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Saturday, 28 July 2012

off to the Olympics

We were incredibly lucky and got tickets for various Olympic events, spread over the two weeks. So we are off to Bedford and London and the Lea Valley Park, early starts, late nights and, we hope, lots of excitement.

It will be a bit of a trip down memory lane as I used to cycle round the curious world of the Bow Back Waters when I lived in Stratford. Yes, parts of it were smelly, polluted and a bit scary, but other bits had a idiosyncratic beauty, like the time I saw a swan fight a heron for a nesting site. Now it is all part of the Olympic Park, will I recognise it, I don't think so!

Loved the opening ceremony, especially the parts celebrating the NHS and when Shami Chakrabarti, Director of Liberty (of which I am a member) helped to carry in the flag. http://www.liberty-human-rights.org.uk/ Another flag bearer was that brave conductor Daniel Barenboim, of the Divan Orchestra, http://www.west-eastern-divan.org/, bringing together young musicians across the Middle East's many divisons.

Friday, 20 July 2012

my small society going well, I can do smug!

Tuesday I was on Short Stop standby, no calls at all until after lunch; then 3 on top of each other, all placed very quickly, no voicemails at all, all the hosts picked up immediately. What was really nice was that two of them had been with the same hosts the previous night, and both sides, hosts and guests, were delighted. Then quite late in the afternoon the fourth, I could not believe my luck, and hers, when once again the previous night's host said that they would be delighted to have her again. Pafras, http://www.pafras.org.uk/, St George's Crypt, http://www.stgeorgescrypt.org.uk/ and the Refugee Council http://www.refugeecouncil.org.uk/ were the referring agencies today and the whole scheme is organised by my good friends in LASSN, lassn.pir2.info. I clocked off at the end of the afternoon and went off to the theatre in Scarborough a happy coordinator.

the bottom of the deep gully
Thursday was an off shoot of Coasties, a Cleveland Way task force, www.nationaltrail.co.uk/clevelandway. I have blogged before about the old alum works at Ravenscar thedms.discoveryorkshirecoast.com/thedms.aspx?dms=13, well, so that more people can get to see these fascinating industrial remains, the Cleveland Way is being diverted through and around them. The only problem is that there are two gullies, one quite deep, two streams, one running in a very boggy area, and masses of Yorkshire jungle (bracken, nettles, willow, blackthorn, hawthorn, bramble to name but a few) to be cleared before the diversion can be used. So we set to; to help we had two strimmers and a chain saw as well as the usual loppers, saws and shears. I am not trained for power tools, not do I want to be, so at first it was sawing and lopping, ankle deep in the water, then after lunch dragging the cut stuff out of sight and out of mind.



the Yorkshire jungle









































However, by just before 3pm, when we usually call a halt, both gullies had been conquered. Now boards walks, steps, gates and new signing will be put in and then, we hope, a ceremonial opening of the new section of path.
the start of the new section














fairtrade crafts and food
Friday I was in the canteen of Ryedale House, our local council, with our twice yearly Fairtrade stall, www.fairtrade.org.uk/; even though staff numbers have been reduced we do as well as last year. Fortified by coffee and scones by the canteen staff we have an enjoyable and productive morning.
 
 
So, yes, I do feel rather pleased with my small society, some vulnerable people helped, an interesting area will be opened up to more visitors and producers in third world countries given a fair price for their labour. I think I even got a bit fitter doing all that sawing, lopping and dragging.









Friday, 13 July 2012

a task completed

A couple of weeks ago I posted about work Coasties had been doing on the Rail Trail in the Esk Valley to make a footpath more suitable for wheelchair users, well this week we went back and completed the section that had been started earlier this summer, http://www.northyorkmoors.org.uk/. This week I was in charge of the measuring and marking out of the edge of the path, with two new helpers I worried that I might not get it as accurate as it had been a fortnight ago, but at the end it looked fine, as you can see below.
just the warning sign to remove
rolling the cinders to the final surface





















Appropriately, as this was once the track of the original Esk Valley railway, we are using old cinders from the current railway http://www.nymr.co.uk/, to surface the path, reuse before re-cycling. Amazingly there is hardly any rain, and when the sun comes out after lunch, by which time I am raking the cinders into place, it is actually hot.

By the bridge over the Murk Esk there are the remains of an art installation, sadly vandals have removed all the other slate roundels, the date on the bridge is only 11 years ago.                
can you see the carvings of  the old
industry in the valley?


the river in flow, see how brown
 it is after all the rain
Lots of walkers go past, including a school party; we explain what we are doing, it is rather noisy, but every one appreciates why the noise is necessary and that a path suitable for all users is a very good idea.
Later in the week I see the river mouth in Whitby, there is a brown plume out to sea as the river continues to sweep the peat from the moors out to sea.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

a flat in Lincoln Green, a shop in York and the moors above Hutton le Hole, I get around

Last Friday was the day of the big rain, luckily I was mostly on the bus and indoors, but there was still the gap between.

