Friday, 16 November 2012

Pumpkin or Marrow

Time Exchange gardeners grew pumpkins in the allotment.
I got two this year.
They were very large and looked more like marrows. The skin was tough, but Jusna helped me prepare one of them.
I found a recipe for pumpkin and coconut curry and one for pumpkin soup.
There are lots of such recipes on the net.
The soup was so delcious. I got 3 bowlfuls for myself and also took a couple of portions to a neighbour.
The curry is good as well.
I also used the seeds. I cleaned the fibres off and washed them, then I spread them on a baking tray and spinkled tamari on them, and baked them for 15 minutes.
They are completely yummy, particularly so when they were straight out the oven!

Winter Sunrise

These are city trees at dawn, which are the best thing to see when getting up early in the winter.

Moss Garden

These mosses have been growing on the rocks near the lake in Leazes Park for some time. I have noticed moss growing on walls, pavements,stones, and just about every inanimate thing which has been outside recently, due to the wet weather.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Programme of Works

The landlord, in association with home renovation group Keepmoat and plumbing and heating Engineers
K Hewitt & Co.
of Bishop Aukland, scheduled the programme of works as follows:
Day 1: Rewire and new fuse box.
Day 2: Plumbers/Boiler Fit and removal of hot and cold water tanks. Please ensure water tank cupboad empty and benches below boiler are clear. Cupboards below boiler need to be emptied along to the gas meter (that meant taking everything out and packing it away).
Day 3. Electical board change and snagging. Trip switch board near front door changed and finish work.
Unfortunately the rewiring necessary was extensive and another 3 days were required. Some new trunking was put in due to many remedial wirings needing to be done.
I am very sad to see my old boiler go to the great scrappage yard of impermanence which is the fate of all beings, both animate and non animate. Hopefully it will have a new life in another form. Maybe as a car part or made into a new boiler?

November trees

It has been a while since I was able to get out locally with my camera, despite many times seeing the lovely colours on the trees and shrubbery.
On Saturday I found this on the way to Leazes Park, looking towards Richardson Road across Castle Leazes (Little Moor).

Also on Castle Leazes Little Moor is this wonderful laburnum tree, much loved by visiting Finches for its seeds which they enjoy eating.

Preparing for Mother Nature

Preparing for Mother Nature
We have had a lot of work on the old house recently, that being the old house which we live in. The first part was laying a new mains cable, all paid for by Northern Powergrid, who I had never heard of before, but now I understand is responsible for maintaining the supply of electricity across the North East.
We all got a letter "Notification of Electricity Supply Reinforcement" then later they began digging up the car park and paths to lay new cables. Vans from a company called "Freedom Network" began appearing and men (yes, all men) began to pop out of them and dig and lay cable in the channels.
The cable has been fed through a hole which was drilled in the wall but some more work needs doing before is connected up.

Saturday, 8 September 2012


This summer the buddlea bushes seemed to grow more strongly and brightly than I have ever seen, maybe with all the rain we had.

allotment gnomes

A few weeks ago I was walking down the path through the Nun's Moor Allotments and I saw this arrangement of gnomes and other little figures. Someone has tenderly arranged them to look out at the passing gardeners.

Tuesday, 10 July 2012

guerilla knitting

We saw some purple knitting on one of the railings in Leazes Park. Here is some similar from Saltburn.


I love road signs of all sorts but the big ones near where I live I like in particular. In the distance you can see the spire of St. Mary's Catholic Cathedral and the fuel service station.

White Foxglove

Out for a short walk on Sunday morning and noticed a large amount of foxgloves, both pink and white. So lovely.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

ferns and roses

We have had so much rain the ferns and mosses are growing as well as the weeds, which are sprouting up between every crack in the paving stones.

The rose bush I bought from Lidl did very well this year. Looks like it needs some support (don't we all) a stake maybe.

Friday, 6 July 2012


We also made some hummus. Recently have been using tinned chickpeas, because the kitchen fills up with steam and makes the flat damp when I cook dried pulses.

vegan cheesecake

Jusna helped me make a vegan cheesecake. It was supposed to be mango and pecan.
I bought digestive biscuits for the base from the co-op on Market Street and two tubs of Tofutti cream cheese from Holland and Barratt in the Bigg Market. The mango was from Hutchinson's on Stanhope Street.

