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Friday, 25 January 2013

Snow stops Coasties

For two weeks now Coasties has been cancelled. The roads were mostly clear, but we would be unable to get to where we were going to work. This is particularly frustrating as the new section of the Cleveland Way still needs a lot of work to be done before it is completed. There is talk of an opening at the end of March, before the Easter weekend; so fingers crossed for warmer and drier weather.

I had planned to go to Leeds for a belated celebration with my friend, but a heavy cold and cough (mine), meant that will be put off for a week. No need for everyone to suffer.

So I have been indoors doing my small society work.

Quite a lot for Fairtrade, both locally and in York.

Locally we are busy planning for Fairtrade fortnight, February 25th to March 9th. Various local shops will be asked about displays, but our biggest event is another craft fair, on March 9th in Malton at the Friends' Meeting House. It will showcase local crafts; several people will be doing displays of how they make their items, as well as fairly traded crafts. Below you can see some of the small craft items and jewellery that we will be selling.

we packed these .......
In York, Fairer World is having to close for about three weeks whilst essential work is carried out on the front of the building. This means that everything has to be packed up and moved to temporary warehousing. Food and fine craft items do not mix with dust and dirt from what will be a building site!  It seems like chaos as we make up boxes, pack and label, but gradually a system emerges and there may be light at the end of a dusty tunnel. This evening is their annual social, where all the various volunteers who help staff the shop get to meet the other volunteers who run the out of shop stalls at schools, village halls and local churches. It is one of those socials where you take a main course or dessert and hope that there is some sort of balance when you get there. It should be fun, but more snow is forecast...................... Watch next week's blog for what happens.

..........and these

Monday, 14 January 2013

Fantastic news

Just after lunch my phone goes, private number, so shall I answer? I do and it is my asylum seeking friend, she is crying and I become desperately worried, why isn't she using her own phone? She explains that the phone is at Solace and hands me over. It is the best news in the world, she has been given leave to stay for 5 years, no wonder she is crying. I speak to her again and amidst the joy and the tears remember to check on her boiler; someone has been round and has ordered a part.

It has been just over 3 years since we first met, through LASSN . She was incredibly vulnerable, there have been so many downs and only a few ups. But in all that time she has helped as many people as have helped her, a true friend to many. They all wrote to the Home Office supporting her claim, perhaps some of that helped, we shall never know.

The weeks ahead will not be easy; she will have to move again and work her way through the labyrinth that is today's social security system. However I know that as soon as she can she will be contributing back to the community in Leeds that has given her so much support.

my battered UK passport,
maybe one day my friend will have one too

Saturday, 12 January 2013

New year, still same small society

Well apparently the Big society is now over, at least it is according to the Torygraph, aka The Telegraph,, but as I don't read it I can't vouch for the accuracy of this statement! However my small society will be continuing, as will the blog, now read in Serbia and Egypt, as well as quite a following in Latvia.

Anyway, down to the actuality of what my small society has been up to since the break for Christmas and the New Year. 

A very normal week really, Tuesday and Thursday was LASSN stuff . Short Stop was very quiet, the young man from Iranian Kurdistan whom I've placed before and an older man from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; I used to teach children from DRC, traumatised by the violence they had seen, they mostly still tried to work hard and do well in their studies. I placed both of them quite quickly and carried on with the tidying up and general household tasks that have been let slip over the holiday. Then I got a lovely text from some hosts who are away but who could have the man from DRC over the weekend (they are fluent French speakers and it is his main language). Thursday I went over to Leeds on the bus, had lunch with my gadding friend and as usual put the world to rights and then dropped in to see my other friend. She has had a lovely Christmas, many friends at church, some of whom stayed over in her new home. However she is desperately worried about a friend who is refusing to answer her phone, although she is in her flat.The friend has had a lot of mental health issues and is obviously not well again. My friend cares enough to put her own worries to one side and worry about a friend in need. There are problems with her boiler, so I phone the housing provider and arrange to check on Monday if anything has been done; it is leaking badly, ours did this before it failed altogether!

not a pond, it's quite deep
it might look muddy but
it's easier to navigate

Wednesday was back to Coasties, a fabulous day, sunny, no wind and in the sun we almost got hot as we worked to clear overgrowth from a bridleway. Although we were about four miles inland we were on the edge of a high ridge and could see clearly as far as Filey Brigg and possibly Flamborough Head. As well as the overgrowth, the path was flooded in several places, so blocked drainage ditches were cleared and the floods started to drain away.

a section of the collapsed path

Today I was doing a patrol on the Cleveland Way south of Scarborough, along the coast, There have been a lot of land slips, probably caused by the wet weather and they need to be checked. I phone in about a couple, it seems that they are probably no worse than a week ago, but the professionals will check them again next week. It is incredibly muddy and I slip and slide, fortunately not where the path has fallen into the sea. One section of the Cleveland Way that was diverted some years ago now goes through some lovely woods, fallen logs covered with moss make this look like a gateway.

a surreal landscape

As I drive home I realise how lucky I am. Two good days in beautiful countryside, less than an hour from my home, almost on my doorstep. And as a by product I've got fitter in the process, well my heart rate went up and I think that's what supposed to happen.