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Thursday, 29 November 2012

Two weeks for my small society to catch up

It seems a long time since Coasties got wet (November 24th), but since then I have taken time off my usual volunteering to be a Granny, so here goes with the catching up.

I have always fancied wearing a high vis vest and directing traffic, my chance came on the Saturday of the Danby Christmas Craft Fair, www.northyorkmoors.org.uk. The car park got very crowded, so I had to check where the spaces were and then wave people into them, at the same time sending 4 wheel drives into the grass field. It was curiously satisfying, helping people and yet telling them where to go! So if anyone near me wants a car director for a charity event let me know!

It's not all earnest being a small society person, before our most recent Fairtrade  www.fairtrade.org.uk meeting we all ate together at the pub that kindly lets us have small room for nothing, thank you the Blue Ball in Malton. After the eating and the chat we set to and decided some future events, another Craft Fair in March and a chocolate tasting at the next Fine Food event in Malton, www.welovemalton.co.uk, a pity I will miss this, but I will get it organised and others can help customers taste.

There have been two short stop  lassn.org.uk Tuesdays since I last posted, a lot of anxiety one day when almost all my calls went to voicemail, but after several returned calls everyone was placed, including a young man who has slept on the streets of Bradford for several weeks. Our hosts have their own crises, one who had said yes rang me back, their roof was now leaking, I thanked him for being so thoughtful as to let me know, and he carried on trying to get builders out. I rang Pafras www.pafras.org.uk to change the arrangements and all was well.

Another wet Coasties, this time from the non stop rain, not the sea. Once again we were at the alum works, and once again moving stone and old bricks, this time to act as the base for the final flight of steps, they are in a very wet area and this will give a firmer base than earth, a very old form of recycling. After lunch in a cold, but dry barn, we all give in and Coasties finishes early, we are wet through and muddy and cold.

A visit to Leeds to see my friend gives me the opportunity to clarify exactly what back to backs are. Several readers of the blog have queried that surely it can't mean a house which is joined at the back as well as the sides to another house. Well that is what it is, two rows of terraced house, many opening straight off the street, joined at the back! And Leeds, uniquely, still has nearly 20000 occupied. In Birmingham the only ones left are in a museum, www.nationaltrust.org.uk/birmingham-back-to-backs. However she is lucky and is in a through house, however there is a problem with her heating. The problem turns out to be that the thermostat is next to the cooker, so every time she cooks the heating goes off and the rest of the house gets cold; as she is a believer in cooking cheaper food that takes time to cook, this means a cold house for a lot of the day. The helpful gas man and I shake out heads and tell her that she will need to cook with the back door open. What can I say, except it's a good thing that she's not in a back to back with no through ventilation.

I end with a picture of a pile of hawthorn cuttings, not very exciting, but yesterday we had to abandon the alum works as it really was too wet and muddy, and cut back the hawthorn hedge that was intruding onto the pavement into Ravenscar. I should have photographed the curious cows that came to watch us, but thought of that too late!

all to burn in the spring

As I write this I watch the diverted traffic from the local flooding and despair at the still large group of idiot climate change deniers. I am also debating with myself about what to do with my heating allowance, I shouldn't get it and if I do at least it should be taxed. I have a well insulated house, I am fit and active and I have an index linked public sector pension. But no, only pensioners are to be protected from the appalling welfare cuts by the current Government. Don't mention promises, other promises were made that have gone out of the window. OK here endeth the polemic for the day.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

from a tower block to a through house and Coasties get their feet wet

At the beginning of the week I went to meet both my Leeds' friends, my asylum seeking friend and my 'gadding' friend. My asylum seeking friend has been moved by G4S to her new accommodation, she is delighted as it is still within walking distance of her doctor and her other support networks. I am delighted as, although it is in an area of back to backs, it is a 'through' house, in the Leeds vernacular, it has a back and a front open to the air.

Now those of you not familiar with Leeds may have thought that back to backs had been consigned to the museum or the dustbin of housing history, oh no, in Leeds there are still almost 20000 back to backs and I haven't added an extra zero. I have tried to give you a link to various reports, but have failed, but if you google back to backs in Leeds you can see it all for yourselves. Even tower blocks give the residents a small outside balcony but many back to backs are directly onto the pavement, so no private outside space back or front. The numbers are so high because, when building new ones was finally banned early in the 20th century, Leeds found a loophole in the law and carried on well into the 1930's. We are supposed to be one of the richest countries in the world and yet people are still living in homes that were condemned over 100 years ago.

