Climate crisis – what we CAN do

How do we find the balance between horror and hope when discussing the climate emergency?

Last week’s warning by scientists that rising greenhouse gas emissions will cause irrevocable damage if we don’t act dominated the news.  

It was interesting to watch the reactions of people watching this news story on Gogglebox. Listening to the scientists’ apocalyptic language, such as ‘final warning’ and ‘ticking timebomb’, the audience were clearly terrified.

One viewer commented, ‘Let’s hope they come up with something’, as if talking about a vaccine. But another responded, ‘No, because if people think that will happen then everyone will carry on as before.’

People’s reactions to climate crisis seem to vary according to whether their personal response to danger is fight, flight or play dead.

This is the dilemma – people need to be shocked into action but not shellshocked. It’s counterproductive to leave people thinking, what does it matter what I do?

The Gogglebox viewers were left in despair. Little wonder that so many people say they no longer watch the news. It’s a great shame that media reports on this subject don’t end with a reminder of, for instance, three practical things that people can do in their everyday lives.  

Every purchase matters – ethical consumerism

The climate change panel of scientists knew they had to end on a message of hope, so they urged world governments to reduce emissions by investing in renewable energy and technologies that capture and store carbon dioxide. Of course, this is the minimum that governments must do but we all need to be engaged in our daily lives too.

 Mike Berners-Lee, author of How Bad Are Bananas?, says that in the first edition of his book he didn’t want to tell people what to do. But this was precisely the question he was asked at every book talk: What can we do?

Apparently there have been more than 30 years of warnings from the scientists behind this latest climate change report. I felt a stab of guilt when I read that their first report was published in 1990. In 1990 I was embarking on adult life in my first job and first home of my own.  As I remember it, the focus at the time was on banking crises, home repossessions and the poll tax. I admit that if the scientists’ report was big news at the time, it didn’t grab my attention. But if it had and I’d banged on about it to friends they probably would have thought I was being over the top. That perception has certainly changed.   

The report in The Guardian of the story quoted two experts. Richard Allan, a professor of climate science at the University of Reading, said: “Every bit of warming avoided due to the collective actions pulled from our growing, increasingly effective toolkit of options is less worse news for societies and the ecosystems on which we all depend.”

 Peter Thorne, the director of the Icarus climate research centre at Maynooth University in Ireland, said the real question was ‘whether our collective choices mean we stabilise around 1.5C or crash through 1.5C, reach 2C and keep going.”

The key word used by both experts is ‘collective’.

  Millions of people worldwide don’t get to have choices in their daily lives, so it’s vital that those of us who do try to make the right ones.

Talking to children

And if this subject scares adults, how must it make children feel? The way to discuss it with youngsters is by showing them what they can do, by harnessing their instinctive love of nature and desire to be useful.  

At Great Green Systems we come across many schools that are teaching children how to compost, which is a brilliant way to empower them. Even the youngest pupil  can throw their apple core in the right bin – one that will be emptied into compost.

To take our own advice about ending on a positive message, let’s conclude with three small action points from How Bad Are Bananas?

  • Try to build up your knowledge of more and less sustainable brands and products. One good source of information is Ethical Consumer –
  • An aerated showerhead makes less water feel like more, saving water and carbon.
  • Use a lid on pans when cooking, cut potatoes into smaller pieces and boil gently rather than at full throttle. (Efficient cooking can halve the carbon impact.)
Carbon impact of a pan lid

There are much bigger action points as well, of course, and it might seem ridiculous to mention pan lids and showerheads amid talk of final warnings and ticking timebombs, but one of my favourite quotes is this: ‘Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.’ (Edmund Burke). Multiply this attitude by enough people and change happens. 

 I can only vote every five years but I use pans every single day.

If you need cheering up, watch the documentary Kiss the Ground on Netflix.  It’s not a worthy snorefest or despair dripfeed. Quite the opposite. It leaves you with a dynamic feeling of hope. Who doesn’t need that right now?


Which bin will the core go in?

Saying ‘I love you’ with cake on Mother’s Day

 It’s incredible to think that next week we mark three years since the first pandemic lockdown (March 23) – a time when we were advised to stay away from our mothers on Mother’s Day. During that dark time, when we were trying to cheer up loved ones we could no longer see, a friend sent me this postcard that made me smile – and made me make a cake.

Since my mother is a Sustainable Mum who doesn’t like ‘more stuff’ (i.e. presents) and prefers a bottle of bokashi spray (for her bokashi bins) to a bottle of perfume, I know I’m on safe ground on Mother’s Day with homemade gifts, such as a cake I know she loves. Mum calls it Feather Cake but I’ve nicknamed it Caveman Cake because it’s so basic it must be the first cake in human history. It comes with a little backstory too. What more can you ask from cake?

My favourite Mother’s Day gifts when my children were young were those they made themselves. Children wanting to make Mum something for Mother’s Day on Sunday can make this cake in five minutes. Decorating it is optional, depending on the mum it’s intended for. Personally I never met a cake that wasn’t improved by dollops of chocolate ganache but my mum likes it old-school – totally plain.

Recipe books as they used to be

This cake first came to my attention ten years ago when my mother was inspired to compile a recipe book of food she remembered from her childhood that her own mother used to cook. Also included in the book were recipes my mum had accumulated from booklets acquired from local churches and women’s organisations such as the Townswomen’s Guild and Women’s Institute during her 50 years as a journalist on her local paper, The Dewsbury Reporter.

As she’s also a fan of local history, she included old photos of the town too. The purpose of the book, called Dewsbury in Food and Photos, was to raise funds for the Forget Me Not Children’s Hospice in Huddersfield. She had no idea if the book would sell well and was afraid of having unsold books left over, so restricted the number of copies that were printed. Needless to say it was a huge success, raising £16,000 for the hospice, and could have sold many times over.

 Mum assumed that only local people would be interested, but once word got out people from all over wanted a copy. One of my son’s student friends in London, a keen foodie, asked for a copy as he was fascinated to see recipes that had been ordinary fare in the forties, such as sheep’s head broth.

My favourite photo from the book – children playing marbles

Former residents who had emigrated got relatives to buy them a copy, keen for a slice of nostalgia. People with no connection to the time or the place that featured in the book were fascinated by the insight it offered into a way of life long gone – that of working people in a busy Northern mill town in the early to mid-twentieth century. People still ask Mum now if she has any copies salted away somewhere. If only she’d had the confidence to get more published!

