Tuesday, 30 November 2010

December Diary

1st December - World Aids Day

Over 90,000 people are living with HIV in the UK and new infections continue every year. World AIDS Day 2010 is all about raising awareness to tackle HIV prejudice and help stop the spread of HIV.

Explore the World Aids Day website to ensure you understand the facts about HIV and find out what you can do to ACT AWARE. Make a pledge and join people all over the world making a difference on 1 December 2010.

 2nd December - Hanukkah

The Jewish festival of lights begins today - Activity Village has lots of colouring pages, crafts and printables.

3rd December - Small World Open Evening

From 6 - 8.30 p.m. come along to 9A Orchard Crescent, Prestonpans for fair trade mince pies and mulled wine and do a spot of ethical Christmas shopping.

4th December - Fairs, Fetes and Fun

St Gabriel's Christmas Fair, Prestonpans, takes place 10-12
The Pennypit Special Needs Youth Club, Prestonpans, Christmas Fayre takes place 12-4.
Eskmills Christmas Fayre, Musselburgh, takes place 10-4

6th December - Tree Dressing Day

An annual celebration of trees in city and country, in the street, village green - anywhere in the public domain.  It highlights our responsibility for looking after trees and remind us of their enormous cultural and environmental importance.  My trees are always impeccably dressed and have been known to wear chandeliers and disco balls.  Look out for a garishly decorated public tree in Prestonpans!

10th December - Speak Up, Stop Discrimination - International Human Rights Day

The day marks the 62nd anniversary of the acceptance by the UN General Assembly of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  This year, the theme is recognising the work of human rights defenders worldwide who act to end discrimination.

(Photo shows Loun Sovath, a Buddhist monk involved in defending Cambodian communities affected by land grabs using modern technology to document abuse and violations.) Acting alone or in groups within their communities, every day human rights defenders work to end discrimination by campaigning for equitable and effective laws, reporting and investigating human rights violations and supporting victims.

While some human rights defenders are internationally renowned, many remain anonymous and undertake their work often at great personal risk to themselves and their families.

11th December - International Mountain Day

Covering about one quarter of the world’s land surface, mountains provide a direct life-support base for about 12 per cent of the world population, as well as essential goods and services to more than half of humankind.

17th December - Saturnalia

An ancient Roman winter solstice celebration involving feasting, dancing, games and gift-giving.  

23rd December - Alternatives to the 'C' word.....

Not a Christian? Don't fancy celebrating ConsumerFest?  How about Festivus or the the Humanist celebration of HumanLight?


I can't remember it snowing on previous birthdays but my Let it Be* birthday will be forever known as the snowed-in birthday.

My original plan had been to go to Haddington with Nigel and have lunch at the Peter Potter Gallery but the schools were closed because of the snow so we all stayed home.

I received some wonderful presents:

Forbidden Places - a beautiful photographic exploration of our abandoned heritage.  I love it! During his day to Edinburgh with Georgie, Nigel had made a special trip to "Russian and Baltic Food" in Leith Walk to buy me some caviar.  And, I'm not sure where he managed to hide a box of Thornton's Premium Collection - it's massive!  On our last trip to Glasgow, Nigel bought me a Liquorice Allsorts bracelet at Supermercado in the Barras.  He also bought me a 2010 Guerrilla Gardening Lavender Pllow - what a cool husband!

My mum  bought me a new salwar kameez, some Cath Kidston rose hearts, some curiously named 'love tea' - all in a beautiful upcycled rice bag.  I received a beautiful art deco style ring from Laura.

There was no post yesterday because of the snow but today I received a wee box of handmade biscuits (definately worth waiting for...yum), some rose granules and The Playground Potting Shed (excellent bit of re-gifting) from Rachel.

Yesterday the school being closed was a bit of a novelty and we passed the time watching "Kind Hearts and Coronets" and making Christmas decorations. 

Today I really should have caught up with some housework but as I seem to have caught a cold, I decided to Let It Be.

*Paul McCartney sings "Let it Be" 41 times in the song.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

This week I...

RETURNED a pair of loppers, and a enjoyed a cup of coffee and look round the Mobex stores.

WATCHED garden birds (blue tits, waxwings), sea birds (curlews and oyster catchers) geese, and saw a dead robin.

HELPED with the Eco club at the Primary school (and thought the pupils were polite, helpful, charming, confident and generally pretty cool).

WON a couple of raffle prizes (a bottle of wine, wrapping paper and Christmas crackers).
 RECYCLED 20 pairs of shoes.  They will be used on Friday 10 December when men will "Walk a Mile in Her Shoes" to demonstrate their support for the White Ribbon Campaign (men working to end violence against women).  Women's shoes sizes 8 and above needed - see here.

AGREED with Hannah Pool in Saturday's Guardian that "ending a friendship is a complex business"

WATCHED Little Vampire - a free screening at The Brunton as part of Saltire weekend.  Followed by scrumptious cakes in the Bistro Bar.

