A summer summary…

Let’s get one thing clear, summer is not over! This is surely only a ‘halfway through summer summary’!

My contributions to this blog are waning as we continue on our ‘not buying new’ path. Living this way has become normal, no longer note-worthy. In other ways we have relaxed, perhaps we need to re-jig to get back in line! Others continue to inspire us and there is always more to do and ways of being more green, more ethical, more conscientious, more aware, more fruitful, rested and thoughtful.

But a few snapshots from our year so far.

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Fixing the old dog cart as a climbing frame for Rubio

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A 2nd birthday and another trip to Germany for mummy’s work, on the train as usual of course. No flying for me thank you! What could be more enjoyable for a two year old than a day on various high speed trains seeing the countryside change, racing up and down the carriages, hearing different languages and chatting to all the friendly folk in the seats around you?

Ed made a bit of a mistake when booking his ferry to Ireland in the spring and ended up flying. And it seems he will ‘have’ to fly to Sweden in the Autumn, or spend a whole week away. Sometimes this upsets me, but one person can not make decisions for another nor expect another to think the same way. It has been great being able to say that ‘we do not fly’, now it is a slightly more lonely ‘I do not fly’. But no matter how much I want to swim in Greek waters, I will not board that plane!

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How gender neutral can you get? Benny the digger being taken for a walk in the buggy. The more aware of gender stereotyping in relation to Rubio I get, the more ridiculous the whole shebang becomes. Nothing is firing me up more right now than how the gender stereotyping pigeon-holes my little child – as yet unaware of what it ‘means’ to be a boy or a girl, or masculine of feminine – and has pigeon-holed, repressed and subjugated people all over the world.

And of course we remain carless. Although Rubio dreams of driving a big motorbike/tractor/rocket ship…

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A little late or a lot early?



This old tea chest has been taking up space in our living room since well before Christmas, when it finally seemed like a suitable time to bring it in from the cold and wipe off the mould, dust, mud and general muck that had accumulated over the last eighty or more years. Before languishing in our greenhouse for a year, it languished slightly more dryly in  my mother’s loft for, oh, over 29 years. It had once belonged to my father’s family in south Wales, and you can still read the delivery address on it, ‘Abertridwr’, where my father lived when he was a small boy. A sentimental something that made me want to bring it back to life again.

Covered in dusty, rotten fabric and lined with soggy paper it smelt as musty as a cellar in Venice. But once all that was stripped off, a lovely but rough tea chest appeared. So there it sat; dry, sanded and with metal parts painted, in our living room, taking up space.

But there was something altogether more magical in store for it…


Next Christmas our little Rubio will open this aged and rusty-hinged chest and find something quite unexpected… painted deep ultramarine blue, covered in real, glowing gold leaf. A line of magical creatures prance, twist  and gallop around the rim. Filled with our German Christmas pyramid, baubles, beeswax candles, straw stars and a wreath made from pine twigs which smells of frankincense, it just glows when opened.

So it is March now, it is a little bit late to think of Christmas, on the eve of the equinox. Better to think of it as being a little bit early, waiting for winter. It is waiting in a dark corner under the eaves at the very top of our house, waiting for a little boy to open the lid and start the magical ritual of making Christmas memories.


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weaving, hats and a bit of bother with braille

sally weavingJust finished my second Saturday weaving with wool under the experienced tutelage of artist Sally Hampson (right), in the wonderfully atmospheric ‘Weaving Shed’ on Stroud High Street.

More information on her work and courses at http://www.sva.org.uk/news/archive/2013/Weaving-shed.htm
I’m weaving a sample that may well end up in a piece for an exhibition in Germany in June, but the complications of translating braille into weave stumped me today, my fabric doesn’t so much speak words as just look a bit bobbly! Researching for the same piece led me to this fantastic hat pattern http://mushroomvillagers.wordpress.com/the-eddie-cap-tutorial/ which i may adapt and simplify.

eucalyptus_India_Flint And the weaving shed lunch breaks have proved very fruitful with people sharing their knowledge about all things (mainly all things textiles!). Elisabeth had led me to ecp-printing and the fabulous work of India Flint (eucalyptus prints left). Using natural, harmless mordants and plants, they create delicate prints. Elisabeth’s own examples reminded me of aged cotton, soft and faded, with some leaves surprisingly sharp and clear.

Ed and my new years resolution was once again to ‘not buy new’. But so far this year we have already bought two humane mouse traps for a little furry visitor (as yet untrapped and at large). We have also bought new shoes, although shoes were always on the borderline between ‘must only buy second hand’ and ‘can buy new if can’t find second hand’ (along with any baby safety gear and DIY bits and bobs!).

