Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Reccomending Zen Books

Recently I downloaded 3 books by Reverend Meiten of Vancouver Island Zen Centre .

I did read the first one in paperback form a few years ago and enjoyed it a lot, now I am reading e books where possible so I was very pleased to see these books available.

Derelict House in Leazes Park (Part 2)

I have read the reply to "David"s Freedom of Information request to Newcastle City Council, and it seems that the house can not be refurbished or retrofitted as it has subsidence and Newcastle City Council has already tried to refurbish it.
I did actually think when reviewing my photo, that the house appeared to be leaning to one side!

A mystery still remains about why there is a "To Let" sign on a derelict house. "To Let" for what purpose?

Monday, 29 December 2014

More nice things in Leazes Park

The winter light shows off the wonderful green on the moss and lichen (and mushrooms) on the tree trunks in Leazes Park.

Its good to get out in the fresh air at this time of the year when there is so little daylight.

I liked the subtle colours on this flowering bush, very wintry somehow.

Leazes Park Derelict House To Let (Newcastle City Centre)

This is the house in Leazes Park which has been falling gradually into a derelict state. We have seen police vans parked outside many times, also lots of vandalism, and then the security fence went up.
Now it appears to be "To Let".

"David" posted a Freedom of Information request to Newcastle City Council about the house which can be seen

I decided to think of the best use for the house and came up with the following.
The house should be totally refurbished in its original style. It shall be retrofitted to an energy rating of A+.
It shall include solar panels in the roof or a turf roof, depending on what would suit its position most.
It shall have rainwater capture to recycle rainwater to flush the toilets.
The Ash tree in its garden shall have a Tree Preservation Order and some bat boxes fitted to its trunk. There shall be a Community Garden with bee hives and visits from local schoolchildren to work in the garden and learn about eco-houses.
Sponsorship for this retrofit shall come from one of the companies in the local area who market themselves as eco-pioneers. In return they can get free publicity.

As the location of the house is currently putting it at risk of vandalism, it shall be rented out at low rent to a suitable tenant, such as a bail hostel, police or army personell, as part of the tenancy the tenants must never leave the house unattended at night, have a secure line to the local police station, and make nightly patrols of the garden and park.
The house shall be open to the public and schools by appointment for us to learn about energy efficiency.
What do you think?

Friday, 26 December 2014

Ivy, Leazes Park

Some Ivy on a tree in Leazes Park.

The Christmas dinner I had planned went quite well, except the pudding had to be taken off the menu as I realised it would take 1 and a half hours in a conventional oven, much quicker in the microwave but the kitchen we were working in did not have a microwave!
Also I realised it would not work to prepare the potatoes the day before as they would not keep properly once they were cut.
So they had to be done Christmas Day morning.
Everything else went really well.
I realise a few years ago such unexpected (yet trivial) obstacles would have put me in a very bad mood. Being more flexible is so much easier.
So thanks to Zen Practice for that.

Monday, 22 December 2014

Vegetarian or Vegan Christmas Dinner

These two nut loaf type thingies have been bought in advance from Tesco and I decided to use the smaller "artisan" one as it doesn't need to be kept frozen.

For the last few years I have tried to do as little as possible at Christmas, except visiting those family members who would suffer unduly if I enforced my Christmas boycott on them.

If you want to try a vegan Chistmas pudding, this one from the Co-op proved very popular last year so we will try it again this year. It works well with lashings of Alpro custard.

At the moment I am enjoying roasted vegetables, and these go very nicely with nut roasts.
Put Leeks, potatoes, parsnips, carrot and beetroots sliced and arranged in a metal baking tray.
Pour a small amount of olive oil over them and bake them on high heat in the oven.
If you are visting your relatives you can prepare the vegetables the day before to cut down on the stress. Then, put them in the baking tray and wrap the whole thing in foil to transport it.
Its always a good idea for vegetarians and vegans to take food rather than expect their hosts to cook for them, but check beforehand to make sure, first, that there will be room for your dish in your host's oven.
The veggies do need to be cooked in a hot oven, times vary depending on quantities.

