Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have a polytunnel, garden, veg plot and small woodland, all managed organically, where we grow our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and share our lives with Chickens, Cats, Guinea Pigs and assorted wildlife. Oh and we make a lot of compost! We try to live a more self suffient, self reliant lifestyle here, as best we can.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!


Friday, 31 October 2008

Samhain

Today is Samhain, the start of the Celtic New Year, a day or two when the curtain between the sprit world and us is thinner and our ancestors are closer.

It is also, of course Halloween...All Hallows Eve...a more modern, originally Christian version of the pagan festival.

We don't go in for Halloween parties and suchlike at Compost Mansions, normally we have a bonfire, a clear out of the sheds and polytunnel and a tidy up to mark the end of the year. We eat some favourite, special foods and I mark the day in a number of small, private ways.

One of my regular things is I tend to do "kitchen witchery" today, with the cooking usually being pumpkin related! However I am still feeling very unwell so a lot of the things I had planned have been shelved for a few days but I DID want to make something for us to eat!

SO, some Pumpkin and Apple soup was in order...

The Pumpkin ( A Turk's Turban) was VERY resistant to being cut in slices! I tried ( and failed miserably) and then Compostman tried, he got a bigger knife out and finally his chopper (a scary thing...I don't use it as I have cut my self on it before now!) and the Pumpkin was defeated!

.


I removed the rind from the slices and roughly chopped the flesh along with a couple of onions ( chopped) 2 BIG cloves of garlic, a few peeled, cored ,chopped Bramleys, salt, pepper, thyme and sweet marjoram and my magic ingredient in Pumpkin soup, a small amount of some dark brown sugar





Pumpkin, apples, herbs, onions and garlic were all from our own garden, stock made from a local chicken ( NOT one of ours I hasten to add!) all put in a pot

brought to the boil....

and left simmering on a low heat for an hour, then I turned off the heat and left it simmering for a further half hour with the residual warmth from the ring. I aways like to simmer soups for a long time, I find it improves the flavour!




I blitzed it up with my stick blender and we ate it with a slice of cheese on ( home made bread) toast. The pumpkin flesh was even more sweet than usual, I think the fact it ripened fully on the vine makes them taste the best. I have noticed the ones which I have to finish ripening on a sunny window never taste quite so good?

And as I chopped, sliced, stirred and tasted this morning I couldn't help thinking "Hubble, bubble..." but I guess thats a bit of a stereotype! ;-)))

I certainly WAS thinking of my family, my friends, my loved ones and hoping we all have a good year ahead. I also thought of all my loved ones, still with us or not and wished them all well.

Happy Samhain to you all as well, may your coming year be fruitful, peaceful and blessed.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Kittens return and a rather rough few days.

Well....it has been a rather fraught couple of days here....

The kittens went down yesterday to the Vets to be neutered and micro chipped..I rang at 2 pm to make sure they were OK, and they were fine and in recovery...and all the nurses agreed they were SO cute!

I arranged to go and get them at 5 pm, spent the rest of the afternoon calming a very stroppy Compostgirl down and cleaning out hens.....and I sat down at my computer at 4 pm with a mug of tea to do some catch up emails, a bit of blogging, try and sort out an issue on a forum I frequent AND have a look at a bit more of my Forest School portfolio, before I went to collect the kittens.

My right eye felt a bit itchy, so I rubbed it , as you do when you get an eyelash in it or something...and I carried on working.

I went to my car at 4.45 pm to drive to get the kittens...Compostman commented that my eye looked rather sore and red...and by the time I got to the Vets it was REALLY hurting. The nice Veterinary nurses in my Vets said that it looked sore, too! I collected Tom and Tabitha, groggy and grumbling from their ops...( ah poor things..) and drove home.

I had to stop to move a fallen tree ( really!) which was blocking the whole road near to Compost Mansions...it was big, but old and dead so quite light BUT I was surprised I had the strength to heave it out of the way! I must be getting more fit and strong now BUT it made my eye throb...

I got home at 6 pm and I soon realised my eye was REALLY hurting, I was photo phobic and, on looking in the mirror, I had a bulge in the conjunctiva ( which was a nasty yellowy pink colour!) which meant I couldn't actually close my eyelid over the bulge....( ouch!) it all looked rather alarming, quite honestly. Various worried thoughts flitted through my mind, that's the trouble with having an Anatomy and Physiology qualification and being a First Aider...you have an idea of all the things it could be, and they tend to scare you a bit! (or a lot!)