 Feather Cake is the first and most important recipe in the book as it’s the one that reminded Mum most of her own mother.

My grandma never knew her own mother, who had died of mastitis (then commonly called milk fever) after giving birth to another baby when Grandma was still a baby herself.  

My grandmother was very typical of her generation in that she found it hard to say ‘I love you’ or show affection. She said ‘I love you’ with cake.  

Extract from Dewsbury in Food and Photos

The first cake I can ever remember tasting was my mother’s Feather Cake, baked on a Sunday afternoon after we’d had our Sunday dinner. That is why it takes place of honour as the first recipe in this book alongside the photograph of Caddy’s ice-cream cart, because for me these two are synonymous.

They remind me so much of those glorious Sunday afternoons when my mother baked her Feather Cake, and not long after a Caddy’s ice-cream cart would come rumbling down our street.

When I started writing this book, I decided to make a Feather Cake myself. What a powerful experience it was tasting something I hadn’t eaten for over 50 years. Just like the narrator in Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time, who found his memory unlocked by the taste of a madeleine cake, so too I found myself that day back in my childhood.

Taste and smell are apparently the senses with the strongest link to memory. How true that is. The taste reminded me so much of those happy days of childhood when simple things like a piece of home-made cake, with no adornments, gave so much pleasure.

Most of all it reminded me of my mother. Lost Time indeed.

Feather Cake

150g self-raising flour

150g sugar

50g lard – 50g butter (or 100g butter)

2 eggs

2 tablespoons milk.

Cream together butter, lard and sugar, beat each egg in separately and stir in the flour and milk until it becomes a light mixture.

Pour into a greased 20cm cake tin. Bake at 180 C for around 45 minutes.

Is there such a thing as leftover cake?

In keeping with the waste-free aspirations of this blog, this next recipe provides a solution for using up leftover cake that’s going dry and at risk of being thrown away.  I would like to say I have tested this recipe but in our house there is never such a thing as leftover cake.

With the fabulous and mysterious name of Wet Nellie, it comes from Lancashire during (I’m guessing) the 1930s.

 When my kids were young and I was struggling to come up with meal ideas, my auntie gave me a recipe book featuring good old-fashioned, no-nonsense cooking – Favourite Family Recipes by Mildred Smith, the cookery star of Granada TV’s The Main Ingredient.

Mildred got this recipe from her mother, who had worked in a bakery – it was the bakery’s way of using up unsold Madeira and sponge cakes at the end of the day.

Wet Nellie

225 self-raising flour

110 lard and margarine (or butter)

Pinch of salt

Cold water to mix

Make up the pastry and line a 18cm shallow square tin with half the pastry

For the filling

225g cake crumbs

150g mixed dried fruit – any combination – and candied peel.

1 tbsp lemon juice

4 level tbsp golden syrup or jam

4 tbsp milk

Caster sugar and milk to glaze.


Combine all the filling ingredients and spread in the lined tin. Brush the edges of the pastry and cover with the remaining half, pressing the edges firmly together. Glaze with a little milk and caster sugar and mark with a pastry cutter in a diamond pattern. Bake near the top of the oven at 190 degrees C. When cold, cut into fingers.

On Mother’s Day, here’s to mothers – and to cakes.


A journey to becoming a green gardener

With compost again in the spotlight (Compost Week UK runs from March 13-19) it’s timely that Nancy Birtwhistle’s green gardening book has just been published.

Nancy first came to national attention when she won The Great British Bake-Off in 2014 and she is now a best-selling author on green issues.

She’s also an inspiration to anyone wanting to live a more sustainable life; the tips in her books and on her Instagram feed are simple but effective, with something for everyone.

We had pre-ordered a copy of her latest book, The Green Gardening Handbook, and we’ve been busy this week reading and learning.

Here’s how Nancy sums up her life’s green journey:

‘Several years ago I began my green journey and this way of thinking has permeated every part of my life, from the way I clean my house to the way I resist single-use items, recycle and upcycle where possible, am mindful about the use of valuable energy and utilities, and also how I have been able to apply this way of thinking to my garden. I became more informed through researching and reading while considering the plight of our natural world and am now converted to methods that, once the penny drops, actually make utter and complete sense, and are logical and sensible. Once we learn how to work with Mother Nature and understand how the seasons work, how plants behave and how we can harness the wonder of it all, the reliance on any destructive chemical, synthetic or harmful methods for home growing are utterly superfluous.’  

 She also talks about her respect for the tiny creatures that make this soil food: ‘I found that once I embraced a greener approach to living – in the garden and in relation to my food – I was ever more appreciative and amazed by the wonder of nature, especially the creepy crawlies, and because of this will continue to do my very best to cherish and preserve it wherever and whenever I can.’

Summing up how all compost enthusiasts feel, she says, ‘I take huge satisfaction each time I add something to my compost bin, knowing that it is one less item going to landfill.’

We’re still reading the book – and noting down our favourite tips – but here are a few quick points Nancy makes about her journey in composting.

  • Finding the traditional Browns and Greens compost terminology confusing, because not all green items are Greens (i.e. nitrogen-rich) and not all brown items are Browns (i.e. carbon-rich), Nancy prefers to think in terms of Wet and Dry contents. (Michael Kennard, of Compost Club, makes the same point in his booklet Hot Compost – The Basics. He encourages beginners to think in terms of nitrogen and carbon content to help get the ratios right.)
  • When gardening, use biodegradable jute twine and wooden plant labels so that any oddments that fail to be removed before composting will decompose along with everything else.
  • Invest a few pounds in a compost thermometer – it will keep you entertained for hours and is a great talking point with enthusiastic gardening friends.
  • Use your compost to fill planters, top dress rose bushes and fruit trees, lay a good thick layer over veggie plots in the autumn and early winter and the worms will do the job of taking it below the surface – no need for digging it in.
  • Make your own compost scoop out of a plastic milk container:  Cut the bottle in half – the top half to be used as a compost scoop or planting funnel and the bottom half to be used as a simple seed pot or planter. Make a starting hole in the centre of the bottle using a hot skewer and use this as an entry hole for the scissors, making it possible to make a neat cut. To use one half as a compost scoop – leave the cap in place and use the handle with the bottle neck in the upside-down position to scoop your compost to take to your pots or tubs. With a scoop there is less spillage than using your hands or a trowel.
  • If you buy compost make sure it is a peat-free variety – peatlands are hugely important for plants, wildlife and humanity. They also store vast amounts of carbon which must be kept in the ground to avoid contributing further to climate change.

