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Longsword photos

 The longsword team have new kit - we've changed to waistcoats rather than sashes, and I think it looks a lot smarter.

I'm trying to use Dreamwidth's photo hosting service, but it's pretty clunky and doesn't even resize pictures automatically.  It took several attempts to get this one to look right.

I love DW, but it's not very good with images.

The one below is copied from Facebook rather than via DW's hosting.  Less hassle and better sizing...

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growing linen and spinning it

For some reason, all these videos are really relaxing to watch.  Enjoy!

 I found this fascinating, so some of you may too.  How to make your own linen thread from scratch - a delightful gentleman (who used to work i the linen industry and now helping at a heritage centre, shows the entire process from seed to fibre.  Pleased to say that I already knew what 'scutching' meant - I'll bet a fiver to the charity of your choice that no one else knows the possible connection between scutching and sword dancing... (it's only a possible connection, but has a little bit of plausibility)

Now, to spin your flax. Because flax has a very long staple, it needs less twist than wool, so the lady here is using her spindle in a way I haven't seen before.

and, finally, another lady weaving a linen tea towel (very restful to watch)

Modern linen production (which is also quite interesting to watch)

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Native American Fingerweaving

 A post mainly for your interest.
feng_shui_house mentioned it during the discussion on clothing and climate change (which is still ongoing and has some really interesting comments).

One of the simplest weaving techniques of all is Native American Fingerweaving.  It hasn't caught on much as a hobby as it's very slow and has limited pattern options, but it would be really easy to teach children as a first weaving technique.

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 For reasons too lengthy to go into, I'm on a maypole kick this week.

So I'm sharing a good modern maypole dance with you.  It's official name is "Twister" but the kids I teach called it "Snakes"and I prefer that name. If you watch, you'll see where the name comes from.
Wait for the undo, it's very different from the construction - though you can undo it simply by reversing the original moves.

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Making lavender sachets and Being an owl

 We've been having fun with Oswin's things to do list.

We have a lavender bush in the garden, and it's just finished flowering.  Oswin's been helping me make lavender sachets for her friends.  (Her two best friends are boys, but she's cheerfully free of gender preconceptions, so they're getting one each)

We're making the sachets out of granddad's old shirt, which is a thin blue check and does rather well.

I cut the seed heads off the bush,

Oswin gets the seeds off them as far as is necessary.

She cuts out the fabric rectangles, and I use the sewing machine to stitch the sachets.

Oswin stuffs the lavender into the sachets and I stitch up the last hole.

She then writes an initial on each bag so she knows who it is for.

She's been adding her own items, which are equally fun.

Owls are her favourite birds, so we had dancing owls today. First she did a dance of barn owls, which roughly consists of skipping around and flapping wings, then hopping on one foot and going "eek".

Tawney owls, it turns out, have a fairly similar dance, but they finish by going "Twit" and the audience have to go "T'woo" (she already knows that Tawny Owl females 'kewick' and males 'hoohoo' in response).

She announced the next dance as short-eared owls, and then paused. "what noise do short-eared owls make?"  

So, we looked that up via Google and the dance ended with a kind of "eesh" sound.

Later on, we had some acrobats (we took her to a circus last week - they'd set up their big top less than a mile away).

The routine (all devised by Oswin) goes roughly - jump onto Granny's meditation cushion, from there onto the footstool, then onto a blanket, then onto the big floor cushion, run round to the start and begin again.  With occasional variations including sideways vaults and somersaults.

All this after she'd been for a decent length walk in the morning - we found some new wildflowers and brought them back to identify.  If you have a yellow flower on your lawn that looks like a dandelion, but has a smaller flower on a longer, thinner stalk, then check out 'Autumn Hawkbit' (or possibly 'Rough Hawkbit').  There's quite a bit of it round here, it seems to be replacing flowers that grew in years past.  I guess it copes with the heat/drought  better.

Image result for autumn hawkbit

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Combating climate change - clothing

Yesterday saw temperature records broken all over Europe.

Scientific certainty on the man-made causes of climate change is now well over 99% .

We are an a very big, heavy ship and it is set on a course that will be very difficult to alter.

All we can say, is that the sooner we start to change that course, the better our chances of not crashing into the hypothetical iceberg.  The later we make changes, the less effective they will be.

Global temperature rises are not being driven by just the CO2 we emit this year, but by that plus ALL THE CO2 WE HAVE EVER EMITTED.

