Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Lighting Up Whickham

Lighting Up Whickham is the name of the community organisation set up to boost the vitality of Whickham village and to raise money for local improvements, particularly Christmas lights. Our latest meeting was held last night when we formalised the arrangements we put together last month for ensuring money was raised for the flowerbeds on Church Green. That was so successful that we were able to plant out all the beds rather than have them grassed over.

One of the main reasons for the meeting last night was to set the date for next year's community festival and decide on its theme. I had previously suggested an Edwardian theme to fit in with the commemorations due next year of the outbreak of the First World War. The organising group decided to go with this. A provisional date of 5th July 2014 has been set.

Another of my suggestions was adopted - a Christmas market. The aim is to bring more shoppers into the village centre to use local shops as well as visit the market. We are doing this on a zero budget. We have been offered a marquee by the Rotary Club and we can borrow the tables from a local community centre. Rotary will provide a Santa. I will contact the crafts people on the list I have for the monthly Marley Hill Community Centre craft market I run. The provisional date for this is 14th December.

And sticking with the Christmas theme, we have set 25th November as the day we will switch on the Christmas lights. So plenty of activity coming up to keep me busy!

Thursday, August 01, 2013

Self-sufficiency begins today

When I left Cowley Street  in 2009 to pursue a life of self-sufficiency, a sort of 21st century version of "The Good Life" in Gateshead, we knew we would have to set a date from which we would no longer buy food from shops. Well, that day arrived today, 1st August 2013. From now on, our food has to be grown by us, foraged for from wild sources, or traded with other local food growers. There are some minor exceptions. Some things we cannot produce ourselves such as tea and coffee. Though we will use alternatives some of the time (eg mint tea - even better when I add some of my honey) we will trade wherever possible with a friendly shop keeper (one is lined up) for our honey, jam, eggs and so on. Some things we will be producing at some point in the future - such as milk when we get out goats and wheat for flour were we to get the land we need to grow it - will need to be purchased now though we will strictly limit their use and use alternatives where possible. Our experience of living on a wartime diet for two weeks as an experiment in 2011 will certainly help us. I will be writing up our experiences each day for the next month on my allotment blog: www.self-sufficientinsuburbia.blogspot.com. The BBC has been following us since March to see how we get on as we build up towards the point where we become self-sufficient. More about that on another day but the programme will be broadcast in September.