We made the base first and baked it.

Then we put the ingredients for the cheesey part, which was basically mango, lemon juice, agave syrup and tofutti cream cheese, into a blender, then poured it on the biscuit base.

It was baked again then left to cool then the pecans which had been toasted in agave syrup were arranged on the top.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Doughnut peach

I was persuaded to try some doughnut peaches which were on sale in Hutchinson's.
They were indeed sweet, soft and very juicy!


From reading "Moon in a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen", I liked this passage about meditation. Bear in mind that "objects" are thoughts, or what comes up in meditation or life.
"Long ago monk asked an old master, "When hundreds, thousands, or myriads of objects come all at once, what should be done?"
The master replied, Don't try to control them."
What he means is that in whatever way objects come, do not try to change them. Whatever comes is the buddha-dharma, not objects at all.... Even if you try to control what comes, it cannot be controlled."

St. John's Wort

St. John's Wort growing in a tiny space in Fenham. Raindrops on the leaves and flowers.

More on the storm

Incredible stories from the Great Tyneside Storm - Newcastle City - Communities from @EveningChron

Newcastle floods

Last week we had some hot humid weather, culminating in floods and thunderstorms on Thursday. I had just got home about half an hour before it started. The sky went really dark as if it was night and then some thunder ad lightning and then the rain. I could not see very far out the window as there was a wall of water.

mixed use path

On Brighton Grove I noticed this marking on the pavement. It means that the cycle path is on the pedestrian pavement for a few metres because there isn't room on the road for it. It looks funny because it looks like someone was cycling along then got off their bike.

Moon in a Dewdrop

Reading "Moon in a Dewdrop: Writings of Zen Master Dogen" I was particularly struck by the following passage which I understand to be about entering wholeheartedly into one's life and committing fully to Buddhist Practice. Sometimes we see life coming at us like an unstoppable force or even a brick wall advancing we cannot hide from.
"This is a splendid opportunity for buddha dharma to enter into mud and water. If you do not realise the fruit at this moment,
when will you realise it? If you do not cut off delusion at this moment, when will you cut it off?
If you do not become a buddha at this moment, when will you? If you do not sit as a buddha at this moment, when will you practice as a buddha? Diligently examine this in detail."

giant rhubarb

Last Wednesday I was in the allotment and I saw this giant rhubarb.
Later I was able to cook some of it in a special recipe involving dates and raisins.

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Bush with white flowers

I liked this bush with the little white flowers, and bees buzzing happily everywhere.

Other soft fruit and a shy gardener

We planted coriander beetroot, basil and some other seeds in seed trays.

Strawberries and other crops

In the brick bed the strawberry plants are getting ready to pick. In the background nets protect the crops from birds.

Time Exchange Allotment

After walking down a long lane between allotments we arrived at the gate to Arthur's Hill Time Exchange Allotment

Nun's Moor Allotments

On Midsummer's Day I was asked to join a work group at the Time Exchange Allotment, which is in the Nun's Moor Allotments, which officially date from 1889.
Allotments were plots of publicly owed land "allotted" to people who lived in the sort of dwellings which had no access to land, such as tenements and back to back terraces, where they could grow food to feed their families.
The weather was warm and balmy, with lots of sun.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

2 repair requests made today

Eventually got around to deciding to ask for 2 repairs from the landlord's repair service.
The positive pressure ventilation system which ventilates the flat does not appear to be doing anything. I checked the manual and it says if the air is not fresh and stale smells are hanging around the filter needs changing. It was installed July summer 2009 and the filter needs changing every 1- 2 years.
Also the tiles in the shower are cracked around my shower seat.
I made the phone call this morning and have been given an appointment for both repairs to be completed on the afternoon of Thursday July 05.
We shall see what happens.

Monday, 18 June 2012


Saima and Silvia came for lunch on Saturday and to get a demonstration of healthy low fat stir fry.
Saima brought this lovely bunch of flowers and a bag of bean sprouts.

