An Idiot in Green Land

Subversive Gardening

Look well at this picture – it is top secret and if you discover its location before the bees do, I may have to take drastic action, such as sulking!!!

‘What is it?’ you may ask. Or, equally ‘Do I give a *&@$’ – either response is possible, but if it was the first one, I will allow you to know the secrets therein….

About a week ago I got my free Bee seeds from FoE [no, silly, they won’t grow bees, just flowers that bees like!]. I was really keen to plant them, but I don’t have a garden. Hmmmmmm. Undeterred, I scouted around my local area for a bit of land that nobody seems to ever bother with but which was open enough to allow the flowers to have a fighting chance, and finally decided on the bit in the picture. It’s near-ish to a path behind my flat, but apart from our local squirrel you never see anybody much there.

However, I realised that I would feel a right wally if people saw me messing around in the soil so I had to wait til it was nearly dark and we’d had a fair bit of rain [not a rare occurence in Lancashire!].  I then crept out, wearing my ski mask, [ok, that bit’s a lie] and carrying my trusty gardening spoon [cos not having a garden I don’t have gardening tools, believe it or not] and dug a small trenchy thing. Not exactly deep enough to interest Time Team but just enough for the seeds to be buried in. I then hastily covered it over again, and now I can just cross my fingers and, hopefully, post some lovely photos of bees and flowers in a few weeks. Watch this space…..


Activity and Anarchy

Oooh, I’ve sort of been active  – though in a rather passive way, lol. I went to the first meeting of a new Preston branch of FrackOff Uk last Thursday. This is a cause very dear to my heart, both because of the terribly polluting and untested methods which HAVE been almost definitely proved to cause earth tremors, and also because I am a Sandgrown’un [Born and bred Lythamer to the uninitiated].

There were only 5 of us there but we managed to pool what we knew and agree to make this a fortnightly meeting for now. The deadlines for planning and licencing are in June so there is real urgency to get the message out and oppose the proposals in as many ways as possible.

I think I may have sort of insulted the man who had organised the meeting – due to my inherent stupidity. I asked him if he was the leader of our group – he replied ‘I am an anarchist so I don’t believe in leaders’. Hmmm, I didn’t really know what to say so I asked him if he was the head equal – he just looked at me. Ho hum.

Anyway I said I do blogging so looks like that’s my job again – quite enjoying it actually – hope you [if you exist?] are enjoying reading it too. I wrote out a piece which I have now emailed to local radio station newsdesks [in the hope they are desperate for anythng!] and also a couple of local newspapers. Still got to find a picture to accompany it so i can send it to BlogPreston. Rather than rambling on I will finish by pasting it here. Please let me know if you can help in any way.

Dear Sir

As you probably know, the Fylde Coast is a well-known earthquake region. You didn’t? Well in another few years, if proposals to allow fracking [also known as Shale Gas extraction] go through, that could well be a true statement.

This highly controversial method of extracting gas from shale rocks underground causes geological instability because water and chemicals are pumped deep into the ground at extremely high pressure in order to fracture the rock and release gas deposits.

According to the BBC news website on 2nd Nov 2011 “It is “highly probable” that shale gas test drilling triggered earth tremors in Lancashire, a study has found.”

Reports from America confirm this. USA today’s website on 9th March 2012 said “COLUMBUS, Ohio – A dozen earthquakes in northeastern Ohio were almost certainly induced by injection of gas-drilling wastewater into the earth, Ohio oil and gas regulators said Friday as they announced a series of tough new regulations for drillers.”

If you find this alarming, there is a new branch of FrackOff based at the Beautiful Planet cafe, 69 Friargate, Preston. We aim to meet on alternate Thursdays, to co-ordinate and plan peaceful protests against the planned operation, with the next meeting being on 10th May at 7pm.

For information about these meetings, please contact me at [please note the second character is a numeric zero]

To lodge an appeal against the proposals, this is the Lancashire Council web link

This is the link to REAF – Ribble Estuary Against Fracking –  if you require more local information

Irene Flack

[please do not publish my full address, thank you] – note the cowardice !!!!!

23D Three Nooks

Bamber Bridge

Lancs PR5 8EL

..because I actually did some CLEANING! I am now in therapy to recover from the shock, but I cleaned my mirrors with vinegar and they came up really well. Down-side is, now the layer of dust and smears is gone, I no longer see myself in the soft-focus I was used to and the harsh reality is not a pretty sight.

