Tail Tales

Kora

This is my GSD girl, Kora.

She’s the first dog I ever owned/belonged to. Before she came home with me I spent a lot of time getting to know her Mum and extended family and learning all about German Shepherd dogs.

She’s two years old and the joy of my life. She helped me with depression, anxiety, grief and she taught me how to relax.

My home and clothes are covered in fur and I don’t care. What a lovely feeling.

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Zero Waste #1

On our holidays we always try to find something that reflects our life back home.

I look for independent book shops, great foodie spots and anything to do with sustainability and zero waste living. We didn’t have any of our own pots with us but had a good browse around. They had a small range of spices and a great selection of dried pulses and beans. On the other side of the shop they had a selection of home goods and personal items as well as an extensive refill station.

Well worth a visit if you happen to be in the area.

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Nil Living

Open 9.00-5.30 Monday to Saturday

106/107 The Grainger Market Alley, 3 Grainger St, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 5QN

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Gorse Wine

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We have a lot of gorse bushes. A LOT.

While it is lovely to see little bursts of yellow when everything else is looking dull and drab they are nasty things to deal with. They prickle and stick to you and spread like anything. They are hard to get rid of and easy to get more of.

This last spring I decided to try making Gorse Wine. The theory was that if we made something yummy out of them it wouldn’t be so bad having all these prickly little monsters all over our land.

I collected buckets of the flowers, added raisins, yeast, sugar and water and left it to do its thing. It was strained, racked and re-racked, checked and re-checked.

It’s disgusting.

Maybe I need a better recipe, maybe I did something wrong, maybe other people have wonderful success with this. Not me. Eurgh. It has a flavour that gets stuck inside your nose and reminds you of unpleasant tastes that you can’t quite put your finger on.

Anyone had a good experience with this stuff?

I don’t think we’ll be trying this again next year. Meanwhile, I’m off to cut down some gorse…

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Waste Not

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Yes, we’re off-grid, which means no power and water but it also means that we don’t get waste or recycling collections.

I miss rinsing veggies under the tap and being able to flick on the central heating but it’s the rubbish that has taken me the longest time to get used to. We separate out all of our recycling and a lot of our paper and cardboard is used on the fire (either as briquettes or as it is). General rubbish gets bagged up and taken to the tip.

Our local tip is thankfully, awesome. They take most of the stuff you can think of and the staff there have always be so helpful. But you still have to get it there and that means putting it all in the back of my little car. It’s only a half hour job to take a load but it’s something that needs to be organised. And it is something that I never thought about when I just threw everything in the appropriate bins provided by the council.

We have glass, aerosols, gas canisters, cardboard, tins, foil, plastic and general waste. They all have to be packed up and taken separately. We make eco bricks from some of our plastic and we do our best to buy our food without packaging but that’s rarely easy and often impossible.

A part of the conversation around recycling and reducing waste is often about how inconvenient it can be to do, how much longer it takes and how much space it takes up. Interestingly enough when you’re off-grid, it’s really quite the opposite. The less plastic and single use items, the easier it is for us. Maybe there’s something to be said for that.

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Almost Winter

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It’s getting cold. I know when the year is turning because I start putting the fire on before midday. Usually it’s warm enough once light that we don’t need it, or as soon as we get working on a project we warm up and aren’t so bothered.

If the fire is on early the weather is bad enough to keep us indoors and chilly.

There are good things about winter. Like having enough time to get your blog set up. The sheer abundance of cheese in the shops ready for Christmas. Mr G’s birthday. Stews and soups and lots of root veggies. Cats snuggling up for warmth.

Other things well and truly suck. Slippery surfaces and slick boots. Fields heavy with mud that make dog walking both messy and mucky. Getting up in the dark and the very, very cold. Opening gates in gale winds. Not being able to do the gardening. Needing to put the lanterns on at 4.30pm!

It’s my first full winter here and mostly I am just grateful. Watching the change, seeing the trees go from flower to berry to bare, the birds from feeding young to stocking up, the sheep from lambing to tupping. These end months, pulling us ever closer to the next year and another change.