Compostman took charge "WE ARE going to the Hospital NOW!" He knows me of old, I will delay and postphone and prevaricate like hell...rather than "make a fuss" even though we have had enough serious medical dramas with me that I REALLY ought to know better by now....

So..instead of sitting down at 6 pm to eat slow cooked local free range home grown sausage, apple and cider casserole, we were dashing to our local minor injuries unit...the nurse there was really good ( THANK YOU Jenny!) and rapidly arranged for an on call Opthalmologist Consultant to come in to Hereford A and E to see me....as the Eye A and E had already closed...

So then Compostman drove Compostgirl and I to Hereford where *I* went into A and E and *they* went searching in Hereford to find some supper for poor old Compostgirl as by this time it was her bedtime and she hadn't YET had her supper.. (I AM the original BAD MOTHER..I know I know!)

In the mean time *I* was being examined...The consultant was excellent and very nice ...I came away with some antibiotic ointment AND a script for steroid and antibiotic drops, with strict instructions as to what to do over the next few days depending on how I felt.

It rather looks like I may have shingles.......(!) ....I feel terrible, my eye hurts like hell, I ache all over...

BUT ..the trouble is, with CFS/ME...just going through an upset like the last few days would make me feel like that ....so..I really DO NOT know if I DO have Shingles..YET..........I really hope not!


Oh...and to all who have asked...the Kittens are fine! and were manic all last night ( mainly on top on me, so I didn't get much sleep!)

AND they disgraced themselves last night by pooing and weeing ( both of them!) on the bath mats....despite having perfectly good, accessable litter trays...so I am still pondering on why they did that...maybe they were just still stoned from the drugs they had?

Ho hum...I think we have just had a generally carp day at Compost Mansions..lets hope it was the start of an upturn in our life!

Some good vibes would be very gratefully recieved right now blog friends.........especially that I do NOT have shingles!!

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Tom and Tabitha

Tom and Tabitha are at the Vet's even as I type, being neutered.
We can go and get them this evening and I hope all is going well with them now and they are not too upset with us when we finally bring them home.

They are going to be microchipped as well; its all expensive BUT we do not want to add to the numbers of kittens born every year, if we want more kittens there are ALWAYS abandoned or unwanted cats needing a new home! The microchipping is to make sure that, IF they ever wandered off we might have a chance of finding them again.

Sunday, 26 October 2008

Flavours of Herefordshire Festival

This afternoon I was at the Flavours of Herefordshire Festival, being "Compostwoman" on the composting and recycling stand run by the County Council.

We had a lot of interest, the "Love Food, Hate Waste" stand was with our compost stands and we were inside a hall with Beekeepers, Marcher Apple Network displays and Slow Food Herefordshire amongst others.

Here are just a few of the displays of apples put out by The Marcher Apple Network.





I spent a lot of time talking about rats in compost bins and then turned around to find a different sort of resident in one of mine!





















































The Hairy Bikers were there and were VERY friendly, stopping so people could talk to them, take their photos etc! ( No I didn't get one!)

It was sunny but cold on Hereford Racecourse and I was glad to go home and have a hot drink at the end. We WERE very well supplied during the day with wonderful cakes and copious cups of tea or coffee , so thank you to the group doing that (an ecumenical group in Hereford I think?) It was most appreciated!

And I was able to pick up an organic veg box which had been on display over the weekend for a bargain price, and eat braised steak which had been cooking in the slow cooker all afternoon then sit in front of the woodburner and get nice and warm!

I think that is my last Compost related event now for 2008, unless I get asked to do a talk or demo or something!

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Bloop bloop!

The cider in the demi johns has started working now and all I can hear is the sound of active bubbling as the yeasts get to work!

Its an evocative sound to me, speaking of hard work and harvested fruits, of fun and lots of washing up, of bottling and racking off and FINALLY...mmmmm drinking the end result!

Blooooooop!

Watch the bubbles form in the airlock as you go through the photos...










Friday, 24 October 2008

REQUEST FOR HELP! URGENT WASTE CONSULTATION DOCUMENT!

