Thursday 31 August 2017

Plastic rant

Again . . .
A couple of posts back I'd gone on about the overuse of plastic, mainly in the form of containers in the home. This is a following rant about water bottles and the encouragement to buy them constantly by the manufacturers - not exactly the right word . . . the gatherers/ robbers? of water itself. Actually, do Evian/Perrier/Buxton, etc, etc, have nature's go-ahead to take water, encase it in plastic and sell it to us? Anyway, they do it, and we buy it - a million bottles a minute as a rough estimate (Guardian), bought and discarded.
On a long, cross-city trip yesterday, I decided not to buy a bottle, or even carry a re-used bottle. It was fine. I drank a mug of water, topped up with another in a café along with a cup of tea, peed on the train (in the correct place) and arrived hours later at my destination perfectly hydrated - wee still the right colour and no headache. Sorry for the bodily info, but I do wonder if we all get so bludgeoned with info about fluid intake that it's become a sort of mania - fuelled by the bottled water companies.
Yes, it's vital to drink enough unflavoured and unsweetened water but most (unless you are in somewhere that doesn't have the privilege of good sewage systems) tap water is perfectly good, more than good. We are so bloody lucky to be able to turn on a tap and drink.
Take a bottle of tap water with you - a small glass one, or a fancy little designer bottle for that purpose; resist the urge to buy another small plastic bottle with a special 'feeding stopper'. There's something slightly repulsive about those, to my mind - an ever-ready 'teat' to suck on, made of even thicker plastic.

So, now we are brain-washed into feeling fresh mountain water must be available at every second of the day, what about other ways of companies providing it while still making money?
How about . . . large, (preferably, metal) water containers - a bit like the office ones only bigger, stationed in shops, in stations, everywhere that we normally buy bottles. You could pay, say ten pence for a paper cone of water, throw it in the recycling box and go on your way, happily re-hydrated and free of to carrying anything extra. Companies could jostle/bid/share (ha-ha) for who was positioned where; there'd be less ferrying water about, less plastic at every step, less waste, less space taken up in shops . . . simple! Better still, would be the re-introduction of free water fountains everywhere but then the massive bottled water industry would squirt to a gradual halt - not going to happen. But maybe it has to along with so many other huge changes we need to make to halt the environmental mess we are already in.


Saturday 19 August 2017

Last gig for The F.E.W?

or maybe not.
I hope they may get together from time to time, my lad and the others to have a mad intensive rehearsal and then perform where they all first got together in our small French town.
The end of an era . . . Ezra off to Bordeaux, and the other two F.E.W members, William and Freddie in Toulouse. Many happy memories and great to see their progress from a few tentative number's in Carl and Lisa's garage to energetic and captivating performances for various town and village fetes over the last three years.



Wednesday 16 August 2017


I seem to be suffering from an increasing sense of panic every time I walk into a supermarket. I try to avoid them but for certain things like dog biscuit and bulk-buy tins of tomatoes and 'fosse-septique (cess-pit) cleaners they are useful.
We buy most of our stuff in a small co-op organic shop down the road - yes, it's more expensive, but . . . it isn't, as the nature of shopping there compared with the grocery-sheds is utterly different. I go in and buy milk, veg, flour etc, and don't get distracted by anything else NEW, or on special offer, or 'oo, that looks nice, maybe we should try it, and we could use a couple of new mugs, and, well, I suppose we could have a bottle of fizz, and maybe a cake, and some ice-cream, and the towels are looking a bit sad; look, they've got green ones in, those would look good in the bathroom . . . STOP! what did we come in for? Dog biscuit and shoe polish.' Yes.
The worst aspect of the sheds/shopping cathedrals is the amount of plastic everywhere, especially in the home-care and toiletries sections. What do we really need for both cleaning ourselves and our dwellings? Not much. Some soap, a basic shampoo and a clothes wash/washing-up substance.
This picture is of a locally made product called VAM, made of vinegar, herbs and water. It's brilliant; I wash surfaces, floors, showers, etc, with it, and if you want some heftier cleaning - add bicarb of soda. Job done, and you can take the bottle back and refill it.

We NEED more of these products, and more ways of re-using containers - for everything. It's mind-numbingly terrifying to read about the amount of plastic that ends up each day in our oceans. I've started taking a bottle of TAP water out in preference to buying yet another small individual bottle of water shipped from hundreds of miles away - like Scottish spring water in our local French airport - uh?
We are mostly all blessed with clean drinking water and it's just advertising hype that keeps the pressure on to buy 'pure mountain' water.
Apparently, more than 60 million plastic water bottles are thrown away to end up in landfill and incinerators every day . . .

Friday 11 August 2017


Mark wearing exactly the right shirt to go with the rust and grey paint of this rivet-pocked lieu - part of the disused submarine mending-place (not the right name I expect) in Bordeaux's eerie and photogenic quays.


Saturday 5 August 2017

Furnishing for nowt

or almost.

Luckily, our lad who is about to go off to study fine art in Bordeaux (see a few posts back), is completely laid back about 'old stuff' furniture-and crocks. I heard several other parents, while in various queues in the estate/renting agents, agreeing to all sorts of white melamine construction projects with their offspring.
As far as I'm concerned, anything to avoid a trip to the giant blue and yellow shed, hours of frustration with bits of chipboard and allen keys, and possible return journeys to the establishment as something is missing . . .
So . . . for 130 quid so far we got a lovely chest of drawers from 'Le Bon Coin' - a sort of on-line 'free yourself of unwanted things' site, a book shelf from Emmaüs (like Red Cross) a big rag rug, a large, deep set of shelves and a rather nice (library?) ladder from a junk market. The ladder will be clothes/electric guitar cables hanging space as the flat is too small for a wardrobe.
We did buy a bargain oblong oak table but couldn't get into the ridiculously tiny doorway so it will now grace our kitchen and he can inherit the drop-leaf table that has followed me about through about six house moves.

Shoebox, but at least now a clean off-white rather than gruesome pink shoebox

Still to go - bed with storage underneath. And again, no flatpack as if I end up having to assemble one it will be disaster: a hedgehog of bristling nails where I have misinterpreted the instructions - or rather ignored them. Our friend Ed makes a mean bed - solid, easy to screw together and whatever length you like. I'd get an old one but the lad is topping 6 foot and still growing, so to restrict his growth by an old 1920s wooden bed frame might be a tad cruel.
Everything else should be gleanable from our house with a few things to find from junk shops, and the construction of a couple of hand-made shelves in the 'kitchen' which is a small dank cupboard under a sink and a two-ring electric hob. We weren't looking for luxury but a shelf might have been nice . . . still, the landlord did offer to pay half for any improvements - fairly unusual, I would think.
In two months time and he'll be in his student pad sorting out his new 'on-his-own' life while we sort out our new 'without-boy' life. Weird!