My friend and I drink tea and she tells me how, when she has got the inside clean and sorted, it looks spotless to me, she is going to start on the small plot outside. My gadding friend and I catch up and then I get the bus home, a most satisfactory day all round. The move that potentially could have been so disastrous has turned out to be fine, in part down to the lovely people from the local housing group, who actually did the practical work of moving her and her few, but precious possessions; some of which she has restored to good use after finding them dumped in alley ways. For new readers, the contract to house asylum seekers is now with G4S, who cannot use the properties that were previously used, so at unnecessary expense everyone has to be moved. They is turn subcontract the work to another group. Confused, you should be!

not easy to see, but in the middle
 of the picture, a large
piece of plastic sheet.
Wednesday is a lovely sunny day, Coasties, www.northyorkmoors.org.uk, continues to hack out the path for the plebs (see October 21st). It is mostly the usual blackthorn, but some of it is also cunningly woven through with honeysuckle. However the lovely views over Runswick Bay,as well as the unseasonably warm weather keep us cheerful. It's a pity though that even here sheets of plastic are buried in the ground.

Runswick bay in the sunshine





Eventually we break through to a field; however we have worked for too long. Both the time and the height of the high tide have been ignored, some of us opt for wet feet and more, the others struggle up a muddy cliff.

a colleague gives me a helping hand with the last bit


Thanks to Tristan for this picture of me above my knees in the sea. I don't usually paddle in my clothes, but this seemed the best option this time.

Luckily I have other footwear in the car, the drive home is still rather damp.

Friday, 9 November 2012

small society stuff continues

Sunday I did a voluntary ranger patrol www.northyorkmoors.org.uk in one of my favourite places, the Cleveland Way between Ravenscar and Hayburn Wyke. There was still a frost on north facing areas, but the sun shone and it was a glorious yomp south along the coast. However today was not just for checking steps, gates and general path maintenance, although I did plenty of that, today was also my sloe picking day. At first I thought that the blackthorn was getting revenge for all my cutting back over the last year, but patience was rewarded and I picked just over a kilogramme in about half an hour.
a rustic fence to protect us
from the crumbling cliff edge

the sloes in their shiny glory

I was pleased to see this fence, the cliffs are crumbling here and the drop to the sea is sheer and a long way. It also looks a lot better than other sections further north.

Just after a picnic lunch on the beach I met a couple who thought that they could get a bus back to Scarborough from Ravenscar, they hadn't checked the timetable and were shocked to discover that there was no such bus on a Sunday. They then wanted advice on an alternative way to walk back, however they  had no map! I explained to them about the disused railway line, at least you can't get lost on that, and set them on their way! I am delighted that other people want to share this lovely coast line, but please check the buses and carry a map.

Tuesday was the Grace project, lassn.org.uk; I had an early call from PAFRAS, www.pafras.org.uk, both case workers were going on a course, and there were four people to place. However after lots of voicemail messages and two or three lovely chats with people I have never met, but are becoming good phone friends, everyone is placed. Two of them are the very young people I had to place last week.

All week I was checking the statistics for my spoiled ballot blog, it had also gone on the Northerner, www.guardian.co.uk/uk/the-northerner and was attracting masses of comments. However as the title of this post says, life continues.

it was a wall by 3 o'clock!

almost finished

Wednesday was back to Coasties, once again as one of my colleagues pointed out the sun shone on the righteous. This was a new one for me, a lime kiln being restored and a stone wall to be rebuilt, I have repaired a dry stone wall before, but not right from the base. Once almost every farm had its own lime kiln, to make lime for the fields, now it comes in bags; but this farmer is keen to restore his, not to use, but as a local piece of history. The wall was hard work, not enough large stones with flattish faces, a bit of cheating went on, with smaller bits wedging where necessary. We found enough stones with sort of rounded tops to cap it off; not the best wall on the North York Moors, but a lot better than it was.