I stir fried the bean sprouts in 1 dessertspoon toasted sesame oil until they were soft and wilted.
Then I added half a bag of frozen stir fry oriental style vegetables. When they were done I added a small tin of sweetcorn, a pack of cauldron foods marinated tofu, and a small tin of pineapple rings, some tomato ketchup, cider vinegar and tamari. Then I added some cooked noodles.
For pudding we had prunes with vanilla soya yoghurt.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Miniature River Tees at Nature's World with boats

You can see the Transporter Bridge and someone operating one of the model boats,with a group of children watching further up river.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Boats on miniature River Tees at Nature's World

There is a working model of the River Tees at Nature's World.

Today there were lots of boats on it.

Tyre Garden at Nature's World

It is all about helping the environment, recycling, water conservation, permaculture and using reclaimed materials.

Mural (Nature's World)

An artwork displayed in the garden at Nature's World

Diamond Jubilee Bank Holiday

We had a double bank holiday for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. Jeff and I took Mum out for the day to Nature's World in Acklam.
Last time we went it was last winter so it was quite different. Follow the brown signs from the A 19 and it is very easy to find.


Purple flower could be chives.

Reading List

Last time I went to Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey I bought a copy of "Moon in a Dewdrop" which is translations of many writings of Dogen. I am reading it now in conjunction with "Gilead"which Linda the librarian has asked me to read, in preparation for attending a book group she runs.

She also recommemended
Civilization : the six killers apps of Western p ...
By Ferguson, Niall

I did not care much for this book although I learned quite a bit about China and also the history of colonisation of the Americas. I did not have the patience to finish it.
I also read

Aftermath : on marriage and separation
By Cusk, Rachel

This one I just had to read as I kept reading about it when I read the Review section in Saturday Guardian, which is where I often read about books I want to read. It was fairly engrossing in a yucky kind of way.

Secret life of the grown-up brain : the surprisi ...
By Strauch, Barbara
I read about this one in the Big Issue magazine... Apparently it is "nearly normal" after the age of 40 to forget names and what you went into the kitchen to get.

Lost river
By Booth, Stephen

Fairly gripping and well written crime- psychological thriller type thing

Garden News

Earlier in the year I was in Lidl and noticed they had cheaps seeds, 2 packets for 50 pence.
I planted them outside the window and was very disapointed when they did not grow. April was so wet and the ground was waterlogged. I was sure the birds had eaten them. Then we did get some sun.
Recently I noticed they are starting to grow, and there are a a lot of them.
I had bought a packet of Dwarf mixed nasturtiums and a packet of climbing nasturtiums, as last year I found them climbing the hedge. I had also bought some marigold seeds but they are not showing yet.
Also planted a pot herb which was already in flower, Lavender Anouk.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


Evening in the small coastal village of Kippford, near where we went for our holiday.

A Woodland Tower Block

I love these tree trunk stumps which have all the different plants mosses and fungi growing on them with homes for all the insects.

Woodland in Dumfries and Galloway

Bluebell Woods were in all directions.

Our Holiday in Scotland

Last month Jeff and I went to our favorite holiday park in Dumfries and Galloway. We stayed in a 2 bedroomed caravan with some lovely views.

Here is the view from the kitchen window looking out at the park.
It's really interesting living in such a compact space for a week.

Friday, 25 May 2012

New Co-op store in Newcastle

My neighbour told me about a new
Co-op which has opened on Market Street in Newcastle .
I went to get some vegan biscuits and deoderant.


I was really interested in the recent TV series about compulsive hoarding
The Hoarder Next Door .
I didn't realise what a common problem it is.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Great Tit Call

After a number of years of hearing this bird calling during the night near my home I finally found out what it is. I got a book/CD Set called "Garden Birds Songs and Calls" by Geoff Sample and there it was.
It calls during the day too, but with the lack of traffic at night the sound carries better.

Lots more about Great Tits here .

There are also blackbirds, robins, dunnocks, blue tits, crows, magpies and pigeons nearby.

Monday, 30 April 2012

Leazes Park Beds

The gardeners in the park work hard to make the Park nice for us. In the Spring they fill the flower beds with colorful bedding plants.
They also pick up litter which people drop and arrange for the vandalism to be repaired. The stone balustrade needs fixing and the blacksmiths came in to replace the ironwork which had been taken from the bandstand.

home comforts

I ofter think how fortunate I am to have a warm comfortable home. The room I have my desk in gets a lot of sun, and Jeff liked the way the sun was lighting up the colours on these textiles.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Flowers, plants and local buildings

One of the modern buildings which has been built on the site of the old Newcastle Breweries near St James Park, as seen from the lane into Leazes Park.

