Everyone can ecobrick.

13 July 2019| Community, Ecobricks

Aaliyah on her ecobrick module

I would like you to meet a very special young lady I have meet on my ecobrick journey, her name is Aaliyah and she makes ecobricks

She also has a disability, uses a wheelchair and has a wonderful laugh.  I have come across many people who have said , “I can’t make ecobricks because I am disabled”  I find this so sad, because one of the things I truly love about ecobricks is that they are about building community and inclusivity.

Let me tell you how  meet Aaliyah, she belongs to a church community, Kings Church, Southampton.  I did a starter workshop for them earlier this year, although she did not come that day, so I had to wait to meet her.  The workshop went really well and from there every Saturday they hold an ecobrick social making session in one of the rooms at the church. The church runs its own community cafe (which serves amazing cake) and the socials help to bring customers into the cafe and and the cafe provides willing ecobrickers. 

The ecobrick group have made around 90 ecobricks so far, and they are all logged on the Gobrik website. They have around 15 people who are active in the ecobrick group, with around 8 members turning up at the socials each week.  The group has made one two litre ecobrick stool which Aaliyah likes sitting on, and have big plans for benches at the church and to help the local school build with ecobricks. They also turned up one Wednesday afternoon at the greenhouses to have a basic lesson in cob building ready to build.

Aaliyah doesn’t have a huge amount of strength to stuff the bottles, but she can cut up the plastic, which she will sit and do for hours making sure the rest of the group has plenty of plastic to stuff with, and then fills bottles loosely for the others to get tightly packed. She also encourages the rest of the group to look at the plastic they are using and to look at what they can change.

Could Aaliyah have been able to be involved as she is if the community didn’t work with her?  I doubt it, she may have achieved a couple of ecobricks, and they may not have reached the weight, but as part of a group she can make ecobricks, she can be an inspiration to others to make ecobricks, and they all have fun together. When I visited the Saturday morning social, there was lots of chatter, and laughter, it felt like a community should.

This to me is what is at the core of ecobricks, community working together, finding ways that everyone can be included. There is no reason why anyone cannot be involved in making ecobricks other than we don’t include them.

What are you doing in your community?

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2021 Update!

Since I first published this post, the church community has kept making ecobricks, taking the socials onto zoom during 2020. They have achieved an earth and ecobrick planter in one of the groups gardens – picture is from before it was fully finished

And they have now teamed up with another Southampton church and will be encouraging each other with their ecobrick projects.

Introducing Waterside EcoHub

23 January 2020| Community

Pictures from Fawley church conservation group

**January 2020 felt like the right time to bring my skills in helping people live a greener lifestyle to the place I call home.  I live in the New Forest, a very beautiful place that is being crushed by the sheer number of visitors who come to enjoy the beauty, bringing air pollution and litter, as well as the economic benefits to the area, as well as big commercial developments. The side of the forest I live in is referred to as the Waterside, this tends to include the villages that are situated between the edge of the New Forest and Southampton waters. The main road is the A326 and often referred to as the UK’s longest cul de sac, and at the end of it is the sea!  

I knew I wasn’t the only one to care locally about what was happening to our beautiful biosphere, time to get everyone talking to each other and to bring the things I wanted access too into the waterside area for everyone to benefit from.

14th January saw our first meeting where I explained some of my ideas, and we talked way past the time as it seemed there was so much to talk about  In our second meeting the discussion took more of what personal actions we can take in our own lives. It became apparent that this will be an important part of what the hub will do, and I really hope that individuals will bring the solutions and changes that have worked for them to share with others. We started with the most biosphere friendly way to wash your hair, if baths or showers were better, what is the best diet to follow when thinking of our personal impact ( a huge and complicated subject) , community gardening, and how we heat our homes, and that was just the start!

I had been sent a message by someone who wasn’t able to come along to ask our collective thoughts about the impact the possible roadworks along the A326 will have, if it will involve cutting down the trees along the road, when we know we need more trees? And would it serve the area well to have a network of cycle paths in the area?