(Sales of peat to amateur gardeners in England will be banned by 2024.)

What can we do about food waste?

 Despite the climate emergency and the cost-of-living crisis, we are still wasting food.

As we prepare to go into Food Waste Action Week (6-12 March) it’s alarming to learn that:

  • One third of all food produced for human consumption globally is lost or wasted, contributing as much as 10 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.
  • 70 per cent of food waste in the UK happens at home.
  • 85 per cent of people say their food bills have increased yet they are still wasting food.
  • According to research last year, 48 per cent of people in the UK said they threw away the same amount of food or more per week than at the same time the previous year.   One in three people said they threw away the equivalent of one shopping bag of food per week – at an average cost of £780 per year. Twenty per cent said they struggled to know where to start with finding a recipe for their leftovers.

Why do we waste so much?

 One problem is lack of knowledge of the damage that food waste does to the environment. Research shows that only 30 per cent of people understand the harm caused to the planet. First there is the cost in terms of production and transport, then there is the cost in terms of waste.

 Food waste has typically been incinerated or buried in landfill along with residual waste and left to rot anaerobically, contributing to greenhouse gas emissions. Food waste is still disposed of this way in almost 50 per cent of councils in England who have yet to implement separate food waste collections. This means that currently in the UK, millions of tonnes of food waste still go into landfill. For every tonne of that, there are over 600kg of carbon equivalent emissions, such as methane and nitrous oxide. The home composting of organic waste avoids this fate, of course, which is why so many people choose to do it.

When councils collect food waste separately, it is composted for agricultural use or turned into biofuel. The Environment Act is meant to ensure that all councils throughout the UK will operate separate food waste collections by the end of this year, but details of how that will come about are still unclear.

Wasting nothing

Not very long ago the notion of wasting food was unheard of. My grandmother was born in 1901. The poverty of her life was physically evident in the form of rickets – the result of malnutrition. My mother, a war baby, also grew up in poverty and was no stranger to hunger. Lack of money meant making meals out of anything and wasting nothing.

Fast forward to my childhood in the 60s and 70s, which, thankfully, never featured hunger. Meals were simple homemade British dishes that women (never men) had learnt in the home as children. These dishes didn’t involve recipe books or ingredients you might struggle to buy, such as liquid glucose or star anise.  Stews and pies were staples, with little red meat. Egg and chips were a perfectly acceptable meal.

 Somehow over the last 50 years many of us lost touch with the kind of resourceful home cooking that had been handed down over generations. What happened?

Perhaps under the influence of TV (and advertising) we started to feel that shepherd’s pie wasn’t good enough and we should be serving something more sophisticated and aspirational, something that mum and gran had never cooked?

 At some stage it seems we all bought into the idea that foreign was better. Now, I love Indian and Italian food as much as the next person but that does not mean that stew and dumplings are inferior.  I remember my auntie, in her eighties, telling me there was something she had always wanted to try. Her tone suggested something daring, and I was mentally preparing a risk assessment to take her white water rafting or bungee jumping, until she said shyly, ‘Pasta’. She was one of the best cooks I’ve ever known, but somehow she felt this Italian substance was exotic and out of her league.

My mother always loved cooking and learnt from her own mother to use every scrap of food and stretch every penny. Today we would think these women were great role models; they’d be designing food waste reduction apps for multi-national companies.

Keeping cooking in the family

If I’d had any sense, I would have learned a lot from her. Unfortunately, I was a bolshy know-all teenager (is there any other kind?) taken in by the educational rebranding of cookery in the 70s and 80s as Domestic Science. As a science it was something you could get wrong and fail. I thought my mum couldn’t possibly know as much as the teachers. Sure, what my mum made tasted good, but it was just basic low-level cooking that kept people alive, whereas this was an O-level.

 Part of our task in Domestic Science was to balance colour and texture. You would be given a scenario to cook a menu for and you’d be marked down if there was too much of one colour or texture.

My mum took a keen interest and would make her own menu suggestions, and I would roll my eyes and inform her that, No, obviously you couldn’t have apple pie as a dessert because you’d already had pastry in chicken pie for the main. Obviously you couldn’t have two lots of pastry – it’s the same colour and texture.

My mother would argue that it made sense to use up the pastry remains from the chicken pie as a topping for the dessert and to also cook it at the same time while you’d got the oven on. That would mean no waste and less expense.  And I would retort, Fine and if I do that I’ll fail!  And my mother would shake her head in disbelief as if the world had gone to hell in a handcart.

(At this point I would like to add that in 20 years of child-rearing, at no time did any child ever complain that a meal was too brown or contained too much crumbly texture.)

 My mother was a working mother, but in those days there was no school run (children walked with other children) no after-school activities and no parents’ evenings/school meetings to erode parents’ time.  The pace of life now means we don’t plan meals, even though just 10 minutes a week doing this would save time and money in the long run.

Take time to plan

But how to choose what to make? For decades we’ve been overwhelmed by thousands of recipes from celebrity chefs using ingredients you had to buy in specially. In many cases this leads to one-attempt meals, leaving ingredients never to be used again.

 All that is now changing in response to the climate emergency and the struggle faced by many families to put food on the table. Manufacturers now understand the need to promote low-waste solutions. Useful apps are in plentiful supply and that’s no bad thing. I’m up for anything that keeps me on the straight and narrow when it comes to avoiding waste.  I already use the Kitche app and was immediately interested when a friend told me about the Hellmann’s Fridge Night app, which helps people reduce waste and save money by using up whatever’s in the fridge.    The aim of the app is to reduce food waste by up to 33 per cent.

The chef and presenter Liam Charles dishes up flexible recipes based on a simple 3 + 1 method.

This means using:

  •  1. A carb base.
  •  2. Whatever veg you have.
  • 3. A protein.
  •  The Plus One is a Magic Touch’ to maximise taste, usually a condiment such as mayo or pesto, or a yogurt-based sauce. Variations are suggested depending on what you have available, so you don’t feel you can’t make a recipe because you lack ingredients.

So far, I’ve made a Creamy Pasta Salad using fridge veg (wilting sprouts, red pepper, courgette), a can of tuna, with the Magic Touch – 6 tbsps mayonnaise and 1 tbsp vinegar.  I’m not sure whether chef Liam would have recommended sprouts in there, but it was all I had and it tasted great. Last week I made the Great Express Omelette – eggs, cheese, red onion, spinach, mushrooms, thyme – with the Magic Touch provided by red pesto.