Bluebells and some other spring flowers in the park.

From the entrance to Leazes Park, looking up Stanhope Street, with the Black Bull public house on the corner (not shown) and the Number 39 bus approaching. In the distance you can see the Todd's Nook (known as Tall Flats) flats at Big Lamp (top of Westgate Road).

Leazes Park April

Colurful shrubs in the Lane leading from Leazes Park to Barrack Road

Behind the bandstand you can see St James Park football stadium and on the right had side of the path one of the stone lions.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Who Was Dogen?

I liked these 2 short films where the medieval Japanese Buddhist Master Dogen explains what his teaching is all about.

Dairy Free Veggie Guacamole

Using ingredients I found on the windowsill and in the fridge I made this special guacamole:


2 small ripe avocadoes or 1 large;
1 desertspoonful tomato sauce (ketchup);
2 desertspoonfuls tofutti cream cheese;
Half teaspoon wasabi mustard;
1 teaspoon lime or lemon juice.
Cut the avocadoes in half and remove the stone as shown here

Mix the avocadoes with the other ingredients in a bowl, mashing them with the back of a spoon until you get a thick creamy effect.
Serve on rice cakes, accompanied by miso soup and Japanese rice crackers.
If you have any left over guacamole you can store it in the fridge covered with cling film.

Friday, 6 April 2012

Spring again

I liked how the green on the hedge is glowing with luminous light of Spring.

A poem from Dogen, about the moon

"Those who see worldly life as an obstacle to Dharma
see no Dharma in everyday actions.
They have not yet discovered that
there are no everyday actions outside of Dharma."
Check out View on Buddhism for more poems like this. I got into Dogen's teachings due to his showing us that enlightenment is in the everyday mundane world.

Library Lo*n list

Importing my library Lo*ns list, books I have b*rrowed from Newcastle Libraries and read recently. It seems I only read crime and Buddhist books, with the occasional historical novel (featuring historical



By Tremain, Rose

Body work
By Paretsky, Sara

Child of the phoenix
By Erskine, Barbara

By Mina, Denise

Hidden child
By Lackberg, Camilla

Two For Sorrow
By Upson, Nicola

What lies beneath
By Rayne, Sarah

Buddhist stories
By Ganeri, Anita

Going Buddhist : panic and emptiness, the Buddha ...
By Conradi, Peter J.

This night's foul work
By Vargas, Fred

Chalk circle man
By Vargas, Fred

Red queen
By Gregory, Philippa

Uncertain place
By Vargas, Fred

By Grisham, John

Red bones
By Cleeves, Ann

Blue lightning
By Cleeves, Ann

Vegan with a vengeance : over 150 delicious, che ...
By Moskowitz, Isa Chandra

Hurting distance
By Hannah, Sophie

Writings from the Zen Masters

Low-fat vegetarian

Frugal Lent

As a Buddhist convert from a Catholic background I had been thinking about Lent and how to make use of this period. My friend Saima from Time Exchange inspired me last year by giving up chillis and spicy food. So I decided it would be a good idea to go without Tesco home deliveries throughout Lent and see if I could manage by using up the food stored in the cupboards and freezer, supplemented with what I could carry home from the local shops within walking distance of where I live. The point was to use up what I already had, and eat only home cooked, healthy wholesome vegan food.
Conciously Frugal has a blog explaining clearly the reasons behind Frugal Lent. I got a bit short of soya milk so Jeff brought me some in the car. He also took me to Lidl a couple of times for essential items like toilet roll. I used up items languishing in the cupboard. Instead of tea bags, I used the loose tea leaves I had been bulk buying. Jusna and I made chocolate chip quinoa cookies with the quinoa which I thought I would never finish. Thanks to Sally's blog for the recipe! I also made a lot of risottos and lentil curries.

Saltwell Towers

Saltwell Towers has been refurbished and is fully in use now after a long period of being derelict. It looks really different to the last time I saw it. Please visit there for latest news from Herbwormwood