Saturday, 26 November 2011

Gardens of the Future

This garden design we saw at Nature's World is recommended for being low maintenance and planet friendly. Not much watering is needed.

Well known Teeside landmarks have been painted on recycled materials to give a trompe l'oeil effect.

Returning to Nature's World

Jeff got the day off work so we took Mum out for the day to Nature's World.
We had a picnic as the weather was really mild and sunny, and we had cups of tea in the tearooms.
Jeff made Marmite and Tomato sandwiches and Mum had made some scones.
There is a miniature River Tees with many of the bridges and industrial features which have been constructed from recycled materials by local people from Teeside.

Queen's Court Recycling Bins

Just down the road in Queen's Court Newcastle City Council installed a new set of recycling bins with normal household waste bins.
There is also a bin for clothes and shoes, and a grit bin.

This encourages people to separate their recycling from the normal household waste, which does not happen much at our place, being a housing association the landlord seems to be able to get away with substandard practice, as the rules do not seem to apply here.
Here is how it should be done!
Note the aesthetically pleasing secure metal fence enclosing the bin storage area.

Complaints about rodents seem to have died down recently, maybe due to the colder weather.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Communal Bin Sheds 1

External side of bin shed with wooden doors which open to allow metal bins to be wheeled out for emptying.

Inside the bin shed there is room for one large metal bin open topped bin (no lid) which is designed to be attached to the bin wagon crusher when it does its rounds.

These shutes are open all the time and can't be shut. It would be possible for a small person to climb into them.

The purpose of these steps is so someone can climb up them and drop their rubbish down the shute into the bin inside the shed. Needless to say they are not very popular. In cold wet weather they can be difficult for people to use. Often the shutes are blocked with large bin bags which people have tried to shove into them.

On returning from Segaki Retreat

I felt really tired after returning from my week away due to not getting the large quantity of sleep I usually need, and all the emotional hard work of a week of intensive meditation. However I did feel much less stressed and in fact almost relaxed, but pretty soon after returning that went Pop!
My "retreat bubble got burst!
I had an appointment at the Royal Victoria Infirmary INR clinic on the Monday after I returned (stress index begins to climb) and on my way home I met our Estate Caretaker and stopped to ask him if he had any News.
First bit of News is we now have Emmanuel Spence contracted to replace the broken bits of gutter.
I have actually seen the workers from Emmanuel Spence using a powered platform to replace the broken gutter.
They have been contracted to replace the bits which fell down last winter and join it up with the remaining gutter and down pipes.
Hopefully it will do the trick but we will see what happens when it rains next.
The caretaker also told me that while he was taking one of the communal bins out of the bin sheds for the refuse collectors on Bin Day, a rat jumped out of the bin right there in front of him.
A number of fellow tenants have complained to me about the large quantity of large brown rats running about around the car park, bin shed area and children's playground.
So I decided to make a phone call.
Initially I wanted to speak to the local Housing Officer but he was not available.
The person on the landlord's helpline asked me if I had been in touch with the local council, so that was my next call, to Envirocall.
I explained to the operator that we were concerned about the large numbers of rats and that the landlord was just telling us to ensure to always put the rubbish in the bins, but this would not stop the rats visiting because the bins were out of date (I will post pictures later) and kept in sheds with open shutes and often the bins were left outside for a number of days over public holidays when Bin Day conflicted with days he caretaker was on holiday.
So I was told this was a matter for Public Health and Public Health would be looking in to it.
Later I got a call from the Housing Officer who told me that he had checked with the caretaker and in fact the tenants were leaving the doors to the shutes open!
This is absolutely ridiculous because I have tried to shut them and it is impossible, they are so old I think they must have rusted into the open position.
Also that when they get the new gardening contract the bushes around the bin sheds will be trimmed back so the rats cannot hide in them!
I pointed out that in fact it is the food in the open bins which is attracting the rats, not the bushes!
A person who I think was called June Alexander called me from Public Health, she wanted to clarify exactly what the situation was.

Spital Tongues Summer Garden

Jeff took this photo earlier in the year of one of the front gardens in neighbouring
Spital Tongues

Friday, 4 November 2011

Buddhist Training

This year I was able to attend the Segaki Retreat at Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey for the first time.
It is a week long intensive meditation retreat in the last week in October with a number of ceremonies. One in particular is the ceremony of Feeding the Hungry Ghosts.
Hungry Ghosts are Beings, or aspects of ourselves, which are constantly craving, symbolised by ghosts with big tummies and tiny mouths and throats.
There are videos you can look at and listen to on youtube from various Zen monasteries showing this ceremony.
There is also a ceremony during which paper tombstones are burned on a special fire called a Toro.
Last weekend our Newcastle meditation group and the Teeside group met together with our group monk in Teeside for a day retreat when we spent the morning meditating, then had lunch together and later went for a walk to
Natures World, which is a permaculture orientated theme park on the outskirts of Middlesboro. I particularly liked the miniature River Tees installation. Check it out.
"This unique 400 meter long working model of the River Tees has been created from scratch from a good idea and a flat, boggy field! Thousands of Lorry loads of clay and sub soil where imported back in 1992 to create Upper Teesdale."
Wow! Thanks to the Teeside Group for introducing me to this fantastic place.

Holiday Caravan

At last I have some time to post some photos of our holiday in our favourite caravan park on the Colvend Coast, Dumfries and Galloway.
This year we has caravan D4 which was a Gold 2 bedroom caravan, plenty of room for the 2 of us as everything is so well designed. Here is our kitchen.

Woodland Path Near Castle Douglas

The woods inland from our holiday caravan on the Colvend Coast are so beautiful and green, quiet and peaceful.
Even though the weather was a bit stormy after the tail end of Hurricane Katia in September

Red Beauty

This red squirrel was part of the group which visited daily, to eat the nuts which we had provided.

Red Squirrels

Our caravan was visited every day by a number of red squirrels. At least one of them had the large tufts on the ears. They had different shades of red and brown on their coats and they were different sizes. We put some peanuts out for them which we bought in the pet shop in Dalbeattie.

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