Express omelette using leftovers

I know that I’ve not been organised enough in the past. Now that I know better, I can’t bear to throw any scrap of food away, even though all our food waste is composted in the Green Johanna or Compost Tumbler. The internet is a treasure trove of tips and I’m learning masses from eco-influencers such as Nancy Birtwhistle and Jen Gale. If you saw Jen on The One Show recently (along with her Green Johanna compost bin), like me you may have been impressed on seeing that her fridge contains little notes telling the family which items need using up first.  

Easy wins to waste less are:

  • Plan menus for the week
  • Save leftovers and use apps for flexible recipes
  • Batch cook and freeze some for later.

See the Love Food Hate Waste website for more ideas Love Food Hate Waste | Food Waste prevention

  And yes, before you ask, I am finally listening to my mum.


Compost – let’s all spread the love

As unashamed compost-heads feeling the love for the earth this Valentine’s Day, we thought we’d fill a space on the Great Green Systems office wall with this DIY picture.   

And perhaps we should compose (decompose?) a little ode to compost while we’re at it:

 Compost, how do I love thee?

Let me count the ways…

(with apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

Perhaps it would be better in prose.

Why we love compost

Let’s just start by saying that you don’t need to be a gardener to compost. That is a wrong-headed assumption some people make and if that’s you, we hope we’ll manage to change your mind.

Many of our customers know nothing about composting at the outset but they start because they want to take control of their own food and garden waste. 

Composting used to be thought of as a side-line to gardening, but now more and more people are taking it up because they want to live a more sustainable life and do something to fight the climate crisis.

Compost is an ally in combatting the climate crisis because it boosts soil quality as well as helping soil to pull carbon out of the atmosphere and sink it back into the ground. The more carbon that is taken from the atmosphere, the better chance we have of reducing the rate of global warming. Along with oceans and forests, soil is an important carbon storage medium.

An American study showed that spreading half an inch of compost over half of California’s grasslands could remove carbon from the air at such a significant rate that it would balance the greenhouse gas emissions for the entire state of California for a year.

The International Compost Alliance, formed in 2021 to raise awareness about the benefits of composting, says: ‘Compost is a win-win solution to climate change – not only does recycling organic wastes reduce emissions, compost also brings many benefits when used on soils too.’

Compost boosts soil quality by:

  • holding on to important nutrients
  • improving plant productivity and quality
  • protecting plants from pests and diseases
  • preventing erosion
  • improving drainage
  • absorbing water, slowly releasing it to grass and plants so they need watering less frequently.

As compost breaks down, it delivers important nutrients into the soil. Compost contains the three primary nutrients that plants need: nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. As well as feeding the plants that grow in this soil, compost also increases the number and variety of beneficial bacteria and fungi in the soil, which helps plants to grow.

The quality of produce grown in soil treated with compost tends to be higher. International studies have shown:

  • In India – quinoa plants in soil mixed with compost showed a significant increase in ability to take nutrients from the soil.
  • In China – wheat fields treated with compost had significantly increased yields versus a control field of uncomposted soil.
  • In Italy – compost increased lettuce and kohlrabi growth by 24% and 32% respectively.

Studies on compost’s water-retaining abilities have shown that for every 1% of organic matter content, soil can hold 16,500 gallons of plant-available water per acre of soil down to one foot deep.

Compost also helps water to get to plant roots more effectively by:

  • reducing crust forming on soil, so water can get into the soil more easily.
  • helping to disperse water laterally from where it hits the ground, which means it will evaporate less quickly.

What a waste

Once you start composting you begin to realise the amount of food that is wasted and its cost. This awareness tends to help households to reduce food waste in general.

Food and garden waste account for more than 30% of the contents of a typical domestic wheeled bin, which is crazy when you think that this waste could be turned into free soil nutrition that can replace or reduce costly chemical fertilisers.

Around 50 per cent of local authorities in England have yet to begin separate food waste collection schemes, so there are still mountains of food waste being sent to landfill or incineration for the foreseeable future.

Engaging in the composting process also introduces children to environmental science. This is a topic that can grow in complexity as a child grows and is able to understand more about what is involved.

According to the charity Garden Organic, the health of the earth’s soils is fundamental to life as we know it, yet half the planet’s topsoil has been lost in the last 150 years.

Save our soil

There are around 15 million gardens in the UK – that’s millions of people with access to a patch of the planet. The charity urges people to take simple steps to redress soil degradation in their own gardens by regularly topping up beds with compost and ensuring soils are not left bare.

Bare soil is vulnerable to erosion, weeds and carbon loss. So even if you don’t need compost for the sake of plants, covering bare soil is still beneficial for the environment.

You can also spread compost thinly across a lawn or grassed area, where worms will pull it down into the soil and it will boost soil quality and by extension the grass.

Or give it away – to allotments, community gardens, school gardening clubs, voluntary groups. It will always be gratefully received.

Compost – spread the love.

The ultimate no-waste dinner for Burns Night

One of the funniest things about the film My Big Fat Greek Wedding is the proud Greek father’s attempts to prove that everything originally came from Greece. In my experience, Scots share a similar trait – the conviction that everybody originally came from Scotland.

It was years ago, while accompanying a group of French students on a trip to Glasgow, that I discovered, to my surprise, that I was actually Scottish. I was ordering a round of drinks in a pub when regulars at the bar heard my Yorkshire accent (think: Catherine Cawood in Happy Valley, or, if you need an older reference, Vera Duckworth in Coronation Street) and asked where I was from. The news that I was from Yorkshire was greeted warmly, as God’s Own Country was obviously considered a Little Scotland. Then they asked my surname (pre-Halford). This was greeted even more warmly as it was proof that I was really Scottish; I even had my clan’s tartan cheerfully pointed out on a big chart hanging on the wall. Then when I mentioned my mother’s Irish maiden name, it turned out that her family weren’t really Irish, they were Scottish too! Another tartan was duly pointed out.

This bond formed the basis of a great night and our party were treated to free drinks all round (Scots mean? I’m sorry, you just haven’t met the right Scots – and please don’t disrespect my people while you’re at it.)

