Friday, 22 April 2011

Not flying

For many years I've been loathe to fly. Usual reasons; busy airports, scary planes, grumpy everyone, and such a huge environmental cost. This moratorium I have only broke 4 times in the last 6 years or so, and three of them on one trip to India.

As restricting as this may seem in the boundless modern world, the bonus is that I love to the point of obsession travelling by train. Nothing can beat the feeling of expectation, adventure and possibility in looking at the destinations board. Trains augment travel, by making the getting there part of the reason for a trip to your destination. By cutting out one of my flights whilst in India, my journey from Delhi to the foothills of the Himalayas remains the highlights of trip.

Trains are the way to see a long of a country very quickly, to meet and possibly be alarmed by local travellers and to arrive sometimes in the most surprising amount of style right unto the heart of your destination.

Coming from a country where the heart of the rail system was ripped out in the 60s by an over zealous government advisor, and later in the 80's by the Thatcherite regime, it constantly amazes me whilst abroad to be able to reach B from A with a minimal amount of fuss and remaining cash.

I am currently exploring the wilder parts of scotland, mainly by train and helpful lovely people with cars. I've had a great London to Glasgow traffic-avoiding stint, an early morning ascent through the highlands to Fort William on what has to be THE best commuter journey in the uk, and am currently making my way to the very top of the mainland, having a wonderful meander through beautiful empty countryside. A ferry ticket, a tent and a bus timetable open up the orkneys to me, and I am supremely happy.

Being Good Friday, the train is full of happy families eating a fair amount of chocolate, and I have maps, binoculars and a cup of tea spread in front of me. Try THAT whist driving, or even on a plane.

And all for the price of two tanks of fuel. I'm all for not flying, me

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

not buying curtains

For over a year, the bloke next door has been getting an eyeful everytime I trot to the toilet or make coffee first thing in the morning.  On top of this, the light that shines all day and night from their landing window (I'm going on a raid one of these days armed with an energy efficient bulb), I could read by.

For the sake of neighbourly friendliness (though I am sure that the guy next door likes it really), I am making blinds.  This is Something New.  I have dabbled with alterations, the odd cushion, but a) I have never used lining material, b) don't have an ironing board.  I am assured by the scary instructions that both are necessary. Also, c) I am craaaaaaap at DIY.

I already had blind paraphernalia from a previous (uncompleted) project.  Yesterday I found a couple of great pieces of fabric in a antiques shop, (both large enough for several blinds) which I got for a tenner.  Bargain.

Last night I cut them out.  Tonight, after ironing and pinning, I realised how badly I did this (I poorly employed the 'ripping not cutting' approach).  Having completed most of the pinning, I have just tipped all of the pins on the the floor.  There was about 200.  I haven't dared look under the table yet, I have just poured myself a gin and will do it when I am about half way down the glass.  I suspect I will be finding the pins for another year.

Anyhoo - 2 blinds using stuff from the cupboards, and vintage material costing me a fiver - I reckon that's a win for both de-cluttering AND recycling.  IF I ever finish them.

plink plink sluuuurp

Monday, 21 March 2011

the rule what I live by

Having recently read a book call 'not buying it - my year without spending', I notice that people go into things such as this with a whole different outlook on what is considered spending. For instance, the Author completely cut out spending, not just stopping buying new things, and things that you don't need.  I  believe that spending money in charity shops, facilitating the re-use of other people unused or old items is a vital part of the process.  additionally supporting local industries is vitally important in these straitened times, and I want all the money I do spend to go helping these people out.  This includes so far....

Hilliers - the local Hampshire gardens, who also sell plants
John Robinsons, the local butcher that delivers to the nearby shop (they also have a true hottie working for them.  A wink makes my weekend)
Winchester Farmers Market, which is currently experiencing something of a decline, but has been for years the biggest and best in the UK
All Winchester Charity Shops, most especially Emmaus whose ethic of helping people back into work is truely inspired
Winchester waste recycling centre, that not only recycle nearly all of the stuff that comes into it, also pairs up with Emmaus, and sells 'ProGrow' an excellent compost substitute made from green waste.  6.40 GBP for 3x 30 litre bags.  go for it.
Bengal Sage and Bangkok Brasserie locally owned restaurants that use a lot of local produce on the menu. I do struggle to cut out eating out as I love food so much, but this is my allowance.  no chain restaurants and no takeways ( have slipped up 3 times - damn hungover sundays).  will also have to mention here the Black Rat who are another local restaurant where OH and I ate on friday.  one of the best adverts for how locally sourced seasonal food can be totally inspirational. So deserving of their recently won michelin star.