I don't know how many of you spotted recently an article in The Telegraph , or read about it on The Recycle Works blog, but there are a set of proposals out for consultation from DEFRA about waste management exemptions. BUT they also have serious implications for charity, not for profit and school composting operations!

This is from their website.
Defra, the Welsh Assembly Government and the Environment Agency are undertaking a review of the waste exemptions from environmental permitting. The aim of the review is to provide a more risk based and proportionate approach to the regulation of waste recovery and disposal operations, complementing the new environmental permitting regime. The consultation includes a number of proposed measures aimed at increasing the use of exemptions for as wide a range as possible of low risk activities (including most of those operating under an Environment Agency low risk position) whilst removing or restricting the availability of the exemptions for higher risk waste operations by seeking to regulate higher risk operations through one or more standard permits. The consultation also seeks views on a partial impact assessment and a draft set of regulations.



At the moment there are lots of different exemptions to do with small scale handling of waste, which are applied to charities/not for profit bodies in their activities.

One of the many things contained in these proposals is a plan for everybody who handles any kind of waste under an exemption from licencing etc at the moment, to register for an exemption to their waste operations AND pay a fee for doing so.

This would include charitable and not for profit bodies.

Composting is a waste activity which is either licenced (if done on a BIG scale by business) or classed as exempt at the moment.

Home composting of domestic compostable waste will still be fine and is not apparently part of this consultation.

BUT these new proposals suggest a registration scheme for everybody else, with a fee payable, for ANY activity which is exempt, renewable every three years.

So potentially that means the composting bins at a school could have to apply to be exempted AND pay a fee (suggested at £50, apparently) so as to do composting.

I think this is a bit silly!

I have sent in a comment, I add it in below and please feel free to copy it and use it with what ever amendments you wish...


My name is ************ ; I am a keen organic gardener and home composter.

I am also a Master Composter (a volunteer Community Composter advisor) working with my local council and Garden Organic. This scheme, as you are aware, is co promoted and supported by WRAP, a government sponsored and funded body.

I also volunteer to help and advise at a local school in their organic garden, where the children, teachers and I make a lot of compost as part of our gardening activities. Composting is also a big part of many schools activities to gain their Green Flag award with the Eco Schools movement.

I am therefore VERY concerned that there are proposals to make schools, charities and not for profit groups register and pay to be exempt from the new regulations being considered in this consultation.

This seems to me to be a very shortsighted idea. Composting is being promoted and compost bins and wormeries offered at discount prices by Councils and WRAP as a means of diverting compostable material from landfill. In many areas schools receive free compost bins, wormeries and advice. To therefore suggest a charge be levied on such activities is frankly NOT " joined up thinking" in my opinion.

A charge or even registration may well put off charities or not for profit bodies from starting new composting schemes OR cause then to halt existing ones. Schools and many small charities have no funds to pay for such a charge; indeed why should they be expected to?

I hope that you will reconsider this aspect of the proposed regulations and exempt not for profit organisation (including schools) and charities from having to register and pay for an exemption.


Yours faithfully

*********** B.Eng. (Hons)





PLEASE everyone, it is NOT too late to respond to the consultation which contains this proposal!

The deadline WAS 23 Oct but apparently submissions WILL be accepted until the end of Oct (according to an email I have recieved from the Community Composting Network...)

So , IF you want to know more go to this site to read the full consultation document.

It DOESN'T just cover composting but ALL waste activities!

If you want to have sight of the Community Composting Network's response to DEFRA, see here for their full reply to the proposals.......

and if you want to submit a comment email exemptions@defra.gsi.gov.uk before the end of Oct or a.s.a.p.

PLEASE! We NEED to act on this NOW!

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

A beautiful sunset and moonrise.

Last week we hosted a Compost Seminar at Compostgirl's school for Teachers to be trained in composting and wormery ownership. (a post about it is in preparation...to come soon...) I was helping set up , and did a talk on composting and school gardening and how to integrate it in to the curriculum, and by the time I finished helping to pack up and clear up at school it was very late and I wanted to get home!

I was about to get in my car when I spotted the violet and scarlet streaks of this sunset, so I waited and walked up the school field to the brow, to get a better view. As a result of waiting I was priviliged to experience and photograph the MOST FABULOUS sunset!