Collectively we came to the conclusion that as far as the A326 is concerned we didn’t know enough about the plans and what we did know seemed to indicate that the parts of the road that get clogged quickly with traffic will end up with more traffic so will clog up quicker and cause more pollution……….

As for a cycle path network, yes this would be amazing, especially in the forest towns and villages. The first place we would like to see a path would be down to Lepe beach, not only would this cut car journeys to the beach and so pollution, but would make it safe on a busy country road for walkers and cyclists alike and open up access for locals who don’t drive or can’t afford the car parking.

We also had the really lovely gentleman who looks after Fawley church conservation area, he has been doing an amazing job creating a home for wildlife, we are connecting him with local scout groups and our local home ed group so he can share his knowledge and the youth can help him with some of the more physical jobs in return.  The pictures below are from his display board he brought along to show us. 

***If you live in the waterside area and you would like to join us please do, we are meeting every Tuesday in Blackfield and we have a Facebook group and a group on the  nextdoor app. 

There are plans for the group to run clothes swaps, litter picks, jumble trails, local food events, community gardening and more. We would welcome your help and support and to hear your ideas.

And if you don’t live in the waterside area is there a group like this in your area? Can you connect with others and make a difference to your local community?  It doesn’t have to be huge, it can start by inviting a few friends round one evening to share ideas and see where it takes you.  Just remember now is the time to act, be the change you want to see 

Love and light to you all – go do the stuff…….. 

** This was written January 2020 – we ran weekly meetings till March 2020….and of course you know what happened then!

***We are hoping to get monthly meetings going again soon, if you can find us a venue or suggest a place to meet please let me know. there is a page and a group on FB or you can get in touch through this page.

An apology to my mother

9 June 2019|Health

My mum in her 40’s in a dress she made herself to go to events when my dad was chairman of the council – which is the mayor by another name.

I think in many ways we all have apologies to our mums to make, and the amazing thing is with mums, forgiveness always seems to come.  Sadly my mum is no longer with us passing at the age of 86 a few years ago.  

So this apology ( I have many  – does that surprise you? ) is for not fighting for her when it came to her health, for not doing my research when I should of, for just believing the Dr over and over again. I have had my penance though, as I now am affected by the some issues as she had, although I have been lucky and found treatment. 

This post is really about the vitamin B12 and the life destroying effects being deficient can have, of course if that had been the title you may not have started reading, as most of us have no idea just how vital this vitamin is to our health and dismiss it as something we need to learn about. 

For me this journey stated when I had my stroke, I then got lots of tests as the Drs couldn’t work out why I had a stroke and why I had so many hundreds of microbleeds across my brain when they did an MRI. Eventually I was found to have a B12 level of 104 (range 150 – please note ranges are different across the country which can make getting treated really difficult) the optimal level is 450 for good health – ref Sally Pacholok. 

Before my stroke how had I been feeling? well rubbish to be honest, I thought it was just stress,  things I was complaining of included,  sinus pain, vertigo, itching, blurry vision, floaters in my vision,  balance, pins and needles, fatigue, disturbed sleep, anxiety, hair falling out, restless legs, memory issues,  geographic tongue – very sore! If I had gone to my GP with this list I would have been told they didn’t have time to look at all of these issues individually.  And that’s true GPs have very little time for each patient (but funding isn’t the fault of our GP’s), they also have very little training on B12 and its effects, so it just isn’t something they will connect up. And that’s the important bit  – looking at all symptoms together  not individually 

After my stroke when it was found I was b12 deficient I was lucky enough to have a friend who pointed me in the direction of www.b12deficiency.info of course she had done that before my stroke  – knowing the things to look out for – and I had ignored her……..

But it meant I could follow the instructions to get started on the  correct treatment, Following loading B12 doses from my GP I now self inject B12 every other day, It has been 22 months since my B12 treatment started, and as long as I keep up with the injections and the other supplements I am slowly seeing improvements. Sadly nothing will repair the stroke damage to my brain, but it could of been so much worse, I regard my self as very very  lucky. 