I vaguely remember that the French teachers I was with were also told they were really Scottish too, but quite what a Dubois tartan looks like, I don’t recall.  It must have been the free drinks. But thinking about it, a Scottish/French link would explain why they share those rolling Rs.  

Family pilgrimage

The fact that my husband’s maternal family is Scottish needs no investigation. His grandfather’s family walked (literally walked) from Dundee to Birmingham in the 1930s in search of work. It’s hard to imagine how tough their lives must have been. You certainly wouldn’t have the nerve to complain you were having a bad day if your father had walked 350 miles to find work in a steelworks. Looking into his family tree, my husband found his relatives weren’t actually from Dundee but a wee place (that’s my heritage coming out) called Inverkeilor. There is even a Facebook group for the Cuthills of Inverkeilor as they were spread far and wide. A family pilgrimage is being planned – by car this time, not foot.

I say all this to head off any accusation of cultural appropriation when I share a haggis recipe for Burns Night.

It was on that glorious trip to Glasgow that I first tasted haggis. Had I been offered haggis at any previous time, I would have declined by faking dramatic vomiting sounds, due to the very thought of it. Something to do with sheep’s stomach….eurgh, pass the sick bucket etc. But on this happy occasion I had to be polite, refrain from gipping and tuck in because I was staying with a wonderful host family who had cooked it for us. Oh my word, it was fantastic. To think if I hadn’t been on that trip, I would never have tasted it and missed out on this delicious part of my Scottish heritage.

Having so far praised all that is Scottish, there is one thing I can’t let them get away with – Burns Night or no Burns Night – their problem with pronunciation.

While a student living on my year abroad in France, I made two great friends who were also studying French – Alison, from Glasgow, and Anna, from Donegal. We became the best of friend, sisters under the skin, and our ears gradually adapted to the newness of each other’s accents, even borrowing great words from each other that our own country’s ‘language’ lacked.

One evening over a meal of spag bol, Alison asked me to pass the paper. I turned to the desk behind me, picked up a pad of notepaper and passed it to her. She stared at me nonplussed and asked again for me to pass the PAPER. I responded by thrusting the notepaper more urgently towards her.

 ‘I said PAPER,’ she said, raising her voice as if I were deaf.

‘AND HERE IT IS!’ I shouted back.

Honestly, what’s wrong with her, we both thought.

This went on for a few more seconds, while Anna sat firmly on the fence grating a lot of parmesan on her pasta. Finally, Alison got up, walked round the table, picked up the pepper pot, with a meaningful look at me, and took it back to her place.

‘If you wanted the pepper,’ I asked, ‘then why did you ask for the paper?’

‘I didn’t ask for the PAPER, I asked for the PAPER,’ she retorted.

Talk about being divided by a common language. Thus, we came to realise that Scottish people have a problem with differentiating between the pronunciation of certain words. Or rather I realised that; Alison probably came to a different conclusion, and Anna clung stubbornly to that fence of hers.

Eejit test

I honestly don’t know how Scots differentiate between pepper and paper when talking to each other. Maybe they use hand signals, or perhaps they think the context would make it obvious to anyone but a total eejit. I just hope I am never in a critical situation where the confusion caused by a Scottish pronunciation of pepper and paper could mean the difference between life and death.

The Scots are on to something, however, with that little word ‘och’.  There is just no equivalent available to the English and there should be. It’s the perfect sound for all manner of situations and its absence must cause the English some kind of psychological problem – stiff-upper-lip perhaps. I have tried my best to introduce it south of the border, but it doesn’t seem to be catching on, not in Leeds anyway.  

I’m trying hard here to link a haggis recipe to the point of this blog, which is usually on the topic of waste recycling – but all I can think is this: Make haggis and you won’t have any waste to dispose of.

 Looking up haggis recipes to try out, I was happy to learn that sheep’s stomach has generally been replaced by casing, and the work involved with the offal ingredients means it’s easier to buy ready-made, which is what we’ll be doing tonight. It will be served, of course, with neeps (mashed swede) and tatties (mashed potatoes) and we’ll be raising a toast to the hardy Cuthills of Inverkeilor and all my distant unknown clans.

My recipe search also came up with a veggie version that’s just as tasty, with whisky sauce to serve.  

Happy Burns Night to all Scots – including all those who don’t yet know they are!


Vegetarian Haggis – Serves 6

  • 2 large portobello mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium sized brown onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 50g salted butter
  • 100g pinhead oatmeal
  • 55g split peas
  • 55g pearl barley
  • 1/2 tsp mace
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 600ml vegetable stock
  • 1 1/2 tsp marmite
  • 1 1/2 tsp black treacle
  • Oven 180 degrees C


  1. Boil split peas and pearl barley in two separate saucepans – split peas for 25 mins and barley for 20 mins.
  2. Fry onions in 25g of butter, add the chopped mushrooms and when soft, stir  in the grated carrot.
  3. Make your stock, stir in the marmite and black treacle until they both dissolve.
  4. Add the oats to the frying pan and then 400ml of the stock.
  5. Add the salt, nutmeg, pepper and mace and stir while gently heating.
  6. Drain your split peas and pearl barley, add both to the frying pan, Allow the stock to reduce down, stirring gently.
  7. Add 25g butter and the remaining 200ml of stock.
  8. Cook the mix over a medium heat until the stock has reduced completely, stirring often to avoid it catching on the bottom of the frying pan.
  9. When the mix is cooked through and the stock has reduced, taste to make sure flavour is balanced, adding more spices, marmite or treacle as required. The flavour should be warming and peppery with an earthy undertone and a little sweetness.
  10. Spoon the mix into a well-greased loaf tin and place into the preheated oven for 20-30mins, or until the top of the mix is crispy and darkened.
  11. Once the haggis is cooked take it out of the oven, place a length of tin foil over the top of the haggis and then an upturned baking tray. Gently turn upside down so you end up with your haggis, out of the tin. on the foil on the baking tray.
  12. Place this back in the oven for 2-5 mins to crisp the outside of the haggis.



 Whisky sauce

  • 2 finely chopped shallots
  • 300 ml double cream
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 tablespoon whisky
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 
  •  Fry shallots in butter for 3 to 4 minutes until soft.
  • Pour in the whisky and allow it to cook for a minute and reduce.
  • Add the cream and mustard and bring to a simmer. The sauce should be slightly thickened. Season to taste.


New Year’s resolutions for less waste in 2023

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions you could do a lot worse than thinking about what you’ll do better waste-wise next Christmas. 