Most people reading this will never see lower temperatures in their lifetimes.  We're fighting for our children and our grandchildren.

Our children, if we're really lucky, will see temperatures stabilise in their lifetime.

Our grandchildren, if, and only if, our generation take action now, may see a reduction in temperature, if someone finds a way to take CO2 out of the atmosphere in large quantities.

Remember that planting trees will only absorb the CO2 emitted by cutting down those trees in the first place.  It will not remove the CO2 from fossil fuels.

So, who's ready for lifestyle changes?

Let's tackle clothing for today:

It's estimated that clothing accounts for 10% of the world's carbon emissions. That's because the production of clothing is very energy intensive and the supply chains are very long, with clothing being shipped all around the globe.

Now add in the environmental cost of washing all those clothes and the plastic fibres released by laundering poly-cotton, nylon, polyester, etc.

Now add in the problem of disposing of all the millions of garments that get thrown away every year - most of it is impossible to recycle and goes straight to landfill.

Can you reduce your own impact?

Why not try and see how long you can go without buying a new (second-hand is allowed) item of clothing?

I'm aiming for a year. The last new item I bought was last August, at Purbeck folk festival.  All I've bought since then is a second-hand pair of trousers, two scarves from a charity shop and a second-hand waistcoat for my sword dance costume.

I have a wardrobe full of clothes.  Apart from the occasional item of underwear, I really have all I need for all round the year for a long time to come.  All I'm expecting to buy in the foreseeable future is a pair of linen trousers - linen being a relatively environmentally friendly fabric and cooler to wear in summer, and I need something to protect my legs from insect bites when I go walking on the heath.

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Keeping cool at night

 Last night was the hottest night of the year, but we actually got a good night's sleep.


The following won't work for everyone, because it depends on the type of building you live in, what country you live in, and what times of day you are at home, but hopefully there will be something you can take away.  

There are two basic principles.
Recognising that buildings have a heat capacity and the walls act as a reservoir of heat/cool. 
Air flow reduces the temperature that you feel.

1.  Plan well in advance.   Think about how the sun moves round your house during the day.  

2.  In the morning, as soon as I got up, I checked to see if it was cooler inside or outside.  If it's cooler inside, keep windows closed to retain that thermal mass temperature as long as possible.

When that initial cool had worn off, I opened every window and door on the cooler side, and closed all curtains on the hotter side (I left the windows open a little so that building up behind the curtains would be able to escape through the window).

Once the sun mover round, I reversed the curtains and windows. However, I didn't open the windows (apart from a gap as before) on the new 'cooler' side until the temperature in the house was the same as that outside.  (because it was still cooler inside at that point.)

3.  When the temperatures were close (as measured by the cheerfully unscientific method of sticking an arm out of the window), I changed tactic and set the house up to have a flow of air through it.

4.  Curtains still closed on the hot side to keep out direct sunlight, but windows now opened about half way on this side to allow air to flow through (our curtains aren't fixed at the wall end, so it's easy to slide them open a little at the wall end to let air flow past)

5.  Front and back door now held open with a pair of old flat irons. They're nice and heavy and will hold any door.  Kitchen door, which is directly between front and back door is closed (as it will slam shut if both other doors are open, and besides, I want to direct the air flow through the lounge, where were are sitting)

6.  Lounge doors held open with heavy weights - gentle breeze now going through lounge.  All upstairs curtains and windows following same rules as downstairs. ie. curtains open if outside is cooler, closed if outside is hotter.  All windows on cooler side are open to encourage air flow, and windows on hotter side open a little to avoid heat build up behind windows.

7.  Remember that thick curtains with lining make good insulation - I haven't tried solar reflective linings yet, but I gather they can help.

8.  Part of this approach is that I'm actively working to cool the bedrooms all during the daytime, long before I need them.  If you have upstairs and downstairs windows open at the same time, you get a 'chimney' effect, where the hot air flowing out of the bedroom window will suck up cooler air from below.

9.  As soon as the sun is sensibly low in the sky and it's actually getting bearable outside, open pretty much everything that you can and try to get air currents flowing through the bedroom before you go to bed.

10.  When you want go to bed, leave open everything that you are able to leave open, (I'm lucky in that I have one downstairs window that would be very hard for a burglar to reach -if you don't have this advantage, consider fitting wire mesh or bars across a window that you would like to leave open. Upstairs/downstairs air flow can make a real difference, wedge the connecting doors open to allow the air to flow.