CELEBRATED Buy Nothing Day with zero-cost sledging in Cuthill Park.  We were joined by East Lothian's newest celebrity.

READ The Distance Between Us- the eighteenth book I've finished (and enjoyed) this year.  I've started and abandoned about half a dozen

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Emily's special day

I'd prefer the Cameo to the soul-less freezing Screen 1 of the Omni, even in 'VIP' seats.  But today was Emily's day to have a treat so we loaded up on pic+mix and Sprite and went to see some film about a boy wizard.

I wonder if the people professing to be 'movie buffs' have any cinematic experience other than some blockbuster at Vue (like those who equate going to see The Gruffalo - or anything by Cameron Mackintosh -  as 'theatre)'.

After Harry Potter we had a walk around the St James Centre.  It was bustling with shoppers.  I enjoyed a look around John Lewis but my trip to Claire's Accessories (2 x necklaces + 1 hairband) and Poundland was under duress.  We had lunch at the Turkish Kitchen in Rose Street which was pleasant enough.  The complimentary starter of pitta and couscous was a nice touch.

(TIP: If you don't want to be bothered by chuggers and other sales people, "Sorry, I'm having a special day with my daughter" works like a get out of jail free card.)

In the station I picked up a copy of the Changeworks booklet 'Too Good To Waste' - quite appropriate as today is the start of EU Waste Reduction Week.

The UN Convention of the Rights of the Child came into force 20 years ago today. There is a wonderful pdf booklet setting out the rights in child-friendly language here.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Melting Moments

I am ever so slightly obsessed with melting polythene and plastic.  I actually save interesting carrier bags and the net bags that lemons come in for fusing together (I made these Christmas tree decorations from an assortment of packaging and carrier bags last year_.  

So, when a parcel arrived today wrapped in pink bubble wrap I just had to have a quick google for crafting ideas.

Unfortunately, while I was engrossed in the very interesting subject of ironing bubble wrap, I managed to burn the dinner.

I salvaged what I could and our 'soup' became vegetable wraps with cheese.   

Lucy had made some fruit scones at school so we had those too. She doesn't get her culinary abilities from me.

Monday, 15 November 2010

4 days

Between waiting for (non) deliveries, disobedient children, a poorly husband and a dead guinea pig, Thursday - Sunday was a little, erm, frustrating, sad, tiring....

But it wasn't all bad and positive things included
  • A successful speech therapy session.
  • A good planning meeting
  • A more fun than expected working party at the Battlefield Orchard
  • Planting the first trees in decades in Cuthill Park.


(Q.:  What do all of the above have in common?  A.:  They are out of the house. I do get a bit stir crazy when confined to barracks.)

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Urban Myths and National Treasures

The other morning I received one of those alarmist emails that had been forwarded a gazillion times and was headed "FW: READ IMMEDIATELY AND INFORM ALL - Not a joke".

The gist of it was: if you receive a scary email from XYZ, delete it at once because it will kill your computer, make you go blind, steal your identity etc etc.  I deleted it and thought no more about it until...

...I received an email from Miriam Margolyes (not a personal friend but who had presumably been one of the many recipients of the email) announcing sternly that
IGNORE & CHECK WITH www.snopes.com  IN FUTURE.

Love, Miriam Margolyes
now in Sheffield rehearsing ME & MY GIRL if anyone wants to come & see
a delightful musical.  NO I DON’T SING!

This morning I received another round robin entitled 'Retirement'.  It has been sent to 195 people and related the delightful, but completely mythical, story of a man posing as a car park attendant at Bristol Zoo who collected unauthorised parking fees from zoo visitors for 25 years before absconding to Spain to live in luxury on the proceeds of his illegal activities. 

It's a great story, perhaps I should forward it to my new cyber friend Miriam...

Monday, 8 November 2010

School Dinners!

I loved school dinners.  I particularly loved the puddings and custard.  The East Lothian schools are on a two-week menu rotation.  The puddings of my youth have been largely replaced with fruit and yoghurt but it's still a nice menu:

Week 1:
Monday: Salmon Fishfingers & Chips/Macaroni Cheese
Tuesday: Chicken Curry & Boiled Rice/Veggie Stovies
Wednesday: Steak Pie & Boiled Potatoes/Cook's Veggie Choice
Thursday: Roast Chicken & Mash Potatoes/Quorn Burger

Week 2:

Monday: Haddock & Chips/Veggie Spag Bol
Tuesday: Roast Beef & Yorkshires/Cook's Veggie Choice
Wednesday: Breaded chicken and wedges/cheese & fruit salad
Thursday: Mince & Tatties/Veggie Pizza

The 8th to 12th November 2010 is National School Meals Week and the I Love School Meals website has
 range of downloadable foody activity sheets.