When I say ‘you’, of course, I mean me, but feel free to join me if the cap fits.

I’m resolving that last year’s festive fails will be this year’s gains if I’m to reduce my family’s contribution to the huge waste mountain created annually at this time of year.

This will be achieved through my being more organised. Those of a certain age might remember the advert that coined the phrase Vorsprung Durch Technik (Progress Through Technology). I like to think of my New Year’s resolutions as Vorsprung Durch List-making. I’m calling it my Christmas Listmas.

 You may make resolutions now but, believe me, you will forget them if you don’t write them down. Christmas turns us all into goldfish brains. A kind of Christmas insanity descends like a thick fog and chokes us all in its suffocating vapours until we can no longer think straight.

  • Write a Memo to Self – I’m writing down all the areas for improvement while they’re fresh in my mind. I’ll be leaving this list on top of the Christmas decorations for the new me to find in December. It was only when I started feeling sick after over-eating a melted camembert with sticky fig sauce that I remembered I had resolved last year never to eat it again. But you see I didn’t write it down and I’ve slept since then. Likewise, if you’re the sort of person who bought next year’s presents in the Boxing Day sales (hello, mum-in-law!), add a note of the presents and their hiding places to the list. You won’t remember where you put Auntie Ethel’s present and you won’t remember who you bought the novelty gorilla slippers for, apart from the fact it wasn’t Auntie Ethel.
  • Make a request – None of us want to become the kind of person that people cross the street to avoid for fear of getting an eco-lecture, but surely we can ask those closest to us to buy eco-friendly Christmas cards for us and to wrap our present in recyclable paper, even if it’s as simple as avoiding glitter, foil, ribbon etc?
  • Do some research in advance – Check out toy rental companies, such as Whirli, and companies that rent Christmas trees. If you leave it too late you’ll probably forget your good intentions.
  • Avoid Oops, I Did it Again syndrome – Don’t overcook. I read a great article that said no one needs more than two side dishes, three if you must. This was news to me, raised on my mother’s traditional dozen side dishes. But it’s true; there’s only so much anyone can eat. So next year I’ll be going for three. I may let the family vote for what they consider sacrosanct. Are Yorkshire puddings with Christmas dinner a Yorkshire/Northern thing? I only ask because I noted that Mary Berry didn’t include any in her Ultimate Christmas programme and she is the authority as far as I’m concerned. Making Christmas dinner, my husband got so sick of me saying ‘Mary Berry says…’ that he threatened to rip off his Santa pinny and resign as my sous-chef. 
  • Research other recipes – I think my sons would agree there was a little too much post-Christmas bubble and squeak, so I’ll be coming up with different ways with leftovers. I found a great sprout recipe – Cheesy Sprout Bake – on Beckett’s Farm Shop Insta  Award Winning Farm Shop & Rest (@beckettsfarm) • Instagram photos and videos involving bacon, spices and cheese sauce. I’ll also be trying this Abel and Cole recipe for Boxing Day burritos that I found, alas, too late – Boxing Day Burritos Recipe | Abel & Cole ( –  as well as one for ragged sprout leaves – shred and toss leaves in batter with spices before frying in oil to make crunchy bhajis.
  • Give away some decorations – You know you have too many and some people have none. Last summer my cousin suffered what we in our family call the Great Christmas Decorations Tragedy, involving her husband clearing ‘rubbish’ out of the garage while she was at work…I don’t think I need to go into the grisly details, but in giving her a box of our decorations it cleared space for us and gave her some festive cheer.
  • Make the break – If you’d like to suggest that perhaps you could stop buying a present for your 35-year-old nephew who’s an investment banker, now is the time. Don’t wait until the run-up to Christmas because you’ll lose your nerve. Remember that Christmas insanity fog? It sets in after Halloween.
  • Get into composting now (if you haven’t already) – then you’ll be ‘speaking compost’ like a native by December. Never again will you suffer Bin Day Anxiety as you wonder how much longer you’ll be tripping over (or smelling) your bags of waste. Instead, you’ll be comfortably composting your food waste, wrapping paper and cardboard boxes. Plus, if your council is one of the 50 per cent in England which have yet to switch to separate food waste collections, you’ll be an old hand at separating your leftovers into a kitchen caddy, so the change will be painless.
  • Through the festive fog, always remember what matters – Our induction hob stopped working two days before Christmas. Despite fearing I was going to have a meltdown, in actual fact I came to my senses. While waiting for the electrician, I realised that this really wasn’t a disaster; if we had to eat tuna sarnies for Christmas dinner, would it really matter in the scheme of things? This year’s mishap is next year’s anecdote. Too soon? Ok, whenever.

PS. The electrician saved the day but the lesson I learned still stands.

 I may write an inspirational book called ‘The Woman, the Turkey, the Hob and the Meltdown’ in time for next Christmas.


Christmas joy – and sustainability – to the world

Does an eco-friendly Christmas mean nibbling on foraged roast chestnuts and trimming up with last year’s holly?

Right now many of us are once again trying to find the middle way between a bleak midwinter season and one that sends tonnes more waste to landfill.

 This is obviously the most challenging time of year if you’re attempting to live sustainably. It’s especially hard for parents of young children who are trying to find planet-friendly ways of providing festive joy as well as keeping their heads above water financially.  

Can Christmas ever be sustainable?

If you look at what like-minded people are doing, you’ll find you’re far from alone.  

One of my favourite composting influencers (yes, it’s a thing), Compostable Kate, usually buys her children’s toys second hand, but she admits it’s a constant balancing act as you don’t want your children to feel excluded from what they see going on around them.

And I laughed out loud reading Jen Gale’s account of the time her young son saw her online post about not buying so many presents, and shouted ‘Presents are the whole point of Christmas. They bring the joy!’

 Is there a child who would disagree with him?

 Jen’s book The Sustainable (ish) Living Guide has some great tips which I’ve incorporated into our family traditions.

Make presents

Play to your strengths by sewing or baking gifts to give.

These are the best presents (depending on the skill of the maker…) Last year an Asian neighbour, remembering that I had told her my dad would much prefer spicy food to the traditional turkey, came round on Christmas morning with platters piled high with freshly-made samosas. Samosas go great with roast turkey dinner, we discovered. The thoughtfulness of this homemade gift really made our Christmas.

Reverse Advent calendar

Jen’s suggestion of a reverse Advent calendar is absolutely on-trend with the Christmas message.

