, feels like, tastes like through our own personal experience.

So looking back it’s hard to choose because people saying how things are is valuable and it’s the mix of pieces that make this blog work. So as an editor, I like everything, especially when the writing is original and inventive and there are ideas and info in there that other people might not have thought about before - from the practical (John on lawnmowers) to the quirky (Elena on her bike). Striking photographs. Reportage. Pieces that make you look at the world with a different eye.

As a reader I enjoy the deep stuff, like Tully’s three pieces on economic breakdown in March, Andy on health and the pharmaceutical industry. Erik's scientific and metaphysical pieces on the earth's carrying capacity. I like the pieces when people put themselves on the line and say what things feel like, where there is passion and integrity and intelligence.

But most of all I like surprises. I like to click on the blog and see something I don’t expect. Jon Curran riffing on some graffiti he found on the wall in St Benedict’s Street, Mark photographing his long johns in Men In Tights, Chris cross referencing rainwater loos and Henry Thoreau, Andy and Helen singing a rainbow song . . .

Photos: me among the daffodils in April; graffiti noticed by Jon; Helen's dog in January snow; Mark's view of emerging horsetails in May.