Back to figuring out how to get that braille working in weave…

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First Allotment visit of the year…


Photo0197Photo0195A little sunshine and look what pops up in our allotment, a little gnome!

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Happy New Year 2013!

From a rather absent blogger! Things have been so busy the last 6 months that this blog has slipped somewhat. However 2013 should bring us more challenges to blog about, more changes and positive developments to chart. I’m starting off this year with a few interviews of people close to us who have made big changes to the way they live in recent years, some inspiring stories! In the meantime, Happy New Year…

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May and June 2012

Wowee what a few weeks we’ve had! Rubio turned one, i turned 30, we had our little teaparty to celebrate us three getting through the first year more or less in one piece…


I went back to work part time, Ed lectured in various places in England and in Ireland, we had the downstairs of our house repainted after the damp-proofing, my mum moved house, i had open studios and finally Rubio learnt to walk!

In the meantime we tried to keep on top of the weeds in the garden, sow things in the greenhouses and plant out in the allotment. We are preparing ourselves for two weeks in Germany next weekend, gathering our reserves of patience for a long day travelling on the train with a very active little boy! I am preparing myself for a two week artist residency once we are there http://www.kunstforum-laubach.de/ and then once we are back straight into making site specific work for an outdoor exhibition at the Rococo Gardens in August http://www.artinthegarden.org.uk/. I could go on but i’m making myself tired!

In May we bought new: a pair of fairtrade indian trousers from Ethos Kids for Rubio, a passport for Rubio, some rope for the hammock and some screws for the pergola that Ed is making (in our remaining free time, which is at night… by candle light… only joking!).

The garden was filled with bluebells in May, now replaced by strawberries and roses, and the huge honeysuckle threatening to completely cover our front door! To spoil this floral bouquet of an idyll slightly, the garden is completely overgrown with giant hogweed, bindweed and cleavers.

But that doesn’t stop our little boy getting mucky in the garden, making the most of the glorious weather with his nappy off! Or crawling into the greenhouse to explore… spot the baby!

We are very behind on the allotment, having only just put shallots, chard, beetroot and even some late broad beans in. But our runner beans are growing well. Rubio and i ate the first three strawberries last week!

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April 2012

Can you believe it, nearly a year has passed since our little boy was born? We are having a little family tea party as Rubio and I nearly share a birthday in May and it is a ‘big’ birthday for both of us! Like at our wedding we are asking our guests not to buy us presents but instead bring something to eat or drink, after all my theory is you can’t have too much cake! Although we haven’t bought Rubio any toys our living room is swiftly disappearing under toy mountain, lots of lovely things passed down and given to us. Rubio cdertainly doesn’t need or want anything (although crawling around with his cousins and eating a fruit bun will make his birthday pretty darn great!) and neither do I, we have so much, more than we know what to do with or know where to put. So we hope our guests don’t mind us asking not to buy us anything… all our reasons are here on the blog, from personal to ethical to environmental. I hope our guests see that what would make us really happy is to have our birthday wish granted… no new stuff!

A while ago i was reading another blog that mentioned eco friendly balloons, a coincidence as i had just bought a pack from the Stroud Valleys Project shop, for Rubio’s tea party. There was a comment by another blogger saying how this was all just ‘greenwash’, that even natural latex balloons could never be eco friendly due to the processes and dyes used to make them, also that they would take longer to biodegrade than the 6 months stated on the box. I’m of the belief that any step is better than none, that no new product is ever perfect in green terms.

After working with latex in mouldmaking for many years i am sure these balloons will biodegrade quickly, so after Rubio’s party i will pop then in the compost and see what happens… oh yes, there we are, the catch… of course they won’t biodegrade if just put into landfill will they? Just like ‘biodegradeable’ nappies that actually need to be put into a huge compost heap or wormery at the rate of about one a day tops. Not quite what the packaging says is it? Still, like i said, some improvements are better than none?


A newspaper pinata would be more  eco friendly than balloons i suppose, but Rubio loved his first balloon, until he got a little over-confident and tried to bite it and it had to be swiftly removed and deflated lest his razor sharp little teeth made it go POP!

After days of frustrated searching and attempted booking we fear our attempts to get to Germany in June, for an artist residency, have been foiled. Unable to travel the really cheap way by coach because of Rubio we looked at the lovely trains but tickets are far too expensive this year for some reason. £400 return to Giessen anyone? Seems all the (two per train perhaps?!) cheap tickets have sold, oh what to do, and why so expensive? Last month we had a perfect short break in Tenby, the trains were affordable and connections swift, apart from one long, cold delay on the outward journey that was eased by a large and friendly Columbian family sharing a bottle of wine! Slow travel most definitely has its perks…

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