 Put an item of non-perishable food into a box each day of Advent and then donate to a foodbank. If that isn’t teaching your children the true spirit of Christmas I don’t know what is. And when you think about what Jen’s son said –  ‘Presents bring the joy’ – he didn’t say it was only receiving presents that brings the joy.

Offer your time

Adults would love the offer of baby sitting or gardening services, for example. You could also buy experiences as opposed to material gifts, or arrange for the family to do a Secret Santa.

Dial it down

My own tip is to focus on what means most to your family at Christmas. You don’t have to dial everything up to the max just because that’s what the adverts show. In fact, tread carefully with all those ads. They are lies and damned lies. I feel the stress-ometer mounting with every female face I see smiling beatifically as she feeds the 5,000 sitting down to dinner. It’s not just the feeling that I haven’t bought enough, won’t have cooked enough and it won’t be good enough, it’s also the sickening thought that much of what does get cooked over Christmas will end up in the bin.  

And that’s another thing – remember that no one’s stomach expands magically like Mary Poppins’ bag just because it happens to be December 25th. Let’s not forget that those ads will change on the stroke of midnight, as fast as Cinderella’s ballgown, from encouraging you to gorge yourself silly to suggesting it’s high time you joined a slimming programme and a gym, Fatty.

Reusing Christmas cards:

Make them part of the Christmas decorations – The large picture over our mantelpiece shows an African landscape at sunset. It doesn’t exactly scream Christmas, and I’m afraid it is important to me that our house in December should scream Christmas. So, to get that Screaming Christmas feeling, I now create a display on top of the picture’s glass by blutacking cards onto it. This works so well I started doing it to all the glass-covered pictures all over the house. With a bit of creative manoeuvring you can’t see the original picture underneath. Ok, you might be able to see the odd bit of original picture but this guide is not meant for perfectionists, whom I would direct to the safe, loving attentions of Kirstie Allsopp instead.

Top lazy cheat

As a great fan of lazy cheats, I’m proud to have found one of my own. A few years ago I bought a lovely glass Christmas candle lantern decorated with a wooden reindeer. I decided it was too nice to keep only for Christmas, but I didn’t want the reindeer staring at me all year long. I reasoned that if I turned it round, no one could see the reindeer and would be none the wiser.

Then I applied this logic to cushions. Last Christmas I sewed some scraps of fabric onto plain cushions in the shape of holly leaves. I was planning to unpick them in January, but then thought, why bother? Why not just turn them round too? Granted, this isn’t a method for everyone; some people might get the vapours if an untrained family member happened to inadvertently turn a cushion round to expose (gasp) holly in July, but this guide is only for the very lazy and seasonally-liberal. Life’s too short, isn’t it?  You’re welcome.

Now if only I could work out a way to keep the tree up for the other 11 months of the year…

However you choose to celebrate – enjoy. It’s Christmas!


Dreaming of a Green Christmas? Give back to the planet

Christmas Green Johanna

‘Tis the month before Christmas when all through the house not a single thing’s stirring except Rachel’s mouse…

Still on her laptop at midnight, Rachel’s searching for gifts for the family that won’t cost the earth but also won’t cost the Earth.

She’s hit on a solution for her husband Paul’s parents, Dick and Liddy, who are so tricky to buy for. They say they don’t want any more presents because they already have everything they need. And Dick says he doesn’t need any more gloves because he’s not an octopus. Ditto socks.

Increasingly they feel they want to do their bit for the environment, but in a fuss-free, arthritis-friendly way.

So how about a Green Cone food waste digester? It takes all food waste, even bones, and is virtually no-maintenance – no stirring or turning required. It doesn’t produce compost, but that’s OK; Dick and Liddy will be perfectly happy with the nutritious soil conditioner that will seep from the underground waste basket into their flower beds once worms and microbes have broken down the food scraps. Once Rachel and Paul install the solar-powered Cone in a hole in the garden, all Dick and Liddy will have to do is empty their kitchen caddy into it, along with a sprinkling of accelerator powder to add beneficial bacteria.  The fact that the waste basket is underground means smells are filtered out by the soil.

Dick will like the fact that they’re completely in control of their own food waste, turning something that harms the planet in landfill to something that actually helps to heal it by nourishing the soil. Liddy will love the idea that, in their own small way, they’re doing something to save the planet for their grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

The little we can do is a lot, she says every time she reduces, reuses or recycles.

Composting for a busy brother

For her brother Stephen, who is officially the busiest man on the planet, which he would love to save if only he could get the staff, Rachel plans to get a Green Johanna food waste composter. He’s seen Paul and Rachel’s Johanna at work in their garden and has even been known to make himself useful by emptying the kitchen caddy into it. The idea of having a ready supply of his own free compost would definitely appeal too.

The gift of worm-farming for children

Stephen’s wife Jill would also like to save the earth; she just doesn’t want it being traipsed through the house on the children’s muddy boots. So Rachel thought a great present for their children, Billie and Ben, would be a wormery. She managed to sell the idea to Stephen by saying it would get the kids interested in eco-science (anything educational always gets his vote), and Jill agreed when she knew the Maze Worm Farm could be kept in the shed. Rachel knows the kids will be fascinated by the whole process, and if through harvesting their own vermicompost they gain a passion for gardening, well…that’s the very definition of a gift that keeps on giving.

Rachel suspects it might become her job to teach her niece and nephew how to harvest the compost, and perhaps even to make worm ‘tea’ plant fertiliser from it, but it will be more than worth it to see them giggle when she tells them that this nutritious soil food is essentially the worms’ wee and poo. If you’re under 10 it doesn’t get much funnier than that.

Gifts for the eco-conscious young

What could be better for Rachel and Paul’s son, George, than a Compost Tumbler for the back yard of his student house? The compost it produces will come in very handy for all their potted plants and vegetable raised beds.  

And a very useful stocking filler would be a household oil container. Having managed to stop some of his housemates from throwing used cooking oil in the bin or, on one traumatic occasion that still makes him shudder, down the sink, George has taken on the job of storing their used oil in various containers and bottles. But this purpose-built 3L container with its secure lid will make it so much easier to store oil and take it to the local recycling centre where it’s collected to be turned into electricity.

