Monday, 25 November 2013

Attended Vegan Festival in Sunderland

Jeff and I attended the first ever North East Vegan Festival in Sunderland, despite our well laid plan to get there on the metro being scuppered... by the Metro to Sunderland being off until 1 pm!
Came away with a huge amount of vegan cheeze!


This is a small detail of lichens on bark which I saw in Leazes Park last Sunday.

Winter is here now and we even had a tiny bit of snow, so I have been told.
The autumn took me to a 15 day stay at Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey. I was able to stay for the Segaki retreat, which was pretty good despite me feeling quite unwell for a large part of it. Not wishing to come home early I decided the only thing for do was take refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, and talk to a couple of the monks about how unwell I was feeling.
Being away from family and friends, being away from home and all the things I normally busy myself with, no TV, no internet, no phone reception, also on purpose I don't read books or magazines while I am there, so I really look at what my mind is doing to itself.

There were some really good Dharma talks, which are on the Throssel website.
Look on the right hand side for Throssel web site. Then open the Dharma talks link.
Then I stayed on for another week and spent some time walking in the garden. On the last weekend of my stay there was the Dharma weekend, and two Festivals, one in memory of Reverend Master Chisan, and one in memory of Reverend Master Jiyu. Jeff drove up on the Sunday to bring me home.

I am so grateful to be able to live so near to such a lovely Park as Leazes Park. The Park is not well maintained since the Council Cut backs, and weeds are really taking over in some parts.

On the way out of the Park I noticed this unusual bush. Its a one with dark green waxy leaves shaped like hands.

The swans seem to stay all year round. I liked the light on this photo.
Apparently all the swans in the UK are the "property" of The Queen, and it is an offence in law to kill or harm one. It once was classed as Treason.

This shows the lake with the trees and snack kiosk.

Autumn colours, near the Richardson Road side of the Park.

Thursday, 15 August 2013

More Gardening in Arthur's Hill

I was asked to take some more photos of gardens and street planters, as Arthur's Hill Time Exchange is having a stall at the Greening Wingrove Garden Festival on Sunday, and photos are needed for a display board. Here are a couple which I thought summarised the project's intent:

A fantastic tiered street planter which has been tended by people who live in nearby houses, in return for getting some of the veg when they are ripe and ready.

Some of the very tiny front yards have been made really lovely.

May in Dumfries & Galloway

A few photos from our visit to Dumfries & Galloway which I had not got around to posting until now:
First one is actually a wild otter in vegetation on a loch, which we would never have seen as it was so well camoflaged. Click the photo to enlarge then look for his or her head lifted up, shiny mud-brown. It was making quite a bit of noise, as described here.

Here the otter is, in the middle of the photo.

The most lovely lochs, with tranquil woods, are so beautiful in May. Last one shows Carlinwark Loch with Cherry blossom and Castle Douglas Toon in the background.

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Arthur's Hill Time Exchange Gardening Project

Arthur's Hill Time Exchange has been making hanging baskets for the local residents. Some have fruit like strawberries in them and some have flowers.

The sunny weather this week meant the gardening team got busy making more planters. Martin who works at Arthur's Hill Time Exchange is busy showing us how to make a hanging basket. The team made £100 at an event at the local school where they sold the hanging baskets.

Gardening Project

Each Year Arthur's Hill Time Exchange do gardening work in the local area. Recently they have taken over maintenance of the brick planters around Arthur's Hill. Normally Newcastle City Council maintain the planters but they have not been able to afford it since Central Government cut their budget.
Here is a planter on Stanton Street, and also some evidence that council cuts to domestic refuse collection services are causing people to dump rubbish elsewhere than in their domestic bin.

I have had discussions with people about this. People say why should we need our bins emptying every week, when we can recycle things instead? Surely getting our bins emptied fortnightly is enough?
My answer: some families have a lot of children and maybe they are caring for elderly parents or disabled family members who live with them. They don't have a garden so they can't do composting. Their young children have nappies (not recyclable) which need changing. Their older children want to eat junk food. They have poor literacy skills and are not sure how to go about recycling or what they can recycle.

Ghostly figure in Leazes Park

We spotted this ghostly figure by the trees in Leazes Park recently. The blue thing in the foreground is artwork symbolising the path of the Lort Burn, the river which runs underground at this point and flows into the River Tyne.

Recent works near Monument in Newcastle City centre

Some major work has been going on in Monument Mall near Monument Metro. The whole Mall was gutted and is being refurbished.

Work is also going on at the end of Northumberland Street. Probably building upgrades.


Vegan (of course) wraps with hummus and salad in. Garnished with grapes and wasabi peas.

Water mains complete

At last we had the lead water mains upgraded. It took a few false starts as the different work crews had to all join up on the right day to get the job done. All we are waiting for now is the paving stones to be put back and the holes filled in, and the boxing in to be competed in the bathrooms.