I visited my asylum seeking friend in her flat (a hard to let one owned by the council), no news yet about her move or her claim to stay, all adding to her uncertainty. To add to that the help line to tell her how much is on her 'payment card' has been down. This card, which can only be used in supermarkets, is how she gets her food, toiletries etc. The observant amongst you will realise that supermarkets are often more expensive than local shops and street markets, that they don't run buses, if you need to go further than you can walk, and that they don't always supply the specific and cheaper vegetables that you really would like to eat. The current government says it wants to preserve our high streets, so why just encourage the supermarkets? Many of us volunteers use the card for ourselves and then give the cash to our friends, yes it's against the rules, but.................. I ring the help line which is now back up again, so at least that is sorted out.

Her college course has finished, all her assignments are in and have been accepted; another hurdle overcome to give her the qualifications she hopes will get her a job in the caring field if she gets leave to remain. Even with the current levels of unemployment there are still vacancies in these areas that many people are not prepared to work in. We remember how when I first met her I was one of the few friends she had, now church and college have increased her group of friends enormously, as it would be for any other local young woman. lassn.pir2.info/welcome

Saturday and Monday I helped my husband to run Fairer World, the wonderful food and craft Fairtrade shop in Gillygate, York; the owners are at a conference in Scarborough. www.fairtrade.org.uk/ We restock the shelves, help people fill boxes for stalls at their local summer fairs and churches, price new goods, and of course sell things to customers. My husband is a regular volunteer and can use the card machine, I stick to the till. Most people who come in want to chat about the goods, especially if there are new lines, so we are very busy all day. A lovely person from a local Society of Friends group tells me that they don't need small bars of chocolate because as they are Quakers they only eat the bigger bars! I buy some chocolate myself, a scarf and some earrings. On Monday I stock up on coffee, dried fruit and sugar, I might make a cake.

checking the shelves in Fairer World
Sunday, just for a change I am on duty as a voluntary ranger at Hutton le Hole,  http://www.northyorkmoors.org.uk/, it is forecast rain and it is Andy Murray in the finals at Wimbledon in the afternoon, it will be quiet and up on the moors it is; although the village and the Ryedale Museum seem quite busy. http://www.ryedalefolkmuseum.co.uk/, a lovely museum, one of the best.

Up on the moors, a thousand to one chance? I come across the remains of a Chinese lantern, you may think they look very pretty as they sail across the night sky, but in the picture below you can see the rusty and twisted wires, imagine what that will do to birds or animals which get caught up in them or try to eat them. There were also the charred remains of the paper covering, in dry weather they could have caused a moorland fire which might have burnt for days and caused appalling damage to the fragile ecosystem of the Moors.



the remains of the Chinese lantern, photographed at home

On a more cheerful note the foxgloves make a wonderful show and some rather  different sheep above Hutton le Hole.






I don't get too wet and am home in time to see the end of the tennis, the sun comes out and I even do a bit of gardening.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

I'm back after a lovely week by the beach

A lovely week renting a beach hut, or chalet as they're now called, in Scarborough; quite a lot of sun and lots of fun with my grandsons.

Enough of this self indulgence though. Monday evening was a Fairtrade meeting, the main topic was the Craft Fair that we are holding in September, we are going to showcase both Fairtrade and locally made crafts, more details later, but if you live locally please get in touch, (Malton and Norton in North Yorkshire). We discussed the usual things for an event like this, publicity, refreshments etc. http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/. We are also making progress on our own website, I'll give you the link as soon as it is up and running.

Tuesday was a Short Stop day, organised by LASSN lassn.pir2.info, no phone calls at all, by lunch time I actually rang my own mobile to check it was working, no problem there. So obviously either there were no destitute asylum seekers in the whole of Leeds, or the ones there were did not know how to access help, I do hope the former.

Coasties on Wednesday after two weeks off, http://www.northyorkmoors.org.uk/, unusually we were working on the old alum works at Ravenscar with the National Trust, normally we work with them at the end of the month, thedms.discoveryorkshirecoast.com/thedms.aspx?dms=13&venue. Misty at first, then drizzle, then the sun came out, and in the old winding house where I was, the midges! Every year we scrape the weeds off the stone remains of the various buildings and every year they grow back. Although it is a back breaking task it is also very satisfying, once again the structure of the old workings shows up and the many visitors can see more clearly how it all worked. The winding house was where the mechanism that hauled the barrels of urine from London up from the beach was housed, you can still see some of the metal poles and bolts that held it all together.


Work in progress in the winding house

We leave the hart's tongue fern

















The winding house finished, we all go to help rake up the cut grass from a large field above the alum works. We are using large wooden rakes and the scene, except for our clothes, could be from a Bruegel painting. To complete the bucolic comparison we are racing against the storm that is brewing overhead; all finished, we pile into the mini bus back to the road and our own cars. A few minutes later it is raining stair rods, but I am in the dry on my way home, another satisfactory task completed.

Watch the next blog for my retail experience in the Fairtrade shop in York, Fairer World.