Off to Germany

So this is the last post for a while as I’m off on a “Study Tour” to the Rhine Valley for the next week. Staying in Freiberg and visiting various eco-projects and generally seeing how Germany does “environmental issues” much better than we do.

I’m gonna miss lazing around in Oswald Road though….

Morning in Oswald Road


Deli on Burton Road

There’s quite a few nice cafes and bars knocking around Chorlton and West Didsbury, we ended up in Burton Road having a coffee and a huge cake. Was a good chance to get the sketch book out and draw away (there is a sketch here invisible to facebook)…

Burton Road


In the first of a series of rants(!), I am going to start my packaging discussion with a look at something I received from Natwest yesterday.

Natwest have deemed it necessary to send people a card reader to reduce the threat of identity theft from Internet banking, so through the post I received my own personal card reader. I didn’t ask for this – it was just sent to me. Personally I think internet security is generally down to the individual. If you never give your card details out, shred all your paperwork, keep your computer clean of spyware and viruses and have secure passwords – you will be fine. Anyway I have received the device. I unpackaged it all and below is the packaging that came with it:


Including the device, I counted 9 different items (including the small bit of plastic to keep the batteries unused until opening). Previously I wouldn’t have been too interested in this – everything comes “overpackaged” but I’ve been reading some horrific statistics about packaging – and not just plastic packaging.

A few things to think about – every bit of plastic will survive pretty much forever (eventually down to molecular level but it will still be a plastic polymer or monomer); you may think your own personal packaging doesn’t amount to much but multiply that by several billion and then it becomes a problem; recycling may not be the solution as it just encourages “one way” consumption; there is a mass of plastic several times bigger than the UK in the middle of the Pacific; eventually the plastic will get up the food chain and who knows what will happen to us…

So Natwest is not the problem. The whole system is the problem. I’ve just started reading a book called Cradle to Cradle which hopes to address this issue and wants designers to make products that will be able to be up-cycled (I.e. their use after the initial use is even better than the original) rather than re-cycled where virgin products tend to have to be added to the mix).

For now though we are hopefully getting involved in a new initiative for a plastic bag free Chorlton (jumping on the bandwagon of other towns around the land).

For now though, carry a bag wherever you go (it’s not difficult!), don’t put 2 apples or a carrot in a single bag (why bother?) and refuse bags everywhere (even small ones…); and if you want to read more try Paper or Plastic (don’t buy it – I can lend you it!)

Metropolitan Cathedral, Liverpool

I was over in Liverpool a couple of weeks ago registering at the University Library and on the way back into town I had 10 minutes to sketch Paddy’s Wigwam (or the Roman Catholic cathedral). I really like this building. The lighting inside due to the stained glass windows is incredible.

Metropolitan Cathedral, Liverpool

Our own Wild Food walk

Having been a bit disappointed by the lack of Mushrooms on last weekend’s official Fungi Foray – we decided yesterday to head out to Chorlton Eees and have bit of a poke around in the underground, proper David Bellamy style, and see what we could find.

I won the “special” prize for finding the first mushroom of the day, Jelly ear (or Jew’s ear), lots of it growing on Elder trees. We also managed to find some clustered domecaps (hundreds of them) and possibly a mushroom called Soapy Knight (or Tricholoma saponaceum) but we can’t be 100% sure. Housemates who have had a sniff think it’s like a bathroom so maybe we are right. In any case, we won’t be eating anything we’re not 100% sure on. (Who’d want to eat soap anyway…)


Not sure about the black fruit which I thought was sloe but I’m not convinced – the leaves seem too big (VIV?). We also picked a couple of apples. Infact I’ve never seen so many apple trees, there must be 100’s of them. The air was full of the smell of fermenting apples. Very nice.

The problem with these wild apple trees is that the Ranger last weekend said they were growing on an old landfill site which contained heavy metals. I had a poke around yesterday looking at old Ordnance survey maps of the area and I don’t think this is true. There was a sewage works (Withington Sewage Works) on part of the Nature Reserve but this is a bit away from where the trees are. So for now I think we are safe.

One thing you find everywhere in the undergrowth/forests is plastic. I’m currently writing an essay on plastic bags and the whole subject is horrifying. I’ll write more about this in the future but even yesterday we found some crisp packets from 1985 and a domestos bottle which had a plastic body and a metal top and looked just as old.

In the evening we cooked up the Jelly ear and will probably make some soup out of it. It does smell extremely mushroomey. And yes, we did check the bible of Mushrooms to make sure we had positively identified it. It’s a pretty obvious one and nothing else much looks like a huge ear!