Friday, 17 May 2013

More news on lead water main replacement

Today I had a couple of telephone conversations with the surveyor who is responsible for making the replacement of our lead water main with a new lead-free one happen.
Apparently Northumbrian Water (otherwise known as "the water board") have been out to check the trench. The trench is a big hole where the water pipe goes. The trench has to fit specific regulations, and not being up to them had to be widened, so the subcontracted paviers had to dig up more of the pavingstones and ground under it.
Once Northumbrian Water approve the trench there is a period of 21 days notice before the actual water can be connected. Northumbrian Water staff have to actually go into the property (our homes) to connect. This is a new regulation as now the Northumbrian Water own that part of the pipe, or have responsibility for it. Used to be owned by landlord or homeowner.
I was able to find a video which shows a very similar project happening, and explains it in quite a lot of detail, although this bloke is doing both the plumbing and the trenching, making things a bit less complicated.

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Crocus type flower, and Red Bushes

More plants at Durham Botanic Garden

Water themed artwork

Click here for info on the artist and the meaning behind the artwork.

This sculptures is about water collection and the animals on it are symbolising life on Planet Earth, which is totally dependent on water. Without water we would all be dead. Humans in particular need clean water.
Which reminds me: we are still waiting for completion of our lead water mains replacement. Replacing the lead supply pipe with a new lead -free one. The pipework to connect has been done but Northumbrian Water have to complete and connect the pipes to the mains before the trench can be filled and the paving stones put back.

Durham Botanic Garden Heron Sculpture

Another sculpture, of a heron

Metal Sculptures at Durham Botanic Garden

These metal insect sculptures of fly or wasp like creatures are very similar to spider and toadstool sculptures in Ward Jackson's Park in Hartlepool.
I found a video with them in here... near the end of the video you will see them if you are patient.

Durham Botanic Gardens

Another day out at Durham University Botanic Garden, as Spring seemed to have finally arrived and the sun was shining.
However we are still having very cold spells and even hailstones and sleet.

Cash crisis forces Acklam's Nature's World centre into adminstration - Local News - News

Cash crisis forces Acklam's Nature's World centre into adminstration - Local News - News

I was sorry to hear Nature's World near Middlesborough where we have visited a few times, has been forced to close, due to funding difficulties.

Back at Blyth Beach

The first Bank Holiday in May we went to Blyth Beach. There are some wind turbines, sheds for Port of Blyth, the pier, and people having fun on the beach.

Friday, 5 April 2013

War Graves and Karma

The new sign showing St. Nicholas Cemetery contains Commonwealth War Graves. These are graves from persons who died in the military during the second and first world wars, from within the Commonwealth.
There is a website for commonwealth war graves.
Click here .
Do you know anyone who has a relative who died in WW1 or WW2? If so they want to hear from you. They have funding to renovate or put memorials on the graves. Its a peace-promotion group.

Last week our meditation group listened to a CD by Reverend Myoho, one of the monks affiliated to Throssel Hole Buddhist Abbey. There was something about Karma from innumerable lives.
Later I was thinking about it and it came into my mind about our conditioning. We are all the way we are in large part from conditioning. That conditioning takes from our parents and their parents. The grandparents were conditioned by their own parents, and back to the time of witch burning, medieval days and before. Conditioned from our culture and where we were born. The place we were born has its own conditioning, that it was shaped from many different factors, human hand, nature, geography etc.
WW1 and WW2 shaped our karma. People born in wartime and who were children in wartime are often emotionally scarred by the war experiences. Some elderly people are never able to talk about their experiences of wartime childhood. Being separated from their parents and home as evacuees. UK history has an effect on how people live here now. Politics, environment, sociology, it all is affected by history.
That karma thing makes a lot more sense now.

St. Nicholas Cemetery new signage

There has been some upgrades to St. Nicholas Cemetery. For so long this small cemetery was so neglected it looked as if the Council had forgotten all about it. Now it has lovely new signs, which just makes it look cared for. People are still getting buried here.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Blyth Beach

After our visit to Northumberlandia we had a walk on Blyth Beach. During weekends and public holidays any half way decent weather brings lots of people and their canine companions on to Blyth Beach.
The Fish and Chip shop is well known to be one of the best in the area.

The beach huts are very pretty. As well as being weatherproof they have lovely stone buttresses and living roofs. That means plants naturalised on them. People are not allowed to camp or stay overnight in the beach huts, but they make a good place to meditate or be a base to spend your day at the beach. Having a picnic or changing into swimming togs.

Northumberlandia's birthplace

This photo shows the area around the Northumberlandia earthwork to be a large opencast mine. Once the mining is finished maybe some more large artworks will be commissioned.

Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Rising Damp...NOT!