And then later Moonrise over the wood.

Sorry its a carp photo, but you get the idea!

Wonderful wonderful sights!

Monday, 20 October 2008

Cider making!

It is Apple Day on October 21 st. Coincidentally, this Apple Day weekend we have been making...CIDER!!


Apple Day, 21 October, was launched in 1990 by Common Ground. The aspiration was to create a calendar custom. We have a way to go yet, but some already think the event is traditional. We should like the day to become the autumn holiday – what better celebration of a new era positively linking culture with nature.

From the start, it was intended to be both a celebration and a demonstration of the variety we are in danger of losing – not simply in apples, but richness and diversity of landscape, place, ecology and culture too. Its success has shown what the apple means to us and how much we need local celebrations in which, year after year, everyone can be involved. In city, town and country, Apple Day events have fostered local pride, celebrated and deepened interest in local distinctiveness.

Apple Day is now an integral part of the calendar of many villages, local authorities and city markets. It is a focus for activities organised by the Women’s Institute, National Trust properties, Wildlife Trusts, museums and galleries, horticultural societies, shops and restaurants as well as for schools, colleges and environmental study centres.



Two friends of ours who live nearby are keen cider makers and last year started up their own mobile pressing business, The Little Cider Press. (Note > Keen readers of my blog will remember we did this last year.....sorry.....but my posts WILL be a tad repetitive from year to year, that's the way it IS with growing stuff and harvesting it and living more in tune with the seasons....LOL.....such is life when you are more self sufficient, the passing of the year is marked by the same old, same old!! )

On Sunday we all went round to their place ( just across the fields, but all the apples dictated using the car!) with a car boot load of our apples for the Compost Mansions Cider production 2008.

The Little Cider Press press your apples and you pay per 25 L of Juice produced. This year Nigel and Deborah have added the ability to bottle and pasteurise your juice as well! They can do batches of 14, 75 cl bottles of your juice at a time, for you to take away.

So on Sunday we took round about 100 Kg of Bramley, Fiesta and Tom Putt apples, hand picked and carefully boxed, from our orchard. The VERY best apples have been carefully put into apple boxes and stored for eating and cooking during the winter and early spring. The windfalls are left for the hens and wild birds to eat. Blackbirds especially LOVE fallen apples!

Washing out all the demijohns and the 25 l cider container in our utility room aka "the glory hole". My job! It is a LOT of work to get containers clean as apple scum is the most difficult thing to clean off I have EVER found! Worse than other winemaking fermentation products.

Clean containers sterilised and waiting to go (phew)!

Apples loaded into the boot of my car, around 100Kg in there! Bramleys (a cooker) Fiesta (Eaters) and Tom Putt (Cider/Eater)



At The Little Cider Press, Nigel (on the trailer) gets ready to work.

Apples waiting to be washed.

Compostman checking the apples in the washing tub.

Milling the apples in the scratter(chopping them up so as to get maximum juice from them)The apples for the juice were done first, they have to be damage free and of less than 80 mm diameter.

Compostwoman putting apples in the scratter to chop them up. Note I am short and have to climb up on the trailer to do it !

Nigel from "The Little Cider Press" making up a "cheese" from apple pulp.
Nigel is building up cheeses with the pulp. Putting the pulp on to the cloths which sit on top of a (traditionally acacia) wood slatted frame.

The apple pulp is put in cloths and layers are built up. The cloths and frames are stacked up into a "cheese" Then the layers are pressed to get out the juice.

Lots of lovely apple juice from pressing the apples in the press. This first pressing went into the bottles and was pasturised. It was mainly Fiesta apples with about a quarter Bramley seedling as well.


The boot of my car at the end: 4 boxes of pomace ( apple pulp)to add to our compost bins ( no surprises there, then!), and 35 L of apple juice to make cider.


Add an airlock to the fermentation vessel and leave for a week or so and hey presto...fermentation begins!!
and also we have 25 bottles of pasturised apple juice. Shall I label it "Compost Bin apple juice" or what?

It was a really fun afternoon, several other people came round to get their apples pressed and we drank a certain amount of cider.... ( hic!)

One of the many things I LOVE about where we live is the oppertunity to participate in this kind of stuff, and also that Compostgirl gets to experience all sorts of events than other children just never get to do!