Sometimes Christmas can be a good excuse to buy necessary items for people who for whatever reason are not able to shop for themselves.
In many cases there are people who don't need material goods but still need something.
For those people you can give handwritten or printed certificates tailored to their needs, such as
"I Promise to do 3 hours babysitting"
"car wash and valet"
"Trip to supermarket"
"Tile Your Bathroom"
"3 Hours Gardening"
"I Will Completely Clean your Oven so it Appears Brand New"

More ideas at Buy Nothing Christmas

Pylons and Moss, North Tyneside Green Spaces

North Tyneside Nature Trail (Robin)

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Leazes Park, Berries

We don't yet know a identification name for this tree but it looks really nice in winter when it has its berries on.

Newcastle Quayside

Jeff took these photos of Newcastle quayside and buildings beyond from the Gateshead side of the Tyne.

Tynemouth Long Sands

A recent visit to Tynemouth Long Sands saw the afternoon light fading fast. Look at the horizon to see the December afternoon light.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Wintry Foliage

Carved Tree, Been there for Years

This artwork was made from the trunk of a dead tree.

Looks Like Autumn, Feels Like Winter

Leazes Park again.

Autumn Gives Way to Winter

Mushrooms colonising the remains of the "Leaning Poplar" in Leazes Park.

I had a long break from blogging as I was at Throssel Hole for a couple of weeks, one of them on the Segaki retreat, which was quite an experience, then when I got back I didn't have any free time until just recently.

I have discovered some interesting facts about growing trees and bushes, one of these is that you can grow trees and bushes from "root balls" and all kinds of these are available on ebay!

Friday, 17 October 2014


Some autumn berries seen on Barrack Road today. A type of rosehip and a type of cotoneaster.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Vegan and Vegetarian Toothpaste

Recently I posted about my search for a Vegan or Vegetarian Toothpaste suitable for sensitive teeth.
I am happy to report Superdrug are again stocking these products, and as I was not able to find any news of them on the internet, even on Superdrug's own website, I am posting these photos, one of Sensitive and one of Sensitive Whitening.
The packaging is quite different from the old one so I expect this is a product relaunch.

Info on back of pack stating suitable for vegetarians and vegans, also cruelty free "Leaping Bunny" symbol, which can only be used when product is certified NOT Tested on Animals.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Autumn spider and moon

Another sign of autumn, here is a big spider on its web, and a moon, both photos by Jeff.

Leazes Park: Crows and Mystery Plant

There are lots of crows, magpies and small songbirds in Leazes Park, as well as all the waterbirds that live on and around the lake.
These crows were cawing in the tree and making their "Autumn!" sound.

There is a lot of this plant in the park at the moment.
The leaves are a bit like a convulvulus. It has pink flowers which turn to a berry type thing, but it also has white flowers on the same plant.
It is very strange and I have not been able to identify it.

Going back into the past at Blyth Beach

We went back to Blyth beach where the weather was rather inclement. I got a pain in my head, from the wind howling through my ears. Eyes streaming, nose dripping, just from the cold wind.
However the sun was out enough to light up the beachcombers' treasure (left in situ).

There is a shell, formed around a crustacean, could be a small dog whelk, and a bit of pottery.
Look at the design on it. I am fairly sure someone worked in a factory or shed somewhere, painting on this design on a cup, jug or plate. Then maybe it was bought by someone to have a family meal on.
Then what happened? Did it break and get thrown away? How many years ago? And where did it come from? The other side of the North Sea, or even further? Or maybe on the east coast? Maybe it was off a ship wreck.
The waves and sand have artfully displayed the treasures, no need to rearrange them.

North Tyneside Wildlife

Jeff sent these pictures of some wild animals recently spotted around North Tyneside green spaces.

Post industrial wasteland... NOT!

Friday, 19 September 2014

September altar

The home altar looks a bit cluttered at the moment due to a recent birthday. A new Buddha statue has been donated by a family member, which has been made by monks in a Thailand monastery.


Autumn is most definitely here.

This tree in Leazes Park near the Richardson Road entrance opposite the RVI, is starting to drop its leaves.

On reading "Entering the Tao of Sudden Enlightenment"

I am quite into reading books on the iPhone and this is what I am reading on it at the moment:

Entering The Tao of Sudden Enlightenment (& The Tsung Ching Record)
By Chan Master Ta-Chu Hui-Hai
Translated by Dharma Master Lok To
Edited By Dr. Frank G. French

"Tao" can be interpreted as "Way" and "Chan" as "Meditation".