This winter has been quite long and cold. Due to recently reading my gas meter and comparing it with previous reads I am expecting my next bill to be very high.
The flat continues to be quite damp and I am running the dehumidifier all the time. I touched up the paintwork in the hallway yesterday and found some of the plaster very damp near the base of the wall and the paint flaking off. Landlord still has not addressed problem of overflowing gutter and ventilation system still needs a new filter. Moss and weeds growing all around the base of the building. Solid brick wall has an external insulation which is saturated with mould between the brick and the insulation coating layer.
I found the following site very useful about damp, it explains the most common reasons for damp are:
not rising damp . Many other more simple due to poor building methods,our wish to constantly add on or structurally change our homes or simple lack of maintenance over the years. Very interesting and informative.

animal altar

A while ago I put my collection of whimseys and other pottery animals on my altar with a Buddha meditating in front of a picture of a woodland spring. The rabbit reminds me of the meditating rabbits on the lawn at Throssel, the zebra is a bit distant and uninvolved, the snail will eventually get to sit in front of the meditating Buddha, and the other animals also have Buddha Nature.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

What is Fuel Poverty?

UK Government defines household fuel poverty as a household in which 10% or more of income goes on heating the home
Go to their site

I calculated my own household status
using this resource and was surprised to find I am in fuel poverty. Other people I know did it too and found the same.

Monday, 4 March 2013

Visiting Northumberlandia

Jeff and I visited Northumberlandia at the weekend.
Said to be the world's largest earthwork of a human figure.
You tube video not my own but I liked it.

Photos from my camera, Jeff's shots.

I have been thinking recently about how we humans all seem to need approval. Someone asked me if it was common for people to want everyone to like them. I think its a natural thing that we all want to be liked. But it can become a problem if we do things just to please others and gain approval.
Ultimately we have to like ourselves and know that deep acceptance, which doesn't come from outside of us.
Practicing meditation, we can begin to know ourselves, and begin this process.

Friday, 1 March 2013

Photographs Of Newcastle: Leazes Park - Snow - January 2013

Photographs Of Newcastle: Leazes Park - Snow - January 2013: A few photos taken during the recent winter weather here in Newcastle.

Bradley Manning in Court today

Bradley Manning in Court today, follow story here

Tyne shipping

These ports are active at the moment: Tyne, North Sheilds, Seaham, Sunderland, Hartlepool, Blyth, Teesport, with lots of shipping such as
we saw off the coast when our meditation group went for our half day retreat. After we had lunch (everyone brought food and soft drinks to share) we took our Group Monk to the Rendezvous Cafe in Whitley Bay. Our route
mapped here
meandered through the lovely suburb between West Monkseaton and Whitley Bay, giving us time to look at the gardens and houses.
On the seafront you can see ships in the distance. The more you look the more you see.
There is a lot more shipping going in and out than a lot of people are aware. Trawlers, container ships and passenger ships bound for Northern Europe.
I found a few links to the most interesting sites.

seaham harbour in county durham, large goods port

cable maker DuCo's own port on the Tyne in in Walker

ONG a large fabricator on the Tyne with its own dock in Wallsend

webcams and live map showing all ships around Tyne, also Blyth area

The large crane on the Tyne at Walker which supports these ships was discussed in this page from the BBC.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Newcastle City Council Budget Cuts

Councillor Nick Forbes speaks about how the cuts to local government are impacting on our city.
The city relies heavily on money from central government, because of its many people in old age, disability or youth, its many social problems, and its low revenue from council tax (many households not paying council tax at all, also many households in lower council tax bands like A, B and C (which mean less money coming in from local tax).


Over the last few weeks we have had lots of snow. I didn't get out in it much as it was soon compacted down and the paths became very icy. Thanks to my neighbours and dear friends for helping me get to where I needed to go, also to the drivers at the ever-reliable Fenham Taxis with their fleet of old Peugeot Diesels. However I was sent this photo taken in Jesmond Dene looking very wintry. There are people sledging on the Town Moor on You Tube, also lots more Newcastle Snow videos to look through.
Managed to get to the Library today and an elderly lady told me that she had almost run out of food because she had not been able to get out of the house and hadn't wanted to bother anyone by phoning for help.
So please, next time the weather turns bad, call on your elderly or frail neighbours and check if they need anything.

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Bodhisatva Sun

Over the last few weeks I spent some time in Leazes park.
I saw the birds on the Leazes Park Lake and the pigeons lined up on the roof of the Kiosk were all expressing something wonderful. I remembered it was December 21st (Darkest Day) and soon the sun would be reborn.
A few days passed and we came out of the dark cloud of rain and greyness which seemed to have been sitting over Newcastle. I saw the sun in the East and it seemed like the first sun I had seen for some time. At that moment I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the Sun, which like a true Boddhisatva stays in the world eternally providing warmth, light and energy to all those in need, even while burning in a fire.
The concept of a boddhisatva as one who stays in samsara eternally to help all beings, was finally grasped. Hail to Brother Sun! Please visit there for latest news from Herbwormwood