Sunday, August 31, 2014

Whickham Flower Show

When I am not wearing my self-sufficiency hat, I am wearing my local councillor hat. Alas, that restricts me (morally) when it comes to entering our local flower show. One of the sponsors of the Whickham Flower Show is Gateshead Council and were I to enter the competitions and win, it would look decidedly dodgy that the local councillor has won competitions put on by Gateshead Council. Nevertheless, I did visit the show on Saturday and took a stack of photos and video. The video is not yet edited but here are some of my photos. You can see more on this link.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Big Lib Dem win in Newcastle

We can look across the River Tyne to Newcastle today with a sense of achievement - the Lib Dems won a by-election to the City Council yesterday in North Jesmond ward. In one of the most hotly contested wards in the city, Labour had high hopes of picking up the Lib Dem seat but ended up seeing their vote nosedive.

In May we had a slender majority of 33 votes. Yesterday, victorious Lib Dem candidate Gerry Keating romped home with a majority of 391. The Lib Dem vote was up on May, Labour's vote collapsed to just over half their previous total. There was an interesting three way contest between UKIP, Conservatives and Greens to come last. In May the Greens and Conservatives had a modest vote with the former beating the latter by one vote for 3rd place. This time the Greens suffered a more horrendous collapse than the pitiful performance Labour clocked up. They ended up with only a third of the total they got in May. The Ukippers achieved 4th place, jumping ahead of the Greens only because the Green collapse was more substantial than that of UKIP.

The Lib Dems were returned with over half the votes cast. Well done Gerry.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The summer recess ends

For me, the Council recess ended today (Wednesday 27th). I was in Gateshead Civic Centre for the chair's meeting of the Corporate Resources Scrutiny Committee at 3pm. The agenda will be published shortly but there was one issue in particular that caught my attention. More about that once the agenda is in the public domain. The time of the meeting was not ideal for me however. I was filming a video today about pickling quail eggs (our quails produce nearly 400 eggs a month). The wonders of the editing suite will remove all trace of the gap in filming caused by having to head over the meeting.

3.5 million YouTube viewings

Hot on the heels of my Flickr stats, I am pleased to report that another viewings milestone has been reached. My videos on YouTube have now been watched 3.5 million times. There are 884 videos on my channel with a long queue of more waiting to be edited and uploaded. The most viewed video continues to be the one I filmed in a former Soviet submarine base deep inside a mountain in the Crimean town of Balaklava with 266,000 viewings.

In recent times however the most viewed video is one of my self-sufficiency ones, how to dry tomatoes, which typically gets about 4-5,000 viewings a month.

My next targets are to reach 4 million viewings and have 1000 videos uploaded to my channel. You can visit the channel on this link.

Monday, August 25, 2014

1.5 million viewings on Flickr

There is a Labour member in Gateshead who loves to sneer at my use of social media. Actually, there are lots of Labour members who sneer at everything I do, but one in particular springs to mind. So, especially for him, I'd like to announce another milestone reached. On Flickr, I have just clocked up 1.5 million viewings of my photos. My Flickr site is used nowadays mainly as a place to show my self-sufficiency photos though I also add local campaign photos in Blaydon constituency and travel picture to it. But it is the self-sufficiency pics that attract the most viewings. Typically, within a few days of posting them to the site, they have each had hundreds of viewings.

Anyway, if anyone (including the Sneering Socialist) really feels the need to look at my photos of hens, quail houses, goats and jam making, click on this link and enjoy!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Our next email newsletter

The latest edition of eFocus, our email newsletter to residents in the Whickham area of Blaydon Constituency was written on Thursday and published yesterday. It leads with the possible appeal by UK Coal against Co Durham's rejection of plans for opencast mining near Marley Hill. There are also articles about Planting Up Whickham, Whickham Front Street School rebuilding plans, Marley Hill community cafe and other issues. You can read the newsletter on this link.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Food swapping event

For some months now I have been working with the Green Branch of the Workers' Educational Association in Newcastle to set up a food swapping event. The aim is to encourage as much local food production as possible and give people the opportunity to swap their surpluses. The first such event went ahead on Sunday at the Station Masters Garden at Whitley Bay Metro Station and by all accounts was a success.

You don't turn up with a cash wallet. Instead, your "money" consists of food you have grown or produced. My wallet consisted on 2 boxes of jams and and a basket containing 15 dozen quail eggs. The eggs had gone within the first hour and we traded about two-thirds of our jam.

An exchange takes place - jam buys 3 pepper plants!

After an hour or so, we had "bought" quite a few vegetables, soft fruit, rhubarb, bread, cake, even other people's jam!

Back home and this was the final tally. There is probably going to be another event in September in Newcastle. I'll be there with my eggs and jam!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Pizza at the High Spen Hop Garden

The Hop Garden is a community allotment in High Spen in Gateshead. Volunteers run it and I have got to know some of them over the past year through my efforts to build up a food swapping network. Yesterday they had a pizza evening, complete with pizzas made in front of their pizza oven. Locally grown ingredients were included.

We were invited so we headed over at 4pm. The Hop Garden is a great project and a valuable way of involving schools and residents in growing food. Hopefully others will be inspired to follow their lead.