The picture below is of my compost heap – small-flat-sized version. I still haven’t figured how to actually put pictures in here where I actually WANT them to go – if anybody can help me, please do.

The bottle [which, incidentally, was full of very good peanut butter that I bought from the Deli-Med in Preston] now contains a rather globby, yukky mixture of fruit, carrot peelings, coffee grounds, cardboard and eggshells. From what I have read, this should eventually turn into some extremely nutrient rich plant food which will work rather like spinach did on Popeye. What I am not looking forward to is that I think that at some point I am going to have to empty it out into a carrier bag or similar, give it a good mix round to get more air into it, and then re-bottle it. I’m sure you can’t wait for the pictures of that, lol.

The plants I was growing for the Greenpeace stall sold fairly well considering the wet windy weather [ooh, an alliteration!], and the unsold ones now have a happy home in Hagrid’s poly-tunnel until the next event.

Exciting news, I am hoping to get involved with helping with a float for the Preston Guild and then accompanying it in one of the parades. Since I will be in my very late..errr……don’t want to even think about it,  when the next one is held in 20 years’ time, I am very excited that I can be part of this one.

Also, on a disgruntling note [and I DO prefer to be gruntled at all times if possible] they are re-starting Fracking in the Blackpool area, so I am planning on going to a meeting to hopefully take some action against that. I am afraid of heights, though, so I hope it won’t involve any abseiling or such-like. I will maybe volunteer to man the coffee flasks afterwards!

PS, if anybody does actually read this nonsense would you please let me know? I would love to know I am not just ranting on at my long-suffering computer aimlessly. I am Irene Flack on Facebook if you want to send me a message [polite ones preferably, lol]

To Bee Or Not To Bee

Sorry, couldn’t resist.  I went with a couple of friends to see a film called ‘Vanishing of the Bees’ at The Continental pub in Preston. [The link to the petition seems to be out of date]

Very interesting phenomenon, but it mainly seems to be down to some types of insecticides [sorry, I don’t know all the long, scientific words] which are confusing and disrupting the bees’ nervous systems and which they are bringing back and feeding to their young.

France has banned these types of insecticides, along with some other European countries. However, the USA and the UK say there isn’t enough proof – translation, lobbyists at work? This site may explain it a bit better

A talk was given by a local beekeeper who really knew his stuff and he told us that one of the best things we can all do to help is to plant bee-friendly things, mainly old-fashioned cottage-garden types of flowers. He said crocuses are very good for bees at the beginning of the season, snowdrops too. I found a page which has some more information

Not having a garden myself, another way of supporting bees is to try to buy organic fruit and veg. I hadn’t really bothered with organic up til now, thinking it was a trendy and expensive gimmick but I will certainly try to look out for it in future.


A load of rubbish

Firstly,  grrrrrr – why can’t I make the pictures stick at the top of the page? I’l figure it out one day – and,  after all,  I AM muddled!

OK, now – before we get onto the riveting subject of rubbish [I know, you really can’t wait], meet my new BFF [Best Fairy Friend]. Steph [younger daughter] bought me this washing up fairy from Lush and she is ACE.  Ok, I really thought that if I left her by the sink she would wave her magic wand and actually DO the washing up – but never mind. You run the hot water over her for a minute or so and you get lovely smelling bubbles which last all through a reasonable sized washing-up’s-worth and feel ever so nice on your hands.  She also watches over the seedlings – chillies are getting stronger and the coriander is coming on a treat. I also have a few very small cumin shoots pushing up – very very pleased with them all.

Only bad point about the washing up fairies – they were only in the shops for Mother’s day, so I think we need to start a campaign for them to be a permanent line. [I don’t get commission from Lush, honestly, just love their stuff. I was really chuffed to find out that the olives in my Olive Branch body and hair gel is sourced from a Jewish/Arab peace farm thing – a cause dear to my heart].

OK rubbish. Sad but I am really trying to get the hang of recycling properly and today when I thought I had 3 wastebins to empty into into the general bin I had a quick look through and managed to reduce them to half a carrier bag full instead. Firstly, I had a blinding realisation – toilet roll tubes are made of cardboard. [I know, I know – please make allowances]. So that was almost all the contents of the bathroom bin going into the cardboard instead of the general bin. Then – and here I am not too sure if it was a good idea or not – I realised that almost all the rubbish in my bedroom and living room bins was comprised of used tissues. So, to save landfill, I decided to flush them down the toilet [cos I really didn’t think they counted as recycling for the paper bin but maybe they do?] By the way, using bicarb as a toilet cleaner seems to be working ok – nobody has complained – I now just need to find somewhere that sells it in large quantities more cheaply.