“The Ch'an practicer should understand that past things are already past. If you do not think about it, then any thought of the past vanishes; thus, there are neither any past things nor any past mind. Furthermore, future things have not yet arrived; so if you do not wish for or seek anything, then any thought of the future vanishes; thus, there are neither any future things nor any future mind. Finally, present things are already present, so if you are just aware without grasping at or dwelling on anything and never let a thought of love or hate arise, then the thought of the present vanishes; thus, there are neither any present things nor any present mind. ”

Excerpt From: Chan Master Ta-Chu Hui-Hai.
“Entering the Tao of Sudden Enlightenment.”

What to do at the beach

If you want to go to the beach, check the tide tables and weather before you go. It's so much better to be able to get out on the beach instead of just looking out at the sea from the promenade, and also knowing how long you've got before the tide turns.
When we got to Tynemouth Long Sands, a group of wind surfers were getting their boards ready. There was also a group of Nordic Walkers.
I used to enjoy beachcombing, for shells, stones and other interesting items brought in by the tide.
Nowadays I prefer to photograph such things and leave them in place where they belong.
When at the beach it is very therapeutic. The mind goes blank and a calm state descends, save for a benign interest in the surroundings.
It is true that a change of scene, getting out of the usual routine, is good for the mental state. Also, being out in the fresh air and walking.

Surfers getting ready to play on their boards.

Looking in rock pools, some little fishes and a small crab scuttling.

Seaweed and a bird's feather.

North Shields and Tynemouth Long Sands

Seabirds looking out to sea on a roof at North Shields Low Lights.

The beach at Tynemouth Long Sands is fantastic.
I checked the tide was going to be out using online tide tables and the weather was good before planning the trip. It always seems more windy at the coast. You can see we almost had the beach to ourselves.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Vegan Store

I have been doing a declutter and decided to unsubscribe from most of the mailing lists I am on. However although I unsubscribed from vegan store's mailing list, I really like this company because the shoes and boots I buy from it like my feet, and I find out about new products.
So in a few minutes you will see a link added to vegan store on the right with the other sites I like.

Recycling for newspapers, clothes, shoes

Recently we have been saving our newspapers to take to
Newcastle Cat and Dog Shelter. It is sorely needed for the cats and kittens at the shelter.

Nowadays a lot of people have kerbside recycling for newspapers, and while this is a good thing, it means people have less newspapers hanging around. Also due to the dire state of the local economy and high price of newspapers, less are bought. Also, more people look at their news on the internet and don't bother with the actual newspaper.
So if you have a stash of newspapers, consider your local animal sanctuary before throwing it away.

I also know that West End Refugee Service are in need of more clothes and shoes for their clothing store.
This is a service where users of the project can get some clothes to wear from what has been donated. For those who are destitute this can make a big difference. Warm and weatherproof clothes and shoes are particularly useful. If you have some clothes or shoes that you were thinking of passing on, then this would be a good place for them.

Leazes Park Flower Bed

Leazes Park is starting to look a bit autumnal now.
However the flower bed near the bandstand is still looking fabulous.

Himalayan Balsam at Ouseborough Wood

You can see its taking over.
Almost covering the "County Durham, Land of the Prince Bishops" sign (which shows the border of Tyne and Wear and County Durham).

I have seen this plant before and it does tend to monopolise. It is so big and it doesn't seem to want to share its space with anyone else.
More info here

This plant is not great news for biodiversityhowever on most of the leaves some little snails were to be found.

Ouseborough Wood

Ouseborough Wood is a small ancient woodland in the Gateshead district, not far from Beamish. Lots of information about the wood is available on the internet, with details of its industrial past, downloadable wallking guided and maps. Just search for Ouseborough Wood.
I'm experimenting with uploading the photos without shrinking them, as I have been told they have been coming out as too small. Let me know what you think.

Ancient woodland (top), and a bark pattern and moss on an old tree stump.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Tyne Riverside Country Park

The Tyne Riverside Country Park is great for easy walks all year round.

A lot of Tansy was growing beside the path.
Apparently one of its many uses is to deter cats, as they dislike it.

You can actually cross two counties (Tyne and Wear and Northumberland) in this park.
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