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Why not use cans?

I have been brewing this post for many weeks now!



This is the boot of my car, loaded up for a trip to a recycling site ( it doesn't matter which one, I have several around us) because I am going out in the car for another reason.....it might be to collect Compostgirl from school or to go to town and get some food and go to the library...but anyway the recycling goes in my boot JUST IN CASE I pass a recycling point.


All our waste collected on Tuesdays by the bin lorry goes into landfill, so it is up to US to make sure we recycle ( separately and at our own convenience, expense, washing, storing, sorting and transport) any recyclable waste.

This is what I put out for the collection this week...we do not have a kerbside(what's that?) collection of recyclables...we are " too rural" for Hereford shire Council to provide one: This week we put out a plastic laminated /cardboard box ...a mixed packaging box ( my pet hate!) which means neither the plastic film NOR the cardboard can be recycled...( my bad, I shouldn't have bought the paddling pool for Compostgirl which was in it...) and a (degradable) black plastic bin bag with a small amount of plastic packaging which cannot be recycled in my area...( Our council only recycles plastic milk bottles/pop/water bottles with the recycling symbols "1" or "2" on them....)





This is the corner of our kitchen where we sort out the recycling, compostable dry stuff ( the wet compostable stuff goes in a caddy by the sink, see the cider and wine posts a few pages back!) and the stuff which has to go into landfill. We try to minimise the stuff going into the landfill bin by not buying it in the first place as once in the landfill bin it goes to a big hole in the ground ( Landfill..nice euphemism!) - where it sits decomposing and generating Methane if otherwise compostable ( Methane is 23 times a more potent greenhouse gas than Carbon Dioxide!) OR just sits and does nothing useful except fill a hole in the ground and be part of a disgusting mess for future generations to be appalled at how wasteful the previous few generations were...EVEN THOUGH WE KNEW what a mess we were creating...

As you can probably guess EVERYTHING which can be composted here, gets composted....and if we can recycle it, we do, and we avoid buying it if we can't recycle it ( under normal circumstances... but read on...)

So, what has prompted my somewhat ranty post? Well, as regular readers may remember we have fairly recently acquired 3 new cats, Sid the nearly (now)year old cat, and Tom and Tabitha the (now) 6 month old kittens. We also have Kitty Cat the elderly resident puss. Kitty eats what he catches, supplemented with cat biscuits; the late beloved Monty Puss used to eat small quantities of cat meat and mainly biscuits so this wasn't an issue before, BUT now we have kittens we have suddenly started to get through a HUGE quantity of cat meat!

ANYWAY, with Monty, we always used the little foil cartons, as he had a small appetite and a can would go off or HE would go off IT before it was finished...so anyway, either can OR foil tray went into the metal recycling box and off to the recycling bin whenever Compostman or I were going past one.

But NOW we are buying "kitten" food, and can you get it in cans or foil trays? can you HELL....it all comes in plastic "pouches"...which of course are NOT recyclable!
SO I am faced with buying kitten food in plastic ( on the left) and throwing the empties in the landfill OR getting non kitten food in cans and being able to recycle the empties.














Whose bright idea was it to market plastic pouches? Did whoever think ..."Oh yes, lets sell cat food in non recycleable plastic rather than endlessly recycleable cans...." I am sure they didn't! but the end result is..a recyclable packaging option replaced with a non recyclable , fossil fuel using package...grrr.

Guess which option we chose to buy? Yes, the cans.....and before anyone shouts "Kitten cruelty!" We DO also feed them kitten biscuits ( which we get in a cardboard box...) .....so no accusations of kitten cruelty, please!

I really wish there was some joined up , adult type thinking over all this....why can't "TPTB" just decide that all packaging HAS to be recyclable...no ifs, no buts...and ideally easily compostable in home compost bins as well???


PS I feel ever so slightly guilty at the amount of food being bought for what are basically an indulgent luxury pet, when there are people who die from lack of food...but that's another post I think!)

Friday, 17 October 2008

How I know who has laid what egg?

Several people have asked me how I know who has laid what egg?


I watch who goes in to Cluckingham Palace or the Eglu, and correlate the egg laid with the hen...I also have been known to shut a hen individually in each of the houses and runs , if she hadn't laid, to see what colour/shape egg she lays.

