Alexander Averin

Friday, 28 March 2008


Dear Diary,

I was tagged ages ago by Irish Eyes to write about recycling.

Very late I am afraid but here goes.

I am the (sole) recycling fanatic in my family. I keep a tall stainless steel pedal bin indoors and it fills up very quickly. I am unashamedly in love with my compost production and I nurture my heap, put absolutely everything you can think of on it, from newspaper to the dust and animal hair from my hoover (and there’s masses of that!). Newspaper rots down quite quickly as soon as it gets wet. Vegetable peelings, garden waste, eggshells, teabags, cardboard, leaves, grass cuttings, every scrap of paper etc. I recycle everything except waste food as that would only attract the local rat population. Apparently urine is the best stuff to ‘activate’ a heap but I haven’t got round to doing that bit as yet!

I have two heaps, one is finished and has the most gorgeous dark compost, the one next to it is in the rotting down stage. I don’t have bins or anything, just two heaps side by side with railway sleepers and wire round them. Indoors, I put every bit of plastic and metal in the recycling bag provided by our local council. Textiles and glass I take myself to the nearest recycling bank though the council will collect textiles from my home on a weekly basis. I have to say that we are very well served recycling-wise by our council here in Wales.

We have bonfires occasionally, our neighbours do as well and we can put stuff on theirs if needs be. Doing all this means we have very little actual rubbish for the dustmen.

I have always loved charity shops and get a buzz from finding a bargain, either to wear or for something in the home. Most things in the cottage are old or second-hand, even M! I’m old enough to remember jumble sales - they’ve died out now haven’t they? I also adore going to car boot sales but we don’t have many in these parts unfortunately.

Anything that can be reused I try to do so, for example I re-use worn out socks etc for dusters. We own two single wardrobes and lying in bed one day looking at them I thought that their shape really resembled coffins…His and Hers… It has become a bit of a family joke that they will be re-used as such one day!

I am not a shoe lover, as long as I have one red pair and a pair of boots I am happy.

Decluttering is ongoing and still proving pleasurable.

Owning as little as possible is quite liberating, I wouldn’t even have a car if I didn’t live in such a rural area without public transport.

God, I hope I don’t sound too holier than thou, I don’t mean to. I’m sure most folk do the same as me, recycling wise, it’s slowly becoming the norm. now, thank goodness.

My main bugbear is the excessive, unnecessary use of packaging used by manufacturers that we have to get rid of, that might be a don’t-get-me-started blog in itself. Little things like the tins of dog and cat food that comes in six packs nowadays and are wrapped all round in plastic. Totally unnecessary. Only this week it was in the news that plastic has become a real risk to the food chain and consequently to our health.

Well I will shut up now, that’s me on recycling, I’ve done as I was asked.

But, before you leave me, if you missed it last time and want to read a funny compost heap story here is a blog about recycling that I wrote in April 20007.

