Monday, 15 March 2010

On foraging

I wrote the initial foraging article, 'On Foraging For Gloves' for the Financial Interity website and it can be viewed there. 

Here is a sequel. 

As you will have guessed by now, I hate waste

It is not about the money - you can buy many things so cheaply now that it is often hardly worth buying second hand or repairing things from a financial point of view.   Bear that in mind when you get scared about inflation - many things are cheaper now than they were 20 years ago, unless you really need the newest model.
It is worth it from the point of view of not wasting the resources of our planet, and from the point of view of our own integrity however.  It makes you feel a lot better if you know you are doing what is right.
Yet in the great abundance we have here,  it seems to take so much energy to re-use and value everything, and we already have so much that if we didn't waste anything, I feel I would never need to buy things again.  Some of them would probably outlive me.  
Face it - how long does it take to wear out a good coat, or a bicycle, or a sideboard, wardrobe, pair of wellingtons... for most adults these things last a very long time. 
We get rid of them because we are tired of them, or want another colour, or someone just bought us a new one for Christmas. 

I read somewhere (I think it was in the book 'Affluenza'  - see link) that in the 1950's some great marketing conference looked at what they could get us to buy now that we had everything we needed.  They set an aim of making shopping a leisure activity.  People said it couldn't be done...

What has set me off this time is seeing a bag of perfectly good stuff spilling out of a bin bag where it had been dumped in a lane.  First hubby came home with a pair of crutches (yes really!) out of the bag.  They were in perfect condition and have now been re-homed at the physiotherapy department of a local hospital where they should have been returned in the first place. 

So I had to go and have a look too and came home with a child's car booster seat - slightly muddy but otherwise fine.  There is nothing that can really go wrong with a booster seat so it is perfectly safe and now also nice and clean.  We will keep it for our grandchild.

That made me think about waste, as I had been about to go shopping (!) to buy a new jumper and a cardigan.  I resolved to go round all the charity shops and came home with a 100% cotton heavy cardigan originally from Next , which  looks brand new, and a silk and cotton jumper.  Both are lovely.  I also found a floaty layered skirt which will look nice with boots.  Total cost £12 approx.
I wanted a new brown eyeshadow because THE OTHER ONE HAD RUN OUT.  How great is that, I actually managed to finish something before I bought a new one.  So long as you don't count the other five eyeshadows that I don't really use...

I went into the local branch of a well-known chain of chemist's shops and the assistant helped me to find one which was exactly what I wanted for £16 ($23) - ouch. 
Luckily I overheard another assistant mention an alternative brand and spotted one for £5 ($7).  It was not quite the right colour, and somehow I felt pressure to buy the first one.  However, there was 3 times as much eyeshadow in the cheaper one, and I bought it.  Presumably, being larger,  it will last me the rest of my life...
When I got to the checkout, I realised I had enough points on my discount card to get it for nothing.  It had taken me about 3 years to save up the points and I almost forgot to ask - great.

I stopped to do the re-cycling on the way home, and spotted a bin bag dumped by the clothes re-cycling bin.  It was too big to go through the slot in the bin and the contents would be spoiled in the rain.  I had a quick look and there was some good stuff in there, so I put it in the car and brought it home.

My haul has netted me 5 pairs of jeans, 5 t-shirts, some pyjamas, and a couple of other things.  The rest will be taken back to be re-cycled, and I will make a donation to charity for the clothes I am keeping. 

It is better than them being ruined in the weather, and if I make a donation then it is a win-win.  Not sure what the ethics of that is,  but if feels okay.

PS re the Amazon link.  I am not an affiliate for Amazon and do not make any money out of you using that link.  I am neither for or against any particular book seller.
 If there is a better way for you to get the book, please feel free.  I just couldn't get the picture of the book to come up without the link. 
I borrowed my copy of Affluenza from a friend.  I have got many books by special request from my local library.  (see previous blog entry about books and libraries).

Thursday, 11 March 2010

listening to owls


We were away on holiday last week. NOT AGAIN I hear you cry.

We go away for lots of short breaks and weekends within the United Kingdom where we live, and I often combine weekends away with teaching my spinning and weaving workshops.

I love the idea of work being blended in with the rest of life, rather than being something that ends at 5pm when the rest of your life (therefore) begins.

In order for this to be successful, the work has to be enjoyable and there must not be too much of it. I have read books about work becoming part of life that are basically about working all the time – ie taking your laptop on the beach etc and simply working there, whilst everyone else is having fun.

You are still working whether you are on the beach or not and if you are doing that it probably just means you are a workaholic.

What I am talking about here though, is working part time and in a non-structured, flexible way.

That may sound impossible but  not only is it possible, we have done it for years.

It takes a bit of thought, planning and well, work to actually achieve this however. 
It means working out how to maximise your income whilst at the same time minimising expenditure, without cutting out anything that adds to your quality of life.
Then you can work part time. There will be more about how to do that in future blogs. You could also visit  to learn more about the Your Money Or Your Life nine step programme on how to get ahead with money.  This is a charitable organisation which aims to help people,  not someone who  makes money out of it.

Well anyway, there we were, visiting my sister at a Camphill community called Botton village in a beautiful Yorkshire Dale, miles up a single track road with no mobile phone reception (Yippee).

And I was woken up by the hooting of owls. I cannot resist getting up when I hear Things In The Night.

Owl no 1 was in a tree right outside the window, outlined against the dawn sky. I heard owl no 2 answer and they chatted for a while until they had located one another, then off they went. I stayed and watched the sun come up – wonderful.

At home, we have a little owl that comes and sits on the telegraph pole in our back garden. So now I am grateful for the telegraph pole, which I must admit until then was an irritation. Apparently little owls eat a lot of worms, beetles and that sort of thing. Hopefully I can tempt it to the odd slug too…

That figures, (them eating worms I mean) because the first time I heard it  was when we got to grips with our fledgling vegetable garden a few years ago and got a load of manure. Our worm population doubled practically overnight, and our little owl population went up by 100% (ie from zero to one!).

At the time I just thought ‘what the heck is all that din?’ rather than oh great – a little owl. It was easy to figure out what it was though, even in the dark, because in silhouette they look rather like Garfield and are smaller than the average owl. Even I could spot it in the bird book.

On one of my night-time slug forays, armed with a pair of scissors,  ( yes I know, yuck but at the time I was bagging 70 slugs a night)  I heard a strange rustling noise next to a patch of garden where I had spread some manure.
The torch showed about a dozen worms literally munching on the bits of straw etc  in the manure.
I didn’t even know they did that, but what an amazing sight. They have huge mouths that just open up out of nowhere. And they really do make quite a noise.

I heard on the radio that the wild life in your garden is likely to be your wildlife and not even shared with the garden next door.  Ie it only exists because of what your garden is like. Gardens are mini habitats in their own right.

In our garden, there many different kinds of bumble bees, solitary bees and mason bees, including some little black ones  which I think are quite rare.  When I heard about it being 'our' wildlife it made sense, because when we first moved here, all we had was a square of scrubby grass and there were no bees - and no frogs, lizards, stoats or little owls either.

Those creatures are there because of plants we have, like the cotoneaster, which flowers for a long time. I was going to dig it up until I realised how many bees were on it. And they are probably nesting somewhere in the garden. It is a good idea to find out where and make sure you don’t destroy their habitat by mistake.

That is the great thing about simplicity – having time to watch the worms, and the energy to get up and listen to the owls.