I went to bed later than normal, partly so that I could leave the back door open as long as possible.

when I finally went to bed, the temperature was bearable and stayed so all night.

However, if it gets much hotter than this....

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The joy of children

 There are few things in the world more wonderful than a five year old.

Younger kids are cute and adorable, but by five, they've mastered all the basics of walking/running/talking and they're soaking up knowledge like a sponge.

Oswin loves to find out anything new.  She adores inventing games, playing with anything and everything to hand.

Sometimes five year olds are just pure joy.

Oswin's friend Sam was round the other day.  Just before Sam went home, they spontaneously decided to be frogs.  Both of them crouched down frog style, jumping up and down.  They were having a blast. Sam's mum and I were trying hard not to collapse laughing and were sharing that look that only parents and grandparents understand.  It's the one that means "I wish we could put this moment in a jar and take it out again when we need cheering up!"

It's that ability to enjoy the moment. Not worrying about the past or the future, just being happy right now.

Oswin playing with a frisbee is like that.  It's a naff frisbee, but she doesn't know any better. She's a retriever puppy, chasing that frisbee and bringing  it back to granny.  Puppies also get to throw frisbees.

Two minutes later, she's seven different puppies and their parents as well, and is explaining to me that I have to think of names for them all.  (Five year olds are bossy little creatures, but that's all part of learning to be independent.)

It's school holidays, so we'll be looking after her three full days a week, rather than three half days.  It will be exhausting, but entertaining.  We've made a long list of ideas for things to do.

so far today, she's helped Grandad with the shopping - we wrote out the shopping list so that she could tell the lady in "Spill the Beans" - our local wholefood shop - what she wanted.  The staff know her well, and usually slip her a few pieces of dried fruit.

Then we played Frisbee in the cul de sac. 

Then we played "Rainbow Snake" (Actually, it's Regenbogenschlange -  a German card game that I got secondhand for 50p at Baycon this year.  the English version is called "Hiss")   The rules are staggeringly simple and the tactics virtually non-existent, but for all that, it's fun to play.  It's like a really simple version of dominoes where you join different coloured bits of snake together.

If you're four or five years old, then it's a lot of fun. Oswin loves it, and so do I when I'm playing it with her.

Let's see how the rest of the ideas list works out...  (we'll do many things twice or more times, but we have three pages of ideas, so variety too) This entry was originally posted on Dreamwidth where it has comment count unavailable comments.


 Aviation starkly demonstrates the difference between rich and poor. Taking a long-haul flight generates more carbon emissions than the average person in dozens of countries produces in a whole year.

Even a short-haul flight - say London to Edinburgh - will emit more CO2 than the average person in Uganda or Somalia does in a year.

But, it's the poor who will suffer the most from the resulting environmental damage.

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Reduce, reuse, recycle....

 I seem to be posting so little at present.  Where does the time go?

Part of it is working on the garden of my son's new house - lovely garden, but the shrubs are rather overgrown and the Virginia creeper is making a bid for world domination.

A project to put raspberries in the front garden has developed into a major job (which we don't mind, but takes a lot more time than originally anticipated).  That's because the bed with gravel in it turned out to have: 

Gravel on top of a plastic membrane, on top of a foot  of sandy heathland subsoil, on top of seven inches or so of builder's sand...


The gravel has gone to a lady who wanted gravel and gave us her unwanted compost bins. 

The sandy subsoil is going to the tip.  Don't think anyone has a use for that.

The builder's sand will be partly used in making mortar for a new retaining wall to replace decorative timber edging which has rotted through at the bottom.

We're getting topsoil from people who (shudder) are turning their front gardens into parking space.

We're getting cement from the lady who gave us the compost bins and had an unwanted water butt as well as unwanted cement.

Bricks for the wall are coming from all sorts of places.  Some have been dug up in various gardens where builders dumped them, some are coming from demolishing an unwanted barbecue, others were in a neat pile in my daughter's garden, and others from other people who have spare, unwanted bricks.

We also have a trailer on free loan (to move all this stuff around) from someone who has a trailer, but no car...

In short, it is amazing what can be sourced/donated/swapped these days.  A mixture of Facebook, online communities and a daughter whose job as a postie takes her past many gardens with unwanted items piled up in them.

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Judith Proctor


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