Dear Diary, Topsy turvy temperatures. After a weekend which felt like Spring I wake to fog and frost but there is a promise from Radio 4’s Today programme of sunshine to come. But now even the birds and Sammy Squirrel seem to be having a lie in as there are only a few blue tits and a robin to be seen on the riverbank bird table. It is cold in the cottage and as I have no work to go to today, it will take a hot shower, a big bowl of hot porridge and a hot yoga session to lure me from my cosy nest under the duvet. * I read a lovely blog by dear Woozle the other day about her magical encounter with an owl. It reminded me of a similar experience here at Glandulas, but this one involved a hedgehog. Before I tell you about the Hedgehog Experience I want to reveal another of my passions. It is connected you understand. If you have read all my blogs so far you will have gathered that I am prone to get passionate about things. One of them is recycling and especially all things compost; the saving, the making of the heap and the using of the wonderful end result which makes my plants grow very large. I think the whole process is magical and I am quite obsessive about it. I don’t let a scrap go to waste if you get me. Everything which can possibly be recycled is. I have been doing this long before it became ‘fashionable’. But I am pleased it is becoming a regular activity in lots more households now. Our local council has been very good in the recycling department, selling bins and educating people etc. as well as providing bags for plastic, metal and paper which are collected on a weekly basis. I have a stainless steel pedal bin in the kitchen for all the general compost stuff and my glass I take to the recycling centre (an alarming number of wine and Guinness bottles!). Textiles go to the textile bank. Dog and cat hair, M’s hair, beard trimmings or anything similar are put out in a prominent position in the garden and are collected by the birds at this time of year for nest building. I like to think of them all safe and cosy in a really snug home. Absolutely any paper or cardboard I put on the compost heap, it soon dampens in our Welsh rain and rots down. Newspaper is good too for lighting fires in the cottage, another passion of mine, I must have gypsy blood because I never fail to get one going. I also use kindling wood which is usually the driftwood I collect on our land, washed up by the river. What I call kindling wood the Welsh call morning wood, both nice expressions I think. I haven’t recommended a book to you for a while so here is one. It is ‘All About Compost’ by Pauline Pears, you could try and get it from your local library. Talking of books I recently gave you the wrong title of Fred Slater’s book on the natural history of Mid-Wales. It is called ‘The Nature of Central Wales’. Apologies for that. Anyway if you have read this far congratulations and thank you. You are about half way. You are probably wondering where the hedgehog comes in. Here comes my true story. One morning I was taking out the compost bucket, wearing my dressing gown and wellies, as you do. (My neighbour in the Big House is always in the garden in his dressing gown. They are equally eccentric I am pleased to say and as they feel just like family to us it doesn’t matter if they see me thus attired!). Anyway, just as I was about to tip the bucket onto the top of the heap I looked down and got the fright of my life. There was this creature lying there flat on its back, arms and legs akimbo but with an expression which was peaceful,; sheer abandonment is how I would describe it. Or died and gone to heaven. I recognised it as a hedgehog and when I had calmed down a bit but soon. and quite unlike me, had adopted the ‘startled helpless female’ mode I ran in to get M. I told him there was a dead hedgehog on the compost heap, (well I thought it was dead but I wasn’t sure). He came out with a towel while I hung back. He picked it up, wrapped it in the towel and found a cardboard box. He thought it was dead but wasn’t sure either. He took it over the road to the old blacksmith’s forge and put it in one of the rooms facing the road. Then he got an old dog bowl and put some food in it and then another bowl with some water and he left both beside the box. The hedgehog’s eyes were closed. We guessed it was dead. But then the penny dropped, the hedgehog had been feasting on the highly alcoholic leftovers from the fermentation of M’s home-made rice and raisin wine, one of his strongest brews, which he had flung on the compost heap! Had we killed him? Would he survive? Two days passed, we checked on him every day, each time there were no signs of life but on the third day he had disappeared. He must have slept it off! The one and only hangover of his life I hope. He was last seen making his way up the road leaving a trail of aspirin bottles behind him and singing ‘There’s an old Mill by the Stream’ No I am only joking… It is interesting to note that the very old fashioned method of poaching pheasants still used today (?) is to feed wild pheasants with raisins soaked in brandy which makes them so inebriated that hours later, after dark, they are easily ‘collected’. Help, I feel a book title coming on……..I am sure you all know it…. Danny, the Champion of the World, by the dear Roald Dahl of course, God rest him. We dread to think how many drunken birds or other creatures there were that day. Just hope it was a good party. Blessings? Eight today. Hedgehogs. Compost. Home made wine. Washing machines - mine is working away for me as I write. Local honey made by a neighbour. Lovely neighbour, lovely honey. Warmer weather. Roald Dahl’s books, enjoyed by me with my children and now by my grandchildren. I promised to tell you about the Book Club so I may post another blog later in the day to make up for the days I have missed previously. Time to get up now. Carpe diem and all that. Before I do I can’t leave you without the poem by one of my very favourite poets. Benjamin Zephaniah,

Luv Song

I am in luv wid a hedgehog
I've never felt this way before I have luv fe dis hedgehog
An everyday I luv her more an more,
She lives by de shed
Where weeds and roses bed
An I just want de world to know
She makes me glow.
I am in luv wid a hedgehog
She's making me hair stand on edge,
So in luv wid dis hedgehog
An her friends Who all live in de hedge
She visits me late
An eats off Danny's plate
But Danny's a cool tabby cat
He leaves it at dat. I am in luv wid a hedgehog,
She's gone away so I must wait
But I do miss my hedgehog
Everytime she goes to hibernate

.  Bye for now, Caitx


WesterWitch/Headmistress said...

Berlimey well done you for all the recycling . . it is the way to go. Why is there so much packaging these days?

Love the poem - I have a hedgehog too. I think he/she is in my hay store . . .but haver never actually seen it come out of there, but is often near then when the weather is warmer and both dogs show a lot of interest in my hay store. Hope my little hedgepig has made it through the winter.

Frances said...

Hello Cait, I am another recycler, be it newspapers, magazines, or clothing or plastic and glass. Some of this is in accord with our NYC sanitation department's assistance, some of it is on my own.

I donate loads of clothes to a neighborhood charity thriftshop.

At my shop we donate plastic clothes hangers to another local thriftshop.

I try so hard not to buy anything that might be thrown away eventually. Thinking it through....

Wish that I did have a garden and could do the compost bit!

Thank you for reprising that hedgehog story! I love it.

Have a beautiful weekend.

Pipany said...

Golly you are much better than we are Cait - we do try but seem to laps frequently; fortunately the children are so ingrained in recycling thoughts that I think we can only get better. I do love my bowl in the kitchen which contains leftover peelings, etc for the hens and the compost heap - nothing better than a compost heap is there? xx

Pondside said...

I loved this post, Cait. I am also a bit of a fanatic, with a stainless steel pail by the sink, a black kitchen composter out by the shed and a three-bin yard waste system out there as well. We live on rock - there is no soil - so we have to have it hauled in or make our own. I have been known to haul horse manure home from the trails when I find it!
I loved hearing 'This is Us" with Emilylou Harris!

CAMILLA said...

Hello Cait,

I do lots of recycling too, agree with you that there is far too much packaging these days, and so much plastic.

Every month I donate items of clothing to charity shops, I myself often use charity shops finds in the way of useful items for the home, and clothes too, there are some great bargains to look for.

I love the little Hedgehog story/poem, I have a fondness for the Hedgehogs.