 George has had to educate some of his housemates on this; it’s a sad fact that many people still pour oil down the sink thinking it will somehow be made to disappear by the combined magical powers of water and Fairy Liquid (as if actual fairies were in some way involved). In fact, what happens is the oil binds with other objects that should never have been flushed away, creating huge fatbergs that block sewers. Everybody thinks their own little bit of oil can’t do any harm but try telling that to the engineers who get the lovely job of breaking down these monster blockages so that the rest of us can flush the toilet confident the waste will just disappear. Sewage backflow anyone? Every millilitre adds up. Isn’t this at the heart of recycling? Every little helps or every little harms. What is it Grandma Liddy often says?  The little we can do is a lot – and she’s right. There are no small acts.

‘Black gold’ gift for the planet

For George’s girlfriend, Millie, Rachel will get a bokashi bin. Millie showed great interest in Paul and Rachel’s Maze bokashi bin when she saw it on their kitchen worktop and was fascinated when Rachel explained the anaerobic process which ferments all food waste, turning it into pre-compost. Well, not every girl wants scented candles…

Millie will feed all her houseplants with the diluted bokashi ‘tea’ fertiliser that drains from the fermenting contents of the bokashi bin. The tea can also be used concentrated as organic drain cleaner. Another freebie – what’s not to like? When the food waste has fermented to become pre-compost pulp, she will be able to add it as an accelerator to the Compost Tumbler. The compost that is made will not only feed the pot plants in the back yard, but Millie and George will also take this ‘black gold’ to the community garden where they help out growing food and flowers.  

Paul suggested that with all this festive recycling going on, perhaps he could ‘regift’ Stephen and Jill the delightful Rudolph jumper they gave him last Christmas?

Rachel said no.

Celebrating the Queen’s ‘Make Do and Mend’ Jubilee generation

The Platinum Jubilee celebrations bring to my mind not just the Queen herself but all those of her generation, born in the shadow of the First World War, who have been role models for the rest of us.

The dedication to service that we admire in the Queen is a trait commonly found in people of her generation, no matter what their background.

The Great War must have had a lasting impact on those who were too young to have lived through it themselves but were raised by those who did. It must have been difficult to moan about your own problems when those around you were either traumatised by the trenches or haunted by the ghosts of those who never came back.

In many respects the Queen appears to be more a child of the 1920s than she is a product of palaces, tied more to the time rather than the place of her childhood.

Edward’s trousers

I remember an official photo of the Royal Family that appeared in newspapers around 1980. Journalists had a field day mocking the fact that the hem on young Prince Edward’s trousers had clearly been let down, leaving the old trouser line visible.

The response from Buckingham Palace press office was that the Queen did not believe in wasting anything and liked to get good wear out of her children’s clothes. Just because her son had had a growth spurt was no reason to throw out a good pair of trousers. This wasn’t a fashionable attitude at the time; it seemed laughably fuddy-duddy. This was the dawn of the Eighties; the ethos was not so much Make Do and Mend as Chuck Out and Spend.

But as with so many things, the cycle has turned again and the Queen’s distaste for waste is now fashionable because we know it’s essential.

My great-aunt Margaret was born in the same year as the Queen – 1926.  Although their lives couldn’t have been more different, they shared many common values.   

Orphaned as a toddler, Auntie Margaret was raised by my great-grandmother, who was a widow in her 50s at the time. Her last year in school involved no education at all but was spent knitting socks for soldiers and filling out ration books. She would have loved to become a seamstress but no jobs were available at the time, so at 14 she went into the woollen mill where my grandma also worked to become a weaver.

 Noise of looms

‘I grew up the day I walked into that mill,’ she used to say. The incessant noise of the looms in the weaving shed was deafening and most weavers ended up profoundly deaf by middle age.

Margaret never married or had children, never owned her own home, worked past retirement age scrubbing floors in a doctors’ surgery at night while also caring for elderly relatives. She loved to cook, bake, clean, knit, darn, sew, embroider and tend her potted plants. She never wasted a morsel of food or scrap of material. When she died, I inherited her sewing box full of what she would call ‘bits and bobs’. I can’t for the life of me think of a use for many of these random scraps but I hope I will grow into the sort of person who can.  

Gardener extraordinaire

Another great example of this generation is my husband’s grandfather Sid.  A veteran of the Second World War, in peacetime he was a factory foreman as well as gardener extraordinaire in his free time. When the family were lucky enough to get a corner-plot council house in Redditch with a larger than average garden, Sid made full use of it, growing his own veg and flowers.

  My husband remembers his grandfather in his trademark cravat and hat –  an immaculately-dressed model of working-class diligence and decency. Never one for leisure, Sid also made toys for his three children. While he was busy in his shed or greenhouse, his wife Edna would be baking her locally-famous apple pies and knitting for England, providing jumpers and cardigans for all the family, right down to her great-grandchildren, only stopping in her eighties because of arthritis.

Like my Auntie Margaret, if there was anything Sid and Edna could make or do for themselves and those around them, they did. Their lives were a world away from the Queen’s but in values they were much the same.  In the Queen, whom they very much admired, they saw not merely a monarch but a kindred spirit.

I think of Margaret and Sid and Edna as being in their own quiet ways as responsible for the good things this country stands for as the Queen.

Name that composter

When we discovered at Great Green Systems that some of our customers had given names to their Green Johanna or Green Cone composter, our family was inspired to do the same.  There wasn’t much debate about what that name should be. For his love of gardening, his self-sufficiency, his recycling habits before people even knew the term, it had to be ….Sid.

There is something very reassuring about Sid the composter’s presence in the garden, watching over us as he gets down to work turning our food and garden waste into compost so we can feed our plants and soil. Sadly, Grandad Sid died before hot composters became a thing, but we know he would absolutely approve of this naturally efficient way of turning waste into something wonderful.

Neither myself nor my husband are green-fingered, but I feel that ‘Sid’ is watching approvingly as we finally follow in his footsteps by growing our own veg and flowers.  Sometimes he must be rolling his eyes and thinking the apple has fallen very far from the tree, but hey… every journey starts with a single step, as they say.  

We have a plant in our garden that is a cutting of a cutting from one in Sid’s garden in the 1950s and every time I look at it I feel that we are trying to walk in his footsteps. They are big footsteps to fill.

So on Platinum Jubilee Day on the 3rd of June, in our house we will raise a toast not just to the Queen  but to all those of her generation we have been lucky enough to know and love.


Green ‘Sid’ – complete with cravat and hat – in Jubilee mood

Spare Parts