And, on the subject of toilets, recycling etc, I will leave you with a small true story. I used to live in Lytham and there once was a ‘New to You’ shop opened there. On the window it proudly proclaimed it sold toilet rolls – think about it! The shop didn’t last long…..

Free Ways to Help Others

Hi, today I felt like telling you about a few free ways to help others, charities and so on. Very little hassle but you never know just how far a little help can go.



Well this first way is free for you, too the first time you use it. If you go to and enter this code  HTFGPW1  you can claim a free box of deliciously healthy nibbles and they will send me a code to donate £1 to their farming school in Uganda. You can then cancel if you want – but they’re so yummy I bet you don’t!

Next way, if you bookmark this page  and click on the yellow button once a day they give 1 cup of rice to people in Africa [and hungry people in the US too. At first I thought that sounded daft, but in America if you are out of luck you really ARE out of it] They also sell nice clothes, jewellery etc but be careful – as the stuff comes from America they can’t control whether or not customs charge import duty. I bought a jacket and had to pay an extra £4 – this I didn’t mind, what DID p**s me off was the Royal Mail charging £8 ‘handling’ on top. Still it’s a lovely jacket, handmade in Nepal and fairtrade so I just had to grit my teeth and cough up. Not happy about it though.

Another way to pass an hour or so [depending on your boredom threshold] is to play Freerice games, a sort of quiz site  . It can get a bit repetitive, but there are lots of different subjects to quiz yourself on and although 10 grains of rice an answer doesn’t sound much, you soon accumulate thousands.

Last way I have found is to use  as your search engine. It’s powered by Yahoo and gives good results, and everytime you search you donate 1p to your favourite good cause. Not a lot, but again every little helps. I do it for the Big Issue but there are loads to choose from.

OK, that was my sermon for today. I now have about 20 Lush pots full of coriander seedlings which are looking good [thanks again Sam].  Later this week, depending on whether David and I can synchronise ourselves we might be delivering a letter or 2 to Shell petrol stations about the proposed oil drilling in the Arctic, and tonight, if I can remember, I am going to try putting Bicarb round my toilet overnight as a more natural way to clean it. I will NOT be posting photos lol.


Lovely Lush

Right, I am now growing plants to help save the planet – amazing what power my windowsill has. David and Sam work in Lush, and when I mentioned that I would need to eat tons more yoghurt to pot on the coriander, they kindly offered me all the recycled Lush pots I could use. Brilliant, as I love Lush  and so it sort of combined 2 good things into one if you know what I mean. [If you’ve never tried Lush, do have a look – all made with natural, cruelty free, eco-friendly ingredients and they are AMAZING   ]

So, today, as I was in Preston to take my grandson Steven to his Talking Tots group,  I decided it was a  good excuse to pop into the shop. I came away with my shopping bag well full of lovely little pots, so the coriander will move this weekend all being well. I also ended up buying some more henna and some moisturiser [plus got a free sample of foot cream, thanks Sam!].

I also think that I have decided [not one to commit myself too soon!] that I will make millionaires’ shortbread for the stall at Easter. I was stumped as to where to get non-Nestle condensed milk for the toffee, but B&M Bargains, of all places, have suddenly started stocking some. Only 49p a tin too last week so I am extremely impressed. Now I just need to track down some non-Nestle white chocolate so I can make artistic white squiggles on the milk chocolate topping. Perhaps I should have looked harder in B&M??

Oh, the picture, I almost forgot. I got an offer today to get a new Mobile phone for only £1 more than I am currently paying a month so even phone-o-phobe me was tempted. I invested in the Good Shopping Guide a couple of months ago, it is really useful for comparing different brands’ credentials when it comes to Human Rights, supporting the Arms Industry and pollution-type issues. If you investigated every little thing, down to cheese and biscuits I think it could drive you demented, but for bigger purchases – such as my digi-box and hoover – it is really good to find out about the companies involved. If anybody wants me to look up anything I will be happy to help – or treat yourself to one from Amazon amongst other places.