Loppers and Logs

I took a walk to Cuthill Park in the hope of tracking down a missing pair of loppers.

I was pleased to see that the fire-damaged trees have been chopped down and a pile of logs left for us.  The branches will be chipped and used on site. 

I'm not sure how we could use the logs - sliced as stepping stones?  a small seat?  holes drilled in for a ladybird tower?  Perhaps we could get a skilled person to make fairy doors like they have in gorgeous Pressmennan Wood.

The best news of all though was....I found the loppers!

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Enterprise and Surprise in Glasgow

I have to confess to having a love/hate thing going with Glasgow.  I think of the 'Dear Green Place' as a proverbial curate's egg - rotten, but parts of it are excellent.

The first excellent stop today was The Spoon Cafe in the Trongate.  It is a riot of pretty mismatched saucers, starburst clocks and cardboard cutout of Elvis.  It is fine balance between kitsch* and clutter and the Travelling Spoon gets it spot on.  The coffee was decent too and the millionaire shortbread very good).  I wasn't sure if the books on the bookshelf were for sale/swap/bookcross but a few caught my eye including The Last Family in England.

...and why don't more eateries have hand sanitisers as you go in? - it makes sense.

One of the things I love about Glasgow is its active craft mafia.  There's a lot of diy-guerrilla type stuff happening that just wouldn't happen in Edinburgh.

Supermercado is Glasgow's only weekly indie marketplace.  It is the latest venture of the Made in the Shade creative gals (design, neo-craft and vintage lifestyle).  It takes place every Saturday in the courtyard of the newly refurbished Barras Centre (not to be confused with the Glasgow Antiques Market, McIvers, Marketland or Stevenson Street Market - all of which, frankly, are shit).

Stalls included Florence Box Jewellery upcycled charm bracelets, necklaces and brooches; Jennifer Lockwood's ceramics; acrylic accessories from Suzy Loves; vintage inspired jewellery and quirky finds from Made by Morag (I loved the Alice in Wonderland charm bracelets).

 We bought toffee apples from Zoe Makes Cakes,a lucky back from Suzy Loves, strawberry cheesecake cupcakes from Flamingo Bakers (who gave us a lovely goody bag); Buried Treasure Soap and got a couple of free samples from Purple Herb.  We were given a goodie bag from Yelp.com - a review community. 

And of course we had a look round the new MITS HQ with its awesome vintage wallpaper staircase.  We had a lovely time and hope Supermercado brings a new vibe to the Barras markets.**

All that shopping worked up an appetite so we went to The Urban Pind in Candleriggs.  WOW! The lunchtime thali menu is excellent value.  My vegetable korma was lovely.  The restaurant has a little bridge over a reservoir of fish.  The girls were so happy when the staff invited them to feed the fish from the bridge.  The bridge wasn't the only striking design feature: colourful seats, swing, mannequin and mirrored mosaic pillars added some bling.  Everything about The Urban Pind was excellent: the decor, the staff, the food, the music.  I can't recommend it highly enough.

*If you don't know the difference you might want a look at Kitsch or Not
**For the purpose of balance I must add that I'm looking forward to going to Edinburgh's Magpie Market one of these days (next one 12th December, The Grassmarket).


Happy Diwali!  

I love the Festival of Colours!  

Lucy and Georgie both wore their new Diwali outfits to school today and, at assembly Georgie received a certificate for being a 'Confident Individual' .

Emily was at a friend's firework party tonight so we had a scaled down Diwali feast but still put lights outside the door and put on our sparkliest, brightest clothes.

On this auspicious festival of lights, May the glow of joy, prosperity and happiness illuminate your days in the year ahead. Happy Diwali.

Thursday, 4 November 2010


Dynamic Earth is a cool conference venue with its Biosphere, Stratosphere and Ozone suites.  I was there for a Malawi trade event.

I arrived just in time to hear former Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell launch the event (which marks the fifth anniversary of the signing of the Co-operation Agreement between Scotland and Malawi - you can sign the pledge to support the friendship between our two countries here).

I caught up with my Small World colleagues, Catherine, Christopher, Gail, Rosemary and Sandra,  in the marketplace.  I especially liked the Dedza range of pottery and the intricate woodcarvings from the Mua Mission Cooperative (available from Just Trading Scotland from whom we buy our chutney, sauces and pickles).

We had just enough time for a coffee and chat with fellow fair traders Richard and Barbara for Earth Matters in North Berwick before going our separate ways.

In the evening, I called for Annemarie to walk down to the Thorntree together.  She's gotten past her writer's block and was telling me a bit about her latest novel.  She had to explain about Essential Whole Earth Catalog  and Biosphere 2 though. 

Waiting in the pub were Carmel and Susan.  I returned The Crying Tree, gave away The Accidental
and brought home The Idea of Perfection and I, Alex Cross.  I'm currently reading The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.  We didn't actually discuss books of course, but we had a good old blether.