Admittedly, I did believe that this form of shopping wouldn't turn gratuitous, but I underestimated the quality of the charity shops here in Winchester.... MUST control myself more (though I did buy an awesome skirt this afternoon to go with the boots that I have had fixed so that I can carry on using them. you win some you lose some).  the key thing for me is to stop spending money on things you don't need.  I'm getting there.

new things I buy:
  • food - raw or basic ingredients unless in a total emergency, the occasional meal and lunch out, but local places only ( I love my food).  could write a million blogs on Sourdough bread
  • material to make clothes and gifts, though I have done very well with hand-me-down wool (thanks Auntie Sue)
  • services - bus, the occasional taxi, fuel for OH's car when I use it (I've given mine up)
  • essentials for setting up the allotment in my garden - ProGrow, the odd packet of seed, seed potatoes
  • Tickets - concerts, theatre, small festivals, galleries - I believe in the arts and if the government wont spend on it, I will.
  • essential medicine, toiletries (this is worthy of a separate blog for the ladies and men who excessively groom)
My aim is to have a 'normal' life, and to not spend money that is wrung out of me.  Not spending money on anything is (for me) a severe case of hair shirt wearing, and taking money away from people that need it. I can report on a fair degree of normality, some odd looks from my family, and some great stuff from friends.  AND a much healthier bank balance.

that's what I call a result so far!!

Monday, 10 January 2011

And so it begins.

It is not without a little trepidation that I say hello.  I wasn't sure about my motives for starting to write this blog until New Year when I had a very interesting if drunken conversation with a lady that I was ranting at.  To cut a 3 hour conversation short, I came recognise the value in taking this incredibly personal thing and using it for it's own end.

Share, possibly educate and demonstrate by example how normal, fulfilling and possibly fun life can be without buying anything new.  Steering away from the materialistic society that we are in, but being perceived as normal, not an organic carrot wielding hairy hippy.  Helping others that venture down the same path, no matter how little or far.

A million tiny steps brought me to this point:  Working in the environmental field I do, I see what damage an over-consumptive world has, the impacts, the incredibly smelly and truly horrible places that landfills are.  There is also my boss, who so delighted in free windsurf boards, and the mad lady that ran the waste recycling place.  oh yes, the fact that I lived as 'green' as I could and yet still managed to pump out planets worth of carbon every year. The thousand million times of biting my tongue (and sometimes failing to) in the face of some ridiculous example of tragic waste and ignorance.  Most recently, and the final shove - the carnage that is Christmas.

One key event crystallised something inside me.  Finding out about the 'Buy Nothing Day' was a tiny bit of a revelation.  I already thought that I was pretty 'green living'  This concept was (well, in my eyes) cool.  Reading about this, lead me to 'The Compact', a staggeringly brave and original group that seemingly began this lifestyle of 'buy nothing'.  Read about them, they are awesome.

This isn't a green movement per se, it's a social one.  It's striking against the materialism that it is forced onto us from so young it becomes second nature, to want to buy to make us feel good and 'fit in'.  We are tricked into spending our dosh on meaningless and essentially valueless items, pouring wealth into the waiting pockets of multinational organizations that in turn whisper into the ears of and tweak the strings of our government. we are thus influenced further <begin cycle again>.  Have you ever stopped to think that there may be another way to live?

How hard can it be for one individual to turn their backs on this, to draw a line beneath it and STOP!!!  I'm not imagining that this will be easy, but in a strange way I am incredibly excited.  Taking life back to it's essentials opens the door for me connecting to people as I beg borrow and steal my way into getting things done. It forces my hand on getting those skills I have been relying on mass markets to ignore.

Oh yes gosh, I realise I've had a bit of a rant. I apologise.  Most people would have shoved a bread roll/organic carrot/beer in my mouth already, but I have finally stopped just talking about it, and, well only bleeding gone and started it.  Gosh.