Yesterday my friend in Leeds finally got the news about her move, it would be 9.30 this morning and no one knew where to! However friends rallied round and when the G4S staff arrived her stuff was packed and she was as ready as possible. The G4S people on the ground were lovely, as is usually the case, it is the people at the top, earning most, who are the problem. She has been moved into an old terraced house, hard to let, but she is pleased that at last the move has happened. I shall go over on Monday and see it for myself, however she and a friend have already scrubbed it to their very high standards. We had a long chat this evening on the phone and she seemed more relaxed than for some time.

I checked the statistics again, more than three times as many views as any other post. Comments also on my Facebook pasting.

The original post only had the picture of my ballot paper, here is the comment that I did for the Northerner.

Why have I done this, good question, firstly I am a rather impulsive person, act first, then think, and this seemed to me the best thing to do on first thought. However second and subsequent thoughts. I have never and could never vote for a Conservative, their entire value system is so different to mine; I have voted Labour, but their record in Government on penal reform and the criminal justice system was not very liberal! I have always voted, but this time neither of them was ‘least worst’, so this a public gesture on my part, small acorns………..Why so few candidates? Well a £5000 deposit is a bit of a turn off, not to mention the general public apathy and lack of understanding of what it’s all about?

a ps to Wednesday. I spend a lovely hour with my local Brownie group, talking to them about Fairtrade and showing them just a few of the Fairtrade foods that we can buy in our local supermarkets. www.fairtrade.org.uk. Also on the Fairtrade front, we took almost as much  at the shop last weekend as we did last year, with people having to tighten their belts this is good news.

Monday, 5 November 2012

back to normal, if only I knew what that was!

A busy, busy week, LASSN, the National Park and a proper Fairtrade shop in Malton.

Tuesday and Thursday were LASSN, lassn.org.uk, now the new link works, I've tested it! Grace project first, two very young people, one of 18, the other 19; I can only imagine what drives young people from the only home and family (if they have one) they've known to a strange country, where they are homeless and penniless. I find places for them to stay after several phone calls, it is half term and lots of people away, one lucky family are walking in sunshine in the Brecon Beacons.

Wednesday, despite the forecast, is dry, but very windy all day. Coasties, www.northyorkmoors.org.uk are at the Alum works in Ravenscar, we are continuing work on the Cleveland Way alternative, which should open next spring and give direct access to the old Alum works. This is the best link I can find. thedms.discoveryorkshirecoast.com/thedms.aspx?dms=13. Today we are clearing tons and tons of stone from collapsed sections of the Alum works and their associated buildings (housing for the workers, a pigsty etc.). Many years ago they were dumped where the new path is going to go, so now they have to be moved again! Some are fairly small, they go in wheel barrows, some are huge and have to be moved in a very small caterpillar wheeled truck.

we did these by lunch time
I wonder what this was, part of a water trough?











By about 2 o'clock we have run out of space to move the stones to. Many of us have also run out of energy, so we down tools an hour earlier than usual and pile into the mini bus back up the hill. We debate the merits of a hot shower versus a bath to iron away the aches, I go for the shower, on power mode.

thank you to the Friends , Malton
Thursday evening several of us work until after 11pm to set up the two day branch of Fairer World in the Friends Meeting House in Malton. http://www.fairerworldyork.co.uk/. All the goods are Fairly Traded, giving a social premium to the communities producing the goods, as well as a fair price for the things we are selling.

The shop is an annual event, the first Friday and Saturday on November. Both mornings two of us tie green arrows advertising the shop round various lamposts in the town centre, but most people come by word of mouth and because they know we will be there. There is a steady flow of people all day, buying cards and presents for Christmas, as well as stocking up on the usual tea, coffee, and chocolate, as well dried fruit and sugar for baking.(Thank you TV shows).
Craft items, it's not just food you see; you can
 buy these at Fairer World in Gillygate, York.

We seem to do as well as most years, there is certainly less to pack up on Saturday evening. I have two more small stalls before the end of the year. One at the local council offices and another in a village primary school. All good news to those producers in developing countries, trade not aid is what they want.

Watch this space.



Sunday I was yomping along the Cleveland Way, but more of that next time.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

a political one off - back to normal tomorrow!

first time I've spoilt a ballot paper, but I've always voted and this time this was the only option