I only did this when I first got the girls, I had Henny and Ginger first and they lay different colour eggs ( dark brown speckled, pale brown and pointed) so that was easy. I then got Sweetie, Attila, Genghis and Cathy

Sweetie and Attila lay similar creamy coloured eggs but they are VERY different shapes, Attila's are long and pointy, Sweetie's are more rounded. Genghis doesn't lay, or lays a soft shell mess...when she DOES lay its a huge misshapen thing!

Cathy lays very round large pale brown speckled eggs, similar to Ginger but more round.

From left, Henny, Ginger, Attila, Sweetie, Cathy eggs.



Babs and Goldie came here only a couple of months ago and lived in the Eglu so they were easy to identify! They both lay mid brown eggs, Babs lays slightly speckled eggs, often a double yolker! whereas Goldie's are plain and a little smaller.





It IS useful to be able to tell the eggs apart, although I rather think Compostman thinks I am mad to do this........

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Question to my fellow bloggers..........

I am finding the new blog Simple, Green, Frugal Co-op a very interesting read! I have followed Rhonda-Jean's blog for some time,

Tonight I read this post and was cheering as I read!

I STRONGLY recommend you read it!

To me it sums up why in the last 10 + years we have stopped buying so much stuff, questioned why we should get things, made sense of the reason why, every time we go to buy something, I think "why" and "who made it" and is it "fair trade/ethical/recycled" and "what is it made from " and most important "do we REALLY NEED this thing, or do we just WANT it"

Quite often, we don't...and even if we do, we often have something else which will do the same function...

One thing I HAVE found....It is VERY hard with a small child to do this..I KNOW, I KNOW...but it can be done..it IS possible to have a child and NOT be overwhelmed by the mountains of sheer plastic tat which seem to be assumed as the inalienable right of ALL Western children to consume...We have bought plastic tat yes of course we have, and had it given as ( well intentioned) gifts and I am not so churlish as to throw them back at kind people who bothered to give us /Compostgirl a gift ...even if we DID say NO PLASTIC ( grrr)

BUT on the whole, we have limited our exposure to child generated AND adult generated "STUFF"....

so how have YOU done? No penalties, no prizes, no insults.. no patronising.....I am just interested to know what you all think? I value your opinions and would like to know what your views are?

Go, read, and come back and tell me what you think...we can have a virtual chat over a glass of my home made wine, or some tea/coffee and Parkin ( thanks to Jennie world!) or home made bread, butter and jam..( mmm my favourite!)

Go on....I'm waiting! and the kettle is on!

Oh, to be a cat!

Look who I found on the sofa! Tom Kitten and Sid curled up on end and Tabitha at the other end.



Tom and Sid are very good pals and often sleep in a bundle of cat, like this! Tabitha gets a little fed up with the boisterous boys sometimes...well, a girl needs some space occasionally!


Tom contemplating something outside.

I love my cats, These new kittens have filled some of the HUGE Monty puss shaped hole in my heart and in our lives, He can never be replaced, but these lot are a good alternative!

We now allow them to come upstairs, so sometimes the middle of the night is enlivened by catsplaying on top of us....

Wednesday, 15 October 2008

Thanks to Aromatic for a really good idea

Aromatic posted recently on her wonderful blog,The Winds of Change

"Parts of my life.... We all have 'things' we have as part of our everyday life apart from family,friends, pets etc. Here are just a few of mine....."

and then she posted up some wonderful pictures, sharing her life and thoughts with us...and it set me thinking...I post up pictures of what I DO on here, but I don't really post up pictures of my life which shares how I FEEL. I tend to "report back" on what I have been up to, rather than using my blog as a general diary. I am very much a DOER and I feel my thoughts and feelings are rather more private. Obviously I also don't want to post TOO much about Compostgirl, for obvious reasons!

BUT, always being willing to do something new, I decided I would do a post where I took photos of things which would show something to others about me......a post which had things in it which mean a lot to me or which friends who know me would say "thats SO Compostwoman!" , a post which wasn't about a specific task we had done! AND HERE IT IS...I didn't edit these pictures, I just took my camera, wandered around the house and garden and snapped.