And back to that apology, well mum had had all of those symptoms and so many more, she kept going back to the Dr and the list of tablets kept getting longer, she didn’t question the Dr as she loved the NHS and trusted them, this should be our starting point as the NHS is truly amazing.

But I could of done some research, I could of listened more when she quietly complained, making so little fuss, I now know she must of been in so much pain, she had a swollen tongue like mine and its truly horrid. I am in no doubt she was B12 deficient, she was told she had a “type of anemia”, but received no treatment for it.

So to my wonderful mum, I am truly sorry I did not help more, I am truly sorry I did not find out more, I am truly sorry that you didn’t get relief from the pain. I just didn’t know what I know now.

And to the rest of you – well I will keep on and on and on about B12 and its importance, because if it helps just one person it will have been worth boring the pants of the rest of you!

www.b12deficiency.info   the website for correct information  – donate to help the research if you can 

Really good video that explains B12D  – it is pay to view but the money is being donated to the B12deficiency website  – and very worth watching.

 academyofphysicalmedicine.co.uk/b12-awareness/ 

Conkers for Clothes Washing

27 September 2019

My first years conkers for use by my family

If you follow my page The Watercress Queen on facebook you will have seen my post about conkers and using them for washing your clothes.  It has been shared many many times so I thought I would add it here as it is an important part of our family life. 

If you would like to try some washkers (prepared conkers ) for yourself please pay following this link https://donorbox.org/wash-kers-natural-clothes-washing-with-conkers

This is what I wrote on facebook…

************2018***********

This was the first post I did about conkers in 2018, I had no idea how well the conkers would work long term, but I really wanted to try. I did not want to go into lots of “how-to” without actually having experienced the long term use of conkers for my washing.  

I have now finished preparing my washing “powder”!

8 kilos of conkers – picked up from only three trees and we didn’t pick them all up by a long way. We have planted 20 conkers as a thank you to the earth.

This will give me 3 washes a day for a whole year. I have been using them for towels for a whole year already and nothing but conkers for 2 months now. Our clothes don’t smell of anything and are super soft 🙂

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On the day after my post, this article from the BBC was published. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-49838650

There are many challenges for our trees and plants to come in the future. We have become so out of touch with our natural resources we have forgotten how to work with our biospheres natural ways of looking after itself. I think many of the problems facing our wonderful trees are due to our interference.  If we trust in the cycles of life that have existed from the beginning of time and work with them instead of against them we may just stand a chance of helping our wonderful planet become truly beautiful again.

If you can even if you don’t use the conkers for washing your clothes I urge you to plant trees.  Go out and collect conkers and acorns, hazelnuts, rowan berries – look at what is local to you, and plant them, let’s see how many trees we can get planted. 

New Forest Aquaponics will be growing as many trees as we can. We will be starting many of them off in our aquaponic systems to give them a very strong start in life. The aim then is to be able to gift them to people who have somewhere to plant them to grow and benefit our biosphere.

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So here are some other interesting things about horse chestnuts

The Latin name is  Aesculus hippocastanum

During the First World War, there was a campaign to ask for everyone (including children) to collect horse-chestnuts and donate them to the government. The conkers were used as a source of starch for fermentation to produce acetone for use as a solvent for the production of cordite, which was then used in military armaments. The process used could use any source of starch, but the government chose to ask for conkers to avoid causing starvation by depleting food sources. But conkers were found to be a poor source, and the factory only produced acetone for three months; however, they were collected again in the Second World War for the same reason.

The first recorded game of conkers was on the Isle of Wight in 1848

Horse chestnut trees were often planted in Germany to help keep the beer cellars cool, the large canopies and shallow roots that did not affect the cellars, but helped keep them cool,  these evolved into what we now know as beer gardens. 

Sadly playing conkers has fallen out of favour with children due to the game being banned in many schools and the rise of mobile phones etc.

You can see my post on facebook here    https://www.facebook.com/pg/newforestaquaponics/posts/?ref=page_internal 

To see how we have got on and what we are doing with conkers, and even purchase some to support New Forest Aquaponics please see the 2021 post.