The wildife I love and am passionate about protecting. We have so much wonderful wildife around us, with our wood providing protection and food for many more vulnerable species. This is the Orchard Robin, he/she will sit on my hand if I offer food. This Robin also has the veg patch in its territory so it is well fed!



Books! Endless piles and bookshelves FULL of books! Every room in this house has bookshelves of books.


I love this bowl. It is by a talented local ceramic artist called Rachel Padley, she also made my Green Man, who hangs on the dining room wall and is crowned throughout the year with appropriate garlands, to honour the Wheel of the Year. This bowl was a Yule gift from Compostman and Compostgirl a few years ago.

These next two photos show craft items made by my late MIL. Sadly I never really knew her when she was fully compos mentis, the Alzheimer's which eventually took all her faculties away had already started 20 odd years before she died and when I first met her,she was already declining mentally from the woman she had been in her prime.


A beautiful Table runner, embroidered in tiny stitches. Its wonderful and sits proudly on my dressing table where I can admire it everyday.














It's a great sadness that both my Mum and Compostman's Mum died long ago, my Mum in 1989, my MIL in 2003, I miss them both and especially now as I try to recreate all the things from books and memory that both Mum and Mum would have just been able to tell me about! If they were still here (they would both be VERY old, MIL 98, my Mum 92) I could ask them about canning and bottling, knitting and quiltmaking, lace making, baking, all the many things they both did to make a home. I could ask them about their lives and how they felt and did things.

My MIL was a teacher, my Mum had several careers but her last job was as a School Dinner Lady at MY primary school- I now realise she took the job so as to be at home when my brother and I came home from school.

Both Compostman and I were children of older Mums and they both were adults in the
2nd World War and children during the Great War so there would be so much to talk about! We both DID talk to them when they were with us, but you don't really when you are young, do you? You rush and work and get on with your own life....a shame.

Goodness that musing came up out of nowhere! Anyway, I like to use things of theirs and keep their memory alive, I think that is the best way to honour people who have died.


My Hens! I KNOW we were meant to stay off Family and pets, BUT the WAY I am about my hens is WHO I am, so I have put in a photo! They are mad but I love them all dearly.

This one shows my passion for Environmental Education work. The Master Composting, Eco Club, training as a Forest School Leader, Environmental campaigning I have done, the Consultancy work, growing and selling organic vegetables...all these are a HUGE part of "me".

More books! In our bedroom this time. I had just made up some base oils into my facial oil and some toner from floral waters. Lots of aromatherapy books on the shelves, lots of historical fiction too! Essential Oils are hidden away in the dark to protect them and preserve their properties. I use the knowledge I gained from Diplomas in Aromatherapy, Indian Head massage and Body massage all the time, its as natural to me as breathing, to massage away pain or absorb it or annoint it with essential oil blends to ease away a discomfort.




The colourful scrunchy was from last years Big Green Gathering when I helped in the Big Green Idea marquee. That was a new experience for me! 25 years ago I used to go to festivals and camp. But that was 25 years ago! I went last year to the BGG and camped alone and spent a week away from Compost Mansions and my family. I met up with friends from the INEBG forum and had a wonderful time. It was an exhilerating experience and made me realise I NEED to keep challenging myself to do new things, to learn new things, in order to be a happier person!


A Craft ( and craft) corner. I honour the changing year in various small corners all over the house. The ceramic pumpkin is to save my precious real ones being carved and going mouldy. I would rather they made soup!

More than anything else these next three photos are the three things which sum up "me" I think! MY Compostbins: Somewhere I go to feel the magic working!

The Polytunnel, it acts as my shed and my sanctuary when life gets too much! I love the whole process of planting seeds, nurturing them, watching them grow, produce food and then die back to be turned into compost, to feed next years seeds......

The Vegetable Garden, looking a little unkempt now, but still good food there, hidden from view, waiting to be harvested later on in the year.

Herbs waiting to be dried, used for healing and for cooking, used always with love and care !

This sums it up really: Preserves, wine, cider, harvested fruit and vegetables, jars waiting for me to fill with the goodness we have grown with our own hands on our own land, all in the kitchen Compostman built for the three of us to shelter in.












I hope you enjoyed this more personal glimpse of my life. I enjoyed doing it, and it has brought up some interesting memories and thoughts. So thank you Aromatic once again for the idea.
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